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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Riviera Maya Mexico - Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka'an Adults Only

January - February 2017, 7-nights with Friday arrival, King Jr. suite #41223

We enjoyed our week at Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka'an, and hope to be able to visit again. This post takes up where one of my previous posts, Travel between Lansing, Michigan and Cancun, Mexico..., left off. Our check-in and arrival experience is covered in that post.

Sunrise from guestroom balcony 41223
More photos and information about Bahia Principe can be found in my Travel Reviews Facebook album.

Guestroom 41223

This room is located on the top floor in building 12 near the two main pools and Cenote snack bar. Our room number designated the exact location, just as I had read in a post by someone else: 4(resort - Sian Ka'an) 12(building number) 2(guestroom) 3(floor). There were two guestrooms at the top of the stairs to our room, and the room number across from us was 41213.

Guestroom 41223 at arrival
The guestroom was comfortable and clean. It contained nearly the exact furnishings shown on the resort website for a Jr. Suite, although I thought the room was smaller than it looks on the website. The online photos are not necessarily deceiving; the guestroom just did not look as bright and spacious as the one in the website photos. Some of the guestrooms had apparently been remodeled, and our guestroom had not been remodeled yet at the time of our stay. From the outside, you could tell which rooms had been remodeled by the window covering. Most of the guestrooms in the buildings next to ours had white solar blocking shades like the guestroom photos on the website, and our guestroom had sheer curtains and drapes. The only other difference in the living area was the rug under the sofa table and the covering on the table. The sofa and stool in our guestroom were the same style as the ones shown on the website, although they were a bit worn-looking. The bed and pillows were both hard. The soft silky sheets made the mattress tolerable, although the pillows were not comfortable.

The guestroom closet was located by the entrance door (rather than next to the bed, like in the website photo). The closet contained two bathrobes, slippers, and minimal hangers. There were a couple of shelves in the closet, and 2 beach towels were on the top shelf. There was no luggage rack in the guestroom.

The minibar and coffee station were located next to the closet. The minibar contained 1 large bottle of water, 2 individual size bottles of water, 2 cans of Dos Equis beer, some sodas, 4 individual size bottles of alcohol (Bacardi and low quality vodka - Barton), and 2 bags of chips. Diet Coke was in cans and regular Coke was in a plastic screw top bottle (we would have preferred Diet Coke in a bottle with a screw top lid). We left a tip for the minbar attendant the first day, which did not seem to have any bearing on how items were restocked. Some days our items were all replenished, and some days they were not. Water and beer was always restocked as it had been the first day, although the other items were inconsistent. A good size safe was located above the minibar and coffee station.

The website photo of the tile bathroom is a good representation of the bathroom, except our shower stall only had a half glass door. A full glass door is not needed; I am merely stating that this is different than what is shown in the online photo. We liked the spacious tile shower. The bath amenities were good quality, and included a few extras: toothbrush, comb, and shower cap. The bathroom towels were plush, although the hairdryer was low quality. One thing missing in the bathroom was a towel bar for the hand towel after using. The toilet in this guestroom did not flush properly, and my husband was able to fix it [twice] without us needing to call for service.

I am not sure if we were supposed to have received turndown service every night, and what it should include. We received turndown service 3 out of 7 nights, and the service was inconsistent. Nothing was tidied up or refreshed during turndown, so our used washcloths and towels were never replaced until the next day. We typically showered before dinner, after the pool and beach, which was after housekeeping had cleaned the guestroom. Keep that in mind on your last evening, if you plan to shower the next morning before departing. We received chocolates on the bed 2 of the nights. The slippers and mat were only placed next to the bed, like in the photo above, 1 time.

Balcony guestroom 41223
There were 2 chairs and a small table on the spacious balcony. The building visible in the above photo is building 11, which has the newer solar blocking shades on the windows. There is a better view of building 11 in the Facebook album. The balconies on the top floor (3) are almost twice as large as the balconies on floor 2.

The guestroom was pretty soundproof, and the Internet connection speed in the guestroom was good.

Sian Ka'an beach and swimming area

Beach, pools, activities

We liked all of the pools, and Sian Ka'an adults only beach. The sand is soft, and the swimming area is clean. This swimming area is the least rocky of all the Bahia Principe beaches. Staff cleaned seaweed off the beach on mornings when the wind blew it ashore.

