One Couple's Weekend at the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso
PHOTO: The saltwater pool at Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, one of three pools at the resort. (Courtesy Iberostar)
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO – My first thought was, well, maybe it’s just me.
After all, I was on a press trip to the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso in Playa del Carmen along Mexico’s Riviera Maya, about a half-hour south of the Cancun International Airport, and, well, let’s be honest – there was going to be some element of pampering and catering going on for myself and the half-dozen other travel journalists on the trip, right?
The short answer to that was, yes. Yes indeed, there was pampering and catering and spoiling and indulging and coddling.
For my wife, who I paid to have travel with me so we could enjoy a rare long weekend together without our two boys.
For the other journalists on the trip.
And, more importantly, for every single guest staying at the all-inclusive, adults-only enclave.
This is Iberostar’s modus operandi no matter who you are, and it was one of the most luxurious – dare I say, decadent? – hotels I have ever stayed at in 30 years of traveling as a sportswriter and a travel writer.
Start with check-in. Upon arrival, I had a brief glimpse of the lobby and the check-in desk. Very brief. That’s because an Iberostar host ushered us into the nearby lobby bar, asked for our drink orders, gave us a towel since we encountered a sudden flash thunderstorm right after landing, and proceeded to complete the check-in process for us.
SEE MORE: Iberostar, Up Close and Personal
I noticed just outside the front door several golf carts and quickly realized that they weren’t for golf but to transport us to our room in this sprawling complex. But, again, silly me for initially thinking ‘wow, they’re going overboard for a bunch of journalists.’
Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso goes overboard for everybody.
The golf carts, driven by staff, are at your disposal to take you anywhere you want to go – from the back of the huge hotel to the restaurants, to the lobby, even the 5-minute ride to Iberostar’s own exclusive outdoor shopping center, which also features a popular nightclub. They will also take you to the other Iberostar hotels on the property if you wanted to use a different pool or eat at a different restaurant or mingle with friends who might be there but have children and can’t stay at the adults-only hotel.
There are more than 300 rooms at the Grand Hotel here, 120 of them oceanfront suites in this little paradise, and we were fortunate enough to have one of them. The gorgeously appointed room featured a king bed, flat screen television, ample closet space, an enormous bathroom with sinks at either end, a glass shower, and a Jacuzzi tub. One step down from the main area of the suite was a living room that featured a plush red Victorian lounge chair, a desk, and a sliding glass door that opened to nirvana.
Our room featured a balcony overlooking the Caribbean and a beach with its thatched umbrellas, a magnificent view on any day, even this first cloudy one. We found a welcome basket of fruit in the room, which we quickly shared – some of the grapes, anyway, even though we weren’t supposed to – with the ring-tailed coati mundi below our third-floor balcony. These little animals look like a cute cross between monkeys and raccoons; they are harmless and ubiquitous on the property.
The selling point for Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, however, is the service. As an all-inclusive, this hotel had everything and included tipping in your cost of the room. You could walk up to the lobby bar, get a drink – and a pastry or snack for that matter – on your way back to your room. You could swim up to the bar at one of the three pools and get a drink. All without reaching into your pocket (although be sure to wear your wristband at all times; it’s the ‘key’ to everything).
In fact, if you wanted a cheeseburger at 2 a.m., all you had to do is call room service.
READ MORE: Off The Beaten Path at Iberostar Sunny Beach
But that shouldn’t be necessary. Yes, Iberostar has a buffet – two of them, in fact – but the portions at its regular restaurants were huge. We ate at the Italian restaurant and French restaurant while we were there, and all we could say was ‘wow.’ From the presentation to the service to the food itself, it was a magnificent meal.
As for the aforementioned buffet, would it be rude to say the main buffet area was overwhelming? And I say that in a good way. There was so much food at breakfast, so many things to choose from, that it was almost too much.
Somehow, we managed to overcome all that.
Much as we overcame our initial reluctance to take advantage of another Iberostar selling point – your own personalized butler. Our butler helped check us into our room, make sure our luggage was brought up but did so much more. He is there for everything from selecting a pillow from the pillow menu to drawing a scented bath to —much to our embarrassment — bringing up a bottle of wine we requested along with our ironed clothes prior to going to dinner.
Yes, it is that decadent.
Guests can play golf, kayak, take a spin class or yoga class, luxuriate in the world-class spa, snorkel and dive.
At Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, you want for nothing.
More by Rich Thomaselli
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