We are a group of 3, 60-something couples from Ontario who travelled to the Grand Palladium Kantenah in February, 2012 for a 2 week stay. It was our 3rd trip to the Mayan Riviera and our first to the Grand Palladium. As a rule we do not return to the same resort. In this case we may make an exception. To understand our bonafides, know that all or a large number of us have also stayed in Cuba, Dominican Republic, St. Lucia, and St Maarten. We have visited Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Huatulco, Cartagena, Aruba, Grand Cayman and Key West. We were aided in our research by reviews on Trip Advisor, the itravel2000 website and by www.palladiumaddicts.com, a wonderful resource.
From the get-go, let's all understand that the hotel star system rates the SCOPE of amenities offered, not the QUALITY of those amenities. And so, inferior quality does not diminish a rating. Depending on whose standard one uses, the Grand Palladium in general and Kantenah in particular is a 4.5 ~ 5 star resort and the quality is excellent.
The resort: Grand Palladium is located 1 1/3 hr south of Cancun by bus, the time of travel depending on how many passengers must be dropped off enroute. We were the first to be disembarked. Many thanks to the Mexican government for building overpasses over the Playa del Carmen traffic lights. The resort is carved out of a mangrove and accommodates it rather than ploughing down the mangrove and forcing it to accommodate the resort. The resort therefore is largely forested with few of those artificially composed gardens. Our room had no spectacular view (though some did) except for the palms beyond our terrace. While some may dislike this, we saw this as an advantage since it yielded privacy from th passersby on the roadways and walkways beyond. There are extensive boardwalks and covered walkways connecting various parts of the resort. One will encounter several iguanas, coatis and racoons while travelling about. Palladium is 5 resorts in one. Kantenah and Colonial function out of one building for administration, bars, restaurants, theatres for entertainment and pool while White Sands and Riviera function out of another. Royal Suites is an entity to itself and is not included in anything that follows here. For a map of the site go to http://leonardito.com/palad0911n/palladmap.jpg . Other common facilities include a sports complex with tennis courts, a soccer pitch, volleyball court, and mini-golf course; a well-equipped gym and spa; 3 wedding pavilions and a church (Sunday mass at 5pm) a large Kid's Club and a club for pre-teens and teens. There are 3 "adult" pools, 2 extensively large main pools, 2 kiddie pools, a pool at the spa, an ocean water pool at the south end, 22 bars (I choose to separate the buffet bars from the swim-up bars that they overlook), 2 beach snack bars one of which is open 24 hrs., 5 buffets, and 9 cuisine specific a la carte restaurants. The only one requiring a reservation is the beachside seafood restaurant. There is a water sports equipment kiosk on the beach by the Kantenah/Colonial pool where one can get snorkelling equipment, hobie cats, kayaks etc. Guests have unlimited access to all. Because it is so large, there is a main train that travels between the Kantenah/Colonial complex to the White Sands/Riviera complex via the sports and spa complexes. There are additional trams that travel to the ends of each resort.
The beach: The beach is long and sandy, and is groomed daily. It does not extend to the 9 villas of the Riviera section at the south end. At the north end, the beach extends into the ocean with a sandy bottom suitable for wading. The farther south one travels, the rockier the bottom gets. While this is a complaint in some reviews, this reviewer found it an advantage for easy snorkelling. There are 2 lifeguard towers and an offshore patrolling boat to ensure safety.
Upon arrival, we were warmly and cheerfully greeted with a beverage and towel, and quickly checked in. Because we were early, and rooms were not yet prepared, we were provided with a large change room off the lobby to shed our northern duds and our luggage was kept under the watchful eye of the bell captain. We were free to explore and dine. We had e-mailed a week before making specific room requests and we were accommodated. We had asked for a non-smoking room with king-sized bed in villa 46 or 47 which are closest to an adult pool, the lobby and the dining facilities of the Kantenah building. We were offered an upgrade to a junior suite with an ocean view but declined, since we don't use the room that much to warrant the extra expense. Luggage was portered by golf cart. The room was huge with ample closet space (but only 4 pants hangers ~ bring your own), a digital in room safe large enough for most laptops, a shower-tub, ample toiletries, a television and a minibar stocked daily with 4 beer, 6 soda pop and 3 large water bottles. If you use beyond the daily stock, you are charged for it. We were able to store some cheese, and fruit for our daily wine and cheese party. Since we were so close to the adult pool and lobby bars, getting wine by the glass was not a problem though some would see it as an inconvenience. Grand Palladium purifies and bottles its own water, so it was easy to obtain anywhere, unlike some all inclusive resorts we've been to. One of our party had a hair dryer problem and phoned the desk for help. We were preparing to go to a pool and a repairman was at the door before we were ready to leave. The room was always thoroughly cleaned and restocked. To my taste, the beds were firm but not hard. While 5 small "throw" pillows were provided for the king-sized bed, we balked at the $3/day charge for a pillow from the menu. Our room steward, Angeles, is a champion towel artist.
