I really can’t comment on Playa del Carmen itself because like a real true all-inclusive tourist, I made it to the resort and didn’t budge. But when you’re at an all-inclusive resort that is as big and nice as Paradisus la Perla, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.
I researched a ton of resorts in Playa del Carmen for a work trip that I was planning for 19 people. It had to be nice enough to “wow” the team members, but within a reasonable corporate budget. There were many resorts that fit one bill but not the other. They were either much too fancy with the price tag to go with it, or a little old and tired looking with underwhelming reviews.
Paradisus la Perla was the perfect fit for both. I was slightly worried that the pictures and reviews weren’t going to live up to the hype, but the grounds are absolutely beautiful and the pools are large, clean, and not crowded! The food was amazing and the “standard” room comes with not one but TWO soaking tubs! One of them is inside the room (and is separate from the DOUBLE shower) and the other one is on the balcony! There are far too many exclamation points in this paragraph but it’s hard to contain my excitement. I was here for work with my husband, Brian, but we both immediately agreed we would return for a personal trip.
Check In at Paradisus la Perla
Check in at Paradisus la Perla was so fast and easy. They take a copy of your passport and have you put a credit card on file for incidentals, then give you a pretty bracelet that lets people know you belong. If you’ve paid for the “Reserve” upgrade you will get a slightly fancier bracelet, ooh la la. Check in is at 3pm although they will let you into your room early if they have one available. Check out is at 12pm.
Your all-inclusive package technically goes just through breakfast on the day of checkout. I’m not sure how well they enforce that but it’s good to know in case you’re thinking of booking a late flight out and chilling all day at the pool with your all-inclusive food and drinks.
At the time of booking you have the option to upgrade to a Reserve reservation which gives you certain additional amenities. We didn’t have the reserve upgrade but we stayed in the reserve building so it seems like the rooms may not be all that different. The lobby of our building had a nice food spread and a refrigerator full of drinks. I tried to help myself to some, but was told in no uncertain terms that it was for Reserve guests only. So at least in some instances, the resort personnel does keep a check on those amenities.
Paradisus la Perla Resort Grounds
Paradisus la Perla and Paradisus Playa del Carmen are basically two sides of the same resort. La Perla is the adults only side and the other side is family friendly. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained. A koi pond strung with lights meanders through the resort, giving a very nice, tropical vibe. We were there in January when the weather was mild but I could tell from the layout that the walkways would enjoy a nice cross breeze even in the heat of summer.
Paradisus la Perla Pools
There are pools for both the family side and adult side. The adult pool on the Paradisus la Perla side has a swim up bar and DJ’s, dancers, and other entertainment throughout the day, starting around 12pm.
There is another pool around the corner from this one that also has a swim up bar and is much quieter. It doesn’t have music or DJs. I think this might have been the pool for “Reserve” guests but I saw plenty of people with the standard wristband there.
There is also another pool strictly set up for silence, complete with signs asking you to silence your cell phone!
Several rows of ground floor rooms have their own pool that comes off the room and is not shared with anyone else except for the other people who have room access. Many of those pools open into the central area so you can hang out in your private pool but still feel like you are part of the action.
All of the pools were clean and not crowded. There were plenty of chairs and cabanas available. I noticed some missing tiles in the quieter adult pool but I forgive any beach resort that is older than a year for having a little bit of wear and tear on it.
Service at the pools was totally acceptable and included both food and drinks. You may need to flag someone down but they’re easy to find and very accommodating.
There are several pathways to the beach from the resort. The beach in Playa del Carmen is wavy and there can be a lot of seaweed. The seaweed sort of stinks so if there is a particularly large amount, you will notice it when the wind blows your way. However, the hotel is pretty good about sweeping the seaweed up. The ocean is much too wavy for my tastes, but I did stick my toes in.
The seaweed-less sand is beautiful. It is white and soft and is wonderful to walk on. January is a low season for seaweed. It is worst April through August.
At the time we went in early January, there were ample beds and loungers available. You can help yourself to beach towels at the towel station just as you step off the walkway from Paradisus la Perla and onto the sand. They also have showers to rinse the sand off before heading back to the resort. Service at the beach is a bit slower than by the pool and it is drinks only.
Paradisus la Perla Rooms
The rooms at Paradisus la Perla resort are gorgeous. We stayed in the junior suite, which is their most common room type. There is a double shower, which is truly a double shower: one shower head and controls on each side and enough room for two people to actually fit. There is a huge soaking tub that kind of dominates the room, in a good way. The only drawback to the bathroom area is that the sinks are vessel sinks which make using the counter space more difficult.
There is a jacuzzi on the balcony! If you are on the ground floor, you’ll get a hammock too. You may also be visited by one of the cats or coatis that roam the property.
The beds are super comfortable and the linens fresh and clean. I will be honest though, one of the guests in our party had to change rooms because her room had fleas. She was however, holding one of the resort’s cute-but-feral cats the evening before which may have been where the fleas came from. Regardless, there was one room of 17 booked that had fleas in it. Fleas are disgusting. However, I will take them over bed bugs any day. But still.
Room service is part of the all-inclusive rate but there is a $5 delivery charge. Even though all-inclusives are usually marketed as “tip included” I highly recommend tipping something for deliveries and for your room cleaners, even if it’s just 5% or a few dollars. It is okay to tip in USD. The folks who work at the resorts work long hours and don’t get paid much. Not only is tipping the generous thing to do, but it will likely also get you better service. Win-win.
