Just returned home after a beautiful trip to the Mayan Riviera. We travelled March 15-24,2012. (if you are looking for the negative comments scroll to the last paragraph)
If you have are booking or booked already and are going with a group I would like to give some advice. We booked 5 months in advance and we asked for connecting rooms with both having 2 double beds. It turns out that there are no connecting rooms with double beds. You need to ask for one room with a king bed and one with 2 doubles. We had to move rooms the 2nd day to get our connecting rooms (which they were able to do with no problems and this was during spring break). Also if you book through certain agencies (ex. we booked through United Vacations) you will have all or most of your a la carte restaurant nights and times booked in advance for you. If you are with a group (we were 2 families, 9 people) make sure the hotel is advised in advance that you all want to be together for your meals as we went with friends and did not have any times booked together and it took a lot of thought and time to re-arrange our dinners and we ended up with either very early or late dining times. That being said, this is an excellent service, for those who get it, as it can be very busy and difficult to arrange times. especially with larger groups, once you are at the hotel.
The grounds and pools of the Barcelo Tropical/Colonial were extensive and beautiful and always clean. There were lots of activities to join (ex. dance lessons, spanish lessons, water bike riding, etc.). Ping pong, billiards, kids club were all located close to the pool and gave time out of the hot sun. There are lots of shaded areas to sit in, however you have to get up early (my wife was out every morning at 6:45 am to get our spots) or you may not find a spot in the shade or sun. There were no pool waitresses/waiters to get you drinks, however the pool bars were close by and it was refreshing and nice to get up and walk or swim to the bar. It never took long to get a drink and they had a tonne of options.
The beach is very nice and the view is beautiful. There are some rocks in the water but we found that we did not need to use our water shoes. We did not spend a lot of time on the beach as it was quite windy while we were there. There is wharf on the beach and it is worth walking out to it as there are tonnes of fish there and you can go in the water and they will swim all around you. There are lots of beach acitivities ( snorkling, water bikes, kayaks, volleyball, catameran, etc).
The a al carte restaurants were very good, especially the Japanese cooking show. They are in a beautiful setting and it was great that there are 5 and you can also go to the 2 at the Beach/Caribe hotel. The buffet food was good with a fair amount of daily repetitiveness, however, there were new options each day.
There is a nice market adjacent to the Colonial which our kids loved and which offered shows Mon/Wed/ Fri which were nice to go to. The shows in the evening were lots of fun and well done, however, the costumes in the dance shows at times were a little too revealing if you had small children with you (I actually left with my 7 year old son). The circus show was amazing as the acrobats are very talented.
We did 2 excursions. We did not book through the hotel. We walked to the highway and caught the Collectivo van ($3 US each person) which took us to Tulum and Acumel. The cost to get in to Tulum is only $6/person but we also paid an additional $9 each to have a guided tour. Total cost per person was approx. $21 which was a lot less than a pre-purchased excursion. The Acumel excursion thorught the hotel is $55/person but it costs approx. $30 each if you go on your own. Both tours were excellent and our friends went to Coba and said that it was an amazing experience.
We found the staff at the hotel to be very friendly and helpful. I did forget my ipod in the safe when we left, so I still have to see if the cleaning staff will have returned it to lost and found ( I hope they do). Our room was nice, however, the beds were fairly hard. Our tub stopper did not work, so we could not take a bath. The rooms were clean. My biggest concern of the whole trip was the room noise. I used ear plugs and still was woken several times. The walls are paper thin so expect noise. Excluding these concerns, the trip and the hotel were great.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC