Located just a few blocks away from Playa del Carmen’s 5th Ave. with its shopping, dining, and nightlife options, Gran Porto Resort occupies an enviable beachfront location for guests who want easy access to it all while on vacation. The hotel is part of the Playa Resorts family with its fancier sister resort, THE Royal Playa del Carmen, just across the street. (Given Playa Resorts recent business deal with the retailer, Panama Jack, this resort is slated to become “Panama Jack Gran Porto”–complete with a thorough renovation–in the latter months of 2017). There is a feeling of “compactness” about the resort since pool and beach loungers/cabana beds are situated close to one another, while the distance between the exterior walls and the main pool is a very short stroll. This won’t matter so much to guests wanting to spend some time away from the resort enjoying excursions, shopping, or nightlife; vacationers who wish to spend a majority of their time enjoying onsite amenities may find themselves feeling a bit claustrophobic. Despite a general lack of exterior space, the resort and grounds are beautifully done with palm trees, hedges, flowering vines, bougainvillea, and small grassy areas throughout.
In addition to its proximity to downtown Playa del Carmen, Gran Porto Resort offers guests another special amenity with its rooftop pool with swim-up bar, Jacuzzi, and freshly-made sushi. (The Jacuzzi is up another level from the pool with its own padded loungers and shaded hammocks). It’s a relatively small area, but it does have padded loungers around the pool as well as a unique perspective of Playa and the resort’s surroundings. This is an adults-only space and a perfect retreat for those wanting a more serene atmosphere.
The beachfront main pool is a hub of daytime activity for both children and adults. There are scheduled sports and exercise classes, demonstrations and games for all to enjoy, and a pool foam party once a week, while the extensive pool shelf areas are perfect for staying cool while working on that tan as well as an aide to entering/exiting the pool itself. A large palapa-covered bar can be reached via an over-the-pool walkway, while the lunch/snack bar has been moved from the eroded beach area to the poolside sundeck (ask for the ribs if they are out of site); unlike the rooftop pool, there is no swim-up bar in this pool. The sundeck offers loungers with umbrellas and some sparse natural shade, while shade structures with table and chairs and cabana beds are only a few steps away. Prior to claiming a cabana, check and make sure it is not already reserved for certain guest rooms.
Cabanas are not only found near the pool–they can also be found on the beach along with loungers, shade structures, and a few palms offering natural shade; there are no shade palapas or umbrellas on the beach, however. Again, prior to settling in for the day, look for any notice on the cabana of choice as to whether or not it is reserved for any specific guest room. There is a bar on the north side of the beach (it no longer has swings for seats), while the south end offers views of fishing boats tied up at the shoreline. Perhaps the biggest disappointment at Gran Porto Resort is the quality of the beach since it has been ravaged and eroded by storms. There are numerous sand bags which line the water’s edge making it difficult to enter the ocean, while rocks on the ocean bottom can play havoc with one’s footing–water shoes are a must here. Since all beaches are public in Mexico, guests looking for a better beach experience in close proximity have only to walk across the street to the beach area of THE Royal Playa del Carmen; it may be crowded there, but there is decent ocean entry and it is swimmer-friendly.
For the most part, guest rooms are surprisingly spacious (with the exception of Standard rooms) with basic amenities in all room categories including a mini-bar, coffee maker, digital safe, and alarm clock. Upgraded room categories offer additional amenities including in-room liquor dispensers, bunk and trundle beds, direct beach access, and suites with full access to its sister resort, THE Royal Playa del Carmen. While several room categories offer an ocean view, these are typically located on the north side of the resort–partial ocean views can be had on a small, exposed balcony looking sideways. Rooms on the lower floors on the north side of the resort can also be noisy since it is next to the street. Vacationers not on a strict budget who wish to fully enjoy their guest room space should entertain booking oceanfront rooms or beachfront walk-outs.
