It’s all about the beach at this resort–Travel Channel has voted Maroma Beach (Playa de Punta Maroma) to be one of the world’s best beaches for many years due to its powdery white, cool sand and turquoise colored, relatively calm ocean water. There are only a handful of resorts lucky enough to be located here, and Catalonia Playa Maroma is one of them (Secrets Maroma is just south of this property). This resort caters primarily to Italian, French, and Spanish vacationers; Americans, Canadians, and UK visitors are definitely in the minority. Expect the staff to speak various languages during daily activities and nightly entertainment.
Catalonia Playa Maroma is a lengthy drive off the main road since the resort is literally carved out of the lush vegetation and mangrove forest native to this part of the Riviera Maya. Guests will find the open-air lobby to be a grand yet warm and welcoming space with its soaring palapa roof, Colonial chandeliers, tile floors, unique water features, use of terra cotta paint, and cushioned seating areas. There is a lobby bar which also happens to be open 24-hrs.; however, one cannot “belly up” to this bar since it only offers a few bar chairs–the remaining seating is nearby on cushioned metal chairs circling small tables. This bar serves great drinks and gets most of its business in the pre/post dinner hours due to the lack of A/C in this space.
The resort’s rectangular layout works well with its jungle surroundings in that many amenities and guest room buildings are located just a short stroll off of the main walkway which runs from the lobby all the way down to the pool and beach areas. A majority of this walkway is densely shaded with lush vegetation but offers little protection from the elements (bring an umbrella). While it seems to be a long trek, in reality it takes less than 10 min. to get from the lobby to the beach; there is also an additional path leading from some of the guest room buildings to the beach. Vacationers need to decide, however, which amenities they wish to be closer to–Tulum and Coba guest room buildings are closer to the buffet restaurant, lobby bar, theater, and disco (popular evening activities), while the Palenque building is closer to the pool and beach. While these buildings have been gloriously multicolored to reflect the vibrant hues seen in Mexican tiles, the resort has decided to paint some of them a more sterile ecru color which definitely takes away from the overall tropical and Colonial ambiance; the central courtyard with fountain still remains for each building section.
No matter which building is chosen or assigned, guests will find that recent room renovations have been done with particular emphasis on the upgraded “Privileged” rooms; remaining room renovations on non-upgraded Garden View rooms are still being completed. The Catalonia, like many other all-inclusive resorts these days, offers an upgraded stay (Privileged package), and these rooms have received most of the upgrades to date including dark wood furniture, canopy beds in Honeymoon rooms, fresh paint, new linens and accessories, flat screen TV’s, and new bathroom tile and fixtures. “Privileged” guests are also entitled to several additional amenities, discounts, and select seating (see the Privileged amenity list under the Accommodations section below). Catalonia Playa Maroma has also added two additional room types–one with a balcony plunge pool and in-room soaker tub (this room overlooks the main pool and has an ocean view), while the other new room category has a private pool right off the terrace (this room is also very close to the main pool). While all vacationers are supposed to be able to book these new rooms, it can be next to impossible to find them as being available when trying to book on the resort’s website or even listed as being available on most wholesale travel websites. Catalonia representatives have stated that one can always book them once at the resort as an additional upgrade.
There is only one main pool which consists of two freeform and one rectangular-shaped sections which are interconnected. The pool offers some nice features such as a gradual entry, pool shelf, adjoining Jacuzzi, and a deeper end for diving (there is no swim-up bar, however). There are some shade umbrellas and natural shade opportunities, but most of the shade here is provided by lengthy areas of canopy cloth. There are regularly scheduled activities held here along with free scuba demos and a foam party once a week.
The highlight of the resort is the beach–guests can walk for miles in either direction on sand that won’t get hot, or swim in crystal clear water with schools of fish, the occasional ray or sea turtle. A majority of the shade on the beach is provided by mature palms and palapas; shade is also provided by covered day beds and Bali beds which can be found on the upgraded Privileged section of the beach. Despite the resort’s attempts to provide a separate section with upgraded amenities for guests who pay more for their stay, non-upgraded guests routinely “reserve” day beds or Bali beds with no consequences.
