The Royal Playa del CarmenPlaya del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico
- Gorgeous beachfront location near downtown nightlife
- Luxurious adults-only property
- Sophisticated rooms with two-person jetted tubs; swim-up suites available
- Many rooms with ocean views; Presidential Suites with private pools
- Seven full restaurants, including Mexican-French fusion, Asian, and Mediterranean
- Gourmet coffee house and 24-hour lounge with snacks and drinks
- Gorgeous, sprawling pool complex
- Swim-up bar and beach bar
- Free Wi-Fi
- Introductory scuba lesson included
- Little to do late night on-site
- Construction for neighboring resort begins early in morning (as of summer 2014)
- Small beach area
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Popular with newlyweds, couples, and party-oriented 20-somethings
The bars here are set up with conviviality in mind: A cigar lounge, as well as the swim-up bar and bar adjacent to the large, airy lobby, promote mingling with fellow guests, though there are a plethora of locations offering romantic privacy as well. The resort has frequent evening entertainment, often with local themes. The Royal welcomes guests 16 and over and is particularly attractive to a younger crowd, including couples and groups of people traveling together.
Beachfront location close to bustling 5th Avenue
The resort is directly on a strip of beach across from the island of Cozumel and is a few minutes walk away from 5th Avenue, a popular tourists’ destination for shopping, bars, and nightlife. The Royal is about 45 minutes from the Cancun airport; the hotel can arrange a transfer for a fee with advance notice. There are also taxis and group taxis at the airport.
Modern rooms with handsomely outfitted dark-wood accents
The textiles and furniture here display a nod to local color schemes; bed throws have rich red and brown hues and headboards are made of carved dark wood. All rooms have two-person jetted tubs, usually placed directly next to the bed -- convenient for amorous couples, but perhaps slightly awkwardly placed for other guests. The minibars stocked with alcohol and soft drinks are kept refilled throughout a stay. All rooms have satellite TV and AC, and beds generally get high marks for comfort. Swim-up suites are available, though these do not connect to the main pool and feel secluded from the main activity of the resort. Those in search of proximity to the sand should consider the Beachfront Walk-Out Suites.
The lowest-level rooms lack ocean views, and the quality of ocean view tends to improve the higher up in room category you go. Be warned that the hotel website's preview function available for booking can be misrepresentative of the vistas for each room type.
Olympic-sized pool, fitness center, and wide choice of bars and restaurants
The property has an array of on-site bars and restaurants, including a beachfront tapas restaurant and bar, Pelicanos. Food and alcohol are served 24 hours a day in the VIP Lounge, and the Royal Coffee House is popular for light bites, sweets, and of course, excellent gourmet coffee. The all-day buffet restaurants have show cooking stations, while the Mexican-French fusion option, Maria Marie, is open for dinner only. The Asian restaurant open for lunch and dinner is also popular, and the resort's food gets high marks overall.
The property also shares resources with The Royal Cancun if guests find themselves on a day trip there. (Swapping nights with that property is possible with advance arrangement.) Though there are plenty of spots to drink on the premises, visitors are also free to use the seven additional bars at the adjacent Gran Porto Real.
In terms of activities, guests have access to a tennis court, hydrotherapy zone, scuba center offering a free introductory lesson, and fitness center with a handful of machines. There’s also a spa with a full array of services and a convenience store that sells basics like flip-flops and swimsuits. The sprawling pool complex is beautiful and has gorgeous ocean views; finding a chair is usually not a problem. The white-sand beach has abundant shaded daybeds.