Vacationers looking for a small, budget-friendly, beachfront resort close to downtown Playa del Carmen should look no further–The Reef Coco Beach (formerly known as Grand Coco Bay) may be the resort for you. With only 196 guest rooms, The Reef Coco Beach lies less than a mile north of Playa del Carmen’s downtown district; it takes approximately ten minutes to walk there along the beach (guests need to eventually turn right and go up any major street to actually reach 5th Avenue). The resort is protected by an offshore reef which greatly reduces waves making this a swimmable area; however, the same conditions are also ideal for boats with many of the local dive shops/boating services mooring theirs offshore in plain view of The Reef Coco Beach. For some guests this is a plus (more of a Mexican fishing “village” atmosphere), while others find it annoying and potentially dangerous for swimmers. For those who want to swim in the ocean, there is a roped-off section delineating where it is safe to do so.
The resort is built in the shape of a “U” with guest rooms having a garden, pool, partial ocean, or oceanfront view. All amenities are close together so there is little walking to do onsite. For a small resort there are many activities to choose from: rooftop tennis and basketball court, spa and Zen garden, large beachfront pool with swim-up bar, three beachfront Jacuzzis (not heated), non-motorized water sports, dive center, bicycle use, theater, and a Kid’s Club. The Reef Coco Beach has recently undergone some major renovations including the addition of a new a la carte restaurant (Samurai), beachfront sports bar, beach bar for upgraded guests, and renovated fitness center.
The lengthy but narrow freeform pool is probably the resort’s biggest draw for vacationers along with its location to downtown Playa del Carmen. The pool is large for a property this size and includes a shallow children’s area, sun shelf, and swim-up bar. The sundeck offers many loungers and shade umbrellas, and there is some scattered natural shade. Noise can be a problem since the U-shape of the resort acts as a natural amplifier–late sleepers with rooms near the pool should be prepared to wake up to the sound of the activities team attempting to enlist the participation of guests in ongoing activities.
Steps away from the Jacuzzis are multiple Bali beds which have great ocean views (they are complimentary, but reserve them at the front desk). The beach is only a few steps down from the Bali beds and has excellent fine white sand but is narrow with only room for one row of loungers and shade umbrellas. Guests can take lengthy walks in either direction while water entry in front of the resort is easy with no rocks or coral. Those who don’t like the sense of confinement due to the offshore boats should walk north of the resort for an uninterrupted horizon view and additional room for swimming.
Resort grounds are quite attractive for such a limited space. Mature palms, hedges, and flowers abound while a poolside bronze statue of a nude female reminds resort guests that life should be lived unreservedly. Additional statues grace the vaulted palapa-roofed lobby area while a contemporary lobby bar with flat screen TV shows the most recent sporting events (there is also a separate beachfront sports bar); afternoon refreshments are also served in the lobby with flambéed and other specialty coffees and tea.
Guests will find that the rooms match the overall ambiance of The Reef Coco Beach–clean, but simply decorated with white walls, white linens and drapes, wood furnishings, and tile floors. All rooms include a balcony, tub/shower combination, and bureau, while different room categories have various exclusions (guests with Standard Package rooms can only eat at the buffet and one a la carte, do not have mini-bar amenities outside of water, and have to pay extra for the digital safe). Oceanfront rooms cannot be booked in advance (these rooms typically go to timeshare owners), only partial ocean view rooms, so getting the few oceanfront guest rooms which exist requires timing and a certain amount of luck.
The Reef Coco Beach is best suited for couples, singles, and families with younger children. Teenagers may become bored at the resort due to the lack of structured activities for their age group. Adults interested in booking The Reef Coco Beach for five or more nights may want to consider booking directly through its website for the following incentives:
- complimentary WiFi in all areas
- late check-out (depending on availability)
- choice of spa or snorkel package
(Spa Package): USD $100 spa certificate, bottle of Prosecco delivered to one’s room, one in-room continental breakfast
(Snorkel Package): one complimentary snorkel tour with professional guide per adult
In order to take advantage of these offers, guests must email their confirmation number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Walking distance to Playa del Carmen, complimentary Bali beds, no dinner reservations needed (except at Samurai)
Con: Small beach, lots of extra costs, WiFi $
Best Suited For: Families with young children, singles, and couples looking for a small resort atmosphere with easy access to Playa del Carmen
No. of Rooms: 196
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, digital safe, flat screen TV, telephone, table and two chairs, ceiling fan, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, tub/shower combination, and toiletries. There is no room service; WiFi is an extra cost unless some upgrade is purchased or the reservation is made on the resort’s website. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Standard Package: King or two dbl beds. This package has the following restrictions: domestic alcohol only (no international or top-shelf), extra charge for digital safe, included dinners are the buffet and Rosinella, the Italian a la carte–Sabor Latino and Samurai a la cartes are both an extra charge. WiFi is free only when booking five+ nights on the website. There is only water in the mini-bar.
- Standard Package with Pool View: King or two dbl beds. This package has the same restrictions as the regular Standard Package listed above.
- Superior Package: King or two dbl beds, mini-bar stocked daily with sodas and beer, coffee maker, microwave, robes, complimentary digital safe, bottle of wine upon arrival, 25% spa discount. This package has the following restrictions: domestic alcohol only (no international or top-shelf), WiFi is an extra charge unless booking five+ nights on the website. Samurai a la carte is an extra charge.
- Premium Package: King or two dbl beds, mini-bar stocked daily with sodas and beer, coffee maker, microwave, robes, complimentary digital safe and WiFi, bottle of wine upon arrival, 25% spa discount, access to Bar and Mar Lounge beach bar, international and top-shelf liquor at all bars. Guests who book five+ nights on the website will receive one complimentary dinner for two at Samurai (a savings of USD $50), otherwise it is an extra charge.
- Premium Package with Partial Ocean View: King or two dbl beds. This package has the same amenities and inclusions/exclusions as the regular Premium Package listed above.
- NOTE: There is a beach club located right next door to the resort on the south side (Canibal Royal Beach Club). If you believe that noise could be an issue, request a room on the north side of the resort. Also, noise can be an issue with rooms near the lobby/lobby bar area.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Not available. However, there are several accessibility ramps available on the property.
Resort Amenities: Main pool (with swim-up bar), children’s pool section, three beachfront Jacuzzis, spa with Zen garden, beauty salon, fitness center, non-motorized water sports, dive center, rooftop tennis and basketball courts, bicycles, sports bar, beach bar, Bali beds, theater, Kid’s Club with small playground (ages 4-12), gift shop, concierge, and tour desk. There is no pool or beach wait service.
Restaurants/Bars: One buffet restaurant (Miramar) and three a la cartes including Italian (Rosinella), Mexican (Sabor Latino), and the new Japanese a la carte with two seatings (Samurai–teppanyaki and Shabu-Shabu tables). Reservations are only required at Samurai. Also, Samurai is an additional charge for all guests with the exception of Premium Package upgraded guests who stay five+ nights via online bookings, and they only receive one complimentary dinner for two during their stay. Otherwise, this restaurant is USD $25 p/p with an extra $5 p/p for a surf and turf order. There is a poolside snack bar (closes at 2 a.m.) and afternoon coffee service in the lobby. There are five bars–the lobby bar, sports bar, swim-up bar, poolside snack bar, and the new beach bar for upgraded guests. NOTE: Guests with Standard and Superior room packages may purchase a “Premium bracelet” in order to access top-shelf alcohol in all bars and restaurants.
Entertainment: There is an onsite theater which hosts nightly shows, sports bar, live music with mariachi performers, and a weekly Mexican Fiesta celebration.