Sunday, October 11, 2009

Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, Riviera Maya, Mexico

To celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, my husband and I spent 4 nights in April at the new Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita resort near Puerto Morelos (Riviera Maya), Mexico.

The property itself has been open for several years, but was taken over and rebranded as Zoetry last fall. Though we are generally not big all-inclusive resort fans, we had a wonderful time here. As most of our trips seem to involve long and/or multiple flights and a lot of moving around/activity, it was a new and fabulous experience to get on a plane in Atlanta, fly for under 3 hours, take a 20 minute car ride, and then spend 4 days doing absolutely nothing but relaxing! We were even upgraded (thank you, hard-earned Delta medallion status!) on both flights, which is very rare coming from Atlanta and really started the trip off right.

Transfers: When you come out of immigration at CUN in Cancun, the pickup area is a madhouse, and it did take a few minutes to locate our driver. But he was on time, very welcoming, and whisked us right into one of the resort's Lincoln Navigators and on to the resort. My only disappointment was that we were not offered champagne for the ride as advertised. I would have asked for it, but since it was not even noon and I'd already had some on the plane, I didn't bother.
Room: When we first checked in, we were taken to "Isfahan", a 2nd floor suite.

It was beautiful, but due to palm trees in front of the balcony, did not have the view we were hoping for. It also only had a little table and chairs, plus a hammock, rather than the lounging platform that some of the rooms feature.

But a quick call got us moved into "Cerdena" suite, one level up on the top floor of the building, with a view over the palm trees to the beach, and a terrace with a table, chairs, and a large built-in platform with big cushions!

My only disappointment was that our view was blocked on one side by a portion of the building that jutted in front of us. But I was tired of moving rooms at that point, so we stayed put. I would recommend requesting a "front row" room when you make your reservation, though!
A few shots of our view...

The rooms are all the same size and layout, with the only difference being the terrace (hammock versus padded bench versus plunge pool) and the bathroom (the plunge pool suites, which are all on the bottom floor, have an outdoor shower). I apparently only bothered to take 2 pictures of Cerdena, but it was totally identical to Isfahan aside from some decor details and the balcony.

All the suites at Zoetry are spacious and beautiful, with a separate sitting area and bedroom, along with a large and well-appointed bathroom. I was very pleased to find the Bulgari toiletries.

I was less pleased to slam my head against the marble shelf on which they sat later that day. This of course was not the fault of the resort, but rather the fault of tequila. Behold the world's only human unicorn (champagne is purely for medicinal purposes):

My only complaint about the rooms is that the beds are quite uncomfortable-the mattresses are about as soft as cement.

Each room has a mini-bar (complimentary and restocked daily) and a complimentary bottle of tequila per stay.

A bottle of champagne on ice per day is also included, but you do need to call and ask for it to be brought up to your room each day - it will not be brought automatically.

They also restock the rooms daily with fresh fruit.

And Bob had organized a special surprise for me - a gorgeous flower arrangement in honor of our anniversary!

Beach: Pretty and well-kept (seaweed does wash up, but the staff sweeps it away fairly consistently), though narrower than you'll find further down the coast. The water is a gorgeous turquoise, but full of seaweed and somewhat murky right off the beach (it did look clearer off the dock where the catamaran is kept).

We loved the big beach beds and spent most of our daylight hours lounging around on one, just enjoying the scenery, tropical drinks, and a few good books!

Service: Overall, excellent! It seemed as though most of the servers knew our names within a couple of hours of check-in, and they were all so friendly and attentive! Hector was our absolute favorite--saved our beach bed for us each morning when we came down for breakfast, and checked on us consistently throughout each day to see if we needed anything. Gratuities are technically included in the room rate, but we felt like the staff deserved something more for their hard work, and so we did tip extra. However, many other resort guests we spoke with did not tip extra, and still received great service, so this is not required in order to be treated well!

Food & drinks: The portions are small, but beautifully presented, and everything we ate and drank was delicious. Breakfast is served in the same restaurant (Kaax) every day, but there are several choices for lunch, and generally 2 restaurants open for dinner each night. The breakfast menu is overall continental with some local specialties, and I especially loved the omelettes with fresh herbs. They also bring a yummy basket of freshly made breads and pastries to the table each morning with your coffee/juice.

A few gratuitous food porn shots:
Lunch at Hippo's Poolside Bar:

Lunch at the El Chiringuito Beachside Grill:

And the view from there...

