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Old 03-30-2017   #1 (permalink)
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Trip Report- La Pasion (non AI) and Secrets Akumal

I don't have any photos to post, so sorry about that. I am lazy, all I ever do anymore is take iPhone pics to send to friends and family and post a few to Facebook.

I went (with a new boyfriend) to the Mayan Riviera for nine nights, March 12-21.

We stayed the first five nights at a hotel that I had heard raves about on Trip Advisor and elsewhere- La Pasion by Bunik. Some photos are on their website if anyone is interested:

La Pasion Hotel Boutique by Bunik

It is a super cute and comfortable little boutique hotel. It's on Calle 10 between Avenues 15 and 20- right across from a large park where the 'Palacio Municipal' is (is that the main city hall?).

Right next door is Kaxapa Factory, and down the street is Los Tabernacos and then Cocobongo is a block away. Also close by is Don Sirloin and an Italian place that gets raves but the name escapes me now....we tried to get in a couple of nights for dinner but it was always lined up.

Your room price also gets you an included breakfast, which is soooo good. You can order any hot item off their menu and you get fruit, juice, coffee as well. Really tasty- that was the best perk there.

They also had pastries and coffee and tea in the lobby all day, and then wine and goodies like cookies in the evenings. Another nice touch!
The pools were really nice too. There is a rooftop infinity pool surrounded by glass panels and a hot tub on either side. HEATED ones, which is always a rarity, I have found, in Mexico. There is a staffed bar (until 10 pm) up there and a sun deck with (shaded) beds and loungers and some tables and chairs too in some shade. It was super nice and we spent most evenings after dinners out up there, hot tubbing, drinking, hanging out.

We had upgraded somewhat to a 'pool view' superior room so it would be quieter at night, and it was. We never heard any noise at all at night- also a very good thing in PDC. The room was very nice, modern and clean and the bed was comfortable enough. But it was quite small, especially the bathroom. If you like big rooms and larger bathrooms, this is not the place- or try to see if you can get a larger one- I see on the site that the 'garden deluxe rooms with garden view' have a separate tub so there might be bigger bathrooms.

The staff are wonderful. SO helpful and friendly. I suspect the hotel is Brazilian-owned as the site is in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. Our favourite server there was actually from Spain.

The weather for our trip was great-quite hot (27-29 C-ish most days) and a lot of sun and no rain- it only sprinkled one day for a few minutes.

But it was SO WINDY - I knew March was going to be windy going in, so it is what it is. Made for a lot of sargassum washing up on most beaches and choppy water not great for swimming- but at least the ocean was pretty warm. The wind was pretty annoying whenever we were on the beaches, though. But, it was nice in that it kept you cooler in the heat, so there's that. TOO cool, when you come out of the water, though.

It was spring break but we didn't notice it at all. We didn't go near any of the nightclubs that would attract them I guess. The one day we spent at Mamitas I did think there was more in that age bracket than normal, but that was it.

We had a good time in Playa. My guy had never been here before so I had fun showing him around the area. He had never even been to Mexico or anywhere other than Hawaii until November last year when I took him to Zihuatanejo. The Mayan side was a shock to him as the two places are in pretty stark contrast to one another. He missed the beer prices in Zihua. haha

We went to Puerto Morelos for a few hours one day and poked around and hung out at Dia & Noche beach/day club. I thought the town looked pretty cute and would like to stay a few days there one trip- but I wasn't a fan of the beach. Nice and wide but the water didn't look too inviting (murky and lots of sargassum). But it would be nice to snorkel out at the reef- we did not that day as it was just too choppy and the BF is a newbie to snorkeling.

Our server at the beach club gave us the hard sell about buying weed. Like, the whole time we were there. He even showed us a bag of his product. We finally told him we couldn't even if we wanted to, as our workplace drug tests randomly (not really true, but whatever). He then told us about how he applied as a taxi driver once and they drug test for that- he would have failed he said, so he just "paid the doc off to mark him negative"
until 2 weeks in Huatulco and Puerto Escondido!
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Old 03-31-2017   #2 (permalink)
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Secrets Akumal

after five nights in Playa, we moved to Secrets Akumal for our last four nights.

