Sunday, December 20, 2015

Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar, Riviera Maya, Mexico

IberoStar Paraiso del Mar, Riviera Maya, Mxico. Main lobby, evening
IberoStar Paraiso del Mar, Riviera Maya, Mxico.
Main lobby, evening
Day 1. Arrival
Mexico and Cancun met us with thunderstorm. First impression was very upsetting. All organized and on schedule. Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar Hotel is part of other Iberostar hotels located within same area and it seems that territory is huge and you must use motorized electric carts (golf-carts) providing guests with rides around the hotel. If you want to get quick access to restaurants, pool and the beach, then you should get room far away from main reception and breakfast restaurant. Definitely get insects repellents!!! Hotel is very green and has areas with standing water infested with mosquitoes. Get Off or similar insect repellents - otherwise, your vacation will be ruined.
Lot of foliage, birds and other natural inhabitants make this hotel unique among other hotels in the area. Kids love these jungles reminding episodes from
Tarzan or The Jungle Book. Watching iguanas, coati and other rodents, variety of birds (flamingo, swans, parrots, and many other representatives of local fauna from avian family), makes it so much fun for children.
Food. Cannot say much yet because we only ate at the cafe by the pool and it provided variety of food. Service was great and staff is very pleasant and helpful.

Coati family searching for food
Coati family searching for food
Day 2. Mosquitoes is one of the major problems, specially if you're sensitive to mosquito bites and live in a room near the pool or the beach, where lots of foliage and standing water puddles allowing mosquitoes endlessly continue their life cycle. Asking staff/reception to spray your room, using "off" does not make it any better. You will get enough bites while sitting in the restaurants or open theater area. It's just a matter of time and density of bites per square inch of your skin. Ask reception to get you a room closer to main lobby if you don't want to be eaten alive by super hungry Mexican mosquitoes. 
Hotel complexes are so infested with mosquitoes, that in the evening and night time bats often fly inside the halls on third floor hunting all the flying insects.
If you live closer to main lobby, you have quick access to breakfast restaurants shared with another IberoStar hotel IberoStar Paraiso Beaches, however you will stay away from the beach and pool and you may need to use shuttle transportation especially if you came with children.
Service: overall service is not bad at all, however, this is first time I noticed that by the pool nobody walks around and offers drinks. It's a self-service. Get you bottom off the hammock and go to get drinks yourself. I start getting feeling, that width of smile of personnel and their availability for basic service totally depends on color of bracelet you wear on your wrist. People with bracelets from higher level hotels such as IberoStar Paraiso Lindo or IberoStar Paraiso Maya are getting service/assistance quicker.

Day 3. Food is good, variety is great, staff is clever. When we asked for soup for children and specifically mentioned that soup should not be spicy, our waiter assured us that it's not spicy at all. To our surprise chicken noodle soup did not look clear as we expected. I tried it first and was so happy to find spicy tomato soup with pieces of shredded chicken. It looked like kitchen ran out of chicken soup, so they decided to find quick and simple solution. Nice try. Steak house was nice. Just don't be late for your scheduled appointment there. They won't accept any excuses and will cancel your scheduled appointment  specially when it's after 8 pm. Did I mention mosquitoes? They are everywhere!!!

Also, one important thing. Since IberoStar Paraiso Del Mar and IberoStar Paraiso Beach are the lowest level hotels among IberoStar hotels in this area, discounted two-day passes are available either for local people or for hotel employees and their relatives. You will recognize them by green bracelets and many children. Hotel restaurants, pool and beach area gets overcrowded and very noisy for two days, usually on weekend. So if you want to stay in a quiet area, go to higher class hotels IberoStar Paraiso Maya, IberoStar Paraiso Lindo or adults only Grand IberoStar Paraiso. Because hotel is over-occupied for these two weekend days, staff is also is overloaded with work and service is not as great as expected at 4-5 star hotels. By the way, where is my drink that I ordered yesterday? Oh I forgot, there is no such service by the pool. You hang to her up and walk to the bar or swim to nearest pool. Thank God, it's here in Del Mar's pool and not in the other higher level hotel were manager will point at your bracelet and with smile show you on door. 

Day 4. Entertainment and "Japanese" restaurant. I think every resort has Japanese restaurant where hibachi specialists juggle food, tools and words in order to entertain guests and earn a few dollars in tips. Authentic Japanese chief Carlos Rodriguez was very funny. Sake and chopsticks were the only things on table that reminded Japan. Overall food was Ok, nothing special, but you may go there in order to take a break from usual evening food at the buffet. Did I mention mosquitoes? Don't forget to apply insects repellent "Off" on your skin and kids before leaving room.

Pool is excellent. It's actually two huge pools and one small pool for young children in the kids club

Let's jump to conclusion. This is my personal opinion. All opinions are very subjective. If you can (no obstacles like kids' school breaks, college breaks, work assignments), go on vacation off season. Reason one: you may find deals for high class hotels with great beaches and service for the price of lower class hotels.
Reason two: occupancy of hotels is lower, beach and pool is less crowded and easier to find good spots. Reason three: lower occupancy, means staff is not overworked and less spoiled with tips. They are willing to help with smile. Money still make world and people turn around quickly. Everyone needs to feed family. Reason four: 
Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade you vacation package/reservation (if you can) to Maya or Lindo to truly enjoy your stay in Mexico. 
Tourists from Russia with unlimited access to alcohol is another reason to add security in the hotel. I observed extremely unpleasant episode with drunk Eastern European tourist periodically bothering public in the theater during evening show.

A few more additional small points that administration and designers should pay attention. 
1. Bathroom - light fixtures are not sufficient and direction of light is not allowing to apply makeup properly which is very important for women. 
2. In the bathroom bath tub and shower are not separated (not such a big deal), but shower is attached at head side of the wall and shower gel/shampoo dispensers are attached at the opposite side, so you need to try to reach there or walk in the bath tub, get shower gel and shampoo, apply it or rub it into your body and return back to grab shower head to wash it off.
3. Ceiling and night stand fixtures in the room in the evening are not providing enough light neither to efficiently see your reflection in the mirror to apply makeup. These little things make difference in quality of your vacation.

Entertainment team, waiters, housekeeping, gardening services are working very hard. All people are very polite and helpful, specially during weekdays when hotel is not overcrowded with two-day pass visitors.
You may also see IberoStar Paraiso del Mar amateur video (very detailed) on youtube

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