Dinner at Kaax:

I especially loved having sushi, ceviche, and champagne "picnics" served on our beach bed - very decadent!

Every afternoon, servers come by the beach and pool with little treats like mango sorbet--such a nice touch.

Spa: My husband and I went in for a couple's massage on our last afternoon. Neither of us were super-impressed with our massages, to be honest. They were ok, but nowhere near great, especially considering how spa-focused the resort is (and how much they charge for treatments!). The resort offered to let us upgrade the free 20-min chair massage that is included with every stay to a 50 min swedish massage for $75pp + 25% tax and gratuity (usually the 50 min is $145pp + tax and gratuity). Since we had a $200 gift certificate included with our package, that worked out perfectly. However, I would not say it was worth it otherwise.

Pool: Nicely sized (though not huge) and lovely, right above the beach, with attentive service and plenty of umbrellas for those who have gotten a bit too much sun. Super-comfy cushioned lounge chairs as well, which in my opinion are a must at any fine resort--I hate it when the loungers are small, cheap, and uncomfortable.

Grounds: Lush and beautifully maintained, with tropical plants and small koi ponds all around.

We particularly enjoyed all the wildlife. There are quite a few large iguanas roaming around, along with about a dozen peacocks. Several parrots and other exotic birds live near the restaurants, and a small crocodile has even been spotted in one of the ponds on property!

Catamaran sunset sail:

The boat is beautiful, but we were not thrilled to find that what was advertised as a "champagne and hors douveres sunset sail" was actually a "soft drinks and no nibbles sunset sail".

This was very disappointing, and kept the ride from feeling as romantic and luxurious as it could have. It's unclear whether this is an ongoing issue or a one-time thing, but I would strongly recommend that you bring the daily bottle of champagne from your room or stop by the bar for a beverage before you get on the boat if you would like to enjoy a cocktail while you sail.

Shopping trip: One day we tried to go on a shopping trip to town via boat, which is usually 15 minutes each way. Because of waves, it took well over an hour to get close to town. About 5 minutes away from town, the boat captain got a call that we couldn't dock for some reason, so we had to turn around and go back to the resort. So no souvenirs this trip. But we did make new friends on the boat, so not a wasted trip by any means! But I would recommend asking about water conditions, etc. ahead of time so as not to end up in the same situation.

Children: In my opinion, Zoetry really needs to be an adult-only property. There were well over a dozen children there (many of whom spent a good bit of every day running around the pool and beach screaming and splashing), and it's really just not the place for them. I was also a little irritated since, when I emailed the resort before my trip, they told me there were NO children booked during our stay (I like children, but was really hoping for a very quiet, adult-only experience on this trip!). At first I wasn't sure if multiple families with children booked between then and when we went (though since I only booked about a week and a half out, that seemed unlikely) or if I was misled. However, based on information I was given during a site inspection of the property a few months later, I have to come to the conclusion that the resort is not being completely honest with guests about the number of families it attracts. I find this duplicity very disappointing, especially from a resort of this caliber and price point.

Overall: My main complaint about the resort was just that it was not quite "as advertised". Nothing that could really make or break a stay, but I do feel that if a resort is going to claim to provide a certain product or service, it should do so.

Having said that, I would absolutely go back to the resort. I would also recommend it to other travelers, with the caveat that one cannot necessarily expect for the resort to meet every single promise it makes, and that they may not be completely upfront about the age range of those who will be there during your stay. But if you're looking for a high-end boutique all-inclusive in Mexico with friendly service, great food, and beautiful rooms, Zoetry can be a very good choice! I expect that they will continue to work out the kinks as time goes by, and look forward to another stay there in the future!


Unknown said...

I really enjoyed your photos and commentary. One of you/or both are excellent photograghers! Now I know a few things to watch for or ask for on our trip in 10 days. I can also tell we are going to have a fantastic trip!

Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these posts. I also read your Zoetry DR review. I am trying to decide between the two. Which do you suggest?

We too are celebrating our anniversary and only have 3 days.

I like diffrent things about each. We like sipping on cocktails by the pool/beach by day and expect gourmet dinners.

We know theres no entertainment but between the two, which seem to be more lively?

I appreciate your help. GREAT PICS!

Caroline said...

Anon- thank you!

No contest - I would recommend Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita in Mexico over Zoetry Agua Punta Cana in a heartbeat! PdlB is a far superior resort in pretty much every way!


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