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Old 07-18-2008   #1 (permalink)
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Grand Riviera Princess Trip Report 07/17/08 - 07/27/08

We made it...finally!!! July 17 finally arrived and we are currently at Grand Riviera Princess in the Platinum Suites until Sunday July 27. Over the course of the next 10 days I will try and send updates, depending on how sober I am... I intend to be honest, sharing with you the good and the bad (I'm sure the good will far outweigh the bad).
So far everyone is having a wonderful time (there are 8 people in our party). The place is HUGE and beautiful. All of the staff have been nothing but kind.
Please let me know if you have any questions, if I don't have the answer I'll try to get it for you.
Darryl

Last edited by darkin; 07-18-2008 at 07:55 PM..
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Old 07-18-2008   #2 (permalink)
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AWESOME!! Have a GREAT TIME !!

oh yah..... PICTURES PLEEEEASE..

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Old 07-18-2008   #3 (permalink)
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Don't forget to do a trip report with pics
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Old 07-18-2008   #4 (permalink)
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Yeaaaaaa!! Lots of pics!
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Old 07-18-2008   #5 (permalink)
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Post Grand Riviera Princess Trip Report 7/17-7/27/08

Ok... we flew from Philly directly to Cancun on USA3000. Our first time on that airline and it was better than we expected. Because almost everyone there is on vacation (they are the charter for Apple Vacations) they treated it that way. There was lots of humor, some games and the soft drinks are still free. Here are the kids at the Cancun airport:



Day 1: We arrived in Cancun at about 10:30 EST which is 9:30 am Cancun time so we really had a whole day. I hit the button and got a green light at customs so our whole process only took about 15-20 minutes. We had some relatives that came in later and they were in the airport for over two hours (they flew Delta from Newark) so it may be a crapshoot.

Huge warning: walking thru the airport you will come across "reps" with badges that look like they are there to guide you. They are actually there to sell you a timeshare. However, the one we talked to was very helpful at first. Then he started on his little sales pitch. Just bypass them, unless, of course, you are actually interested in a timeshare.

American Express brought us to the hotel and we checked in quickly with no problems. A few weeks ago, two separate people in our party had requested that our three rooms are together on a higher floor in the Platinum Suites. All arrangements had been made and we checked into two kings and a double, on the third floor right in a row. No problem. Our room (the double) was clean when we arrived at 11:00 and, although check in doesn't start until 3:00, we were able to get in.

The room was clean and beautiful. Everything that we had expected. We brought bug spray (because of some other reviews that we'd read) but haven't had to use it yet. But definitely, definitely bring lots of bug repellent (we´re in the middle of a jungle) and sunscreen! Here's a picture taken from our balcony:



Before lunch we went to the Platinum Concierge to make restaurant reservations because we had heard that they are very hard to get. We made reservations for eight people for every night that we are here all at once. Not sure what all the complaining was about unless that's an advantage that Platinum and Villas have that the Junior Suites do not. Anyway, it was quick and easy and all out of the way within the first hour that we were here.

The only buffet that we've been to so far is the Riviera side Platinum buffet. Lunch was all right. Nothing spectacular but no complaints. The serving staff was kind and accomodating. No problems.

While we were waiting for the rest of our party to arrive, we decided to go down and check out the beach. The water is like bath water. Warm and inviting. The kids got in (we had on suits but we weren't really prepared to swim) my wife went back to the room to get towels and swim shoes (which are very necessary!).




We stayed at the beach longer than we had expected. Because we got there so late in the afternoon, there were no shady chairs left, not even in the Platinum area, but it was all right because we were in the water the entire time. But if you plan to stay on the beach all day long, I would suggest get out there early to get a decent seat.

After lunch we showered, changed and sat at the lobby bar (great drinks, great bartenders) to wait for the rest of our party.



They arrived in time for us to make our 8:00 reservation at the Sushi Bar. Another FYI... Make sure you are specific when you make reservations for the Asian restaurant. There are actually THREE different possibilities: Tempanyaki (the Hibachi tables), Sushi Bar (this is sushi ONLY) and the full Asian menu. We had made reservations for the Sushi Bar thinking that it was one restaurant. So what's the big deal? Well, we were given a one page menu with only sushi on it. We were like, "Um... where's the soup? Where are the apps? Where's the FOOD?" We were told that that's a different menu and we were only on the list for sushi. So... after a little cajoling, we were finally given a full menu.

The food was pretty good. Sushi app, soup, spring rolls and shrimp were delicious.




The waiter warned us against the hot wok (he said no one ever likes it) so we bypassed it and ordered entrees. Only the beef orders were edible. The tuna (ordered rare) came fully cooked which meant dry and tough. The "crispy" turkey was heavily breaded and drenched in a red sauce. It was heavy and soggy and tough.



