On Monday 3rd July we boarded our Thomson Dreamliner flight to Cancun, Mexico, which sounds mad to me even now we’re back. When I first suggested booking Mexico to Darryl last year, I never imagined we would actually go so soon. Our usual all inclusive holidays are around the £500/£600 pp mark, so booking a holiday that cost in excess of £1,200 pp – even with hefty sale discount – was a bit nauseating. The most we’d ever spent on a holiday prior to that was our month-long trip around Dubai, Australia and Bali, which is inevitably going to be an expensive holiday given the distance and length of stay alone. Some places are worth the extra money, so all I could do was hope that Mexico would live up to my expectations. Several hotels caught our eye when our holiday search got serious, but I was amendment that I wasn’t going to spend too long looking and over-complicate it all, so we settled on the beautiful Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal resort in a matter of days and that was that. All we had to do then was part with our money and wait six months.
After a ten-hour flight and a long transfer, arriving to our hotel was a breath of fresh air. Well, humid fresh air. The drive up to hotel was beautiful and when I caught sight of the lobby, I realised just how huge this place was. Looking at the hotel from afar is enough to make you see how grand it is. It’s been designed with an ancient thatched Mayan vibe and it sits perfectly on the coastline, with a massive open lobby which houses a gigantic statue. As if it wasn’t majestic enough. When you walk in there are beaming staff waiting to help – with a huge restaurant off the left, a massive seating area in-front, and a bar and entertainment area off to the right. When you step out of the lobby and walk around the grounds – or hitch a ride on one of the little trolley carts – there’s so much more to see. Aside from the main building, the hotel complex is dotted with restaurants, bars, spa huts, and an abundance of rooms – all surrounded by Mexico’s wildlife. This place is a real gem, and I’m not kidding when I say that you need a day to explore the hotel alone, at least.
The room & view
I’ll be honest, when I booked the hotel I wasn’t keen on the look of the rooms. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I was skeptical, because I’m really fussy when it comes to where I’m sleeping and washing. Lucky for us when we arrived we were told that we were in the adults only section, which meant that we had one of the best rooms going. Better still the little hotel shuttles took us right up to our building, and they ran every ten minutes, which was a huge bonus because it was the furthest point from the lobby area. I thought I must be in the wrong place when we walked in and this lovely guy called Marco said that he was our butler. Yes – butler! I’ve never had one of those and didn’t think I ever would. The room itself was stunning, and I couldn’t believe that it was the one on the website that I’d had my eye on originally. It was cream and white marble with a gigantic bathroom, spacious balcony, and two princess-style four-poster Queen beds. That was the only minor downside to our room, though as much as I don’t like sleeping apart from Darryl, he was only a meter away and it was obviously such a tiny factor in the grand scheme of things. Having a free mini bar refilled daily, a ‘help yourself’ coffee station outside, free room service, fresh bedding and towels every day, and butlers on hand constantly to help you with anything at all – we felt like we’d hit the jackpot. Not only that, but we had a gorgeous sea view, which included a view of the adults only pool area. It was the room of dreams!
What’s a tropical hotel without a good pool (or three)? The Bahia Principe Akumal has two huge pools – one of which is a large area right outside the lobby with lazy river-style sections that connect, with an in-pool bar and pool-side bar – and the other is an adults only pool right to the far edge of the hotel complex. All pools are stunning and clean, with helpful waiting staff circulating continuously. If the pools aren’t enough to give you a good view, turn around and you’ll see the beach right in front of you. The adults only pool is actually an infinity pool which looks directly over the beach. My only complaint is that there are very limited parasols. Unless you get up at 6am or before to secure a good pool-side spot, you’ll be in direct sunlight all day long, which ultimately isn’t ideal given that it’s over thirty degrees. Other than that, the pools are to die for.
Like the Bahia Principe Tulum next door, the Akumal hotel is beach front. And it’s a bloody nice beach, too. Big and sandy, with gloriously clear waters full of the most beautiful fish – plus wooden walkways, a stunning bar with wooden swings (plus another little bar), and separate areas for adults and exclusive guests. The beach gets busy, but unlike the pools you don’t need to get up quite so early to get a couple of sunbeds with a parasol. Darryl and I spent every beach day in the adults only section and had no trouble getting beds around 8am/9am. A few people complained about the huge unsightly barriers in the sea, but we weren’t too fussed. I don’t know if they’re for safety purposes or to keep the wildlife close by, but they’re not particularly pretty if you want that perfect beach snap. If you do, walk up to Tulum where they have an open beach. Alternatively, walk across the rocks to the right of the adults only beach and you’ll come across a gorgeous private beach, though you will have to pay $2 or so to be there. It’s worth it to see the turtle nests!
