More about Tides Riviera Maya
Before we went here, we checked tripadvisor to read some comments. Now that we just got back we can say that every beautiful thing that is said about this place is very true. The resort is very happily situated. Everything was in perfect harmony with nature. The villa's with plungepool were absolutely luxurious and lovely. The pool and beach area was very dreamy too and the people were attentive and friendly. I'm a vegetarian and usually it is really difficult to get a nutricious and tasty meal in foreign hotels but at Ikal del Mar even the vegetarian food was delicious. The Spa was small but very relaxing. We can definately recommend the Temazcal-treatment and the Mayan wedding ceremony. Ikal del mar is the perfect place too relax! The only negative thing I have to say is not about the hotel but about a noisy group of American guests who got drunk at the pool area almost every afternoon. If you want to get drunk and party, it's better to stay in Cancun.
A Wonderful Anniversary Escape!
We just returned from a 5 night stay at Ikal Del Mar for our 15th anniversary. It was wonderful. Reading other reviews, you realize that in a 2 year old resort there will be issues but we found the place to be wonderful. The perfect retreat from life/kids/work. The only "issues" we had were the loud air conditioner (they say this will fixed in 6 months) and slightly inconsistent food. However, everything else was simply wonderful.
The villas are spectacular - we loved our private plung pool (I got in it every morning first thing and every afternoon) and we loved the outdoor shower. The room itself is very high quality and very nicely appointed. We arrived in our room to wonderful mexican music playing over the surround sound CD system, a nice bottle of wine and fresh fruit (we were starving!). We loved lounging by the pool and especially loved the little cabanas on the beach. I had read a review that raved about the cushions on the beach chairs and they were right - these cabanas and beach lounge chairs were most enjoyable. The staff was very good and always most willing to help. We liked the food but it can be improved and based on the quality of the staff/management, I am sure it will be over time. Don't get me wrong, the food is good and we only had one bad meal. Other reviews complain about the rocky beach. We found that not to be a problem and you can walk just about 100 yards down to a sandy swimming area.
I wasn't there to body surf anyway, I was there to rest and Ikal Del Mar was the perfect place for us to do just that. Sitting under our cabanas reading good books looking at the spectacular water and being served by quality folks made this a great escape for us.
We honeymooned in Caneel Bay and spent our 10th at The Reefs in Bermuda and I think Ikal is pound for pound every bit as good. This is a high quality, very well run place set in a tropical garden.
We'd go again and we highly recommend it. Enjoy!
An Honest Evaluation
My wife and I stayed at Ikal for a week in early June 2004. Here is what we found when we got there:
As stated in nearly every review, the service, beauty and overall experience at Ikal is exceptional. What struck me was the peaceful tranquility of this place. 7 kms north of Playa del Carmen, Ikal is well removed from the tourist beaches and gringo thoroughfares. It’s truly a private, secluded retreat.
Ikal is small and intimate--you won’t be wearing one of those gaudy resort bracelets. The friendly staff knew our names within a day. The thick jungle provided a virtual sense of isolation and we felt as if we were the only ones there at times.
Ikal is visually dazzling! From the picturesque beach to the Polynesian-style structures to the neatly manicured greenery, Ikal is a visual treat right out of a dream. The villas are amazingly beautiful and well maintained. Our favorite part was the outdoor ‘moon shower.’
The food ranged from good to excellent. Any reports of bad food here must have been a one-time anomaly. In fact, I’d consider the breakfast enchiladas as a possible ‘last meal’ on earth. Yes, the food is pricey, but it’s really for the best—were it less expensive, guests would be in danger of outgrowing their swimwear!
The spa facility is truly first rate and certainly an asset, as is the staff. In fact, the staff’s relentless efforts to anticipate our every need and take care of arrangements without our oversight really made our stay a pleasure.
We found that the clientele at Ikal were of a like mind in that they were seeking tranquil, secluded luxury. No screaming children, cannonballs into the pool or loud, drunken displays here. About half of the couples we met were young honeymooners, the others were married couples on vacation. There may have been a few rich ------ on the premises, but the majority of guests seemed to be friendly, middle-class couples splurging on a really nice vacation.
Ikal del Mar is an island of tranquility that is hemmed in by expanding development and housing projects. Although its neighbors to either side are quiet, Ikal does suffer from minor noise pollution, which I fear will get worse over time. Also, the air conditioning units are a little noisier than one would like.
The rustic, back-to-nature feel of Ikal is not exactly as described on some web sites. The torch-illuminated sand trails are now cement paths lit by discreet electric foot lighting. I didn’t mind—some might.
