Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort
Just thought I would get this forum going again with a little update on ABBWR.
With the renovations complete, and the new Secrets resort in full operation next door, the questions about what will change and how the changes will work were burning in our minds from the moment we knew it was going to happen. The run down goes like this...
Resort in General- the reno was an amazing transformation without changing too much of the original footprint. The floors everywhere are either marble or wood with some concrete here and there. The old sea shell embedded walkways are no more. The residential buildings all match, for the most part, and the old building 1 area now backs up to the Secrets complex. Building 4 (furthest south on the beach) now has a large yoga studio just off the south end, and behind that is an open air wedding reception structure. There are building additions on the main bar/buffet structure and the snack bar building. The pool was completely renovated. They added a spa complex and renovated the old theater. The office/lobby area now includes a couple new office areas. The entire resort is connected by walkways and bridges making it handicapped accessible. Wifi has been upgraded to cover the entire resort and it's pretty strong most of the time and is included in your room rate. The decor throughout the resort is beautiful and mostly fresh floral arrangements on glass tables with asthetic lighting throughout.
Lobby- The lobby area is still open air (thank heavens) and now has more seating areas and ceiling fans to keep the air moving and cut down on the mosquitos. The large palapa that used to be disconnected from the main palapa is now connected with a covered walkway made of wood, so no more slipping on wet concrete as you walk from the lobby to the large palapa after it's been raining. There are seating areas throughout that space as well, and drink service is provided by wait staff that works at the lobby bar. Just love a coffee or espresso in the evenings. There is a further covered walkway from the large palapa to the main bar area as well.
Main Bar- The reno was amazing in this space. Everything is shining, with marble floors, and fancy new bar, and the entire area is open, no more back wall to the entertainment area. The have added roll down screens for windy or rainy weather. There is a menu for specialty smoothies and shakes on each newly upgraded table. The seating is comfortable and cushioned. Entertainment is nightly live music, and dancing is encouraged but doesn't seem to be something most guests are into. The animacion staff usually perform to kind of kick things off. Theme nights in the main bar include a tequila tasting, and a chocolate/champagne tasting. Wait staff work all day and til the bar closes.
Other Bars- The snack bar has a bar open 24 hours, and also serves the daytime beach wait staff. There is also a sushi bar that is half sushi half bar, and at least one sattelite bar in between buildings 3 and 4 that serves the beach wait staff at that end of the resort. Next to the lobby is the Lobby Bar, the lobby wait staff work from there.
Restaurants- The Mexican a la carte is still located in the main bar area. The Asian Fusion and Gourmet a la carte restaurants are both on the lobby end of the main bar complex, divided by the lobby bar. They are air conditioned, but, could stand to have the temp lowered just a bit more, especially in the gourmet where the food is heavy and rich. The Rodizzio brazillian grill is located on the back side of the snack bar (where the snack bar seating used to be). Grilled food is brought tableside on skewers and you simply place a provided red and green indicator with green up if you want more or red up if you are either done or taking a break. No AC in this restaurant, as the design made for an open area at the back. They would need to install more ceiling fans and have them over each table as digesting all that meat can raise ones body temp. The Sushi bar is on the beach side of the main pool with it's own patio seating area. The snack bar is open 24 hours a day, with a small buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and menu ordering of things like burgers, pizza, ice cream, etc all and night. The seating is comfortable and plentiful, but, as it is outdoors, it would be nice to install a couple of those screens for when the rain and wind blows in. The Main Buffet is open for breakfast lunch and dinner, and has an expansive buffet area. They added I think four or five buffet stations, and included a kids station and a healthy eating station. There is a pasta bar for made to order pasta, or just help yourself to what they already have prepared. A carving station is available for lunch and dinner, and serves as the omelette station for breakfast. There is a huge dessert station, and it includes serve yourself ice cream with a wide variety of toppings. There is always soup for lunch and dinner, and a salad bar. Drinks are served to your table by the wait staff. The tables are all new, and are kept neatly draped with linens and flower arrangements. There is a room that was once the kids club that is now larger and used for groups, special events, but, if it is not reserved it is open to guests to use, and, it's air conditioned. The rest of the buffet has ceiling fans which keep the air moving, a must when the breeze stops, but, they are extremely high, so, it would be nice if they were lowered to about 6 feet or so above the tables. The wall of windows is still amazing and the best view in the place. The outdoor seating is now available at both ends of the buffet as well. The food at the entire resort is delicious and always available. There is also room service, but, we never took advantage of it, so, can't really comment.
Swimming Pools- The main pool was completely renovated, and now includes three whirpools as well as the kids pool area. The surrounding deck area has Bali beds, chairs, umbrellas, and coconut trees. At night the pool is lit with white and blue lights for a spectacular effect. In front of building 1, building 3 and building 4 there are small infinity pools, each with a small deck and chairs. All of the pool areas are kept immaculate.
The Spa- The resort added a spa complex. There is a large and imposing Buddha statue, great photo op, and the complex is surrounded by lush greenery. The spa itself is a high end, if somewhat pricey experience. We did not avail ourselves of the spa services as they were just more than we wanted to pay, but, probably worth every penny. In your room there is a menu of spa services, and it's extensive. Attached to the spa is the gym. It's tiny, with some equipment, some free weights, some bar bells, that kind of thing, and a TV that plays a Mexican music video station. The gym is free for guests to use. I just wish it was twice the size, and had more of what I tend to use in the way of resistance machines. Otherwise, it's a great addition. From what I have seen in pictures, there is a hot tub, but, never saw it myself. I did see some drink dispensers with what looked like flavored waters but, I wasn't sure they were for just anyone to get or if they were meant for spa customers, so, I didn't walk back that way to try them. If they are for guests in general, they should be positioned differently.
The Yoga Studio- At the end of building 4 there is a large wooden building used for Yoga. They also do massages in one part of it, if you like that beach massage experience. It would be very private given it's location, and takes full advantage of the wave sounds on the rocky shore below. The building has a wooden deck area in front, if you want to greet the sunrise in their early yoga class. Yoga classes of various levels and experiences are taught on a schedule that is posted in your room information book.
The Wedding reception building- Located behind the Yoga studio, it is an open air large structure for receptions. A lot of brides have their wedding set up on the hill that the Yoga studio sits on, overlooking the ocean, and then their reception right there in the reception building.
The beach- what can I say about that beach. It's ten star, and the best beach around. Soft powdery white sand, cool to the touch, and the resort keeps it clean. From about May to mid October or so, there are turtle nests from mid way of the resort and as far down as the shore stretches. The other way the sand is much harder pack so the turtles tend to avoid it. At night the beach is kept dark particularly during turtle nesting season, as lights can disturb and disorient both the mamas and the babies. Palapas are available everywhere except the small area in front of the buffet. Which is good because it would ruin the view from the buffet. Further up from the beach in front of the buildings there are Bali Beds as well. The shoreline is soft sand entry for the most part except in front of buildings 3 and 4 where there are large rock outcroppings. I haven't seen anyone walking the beach selling things, not that it doesn't happen, I just haven't seen them, and it doesn't make a lot of sense for them to take the time to try to sell on such a small stretch of beach compared to places like Playa Del Carmen and Cancun. The Secrets resort bought the best section of beach when they bought that stretch from the ABR owners and the HAC owners, but, we had more than a little chuckle walking past the Secrets beach area going to and from town. The day trippers have chosen to largely set up in large numbers right in front of Secrets, so, their serene, adults only beach experience ends right there on the beach. They have boom boxes, umbrellas, tents, and, gasp, kids. The sad thing is the day trippers are not respectful of that beach, and leave trash everywhere. Once you round the bend walking back to ABBWR it's instantly clear which resort got the better end of that deal.