The dining experience
The food and drink is without a doubt one of my favourite parts of a holiday, I mean just look at those cocktails! At the Bahia Principe Akumal they have seven restaurants and nine bars. The buffet, although having many themed nights, is a good all rounder which has just about anything to offer. Compared to other all inclusive hotels that we’ve stayed at, this is some of the best food we’ve eaten. Breakfast was to die for, as was lunch and dinner, though you could always eat from the lunch-time buffet out by the main pool. They also have a twenty-four-hour snack bar which offers similar food. Our first full day was the 4th July so we got to partake in the American-style beach party where they served up an amazing BBQ! Aside from the buffets they also have a number of á la carte restaurants that you can go to for dinner as part of the all inclusive, though these do need to be booked. You can also visit the restaurants in the sister hotels too, which I’ll talk more about later in the post. We enjoyed a meal at the two Mexican restaurants at Tulum and Coba, and the Brazilian restaurant in Akumal, but our top choice by a mile would be the Italian restaurant at Akumal. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to try any others.
The activities & entertainment
I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to the activities as I was there to do nothing other than lay horizontally with a good book, but Darryl got involved in water polo one day, and there was a whole host of other games going on everyday around the main pool area. A personal favourite of mine was the ‘belly flop competition’. The guy that won that is my hero. I don’t know his name unfortunately, but the main entertainer around the pool is a credit to the hotel. Aside from pool activities, there was also yoga and zumba out on the beach jetty every morning. You could also walk up the beach to the Bahia Principe Tulum and watch the free dolphin show. I’m not sure how I feel about this because of captivity issues, but it could be nice to do if you’ve got kids. The evening entertainment was always good too, with plenty going on just about everywhere. If you wanted a chilled evening with live music, they had it, and if you wanted to watch a full on talent show, they had that too. Failing that, just take a walk around the grounds. It might be night-time but there’s plenty of interesting animals to see along the way, and plenty of bars you can stop off at. We perched on the beach or around the pools a few evenings so we could watch the thunderstorms going on out at sea. It’s so peaceful, and not something we ever get to do here in the UK.
The bahia resort complex
What can I say, the resort is unbelievably gigantic. Aside from Akumal, you have the Tulum resort to the left (if you’re looking out to sea), the Coba resort behind, along with the mini Exclusive resort, and the Sian Kaan resort across the main road. So what does each one have? They’re all similar, but each with something different to offer. Tulum is beachfront like Akumal but with the addition of the dolphins, Coba is beach-less but is far bigger (how is that possible?) with the best entertainment in my opinion, and Sian Ka’an is the adults only golf resort which is just as huge however more tranquil, as of course there aren’t any kiddies running about. The food, drink and overall experience is equally as exceptional throughout each hotel, and I highly recommend wandering around them all if you get a chance. They’re possibly too far to walk to in the Mexican heat, even in the evening, but as I mentioned the little hotel shuttles come around every ten minutes or so and take you to whichever destination is listed on top of the shuttle itself. Hotels aside, you also have the Hacienda, which is a little shopping area with occasional entertainment near to the Bahia Principe complex entrance and the Bahia Principe Tulum hotel. This is also where you get the Collectivo bus from into other areas of Riviera Maya, which I’ll talk about in another post.
We had the most amazing holiday and can’t thank the staff enough for everything they did during our stay. They were such hard workers and couldn’t do enough for you. We absolutely got the most for our money and because of this, I don’t regret spending a little more for our slice of Mexican luxury. The holiday blues are well and truly sinking in now and we’ve only been back a week! I can’t wait to go back one day to experience all the things we didn’t get time to do. Until next time, Mexico!
Thinking of going to Riviera Maya? Soon I’ll be writing a post all about what we got up to during our trip – plus tips with important information that might be of use to those who are first time visitors like us.