Catalonia Riviera Maya and its sister resort, Catalonia Yucatan Beach, share the same stretch of beach in the gated community of Puerto Aventuras. Both resorts are within walking distance to the downtown shopping district and Marina (vacationers can swim with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery, or book water excursions there), while access to public transportation (taking a colectivo) is a 20-min. walk to the resort’s main gate. Guests at both resorts have full exchange privileges with one another–walking from end-to-end takes less than 10 min. so sharing amenities is quite easy. Each has a similar vibe with the Yucatan Beach being more on the quiet side.
This Catalonia property has a distinct tropical feel and appearance due to the abundance of thatched roofs used throughout the resort. The open-air lobby is impressive with its own soaring palapa roof, carved entrance pillars, and pentagonal door frames. There are several walkways leading to and from the lobby; the lengthy wooden bridge which leads from the lobby to the pools is one of the most photographed areas of the resort. The grounds are attractive and well-tended with grassy areas, manicured hedges and borders, and mature palms; the resort is compact which makes it incredibly easy to maneuver around the attractive grounds.
All paths inevitably lead to the pool area where two of the three pools are beachfront. Large shelves, in-pool Jacuzzis, and shallow children’s sections are integrated features, while the swim-up bar is located in a rather small non-beachfront pool. Loungers and umbrellas are available on all sundecks but are usually “reserved” prior to 7 a.m. Guests age 14+ can experience an introductory in-pool scuba lesson for free.
Catalonia Riviera Maya’s beach consists of two parts–the calm, smooth sand bottom of the lagoon with its snorkeling and kayak opportunities, and the lengthy beach section with its rockier ocean entry and offshore concrete blocks to help prevent beach erosion. Loungers and shade palapas here are also “reserved” quite early while mature palms provide some natural shade opportunities. Upgraded Privileged guests have their own roped-off beach section with swinging Bali beds as well as access to the Pure Chill Out beach bar over at the Catalonia Yucatan Beach. Guests are encouraged to bring water shoes for ocean swimming purposes and one’s own snorkeling gear since there is a time limit for checking-out the resort’s supply of water sports equipment due to high demand.
Typically, differences between upgraded and non-upgraded resort categories tend to be minimal; however, the upgraded Privileged category has some definite perks which guests may see as being worth the extra cost. Privileged Suites have been renovated with dark wood furniture and new marble bathrooms with dbl vessel sinks, while mini-bars, 24-hr. room service, and alarm clocks are also included in the upgrade. Most Privileged Suites/Family Suites also offer balcony/terrace soaking tubs along with separate living room areas. Non-upgraded Garden View rooms only include one bottle of water per guest in the mini-bar.
In terms of general onsite amenities, Catalonia Riviera Maya has the theater, spa, fitness center, a majority of the a la carte restaurants, and the popular Creperie, while the Yucatan Beach next door has the Kid’s Club, disco, sports bar with golf simulator ($), and genuine beachfront guest rooms. Since both resorts are so close to one another, the general layout may be inconsequential to some vacationers when making a decision concerning which Catalonia to book.
It is important to keep in mind that the Catalonia chain caters to European clientele, so expect a fair amount of European vacationers at any given time.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Stay at one play at two; complimentary WiFi, snorkeling in the adjoining lagoon
Con: Rocky ocean entry, dining vouchers with limited access to a la cartes, digital safe costs extra and mini-bar only contains two bottles of water in non-upgraded rooms
Best Suited For: Families with young children and couples on a budget, those who don’t mind vacationing with an international mixture of guests
No. of Rooms: 423
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, balcony/terrace, A/C, mini-bar with two bottles of water, digital safe ($3 p/day), flat screen TV, coffee maker, telephone, hair dryer, shower, toiletries, and complimentary WiFi. There is no room service for non-upgraded guests. Here is a brief rundown of non-Privileged rooms:
- Garden View: King or two dbl beds
(Upgraded Privileged Amenities):
- private check-in/out
- access to private lounge with concierge
- complimentary room amenities including digital safe, mini-bar with water, soda, and beer, robe and slippers, alarm clock with iPod dock, iron/ironing board, and in-room beach towels
- complimentary 24-hr. room service
- access to the Terrace Tapas Lounge and Bar over at the Catalonia Yucatan for breakfast and dinner
- one additional dining voucher p/person p/week’s stay
- upgraded liquor from national brands to more top-shelf brands (some top-shelf brands are still an extra cost)
- spa and romantic lobster beach dinner discounts
- complimentary access to “wet” spa areas (one p/person p/stay)
- pillow menu
- turndown service
(Privileged Room Categories)
- Privileged Comfort: These are basically Garden View rooms with access to upgraded Privileged amenities
- Privileged Superior: King or two dbl beds, ceiling fan, Privileged amenities
- Privileged Superior Ocean View: King or two dbl beds, ceiling fan, Privileged amenities
- Privileged Suite: Separate bedroom with king bed and flat screen TV, separate living room with sofa, armchair, coffee table, desk area with chair and flat screen TV, dressing room area, ceiling fan, dbl vessel sinks, terrace with soaking tub, and Privileged amenities. NOTE: Not all suites have soaking tubs, and the ones that do may lack privacy. Garden view.
