NOTE: As of Nov. 2016, the new beachfront infinity pool and bar, new restaurant (Los Corales), small beach section on the south end of the resort, and buildings 82-83 are now adult-only.
Rebranded Nov. 1, 2014 from its former name, Grand Bahia Principe Akumal, this newest addition to the Bahia Principe Don Pablo Collection is part of a very large mega-resort (Grand Bahia Principe Riviera Maya) located approximately three miles south of the town of Akumal in the Riviera Maya.
Three adjacent properties comprise this mega-resort: Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal Don Pablo Collection (beachfront with 630 rooms–there are several beachfront villas being built which will add to the total number of rooms), Grand Bahia Principe Tulum (beachfront with 978 rooms), and Grand Bahia Principe Coba (inland with 1,080 rooms). There is a fourth Bahia Principe property nearby, the Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an Don Pablo Collection (inland with 480 rooms), which is located on the Riviera Maya Golf Club on the other side of the federal highway. The Sian Ka’an has new designated beach space right next to the Akumal resort, and free run of all resorts. In addition to separate resorts with their individual amenities, this mega-resort complex has a shopping and evening entertainment center called Hacienda Dona Isabel which houses souvenir shops, a sports bar, disco, and entertainment area over on the Tulum property. Given the expanse of this mega-resort, there is a tram service which operates throughout the entire resort complex from 7 a.m. until 2:30 a.m.
With the rebranding has come several significant changes as to how the resorts interrelate with one another as well as the services and amenities offered by the Akumal:
- all rooms are now Jr. Suites (Superior and Oceanfront)
- no more Club Golden upgrade
- complimentary in-room safe
- butler service will be available upon request
- pillow menu will be available upon request
- pool and beach wait service will be offered
- although there will be an upgrade in alcohol brands offered, premium alcohol is still an extra cost
- only adult Akumal guests may visit the Sian Ka’an resort to use their pools, bars, and restaurants (the Sian Ka’an is an adults-only resort)
- unlimited a la carte meals with choices at all resorts in this complex, including Sian Ka’an (reservations are still required, however)
- Akumal amenities will be off-limits to guests of the Tulum and Coba; only Sian Ka’an guests may use Akumal amenities (since all beaches are public, guests of other resorts may still use the Akumal beach, just not the loungers, beach bar, dining facilities, etc.). There are some exceptions involving multiple repeat guests of the Coba and Tulum resorts, so if you have stayed in this complex multiple times, ask if you have access to the Akumal property.
- The beaches have now been “restructured”, with Sian Ka’an guests having access to the old Coba beach next to the Akumal resort, while Coba guests are now reassigned to the old Sian Ka’an beach next to the Tulum resort.
- The Akumal resort has finished a new infinity pool, snack bar, and villa section over by the far southern corner of the resort.
Those who can adjust to these major changes will find that the Akumal and its adjacent resorts are still surrounded by the same 275 acres of Mayan jungle, home to the many iguanas, coatis, and raccoons which frequent this resort complex. Guests enter the Akumal through its giant pentagonal doorframe and encounter “Ixim”, a 30-ft. tall statue representing man in eternal communion and harmony with nature. This is an impressive open-air lobby under a thatched palapa roof–look for the lobby bar in the adjacent area to the right.
Just a few steps from the lobby is the main pool area with its bridges, shade palapas, shallow children’s section, and multiple connected Jacuzzis. The swim-up bar is in a separate pool section off to the right upon exiting the lobby, while several other pool sections are straight ahead. Not all are interconnected–swimmers will encounter barriers underneath some of the bridges which necessitates swimming back or getting out of the pool. The activities pool is a bit further south along the beach with an adjacent 24-hr snack restaurant and pool bar; both pools are beachfront with an easy transition between pool and beach. Guests with rooms furthest from both pools and the beach will appreciate the very large Jacuzzi “pool” with its own bar located in the northwestern corner of the resort (with the continued renovations, the Chit Bar has been closed along with the southernmost part of the beach–loungers have been removed from this area).