View from Sian Ka'an beach toward Coba and Tulum beaches
There was not a shortage of loungers at Sian Ka'an beach, although, if you wanted a palapa for shade in the first row by the water, you needed to arrive before 10 a.m. People did save chairs, even though this is supposedly not allowed - at the beach and at the pools. We sometimes observed saved loungers that were empty until almost noon. Along with the loungers and palapas in other rows, there were usually 3 or 4 palapas available in the first row at the far left end of the beach when we arrived around 9 a.m. each morning. A small table and ashtray type bucket were placed next to each palapa. The shade huts in the first row did not have hanging hooks for beach bags on the main pole, like the ones behind. Easy yoga classes started on the dock over the water at 10 a.m. every morning. Beverage service also started at 10 a.m., and the service was great.

Sian Ka'an quiet pool near sushi bar
One thing we missed was the absence of hot tubs. The quiet pool at Sian Ka'an (along with others, as well) has jetted seats; however, the pool water was not very warm at the time of our visit. Akumal infinity pool was my favorite pool, and is also for adults only. All of the resorts had a main activity pool; however, we were never at any of those pools during any games.

Dolphinaris is located between Sian Ka'an beach and Coba and Tulum beaches. We did not swim with the dolphins, although we walked through the area by accident one evening when we walked up from the beach on our way to dinner at Tulum.

Food & Beverage

The beverage service at all of the pool and beach bars, and in the restaurants was fabulous. Good quality products were used, and many locations offered specialty drinks. Service at the lobby bars was iffy/inconsistent. The beverage server and bartender working the bar outside Sian Ka'an lobby by the show stage were exceptional. We preferred to sit outside in this area every evening, except this is also where the smokers sat. Since we do not smoke, we usually moved to the lobby after the area filled up.

One piece of information I could not find online before our stay is what time the a la carte restaurants open, and if any of them are open for breakfast or lunch. Apple Vacations did not have the answer, so I sent an email to the resort 10 days before our stay. I received a reply 3 days later, which said the a la carte restaurants open in the evening at 6:00 p.m. There was no reference as to whether any of them are open for breakfast or lunch. Los Corales, next to Akumal adult infinity pool, was open for lunch, although it was buffet style during lunch. Several of the restaurants opened before 6:00 p.m. during our stay. The restaurant hour signs on-site all said 6:00 p.m., so it appeared that earlier dinner times were added when the reservation capacity reached a certain point. We ended up with two dinner reservations at 5:30 p.m., because that was the only time available.

Sunset as we were entering Coba Le Gourmet
One of the great things about staying at Sian Ka'an is that we could visit any of the restaurants in the entire resort complex. Following is a list of the locations where we dined, and our experiences.

Set up every morning by the host stand. Beverages were also available from servers.

Breakfast buffets: Yalku Sian Ka'an and Rivera Akumal

I do not usually like buffet dining, and I cannot say enough good things about the buffet at Sian Ka'an - it was amazing! Fresh omelet station, and many, many food choices. Everything was fresh, good quality, and delicious. We had breakfast at Akumal one morning when we decided to go to the beach early, and it was not nearly as good as the buffet at Sian Ka'an. There were not as many food choices, and the flavors and quality were lacking. The beverage station photo above was taken inside Yalku at Sian Ka'an. Riviera Akumal had a similar beverage station at the entrance.

Lunch/snacks: Sian Ka'an Cenote and sushi bar, buffets at Sian Ka'an and Akumal (including Los Corales)

Sian Ka'an Cenote snack bar is between two pools (next to Alux) and open 24 hours. Food was set up buffet style, and you could also order from a server. The burger, fries, onion rings, and club sandwich were all pretty good. There is a self-serve cappuccino machine near the entrance, which was always busy in the mornings.

Sian Ka'an sushi bar is located with the bar next to the quiet pool at the other end of the resort (near buildings 27 - 36). The sushi was good, although it was not any better than the sushi at Yalku buffet, and it was not the best I have ever had. A self-serve cappuccino machine was in this area, also. There is not a path from inside the main area of the resort to the quiet area. You need to walk out front of the main lobby toward Maiko restaurant, and then there is a path/sidewalk behind the restaurant.

Yalku buffet at Sian Ka'an was just as fabulous at lunch-time as it was at breakfast. The salmon was among the best I have ever had. Again, it was superior to Riviera buffet at Akumal. Los Corales buffet at Akumal was fabulous and nearly as good as Yalku. There were not as many food choices, although the quality and flavors were comparable.


We made our dinner reservations online. I wrote down the confirmation numbers, and took them to dinner with us. The first two nights, our names were not on the list, and we were still able to get a table. When our name was found on the reservation list on the days after, we received dining tables in better locations than we had the first two nights. To keep this post from becoming too long, I am only providing brief information about each restaurant we visited. Follow the Facebook album link at the top of this post for more photos and information. Please let me know if you have questions.

Alux appetizer
Sian Ka'an Alux: good service, excellent quality.
Sian Ka'an Maiko: excellent service, excellent quality, although we did not care for the Sake. We are not huge Sake drinkers, although the Sake we had on a cruise a few years earlier tasted like it had been better quality.

