Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
An upscale all-inclusive experience in a sprawling complex shared with other Barcelo hotels
The Barcelo Maya Palace, built in 2008, is the newest, smallest (by megaresort standards) and most luxurious property of the hotels in the Barcelo complex. It’s got everything one expects from a 4.5-pearl all-inclusive, including gorgeous pools, a slew of amenities, and solid food. From the lobby to the service and the rooms, everything here feels upscale. For extra luxury, the Club Premium level offers privileges such as private concierge services, free 24-hour room service, and free Wi-Fi throughout the property.
Guests staying in the Palace can use all the facilities at its sister properties, the Barcelo Maya Colonial & Tropical and the Barcelo Maya Caribe & Beach, but the reverse is not true, which makes the resort feel more serene and exclusive. The hotel has its own fitness center, gourmet and buffet restaurants, pools, and entertainment -- accessible only to Palace guests -- while the spa, kids’ spa, and beach are shared with the other Barcelo properties. A shuttle running every 15 to 20 minutes from morning until late night in peak season takes guests from one hotel to the other, but waits can be longer in off-peak season and it’s sometimes more convenient to walk. However, there’s little shade and distances can be long, so those who plan to explore on foot might want to bring a hat.
The hotel's "24/7 All-Inclusive Plan" is a plus, and means that snacks and drinks are available to all guests in the lobby bar throughout the night. Food usually consists of small sandwiches and slices of pizza, plus a few sweets.
There are activities at the main pool and the sun deck around it through the day, but music stops no later than 7 p.m., so guests looking to spend some quiet time in their rooms won’t be disturbed by loud house beats after the sun sets. Note that the Club Premium rooms are the ones closest to the pools and the beach, and so might experience more noise during the day when the windows are open.
On a white-sand beach 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen
The Barcelo Maya Palace is located inside the Barcelo complex, a self-contained resort area between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. There’s nothing within walking distance aside from a handful of resorts, but a 15-minute cab ride gets you to dining, shopping, and nightlife in Playa del Carmen. However, most guests don’t venture outside the resort at all, and spend the day lounging by the pool or on the lovely beach. Half- and day-trips to nearby Xel-Ha natural park, the Tulum Maya ruins, and other sights can be booked at the hotel.
It used to be the home of the ancient Mayans, and after that a small fishing village, but now Playa del Carmen -- or "Playa," as the locals call it -- is full of exciting nightclubs, popular restaurants, cute boutiques, and resort hotels that sit on lovely white-sand beaches. Because many of the businesses are European-run, the rest of the town retains a hint of European flair. The main tourist thoroughfare of Playa is the cobblestone-lined, pedestrian street Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), but there are plenty of fun outdoor activities for visitors, too, such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, and sailing. The offshore reef is part of the second largest reef system in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
Large Junior Suites and Suites with all the amenities expected from a 4.5-pearl resort -- minus the upscale toiletries
The 756-room Palace is actually the smallest of the three Barcelo properties in the complex. It’s also the most luxurious, so rooms here are a notch or two above the rest, with services that include daily restocking of the minibars, and classy, contemporary decor in deep reds and dark wood.
All rooms here are either Junior Suites or Suites that can accommodate up to five people, except for the Club Premium Suites and the two Presidential Suites, which can accommodate up to three guests. Views vary, but all rooms have a furnished balcony or a terrace overlooking the gardens or the pools. Note that rooms labeled oceanfront have only partial ocean views at best.
Club Premium rooms are located closest to the beach and the pools, and offer extra services and amenities, including free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel; pool towels in the room; access to the Club Premium Lounge; private concierge services; free 24-hour room service; unlimited access to a la carte restaurants, and 20 percent off at the spa and salon.
The hotel offers eight handicap-accessible rooms.
Huge, gorgeous pools with underwater loungers, a swim-up bar, and daily activities
The pools are a highlight of the resort. There are a total of four, including a water park for kids and an adults-only pool. The main pool has a water surface of 3,500 square feet and is the center stage of the daytime activities, with aquaerobics classes and entertainment, as well as a swim-up bar and underwater loungers. There’s music from morning until evening (ranging from salsa to lounge), but it doesn’t feel invasive.
Bright fitness center with up-to-date equipment, sauna, and steam room
While the fitness center is located a level below the lobby, it still gets tons of light through the arched windows facing a garden. The view, while not exciting, is pleasant. There are ellipticals, recumbent bikes, free weights and strength training machines, as well as Pilates balls and steps. The work-out area also has flat-screen TVs and free water. There are a sauna and a steam room in the locker room.
