Carved out of 700 acres of Riviera Maya jungle and mangrove swamp, the BlueBay Grand Esmeralda is a very large property with great pools and a disappointing beach. There is a pool for everyone with its immense beachfront activity pool (but no swim-up bar), a smaller and quieter pool, and children’s pool, while the beach is rocky with sand bags at water’s edge.
With the proximity of the mangroves and nearby river runoff, the ocean water here can be quite murky at times, particularly when there are stronger waves and currents. Ocean lovers and snorkelers should take heart–a 10-min. walk north of the resort will reveal a clear water lagoon perfect for both swimming and snorkeling. The lagoon is close to another all-inclusive resort, Hacienda Tres Rios, but the lagoon is accessible to BlueBay guests. There are no bathroom facilities or other amenities here, however.
Guest room buildings are a nice feature of the resort with their more formal, primary entrance and individually assigned concierge. Building concierges will assist with a la carte reservations, processing maintenance issues, answering general questions, and may encourage timeshare ownership. Guest room buildings themselves are three to four floors; rooms are decorated in neutral colors or cream and tan with white linens and dark brown furniture. A huge plus is the large marble bathroom shower with its seating ledge, hand held shower, and rainforest showerhead. Guests staying in 1st floor rooms close to wooded areas have more of an opportunity to interact with the coatis who often come by to say hello and beg for a snack (please do not feed the animals, however). Swim-up suites are also available–the trade-off is no privacy while seated on the terrace.
Since this is a large resort, tram service is offered to transport guests around the property; shuttle service is also offered to Playa del Carmen for a nominal fee (USD $5 per person).
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Large beachfront pool, budget-friendly, swing seat beach bar
Con: Ocean swimming, WiFi for additional devices, and room service is an extra charge
Best Suited For: Families and couples who enjoy large resort properties and pool life while on vacation. Beach lovers will most likely not enjoy this resort.
No. of Rooms: 979
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, balcony/terrace, A/C, mini-bar, digital safe, flat screen TV, telephone, coffee maker, radio alarm clock, desk and chair, ceiling fan, iron/ironing board, umbrella, hair dryer, shower, toiletries, and complimentary WiFi for one device. Room service is an extra charge. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Deluxe Garden View: King or two dbl beds.
- Deluxe Partial Ocean View: King or two dbl beds.
- Deluxe Ocean View: King or two dbl beds.
- Deluxe Jacuzzi Suite: King bed, balcony Jacuzzi, sitting room area with sofa bed, dining area with table and chairs, half-bathroom, robes.
- Swim-Up Suite Garden View: King bed, direct terrace access to the swim-up pool, sitting room area with sofa bed, dining area with table and chairs.
- NOTE: Online booking agencies may list additional room categories (such as Gold or Emerald room packages) which translate to extra room amenities such as in-room liquors, free room service, spa discounts, etc. Check with the individual wholesaler to see what specific amenities are included in the package.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Three pools (no swim-up bar), spa, fitness center, tennis courts, jogging trail, non-motorized and motorized water sports, Kid’s Club (ages 2-12), theater, sports bar (no A/C but open 24-hrs.), VIP beach area, beach club, pool and beach wait service, guest room building concierges, resort trams/golf carts, shuttle service to Playa del Carmen ($), business center, complimentary WiFi for one device, gift shop, car rental, medical services, ATM.
Restaurants/Bars: Two buffet restaurants (Jaal-Ha and Festival), six a la cartes including Italian (Il Cuore Di Rossi), Mexican (Don Isi), French (L’Atelier), Japanese (Oriental–no teppanyaki), seafood (El Pescador), and the steakhouse restaurant; overnight snacks are offered at the sports bar. A la carte reservations are required a day in advance and can be booked through the guest room building concierge. Six bars include the theater bar, lounge bar, two pool bars, beach bar with swings, and 24-hr. sports bar.
Entertainment: Nightly show in the theater/sports bar, live music and karaoke in the lounge, and games room in the sports bar.