If we had stopped at the soup, we could rate the restaurant 4 stars. Once we got to the entrees, our ratings drop down to about 2. (Who fully cooks tuna?) Anyway, if you go, get the apps, skip the entrees. This was Jim's biggest complaint:


(Bring your Bubba cups if you are as insulted as he was!)

After dinner, the kids went off to bed with mom and the rest of us hung out at the Sports Bar. All in all it was an excellent first day.

Day 2: It poured for about 20 minutes in the morning. REALLY poured. But once it was done, there was no more rain until much later that evening and then it was pretty light. Not enough to spoil the day.



We heard that Fridays are good days to go to Playa del Carmen because they close off 5th Street and have lots of street vendors. The resort offers a free shuttle every day but it has to be booked a day in advance. We tried to book yesterday (for 8) and it was full so we got a taxi van (about $24 each way ~ a regular four person cab shouldn't cost more than $14 each way) and went in on our own. If you`ve ever been to Nassau, Bahamas, you are familiar with the Straw Market. We were dropped off at a location on the corner of Constitution and 5th that was very similar to that. The prices for items start out at some astronomical rate and then you have to bargain them down to something even moderately reasonable. For example, my wife wanted a necklace made of wooden beads. The guy started at $18 and we were able to talk him down to $5. Little did we realize at the time that the shops on 5th St. just past that "market" have much more reasonable prices where you don´t have to bargain. My mother-in-law got a beaded necklace at a place down the street for $4.40, regular price. My advice is to bypass that market and start your shopping on the street.

Also, while you´re in town, make a right at the Burger King, go down 4 blocks, and there is a Super Wal-Mart. We bought snorkel equipment and some basic necessities there and tried some free samples. The prices are pretty much the same as at home so if you forget anything, this is a great place to pick it up.



We didn't plan to swim while we were in Playa but the beaches there are beautiful. If we go back during the week, we will bring suits and plan to swim.





We had a quick lunch at Aca Los Tacos. The prices are really reasonable and the portions aren´t too big. We were glad about that because we were hungry but dinner hour was approaching.

The sauces in the middle of the table are SUPER spicy so be careful.

After Playa, we came back to the resort and went to the Platinum reception for dinner. The food looked amazing:

Blue claw crabs, chocolate clams and giant prawns. The problem was that it was all overcooked. The crabs were mushy inside, the clams were overdone. We are big seafood eaters so we`re pretty picky.



The prawns were okay but the best part of my wife´s meal was the creamy vegetable soup. Delicious!

Some of our party has an fishing excursion planned for Saturday. That`s all so far for Day 2.

Day 3: Dad in law (Jim), Bro in law (also Jim) and his girlfriend, Evonne chartered a fishing boat along with some friends and went deep sea fishing. They were out about 4 hours when they brought the boat back in because four of the six of them were extremely seasick. Although they were prepared with Bonine and patches, he water was much too choppy. Even the beach at the resort was rough. The waves made it hard even for the adults to stand up.



Jim went back out and caught a barracuda which he took to one of the kitchens to be prepared for our lunch for tomorrow. We will let you know how that goes.

Casi, Lauryn and Jo (mom in law) went to the gym and everyone else went fishing so Jordan and I ordered breakfast via room service. It was great! The coffee was much better than what they serve at the breakfast buffets and we were able to relax for a little while longer.



After breakfast we hung out at the Platinum pool all day long. My eight year old son craved the companionship of other children (ha!) and begged to go to the Kids Club.



We took him and he had a ball! The program is very organized and the teachers there gave us specific times of his locations througout the day. They are open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. They take them to the pool, the beach, the archery range and they even take them to lunch. Then they re-open in the main building at 7:00 for a disco and a movie until 11:00 pm. Lauryn didn't want to go to the club all day long but she did want the chance to shoot some arrows. She did pretty well! (She learned in Girl Scouts!)



Tonight we ate at the Mexican Restaurant, La Hacienda. Fabulous! The food, the atmosphere, the service! Everything was delicious. The salad bar gives you plenty of choices but don't fill up there because apps, soup and the entree are still coming. You can even order dessert, which we all declined because we were so full.

(The app that everyone gets!)
(The fish entree)
(Shrimp fajitas)
(Lamb is wrapped in that leaf)
(Steak fajitas)
(Chicken fajitas)
(Our little family!)

