NOTE: Viva Wyndham Maya is slated for a major renovation during 2016. Starting May 30 the main pool will be closed for three weeks while all guests may use the adults-only pool; starting Sept. 5 the lobby and courtyard bar will be closed for five weeks with a makeshift bar open in the courtyard area.
The Viva Wyndham Maya is located within the gated community of Playacar which is just a short five-minute drive south of Playa del Carmen. This is a great budget all-inclusive on a five-star beach and is best suited for active singles, couples, or families–teens will love the trapeze. Since this is a family resort, it lacks a spring break atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean guests won’t have fun. There is plenty to do at the resort–dancing at the disco, riding complimentary bicycles, archery, tennis, taking a trapeze class, attending evening theater performances, enjoying water sports including hobie cat sailing, kayaking, boogie boarding, and paddle boarding, or participating in the myriad of poolside games and activities. Those looking for additional fun can always go into Playa del Carmen for shopping or more evening entertainment–it is only a short cab ride or 30-min. walk via the beach or sidewalk. For those who don’t want to take the time to visit busy Playa del Carmen, there is always Plaza Playacar with its many booths and shops across the street, including a Starbucks which has strong, free WiFi.
The Viva Wyndham Maya has tried to incorporate its Mayan roots by including stone art and various statues of Mayan culture and daily life around the resort grounds. Most of these statues are situated alongside pathways just below walkway level, so be sure to look down and around while traversing the property. Palapa-covered walkways protect guests from the intense sun and rain, while native wildlife such as coatis and agoutis are often seen scurrying about hunting for food while iguanas lounge languidly on nearby rocks to sun. While the Maya has 604 guest rooms, it is a relatively easy property to negotiate; it takes less than ten minutes to get from the back of the resort to the beach, and that is traveling at a leisurely pace.
Playacar beach is definitely the Maya’s primary selling point and is one of the best beaches in the Yucatan. Vacationers can take long walks in either direction on soft white sand with brilliant turquoise ocean water as a backdrop–beach lovers will not want to leave. There are plenty of loungers with shade palapas, scattered natural shade opportunities, and a roped-off VIP area reserved for timeshare owners/upgraded guests. While beach wait service has recently been added, it is sporadic, so plan accordingly. Water sports equipment is readily available; some lessons on how to use various pieces of equipment are free while others are a nominal fee.
It is a very short distance from the beach to the main pool with its swim-up bar and separate shallow children’s section. This pool area will be completely renovated by the end of June 2016, so it is difficult to say with certainty what the renovations will look like. The current pool is small and lacks sufficient loungers, so hopefully there will be a larger pool in which to swim as well as additional loungers from which to enjoy the renovations. (A new picture will be posted as soon as the renovations have been completed).
Adults tired of vacationing around the multitude of children at this resort will appreciate the adults-only pool with adjacent Jacuzzi and bar located at the back of the resort in a garden setting. It is small, but provides a nice respite from splashing hands and feet. (This will be the main pool during 2016 renovations in May/June).
Guest rooms at the Maya are basic but clean; most have been repainted with the addition of new furniture while showers were re-done in 2010 (tubs were removed from Superior rooms). Most rooms have small balconies with just enough room for two chairs and a small table, but the solid retaining wall definitely blocks the view. Guest room amenities are sparse–Superior rooms do not have a mini-bar (or an empty one if it is present), facecloths, or Kleenex. Digital safes are an extra charge in all rooms, and coffee makers are conspicuously absent. All rooms receive just one bottle of water regardless of the number of guests registered within; vacations are expected to keep refilling this bottle at the filtered water stations in the lobby or by the pool. Many guests also choose to make water purchases at Playa del Carmen’s Walmart to deal with this issue.
While the Maya cuts down on in-room amenities, it does offer families with infants some amenities which other resorts do not. Pack ‘n plays, bottle sterilizers, and bottle warmers are available, while children age four+ can enjoy the Kid’s Club with small pool and playground; a ceramic painting station is also available for everyone’s enjoyment. While teens do not have a dedicated space, they can spend their time enjoying trapeze lessons, archery, rooftop tennis, complimentary bicycle use, or poolside games.
Despite its flaws, the Viva Wyndham is an affordable all-inclusive resort in a beautiful and safe area with some of the best beachfront in the Yucatan. Vacationers looking for a lot of “bang for your buck” in an internationally-friendly atmosphere would do well to consider this Mexican resort.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Beach, additional a la carte restaurants to choose from at Viva Wyndham Azteca, free lobby WiFi, trapeze lessons, adults-only pool
Con: Digital safe is an extra charge, lack of room amenities, lack of A/C in some public areas, weak WiFi signal
Best Suited For: Active singles, couples, or families who don’t insist on stellar guest rooms. This would be a great resort for vacationers on a budget who will be taking a lot of Riviera Maya excursions and using their rooms primarily in which to sleep.
No. of Rooms: 604
Room Amenities: King or queen bed(s), A/C, small balcony/terrace, digital safe ($), flat screen TV, telephone, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, and shower. There is no room service or complimentary room WiFi. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Handicap Accessible: Queen bed, roll-in shower, ground floor terrace.
- Superior: King or two queen beds, two chairs. Garden or ocean view.
- Deluxe: King or two queen beds, chairs or small sofa, mini-bar, Kleenex, facecloths, Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. Garden view.
- NOTE: There is another guest room category with a balcony Jacuzzi, but these rooms are primarily given out to timeshare owners or VIP guests.
(There are no elevators at this three-story resort. Guest rooms numbered in the 1000-2000 range are near the beach, while guest rooms numbered in the 3000 range are quiet and near the adults-only pool.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Two pools (main with swim-up bar and adults-only pool), two Jacuzzis, spa, beauty salon, fitness center (no A/C), non-motorized and motorized water sports, dive center, trapeze, rooftop tennis, bicycles, archery, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12) with small pool and playground, disco, theater (no A/C), ceramic painting station, hammocks, beach wait service, gift shop, jewelry shop, concierge, tour desk, car rental, money exchange window, and complimentary lobby WiFi. Guests may dine at the a la carte restaurants at the Maya’s sister resort, Viva Wyndham Azteca which is located one-third mile north along the same stretch of beach, but access to other Azteca amenities is not permitted. There is no pool wait service at the Maya.
Restaurants/Bars: There is one buffet restaurant (La Terraza–no A/C) and four a la cartes including Mexican (Hacienda Don Diego), Italian (Miramare–no A/C), Mediterranean (Portofino), and international fusion (Viva Café). A la cartes available at Viva Wyndham Azteca include Mexican (Xul-Ha), Asian (Bamboo–no teppanyaki show tables), and Italian (Il Palco). A la carte reservations are required and are limited according to length of stay–three a la cartes for a seven night stay, for example. However, guests have been known to get additional reservations by checking with the Guest Services desk prior to 3 p.m. the day of the desired reservation to see if there have been any cancellations. There is a poolside snack bar which serves food and drink, a 24-hr. snack bar in the lobby/courtyard area, and four bars–the lobby/courtyard bar, pool bar, adults-only bar, and disco bar.
Entertainment: Theater hosts nightly shows, and the onsite disco.