In early January 2009, we stayed at two all inclusive resorts in the Mayan Riviera south of Cancun. We spent our first 3 nights at the Valentin Imperial Maya and the next 3 nights at Secrets Maroma Beach
. The two resorts are both for adults only and are near each other, about a 10-15 minute taxi ride between them. But their beaches are a world apart. Maroma Beach at Secrets is world class – it’s fine sand it goes for miles. When we travelled to Excellence Playa Mujeres
last year we did a day trip to the Marina Maroma for snorkeling, ATV rides, and other water and land sports. Marina Maroma is right next to theEl Dorado Maroma. As we walked south along the beach from Secrets, we met a couple walking north who were staying at the El Dorado. We got to talking because there were a number of sea slugs that had washed up on the beach and they were discussing what they might be. We asked them about the El Dorado and they said the resort was wonderful and food excellent.
But I digress. The beach at the Valentin Imperial Maya is probably 2000 feet long – it’s a fairly large property. The northern 25% of the beach is fine grained and there is a very large designated swimming area where there are no rocks hidden in the water. You can walk north along the beach for what appears to be several miles. Although the resort literature claims to have no lifeguards, there were lifeguards on the beach at some times – and that is fortunate. We saw the lifeguard pull a man out of the water and were very impressed with the lifeguard’s speed in fighting the waves to reach the man. The watersports crew assisted with their jetskis.
To the south the beach is rocky at the water’s edge with very large grain sand that can be uncomfortable on bare feet. There is a rocky area across the entire beach that, once traversed, leads to more beach for a fine long walk. Shoes of some kind are not absolutely necessary depending on how much of a “tenderfoot” you are. The rockiness at the water’s edge yields some tide pools but only a small amount of interesting plants and animals.
Our room had a king sized bed and a love seat in the “living” area. The TV was positioned for easy viewing from either. There was also a desk and chair as well as a small frig with complementary beer, soda, and water. There was a coffee maker also. Our room had two porches, one with a table and a couple of chairs where I had coffee or other drink every morning. One morning three hawks looking for breakfast soared over. A couple of times they folded their wings as if to dive, but were either just reacting to a momentary lull of the wind or had second thoughts. The second porch was quite small and we weren’t quite sure what the point to it was.
Our bathroom was fully enclosed and had separate stalls for the toilet and shower, which were not fully private from the bathroom. The stalls had glass doors with some frosting and in the case of the toilet did not reach the ground or attach to a door frame at the top. The bathroom also had a single sink and a large tub with jets and a slide shower head. There weren’t any hot tubs around the resort other than these. Higher room categories may have had larger tubs, but both of us fit into the hot tub for a nice soak one afternoon when it looked like rain outside.
As for the restaurants at the Valentin, the French restaurant was great. The Lobster Pot was good as was the Italian restaurant. We didn’t get a chance to eat at the Japanese restaurant but other guests we talked to said that it was excellent. Breakfast was a buffet with the usual fare. A couple of buffet choices were available for lunch.
There was both a sports bar and a piano bar. There are bars at the pool (a swim up bar and a stand up bar) and on the beach and the resort provides drink service in both areas. Beer and water were available for the taking on the main path to the beach.
Service at the resort was good, with some parts excellent and other parts just OK. We arrived in rainy weather (off and on). After we got to our room we realized that our room did not have an umbrella or the daily journal of resort events. We phone the front desk and someone dropped off both within 15 minutes. Subsequently, we didn’t get the daily journal despite asking for it a few times nor did we get coffee for the coffeemaker in our room. When we used our umbrella to go to dinner and arrived before the restaurant opened, the bartender for the restaurant was more than courteous in giving us a drink while we waited.
We were surprised that the resort had no comment card to fill out upon checkout. However, when Sue dropped a tiny little pill in the Italian restaurant, two of the staff got down on the floor with us and one of them actually found it. All in all, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful.
The resort provides a daily excursion into Playa del Carmen for a few hours of shopping. We didn’t use the service, but we did take a taxi into town ($20 each way) while our room was being prepared on the day we arrived to buy sarongs which we had found relatively inexpensive when we last visited. We bought about 25 to give away as gifts.
The resort has a huge pool serving one side of the resort as well as a ribbon pool providing swim-up rooms (ground floor only, obviously) on the other side of the resort. There are no towel cards needed and towels are distributed at a couple of different locations. There are palapas on both the beach and at the pool, although there really weren’t enough on the beach to accommodate all of the guests. Early birds get the palapas on the beach, but at the pool there were other forms of shade besides palapas. You can get a massage outdoors at the pool.
There is a separate activity pool with a volleyball net. There was a break dancing demonstration at the main pool one afternoon and aerobics at another time.
There’s plenty to entertain you at the resort. There’s nightly entertainment of one sort or another. While we were there was a Michael Jackson show, a circus show, and casino night with a Las Vegas show. We only saw the Michael Jackson show and it was enjoyable if a bit amateurish.
There are a few water sports available including Hobie Cats and kayaks that are included and jetskis that rent for $55 per half hour. We saw the staff help some erstwhile Hobie sailors get their boat off the rocks, as well as sail with them since they clearly had little command of their boat.
There is an outdoor activities center with bicycles, darts, target shooting, billiards, and ping pong. The sports bar also has a billiards table and we played Jenga there. There’s also a gym with a variety of equipment.
There is wireless internet available for free in the lobby. The guest rooms are wired for the internet but you need to bring your own Ethernet cable. We didn’t have one so we rented one for a flat $10 fee for our entire visit.
The resort has a large gazebo and an open air church that can be used for weddings.