I strongly advise against the use of Ikal’s scuba diving designee, Patrice. Patrice works for a dive shop in Playa called Go Cenotes. They do not have their own boats and must contract with locals for this service. In our case, this resulted in an old, broken down dive boat with a captain that couldn’t find us once we surfaced from our dive. Deep Blue in Cozumel was much better, as was the diving over on the island.
One significant negative for me was the fact that Ikal allows its guests to smoke anywhere at any time. The sickening stench of tobacco poisoning your nostrils as you gaze out over a picture-perfect view of the Caribbean is less than ideal. The grotesquely stupid choice that is smoking should be restricted or banned at Ikal.
The hotel name which translates as poetry of the sea is perfect because this place is pure poetry. I am a complete hotel snob and I was completely happy here...lovely private bungalows with a dreamy outdoor shower, lovely food...the chef is great...service attentive but not overdone, loved the cushy lounge chairs on the beach-perfect for little naps. Spa also charming. Lots of sweet details. Lovely
Don't worry- you will have a wonderful experience
Ok- my husband and I were all set to conquer as many hotels in the Small Luxury Collection as possible. Ikal presented itself as an oasis, we tried it for 7 days dring April Easter Break 2004. Some of the reviews on this site were discouraging- --
Don't listen- honestly, this trip was so wonderful. We thought there were little fairies, because our room was tended to almost every time we stepped away.
As far as the service goes, for the most part it was wonderful. 1/7 days it was poor, it seemed many staff members were off, but it was just annoying because we were used to doing NOTHING for ourselves once we arrived, we were spoiled into total helplessness, so when it was interrupted it was a shock.
The eye-openers were delivered every morning with coffee and croissants, prior to our intial descent to the actual breakfast. The pool was cleaned daily. The sheets were changed almost twice a day.
We left the resort and took the complimentary shuttle to town on the second day- town was nice, saw it in 2 hours...after that we never left the resort again...there was no desire to.
Dinner was lovely and relaxed, but after 6 nights, the menu was left with nothing else new to try. This is barely a drawback because the meals were still good and enjoyable.
The same goes for snacking and lunch foods. As we lay on the beach in our own thatch covered cabana from 9 til 7 everyday, some more variety in the menu would have been appreciated.
Perhaps it was because it was a busy week, but there was competition for a shady spot on the beach or by the main pool everyday. Getting the thatch covered spot required a 7 am stroll to the beach to throw a book on the chairs to reserve it for later on. Sunny spots were all over though. Umbrellas would have been a welcome addition to prevent this needless stress...the ONLY stress we encountered on a daily basis.
Although we were told the kitchen would prepare whatever we wanted, sometimes the staff did not understand our requests(language barriers), so we were left to keep to the menu.
As a SPA snob, Ikal was wonderful! The massage was one of the best I (and my husband) ever had.
Go to Ikal, enjoy the indulgence! You will feel like a princess or a prince! Just know that it is not a bargain by any means, but an experience well worth every penny!
Best of Mexico
My wife and I have stayed at many luxury hotels around the world when we travel (Four Seasons, Ritz, etc.) and we were looking for a small luxury resort with equal or better service and style. Ikal hit the spot. It is definitely the nicest resort I have visited in Mexico, and I've traveled to most of the major resort areas in Mexico (e.g. Cabo, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Ixtapa, etc.) The service was outstanding and the spa was top-notch. The villas were very tastefully decorated in a modernist-tropical style (if that's possible) and very clean and comfortable. I read a few negative reviews on this website about the beach prior to going. No idea why the negative reviews. The beach is fantastic (one of the best I've been too) and has easy access to the beautifil tropic waters. Kudos to the owners for putting together such a first-rate resort. Only hope that it does not become too crowded as we plan to return.
What to say? I guess the place is dripping with ambiance and is a really cool concept. All I can say is so much potential but a real lack of execution. The rooms are beautiful and really understated, but the air conditioning was loud from ours and other units around and we did not sleep at all the first night. Add the pool motors into the equation and you have some issues. The restaurant, the Azul is a really nice setting, but we had problems with the dinners. First night the lobster was way over cooked and the second night, both out dinners were cold. We went out for two nights just to get a great dinner. The last night was better, but the table next to us delivered the guys dinner 10 minutes before the womans, so it was cold by the time her's arrived. I didn't like the fact that you never signed for drinks and dinner, so you never knew how much anything was until you checked out. I hope they work out some of the service issues, but I would have to say that at this point; it seems like it's a great place but still in the making or they lost staff that made it great.
