The Grand Bahia Principe Tulum is part of a mega-resort called the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya Resort Complex which is located three miles south of the town of Akumal. Three adjacent properties comprise this mega-resort–the Grand Bahia Principe Tulum (beachfront with 978 rooms), the Grand Bahia Principe Coba (inland with 1,080 rooms), and the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal Don Pablo Collection (beachfront with 630+ rooms). There is a fourth Bahia Principe property nearby, the Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an Don Pablo Collection (inland with 480 rooms), which is located on the Riviera Maya Golf Club golf course located on the west side of the federal highway. In addition to the separate resorts with their own amenities, this mega-resort has a separate shopping and evening entertainment center called Hacienda Dona Isabel which houses souvenir shops, a sports bar, disco, casino, and entertainment stage; this late-night entertainment hot spot is located on Tulum resort grounds. Given the resort’s overall size, there is a tram service which transports guests all over the entire complex, including the Sian Ka’an property, from 7 a.m. until 2:30 a.m.
With the recent rebranding of the Akumal property (adding it to the Don Pablo Collection with all its upgrades/renovations), there has been a re-structuring of how all of these resorts interrelate with one another. The Tulum resort no longer has any access to the adjacent Akumal resort, but continues to have full access to the Coba resort. Beach space on Tulum grounds once designated for Sian Ka’an guests has been exchanged with Coba beach space–Coba guests can now happily spread their towels on Tulum beach loungers while Sian Ka’an guests are over next to the Akumal since both of those resorts are now part of the Don Pablo Collection. Given these changes, the Grand Bahia Principe Tulum has become busier since it is now the more affordable beachfront property available at this resort complex.
The Coba, Akumal, and Tulum resorts all have grand, thatched-roof lobbies with an arresting central sculpture giving some historical insight into the Mayan culture. The column in the Tulum lobby has relief sculptures on its surface depicting different levels of the Mayan World. The bottom portion of the column shows a priest making a journey of “purification” which is supposed to depict the Underworld, a place where souls will be purified. The middle portion of the column shows individuals and animals which represent joy, knowledge, and fear of the Gods–aspects of life most significant to the Mayan people. The upper portion of the column shows a two-headed snake which represents infinity and the cosmos. When you get done admiring the beautiful artwork, enjoy this lobby-in-the-round with comfortable seating, gift shops, and a large check-in desk for non-Club Hacienda guests. If you’re looking for it, the lobby bar can be found in a separate area closer to the main pool under its own palapa roof.
A unique feature of the Tulum resort is its on-site dolphinarium. Located close to the beach on the southern side of the resort, the dolphin enclosure is partially encircled by villas #23 through #32. Guests staying in these villas may observe trainers interacting with dolphins at various times of the day as well as scheduled shows put on by the resort. Guests may interact with the dolphins for an extra charge.
If playing with dolphins or seeing them in captivity is not your preference, there are many other activities and amenities which will keep you and your family busy. Those who enjoy pools will find there are three separate lake-style pools on-site; all three are close to the beach with an easy transition between pool and beach. The large main pool located mid-resort includes a swim-up bar, shallower children’s section, and
daytime activities, while the smaller pool with its built-in Jacuzzi is located further south and geared more towards those who like to nap or read while poolside. The third pool is also on the small side and dedicated for Club Hacienda guests–this pool is located by the Club Hacienda villas on the far north side of the property. Although the smaller pools do not have a swim-up bar, they do have their own bar, loungers, and shade palapas.
If you prefer spending time on the beach you will find that Tulum’s shoreline is notoriously rocky with sand whales dotting this part of the coast. Although the sand whales do an excellent job of slowing down coastal erosion and help to make this part of the beach area swimmable, they may not fit one’s idea of the perfect ocean view from a lounger. Although snorkeling can be done right off the beach thanks to these sand whales, better snorkeling can be had over by the adjacent Akumal resort’s pier or man-made cove. If you just want to tan, there are many loungers with shade palapas; exclusive beach areas exist for both Privilege Club (timeshare) guests as well as Club Hacienda (upgraded) guests, while the beach bar can now be enjoyed by all.
Grand Bahia Principe Tulum’s groups of “villas”, or guest room buildings, tend to be spread out in a more linear fashion when compared to other resorts in this complex. Semicircular groups of villa buildings hug the beach instead of nosing inland which means they are more spread out along the coastline. This is good news for those who want a shorter walk to the beach, but may be disappointing for those who are furthest from the lobby or their favorite restaurant. Here is a brief outline of villa groupings and their general placement within the resort:
- Villas #23-#32: Closest to the Akumal property, the dolphinarium, La Gran Tortuga restaurant, and the dive shop.
- Villas #12-#22: Closest to the “quiet” pool, Las Olas snack bar, and La Gran Tortuga restaurant.
- Villas #6-#11: Close to Las Olas snack bar, equitable distance south towards the Akumal property and north towards the Kid’s Club, theater, and lobby.
- Villas #1-#3: Closest to the Kid’s Club, theater, main pool, lobby bar, spa, and fitness center.
- Villas #33-#39: Close to the Yucatan buffet restaurant, Don Pablo restaurant, fitness center, spa, main pool and lobby. Part of the Club Hacienda section. Villas #34-#35 have better ocean views.