Gran Porto Resort is a great choice for vacationers looking to fully enjoy Playa del Carmen as well as Riviera Maya attractions. While those looking for a stellar beach may want to re-think their resort choice, Gran Porto Resort truly offers the best of both vacation worlds–access to an amenity-filled resort at a lower price.
Type Of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Walking distance to 5th Ave., lots of cabanas, free WiFi, Family Suites which can accommodate families of five, 24-hr. lounge for food and drinks
Con: Beach with few shade opportunities, limited balcony privacy, no swim-up bar in the main pool
Best Suited For: While this resort is suitable for all ages, it is particularly popular with couples and families with younger children.
No. of Rooms: 287
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, ceiling fan, digital safe, mini-bar, flat screen TV, telephone, radio alarm clock, coffee maker, hair dryer, shower, and toiletries. 24-hr. room service and WiFi is complimentary. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Standard Room: Two dbl beds. These rooms do not have private balconies; rather, they are shared outdoor spaces with chairs and a small table. These rooms are very small in size and appropriate for guests who don’t intend to do much but sleep and shower in their room.
- Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds, balcony/terrace, desk and two chairs, robe and slippers.
- Jr. Suite Ocean View: King or two dbl beds, balcony/terrace, desk and two chairs, liquor dispensers, robe and slippers. These rooms are typically located on the north side with views of THE Royal Playa del Carmen and partial ocean views off to the right.
- Jr. Suite Oceanfront: King or two dbl beds, balcony/terrace, desk and two chairs, liquor dispensers, robe and slippers, spa discount. Full ocean view.
- Family Jr. Suite Oceanfront: King or two dbl beds, balcony/terrace, desk and two chairs, bunk beds with trundle bed, liquor dispensers, robe and slippers. Some of the Family Jr. Suites are ground floor which means great pool access but limited ocean views.
- Gran Jr. Suite Beachfront Walk-Out: King or two dbl beds, table and two chairs, robe and slippers, direct beach access from the terrace, upgraded liquor dispensers, designated beach cabana, Nespresso coffee maker, full privileges at THE Royal Playa del Carmen (age 18+), unlimited local and national calls. Limited ocean view.
- Gran Master One-Bedroom Suite Oceanfront: Separate bedroom with king bed, table and two chairs and flat screen TV, living room area with two sofas, armchair, coffee table and flat screen TV, adjoining dining area with table and four chairs, balcony/terrace with hammock and full loungers, upgraded liquor dispensers and toiletries, designated beach cabana, Nespresso coffee maker, umbrella, pillow menu, full privileges at THE Royal Playa del Carmen (age 18+), unlimited local and national calls.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Beachfront main pool (no swim-up bar), adults-only rooftop pool (with swim-up bar and nearby Jacuzzi up another level), small children’s pool at the Kid’s Club, spa with complimentary hydrotherapy circuit, beachfront massage hut, beauty salon, fitness center, non-motorized water sports (kayaks are only for scheduled activities), bicycle use and tours, giant chess, pool and beach wait service, Bali beds, hammocks, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), teen video gaming room, mini-golf, 24-hr. self-service bar with snacks and drinks, easy access to Cozumel ferry, concierge, tour desk, gift shop, clothing shop, car rental, child care, laundry, medical service, and ATM.
Restaurants/Bars: There is one buffet restaurant (Albatros), three a la cartes including Mexican (Maria’s), Italian (Il Pescatore–reservations required), a Brazilian rodizio (S’padas), a poolside luncheon snack shack, and rooftop sushi bar. There is also a 24-hr. self-serve snack and bar area by the lobby. Guests may order drinks at the lobby bar, rooftop swim-up bar, beach bar, pool bar, and restaurant bars. Guests who have full exchange privileges at THE Royal Playa del Carmen also have access to all their bars and most of their restaurants (with the exception of Chef’s Plate).
Entertainment: Nightly shows at the open-air theater by the pool, live music at the lobby, pool/foosball/table games in the 24-hr. self-serve room for an extra charge, and karaoke. The nightlife of Playa del Carmen is just minutes away.