NOTE: There was a fire which occurred here in Oct. 2015 which destroyed the lobby and surrounding areas. At this time there is no information as to when the repairs will be completed.
The Iberostar Quetzal is located in the gated, developed area of Playacar which is just south of Playa del Carmen. Playacar is best known for its beautiful beach with powdered sugar soft white sand and turquoise sea–beach lovers will never want to leave. This Iberostar is actually two resorts, the Quetzal and Tucan, which are adjoining properties situated towards the southern end of this developed stretch of coastline. The Quetzal is on the north side bordering the Riu Yucatan, while the Tucan is next to Sandos Playacar (the last resort bordering the jungle). Guests of both the Quetzal and Tucan are free to use all amenities on either side of the entire property; however, guests are expected to check-in at the resort at which they’ve made their reservation. Given the mutual reciprocity of this particular resort, those who book the Quetzal may wind up staying on the Tucan side.
This Iberostar resort as a whole is rather large with a total of 700 guest rooms (roughly 350 for the Quetzal and 350 for the Tucan). Travel time from the back of the resort to the beach, however, isn’t more than eight to ten minutes–of course, travel time depends on how much time is spent observing wildlife along the way. This location has several types of animals in enclosures (toucans, flamingos, and giant turtles), while the local Howler monkeys, coati, agouti, peacocks, and iguanas are regular visitors to the Quetzal and Tucan. Three-story colorful guest room buildings are located on either side of the entire Iberostar property while restaurants, most bars, the open-air theater, and an intact jungle setting are situated in the middle of the two resorts.
Guests entering the Quetzal side of the resort are initially struck by its lovely open-air lobby with high ceilings topped by a thatched roof, Spanish Colonial décor with wrought iron chandeliers, gilt-edged mirrors, artwork, stained glass mural, and marble flooring. Thatch-covered walkways lead guests out of the lobby past several restaurants to one of the most beautiful and relaxing parts of the resort–the stone waterfall and grotto which sits adjacent to the Quetzal buffet. There are stone replicas of Mayan gods and more waterfalls as guests traverse the uneven stone path which leads through the jungle towards pool and guest room areas.
The Quetzal has one of the largest pools in the Riviera Maya which means that guests will always have plenty of room to swim and play even when the resort is at full capacity. Although the main pool is fairly close to the beach, there are no unobstructed ocean views. Large shade palapas and loungers line the main pool while several poolside palapa huts offer massages; in the midst of the main pool is a large Jacuzzi section (non-heated) which resembles an island. The main pool is fairly deep in certain areas but does have a large gradual entry at one end; it is advised to either bring an inflatable raft/tube, or guests may purchase one close to the main pool. There are three additional pools which are all close to the main pool: the adults-only swim-up bar and pool area is a flight of stairs down from the main pool, the activities pool which is closer to the Quetzal guest room buildings (pool entry via ladders and no loungers available poolside), and the children’s pool which is closer to the Tucan guest room buildings and host to many loungers and shade palapas. None of these pools are heated, but in the later summer months the main pool can become very warm. Pools close at 7 p.m.
All of the beaches at Playacar have been replenished with sand providing long and wide stretches of beach to lounge and walk. At the Quetzal, swimmers can wade out a distance unimpeded by rocks or coral; those who wish to snorkel from the beach can walk south past Sandos Playacar to the man-made concrete reef where fish and other marine life abound. There are many beach shade palapas and loungers; guests may check-out additional beach umbrellas at the towel hut on the Tucan side of the resort. The dive center and water sports desk are also located beachfront at the Quetzal.
Spacious guest rooms are the order of the day with a white, pink, terra cotta, and blue décor; furniture is light-colored while headboards and floors are tiled. Rooms are basic but functional and clean–the resort is slowly making an effort to replace older in-room items such as tube TV’s and old mattresses. Guests interested in wildlife interaction will do better on the second or third floors of jungle-facing rooms (monkeys tend to climb onto thatched roofs or sit on balcony ledges expecting a handout). Those interested in booking this resort for its jungle appeal should be aware that the wildlife, though entertaining, may not seem so amusing around 6 a.m. when the jungle starts to awaken–light sleepers take note.
Although guest rooms have A/C, many public areas do not–a primary consideration for those who may wish to stay at Iberostar Quetzal or Tucan. The lobby, theater, buffets, and several a la carte restaurants do not have A/C, so if you are a guest who enjoys spending a lot of time at these venues, you may want to reconsider if your comfort level will be met at this Iberostar resort. Certainly the alternative is to visit during the non-summer months when temps are cooler and the humidity level is lower.