Although not a beach lover’s dream with its offshore sand whales, rocky shoreline sections, and courser sand, the beach is wide and long with wonderful snorkeling opportunities. Guests forgetting their own gear may borrow the resort’s for one hr. at a time; there are also kayaks and catamarans which can be checked out along with Jet Skis for rent. There is some natural shade available on the beach along with palapas. Since the Akumal has the best beach in the entire complex, this area of the resort can become very busy. Another reason to like this beach is the beach bar with swings for seats and the hammock section.
Guest rooms at the Akumal are fairly standard, nothing terribly fancy, but they do include everything for a decent stay and have been partially renovated (new paint, repairs, etc.). Guest room buildings are very spread out but they all have easy access to tram service.
Guests wanting to venture to adjacent Bahia Principe properties will find a children’s water park and Casino at Coba, and the dolphinarium and Hacienda Dona Isabel entertainment center over on the Tulum side of the resort.
No matter which property is chosen, other wonderful swimming and snorkeling opportunities are available off-site–take a taxi or colectivo into the town of Akumal and swim with sea turtles and stingrays at Akumal Bay, or walk 15 min. south of the resort to Chemuyil Bay with its deserted sandy beach (don’t forget a companion, water, and a good pair of walking shoes; there are no facilities here, just a gorgeous spot).
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Pay at one play at four, recent renovations, snorkeling off the beach, free lobby WiFi
Con: Lack of A/C in some common areas, rocky shoreline sections, in-room WiFi $, renovations on the very south end of the property
Best Suited For: Families who like beach activities, families with children ages 4-10, golfers who like to stay close to the beach
No. of Rooms: 630
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, living room area with sofa bed, ceiling fan, flat screen TV, in-room safe, mini-bar with small bottles of liquor included, telephone, radio alarm clock, iron/ironing board, robe and slippers, beach towels, hair dryer, tub/shower combo with rainforest showerhead, toiletries, and 24-hr. room service. Room WiFi is an extra cost. Butler service and pillow menu are available upon request. Here is a brief rundown of the two guest room categories:
- Jr. Suite Superior: King or two dbl beds, garden view.
- Jr. Suite Oceanfront: King or two dbl beds, ocean or partial ocean view.
- NOTE: There are no elevators in these three-story buildings. Also, there are several beachfront villas being built near villa #66.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Two pools (main pool with swim-up bar and activities pool), integrated Jacuzzis and shallow children’s sections, a Jacuzzi “pool” (closed as of March 2015 due to the renovations close by), spa, fitness center, complimentary one hr. daily use of non-motorized water sports and snorkeling equipment, beach hammock section, theater, disco and sports bar (at the Hacienda Don Isabel entertainment center), complimentary greens fees at Riviera Maya Golf Club, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), one hr. complimentary lobby WiFi per device per day, concierge, tour desk, gift shop, car rental, and ATM. See separate listings for Grand Bahia Principe Tulum, Grand Bahia Principe Coba, and Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an for their respective amenities. NOTE: There is a new beachfront infinity pool and snack bar being built by villas #66 and #67 scheduled to be completed Nov. 2015.
Restaurants/Bars: This resort offers one buffet (Riviera Restaurant), and three a la cartes including Italian (Dolce Vita, no A/C), seafood (Frutos del Mar, no A/C), and international gourmet (Arlequin). There is unlimited a la carte dining, but reservations are required. There is a 24-hr. snack bar over by the activities pool which serves hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. On-site bars include the music bar just off the lobby, theater bar, swim-up bar, two pool bars, the Chit Bar located by the Jacuzzi pool (closed as of March 2015 due to renovations nearby), the beach bar El Mar which has swings for seats, and the beach bar over by the new construction (this beach bar may be temporarily closed due to nearby construction). There is a new proposed snack bar being built over by the new pool and villas around existing villa #66 which is scheduled to open Nov. 2015. NOTE: Bars have been known to close around 11:30 p.m., so alcoholic drinks can be ordered at the disco over at Hacienda Dona Isabel. Late night revelers should check out the 24-hr. snack bar for drinks if they don’t want to go all the way to Hacienda Dona Isabel. All guests have full access to bars at the Tulum and Coba resorts, while adults have full access to the bars at Sian Ka’an as well.
Entertainment: Nightly theater shows, live music in restaurants and the bar off the lobby, entertainment available at Hacienda Dona Isabel where the disco entrance fee and drinks are included. Thursday night is typically “Mexican Night” with a special show which has an entrance fee for all guests.