Some complaints of butler and cleanup service being spotty
The 130-room Royal Suites Yucatan is the smallest, quietest, and most luxurious resort in the five-resort Grand Palladium Riviera Maya complex, and the only one for adults only. Located along the beautiful Akumal coastline between Tulum and Cancun, this upscale resort gives guests an all-inclusive experience with more food an drink options than you can count on both hands, all-day and night activities, soft sand and coral rock beaches, wildlife, a huge hydrotherapy-based spa with gym (access for a fee), and relaxing nature-filled grounds. While Royal Suites guests get full access to the features at the sister resorts, the reverse is not true. The rooms have much more contemporary decor than what is found at the sister properties, and the lagoon-facing Mayan Suites here are among the nicest accommodations in the entire complex. Just note that the property is sprawling and it's a trek to the beach, though shuttle service is available.
Four additional affiliated resorts are part of this large complex; the Royal Suites Palladium has 130 suites, and is designated as an adults-only hotel. Older couples are frequent travelers here, as are groups of adult family members. The lobby area is pretty and airy, with a palapa-like ceiling and large windows; this combination of interior and exterior is thematic throughout the property, including in the spa area and in the fitness center, which has floor-to-ceiling windows. The resort itself stretches over extensive grounds. Many guests have noted that wildlife can be seen from the walkways between buildings. The theater is the venue for regular evening entertainment.
The Royal Suites is definitely the most romantic and upscale resort in the complex; while the White Sand, Riviera, Colonial, and Kantenah resorts all have access to one another's features, only the Royal Suites section is exclusive to its guests. Specifically, Royal Suites guests have their own gourmet El Jardin restaurant, small pool, and La Terraza lobby bar. They also can access the features at all of the other properties. The nearest resorts are the Riviera and White Sands (which share a common hub with a main pool and multiple restaurants), and this side of the property feels quieter and more secluded. The downside is that it's also more of a trek to the beach, though shuttle service is available.
A 30-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, and one hour from Cancun International Airport
The huge, five-resort Grand Palladium complex entrance is off northbound Highway 307. It's just over an hour's drive south of Cancun and 30 minutes south of Playa del Carmen, but less than 15 minutes north of Akumal Beach's town center and 30 minutes north of the town and beachside ruins of Tulum. Adventure parks Xel-Ha, Xcaret, Xplor, and Alternative Tours are located just up the Highway 307 strip on the way to Playa del Carmen. The village-like resort complex gives little need to explore beyond the property, but if you want to get out and about you'll need a car or cab -- even just to make it to the front gates.
Spacious, modern rooms with two-person jetted tubs; romantic lagoon-adjacent rooms available
Rooms here are easily the nicest in the complex, with higher-quality bedding than its sister properties, jewel-tone accents, shiny marble tile floors, and in some, framed locally themed posters. Junior Suites and Royal Suites have two-person hot tubs on the balconies, which can be filled by the staff upon request. The bathroom setup may not be ideal for non-couples: Showers and toilets are self-contained, and neither area includes enough room to change. Junior Suites are the entry-level category, with a king or two double beds, while both Royal Suites and Mayan Suites have king beds. Mayan Suites are situated on the lagoon and are among the most romantic accommodations in the entire complex; the outdoor showers and indoor jetted tubs are highlights. All rooms have memory-foam mattresses, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, plasma TVs, bathrobes, and slippers; pillow and aromatherapy menus are on offer. All guests are assigned a butler, whose purpose it is to help them navigate the options of the hotel complex; many guests have noted that this service can be spotty.
An exclusive gourmet restaurant, plus lots more at sister resorts
The Royal Suites has its own exclusive restaurant, El Jardin, a thatched-roof, open-air space serving both buffet and a la carte fare (it has been known to serve lobster entrees for dinner at no additional charge). The Grand Palladium Riviera and White Sand share a slightly small main buffet, La Laguna, with outdoor seating overlooking the pool that serves breakfast, lunch, tea time snacks. There's also a pool-facing bar of the same name with lower-level swim-up service. (An additional and similar buffet is available on the Colonial/Kantenah side of the complex). There's an additional, much larger buffet, Kabah, that is shared between the two properties, but located on the Riviera side proper. Kabah is open for three meals a day. Otherwise, the a la carte selection includes the impressively decorated Bamboo (a Chinese restaurant), Portofino (Italian), La Lola (Spanish), and Ribs & More, a grill and barbecue joint. Reservations are required 24 hours in advance for the a la carte spots, and most have seating both indoors and outdoors.
On the other half of the resort complex, guests have even more choices with La Adelita (Mexican) and El Dorado on the Colonial side, and Sumptuori (Japanese sushi, hibachi, and table service) and Chang Thai (Thai) on the Kantenah side.
In addition to the official restaurants and buffets, there are quick snacks like nachos and burgers available at the Beach Bar, Punta Emilia (at the beach on the Riviera and White Sand side), and Sports Bar.
Besides having a head-spinning amount of dining options across all four resorts, Grand Palladium has implemented a fantastic program for those with restricted diets (including those with egg allergies, dairy intolerances, or celiac disease). Upon check-in guests with special dietary needs will receive a card to present to dining staff which alerts them to their particular requirements. Informed staff members can then show what dishes are acceptable or can be modified for the guest.
Fill your cup at over 20 spots scattered across the entire complex.