Guests who wish to venture away from the resort should note that Playa del Carmen with its shops, restaurants, and clubs is a five to ten minute cab ride, or a 30-40 min. walk into town. There is an additional small shopping area called Plaza Playacar which is only a five minute walk north across the street from the beachfront properties. One can get a Starbucks “fix” (don’t forget the free WiFi here) as well as necessary souvenirs. While the stores at this Plaza are less likely to negotiate a selling price, the sidewalk stands are typically ready to negotiate (although their prices in some cases are not as good as inside the stores).
Additional resort information may be obtained at ib-board.com; the Forum page should have further details about this and other Iberostar resorts.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Beach, stay at one play at two, multiple pools including adults-only, encounters with wildlife.
Con: Rooms need updating, lack of A/C in some public spaces, WiFi $.
Best Suited For: Families with children ages 4-10, those who enjoy a more naturalistic vacation environment, those who enjoy getting close and personal with wildlife.
No. of Rooms: 350
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, mini-bar, digital in-room safe, TV, telephone, ceiling fan, coffee maker, alarm clock, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, shower-only, toiletries, and room service from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. WiFi is an extra charge (there is one hr. free per day in the lobby for one device). Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Standard: King or two dbl beds. Garden or jungle view.
- Jr. Suite: King bed, sitting room area with two sofas and coffee table. Garden or jungle view.
- Oceanfront Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds, sitting room area with two sofas and coffee table. Ocean/pool views.
- Presidential Suite: Separate bedroom with king bed, bureau, and flat screen TV, living room with one sofa and two loveseats, a bar area, entertainment center with TV, dining room area with seating for four, kitchenette with large refrigerator, sink, microwave, dishes, utensils and glasses, and second bedroom with two dbl beds and flat screen TV. Full bathroom with separate shower and tub, while the balcony area is shared between both bedrooms and has a Jacuzzi tub, full loungers, and ocean view. NOTE: There are only two of these suites: typically, they are reserved for timeshare members/owners.
- NOTE: Quetzal oceanfront building is #20. Ocean views are still hit and miss since vegetation and trees often block parts of the view. Buildings #23-#26 facing the middle of the resort are better for viewing wildlife like monkeys, and buildings #28-#29 are nearest the lobby. Also, guest room buildings are three floors with no elevators.
Physically Challenged Rooms: This resort is not ideal for those with mobility problems–even women are discouraged from wearing high heels due to uneven pavement. With that said, there are several rooms available for those with physical challenges. The resort also has a golf cart available for guest pick-ups; all you have to do is call the front desk to arrange it.
Resort Amenities (for the entire resort): Four pools (main, adults-only with swim-up bar, activities, and children’s pools), spa, sauna, beauty salon, fitness center, massage huts, tennis court/sports court (bring your own racket), bicycle tours with staff, archery/air rifle, non-motorized water sports, dive center, pool floats $, pottery painting $, pool and beach wait service, golf cart service for resort transport (call to request), Lucy’s Mini-Club (ages 4-12), playground, sports bar (has A/C), theater (no A/C, also has pool tables), business center, beach dressing rooms, concierge, gift shop, tour desk, photo shop, car rental, and ATM. The resort has also been known to offer mechanical bull riding on the beach.
Restaurants/Bars (for the entire resort): There are two buffet restaurants on the Quetzal side of the resort (Cozumel is the recently renovated main buffet and La Marimba is the daytime buffet by the pool), and two buffet restaurants on the Tucan side of the resort (Tulum and Palapa Uxmal). Quetzal a la cartes include Italian (La Gondola), and the steakhouse (no A/C), while a la cartes on the Tucan side include Mexican (La Hacienda), seafood (Tropical–no A/C), and Japanese (El Bonsai–teppanyaki show tables). Reservations must be made for the a la cartes with the guest services desk in the lobby; reservations are limited to length of stay–typically one a la carte for every three nights’ stay and three for a full week’s stay. If the resort is not at full capacity, guests may be able to reserve additional a la cartes by visiting the guest relations desk the day of the desired seating to see if anything is available. Reservations can be made by contacting the resort one to two weeks ahead of time. Additional dining/snacking options include a beach BBQ, beach paella/sangria, and a beachfront ice cream stand. There are eight bars throughout the entire resort including two lobby bars, a poolside bar at each of the daytime buffets, a theater bar, sports bar, swim-up bar, and a beach bar.
Entertainment: The theater hosts various nightly shows, karaoke, kids’ mini-disco, and specialty shows. The old disco has been renovated into a Sports Bar.