Located approximately 20 min. north of Playa del Carmen is the Iberostar Playa Paraiso mega-resort complex. This mega-resort complex consists of 2,000 guest rooms spread across five separate resorts (from north to south and generally priced from least to most expensive are the following): Paraiso del Mar, Paraiso Beach, Paraiso Lindo, Paraiso Maya, and the “crown jewel” of the entire resort–the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso which happens to be off-limits to all other resort guests. Overall, guests at this mega-resort complex have access to all resorts to the north of the resort at which they are booked–Paraiso Maya guests have access to the Paraiso Lindo, Paraiso Beach, and the Paraiso Del Mar. In fact, the Paraiso Maya and Paraiso Lindo share many onsite amenities, as do the Paraiso Del Mar and Paraiso Beach. In addition, Paraiso Maya guests also have access to the shopping/commercial center which is located just to the west of the Paraiso Maya and Lindo lobbies. Here is a short list of amenities located at the shopping/commercial center:
- primary mega-resort spa (Paraiso Maya guests have complimentary access to “wet” spa areas)
- disco (teens and adults)
- restaurants (tacos, hamburgers, crepes, ice cream); all food and drink here are included in the AI package
- souvenirs/clothing stores
- cigar lounge
- small merry-go-round
- Casino (this amenity is in question given its history of limited availability)
Since this is a very large complex, there is a shuttle service which stops at various locations around the resorts, the shopping center, and nearby 18-hole golf course for those guests who have mobility problems or for those who don’t wish to walk. Most shuttles originate from resort lobby entrance areas or can be summoned by the guest building concierge.
The Paraiso Maya is easily identified by the huge Mayan temple-shaped building rising in the distance. This structure is a modernized replica of Chichen Itza and houses the lobby bar (AKA the “snake bar” with its giant serpent suspended overhead), shops, cigar lounge, coffee shop, and surrounding restaurants. Mayan-inspired artwork is prolific at this resort, from the giant Mayan limestone statues to the intricately carved check-in desks in reception. From shells interwoven into harp strings to huge brass vases, the Paraiso Maya is a feast for the eyes as well as an amenity-filled vacation resort.
One of the most unusual amenities at the Paraiso Maya is its wave pool–the only one of its kind in the Riviera Maya. Wave action occurs every hour on the hour during morning and afternoon hours until 4 p.m. and is preceded by a loud ten second “siren”; guests staying in building #63 should expect some noise due to the siren and not mind an earlier start to one’s day. Nearby is a lazy river and hut where pool floats can be bought; some guests make such a purchase or bring one from home and then leave it for other resort guests. Although it’s serene to float along on a hot day, don’t expect major current action akin to water parks in the US. This is a slow-moving lazy river which may require an additional “push” to move oneself along.
The main pool is on the east side of the wave pool and continues to the end of the guest room buildings towards the beach. It has a lengthy swim-up bar, half of which is covered by a waterfall, while two Jacuzzis are located in the center of the pool near the swim-up bar. Loungers are located at various points along the main pool with the most popular ones by the swim-up bar being reserved early in the day (typically by 7 a.m.). Those who want a quieter and smaller pool atmosphere will appreciate the private pools by guest room buildings #60 and #63, while families with younger children will like the kid’s water park and Kid’s Club with playground and small pool by building #66. There is also an additional activities pool for water sports.
Those who like to easily switch from pool to beach will have to tolerate walking across a bridge through a mangrove forest in order to get back and forth between these two areas. Coatis are plentiful on the bridge as well as the beach; carefully watch any food left out or it may be taken by the wildlife! The beach itself offers soft white sand, clear water, a few rocks upon entering the water, and plenty of loungers and shade palapas including one for the physically challenged. Surf varies, so pay attention to the posted flags prior to entering the ocean to swim. There is a beach bar and buffet/snack shack–be sure to try out the paella prepared and served on the beach on either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the weather. Guests can enjoy both non-motorized and motorized water as well as a beachfront air rifle and archery range–for diving and snorkeling excursions, head north on the beach to the dive shop at the Paraiso Del Mar.
The Paraiso Maya offers guaranteed connecting family rooms, a rarity in all-inclusive resorts. Rooms are done in orange, brown, and white with Mayan architectural details, a sunken sitting room area, separate tub/shower, and a balcony hammock. Each guest room building has a concierge station for help with room difficulties or dinner reservations. Due to the onsite mangrove forest, there are no oceanfront rooms, although the Presidential Jr. Suite does advertise a partial ocean view. Building #60 is closest to the beach, while building #66 is closest to the Kid’s Club and children’s water park.
