We visited Bahia Principe Tulum / Akumal during Thanksgiving (late November) 2005.We bought our tickets through a local travel agent. (!!) We NEVER buy tickets through travel agents, but in this case, the package deal through Apple Vacations was a good deal. We had a bit of a scare the night before we left, however. We called Mexicana to confirm our flights – and they said that they hadn’t received payment for my wife’s plane ticket so they had cancelled it! We made a panicked call to our travel agent, who fixed it up, after blaming it on Apple Vacations.
From San Francisco, we had to fly through Mexico City. It would have been ok, except for the fact that it was a red-eye flight with the layover in the middle of the night. So we didn’t sleep much.
Upon arrival, the Apple Vacations rep was waiting for us and the transfer was well organized. We had to stop at one or two other hotels on the way, but we weren’t very delayed.Even though we arrived earlier than our check-in time, they allowed us to leave our suitcases at the front desk and wander around. The resort was at only 30% capacity, because of the recent Hurricane Wilma scaring travelers away. The resort was in very good shape – since it was a modern construction, it suffered little damage, and in fact had served as a shelter for guests from the other hotels during the hurricane.
The complex is divided into three sections: Tulum, Akumal, and Coba. Coba is farther away from the ocean (but is the newest), Akumal is the most expensive, and the Tulum section is where we stayed. We believe they used to be separate resorts that have since merged into 1 mega-resort. All guests can use facilities of the other parts of the resort, although there are some restrictions on what restaurants guests can make reservations at.The swimming pools were beautiful, and clean. They were all over the grounds – with the largest ones being in front of the lobbies of the hotels. Our biggest complaint was that in late November, the swimming pools were very, very cold. Most guests were staying out of them for that reason. The sea was much warmer. The swim up bars helped warm up the water, of course.
The whirlpool/jacuzzis were few and far between, but were not heated – just cold water swirling around. And we do mean COLD.The beach was long, beautiful, and wide. It was very clean. The waves could get pretty intense though. They built some ugly looking breakers about 100 feet out of the water, which worked well to calm the waters. Wherever you are on the beach, it’s not very far to the nearest bar. They also have a bar with swing-seats which was a great place to catch the last light of the day. In some sections of the beach, waiters walk around taking drink orders. The main restaurants (and lunch restaurants) often repeat the same food, but the food was good and mostly fresh. The way the restaurants work is that guests are allowed to make a certain number of reservations at the fancier a-la-carte restaurants according to how long they are staying for. We were allowed to break this rule, since there was so few people at the resort, and had reservations at the a la carte restaurants every night. They were all excellent – the highlights for us were Meditteraneo, and Don Pablo. The Chinese restaurant at the Hacienda (a complex of boutiques aimed at the Bahia Principe guests) was probably the most disappointing of all the restaurants.
The a-la-carte restaurants were fantastic, often with live music, and all the courses were very good – certainly comparable to a high-end restaurant in California. The bars have a good variety of drinks of good quality. Service was fantastic – the waiters were very attentive. They even made my wife and I a special cake at Meditteraneo.The resort is VERY spread out, and several little trains runs between all the locations. It wouldn’t be unusual to have a 20 minute walk from your room to the main restaurant, for example, but once you learn the train timetable, the world of the resort shrinks greatly.
Overall, we had a very good time. The biggest negatives were the temperature of the water in the pools, and the strong current/waves in most of the beach.