Guests can also use the gym at the hotel’s sister properties, but note that while its cardio room has air-conditioning, the strength training area features only ceiling fans and is housed in a palapa.
Relaxing spa with a long list of treatments, beach massage huts, salon services, and a "sweat lodge" -- plus a kids' spa
The U-Spa is located in the common area shared with the hotel’s sister properties, and is located between the Colonial and Caribe hotels. It's a long walk or a short shuttle ride away from the Palace.
A great pick for families with kids and teens
The Palace has great family-friendly amenities, including a kids’ club, rooms that can accommodate up to five guests, and a kiddy pool.
Six oceanfront restaurants, plus access to 12 more at neighboring sister properties
Guests at the Palace have six restaurants to choose from, as well as access to the 12 other restaurants at the hotels’ sister properties, located a 5- to 15-minute walk or a short (and free) shuttle ride away.
The three on-site a la carte restaurants are open for dinner only and require reservations. Club Premium guests have unlimited access to a la carte restaurants.
Five bars, including a happening swim-up bar and a 24-hour lobby lounge with snacks, all serving premium brands
The Palace is the only one of the three Barcelo properties in the complex offering top-shelf drinks as part of the all-inclusive package. There are five bars on-site, plus many more at the neighboring Barcelo properties -- but the latter offer national, non-premium brands.
Almost everything is included here -- except for motorized water sports, spa services, Wi-Fi, and room service
The all-inclusive plan at Barcelo Maya Palace covers everything from non-motorized water sports to premium drinks at all bars. Motorized water sports and services such as babysitting, room service, and massages are not included, and Wi-Fi is only free for Club Premium guests.
Upscale services include concierges and free daily restocking of the minibars.
Daily activities at the pool, and nightly shows
The Palace offers a wide array of activities for all ages. Guests can take a salsa lesson, work out with some aquaerobics at the pool, and play soccer all before dinner. At night, guests with a little extra energy can catch the nightly show at the 750-seat theater, or head to the nightclub for late-night dancing.
Directly on a mile-long, white-sand beach with turquoise waters
The Palace is located directly on a beautiful beach just south of Playa del Carmen. It is a private mile-long stretch of sand shared only with its neighboring sister properties, so guests are not bothered by outside vendors. The hotel does not provide umbrellas, but there are dozens of palm trees that create a large shaded area.
Tennis courts lit for night play, a mini-golf course, and water sports
The Palace has its own basketball and tennis courts (lit for night play for an extra fee) as well as its own archery field, but shares the rest of the sports facilities with the two other Barcelo properties on-site.
One of Riviera Maya's largest convention centers on-site, and elegant meeting rooms for all types of events
The Palace is a good pick for those planning a corporate event. It’s not only home to one of the largest convention centers in Riviera Maya, but offers a wide array of elegantly appointed flexible meeting rooms.
Wedding planner on-site, plus two chapels and several wedding packages
The hotel is a popular wedding destination both for its beautiful setting on a white-sand beach, and for the myriad wedding services it offers. The hotel can accommodate small to mid-sized civil, religious, and even Maya-style weddings in different locations throughout the resort. For civil ceremonies, the Palace provides couples with all necessary documentation.
Initiatives for reduced waste and water consumption
The Palace has been awarded the Earth Check certificate, which is an environmental management and certification program that helps the travel and tourism industry "monitor, measure and manage its environmental, social and economic impacts." The program is geared towards the reduction of waste and water consumption.
The hotel has eight handicap-accessible rooms and a zero-entry pool.
Within a gated resort shared with two other Barcelo properties
While Riviera Maya is a safe tourist destination, most resorts have some sort of security at the entrance. The Barcelo Maya Palace is located inside a sprawling oceanfront resort shared with two other Barcelo properties -- the Barcelo Maya Colonial & Tropical and the Barcelo Maya Beach & Caribe -- which has a gated entrance. The beach is exclusive for Barcelo guests, so no outside vendors can access it. There are lifeguards on duty seven days a week.
When arriving by taxi or shuttle from the airport, the staff take note of the driver's and guest's names before waving them in.
The Palace offers a high-end all-inclusive experience on a gorgeous stretch of white-sand beach 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. It’s the smallest, newest and most upscale of the three properties in the Barcelo complex, with 756 beautiful rooms surrounded by gorgeous pools and manicured grounds. All rooms are Junior Suites or Suites with pretty bathrooms featuring separate showers and tubs. There’s a lot for everyone here, from couples to families to groups, but those who want to party will have to walk to the hotel's sister properties next door, and non-Club Premium guests should expect to pay for Wi-Fi.