Dining: We were impressed that the Palladium has such confidence in their food that they offer tours of the Kantenah/Colonial kitchens on Wednesdays. It was interesting and informative, worth the hour spent One must wear long pants and shoes for safety. We breakfasted at the Kantenah buffet each day. There was an extensive selection of food choices, something surely suitable to every ethnic palate. It included champagne and a fresh juice/smoothie bar. The fresh cooked egg and omelet station was very efficient, one could almost say, "Quick," given the usual line up. We never had to wait for a table. Service was prompt and cheerfully provided. We lunched at the buffets overlooking the main pools. Again the choices were extensive with several chefs on hand to provide fresh cooked fish, chicken, pasta, pizza etc. beyond the static hot choices, salad and dessert bars. We only ate at an indoor buffet once for dinner. Over the 2 weeks, we delighted in the mostly non-reserved la carte restaurant choices. Each has its own bar in addition to the 22 noted above, a salad bar and cheerful table service. We found out that the barmen and waiters undergo a 3 year training period and must be conversant in 3 languages. We did not have an unsatisfactory meal anywhere. Everything was delicious and there was something on the menu to suit the preferences for everyone in our group. We discovered that to enjoy the tepanyaki "show" at the Sumptuori Japanese restaurant, it is necessary to arrive at the restaurant desk by 5 pm to reserve a spot at one of the tepanyaki tables. The steaks at the El Dorado were tender and juicy. The waiters at the Rodizio Brazilian restaurant literally ran from table to table to slice your serving of meat from their 3 foot skewer so that it was served hot. There were 7 meats available. We found the service in the Italian and Mediterranean restaurants very slow. One must make reservations for the Punta Emilia seafood restaurant on the White Sands beach at the Customer Services desk in the White Sands lobby. Do so early in the day for a choice table and time that evening. Food was delicious, well-presented and the entertainment by the inquisitive raccoons, charming. If one arrives at a dining venue, and the wait is more than a half hour, they give you a pager. You are free to wander about, have a drink or visit the handicraft vendors in the plaza. When a table is available, your pager summons you and you have 10 minutes to return. We needed to do this only once. The bartenders are among the hardest workers at the resort. If you name a drink they are unfamiliar with, they'll phone to another bartender who does. They cheerfully fill your "Bubba" mug with whatever you require. We discovered late in the journey that the second tap at the draft beer stand is for an excellent dark brew.
There is a calendar of daily activities provided in the check-in package, everything from the usual pool games, to archery, trivia contests and meringue lessons. One should really spend some time at the spa. It is really a quiet oasis from the hoopla of the main pools. There is a well-equipped gym, a pool, a "lazy" river, hot tubs, saunas and for $ massage services etc. available.
Each night there was a show at the Colonial theatre. The dancers then proceeded to the Riviera theatre and performed there. We found the Mexican culture show at Riviera to be very well done, as was the well-choreographed Pirates show with it's excellent Jack Sparrow impersonater. The kids really enjoyed the Disney character show. While the dancers were all more than excellent, we found the routines repetitive. Many were lip-synced to rock music videos and were much too loud. Maybe that appeals to some, but not to us. There were also some acrobatic shows which were interspersed with the musical presentations which were very well done.
We were always able to find loungers sufficient for all our party together at the beach and at the main pools. The main pools were not crowded by any stretch of the imagination, except on the last day when a newly arrived group took over a swim-up bar and had a game of football. We were surprised by the large number of children and infants to be seen at the resort but they were never a nuisance nor underfoot. We saw several examples of the Kid's Club animators at play with the children and they all seemed to be having a great time with their games, crafts, parades to the ice cream bar. Despite the relatively small wadeable part of the beach, it was not crowded there either. Many were delighted by the schools of silver lyre-tailed fish there.
We were invited to a presentation regarding the Palladium Club. We were picked up and breakfasted at the Royal Suites exclusive dining room but that was not any greater than the other dining experiences we'd had. This was followed by no less than 4 sales pitches to join the exclusive club. Our heels dig in at this approach and we declined but earned a free tour on the resorts' Segways. This activity normally costs $35US.
Some of our group went on out trips sponsored by vendors at the resort, to Ek Balaam. Their pictures and ravings were testament to the great time they had. We used the tunnel under the highway which opens at the employees' residence complex on the other side to catch a collectivo bus to take us to Akumal. We had a 2 minute wait for the collectivo and one was waiting at the Akumal stop when we returned. It was a safe and easy, if cozy, mode of local transport.The fare was 20 pesos per person. There are snorkelling excursions to see turtles there. There are several dive shops on the beach with change facilities and equipment to provide these. Some of the group went by collectivo to shop at Playa del Carmen but took a cab for the return. Cab prices are clearly posted, are not outrageous and strictly enforced. But agree with the driver on the price. Sometimes you get a deal. We also used a cab/van to Xel-Ha, an activity park in the natural setting of a lagoon. A most enjoyable day especially if you like snorkelling.
On departure day, porters came in their carts at the time arranged the day before. Checkout required your room key and towel card. Lost towels or towel cards cost $25. Since we were leaving before 7am, there were pastries, coffee and juice available in the lobby. Since we felt this was insufficient, we had made up some sandwiches from the buffet the day before and kept them in our room fridge. Checkout was quick and easy. For those who depart late in the day, after checkout time, a changeroom and shower room off the lobby are available for those who still make use of the facilities.
While this review is long, I trust you find it informative and that I've convinced you from our experience that the resort is top notch.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa is located on a spectacular, private Caribbean beach-front complex that boasts of 800 meters of white, fine sand and turquoise blue waters. Guests of the Grand Palladium Kantenah are invited to use the facilities provided by the adjoining Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa, the Grand Palladium Colonial Resort & Spa, and the Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa, with the exception of the Royal Suite facilities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Kantenah Palladium Grand
- Grand Palladium Kantenah Hotel
- Palladium Mexico
- Palladium Grand Resort
- Hotel Grand Palladium Kantenah
- Palladium Kantenah
- Grand Maya Palladium Riviera
- Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort Spa
- g Palladium Kantenah
- Grand Palladium Mayan