PLAYACAR: IBEROSTAR QUETZAL and TUCAN
Karina & Family (baby aged 6mos.)
This January I spent 2 weeks in the Mayan Riviera with my husband, 6 month old daughter, and my 3 siblings and their spouses (no other children). We stayed at the Iberostar Quetzal and Tucan resort in Playacar, near Playa Del Carmen.
Since this site was so helpful in planning our holiday and easing my stress about traveling with my daughter, I’d like to pay it forward in hopes that this review will help another family!
Getting there – We flew Air Transat direct and booked Option Plus seats. We pre-selected the bulkhead seats and the baby bassinet in hopes that this would make the trip easier. Next time I wouldn’t bother paying extra for Option Plus, since flying with a 6 month old didn’t really give me the time or desire for the extra glass of wine and we didn’t even open our comfort packages until we got home! The only benefit to the Option Plus in our case was the quick check in at the airport. No line at all!
Also, I don’t recommend the bassinet on the plane unless you have a younger baby. Our daughter HATED it! We ended up just using it to hold her toys and our unopened mini wine and champagne bottles. But our daughter refused to sleep the whole flight (both ways) so if you have a good sleeper the bassinet may be good for you. I think there is only one per plane so if you want it you have to book your seat early and request it.
The Air Transat staff was great on the flights. On the way home my daughter was refusing to nurse in the tight seats and the flight attendants let me use their staff row at the back of the plane to calm her and feed her.
Arrival – Since we were such a large group we booked a big van to take us to the resort instead of taking a shuttle. This was great! We didn’t have to stop at a bunch of resorts along the way to drop off other people and we got to the resort in just over half an hour.
There was a bit of a mix-up with our reservations when we got to the resort’s reception. Our travel agent was supposed to book us in the buildings near the dive shop and far from the loud theatre and disco. My parents had been to this resort before and found the rooms at the front of the resort far too loud. Instead we had been booked into the building right next to the lobby. Not a big deal to me, but my family is picky. They were able to get us moved after 2 days, so it was all good.
Our travel agent had also requested a crib for our room and I asked reception when we checked in. I was told that the crib would be brought to the room right away. Well, we waited for about an hour before deciding to go get some food. I returned to the room after dinner and had to call reception twice for the crib and had to wait for another hour.
Rooms – The rooms were very nice and suited our needs well. Like I said before, the rooms towards the front of the resort can be a bit loud, especially the rooms near the theatre. We were moved from building 19 to building 24 which was lovely! We faced a cute little lagoon area and the balcony was fairly private. We requested a main floor room to make it easier with the stroller. The one bad thing about a main floor room is the amount of people walking by to get to the stairs. We could hear every person who walked by our door, but luckily we brought some white noise to help our daughter sleep through it.
I found the bed a bit hard, but my husband thought it was fine. I found out on the second last day that you can request a foam mattress pad.. Oh well, next time!
The crib was not bad. It was sturdy enough but the mattress was very thin and they didn’t have sheets to fit it. They used queen size sheets folded up and tucked in. Luckily I had brought a crib sheet from home which was much softer than the hotel linens.
Getting around – One thing about this hotel which is really unique but not very baby friendly is the jungle that runs through the middle of the resort. As neat as it is to walk through the jungle and see monkeys and peacocks, it was nearly impossible to get through it with a stroller. Way too bumpy and too many stairs. We took the outer paths everywhere we went which was fine but took a little longer since the jungle paths were more direct.
Considering the jungle and amount of water, there was surprisingly few bugs. I didn’t notice any mosquitoes at all. My sister got bit by something on her legs… maybe a sand fly? And I stepped on a bee outside the dive shop. Ouch!
Food – This resort has 5 specialty restaurants in addition to the buffets: Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Tropical and Steakhouse. I enjoyed the food in all the restaurants and the buffets. By the end of the 2 weeks though I was getting a little bored with the buffet food. My brother was disappointed by the food, but like I said before, my family is picky…
There was a LOT of babies at the resort when we were there and only once did we have to wait a little while for a highchair to be available. The staff wiped them down okay, but I went over them again with sanitizing wipes (great investment at Wal-Mart by the way!).
One thing that I really didn’t like was that there wasn’t really a non-smoking section in the Tropical restaurant (possibly in other restaurants too, but I only noticed in the Tropical). My husband and daughter and I were eating there when a couple was seated next to us and immediately lit up. I asked to be moved to a non-smoking section and was told there wasn’t one, so we just moved to a table farther away from the smoking couple since no one else was smoking in the restaurant at the time. I felt like the waiter was acting a bit irritated by all this and he never returned to clear our plates or offer us dessert.
Pools – There was 4 pools at this resort: a small kids pool, a small adult only pool, a sports pool, and the main pool. The main pool was huge and never seemed too crowded. On the days that our whole group planned on staying by the pool I would reserve one of the cushioned platforms in the morning (since my daughter had me up by 6 a.m. everyday). These were nice and provided a lot of shade and a soft place for my daughter to play. We also brought a small blow-up pool and a blow-up baby float (both from Canadian Tire) for my daughter to play in.
The adult pool was a nice, secluded, lagoon-like area with a swim up bar. My brothers spent a lot of time in there but I only went in once, for a birthday drink!
Beach – The beach was gorgeous with clean white sand and not really any rocks. Every morning they raked the sand and wiped the seat cushions.
Grounds – The grounds were very well kept. One of the things I really like about this resort is how green and lush it is. The lobbies, restaurants, and theatre were all kept very clean as well.
Entertainment – The entertainment staff at the resort were very friendly and spent time socializing with the guests in between activities and the evening show. Several of the girls knew my daughter by name within the first few days and would always come by our spot by the pool to swoon over her!
I didn’t participate in any of the daily activities but my siblings did do a few. From what I recall there was water aerobics, yoga, zumba, darts, and beach volleyball. Probably more that I can’t think of now!
I only made it to a couple of the evening shows, but the ones I saw were really good. I saw the magic show and the Hollywood show. My younger brother was really friendly with some of the entertainment staff and so he ended up going to almost every show and he enjoyed them all. My parents, on the other hand, only liked a couple of the shows.
The Iberostar does have a Kids Club, but since my daughter was only 6 months old we didn’t use the club at all. The entertainment staff put on a Kids Disco at 8:00 p.m. in the theatre which looked really fun for the little kids.
There is also a spa at this resort. I got a massage on the beach (awesome birthday present from my hubby!) and I believe there is an indoor spa area as well. If you are going to get a massage, make sure you are clear about which type of massage you want and what price you are being charged. My brother thought he was getting a $40 half hour massage but when he checked out he was told it was $90… I think it was my brother’s mistake, but you never know!
Scuba Diving – The main reason we chose this resort is the scuba shop. There is a Dressel Divers scuba diving shop right there on site. As half of our group are divers, this was so convenient! The dive staff was excellent and the prices are good. As a nursing mom I found it nice that most of the dive locations are within 15 minutes of the resort so I could feed my daughter before leaving and be back before she was hungry again.
The shop provides snorkel excursions too, which my mom and sister enjoyed. You can also rent kayaks here or sign up for parasailing.
Summary – We had a fantastic vacation at the Iberostar Quetzal and Tucan and would definitely go back in the future. The resort is family friendly and well kept. My only negatives were the smoking in the Tropical restaurant and waiting for the crib on the first night.