Royal Playa Del Carmen – review

Wonderful all-inclusive.  Highly recommended.

Is the Royal perfect?  No.

Is the Royal almost perfect?  Yes.

First off, I’m someone that usually works to stay away from all-inclusive resorts.  The idea of going to a new place in the world and being separated from the people that live in that place is a big turn-off.  When I go someplace, I want to be *in* the place, so I can see what it’s really like.

Fast forward to the end of November and my better half says she wants to get away this Christmas.  We start looking in the states and locations short flights or drives away.  Unfortunately we quickly become buried in choices and deadlocked.

So, we talked to a local travel agent, told her what we like and turned her loose.  That experience will have to be a review by itself.

The first option she came back with was the Royal and my initial reaction was “WTF?  It’s an all-inclusive. No way.”

After looking more into what the Royal offers and thinking about the shitty year we’d be leaving behind, the idea of letting someone just take care of us for a week increased in appeal.  Eat whatever we want (mostly) at the 7 on-property restaurants and 24hr snack bar or get drinks from any of the 5 bars or have our drinks brought to us on the beach or anywhere around the pool.  For a week.  Yeah, OK.  We could force ourselves into that for an end of year vacation.

So we replied to the agent’s email later the same night to say “go for it!”

And got an email the next morning saying we’d missed the window for the deal she’d quoted. Which closed after she’d gone home for the night and wasn’t checking email from home.  As I said, I’ll have to write a review just on the travel agent experience.


Fast forward a week and we finally have a reservation at the Royal.  It’s $1,000 more than the first deal and I’m feeling a little used but hopeful.

Fast forward again to the seven days starting Dec 21st.  We’re headed for the airport and flying off to Mexico.

After an uneventful flight we land and are taken to the airport by a Lomas Travel bus.

Check in and orientation was done by Daniela after which we headed off to Pelicanos for lunch.

The one thing missing from orientation was an explanation of how getting the meals actually works.  After a bit of a false start (the waiter didn’t recognize that we were brand new to the resort, what, the shell-shocked travel look on our faces didn’t give it away? 🙂 ) we settle in with a simple meal of sea bass for me and shrimp tacos for Wifey.  The sea bass was more like sea bass slivers but was good.  The tacos must have been good because they disappeared quickly.  Afterwards we added a few tacos from Rincon Mexicano to fill up the corners.  The only downside to Pelicanos (and it’s minor) is the music they were playing at the time.  They were playing what sounded like show-tune versions of songs popular in the 80’s.  Should we all get up and dance and sing?

Afterwards we settled in to our large, clean Ocean-Front room with a nice “Welcome Home” message on the bed, made with flower petals and palm leaves and moved to the beach as quickly as possible.  Our room is where we encountered the “not perfect” part of the trip.  As soon as Wifey tried to turn on the bathroom light, the bulb burned out.  Also, the reading light on her side didn’t work.  No problem.  These were minor and were fixed within a couple of days.

For the TLDR crowd, here’s the short version of the rest of the review:

Clean.  The place is spotless.  Employees are constantly picking up after guests (mostly towels and glasses) so that the entire property looks fresh and clean.  They won’t take your dishes or towel away if it’s clear you’re coming back but if your glass is empty, the plate’s clean and none of your belongings are nearby, off they go.  This is a good thing.  Chairs by the pool are in high demand and it’s good to know when a new one opens up.  An army of people is constantly moving through the property, keeping it “just so.”

Beautiful.  It would take me too long to list all the ways in which the property is beautiful.  Just scroll through some of the pictures online and know that what you’re seeing is what you’ll get during your stay.

The employees are friendly and helpful.  Look lost for just a moment and you’ll very likely have someone stop and ask if they can help you.  “No, just thinking about what I want to do next.” was my most frequent reply.  When on the beach or near the pool, your glass won’t be empty long before someone comes by to check on you.  Most frequently they’ll be by before it’s empty.  Everyone smiles and says “hola” with the signature Royal salute, I felt like I should be in uniform the first few days we were there.

While the beach isn’t great for swimming and snorkeling (rocks and rough waves) it is clean.  It’s clean because the property employees go out each morning, rake up the seaweed and bury it on the beach every day.  The first day I saw them do this, I wasn’t sure what was going on as all I saw were a couple of “graves” on the beach while the workers were on a short break. The came back and began filling in the seaweed graves and covering them with sand.  A short while later and all that was left was clean sand.

The food is consistently good.  Everywhere.  The fare in the 24hr break room might get a bit “aged” but it won’t be there long before someone swaps it out for something fresh.  All. Night. Long.

There was live music much of the time.  This was both good and, well, not so good.  It was good in that it wasn’t the same all the time but not so good in that the non-latin songs and tunes came across as largely bland karaoke-sounding renditions.  I even saw the performers singing along to tunes from their ipads on stands in front of them.  I would have been happier if they’d stuck to the latin tunes since they clearly were more comfortable with those and they played and sang with much more energy.

The nightly shows were very energetic.  The athleticism displayed is impressive and worth seeing a night or two.  The shows are a bit repetitive and sometimes the choreography doesn’t match up with the music, but I couldn’t do what they do, night after night.

Strange question we received the first day. “Is six pillows enough?”  Enough for what?

The Paella cooking demonstration is fun to watch and the paella was delicious.  Don’t miss it.

Wifey had fun with water zumba and the crafting.  I had fun watching those.

In summary, I think you should seriously consider the Royal if you’re open to an all-inclusive in Playa Del Carmen.


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Michael Harrison

Husband, Programmer, Irish dancer, tinkerer, astronomer, layabout (as much as possible)

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