OUR TRAVEL BACKGROUND
My husband and I are avid travelers. We have visited the Riviera Maya (more specifically Tulum) once before on a cruise but this trip was our first time at an all-inclusive resort. After staying at the GP, we will NEVER cruise again - this was 10 times better than any cruise.
I was prepared that the van would take over an hour to get to the resort. One things to take note of is if you are taking people with you make sure you let them know about the long drive. A couple of them were a bit miffed (I forgot to tell them) until they got to the GP and saw how awesome it was.
The one thing that I hated about the apple transfer was leaving the resort 4.5 hours before our return flight. Not to mention apple telling us the wrong time (6:45 instead of 5:45) when we set up the return transfer on the first day.
We stayed in a cabana in the royal section. It was completely worth every penny. I loved how spacious it was plus the hammock out on the deck next to the water was like heaven. The one part I was worried about was the outdoor shower but even when it was a bit cool in the mornings I never got cold. It was VERY private on the deck which is also a plus.
If you are debating if its worth the extra money to stay in the Royal section the answer is YES! The area is much quieter than any other section of the resort plus the restaurant, Riviera lobby and pool are right there close by with the benefit of room service for those early morning days. I am not even a big drinker (hot tea is my usual drink of choice) and I really enjoyed the premium liquor and tea. Every morning I loved heading down to the Royal lobby, getting a cup of tea and checking my email on the little terrace on the water.
THINGS TO DO AT THE RESORT
So we totally failed at this as we spent most of our time just walking around and enjoying the weather. We did take advantage of the Royal only section of the beach. Loved the beach beds. My husband and I are NOT the type to just kick back but something about the resort lets you really relax and enjoy doing nothing.
FOOD / DRINKS
My biggest worry was the food. I HATE deep fried foods. I guess I hit one to many drive-thrus while in college. The last thing I wanted to see was a buffet with more darn burgers and fries. The food at the GP was so far from this that I can see why so many GP Addicts told me not to worry.
One other thing I want to point out is how the food was very well done no matter the country of origin the food was coming from. Here in the states when you go into a ethnic restaurant its seems like so many of them "Americanize" the food. At the Grand Palladium they were very true to each type of food and there was no "Mexicanizing" the food (if that is even a word).
- Hemingways Piano Bar
We visited almost every night after dinner. I think the only night we missed doing this was the night of our wedding. My husband loves the Mayan coffee and the hot chocolate with orange flavor I had was to die for. Not to mention they have a little cooler full of desserts you can munch on. The next time we go I will remember to pack a couple games to play while we enjoy our drinks.
- Beach bar - Punta Emelia
Totally amazing! The quesadillas and fajitas with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo were so delicious. I also might have tried some of the cheese fries which surprised me because they were actually seasoned potatoes wedges with a cheese and pico de gallo. ZOMG, YUM! There were a couple days we sat out by the beach and ate a peaceful lunch with the little kudamundi walking around waiting for our scraps.
These are not your standard buffets like you see in the US. They had food from all over the world which included the dreaded fries and burgers (small section) but they also had cucumber salads, freshly made chalupas, cold soups, made to order panini sandwiches, fresh fish... Well you get the idea. I really enjoyed getting a few freshly made chips and adding pico de gallo and guacamole to them. I can't think of a single thing I tried at the buffets that wasn't delicious.
- Royal Only - El Jardin
I have to start out by saying they had the most amazing mimosas in the morning. Never got a mimosa like these anywhere else in the resort. While we never did have dinner here, the breakfasts were very good. For breakfast you can order from the menu or have the buffet. Normally we would order a fruit plate off the menu (because that was the one thing that didn't get replenished very quickly at the buffet) and then head to the buffet for other things like the made to order omelettes along with some milk and oats that my husband fell in love with. You can order the same items off the menu but they are HUGE portions.
- Steak House - El Dorado
We have some mixed reviews here from our guests. My husband and I loved it while a couple of our guests thought it was just ok. If you are not a huge beef fan like me order the chicken, fantastic!
- Japanese - Sumptuori
We ate here a total of three times (with different wedding guests). Twice at a standard table and once at a show table. While the show table was ok it was something we have seen in many hibachi restaurants so we preferred the standard table for a more diverse menu. In general the food was good. It was typical hibachi style food. I can highly recommend a couple of the desserts though. The imperial rice and the banana dream are both amazing.
- Mediterranean - Mare Nostrum
We had our rehearsal dinner here and it was great! The orange duck was fantastic and the creme brulee was to die for. I would definitely go back here.
- Italian - Portofino
All six of us that went here liked the food. The salmon risotto was mouth watering! We also had a couple people try the chicken d'angello and really liked it.
- Brazilian - Rodizio
So this was the one that a couple of our guests told us was a must but I have to say I wasn't that impressed. I am usually not a huge meat eater so it was just too much for me. On the other hand my husband and our best man really loved it. I have to say the pineapple tart for dessert was totally worth waiting for though. (Actually come to think of it all the tarts I had at the resort were amazing.)
- Asian - Bamboo
Was a little disappointed that the sushi was just a starter and couldn't be ordered as a meal. Although the chicken cantonese was really good and my husband beef chop suey wasn't too bad.
We only held our reception at the Grand Palladium (ceremony and cocktail hour at Al Cielo). We opted for a private reception at La Laguna. We ordered the surf and turf meal which was unbelievably amazing. Everyone agreed it was the best meal we had at the resort the entire time. Also the staff was fantastic. They brought us out warmed towels to wrap up in as it was a little chilly while we were all sitting still.
There were only two things that did not go as we had hoped but no big deal. The one that still kind of makes me sad is the cake. We had paid for an additional layer of a certain height to accommodate our unique cake topper that went down the side over two tiers. The second tier wasn't tall enough and the cake topper didn't fit right. Not to mention the icing decoration on it looked like something from my local grocery store. I wish I would have asked to bring in a cake from an outside vendor.
Overall I would say we had a good experience. It did seem like at times the planning staff was overwhelmed and if you wanted anything that deviated from their standard that it was hard for them.
FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC! We have done a lot of traveling and I have to say that this resort went above and beyond any vacation we have ever taken. I know for sure we will never take another cruise again after staying at the GP.
I am so happy we chose the Grand Palladium. My husband and I are the typical on the go all the time young couple but for the first time in a LONG time we were able to just kick back and relax. The whole atmosphere of the resort is set to have you relax. Consider us addicted for life!