We stayed at the Vidanta Resort in Riviera Maya for a week in July, 2018 after a very positive experience at the Vidanta Resort in Acapulco a few years ago. Although we had a nice vacation, I will think long and hard before we return to another Vidanta property in the future. Here are my thoughts on Vidanta Riviera Maya:
The grounds were very well maintained and I enjoyed seeing lizards cross my path as I was walking down to get some coffee in the morning. It definitely has kind of a “jungle must” smell due to the water and high humidity but the greenery was a welcome change of pace from some of the more traditional resorts that seem to be all concrete with very little natural beauty.
The gym and spa are spacious and beautiful. I didn’t get any spa treatments on this trip but I did use the gym several times while the kids (and my husband) were napping after a long morning of swimming. The equipment is new and there is wifi available to stream music while you’re exercising.
The food quality is great. We never had a disappointing meal and with 15 bars and restaurants there was more than enough variety for the whole week. The steakhouse was particularly enjoyable and probably the best steak I have had outside of the US. The price of food is another story, which I’ll get to later.
The staff throughout the resort, except for the timeshare salespeople, were friendly, courteous, and very prompt with their service. During the day, the pool staff made a concerted effort to get to know our food and drink preferences in case we returned to the same area the next day or later in our stay.
If you’re planning on spending any time at the pool during a given day I highly recommend “renting” a cabana. Here’s the deal, you have to sign up for a cabana the day before, or in the morning if there are some available. Then, if you order food or drinks the amount is credited towards the rental price of the cabana. Because the food and drinks are so overpriced, you will easily reach the $30 rental price of the cabana. The cabanas themselves are large and very comfortable with a lot of shade. Also, if you order lunch at the pool the food is tasty and the portions are large.
Salum. We may have not come across this gem if it
wasn’t for some research I had done on the resort before we left. Pro tip- before you book your next trip, watch videos (like mine haha) and read reviews on sites like TripAdvisor to get great recommendations and an insider scoop on a given resort. Salum just opened in the summer of 2018. It is an indoor/outdoor area that has dining, a marketplace with ice cream, churros, souvenirs, etc. and a relaxing outdoor lounge area with swings, hammocks, and cabanas. Regardless of which restaurant area you sit in you can order from all of the different menus. One night I ordered Asian fusion, my husband ordered tacos, and the kids had burgers. Needless to say, everyone was happy. It is a beautiful addition to the property and a place I recommend visiting on your very first day.
There is a small grocery store on site by the coffee shop where you can buy snacks, milk, bread, etc. to bring back to your room or the beach. The prices were more reasonable at the market than I was expecting.
The resort offers a complimentary transportation pickup at the airport which seems like a nice offer but you end up waiting until their courtesy van is filled up before you can drive to the hotel. This took us around an hour or so and with 4 travel weary people, it probably would have been a better idea to just arrange our own personal transportation to get to the resort faster. The ride back to the airport after our stay was $30-40
The size of the resort: The resort is over 1000 acres (you read that right!) which is beautiful but also a little overwhelming. It’s so big that they have a golf course AND a Cirque du Soleil tent on sight. You can easily get lost on the trails and possibly miss some of the features of the hotel if you have limited mobility. There are golf carts that can take you and your group to various other parts of the hotel if you don’t mind waiting in line. We found that the best way to get around was on foot but we definitely got lost of few times. Sometimes our walking adventures resulted in the discovery of new parts of the resort. There are hidden pools, wildlife, and beautiful jungle scenery to be found on a long walk around the property.
The water on our resort section of the Caribbean coast was warm but there was so much seaweed that the kids didn’t want to swim in it at all. Although we did play in the sand, we spent the vast majority of our time pool hopping around the resort. Our personal favorite was the Grand Mayan Pool.
The rooms are fine. We stayed in the Mayan Palace and we had plenty of room. We stayed in a one bedroom so there was a king bed in one room and then two sofa beds in the living room. The kitchen
is small but workable. A small warning though, you have to do your own dishes. I would highly recommend requesting a room near the main resort pool because then you should be able to walk to most restaurants, Salum, the gym, etc.
Room cleaning and turndown service threw us off a little because the daily room cleaners did not come to our room until around 2 or 3pm, which was prime nap time for our kids. Unfortunately we had to send them away on most days as to not wake up our kids. Then, the turndown service often did not come until around 10pm, which was when we were trying desperately to get the kids to sleep. Once again we had to send them away on most days. The cleaning ladies were really lovely and even if I had to turn them away they would leave a few candies for the kids to enjoy the next day. I’m not sure if this schedule is how the rest of the hotel is or if we were just at an unfortunate point in our particular housekeeper’s schedule.
The price of food was a huge shocker for us. We have traveled all over Mexico and have never stayed at a resort with such high prices. They felt comparable to a resort in Hawaii. Personally, I would rather pay for an all-inclusive resort so that I can enjoy ordering drinks at the pool without analyzing every price. We had stayed at a Vidanta Resort in Acapulco (The Grand Mayan) a few years ago and the prices were very reasonable so we thought the same would be true at the Riviera Maya but we were very wrong.
The timeshare sales pitches are aggressive. More aggressive than I have experienced at other resorts. What was especially frustrating is that it seemed like each individual salesperson would say whatever they thought you wanted to hear at that particular moment, even if it contradicted a previous claim by another salesperson. We caved in and went to a timeshare presentation because they promised resort credits, a discount on our highly overpriced food and drinks, as well as a large discount on the resort fees. I had hoped to power through the presentation and was VERY clear that we would not be buying a timeshare. We even brought our children with us so that they could act up and we could hopefully escape early. Unfortunately, we still lost over two hours of our vacation. Our kids chose that particular day to be extremely well behaved and didn’t help to bail us out. The salespeople were shamelessly dishonest and I left feeling concerned that they wouldn’t even honor the promises that they made to us when we agreed to sit for the timeshare presentation.
SAVE YOUR PAPERWORK!! When we went to check out of the resort we double checked our final bill and there was supposed to be some resort credits on our account that were missing to the tune of several hundred dollars. I had a feeling after our timeshare presentation that things seemed a little fishy so I saved all of my paperwork and, after talking to a manager and wasting another almost hour of my vacation, was able to get our bill straightened out.
Final piece of advice: If you have an excursion or a flight to catch, leave extra, I repeat, extra early. It took us over an hour to walk to the lobby, check out of our room while arguing about the charges on our bill as well as the lack of credits due to the timeshare fiasco, catch the tram to the main lobby, and finally get a taxi to the airport.