Our honeymoon is one of my other favorite memories. Not just our honeymoon, but this destination. We have been back FIVE times...yes five! We have recommended this place to several other couples and a few have taken our advice and enjoyed it just as much. We have also take another couple with us on vacation here twice. So here it goes!
Barcelo Riviera Maya
An ALL-INCLUSIVE family-friendly resort just south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. This is where we stayed for our honeymoon and had a wonderful experience. I'm not completely sure how Mike found it, but since then it has been voted as a Travelers Choice on Trip Advisor. It's a great place for couples, families, and friends. You can almost always find a discounted rate and it becomes less expensive than any comparable vacation in the US, especially when you factor in food and activities. It is comprised of 5 different hotels sitting on a 2 km private beach of 500,000 m2. The Beach and Caribe are both 4 stars. Tropical and Colonial are 4.5 stars. And the Maya Palace is a 5 star. As you stay at any of the hotels with higher stars, you have access to all of the amenities at the hotels with less stars. A pretty good deal if you ask me. There are at least 15 different restaurants to check out if you stay at the Palace or upgrade to Club Premium. Half of them are ala carte style while the others are buffet. There are several more bars around the property where you can pick up your favorite drink. Plus, you have a mini bar in your room that is already included in the price. You can request it be filled with your choice of drinks.
I'm posting a few videos, but these are not exactly the best advertisement, so check out the photos on TripAdvisor. When I am on vacation I don't always feel like taking photos.
I could list more details, but figure it would be easiest for you to check things out at their website and Trip Advisor.
Beach @ Barcelo
Beach @ Trip Advisor
Caribe @ Barcelo
Caribe @ Trip Advisor
Colonial @ Barcelo
Colonial @ Trip Advisor
Tropical @ Barcelo
Tropical@ Trip Advisor
Palace @ Barcelo
Palace @ Trip Advisor
And, if that's not enough, check out unofficial-barcelo-maya. Be sure to check out the discussion board and find out ANYTHING you could possibly imagine. Some things to know, the more you pay, the more ala carte reservations you can make. Make sure to book these ASAP as they fill up quickly. The buffets are more than sufficient, but if you want a great meal, hit up the ala cartes...especially the French one and ask for Margerito. Mike's favorite part is the option to swing buy the buffets for a snack or extra dessert. You never go hungry! Even with Celiac and a strict gluten free diet, I was able to find more than enough food to eat and the chefs were very accommodating to my needs. Try to arrive early if you have special needs and although tips are already included in your stay, they appreciate the gratitude in your tips when they take good care of you.
Our biggest complaint is the lack of things to do in the evening, unless you REALLY like to drink or want to stay up late to enjoy the disco. They have some pool tables, ping pong, etc, but they all shut down around 5 or 6. This would provide great entertainment for people later in the day. We have enjoyed putt-putt at night, but watch out for the mosquitoes. At the Palace, all the restaurants are ocean side, but can be a far walk from your room. The water activities take place over at the Beach and Caribe and are also distant from the Palace (but you can use the train). The buffets at the beach and Caribe are NOT air conditioned either. We have seen more of the "spring break" crowd staying at the Beach and Caribe so we tend to stay away from those.
Our recommendation is to stay at the Tropical or Colonial and upgrade to CLUB PREMIUM. There is very little difference between the rooms at the Palace and the Tropical and Colonial. The Club Premium is like a VIP pass and gives you access to all the amenities at the Palace and other resorts, even though you are not staying at them. This is really the best bang for your buck and will also give you an ocean front room. We tend to watch for specials at the resort. Check out barcelo.com, but also look at bookit.com, orbitz.com, and cheapcarribean.com Travelzoo.com may also be a good resource.
We have considered staying other places (and have one year) and cruises. As we have investigated, we have always come back to Barcelo. Unlike a cruise, your adventures are already included unless you go off site for something. In a cruise, you have to pay for lunch, drinks, etc. as you get off and explore your new destination. I don't believe alcohol is included all the time and you are required to leave tips throughout your stay. We do bring about $50 in one dollar bills and spread that out to those serving us throughout our stay. Most people don't leave anything for the waiters, so a little goes a long way. We love not having to open our wallet the whole week.
To give you an idea, we have been three different times to Barcelo Maya. We have stayed twice at the 4.5 stars and once at the 5 star Palace. Including airfare, taxes, airport transfer, tips, EVERYTHING we pay under $2,000 for the two of us. We have flown American Airlines twice to Cancun, but have had trouble in Miami during layovers everytime. We will now fly JETBLUE whenever possible because of the quality, price, and direct flight available. They don't even charge you for your first bag and still give you complimentary snacks and drinks!