Vacationers looking for a boutique resort with a fantastic beach close to Playa del Carmen may find that the Sunset Fishermen Beach Resort is a strong contender. The resort is located in the gated community of Playacar just south of Playa del Carmen–it’s about a 15 min. walk to famous 5th Avenue and a ten minute walk on the beach to the Cozumel ferry. Potential guests should be aware that the Sunset Fishermen Beach Resort is under the management of Sunset World, a “vacation club”/timeshare company, which also operates several other Cancun and Riviera Maya resorts. Timeshare owners, those who rent directly from owners, and those who book directly with Sunset World have the option of booking the all-inclusive package, while vacationers who book through third party travel websites most likely will find this option non-existent. Guests who have the all-inclusive meal plan will experience limited dining options (a buffet which serves as an Italian a la carte in the evening along with the beachfront Fishermen Grill a la carte) and few premium alcohol choices at the resort’s two bars. What the resort does offer, however, is a cozy setting ideal for beach and ocean lovers who enjoy friendly service and an opportunity to know fellow guests.
The open-air lobby offers beautiful Aztec relief wall art and sculptures, padded wicker furniture, a small lobby bar, and expansive views of the pool area and turquoise Caribbean Sea beyond. Since this is a small resort, the main pool area is located just outside of the lobby; whimsical statues of mermaids rising from the deep and dolphins frolicking and spouting water greet resort guests. While a large Jacuzzi dominates the left side of the pool area, it is unheated and tends to attract children–very young resort guests also use the shallow section alongside the Jacuzzi provided by the sun shelves. Adults congregate around the rather small swim-up bar to talk or the pool’s infinity edge with drink in hand to gaze upon the nearby sea. Padded loungers, shade umbrellas, and a slatted overhang are situated around the pool–guests tend to reserve spots very early in the morning since the limited number of loungers go quickly.
The beach is a short flight of steps down from the pool area and is picture-perfect, even rivaling Maroma Beach with its powdery white sand and turquoise-hued ocean with easy, smooth entry. Cabana beds, round loungers, cushioned loveseats/chairs, and padded loungers make a day in the sun more comfortable and relaxing. There is no natural shade on the beach, nor are there palapas–the few umbrellas and cabanas provide whatever shade is available. Just like the pool area, guests reserve beach cabanas and loungers at a very early hour at this resort.
Since this is a condo complex, there are kitchenettes (stovetop and microwave) or full kitchens available in guest rooms. Many rooms are spacious with most having ocean or partial ocean views while some rooms also have a balcony Jacuzzi. Oceanfront rooms can be a little tricky to get, especially in high season, unless one books a guest room directly from a timeshare owner and knows the location and views from the condo itself (check out the VRBO website). There is only one elevator in this resort and it only reaches the third floor out of four floors; this property is not fully accessible for those with physical challenges. While Sunset Fishermen Beach Resort has been undergoing many renovations as of late, plumbing issues and outdated furniture still need to be addressed. NOTE: Caution is advised when booking in order to minimize the impact plumbing issues may have on one’s vacation (existing plumbing issues include low water pressure and lack of hot water). While it is easy to still have a fun and relaxing vacation with outdated furniture, it becomes more difficult to do the same when you have difficulty taking a shower. Some work has already begun to fix this issue, but check Trip Advisor reviews prior to booking to make sure this problem has been solved.
This property has a loyal following and wonderful beach which can make it difficult at times to make a reservation. It’s not “party central”, nor does it offer five-star amenities and services, but it’s a good find for families with younger children and middle/older age couples looking to get away from the mega-resorts popular in this part of the Riviera Maya. Families with older children or teens may not find the Sunset Fishermen Beach Resort to be a good vacation match since there isn’t much to do onsite–using the complimentary bicycles or exploring the small Mayan ruins across the street will most likely not be enough to keep a teenager happy during an entire vacation. Guests who want to go into Playa del Carmen will be happy to know there are two complimentary shuttles to PDC each a.m.; however, there is no scheduled return shuttle.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly. The all-inclusive meal plan is optional for vacation club members/owners, guests of members/owners, those who book directly with owners, or for those who book directly with Sunset World.
Pro: Beach, ocean swimming, free WiFi, free morning shuttles to PDC, free room service for all-inclusive guests
Con: Plumbing problems, rooms need renovation, limited dining options, overbooking issues at times, limited room service hrs. (7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.)
Best Suited For: Middle/older age couples, families with younger children
No. of Rooms: 75
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, digital safe, mini-bar or full size refrigerator, sofa bed, dining table and chairs, microwave, coffee maker, flat screen TV, ceiling fan, telephone, robe, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, and shower (bring your own toiletries). There is complimentary room service from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and free WiFi. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Studio: King or two dbl beds, mini-bar, small stovetop. Some studios have balcony Jacuzzis. Garden or ocean view.
- One Bedroom Suite: King bed in separate bedroom along with loveseat and flat screen TV, living room with sofa bed and flat screen TV, dining room table and four chairs, two bathrooms, mini-bar, stovetop. Some have balcony Jacuzzis or full kitchens. Garden or ocean view.
- Two Bedroom Suite: King bed in first bedroom, two dbl beds in the second bedroom, living room with sofa bed, multiple flat screen TV’s, dining room with table and four chairs, two bathrooms, refrigerator, stovetop. Some have balcony Jacuzzis or full kitchens. Garden or ocean view.
- NOTE: If having a full kitchen is important, it’s best to book directly with an owner who you know to have a full kitchen.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Not available
Resort Amenities: Main pool (swim-up bar), non-heated Jacuzzi, spa, beauty salon, fitness center with ocean view, non-motorized water sports, bicycles, pool/beach wait service, complimentary shuttle twice daily to PDC, complimentary WiFi, complimentary room service for all-inclusive guests, gift shop, concierge, tour desk, laundry, currency exchange, child care, car rental.
Restaurants/Bars: This resort offers one buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch (La Terraza) which turns into an Italian a la carte for dinner service, and the beachfront Fishermen Grill which serves an a la carte breakfast, afternoon snacks, and an a la carte grill menu until 10 p.m. There are only two bars including the lobby bar and the combination swim-up and pool bar by the Fishermen Grill.
Entertainment: Since this is a small complex, there is not much in the way of scheduled entertainment or nightlife. PDC is a short distance for incredible bars, restaurants, and clubs.