I had ended up booking both hotels on - I watched Trivago daily for quite awhile so I knew what the different rooms at Secrets typically went for, and booked when I saw it at a manageable price for my dates. It is a gorgeous hotel, but I sure don't think it would be worth the 'regular' price-so I'm happy I got a bit of a deal.

We were booked in a regular tropical view, non-Preferred Club room- at check in we asked about upgrading to a PC ocean view, one with the dipping pools on the balcony or swim-out room- but the price to upgrade per night was pretty steep (about $220 US I think they said) so we declined. It ended up they upgraded us to a swim out tropical view room anyway (for free), so I was super pleased with that. It was very private (the ocean view ones are wide open) so I liked it better anyway.

From what I read about Preferred Club, it isn't really worth the upgrade anyway. Unless you NEED ocean view from your room, and I didn't really care.

The rooms in general are amazing. Huge bathrooms with double sinks, separate toilet and large shower with rainshower and regular heads, and a big Jacuzzi tub. There is a see-through curtain in front of the tub that you can leave open to make the room feel bigger.

The only negative was the WC room doesn't really have a lot of privacy, the door is semi translucent white glass- not ideal if you are the types who like to keep a little more romance or mystery alive, or are in a newer relationship like we are.

The rest of the room also very large- king bed, small sofa with table, mini fridge and coffee maker, large built in dresser and desk area. Closet with hangers and iron/ironing board, umbrella, two sets of robes and slippers, and safe.

The BEST part of the room was the 'Secrets Box'. They have 24 hour room service with a fairly extensive menu and you can order and not have to let the delivery person in at all- there is a large box accessible from outside the room and through the closet, you leave your tip in there and your food and drinks magically appear and then dirty dishes disappear. We took advantage of this for a couple of breakfasts and late night snacks (ok, wine and coconut ice cream ). One day we were a little sunburned and generally burned out and so we had a late dinner in the room too.

Room service food is of course never as good, but it was ok and a nice option to have.

The food in general was a little disappointing, actually. Breakfast was the only buffet option, the rest were a la cartes (seven restaurant options I think) and no reservations- which was awesome. I never want to go to another AI again where you have to line up to make your weekly three a la carte reservations!

Lunches were also fine, when we had lunch. But the a la carte dinners were not the greatest.

They try a little too hard to be 'creative', like other AIs I've been to. Food was not always that hot, and not overly tasty. It's like they focus too much on the atmosphere and service and not enough on the food. I'd prefer less pretentiousness and more flavor. I have honestly had just as good dinners at 3 and 4 star AIs I've stayed at including the buffets.

And I sort of missed having a casual buffet option for dinner. Some nights you just want to go grab something quick but tasty for dinner and go crash and watch a movie- especially on longer vacations. This is one reason why I think more nights than four here would have been too much.

I posted pics on Facebook but I never uploaded many, so I will find some from the web and post them...and return later with more of a review.

Swim-out room...this is one of the Preferred club ones (those buildings are closest to the ocean)- ours was identical (our deck had the little table and built-in sofa but not the cuddle chair) but the pool had garden in front so no one could see walking by, it felt very private. Private enough that late at night, after all the lights go out, I MAY have swum a couple of times sans clothing....

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Old 03-31-2017   #3 (permalink)
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Resort overview....

There are three pools, the largest and closest to the ocean is the 'party pool' and has a swim up bar ....and a Friday afternoon foam party . Which seemed frankly a bit out of place and not classy enough, imo, at this hotel, but was fun to watch.

There is a sign posted not to save chairs- but everyone still did it at the beach and this pool- you could usually still find a place to sit anytime, but the best spots were always taken- and those with shade or a beach palapa were usually taken. But the staff would always try to get you a spot.

There were always spots available at the other two pools when we were there. I thought it would feel more crowded, the hotel couldn't have been full though- but I have read it doesn't ever feel crowded there.

There are only about 400-ish rooms so that is also why. I found it to be the perfect size for an AI- no walking forever to get to the beach or restaurants, etc. Very nice. And location was great- we walked to Half Moon Bay and around Akumal one day- it's literally about a 7 minute walk to Turtle Bay bakery.

There is the swim up bar at the beach and then a rustic beach bar with swings right on the beach (north end) and then another bar by the pool on the south end, plus where the lunch a la carte is. There is also the lobby bar (with firepit and live music most nights) and a sports bar by the 'zen' pool, the quietest one farthest away from the beach.

The pool and beach service was a bit spotty- which was kind of confusing. Have seen this before at AIs a lot and it's usually simply because of not enough staff. Would be simpler and less frustrating maybe to either offer it consistently at all three pools, or not at all. If I know we have to wait for 20 minutes for someone to come around once I want a drink, then I know I have to get off my butt and get my own drink or lunch.

They do serve food to you at the beach and pools which is great, and they have a couple of different limited menus - stuff like club sandwiches, fish tacos, burgers, ceviche, etc.

We tipped but that didn't seem to make a difference in the service. We didn't see a lot of tipping going on in general here, which of course doesn't mean it isn't happening, but we just didn't see pesos being left at the bars or restaurants much.

There are no towel cards here, and stations where you could grab a towel or exchange one all over. This was a nice perk, but resulted in so much waste- when given a towel card people will keep their one towel for the whole day or even longer- here people were exchanging them far more often, taking two or more at a time, reserving beach AND pool loungers with the extra...all that wasted water to wash them every day...pretty irresponsible of the hotel, really. Especially when they crow about being green- no plastic cups and no straws given out, due to the turtles...they really should try to curb that.
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Old 03-31-2017   #4 (permalink)
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Some more pics of the resort...

the coffee shop/bakery...lots of yummy frozen coffee concoctions here and random snacks like pretzels...and a small breakfast buffet too.

Room that was same layout as ours (this looks like a non-swim-out though):

a better photo of one like ours:

The beach of course, as everyone knows, was unbelievable...

I snorkeled with turtles every morning. Or, turtle, I should say as I always saw only one each day. I remember when there were several every time I went out. Good thing they are limiting all the tour groups now, they had gotten out of control- hopefully the population will bounce back.

I brought my own mask and snorkel but they give out ones there, at the water sports shack, half an hour for free, and the fancy full face ones for $15 USD for half an hour. Gave the BF a lesson one day but he is not a strong swimmer and you have to swim out quite a way to the reef- halfway there he panicked a bit so I got him to float and dragged him back in. Thankful I had my Bronze medallion.

They don't allow lifejackets/vests or fins- so that means a lot of the inexperienced and non-swimmers won't be able to make it out to the reef, minimizing damage -hopefully. The coral is in bad shape but gets better the farther out you go.

I saw fish but not a lot nor a big variety like in the past here. No big 'fish balls' and not a lot of fish in general. A couple of rays and a HUGE barracuda (BARRY!!) hanging out in about five feet of water in a sea grass area with swimmers blithely splashing about not ten feet away.

I stopped short, covered my flashy earrings and waited until he slowly swam off, his eye seemingly on me the whole time. Then I took a breath finally. That is about the fourth time since 1998 I have seen a similarly sized (at least 4 feet long and BIG) in this bay.

here are some pics of others in the bay

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Old 03-31-2017   #5 (permalink)
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Resort map...our room was in 9C...the theatre was in that building. It was a bit loud in the evenings when the show was on, but we were only in the room one evening so not a big deal to us- and after about ten thirty it was dead quiet. This is not a party resort- there was a disco that only opens late and I heard from other people that it was always dead in there.

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Old 03-31-2017   #6 (permalink)
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Great report!! Thank you!
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Old 03-31-2017   #7 (permalink)
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well thanks!

Mostly I posted it for anyone looking for info on this Secrets.

If anyone reads this and wants more info, then they can post a question.
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Old 04-01-2017   #8 (permalink)
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Very nice report! That Secrets looks nice.
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Old 04-02-2017   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing! I must not have been reading much lately here, you have a boyfriend? It's always fun travelling someplace with someone who is new to the area.
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Old 04-04-2017   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by CJ99 View Post
Thanks for sharing! I must not have been reading much lately here, you have a boyfriend? It's always fun travelling someplace with someone who is new to the area.
Yes- my husband is not a big fan of it, but.....

But seriously. We split about a year and a half ago now. This is the second trip to Mexico I have done with the new BF - we also went to Zihuatanejo in November. He liked both but preferred Zihua.
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