A Real "VACATION"
We just came back from our Honeymoon at Ikal. It was fantastic! I had reservations after reading a few of the reviews about the prices and the rocky beach. Coming from Boston the food prices were typical of a nice resturant in the city. Lunch a dinner average around $20.00 per entree. I did find it difficult to pay $20 for a lunch entree and the same for a dinner entree, but the money was worth every penny! The food was terrific and prepared perfectly. The food was light but always filling. My husband is an extremly picky eater and he loved the food. Even after eating breakfast, lunch and dinner there for 8 days we never got sick of the food and we tried something new every night. They will make or prepare anything you want off the menu also. My only suggestion is to find a waiter that understands your language. My only complaint was that only a couple of the waiters had service knowledge. A couple nights my entree came out with his salad so by the time his entree came out I had finished my dinner. They definatly could use a few pointers in that aspect. We learned quickly who the exeptional staff were and we went where they were. We were initially disappointed with the beach situation, the water in front of Ikal is ALL coral. It is almost impossible to navigate into and out of the water with-out getting a few scratches. We did purchase water shoes after the first day and it was never a problem, so do not let that deture your decision! BRING WATER SHOES if you intend to swim in the ocean. On a side note may I mention that the pool is 10 feet away from the beach if you do not feel like dealing. All in all we are going to return! The privacy, the spa, the weather and the food was all top notch! If you want a relaxing vacation or spend time with you significant other you must go to IKAL...
Romantic, relaxing--- total perfection!
We had the great pleasure of staying at Ikal for several nights in mid-May. It was so amazing I felt like I dreamt the whole thing. I will agree with so many here who have left favorable reviews; we found it to be paradise, and are already planning our return. Plusses:
Remote and Intimate---we often were the only people in the restaurant, or at the gorgeous main pool, and got our favorite chaise at the pool and palapa on the beach each day (and what chaises and palapas! No crappy plastic beach chairs here!); so many of the lovely staff knew our names after the first day. Also, the resort is almost all alone on the beach--- not so in other areas, with resorts crammed side-by-side, and people abounding.
Another plus: the room. Simple, elegant, oh-so-romantic. The Paulina Moran linen robes, the fantastic Yucatan hammock, the private pool, the outdoor shower... ahhhh....
Another plus: the food. We found it to be fantastic, especially the breakfast. (Try the pumpkin blossom crepes---wow! Also the ceviche, yum.) We found it to be no more expensive than a fancy night out at home, so were pleasantly surprised that it was not as expensive as we had feared after reading some reviews here. (You get what you pay for.) Juan, our waiter upstairs, was a delight, and helped us order off the menu.
Yet another plus: the spa---- gorgeous, pampering. They even let us stay here to shower and change clothes once we had checked out before we had to head to the airport. (Take a late flight!)
The last plus (although I could go on and on)--- the service. What lovely people! Everyone went out of their way to pamper us, remember our names; we felt we were the most important of guests. Lots of little surprises, too. Can you get this sort of service at one of the mega-resorts? I think not.
Minuses: There were few, but for some people, this is important stuff: There ARE rocks at the beach just in front of the hotel. If you want to swim, you just walk a short distance down the beach. I personally found this fine, and thought the waves crashing on the rocks lovely. We had one not-so-great dish (and since someone else mentioned it, I will concur that the grilled lobster wasn't very good for us, either.) We also prefered the ambiance of the upstairs restaurant to that of the one below, for the music alone. It was just more romantic, and that's why we were there. Also, Ikal is QUIET. There is no nightlife. Again, this is what we preferred, but for some people, boring. (Downtown Playa is minutes away by cab, however.) (HA, I say it's quiet, when actually there was a very noisy bird/bug/frog/iguana, we were never quite sure what that thing was, croaking loudly near our villa at bedtime, but we never heard the noisy a/c units people have mentioned. We slept beautifully.)
If you want all-you-can-eat, plastic wristbands, hair-braiding, loud, obnoxious, drunken oafs sitting elbow to elbow swilling watered-down margarita mix in cheesy plastic cups while a guy with a megaphone directs you to the daily ceramic-painting, limbo-dancing, or tequila-chugging contests, go elsewhere. If you want something truly different, completely elegant, with romance, peace and quiet, gracious service, outstanding dining, and a divine room, go to Ikal. It even smells heavenly, the whole place! I keep sticking my head in my luggage because I can still smell it. Ahhhh, Ikal. Before you visit, find a copy of Ricardo Cobo's "Guitar Lullaby" CD for a romantic soundtrack. You will thank me, I promise.
Beachfront at Ikal del Mar
the tides playa del carmen
has anyone stayed at the tides in playa del carmen? the website looks awesome, and i've read mostly positive, but some negative reviews. thanks in advance..p.s. we're looking to go in august, which i know is the rainy season. i appreciate any reply! thanks!
Re: the tides playa del carmen
It is not in Playa del Carmen but North in Riviera Maya. The beach has a bit coral but the resort is fantastic. Expect the odd sand bug and mosquitos.