- Villas #40-#46: Closest to the Club Hacienda pool/bar and Tequila restaurant.
- NOTE: Some villas/portions of villas are reserved for timeshare owners.
If you happen to tire of the resort and want a change of scenery, you can always take a colectivo from the highway entrance near the Hacienda Dona Isabel to make a quick trip to Akumal to snorkel with the turtles, or continue south to see the ruins of Tulum. If you just want to walk somewhere, walk on the beach approximately 15 min. south of the adjacent Akumal resort to Chemuyil Beach with its deserted sandy beach (don’t forget to take water, walking shoes, and a companion for the journey).
FYI–I know this is unusual these days, but the Tulum resort charges for its non-digital room safe lock–it’s $5 p/day. Also, be prepared to pay for WiFi if you want more than one free hr. p/device p/day in the lobby (it’s approx. $49 p/week).
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Stay at one, play at two (Coba), offshore snorkeling, shopping nearby at Hacienda Dona Isabel.
Con: Sand whales, rocky shoreline, lack of A/C in some common areas, in-room safe/WiFi $.
Best Suited For: Families with children ages 4-10, those who like affordable beachfront resorts and/or mega-resorts.
No. of Rooms: 978
Room Amenities: King or two full beds, A/C, balcony/terrace (upper story balconies have solid retaining walls in front which partially blocks the views when seated), mini-bar, non-digital safe, flat screen TV, ceiling fan, table and two chairs, telephone, coffee maker, radio alarm clock, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, tub/shower combo, and toiletries. There is room service only for upgraded Club Hacienda guests; room WiFi is an additional charge. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
(Non Club Hacienda rooms)
- Superior: King or two full beds. Garden view.
- Jr. Suite Superior: King bed, living room area with sofa. Garden or ocean/partial ocean views.
- NOTE: There are no elevators for all three-story guest room buildings.
(Club Hacienda Amenities): Club Hacienda is an upgraded service and includes the following amenities:
- private check-in/out over by the Club Hacienda rooms
- personalized concierge
- use of the private lounge with upgraded liquor, complimentary WiFi, use of a laptop, snacks, newspapers, and flat screen TV
- dedicated pool and poolside bar
- separate beach section with Bali beds/cabanas
- an additional a la carte reservation (four per seven night stay)
- exclusive use of the Tequila restaurant for breakfast and lunch
- room service
- robe and slippers
- in-room pool towels
- umbrella upon request
(Club Hacienda guest rooms):
- Superior Club Hacienda: King or two full beds, jetted tub/shower combo, and Club Hacienda amenities. Garden or ocean/partial ocean view.
- Jr. Suite Club Hacienda: King or two full beds, living room area with sofa, jetted tub/shower combo, and Club Hacienda amenities. These rooms are located closer to the ocean with ocean/partial ocean views.
- NOTE: There are no elevators in any three-story guest room buildings.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Two pools for non-Club Hacienda guests (main pool has a swim-up bar), one pool for Club Hacienda guests, on-site spa, on-site dolphinarium, complimentary one hr. daily use of non-motorized water sports over at the Akumal resort, on-site dive shop, fitness center, tennis courts, bicycle tours (book a day prior), Segway tour, basketball court, beachfront massages, beachfront hammock sections, theater, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), disco, sports bar, and casino over at Hacienda Dona Isabel, complimentary greens fees at Riviera Maya Golf Club, complimentary lobby WiFi for one hr. p/device p/day, concierge, gift shop, tour desk, car rental, and ATM. Guests have unrestricted access to all Grand Bahia Principe Coba resort amenities as well.
Restaurants/Bars: One buffet restaurant (Yucatan, no A/C), a 24-hr. snack bar (Las Olas), three a la cartes including Mexican (Tequila, no A/C), Brazilian Rodizio (La Gran Tortuga, no A/C), and a gourmet restaurant (Don Pablo). At La Grand Tortuga, skewers of BBQ’d meat will continue to be brought to your table as long as your table card is green–a red card means no more. A la carte reservations are required; guests should make these reservations when checking in at the resort either through guest services or through the Bahia app. Guests can book three a la cartes per person per week’s stay, while Club Hacienda guests can book four per week’s stay. Club Hacienda guests also have exclusive access to the Tequila restaurant for both breakfast and lunch. On-site bars include the lobby bar, swim-up bar in the main pool, three poolside bars, beach bar, theater bar, and the 24-hr. bar at Las Olas. Check the main pool area in the evenings to see if a temporary bar has been set up. Premium alcohol is an additional cost. All guests have full access to restaurants and bars at the Grand Bahia Principe Coba. NOTE: The bars close relatively early at this resort (11:30 p.m.) with the exception of the disco bar at Hacienda Dona Isabel. Also, all guests have access to all Grand Bahia Principe Coba restaurants and bars.
Entertainment: Nightly shows in the theater, live music by the pools and in the restaurants/bars, karaoke, entertainment including a disco and casino are available at the Hacienda Dona Isabel (disco entrance fee and drinks are included). There is a Mexican Fiesta Show at Hacienda Dona Isabel on Thursday evenings for an extra fee.