Submitted on 02-07-2017
We stayed at the Hacienda Tres Rios under an RCI timeshare exchange, so we only had to pay for the all-inclusive fee. Therefore, it was a bargain compared to renting hotel rooms for a week and paying restaurant prices for meals, and also gave us more flexibility about when and where to eat. The resort is very pleasant and has a nice variety of activities on site. In additon, we were able to take a half-day tour to the Mayan ruins at Tulum, but did not try the long full-day trip to Chichen Itza. ...
We stayed at the Hacienda Tres Rios under an RCI timeshare exchange, so we only had to pay for the all-inclusive fee. Therefore, it was a bargain compared to renting hotel rooms for a week and paying restaurant prices for meals, and also gave us more flexibility about when and where to eat. The resort is very pleasant and has a nice variety of activities on site. In additon, we were able to take a half-day tour to the Mayan ruins at Tulum, but did not try the long full-day trip to Chichen Itza. We also spent an afternoon in Playa del Carmen, but found it hot, noisy and touristy compared to the resort.
The resort is on something like 300 acres, but the buildings and guest areas only occupy about 13 acres, if I remember right. The rest is a nature preserve, largely mangrove forest. There are 10 cenotes on the grounds, 9 of which one can walk to on trails, and two of which you can also reach by sea kayak up two of the three small rivers that are the "tres rios." There are facilities for snorkeling at one of the cenotes, including a changing area. The resort also offers various tours of the nature preserve, cenotes, and rivers, by bike, kayak, snorkel, and Segway,
There are several nice swimming pool areas. One is designated for adults. Another is a family pool area that has several sections of different depths, one portion suitable for toddlers (with supervision, of course), another deep enough for introductory scuba lessons. Even the family pool area is quiet in the early morning, although music gets turned on later in the morning and goes for the rest of the day, so it is the more high-energy area overall.
There are two beach areas. One is designated members-only, and is across a short bridge over one of the rivers. That is the Kakao Beach Club area. We had trouble determining whether our RCI membership qualified us as members, but eventually tried it and nobody objected. (Guests are given wrist bands for the week, and these have different colors depending on your status, so staff in principle could easily check whether you belong in a given area.) However, our understanding was that the palapas and mattress-topped beach beds were still reserved for members of the resort itself, presumably owners of timeshare units at the Hacienda Tres Rios. That beach area was very nice, although getting into the water was somewhat less so. The beach slopes off very gently into the sea, with occasional sand bars, so one has to go pretty far out to get deep enough to swim. Many people seem to prefer to swim in the two fairly deep rivers that are the two boundaries of the beach area. It is fun to get into the more secluded of these (the northern one) at one of the small beaches along the river and let the river water carry you out to the sea. There are numerous fish both in the rivers and in the shallow sea water areas. These are the same rivers that one can kayak up to get to two of the cenotes. We did not see anyone kayaking in the ocean itself, perhaps because there is no destination to go to. (The resorts on Cozumel are visible on the horizon, but there are no nearby islands or other places one could reach in a sea kayak.)
The other, more southern, beach, open to anyone at the resort, is less nice. The part nearest the private beach (the northern end) slopes off gently into the sea and has beach chairs, so might be OK (we didn't try it). That is also where there are one or two Hobie Cats that one can sail (we also did not try that). But, a bit further south, that beach looks like it has been badly eroded by a storm and the sandy area drops off abruptly over a mat of palm roots to large rocks lining the water. At the southern end there is a long dock that is closed to the public and whose deep end has collapsed into the water, perhaps another sign of storm damage.
In addition to the fish in the rivers and sea, one runs into a few other forms of wildlife, and there are signs encouraging you not to feed them. There are of course iguanas. However, there are also racoon-like creatures, perhaps coatis or coatimundis (??) that one often sees in the mangrove areas along the paths, but that also appear in the outdoor guest corridors, perhaps attracted by the food left on the plates from room service that are collected in small open service rooms along those corridors. Initially I panicked when I saw one of these, as in our part of the world a raccoon visible during the day may well be rabid, but then realized they are not exactly raccoons, but perhaps related, and that they often forage while the sun is still up, and on into the evening. There are also small cute brown creatures without tails that we saw eating in some of the vegetable gardens the hotel keeps, but haven't been able to identify.