Paradisus la Perla Resort Food
There are so many restaurants to choose from at this resort. The restaurants at the adult side and the family side are shared (although the adult side restaurants are still adult only). There is a wide variety of cuisines to choose from and if you are here for a full week you’ll definitely not be bored with the food. They were good about accommodating dietary restrictions. Among our group, we had people who were gluten free, lactose intolerant, vegetarian, and allergic to avocados (!!).
For dinner we ate at Fuego, which is latin fusion (asian) and it was extremely good. We also had Mexican food at Molé which was hit or miss. Some of the dishes were amazing, like the Aztec cake (kind of like a Mexican lasagna) and some were a big miss, like my tamale which was a dry, dense, block of I don’t know…sand?
The group’s favorite by far was Bana, a sushi and teppanyaki bar. Everything was fresh and absolutely delicious. It earned high praise from Brian who said “I would actually pay to eat here.”
There are a couple of places for breakfast. The most popular one is the buffet. There is one on the adult side (Hadar) and one on the family side (Naos). They have the same offerings, and the food is surprisingly good for a buffet. There is a wide variety of food, both cold spreads and hot items that you can have made to order. There are servers who come around to give you drinks and clean up your plates. I’d recommend bringing a couple of bucks to leave as a tip for them.
For lunch there are several restaurants to choose from, including both buffets, a delicious taco restaurant called Blue Agave, and the Sunset Grill at the pool. You are not allowed to wear beach wear inside the restaurants so the pool grill is a nice option if you get hungry while you’re swimming.
Dinner is slightly trickier than breakfast or lunch as you need to make a reservation in advance. You can do this while on site at the resort. It’s not hard to do, just takes a little extra bit of planning, which I wish wasn’t necessary.
Dress code for dinner says no sleeveless shirts for men and no sandals. No one in our group wore a sleeveless shirt but there were plenty of sandals and it was no problem. I think the real dress code is pretty much “no beach wear” and “look somewhat decent.”
There were no restaurants that required pants, thank goodness. Brian and I went to one several years ago and he had to wear loaner pants that were about 12 sizes too big for him. I guarantee he looked much better in the nice shorts he came in than in the “Jared after losing 300 lbs on the subway diet” pants they gave him. Also, loaner pants? Ew.
There were some small shops but I didn’t go to them. One of the nights they had a little market set up with trinkets but again, I didn’t do much shopping. The town of Playa del Carmen has a long street filled with shops and it’s well-known for this area. However, we didn’t actually make it into the town.
Shoppers, go back to camp, I got nothin’ for ya.
Paradisus la Perla Spa and Gym
There is a spa and gym on site at Paradisus la Perla. I didn’t go to the spa but others did and had a wonderful time.
The gym was nice the first day because it was nearly empty. It was large and cooled to a nice temperature.
However, the next day I went, I noticed that a couple of the machines were broken. No problem, I’ll run on the treadmill. Whoops, two of the five treadmills are broken. The one that I got on worked, but not all of the options on the screen did.
I get that the gym is probably not the most popular place at the resort, but there were a surprising number of people using it. It really could have benefited from a little more attention.
Additional Info and Other Things
Playa del Carmen vs. Cancun
There are a lot of places you can get to from the Cancun airport. Two of the most popular ones are Cancun proper and Playa del Carmen. Cancun is typically considered more vibrant with nightlife and partying. It’s a popular place for senior trips, bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, and couples getaways. The vibe in Playa del Carmen is more chill and geared towards families, couples, and groups who want to have fun, yet not of the all-night variety.
Cancun is closer to the Cancun airport, but don’t let proximity sway your decision. With a little pre-planning it is very easy to arrange transport to Playa del Carmen if that is where you’d rather be.
Arriving to Cancun Airport and Getting to the Resort
It does take about an hour to drive from the Cancun international airport to Playa del Carmen. There is no public transportation so you will need to take an Uber, a taxi, or pre-arranged transport. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend pre-planning your transport.
When you arrive in Cancun, there will be a long hallway to walk through before you exit. Along that hallway are more hustlers than you ever could have imagined! These are people trying to sell you a time share, offer you taxi services, telling you that the resort sent them for you (even if they didn’t), etc., etc. It can be overwhelming.
If you have pre-booked transport you will not have to deal with any of these people. Simply politely ignore them as you follow the directions that your transport company will give you. Once you find your company, verify that they have your name on their list. Get in the car and away you go. It’s pretty simple if you know the drill and don’t get distracted by the other sales people.
We used a company called Bekare Transfers. They provide transport for groups as well as individuals. Alberto and the rest of the Bekare team were nothing short of amazing and I highly recommend them. They are also very reasonably priced.
Tipping and Drinking
I already mentioned tips, but tipping is appreciated even if the resort’s official policy is that tips are included. It is okay to tip in USD and the front desk will be happy to change your larger bills for $1’s and $5’s.
And for the one person who didn’t already know this, the water in Mexico is not safe to drink. There will be plenty of bottled water available, but do not drink from the tap! I always brush my teeth with tap water and have never had any adverse reaction. However, you may want to use bottled water even for this, if you have a sensitive stomach or just want to be extra careful.
Final Thoughts on Paradisus la Perla in Playa del Carmen
Paradisus la Perla is a beautiful resort and very reasonably priced for the amenities, room, and food. I would not hesitate to recommend this place and no, they’re not paying me to say that! Although Paradisus…if you’re reading this, a discount on a return trip would be pretty cool. 🙂
If you aren’t the all-inclusive type, or you’re like me and prefer a calm, crystal clear ocean, check out my post on the best kept secret in the Caribbean. But shhhh, don’t tell anyone else.
Did I leave something out? Message me or comment below!