Paradisus Playa del Carmen is an all-inclusive luxury playground catering to adults and children alike. The resort is located along the Riviera Maya’s prestigious Playa del Carmen enclave on Mexico’s eastern shore renowned for pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters.
Full bathroom with sensory tub and double rain showers
The Paradisus Roulette 'Roulette Room' is designed to extend great savings to those who are flexible on spending their vacation at one of two Paradisus Resorts in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The 'roulette' is that you won't know which resort you'll be staying at until 7 days prior to your arrival. Participating Paradisus Resorts in Playa del Carmen, Mexico include:
Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla - Adults Only
Paradisus Playa del Carmen Playa del Carmen
Once you have booked the Paradisus Resorts 'Roulette Room' you will be assigned to one of the Paradisus Resort properties in Playa del Carmen, Mexico approximately one week prior to your arrival, or if booked within seven days of arrival you will be notified 24 hours prior to your arrival. A WestJet Vacations representative will contact you by phone or email to advise you of the Paradisus Resort where you will be enjoying your vacation.
Our days always started in stellar fashion thanks to the outstanding level of service from the staff. Among these hospitality professionals, Maria Tuz Arlett was a shining example excellence. She went above and beyond what was expected, and made us feel like royalty. The Naos restaurant was where we would start our day, and we were always overwhelmed with the kind, attentive and personalized service we were treated to. Naos is a buffet, but the staff elevate the experience to fine dining. Our sincere thanks for your work, and for the memories you helped create!
Paradisus Vet Gives you the Skinny on The Reserve 2022
Jul 04, 2022
I’m writing this review of the Paradisus La Esmeralda family all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico through the lens of a veteran Paradisus La Esmeralda family. We are a family of three – myself, my wife and our 15-year-old daughter.
We know there are many others out there who have visited this resort multiple times over the years and may be wondering what’s changed since COVID, how the resort in doing in general and what the difference between the old Family Concierge and the more recent “Reserve” status is. For those of you who haven’t been here before, it will hopefully give you a better picture as well.
This was our fifth trip to the Paradisus in ten years. We came here first in 2012, returned in 2013, then 2015, and then 2017. After, we hit a few other resorts and – voila – COVID, derailing a planned 2020 trip. Fast forward to 2022, and we are back! We had a short visit here, arriving on June 29th and departing on July 3rd.
The Paradisus remains our favorite resort in the Riviera Maya. The combination of exceptional service, gorgeous grounds incorporated into the existing natural landscape, four-star restaurants with enough variety to make even long stays not become monotonous, plenty of fun for both adults and children, and comparatively reasonable prices make this place a real gem.
Since it has been five years from our last visit, we have some insight into changes sparked by time and by COVID. We’ll get into The Reserve in a moment, but the top line there is that you can pretty much expect the same thing you got if you chose Family Concierge a few years ago, with a few notable changes.
Mainly, the Paradisus is working its way through the tidal wave that has been COVID, and it’s clear that the challenges the resort industry faces are like many others in the form of staffing challenges, controlling costs without reducing the customer experience, and the like. In other words, the “changes” from 2017 are most prominently changes that are at a level above the Paradisus’ ability to have direct control. That said, backed by the strength of Melia, they seem to have figuratively weathered the storm quite well.
Other changes to be discussed include updates to the mix of restaurants and an overall reduction in evening entertainment that was such a prominent and enticing feature of the resort. Finally, the resort in recent years has doubled down on its commitment to being more eco-friendly, which manifests itself in a reduction of plastic bottles in favor of glass, reusable plastic cups at the pool, the removal of the heavy flow option button functionality on toilets, and most notably, the introduction of towel cards to enforce a one-per-person usage. On that last point, this ends up reducing laundry service, presumably, which is also good for the environment. Those of you who don’t believe climate change is real may be disappointed in these changes, but you’ll still have plenty of down-home, old-fashioned fun here, so please don’t cry in your beer – take a shot of mezcal instead and stiffen that upper lip!
Really quickly, the weather was ridiculously awesome. You honestly never know what you’re going to get there this time of year. In 2015 we stayed for two weeks and the entire first week was literally a wash as a massive tropical storm rolled through. This time around, it was nearly cloudless sun and 90-degree Fahrenheit temperatures with literally no rain. It misted once for about 30 seconds. Not kidding.
My southern Italian wife is so dark she will have tan lines for the next twelve months. My white northern European skin survived by the grace of Hawaiian Tropics Silk Hydration 50 SPF and 30 SPF applied liberally, and Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Face Mist 55 SPF. No paid endorsements here – these products are gold.