One thing that we did find that was different is that they don't serve coffee after dinner in the restaurants. I even went to the buffet and asked for a cup of hot tea and they didn't serve it there either. I guess coffee and tea are just for breakfast here. There's a cappuccino machine at the Platinum lounge and the bartenders in the main lobby have coffee during the day so if you're an after-dinner drinker , you may have to try another option.

It was Saturday night so we visited the vendors that were set up in the Sunset lobby.




A lot of the same stuff that we saw in Playa but it was nice to be able to walk around while the kids played at the Kids Club for a few hours. So... Day 3 was very relaxing. No real complaints so far.

Day 4: Today we planned to go to Chichen Itza but as we all met up in the lobby to meet our driver, it started thundering and lightning. Then it poured. Because of the short storm a couple days ago, we really didn't worry about it too much but it looked like it was heading toward our destination which was 2 hours away. We didn't want to take the chance of driving all that way just to be rained out so we postponed the trip for another day.



It was a good thing that we did. It's been raining on and off all day long . Jordan went to the Kids Club again and hung out with his friends. I checked on him in the afternoon and he didn't want to come back to the lounge with us so I let him stay until the 5:00 closing. Lauryn swam in the Platinum pool all day long and made a few new friends along the way.



Jim gave his fish to the chefs in the Platinum lunch buffet and asked them to cook it up. What a great job they did! They did it in two styles: sauteed with peppers and onions for fajitas and ceviche style, cooked with lime juice and spices. Both styles came out so well. The presentation was amazing and the fish was absolutely delicious.

(Ceviche)
(Fajita style)
(The head chef with Jim)
(A shot of tequila to celebrate surviving barracuda !)

We had 7:00 reservations for the Seafood Restaurant. The food there was very interesting. Unusual items like octopus, cuttlefish, lion clam and squid are on the menu. It's a great restaurant if you have an open mind. But there were also more recognizable items like Caesar salad, seafood soup and the shrimp bisque which were excellent. The Princess dinner for two included grouper, shrimp and mussels and was also really good. The Mexican fish dish comes head-on but it's delicious and it's worth a try.

Last edited by darkin; 07-25-2008 at 05:14 PM.. Reason: Addition of a few notes...
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Old 07-19-2008   #6 (permalink)
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I think we've solved the picture issue. Thanks for your patience!
Darryl

Last edited by darkin; 07-21-2008 at 01:21 AM..
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Old 07-19-2008   #7 (permalink)
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Hi Darryl,
Sounds good so far. We will miss you by only two days...we are arriving on July 29 from Exit 4 on the turnpike

Do you happen to know the email address that the folks in your party sent their request? I would like to email the resort this week to request our rooms.
We have two Deluxe Swim Out Suites on the Sunset side.
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Old 07-19-2008   #8 (permalink)
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Thumbs up E-mail Address

Yes. The address we used was: reservas.riviera@princess-hotels.com. We received a confirmation reply within a day.
Good luck!

Last edited by darkin; 07-19-2008 at 11:34 AM.. Reason: Typo
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Old 07-20-2008   #9 (permalink)
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Hi Darryl,

Great trip report!!!! We will be arriving on Aug. 6 and have a Jr. Suite on the Sunset side. Anyone have any suggestions on what room# to request?
Also, I realize that this question may be stupid but I thought that you weren't supposed to drink the water in Mexico, so there is bottled water in the resort, but what about the ice they put in your drinks??? Can you drink them and be safe?
Thanks, Marylynne
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Old 07-20-2008   #10 (permalink)
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Hi Marylynne, I'm sure they have a water treatment/purification plant on site, if not we would all be sick based upon the number of drinks we have consumed. They also refill your wetbar each day with litre size bottles of water.
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Old 07-20-2008   #11 (permalink)
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Really great pictures! Enjoy your vacation!
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Old 07-20-2008   #12 (permalink)
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I so love the food pics. Does your friends and family just shake their heads when you are taking pics of the food? mine dolook forward to more
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Old 07-20-2008   #13 (permalink)
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Great report and pics Have fun while your there!
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Old 07-21-2008   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monte View Post
I so love the food pics. Does your friends and family just shake their heads when you are taking pics of the food? mine dolook forward to more
My wife takes them and yes, everyone makes fun of her. But look how helpful they are. :-)
Thanks for all the great comments. We still have a week to go so we will keep up with the reports as much as possible! We know how much we looked forward to them when others before us blazed the trail.
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Old 07-21-2008   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kre8tiv1 View Post
We will miss you by only two days...we are arriving on July 29 from Exit 4 on the turnpike
Darn! Wish we could still be here when you get here. It's so nice to be spoiled every once in a while.
Not sure about room numbers on the Sunset side, we're on the Riviera side. But if we meet up with anyone from over there, we will be sure to ask.
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