View from our table in Arlequin
Sian Ka'an beach and towel hut visible 
Akumal Arlequin: excellent service, quality, and view. This was one of our favorite restaurants, and there are food photos in the Facebook album. We had seafood entrees, although I do not recall the exact details - Sea Bass and/or Grouper, I believe. We had both more than once, and I do not recall for certain which we had at this restaurant.
Akumal Los Corales (Brazilian): excellent service, good quality.

Le Gourmet filet entree
Coba Le Gourmet: another favorite! The beef filet was superb. The service was a bit lacking, and it looked like staff was over-burdened.
Tulum Don Pablo: excellent service, good food. The is the restaurant I was most disappointed with because the steak was not nearly as good as the filet at Le Gourmet. Everything else was good, and staff was genuinely concerned about my satisfaction when they noticed I had not eaten much of the entree. If I had been more hungry, I would have reordered something different. This restaurant was closed on Thursday.

View from dinner table at Tequila
Tulum Tequila: good service, decent food. The flank steak entree was excellent, although the fajita entree was merely so-so. Salad and dessert were self-serve at the buffet. There were better tequila and margarita choices at Sian Ka'an.

Room service

We had a private tour booked for one day. I had heard we could get a picnic lunch to take with us, so I called our butler to ask about this the day before. She told me to just call room service in the morning, so I did. When I dialed room service, I asked if we could get the food I was ordering in a to-go container. The person on the telephone said he did not think so, but he would check. About 10 minutes later, someone arrived at our room with the order - on plates, rather than wrapped to go. Fortunately, we had some Ziplock bags with us. The breakfast item on the menu described at Tomato Bread with meats and cheeses, was a large sandwich, which was very good.

View of outside stage and seating area from Sian Ka'an lobby

Nightly entertainment

The evening shows were good. We saw singers, dancers, acrobats, and more. The bands that played after the show were great, especially the one Friday night. Sian Ka'an stage is outside, and the performance was moved to the inside lobby one evening because of rain. I thought the entertainment schedule was confusing - on the board, and online. I would have preferred a printed flyer for the week with each location's time and show. We saw one show on the Tulum stage, and then the same show was at Sian Ka'an the next evening when we happened to be there. So, I guess we missed at least one show!

Area information, wifi, tram rides, and misc.

We booked a private tour with Monica Rendon to visit Tulum Ruins and Sac Actun Cenote. I will have a separate blog post with that information posted soon.

The complimentary wifi service worked well in all areas, including the beach. Along with your personal information, you will need your confirmation number, and room number to sign in. We needed to sign in every 24-hours, and the sign-in page did not always automatically load, so you may want to save or bookmark the page when it pops up the first time. I did not bookmark the page, and I found the easiest way to navigate to it when it did not pop up was through my viewing history.

Trams ran pretty continually between Sian Ka'an and Akumal. We never had to wait long in the morning when we went to the beach, although we did wait a bit at other times. Apparently, trams do not run as often to the other locations before evening. We ended up at Coba one afternoon, and waited over 20 minutes for a tram going to Sian Ka'an. If we had realized, we would have taken the first one to Akumal, and then boarded one there for Sian Ka'an, as they ran quite frequently between those two resorts. This distance is walkable; however, we were not wearing good walking shoes at the time.

View of Coba Privilege Club from observation tower
There is a great view from the observation tower near Coba, which is located on the road to Akumal. We walked to the tower from Akumal to climb it, and then flagged down the next tram to Sian Ka'an when one went by.

The tram to Tulum also stops at Hacienda Don Isabel where there are shops, bars, and a casino. Beverages are included at the bars for Sian Ka'an guests, excluding the sports bar. The outside vendors have pretty decent prices, if you are looking for souvenirs. I thought the prices in the resort gift shops were high.

We were interested in seeing a Penthouse Suite before we left, so I called our butler our last evening to see if we could see one the next morning. He said he would check and call me back (yes, I got a female when I called about a picnic lunch, and a male for this call). Our butler told me we could do this the next morning, and to ask at the front desk. When I tried to do this in the morning, I was told there were not any rooms available to see. We are hoping to return to this resort and get a Penthouse Suite for our 40th wedding anniversary in a few years.

If you want bell assistance with your bags when departing, I suggest calling early. I was told to allow 10 minutes for this, so I called about 15 minutes before we were ready to leave. After 10 minutes, I decided to walk to the lobby, as it was getting close to our departure time. I found out no one was on the way to get our bags, even though I had been told when I called that someone was on his way.

Let me know if you have any questions. Please share this post for others!