In recent years, we’ve chosen swim-up suites for an extra layer of convenience and family togetherness, and because as our daughter entered her teen years, the appeal of her own space/room was more appealing. At a fair number of resorts, Paradisus included, a portion of those one BR suites have a swim out option. We chose this for the first time at the Paradisus.
We chose the Reserve One-Bedroom Deluxe Swim-Up Suite – the smaller of the one-bedroom swim out options. You can choose the larger “Master” version for about $150 US more per night. You’ll get about 250 square feet more of room in the main area for that. We didn’t see it as necessary with only three people, but I can see a case for the larger version if you have more people.
Our room number was 2024 and we were located basically at a corner of a swim-up section to the southwest of the main pool. The location was incredible – because there were no occupants of any swim-ups within five rooms of us in either direction, we essentially had a large private pool and wing of the resort to ourselves. We had full sun in the morning outside the unit until the hottest part of the day, around 2pm, when the shade was welcomed. And, we were adjacent to a foot bridge connecting the main pool area to the room complex, meaning that we had overhead shade within feet of our swim-up.
We brought the UE Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker along and a deep cut playlist of a combination of Jens Buchert spa music and Martin Denny cocktail tracks, and essentially created our very own beach club environ. The tunes blended with the environment from an “I’d expect to be hearing that being pumped around a resort’s music system” so no complaints from anyone passing by. Pro tip ?
In terms of living quarters, it’s what you would expect from the Paradisus. Comfy beds and soft linens in the bedroom, a decent sized bathroom that could be accessed through either the bedroom or the main room, and a kitchenette area, kitchen sink, circular dining table and chairs and sofa bed. I will say, these sofa beds are different than the pull-out sofa beds in the other Reserve rooms we’ve stayed in. They don’t fold out into an actual pull-out bed with a real mattress – it feels more like a futon in its firmness when pulled out and my daughter commented on that aspect. Yet, she did survive.
The resort has subtly cut back on a few things in the room, notably that it appears you no longer are supplied with slippers in the room. That said, I bet if you asked for them, they would bring them. The amenities like body wash, shampoo and conditioner also appear to have been downgraded from premium products, though they all still functioned as expected!
Overall, the room showed a little of the wear and tear that comes with time, but the resort seems to be on top of routine maintenance to keep the aesthetic to a high standard. I guarantee you that the Paradisus repaints rooms far more frequently than any of us do in our own homes.
One other notable thing was a lack of nightly turndown service. This, again, is probably a staffing issue and by no means a must-have.
Let’s talk about The Reserve. This was our first time with this new incarnation of Family Concierge, and we knew some of what to expect but weren’t entirely sure it would be the same experience. One thing to note here is that this was the first time we had a room that wasn’t located in the actual Reserve block of rooms section. That section is the block directly north of the Reserve pool and Reserve lobby. In our opinion, it didn’t matter. It was a short walk to the Reserve lobby, and honestly, we didn’t really need to do that during our stay. What this does allow the resort to do is offer Reserve-level service to a particular class of room without requiring that the room be physically connected to the Reserve section.
From the standpoint of service, the Reserve works the same way Family Concierge did – you receive a personal staffer who is with you for your entire visit and can act as liaison to the many services of the hotel, including restaurant reservations, room service, The Kid’s Club, maintenance, etc. Yes, you could do these all yourself, and there are resources through the Melia app to do so but having someone with an inside track is invaluable – feels like you’re being expedited to the head of the line every time.
What’s awesome as an update for us since 2017 is that the Reserve has moved from proprietary digital communications systems like Telcel cell phones given to guests, to the use of What’s App for communication. We were able to communicate in real time throughout our stay.
At this point it’s important to give a major shout out to our Reserve concierge, Jonathan, who was easily the best concierge we’ve had in all five of our stays. He was almost immediately accessible every time we had an inquiry or request, and never was unable to accommodate. A sampling of our requests and the turnaround on them:
“Can we have a bottle of the house cabernet delivered to the room so we can have a drink after dinner at 7pm?” RESPONSE: “Yes, absolutely! It will be arriving around 7pm.” RESULT: The bottle, a corkscrew and two wine glasses were waiting for us when we returned from dinner.
“Jonathan, we are back at the room swimming and our pool towels were removed during the maid’s visit – can you arrange for new towels. RESPONSE: “I’ll gladly bring.” RESULT: he walked them over personally five minutes later.
“Jonathan, we think the air conditioner in the main room isn’t working – could someone from maintenance come by and check?” RESPONSE: “Can I send them now or after 11am?” RESULT: maintenance arrived within 30 minutes and fixed the A/C.