Not only is the Paraiso Maya children and family-friendly, it is baby-friendly with its separate “baby kitchen”. For an additional USD $50 p/week, parents can access baby food, bottle sterilizers, microwave, blender, and refrigerator 24-hrs. a day.
The entire Iberostar Paraiso complex offers a multitude of activities and dining/drinking options, so feel free to take a shuttle or walk around the entire complex along with a visit to the golf course and shopping/commercial center to partake in all it has to offer (remember, just the Grand is off-limits to Paraiso Maya guests). Also, guests are free to visit sister Iberostar resorts (Iberostar Cozumel and Iberostar Tucan/Quetzal) for the day–transportation is an extra cost. Those who wish to learn more details about the resort can do so at www.ib-board.com.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Wave pool, lazy river, lobby bar, stay at one play at four, connecting family rooms
Con: Needs minor room updates, slow lazy river, complimentary WiFi for only one device
Best Suited For: Families with children ages 0-17, golfers who don’t mind vacationing around lots of kids
No. of Rooms: 434
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace with hammock, ceiling fan, sunken seating area with sofa and table, digital safe, mini-bar, flat screen TV, coffee maker, telephone, alarm clock, robe and slippers, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, dbl sinks, Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, toiletries, 24-hr. room service, and a concierge for every guest room building. WiFi is complimentary for only one device. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds. Garden view.
- Pool View Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds, in-room beach beach towels. Pool view.
- Superior Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds, sofa bed in a larger sitting room area. Garden view.
- Family Suite: Two connecting Jr. Suite rooms (one room with king bed and the other with two dbl beds), some family suites also have a sofa bed. Garden view.
- Presidential Jr. Suite: These large suites are colorful and inviting with violet and orange accent walls, separate living and dining room areas, kitchen with fully stocked refrigerator, guest bathroom, separate bedroom with two dbl beds and en-suite bathroom complete with tub and marble shower, sitting room area with lounging chair, large terrace with multiple loungers and corner Jacuzzi, and complimentary in-room WiFi. Partial ocean view.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Access to seven onsite pools (main pool with swim-up bar, wave pool, lazy river, two private pools by guest room buildings, activities pool, and small children’s pool), two Jacuzzis in the main pool, children’s water park (ages 4-12), spa and beauty salon at the shopping/commercial center (with complimentary access to “wet” spa areas), fitness center and theater over at the Paraiso Lindo, tennis courts at Paraiso Lindo, bicycles at the Lindo (Segway tours leave from the bicycles next to the tennis courts), motorized and non-motorized water sports, pool and beach wait service, games room, pottery painting ($), mechanical bull riding on the beach (seasonal), resort shuttle service, shuttle service to Playa del Carmen ($), golf with complimentary food and beverage, complimentary WiFi, gift shop, jewelry store, concierge, tour desk, car rental, ATM. Guests have full access to all amenities at the Paraiso Lindo, Beach, and Del Mar resorts as well as the amenities at the shopping/commercial center.
Restaurants/Bars: One dedicated buffet restaurant (El Fogon) and two buffet restaurants which serve breakfast and lunch but no dinner buffet (La Marina and El Tapatio), and five a la cartes including seafood (La Marina), Mexican (El Tapatio), Japanese (La Geisha–teppanyaki show tables), French (L’Etoile y Museo), and steakhouse (El Rancho). Reservations are required at all a la cartes with no limitations on the number of a la carte dinners. Guests may reserve two a la carte dinner reservations in advance and book the rest upon arrival. The resort also has a poolside snack area, ice cream treats above the swim-up bar, and a beach buffet/snack bar. Paella is prepared and served on the beach once per week. Food and drink at the commercial center and Golf Club House is also included in the AI plan. There is an onsite lobby and cigar bar located near the lobby area (check out the hookahs at the cigar bar), a swim-up bar in the main pool, a beach bar on the Paraiso Lindo side, a pool bar and juice bar located by the wave pool, and a coffee shop by the lobby. Paraiso Maya guests have access to all bars and restaurants at the Lindo, Beach, and Del Mar.
Entertainment: There is a theater at the Paraiso Lindo for nightly shows, games room, teen and adult disco over at the shopping/commercial center.