The rooms- Each building has a ground floor (booked as Garden Suites) where each room has a deck or patio that you can walk directly out of and a Jacuzzi tub. The view from these rooms is often obstructed by plants and trees, but, it's still a good view. The next two floors up are both Junior Suite floors. Each room has a deck with a Jacuzzi tub on it, and an amazing view of the ocean. Some may have some level of coconut trees but not enough to ruin the view. The higher you go the better the view gets, though. The top floor of each building is the Penthouse level, and those rooms not only have a balcony with a table and chairs, but, also a roof top terrace that has their Jacuzzi tub, an umbrella, table and two loungers. The view from both the balcony and the terrace are amazing. All buildings have elevators and easily climbed stairs. All of the rooms on the entire resort are ocean front. Not just ocean view, but, ocean front. Not a bad view in the bunch. Building 1 is closest to the Secrets resort, and tends to attract a lot of families, as does building 2 which is right behind the main swimming pool. Buildings 3 and 4 are on the opposite side of the lobby complex and have the best view and are much quieter. All of the rooms have showers, no bathtubs unless you count the jacuzzis. They have a stocked mini fridge included in your room rate, as well as a coffee maker. If you need the fridge stocked with more of one thing than another, just let them mini fridge concierge know when they come to your room on the first day, or contact them on the phone number listed on the room phone. The in room safe is large enough to put several tablets and cameras. The resort gifts a beach bag that is waiting in your room. The beds are comfortable, and there is a pillow menu to choose from if you wish. Beach towels are provided in your room on the first day. After that you can just drop them off and pick up new ones at the many towel stations around the resort. The rooms are kept spotlessly clean and often you will get towel art on your bed. Each room has a ceiling fan, but, the AC works really well so you may not need it. The resort provides complimentary toiletries, ie shampoo, conditioner, lotion and body wash, (I just love love love the honey shampoo) and I was surprised to find two complimentary toothbrushes and toothpaste as well. They also provide plenty of bottled water, although I've brushed my teeth with the tap water for years with no problems. The resort has a reverse osmosis system to keep it clean. There is also an iron and ironing board, a hair dryer, and in the shower stall is a clothes line.
There is guest washer and dryers but I've never used them so can't comment beyond that.
Misc- the gift shop is well stocked with anything you might need. We ran out of batteries and they had them, so, didn't have to walk into town. Prices are just a bit higher than what you find in town, and a lot higher than what you can bargain for at the local vendors and in the shops at PDC and Tulum. The resort photographer will do a photo shoot and you only pay for the photos you want, and they do an amazing job. Tours and excursions can be arranged at the excursions desk in the main lobby. The theater serves as a disco after 11pm, but, we never stayed up that late, so, again, can't comment beyond that. During the day we would often use the pool or ping pong tables if it was rainy. Check with the front desk for the pool balls or ping pong balls. The animacion staff have activities throughout the day, including Aqua Gym in the main pool, SUP Stand Up Paddleboarding, dance lessons, spanish lessons, and a kids club for little ones. They have sand castle competitions, and on one day a week they make and serve Paella by the main pool.
Taxis can be gotten by going to the bell hop desk. The taxi can be arranged to bring you where you want to go, wait til you are done and bring you right back. they can also direct you in how to take a collectivo which is much less expensive than a taxi.
The Staff- no report would be complete without saying that the amazing, hard working, friendly, and welcoming people who work at this resort are second to none anywhere in the world, and a model for anyone working in this industry.
Snorkeling/swimming- Yes you can snorkel. The most amazing sea life and coral reef life is right there and you shouldn't miss it. That said, I will forego trying to explain the rules, because they have changed a number of times. Just know that it is a work in progress and hopefully the end result will be a healthier eco system and happier sea life. That's what makes Akumal so special and we can all deal with some rules and restrictions to be the solution rather than part of the problem. Swimming is fun and there is plenty of soft sand. Just be aware that this is a living bay, and there may be sea life where you are walking. Do the sting ray shuffle as you enter and leave to avoid stepping on one. They will get out of your way pretty quickly because they don't want to be stepped on either. Don't stand or sit on corral, and don't take any shells out of the water. The shells are homes for little critters who may be hiding deep inside. Never touch, chase or hover over a sea turtle. Not only is it against the law, it is also cruel and dangerous for them. They need to be able to eat without being harrassed, and they need to feel free to surface for air without anything in their way. And, just for your own protection, never handle a turtle, not even a baby turtle unless you absolutely have no other choice ( and there are very few situations where you have no choice). Again against the law, but, also, they carry salmonella. If you touch your face, or handle food, utensils, cups, glasses, etc, you can easily end up with a nasty case of stomach distress that will destroy your vacation and can land you in the hospital. That means, watch your children, too.
that's all I can think of. Hopefully other hotels and resorts will be reviewed. I'd be interested in the experiences at other locations. It might just happen that ABBWR is booked when I want to visit the area, so, if you have a favorite place, let's hear about it.