Riviera Maya Trip Reports: Gran Bahia Principe Coba

Gran Bahia Principe, Coba,  Pool, Riviera Maya
Gran Bahia Principe Coba, Riviera Maya

Gran Bahia Principe Coba Official Site

April 2007
Stan & Family (Baby 9mos.)

My family and I (wife and 9 month old daughter) stayed at the Coba from April 20-27th. We just got back last night and this is my first experience at an all-inclusive. We flew with AirTransat in the “1st class” section and I can definitely say the extra $160 for Club is well worth it, with the extra legroom as well as excellent meals.


Our Transat reps we’re easy to spot and we had no trouble finding our bus. Our flight came in late (10:00pm) and unfortunately we were the 4th stop on the route. They served beer and water on the way, for a price of course, its Mexico! The buses are NOT COMFORTABLE and have minimal legroom so be prepared for that. It is an issue for me and my wife, as we are both tall (6, and 6 ft 3). The ride to Coba was long (1:30 hours) due to the stops we had to make. One was ridiculous as we dropped someone off at the Moon Palace (AWESOME RESORT), the road is winding and quite long, the problem was to turn around we had to go back to an overpass just before the airport and make a U turn!!! Not well thought out by Transat at all. We finally arrived at the Coba by 11:30pm.


Once we were dropped off the bus, we were whisked away in golf carts to the Club Golden check-in while our luggage was brought to our rooms. Check-in was ok, it was fast but the person we had was new and did not know much. It happens can’t really fault the resort for this. There was no welcome drink, which was disappointing but again not the end of the world. It just seemed to me they were not prepared for our late arrival.


The room we had (Junior Suite) was slightly disappointing in size but what is expected in Mexico. It was all marble floors and the bathroom was nice with a jacuzzi tub. It was very clean.


Both pools at the Coba were great – we were out the door by 7:30am every morning and had no trouble at all finding shade (with our baby it was a necessity), we simply found the spot we liked, put down our towels and came back after we had breakfast (20-30 minutes later). We never had to get up at the crack of dawn to play the towel game.


If you are expecting to be on the beach you will be disappointed. The beach is far away and you will need to take the resort golf cart transportation, which comes around quite frequently to get there. Once on the beach we were very pleased, again plenty of palapas and a wonderful view of the Ocean. One problem we had with the beach was how shallow it was (3-4 feet). It was somewhat rocky but the water shoes we bought for this trip were not required.


Considering it is buffet we were very pleased with the selection and quality. However, we found that the service at Tulum and Akumal was not even nearly as good as the Coba. The a-la-cartes or what they should really be called, table d’autes were decent. We loved Le Gourmet and the size of the portions was typical French so it was as expected. The meal was phenomenal and service impeccable. We can’t say enough about this restaurant. Grand Turtuga, service great, meal… very average. The onion soup I had was probably made from a can of Campbell’s! It was NOT a real onion soup. The steak can be best described as Ponderosa. It was not the rare I had requested and did not seem to be a porterhouse as advertised. Disappointing. Mikado, we had high expectations but it came up short. The best part was the appetizers. I had one of the best salmon sashimi I have ever had, problem was the portion was laughable. When I go for Japanese I expect Sushi and lots of it, if you go here expecting this you will be, as we were VERY DISAPPOINTED. The main course which was part of a “show” was not very good. The show itself was great but the meal that resulted from it was average at best. It was basically stir fry cooked right in front of you. The dessert was fantastic though but the main course was so disappointing it brought the whole experience down with it. Mediterranean is just plain awful!! Do not go there! The appetizers come from a buffet and there is not much selection. Once again as in all restaurants the service is great, I never had any issue with the service just the quality. We both ordered the cream of garlic soup, it once again we found it was probably right out of a can of Campbell’s (very very salty). The main course I ordered was the lamb it was good but the portion, once again laughable. If it was a French restaurant it would be decent but this is not French and I expect larger portions. My wife found her meal disgusting and could not eat much of it. The cous-cous was bland and dry and the fish was overcooked. We didn’t bother with dessert (more buffet) or after dinner drinks and left immediately.


Plenty of them – both wet and dry and very good service. One thing that REALLY bothered me was the poor margaritas. We are in Mexico and the one thing I expect them to nail is a great margarita. No such luck. I love margaritas and know a good one from a bad one and these were beyond bad. They make it with this sparking orange mineral water and horrible lime juice and the taste is beyond awful. If you get it frozen it is slightly better but not much. The other drinks are great but can be a tad on the sweet side. Some good ones are: Atedercel Tropical (like a sangria), Blue Lagoon, Bahia Principe, Miami Vice, Colibry as well as your typical Daiquiris etc… The beer is all Dos Equis (in some areas Corona) and very cold and refreshing!


What attracted us to this resort is the ability to visit other resorts and this was the best part of the trip as they all offer something the other does not. We found Akumal to have the best beach but poor service in the buffet. Tulum had the best pools and activities and the best was good but in our opinion not as good as at Akumal. The buffet as for variety is the best at Tulum. The Hacienda in our opinion was pretty pathetic. It was a nice gesture to try and create a small Mexican town in the resort but having been to a real small Mexican town (Valladolid) before this was not even close. The merchants’ prices were all much higher than pretty much anywhere and the whole experience left us wanting to leave ASAP.


As others have said the cheapest way to get to Playa Del Carmen is to take the collectivo for $2 US/person. However, and this is to all the parents of young children out there, be forewarned they pack these vans to the max. Typically, these vans can safely transport 7 passengers. I counted 16 people in ours at one point! What this means is FORGET THE STROLLER, there is absolutely no room for it anywhere. They will not leave until it is full so you might have to wait 15 – 35 minutes before it actually leaves. Along the way it will pick up even more people and the ride is not pleasant. Luckily the AC worked in our van on the way there but we heard from others many of them to not have functioning AC.

TIP: When shopping for Tequila, do not buy anything from the shops in PDC or the resort, go to the Wal-Mart as the tequila is MUCH cheaper and they carry the same brands. I got a Don Julio Blanco that cost $44.60 at the resort, and $32.00 in PDC for $23.00 at Wal-Mart!

The ride back from PDC was the ride from hell! The vans AC barely worked and it was so full, the weather was extremely hot and humid. Our daughter was very unhappy and cried for most of the time, very unusual for her. When we didn’t think it could get worse, the van stopped and MORE PEOPLE came on!! all of us in the van (tourists) looked at each other in disbelief as there were no seats left!! They people had to stand while splitting their legs. It was unbelievable. I was in the back and had to get out to let the people beside me out. Believe me when I tell you getting off in such a confined space is not fun!!! All in all we will NEVER take a collectivo again on this side of the Mayan Riviera (On the PDC to Cancun side it is much better).

Now the ultimate question…. Would we go back? No, for the simple reason we never ever go back to the same place but if we did it would be to Gran Bahia Principe Tulum as the rooms are MUCH closer to the beach and the food variety better. Regardless, whether you stay in any of the three you will have access to all of them so it doesn’t really matter.

Have Baby Will Travel, starfish, graphics


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