Second time at the Viva Azteca - Wonderful, better than ever!
We went to the Viva Azteca three years ago and had a terrific time. So much so that we (a family of three and our best friends, a family of four) went back last week (February 14 - 21, 2004) for our second time, and we had an even better time. The Azteca is smaller than many of the resorts in the Playa del Carmen area, and it pays off in a more comfortable, intimate and just plain friendly atmosphere. The staff are simply wonderful, from the front desk to the buffet/restaurant staff to the "Animacion" staff (whom I affectionately dub the "Camp Counselors"). Engaging and enthusiastic but not pushy about inviting guests to the various activities and lessons (from sports to dance to languages), they made everything we tried a real ball. Then in the evening, they put on theatrical performances, and the productions, especially the dancing, are very good. They have ten complete shows they present over a two week period, and my main regret is wishing I could have stayed long enough to see all ten of them. Then, many of the Animacion staff stay and help energize a party in either the disco or the bar area downstairs from the theater. They are all in their 20's (i.e., half my age) but I still don't know how they do it! The food was good last time, and I thought it was better this time. My one complaint about the food is that at their Italian-themed specialty restaurant, LaScala, their caesar salad is sadly quite bad; no egg, no anchovy, no real dressing to speak of. But that is my only sour note. The entire resort is very well-maintained and very clean, and it is truly a beautiful, relaxing and regenerative environment, all in all. One further big plus is the clientele -- mostly European, primarily Italian, French and German, with some Americans. All announcements are made in all five of these primary languages: Spanish, Italian, English, French and German. We met people from all of these countries, and their friendliness was an itegral part of the Viva experience. Beyond Viva, the town of Playa del Carmen is clearly booming, having grown and become more polished in just the three years since our last visit. The people of PdC are wonderful as well, friendly and helpful, and I think they are determined not to lose the character of their town despite the growth. Add to this the nearness and variety of excursions to places like Chichen Itza, Tulum, Xcaret, Xel-Ha and many others, and the whole package is really greater than the sum of its parts. We will be back again, and we won't be waiting three years this time!