It should be mentioned that this resort has lots of coatis, or mammals which look like raccoons with long snouts and striped tails. Encounters may occur as they are known to beg for handouts, so if you don’t mind sharing your vacation with small, furry mammals, book on!
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Beach, complimentary WiFi, jungle setting, lobby bar open 24-hrs.
Con: Privileged upgrade felt to be a “class” system by some vacationers, lack of A/C in most restaurants, no swim-up bar
Best Suited For: Beach lovers and socially adventurous souls (English speaking individuals are in the minority here).
No. of Rooms: 376
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, mini-bar, digital safe, flat screen TV, ceiling fan, telephone, coffee maker, hair dryer, shower, toiletries, and complimentary WiFi. There is no room service for non-Privileged rooms. Here is a brief rundown of non-Privileged guest rooms:
- Garden View: King or two dbl beds
Privileged Room Amenities: This is an upgrade and includes the following amenities:
- private check-in/out
- early check-in/late check-out if available
- private lounge
- separate beach area with wait service
- 24-hr. free room service (limited menu after 11 p.m.)
- one free dinner p/person p/stay at Terrace Tapas Lounge and Bar
- breakfast and lunch at Terrace Tapas Lounge and Bar
- exclusive seating area in El Pajarito buffet
- 10% off spa services
- free access to wet spa areas once p/person p/stay
- in-room beach towels
- pillow menu
- 10% off romantic dinner
- 10% off select jewelry
Here is a brief rundown of Privileged guest room categories:
- Privileged Superior: King or two dbl beds, iPod dock, iron/ironing board, robe and slippers, Privileged and above amenities.
- Privileged Honeymoon: Canopy king bed, balcony Jacuzzi, iPod dock, welcome bottle of wine and chocolates, one in-room continental breakfast, private candlelit dinner, 30-min. couples’ massage, one complimentary photo, free t-shirt, Privileged and above amenities.
- Privileged Suite Ocean View and Swimming Pool: This is a relatively new room category which includes a king bed, soaking tub, large shower with dbl rainforest showerheads, dbl vessel sinks, large closet, living room with sofa, armchair, flat screen TV, and coffee table, balcony with plunge pool, lounger, electric awning, Privileged and above amenities. Located by the main pool with ocean view.
- NOTE: Guest room buildings are two to three floors with no elevators. Also, the oceanfront balcony Jacuzzi and private pool rooms are now reserved for vacation club members/timeshare owners.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Pool with adjoining Jacuzzi (no swim-up bar), spa, beauty salon, fitness center, tennis courts, soccer field, archery, non-motorized water sports, onsite dive shop, disco, theater, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), giant chess, beach hammocks, Bali beds, pool and beach wait service, gift shop, jewelry store, concierge, tour desk, car rental, medical services, laundry, currency exchange, and ATM.
Pool Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Restaurants/Bars: One buffet restaurant by the lobby (El Pajarito, no A/C), and three a la cartes including Mexican (Tio Pedro, no A/C), Italian (Toscana), and a steakhouse (Tortuga Snack Grill, no A/C). Reservations are not required; however, a la cartes are limited according to the number of nights at the resort (2=1 a la carte dinner, 3=2 a la carte dinners, 5=3 a la carte dinners, 7=4 a la carte dinners). Privileged guests are entitled to have one complimentary dinner at Terrace Tapas Bar and Lounge along with daily breakfast and lunch at the same restaurant. There is also a poolside creperie/ice cream parlor and separate snack bar and grill which serves lunch for all guests. There are four bars–the 24-hr. lobby bar, disco bar, pool bar, and popular Ma-Loo beachfront bar which serves great juice smoothies (there is no swim-up bar). Some premium liquors are available without an extra charge.
Entertainment: Nightly shows in the theater, live music several times per week in the lobby, pool foam party, beach parties, and the disco. There is a mini-disco for children around 8:30 p.m.
Photo Set: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjHdPrLH