|The Sian Ka'an lobby at night. The open air design catches every breeze through the jungle.|
|This section of the beach had rocks, but was very quiet.|
|There's a cenote on the property next to Tao. In the upper right corner of the picture you can see one of the holes from the golf course. Miss the hole and - plink! - right into the cenote.|
|Mariachis at the Sian Ka'an pool.|
|The musicians for the Mayan show.|
|One of the Mayan dancers. Much of the staff at the resort is from the local area of Quintana Roo and many of them speak Mayan as their first language.|
|For obvious reasons, this is called the swing bar. If you are staying in the Akumal or Sian Ka'an sections, there is palapa service for drinks. They will bring drinks directly to you at your lounger on the beach.|
|We had a friendly archery match with some of the other guests. I tied for first.|
|Hacienda Dona Isabel is where the Thursday fiesta and lots of shopping are located.|
|There's also shopping at the Akumal Premier lobby.|
|If you want some beer other than the Dos XX the resort serves, go to the Corona bar in the Hacienda (extra cost). There's an added bonus that they show hockey games and other sporting events on their large projection TV.|
|Gorgeous Mexican artwork. I wanted to take them all home.|
|I don't usually see men performing Spanish web, but this was really awesome to see during the Beatles tribute show.|
|We also enjoyed making new friends from around the world and hanging out at the Akumal Premier lobby.|
|Fideo with seafood.|
|Cute little appetizer salads.|
|A variety of amuse bouche.|
|A fun sugar sculpture on the dessert bar.|
|The sushi was much better than I remember from previous visits.|
One night there was also a chocolate buffet in the Sian Ka'an lobby.
I didn't take pictures of the breakfast buffet, but there were all the standard items you expect for breakfast as well as a smoothie bar where you could get every kind of smoothie imaginable.
|Some of the fish seen while snorkeling at the resort.|
If you go, here are a few insider tips:
1. Remember the resort is located just south of Akumal, or about 2 hours south of Cancun (the closest recommended airport). You will have to arrange ground transportation when you book the hotel.
2. The majority of electrical plugs are the US standard 3 prong in the Sian Ka'an section. Some of the older sections still use the standard 2 prong plugs for Mexico. Be prepared for both and bring a power strip so that you can charge all your electronic devices.
3. Learn some Spanish. It's not required and most of the staff knows enough English to help guests out with just about everything. But learn a few words so that you can be friends. Hola, Buenos Dias, Adios, Muchas Gracias, etc. My Spanish is about grade school level and I got along just fine on and off the resort. I carried a phrase book to retrieve the missing pieces of my vocabulary. Be aware that if someone shouts "Cuidado!" or "Alto!" at you they're saying "Careful!" or "Stop!".
4. Tipping is not required but is encouraged. We saw many, many people not tipping and it was fine. We also saw many people tipping in both pesos and US dollars. Tipping, as in the US, helps establish a more personal relationship with a server. You can choose not to and will still get the same great level of service.
5. The Akumal Premier lobby is part of the Coba resort and all guests have access to it. It is also the best place to get a unique shot called a Mexican Guiness. It's made with amaretto and a host of other ingredients. When consumed as a shot it tastes a bit like a Guiness.
6. It's a very large resort, however the trolleys and golf carts are there to help you get around. Drivers pull the trolleys up to the lobbies and announce their destinations. If you don't hear them or aren't clear if they're going to where you want to go ask "Adonde va?" or say the name of your destination. They'll let you know.
7. The vast majority of guests are not from the U.S. And this is pretty darned cool. Make new friends and learn about other parts of the world.
8. If you develop an illness or a minor injury, there is a medical clinic and a pharmacy located in the Hacienda on property.
9. If you are mobility impaired, the hotel will work with you for transport around the resort. We saw a large variety of accommodations for a number of different challenges. When booking the resort please call to make sure arrangements will be possible.
10. Wifi is free at Sian Ka'an. You get 1 hour of free wifi in the lobbies of the other sections per day. The wifi improved from our previous visits.
Disclaimer: none of the above implies any sort of endorsement for Grand Bahia Principe or the Pinero Group of hotels. We had a good time and are sharing our experience via this blog.