La Terraza lobby bar is for Royal Suites guests only, and has an outdoor section overlooking the lagoon -- but drink options hardly end there. With more bars than some small towns, the Grand Palladium complex has plenty of places to make sure your cup is never dry, from the beach, to the pool, to the theater, to the lobby, to the late-night dance club. The White Sand/Riviera sections of the complex give guests two eponymous lobby bars, El Teatro theater bar, Punta Emilia beachside snack and booze bar, and the dual-level pool and swim-up bar near their poolside buffet, La Laguna Bar. There's a unique saltwater pool among the rocks on the Riviera side where a small bar is set up, and a late-night dance club, Sunset Blvd., is located off the Riviera lobby.
On the Colonial side, there's Bar Colonial in the lobby, serving coffee and cocktails; a surprisingly large Sports Bar decked out with table games, sports memorabilia, ancient pay-per-use Internet kiosks, and a large projection screen TV; a bar off the theater serving spirits and soft drinks during the live shows; and the dual-level Gran Azul bar next to the buffet. The lower half of this bar has swim-up service that closes in the early evening, but the top part stays open late. Nearby, on the Kantenah side, there's another lobby bar, two evening lounges off the lobby, and off the far north corner of the beach, La Jarra beach bar. The Kantenah side also has an adult-only pool with bar service, while both resorts have the beachside Beach Bar (that also serves snacks) just behind the main pool and water park.
Long and busy stretch of soft sand beach, plus small coral rock area
The Mayan Riviera coastline is famous for soft white sands, turquoise waters, and sometimes, rocky coral shorelines -- oh, and a few (or more) gusts of wind. While busy and filled with sunning bodies (some topless), small shady palapa huts, and lounge chairs, the long stretch of beach behind the large resort still manages to feel natural and relaxing. Perhaps this is due to the mangrove and palm tree barrier between the edge of the pools and the beach itself, or the secluded Las Rocas area -- a naturally elevated spot with rustic views, coral reefs, and a saltwater pool -- connected to the sandy beach via a scenic walk through jungle landscaping with peekaboo ocean views. Down on the sands, lifeguards are on duty; water sports gear like paddle boats and kayaks are in frequent use; a webcam streams live; and people take dips in the shallow waters. Typical white loungers with tight-stretched blue fabric are strewn across the sand; note that topless sunbathing is allowed. There's not much shade available on the White Sand and Riviera side of the beach, but farther down on the Colonial and Kantendah sides there is a small section of sand under the shade of palms. The section of shoreline closest to Royal Suites is rocky, but shuttle service is available to get to the main stretch of sand.
Beach bars include Las Rocas, Punta Emilia on the edge of the White Sand and Riviera beach section, the Beach Bar smack in the middle of the beach behind Colonial/Kantenah (where food and beer, but no liquor, is served), and La Jarra on the far edge of the Kantenah strip.
A small private pool, plus seven freshwater pools across the complex and a seaside saltwater pool
The Royal Suites has its own pool with a warm water area in the middle surrounded by pillows, and in-water tile loungers. Across the complex, there are seven more freshwater pools and one saltwater pool. Of note is a garden-surrounded adult-only pool (marked on the map, but not on resort signage) placed between the Colonial/Kantenah and White Sand/Riviera sections. Although it's a quasi-secret, it's usually packed, but is a much quieter and more elegant looking spot than some of the other pools. A small bar is off to the side to serve up drinks. An infinity-style pool lined with shaded loungers is located at the spa, but can only be accessed with a spa pass.
Access to a wide variety of bars, dining options, and pools
Built first, the Grand Palladium Colonial claims the bulk of the complex amenities; just off the lobby guests will find bars, a theater, and multiple shops -- including a pharmacy and tobacco shop, a 24-hour doctor's clinic, and row of tour desks, along with baggage, telephone, and money services. On the grounds outside the lobby, Colonial is home to a pretty chapel with mass services (and weddings), orchid garden, and a flamboyance of flamingos (also found outside of Kantenah). Behind the Colonial and Kantenah pool area, there's an indoor and outdoor kids' club area with a large and colorful water park full of slides, fountains, and splash areas. The resort also has a baby club and teens' club, which is priceless for those hard-to-cater-for ages.
Around the complex grounds, guests will find a large sports center -- that people actually use -- with tennis, basketball, archery, soccer, running tracks, and mini-golf. Nearby, there's also the massive Zentopia spa which has its own pool; a large hydrotherapy area with saunas, various temperature pools, a typical Mayan sweat lodge, and treatments; beauty salon, treatment rooms with outdoor showers in Mayan decor; and gym. Access to the spa used to be a part of the all-inclusive, but in order to keep it less congested and more relaxing, the hotel decided to start charging a small fee.
Because of the massive grounds, golf cart shuttles transport guests from lobby to lobby, with drop offs at the spa and sports center as well. But, if you want to get adventurous, you can always rent a Segway and zip around the property yourself. The garden grounds have an abundance of wildlife. It's not uncommon to see coati (raccoon-like animals), raccoons, capybara (large hamster-like fellas), and various birds throughout the grounds -- there are even caged-in crocodiles hanging out behind the Colonial/Kantenah lobby. The resort also has three natural cenotes hidden among the verdant grounds, although unlike the popular ones along the highway, you cannot swim in them.
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