The Paradisus La Perla in Playa del Carmen, Mexico is a really beautiful hotel and is kept spotless. On the surface, the staff all seem very nice and polite and seem very eager to help make your stay as enjoyable as possible. However, the food and the service fall seriously short of the experience they claim to deliver and it made for an extremely disappointing stay.
It’s almost as if someone read a book about what a luxury resort should have, and bought all those things, and gave the staff brief instructions on what to do, and just left. One example: We stayed in Royal Service and a golf cart arrived to whisk us away from the main lobby to the Royal Service check-in area. The golf cart died on the way there, and we helped push it to the check-in area. This would have been fine, and we really didn’t mind…except that we were speaking with other guests at the Royal Service pool and the SAME thing happened to them, too. So, it seems like it’s actually a problem and not just a fluke.
We were there with many of our friends and whenever we tried to make a dinner reservation for more than 8 of us, the restaurants insisted on serving us family style, and not letting us order from the menus. This is absolutely ridiculous, because last we checked, we were staying at an all-inclusive resort and food shouldn’t really be rationed, especially since 95% of us had Royal Service and one of us was even staying in the Presidential Suite. So, it struck me as incredibly cheap and petty that we were unable to order our own dishes, simply because we were sitting at the same table, instead of tables side by side.
That being said, the food wasn’t even good. I have no idea what these other reviewers were eating, but I think we missed out on it. There were particular things that were good or decent – the sea bass at La Palapa, the fried snapper and the calzones at The Grill, the teppanyaki at Bana, the guacamole generally, and the steak burritos at the pool.
However, a Mexican resort that serves STORE-BOUGHT tortilla chips (that aren’t even the good kind) is just sad (we actually saw them being scooped out of the bags). Avoid the mussels at the Grill at all costs – they are abnormally enormous, hard, pre-opened (so you have no idea if they are actually ok to eat or not) and tasted so fishy that I ate one (I was the only one brave enough of the 8 of us to try it) and immediately thought I was going to get food poisoning. Thankfully, I didn’t. But it was truly disgusting. Most of the food was not hot when it arrived at the table, even though presumably it was just made. Very disappointing.
The drinks were generally very good, but the bartenders at the bar near Mole were the only ones who could make a decent Margarita. The micheladas and piña coladas were generally delicious wherever we got them. M Bar has good martinis and the bartender, Luis, at the Royal Service pool is seriously a rock star.
The only reason that Royal Service is worth getting is because the pool is not freezing like the main pool. Otherwise, it is not worth it. Our butler was very nice and eager to help, but we hardly ever used him since everyone else’s butler was so bad (they would constantly promise to do things, and then never do them, never tell them that they weren’t going to get done, said no to other things, and even disappeared), so we had little faith. He did call us several times a day on our designated cell phone to check in. That was nice, but we would have preferred to just call him when we needed something.
That being said, our butler did arrange to have our toilet light fixed when it went out (although we had to ask, even though housekeeping had been there after it blew out and should have noticed that it was out…and we spent one night using it in pitch blackness). We tried to have him help us arrange for breakfast in the room, but he told us we’d need to order that ourselves with the door hanger. He did make one dinner reservation for us, though. So, that was nice.
The beach itself is actually not bad. I liked that there are little alcoves of chairs and it’s not just one long strip of chairs and people. It’s the water that’s the problem. There are huge areas of the beach that are too dangerous to swim in. That alone would make me not want to go to the beach again.
The reserving lounge chairs and Bali beds at the pool is absolutely ridiculous. The #1 rule on the pool rules board says no reserving chairs. However, the staff does nothing about it.
When there are, say, 4 people at the pool but every chair is reserved, this could be EASILY remedied by asking those 4 people which chairs are theirs, and removing all other towels from the other ones. It’s not that hard, and would make for a more pleasant experience for everyone. But, they don’t enforce it, so it becomes an “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude, and we learned that we needed to do the same, if we wanted to be able to sit anywhere near either pool at any time during the day.
Housekeeping didn’t show up to clean our room until about 4pm every day, and so we didn’t have our room cleaned one day since we were already back from the pool and showering when they wanted to clean it. Turn-down service also was hit and miss, and we had it 2/4 nights. But, the maids cleaned very well when they did come. It would have just been nice had they arrived between 9am and noon instead of nearly dinnertime.
The WIFI was free, but extremely spotty and unreliable.
Our friends had nightmare experiences – including one coming home with E Coli as a party favor. Nothing about the resort was truly terrible – but overall, it was just not a great experience and we were disappointed with what we got for all of the money we spent. Everyone in our group couldn’t wait to leave and the only thing that saved the whole trip was each other’s company.
There are so many other resorts in the area that we would definitely stay elsewhere, should we find ourselves in Playa del Carmen again.
It would be interesting to see what it’s like in 5 years, but I don’t have the time, money or patience to give it another try and risk another major disappointment at the Paradisus La Perla.
Have you been to this hotel? Did you have a good experience? I’d love to hear about it! Share it with me in the comments!