The world is a big place and there are dozens if not hundreds of places we would like to visit (some close to home, some thousands of miles away) and so it makes sense not to waste time going back to the same place twice.
We are not the type of people who find a place they like and stick with it for ever more. We like the thrill of discovering something new as we travel. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. I love Singapore / Malaysia and would happily visit regularly if I could afford it. Closer to home we love certain areas (Norfolk Broads for instance) and certainly wouldn’t drive around it in the search for new locations.
And Mexico fell into this category this year. Two years ago we visited the Gran Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort, and had a whale of a time. it was new, full of fun stuff to do, and I had a string of planned surprises for our 35th wedding anniversary which with the help of our concierge Vanina helped to make the holiday special. But best of all, we made some new and amazing acquaintances, dare we say friends, and it was primarily the desire to meet up with these great people again which made us turn our noses up at the other Caribbean resorts in our Bahia Principe Privilege Club portfolio, and return to the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal for another dose of exciting Mexican life.
So nearly exactly two years to the day, we found ourselves boarding the plane for Cancun, having made arrangements to meet our friends during the two week stay.
It was a particular disappointment that the majority of the people we had met at the resort had moved on to other hotels in the area (all bar our good friend Roberto) and certainly the brilliant service and rapport we had enjoyed during our pre-travel communications with Vanina, our previous exceptional Privilege Club concierge were somewhat missing on the lead up to this stay.
The British Airways flight to Cancun was tedious and stressful (another story), but my first success story of the trip was the transportation from Cancun to the hotel (approx 90 minutes drive). After the debacle we suffered at the hands of Hoppa in 2016, I had pushed out the boat a bit and booked a limo service via a company called STP Caribe. As we exited departures, as promised, a STP Caribe representative carrying a clear name board (with my name on of course) took us to the car, which was cleverly nestled between two of the infamous minivans that we had suffered previously with Hoppa.
Sue’s face was a picture, firstly the obvious horror that she was being led towards a minivan again, and then the biggest grin as the sleek black VW Passat based stretched limo revealed itself between the vans.
In comparison to the bumpy, hot ride in the Hoppa vans, the limo silently cruised the miles in comfort as we literally chilled in the back with a refreshing towel, and a selection of complimentary beer and water to re-hydrate ourselves on the way.
I have no problem heartily recommending STP Caribe for your Mexican airport transfers.
On arrival at the resort, we were quickly whisked from the Akumal lobby by golf cart to the Akumal privilege club lounge, where we were met by one of our concierge staff Alejandra, who very pleasantly and efficiently checked us in and reminded us about all of the facilities. I’m sure she would have stayed talking to us all night but we had to gently remind her that we had already been up for over 24 hours, at which point she promptly arranged for our luggage to be forwarded on and walked us to our room.
The room allocation had been a source of great anxiety before our departure. No-one at the Privilege Club would guarantee that we would get a ground floor room, and with Sue unable to climb steps (no lifts in the two story villas), I eventually just stopped short of completely falling out with the concierge although a few terse words were exchanged via email, and thus we approached our room with some trepidation. It was a relief therefore to find that we had been allocated a luxurious junior suite two doors up from our previous room in Villa 83, and all of our worries evaporated instantly. But WHY could someone not have made an effort to allay our fears prior to arrival? It put a proper damper on the start of our vacation.
We were comforted to see that we were going to enjoy an instant rapport with Alejandra, but equally we had sensed the decidedly frosty reception from some other staff members and I realised our ‘reputation’ as difficult members had obviously preceded us. This was to continue for a few more days despite me having a quiet word in order to demonstrate we were not the ogres that maybe we had come over as prior to our arrival. We are very nice people really.
The villa hadn’t changed much in the two years physically, but the concierge service was even better than before – one nice feature was the aromatherapy oil burners you could request (free of charge), and the hot drinks machine in the hall which was a welcome change to brewing tea in the coffee peculator!
The staff had kindly put up banners and balloons on our door wishing us a happy anniversary, and we found the room full of rose petals, and a nice chilled bottle of sparking wine waiting for us.
The resort had not changed at all. Which proved to be a bit of an anti-climax. It suddenly struck us that we were missing that feeling of excitement from exploring new nooks and crannies. And nor were we feeling that cosy ‘glad to be home’ feeling you get when re–visiting a cute cottage or mountain shack.
But it didn’t matter, our bonus was that we would meet our friends again and that would be the ‘icing on the cake’ so to speak.
Weather wise we couldn’t ask for better; in 2016 we had experienced a mixture of sun and showers almost daily, but this time for the first ten days we had completely dry, blistering sunshine and perfectly cloudless blue skies. I had lots of plans for jet skiing, parasailing, scuba diving but each day we just put it off and lazily relaxed in the exotic heat.
Our date with our friend had to be postponed due to an emergency at her work. so we rescheduled for later in the second week – we had a great day planned at a local beach club which we eagerly looked forward to.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. The last four days saw torrential rain, with no break. Our friend had to cancel the beach trip, and wouldn’t drive in the rain – I can’t blame her, we didn’t fancy getting a taxi either, due to the very poor visibility. So we never got to meet up. Sad faces all round. And I never got to do those activities I had kept putting off.
The food quality at the resort was as good as ever, and we enjoyed SEVERAL anniversary cakes as someone had kindly made a note of our celebration at EVERY dinner booking over the ten days.
One slight disappointment, again nothing to do with the resort, was the enormous amount of seaweed washing up on the beach everyday – they did their best to cart it away literally by the truck load, but it did spoil the tranquillity of the exclusive beach spot we were supposed to enjoy as part of our package.
Even the dolphin attraction had lost some of its charm second time around.
By the end of the second week I think we had made our peace with most of the concierge staff, and hopefully developed another warm friendship with the very thoughtful and caring Alejandra, who was an asset to their team.
Unlike last time when we shed tears as we left our new friends, on this occasion having said our goodbyes to Alejandra and the rest of the team, we were relieved to have been on our way back to the airport in the pouring rain.
Will we return? I’m sure there is room for another trip to Mexico in the future, but next time I think it is time to explore some of the other regions. Plus we have to make a decision on how to use our last three weeks of our Privilege Club membership, with all of those other exotic Caribbean destinations to choose from.
Would we recommend the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal, part of their Don Pablo Luxury collection? Absolutely. The resort, with it’s long beach (hopefully sea weed free next time) and the four resorts on the complex each with their own charm, and multiple restaurants, there is more than enough to keep you occupied for two weeks.
And as far as the staff are concerned, we have never been made to feel more welcome from the gardener all the way up to the hotel management. Everyone had a smile, everyone went out of their way to say “hola” and absolutely nothing is too much trouble.
It’s a five star resort. So what do we score it?