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Here is a full write up by one of my travelers. They stayed at the Sandos Playacar in January of 2019. The only editing I did below was to add heading tags and bold type.
Sandos Playacar Review
Airport and Transportation to/from Airport
A Seek and Go representative was waiting for us right outside the airport doors. She met us and took us to our driver. We rode in a full size passenger van. It was a very comfortable one hour ride and the driver was nice and informative. The fare to the resort was included in the package price.
We booked our return ride from the Seek and Go representative inside the resort lobby and the fare was paid at checkout. They charged $50 USD. It was the same van as the ride to the resort. It is required to leave 4 hours prior to the flight. It is a one hour ride to the airport and you have to check in 3 hours early. Getting through security was not an issue. You have to be sure not to lose the customs receipt that you are given upon arrival or you will have to pay $30 to replace it. Once through security, there are plenty of shops and restaurants to occupy your time.
Arrival at the Resort
There are hotel staff that take your suitcases from the van and hang on to them until you have your room assignment. Once you know your room number they will deliver your bags to your room. At check in, the reception staff explain that you have to confirm your timeshare right away and take the tour. They put a hold on your credit card for $1,500 and if you do not attend then you will be charged. They scan each person’s passport so there is no way to try and get away claiming that a child is under 12 if they are not. The staff are very nice and they have fresh lemonade to drink while you wait to get checked in. They put a bracelet on your wrist that you keep on the whole time you are there. The adults get a dark blue bracelet and children under 18 get a light blue one. You show your bracelet to get into the restaurants and cafes. There is also a chip in the bracelet that allows you to open the door to your room so there is no need to carry around a room key. They also give you a card to check out beach towels. After getting checked in, we went over to the desk inside the lobby and confirmed out timeshare presentation.
We had a Riviera King Junior Suite, which consisted of a king size bed, a bunk bed with a full size mattress on bottom and twin size mattress on top. There were also two small cribs if people had small children. There is a safe in the closet for passports, money, and other valuables. There is also an iron and ironing board that we used and was quite good. There are also a couple of umbrellas in the closet, which we were lucky enough not to have had to use. The shower has a bath gel and a shampoo dispenser so if you did not want to bring your own shampoo, you would not have to. The A/C has a thermostat but does not work because it is centrally controlled. In the middle of January we did not want to use the A/C and turned it off. There is a sliding glass door leading to the balcony and our room faced the pool. There is a swimsuit rack on the balcony to dry the swimsuits on overnight. The TV gets several English channels.
Be sure to bring your own adapters with multiple plugs. Our room had only 3 available plugs for charging electronics. One was next to the King bed, one next to the bunk bed, and the other was located behind the refrigerator. There is an alarm clock next to the king bed, but if you wanted to charge your phone overnight you had to unplug it. If you come with a family of four and each has a phone to charge, you would not be able to charge them all at the same time. So it is good to bring an adapter that has multiple plugs. That way you can plug the adapter into one outlet and still be able to charge all your devices.
All the restaurants are good. The main restaurant is the International Buffet with a large selection of choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We ate there for breakfast and lunch but went to the other restaurants for dinner. They also serve a buffet breakfast in the restaurant right below the lobby. It is similar to the choices in the main International Buffet but is smaller. The advantage is that it was close to our room.
There was an outdoor Mexican buffet on the Friday night that we were there. There were no tables to sit at but it was fast and good. Artisans had set up their wares and you could walk along and look at their artwork, statuettes, and other crafts. Of course, they wanted to sell them to you but they were not pushy about it. This was located in the central plaza area next to the Meeting Place building and the International Buffet restaurant.
There is only about an hour and a half gap between when breakfast is over and when lunch is served and the same between lunch and dinner. There are cafes open from 10AM to 11PM where you can get snacks if you get hungry in between. The Cupcake Café serves coffee drinks (cappuccinos, lattes) and you can also get smoothies. Next door is a place that has a burrito/taco bar. I did not eat there but the kids did and liked it a lot.
Our room was the opposite side of the resort from the beach. There are carts that drive back and forth. You hop on and ride to the beach and then back to the room. The main buffet restaurant is close to the beach and you can ride the cart to get there. There is also a Nature Walk that cuts through the center of the resort that goes from the lobby area to the Meeting Place, which is next to the International Buffet restaurant. At a fairly brisk walk it only takes 6 or 7 minutes to get there. There are a lot of little signs along the way that had inspirational messages. They were things like one of my favorites, “Everything in excess in bad- except vacations”.
