NOTE: There was a fire which occurred Oct. 2015 at the resort on the Quetzal side. It did, however, also affect the main buffet at the Tucan. The entire resort is closed until Dec. 11, 2015 in order to make repairs.
The Iberostar Tucan 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 Tucan and the Quetzal, which are adjoining properties situated towards the southern end of this developed stretch of coastline. The Tucan is on the south side bordering Sandos Playacar, while the Quetzal is next to the Riu Yucatan. Guests of both the Tucan and Quetzal 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 Tucan may wind up staying on the Quetzal side.
Both sides of this Iberostar property are very similar in layout and amenity offerings. One of the basic differences between the two is lobby décor–while the Quetzal has more of a Spanish Colonial influence, the Tucan has more of a Mayan flair. Vases, Mayan statues, and a Mayan relief wall sculpture behind reception help to set the tone for this resort. While the Quetzal is the setting for the renovated disco (which is now a sports bar), the Tucan houses the spa, fitness center, Kid’s Club, plus an additional a la carte restaurant. Beach lovers should be aware that of the two resorts, the Tucan offers a guest room category with direct beach access.
Colorful three-story guest room buildings flank both sides of the entire Iberostar property while an intact jungle setting is situated in the middle of the two resorts. The jungle setting is home to free-roaming Howler monkeys, peacocks, coatis, and agoutis, while the resort also has enclosures for flamingos, toucans, and giant tortoises. Travel time from the back of the resort to the beach isn’t more than eight to ten minutes–of course, travel time depends on how much time is spent observing wildlife along the way. Although both the Tucan and Quetzal have regular monkey sightings, guests report more early morning monkey sightings at the Tucan on the second or third floor guest room balconies (building #14 reportedly has the most monkey sightings to date).
The Iberostar Tucan/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 (these go very early in the morning), 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–guests are encouraged to either bring an inflatable or else purchase one near the main pool. There are three additional pools nearby: 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 is via ladders with 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. While none of these pools are heated, the main pool can become quite warm during later summer months. All pools close by 7 p.m.
All Playacar beaches were replenished with sand after 2010 thus providing a very walkable stretch of shoreline. Swimmers can wade out a distance unimpeded by rocks or coral, and while some fish are present offshore, guests who wish to snorkel in better conditions 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 at the Iberostar along with some minimal natural shade; if all the palapas are in use, check with the towel stand at the Tucan for a beach umbrella. The dive center and water sports desk are over at the Quetzal, while the beachfront bar is situated between the two resorts.
Spacious guest rooms are the order of the day with a blue, yellow, tan, and white color scheme. 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. Bathrooms are shower-only with one sink, while all rooms have a balcony or terrace. While both the Tucan and Quetzal have beachfront rooms, the Tucan’s rooms tend to have less obstructed ocean views.
Although guest rooms have A/C, many public areas do not which may be a primary consideration for those who wish to stay at this Iberostar property. The lobby, theater, buffet restaurants, 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 complex. Certainly the alternative is to visit during the non-summer months when temps are cooler and the humidity 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 minute 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 beachfront properties–you can’t miss it. One can get a Starbuck’s “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 www.ib-board.com; go to the forum page for 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 setting, those who like to get up 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 view.
- Superior Oceanfront Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds, sitting room area with two sofas and coffee table. Ocean view and direct beach access.
- Presidential Suite: Separate bedroom with king bed, bureau, flat screen TV, living room with one sofa and two loveseats, desk and chair, bar area, entertainment center with TV, dining table with seating for four, kitchenette with full refrigerator, sink, microwave, dishes, cutlery and glasses, while the adjoining bedroom has two dbl beds and flat screen TV. Full bathroom with separate shower and tub, a shared balcony off of the bedrooms along with a Jacuzzi, full loungers, and ocean view. There are only two of these suites, and they are typically reserved for timeshare members/owners.
- NOTE: Oceanfront building is #10. Buildings #13-#15 have rooms which face the jungle in the middle of the resort for better wildlife viewing (building #14 is the best for morning monkey sightings), while buildings #18-#19 are close to the lobby. Be aware that rooms which face Sandos Playacar may experience some nighttime noise due to their evening entertainment. Iberostar Tucan is a three-story complex 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.
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, bicycle tours with staff, archery/air rifle, non-motorized water sports, dive center, pool inflatables $, pottery painting $, pool and beach wait service, golf cart service for transport around the resort (call to request), Lucy’s Mini-Club (ages 4-12), playground, Sports Bar (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.
Restaurants and Bars (for the entire resort): Two buffet restaurants on the Tucan side (Tulum and Palapa Uxmal), two buffet restaurants on the Quetzal side (Cozumel and La Marimba). Tucan a la cartes include Mexican (La Hacienda), seafood (Tropical–no A/C), and Japanese (El Bonsai–teppanyaki show tables), while Quetzal a la cartes include Italian (La Gondola) and the steakhouse (no A/C). 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 reservation 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 there have been any cancellations. Reservations can be made one to two weeks in advance by contacting the resort. 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 theater bar, sports bar, a poolside bar at each of the daytime buffets, and a beach bar.
Entertainment: The theater hosts various nightly shows, karaoke, the children’s mini-disco, and specialty shows. The prior disco has been renovated into a Sports Bar.