- Privileged Family Suite: Separate bedroom with two queen beds and flat screen TV, separate living room with sofa bed, armchair, coffee table, desk area with chair and flat screen TV, dressing room area, ceiling fan, dbl vessel sinks, terrace/balcony soaking tub, and Privileged amenities. NOTE: Not all suites have soaking tubs. Garden view.
- Privileged Honeymoon: Canopy king bed, balcony soaking tub (guaranteed), armchair, desk area with chair, special room decorations, welcome bottle of sparkling wine along with chocolates and fruit, continental breakfast in bed (once), private candlelit dinner (once p/stay), 30-min. couples massage, complimentary photo and t-shirt, late check-out subject to availability, special turndown service with flower petals (once), Privileged amenities. Garden view.
- NOTE: Guest room buildings with four floors have elevators, while those with three floors do not.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Three pools (two are beachfront, the third has the swim-up bar), integrated Jacuzzis and shallow children’s swim area, spa, beauty salon, fitness center, tennis courts (rooftop location), non-motorized water sports, dive shop, in-pool scuba lesson (age 14+), Bali beds for upgraded guests, bicycles, giant chess, theater, pool and beach wait service, shuttle to Playa del Carmen, internet corner ($), gift shop, concierge tour desk, car rental, medical services, laundry, currency exchange, and ATM. Guests are free to use the amenities at the adjacent Catalonia Yucatan; however, only upgraded Privileged guests may use the tapas restaurant and the Pure Chill Out beach bar at that location.
Pool Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Restaurants/Bars: One buffet restaurant (La Brisa, no A/C) and four a la cartes including Mexican (Los Alebrijes), the steakhouse (Bamboleo, no A/C), Italian (Bellavista), and Japanese (Ayami–teppanyaki show table); there is also a poolside snack area and a Friday beach BBQ. La Creperie, a dessert venue, is located atop the buffet and closes with inclement weather; due to its popularity, the resort has added a second creperie located poolside. Only upgraded Privileged guests have access to Terrace Tapas Lounge and Bar which serves breakfast and dinner (no A/C). 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 allowed an additional dining voucher for a week’s stay). NOTE: While reservations are not necessary, getting a seat at one of Ayami’s teppanyaki tables requires lining up at the restaurant by 5 p.m. to put your name on a waiting list (the restaurant opens at 6 p.m.). Those who get in line after 5 p.m. are lucky to eat there after 9 p.m., if at all. After your name is registered, the staff will inform you as to the time you should show up for dinner. There are four onsite bars including a swim-up bar, lobby bar, terrace bar, and juice bar turned beach bar. Guests are free to use the dining and drinking venues at the adjoining Catalonia Yucatan Beach with the exception of the Pure Chill Out beach bar which is reserved for Privileged guests. While Privileged guests are entitled to certain top-shelf liquor without an additional charge, not all top-shelf liquor is included in the all-inclusive price. Non-upgraded guests are served national brands of alcohol.
Entertainment: Nightly shows in the theater and live music at night, beach parties, pool foam party on Saturday. Catalonia Yucatan Beach offers a disco and sports bar with golf simulator.
Photo Set: http://flic.kr/s/aHsjHdLPqn