Originally, Jonathan made dinner reservations for us for all four nights with some of our choices, among them a teppanyaki table at Bana. Unfortunately, the only time he could get for us was 9pm, which is a bit late for us when we are on vacation. But we really wanted to go and didn’t express any disappointment to him. On the morning of, he noticed that an 8pm reservation for teppanyaki had been cancelled, and he reached out immediately to ask us if we’d like the earlier time slot. YES, we do! That’s proactivity at its finest!
If you’ve been here before, you’re familiar with the phrase “It’s my pleasure” in response to any staff request. We noticed less of this than in the past, and the only thing I can think of to explain it is that it’s so hard for anyone to find staff and retain right now, and as a result, training is way more complicated. That said, the lack of that phrase didn’t diminish the service level in any way. It’s more of a brand issue than anything – it was a simple but memorable point of differentiation for the Paradisus. I say this as someone who works in corporate and product branding.
Really no changes here. Same pools, same service level, same progression of activities as before. Just fine. Again, shout-out to the swim-ups – I think I prefer them to the main pools now.
What’s to say that hasn’t been said. If you’ve been following the sargassum issue in the Caribbean in the past six or so years you know what’s going on. I blame Brazil, the deforestation of the Amazon and massive increases of agricultural runoff. If you don’t believe me, Google “sargassum Caribbean Brazil to blame amazon runoff nola.com” and you’ll get the skinny on it. And it’s no longer just Mexico and the Caribbean suffering. These blooms have now made their way to Miami and other parts of Florida, wreaking havoc on the tourist scene there and ironically drawing the ire of the same public officials who deny climate change or the right of governments to regulate corporations, so they don’t ruin the environment. Karma’s a bitch, eh?
The Paradisus has installed a barrier about 300 meters offshore to protect the beach, but it ain’t perfect. It does stop most of the big blooms from making their way to shore, however what appears to be happening is that it pulverizes a lot of the sargassum from the blooms being crashed against the fences by the currents and so what comes through is a fine, red particulate. It’s swimmable but not particularly enjoyable. It’s just not what it used to be, but again, not the fault of the resort.
One thing they have made available are hobie crafts piloted by beach staff that will take you and family out to a very clear area of water near the fences where you can swim around. It’s a novel solve for a persistent problem.
This is still some of the best food we’ve encountered at a resort in its class. Notable changes: gone is Bento, in is Capella, an Italian delight that makes some of the best pastas we’ve had out to eat. My wife is Sicilian, she makes her own pasta and commented that all three pastas we ordered were outstanding. This is a great addition to the resort.
Bana, which I’d describe as pan-Asian with private teppanyaki rooms, has expanded from just the adults only side to the family side as well, as Bana Family. Word has it that there were so many complaints from adults only guests of kids coming over to the adults only side to get to Bana in years past (that was allowed as the one exception to the adults only side) that they decided to create Bana Family to shut them up and offer more teppanyaki tables.
Our experience at Bana Family was not what it has been at Bana. First, the teppanyaki tables aren’t private so it’s less of an intimate experience. Second, because there are four open air teppanyaki tables in a room space dominated by them, the temperature inside the restaurant on a hot night is pretty unbearable. We were dying for more water to be brought to the table. Third, there was little show cooking to be had. Gone are the parlor tricks like the onion volcano and the like. It honestly felt like we were being moved in and out rapidly. I remember the private tables being at least 90 minutes. This was over - start to finish - in less than 45 minutes. It was a bit of a disappointment to be honest.
COVID has clearly decimated the entertainment industry. The Paradisus excelled at nightly entertainment at the outdoor North Avenue Bar, with Mayan-themed acrobats and routines, honestly stellar Michael Jackson impersonators, Americana performances and the like. The choreographic was tight, the performances were fresh, the performers were uber-sexy, and the content was still (mostly) family-friendly.
Most of that is gone for now. It’s a challenge I’m sure the entire resort industry is facing, and I cannot imagine what most of the folks who used this as their livelihood are doing for work right now – it’s definitely a setback for that performance industry as it lost a whole segment of talented performers who probably stopped the rigorous training needed to perform at that level. On the flip side, I’m sure that the Circe du Sole companies in Cancun are having no problem finding high quality talent, as there are probably still a ton of people capable and not working.
We look forward to seeing this make its return up and down the Riviera Maya and wish the best for all in the circus industry who are struggling to get back into the game.
I’m still going to give this trip a five-star rating, and here’s why. Most of the challenges I’ve described are industry level or beyond – not the fault of the Paradisus. I’ll overlook the subpar experience at Bana family for the unexpectedly awesome new experience at Capella and give the resort credit for creating Bana Family to make everyone happy.
There is no question we will return to the Paradisus, we will do another swim-up, and we will ask for Jonathan at The Reserve!