We generally liked the food at the resort. The main restaurant is buffet style, but with a nice variety of foods that change over the week, although always with a majority of dishes being Mexican in style. Nothing was too spicy, but spicy sauces were offered if one wanted to heat things up. There were also cold cuts and cold salads, especially for lunch, and a variety of yogurts. There was lots of fresh fruit, including local tropical fruits. There was enough variety that our grandsons, ages 3 and 7, were able to find things they were willing to eat, very important if you are traveling with small children. They could also eat at any time of the day that they got hungry, and as often as they wanted, one of the nice things about an all-inclusive when traveling with kids. The restaurant also offers some made-to-order items at a central station, with eggs, french toast, and waffles in the morning and a pasta bar at lunch and dinner where you can have a sauce made to order (there may have been other made to order items at dinner, but we did not try them if so). We were told that one can even order special items, such as huevos rancheros, from your server, but did not check back with the guest who was doing that to see how it worked out. One minor complaint was that the refried beans started the week being a nice consistency, so they would stay where one put them on the plate, but by the end of the week they were more like a thin pouring sauce.The desserts were very pretty to look at, and a few were quite good, but many were not as flavorful as one might think from looking at them. Many seemed to be a heavily gelatinized fruit or chocolate mousse that could be cut into pretty shapes, but where the gelatin cut the flavor.
We also tried the Hacienda Grill, which has nice fajitas for lunch and a variety of cooked to order fish and meats at dinner. It is also a good place to stop in anytime for a drink. And, we also had pizza for lunch one day at Il Forno. The pizza was simple but just what we wanted at that time of day. We occasionally got a smoothie or coffee at the Patisserie, and one can get some of the same desserts there as are served on the buffet, but can also get sweets that are not on the buffet.
There is a kids club, but our grandsons did not use it. The daughter of a couple we met there did take advantage of some of the sessions and seemed to enjoy it. There was a Pokemon search on the regular activities list that one of our grandsons really enjoyed. The guide for that activity, Christian, was also activities coordinator at the family pool that morning, and was nice enough to kick a soccer ball around with our grandsons for a while, which they both enjoyed.
The rooms are very nice, with floors of marble or other such stone, and baths entirely of the same stone. Our room was kept very clean and pleasant by our housekeeper Adrian. The Wifi connection is reasonably fast, although slows a bit in the evening when presumably more people are using it. We found we could easily download our home newspaper in the mornings, but had more difficulty if we tried to do that in the evening. Streaming of movies might not work too well (we did not try) but if you downloaded them in the morning for later viewing it might work.
There was a Caribbean Night in the middle of the week, where at least some of the buffet from the main dining room is moved out to the beach, and steak and chicken are grilled. The food was OK, but the high point was the band. I think they were called Son Caribeno (sorry, I've never learned how to generate special characters such as tilde-n on a Windows desktop), and did a lot of covers from Buena Vista Social Club and similar music, while also sampling other Caribbean styles and even some American rock and roll. They had a good number of the guests up and dancing during most of their set. Other evening entertainment included a Michael Jackson impersonator with a very athletic cast of dancers, who entertained our older grandson and his Dad, and a Mayan dance group that performed in the outdoor arena under the stars.
We almost got in serious trouble when we left one of our pill cases, with pills for the week, on the table at breakfast and did not realize it was missing until mid-afternoon. We panicked a bit when we went back to the restaurant and to the front desk and nobody knew about it, and the lost and found office was closed for the day. However, when we mentioned it to the hostesses at breakfast the next morning, they knew just what we were talking about, and said it had been turned in to the lost and found. After breakfast we went to the front desk and they were able to retrieve it, all carefully wrapped by the breakfast staff in plastic wrap to make sure nothing fell out. So we owe a big thank you to all those involved. And, we will have to work on strategies to prevent that happening again, and to carry a full supply of backup pills in their original bottles just in case (we just had one day's extra supply in case of problems with the flight home).
We also traveled to the Mayan ruins at Tulum, about an hour away, with our grandsons and their parents. We thought that was about as much as the two boys could stand, and as it turned out even that was a bit much. We started to reserve one of the standard tours, but the boys require a child car seat and a booster seat, and we would want to leave those on the bus and not have to carry them around at Tulum. Juan at Kidde Travel at the resort realized that we might not get the same bus for our return as for our trip down, and so there could be a problem with the car seats. However, he also realized that, since there were six of us, he could arrange a private van tour with driver and guide for about the same price as we would pay for the standard bus tour. We did that and it worked out well.The driver waited with the van while the guide showed us around.
All in all it was a nice week. The two boys had a nice time and a few adventures, and their parents got a little time to themselves with us acting as child sitters. There is talk of going back next year.