The Wi-Fi in the lobby was strong. In our room, and in the restaurants, it was OK. The beach was spotty. I could send and receive text messages on the beach but not all the time. I did receive a phone call from a friend stateside while I was on the beach. He called to talk to me about the snow storm that was hitting Boston at the time. It was a high of 7 degrees that day. I had to inform him that I was unconcerned because I was sitting on the beach in Mexico!
We have T-Mobile and I have an iPhone 6S. My wife has a newer iPhone and got better reception. She would send me a message and sometimes I got it right away and other times I would not get it until I got close to the lobby. However, whenever I sent her a message she got it right away no matter where she was.
Each night had a different show. We saw a traditional Mexican dance show and a Shakira tribute show. Both were excellent. The theater is outdoors and you sit at round tables meant for 4 people. You can bring your drinks to the table and there are also waitresses who will bring you drinks, as well. While we were there in the middle of January, the evenings were a little chilly. I wished I had brought a sweater or a light jacket.
We met at the Meeting Place at 8:30AM. We checked in at a desk and they took us to another office where they took copies of our driver’s licenses to verify that my wife and I lived at the same address. They also took a copy of my credit card. They asked about our combined salary but did not ask for any proof. Next, we were introduced to our hostess, who was to show us around and explain how the program worked. We started off by eating breakfast in the International Buffet and we got to know more about each other. Or rather, her getting to know more about us. Because we had already been there a couple of days, we knew the resort, the pools, and the beach so there was no need for us to tour these. We went see one of the haciendas, where the members stay when they are there. These had three rooms- two bedrooms and a living room in the middle. Each bedroom had its own bathroom. There was a small pool in the back along with a patio. The hacienda had an upstairs and a downstairs that shared the pool and patio. The members also had access to members-only pools and clubs for grabbing a drink. Members also got better quality drinks. Once we finished the tour we were brought back to the Mexican restaurant and sat at a table. Our hostess was thorough with the information. Of course, her job is to sell so she wanted us to buy into their program. I had come prepared for a hard sell but they did not do that. We had asked a lot of questions and were straight forward with explaining how the program did not fit our family at this particular time. The way we explained it with using numbers of how much their program cost, $21,000 at 14% interest to be paid over 5 years might work for some people did not work for us. Her supervisor came over to the table and I explained it to him, as well. I broke it down on paper and showed him how it did not fit for us. They were nice and while I am sure that they were disappointed they were not pushy and did not give us any kind of attitude, which was what I was half expecting. When we gave them our final answer, no, they took us over to a counter where we were given a piece of paper verifying that we had completed our obligation of participating in the presentation. We needed to show this upon check out so we would not be charged the $1,500 hold that they had put on my credit card. The presentation was supposed to take 90 minutes. We met at 8:30, had breakfast, and did not finish until 1PM.
One afternoon we went to Sandos Caracol. The taxi ride was $17USD each way and took around 20 minutes. Once there we could enjoy all facilities and eat in their restaurants. The beach at Playacar is so much better. The Eco resort has a better water park for kids. It also has better nature walks and more animals such as the coatis.
One evening we went into the town of Playa Carmen. The taxi ride was $7USD each way and took around 10 minutes. There were lots of stores to walk around. We did not eat, but did have a drink in one of the restaurants. They have evening shows in the main plaza. The night we were there we saw a Mayan show. We sat down on the step in front of the performance area and were on the front row. The show was excellent. Afterwards, you could take photos with the dancers who were dressed in Mayan costumes. They work on tips.
We also did a snorkel tour offered by the resort dive shop. We took a 20 minute boat ride to a small cove. This must have been the only spot around because there were several other boats there, as well. The guide asked if we wanted the briefing in Spanish or English. All of us were American so we said in English. He did it in Spanish and it was a pretty lame briefing even in Spanish. He did not explain how to get on and off the boat or that we were to stay with him on the tour. He just kind of said that you get into the water and kind of go here and there. There are some fish and coral. Let’s go. There was not much coral at all. I saw some small brain coral and a patch of lumpy coral here and there. It was mostly rocks. The guide brought bread so fish would come up to us. There were not very many of them and after the bread was gone so were they. The only highlight was a green sea turtle and a southern sting ray that would come close by several times. It cost $45/adult and $35/children. If it was not for the fact that my kids had never seen a turtle or stingray it would not have been worth it.