Having never visited an Iberostar, I was excited to see what our stay would be like at this family-friendly, budget-conscious resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We were definitely ready for some fun in the sun, Mexico-style!
Check-in: Our first impression of the Lindo was a positive one - the entrance was pretty and the resort grounds appeared to be nicely maintained. The lobby featured an interesting decorating scheme (not quite sure how to describe) that we thought could use some updating. The staff was generally polite and helpful during the check-in process, but we were not overwhelmed by hospitality as we have been at other resorts. We were overwhelmed, however, by the amount of information presented to us during check-in: times we could eat, which restaurants are open when, how to get around the resort, etc. We left feeling completely confused and wanting to consult and study the map of the property so we had any idea of which direction to go. The staff attached the resort-issued wristbands to our arms (yuck) and we were on our way.
Property: The grounds of the complex are well-cared for with lush landscaping and a tropical feel, but be warned - this is a large property and getting your bearings and moving from place to place takes some effort. As a girl who normally strictly wears tennis shoes for exercise, I took to wearing them everywhere while staying at the Lindo...and I am fit and enjoy walking. Resort size (and no elevators) could present serious problems for guests with mobility issues. (This is why working with a travel agent is very helpful! We are great for this sort of thing!) Getting anywhere on the grounds felt like an event in itself. Acquaint yourself with a map and familiarize yourself with your room in location to dining, the pools, the beach, etc.
All of the resorts in the complex share a common shopping, dining, and entertainment area near the front of the grounds that is really nice for sitting and relaxing, grabbing some tacos or an ice cream cone, sipping coffee, or listening to live music. Free wifi is available in this area as well (the only other free wi-fi is in the lobby).
The room: The rooms at the Lindo are simple but clean and are decorated with a traditional Mexican theme in neutrals and purples. There was no wow factor, but we had everything we needed for our stay. Unfortunately, the bed and pillows were horrifically uncomfortable - it was one of the worst resort beds I have encountered and we did not sleep well for our two nights at the resort. The resort buildings have nice courtyards with fountains and foliage that add to the overall ambiance.
The food: Our dining experience at the resort is strictly limited to buffet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners because arranging restaurant reservations proved nearly impossible. Even though our first stop after checking in was with our concierge to make dinner reservations for our stay, we were told that no dining times were available at any restaurant for our first night at the resort. For our second night, we learned we could take advantage of one dining time at one specific restaurant. There was, quite literally, no flexibility with dinner...we found this incredibly frustrating and to be a glaring negative for the resort. I will admit that I am not a fan of all-inclusive resorts that require dinner reservations, and this further cemented that feeling.
The buffet food at the main area was good, and we were fine with our options. We were not blown away by quality, but we were content with our meals. Iberostar is a European company, so lunch is not served until 1:00pm and dinner is also served later, which could be troublesome for the early-risers and families with young children. The buffet near the pool was quite terrible - it was extremely hot inside with the waitstaff sweating profusely and food that didn't seem to be maintained at proper temperatures. We had dined here upon first arriving at the resort (not knowing it wasn't the main buffet) and were really turned off. We did not set foot in that buffet again.
Entertainment: The quality of entertainment at the Iberostar complex is where this resort really shines. It is a fun and playful resort with staff members who are enthusiastic about getting guests involved with various activities on the beach and in the pool area...and guests really seemed to be enjoying themselves. The evening shows were fantastic and well-produced with talented singers and dancers. If you can tolerate the "EZ Bake Oven" feel of the theater, enjoy! We were having a great time at the disco-themed show we saw, but the sweltering heat and biting bugs inside the theater drove us to our room early. As someone who is not always impressed by the quality of performances at all-inclusive resorts, I have to admit it was a great time.
Health and fitness: The gym was rather small for such a large complex, and my husband said the equipment was dated. The air conditioning was not very powerful in the fitness center, which could make for a rather unpleasant workout. My husband used it during our stay, but I was scared off by the warmth of the room. As mentioned, the resort is huge and fine for jogging, as is the beach. The entertainment staff provides various fitness classes and activities for guests as well.
Service: The service and overall attitude of the staff was spotty - some staff members were kind and helpful while others wore scowls and seemed unhappy in their jobs.
Pools and beaches: The pool area is very large, but the water was always a lukewarm temperature and not very refreshing in the blazing heat of July. In addition to the more traditional pool area, the resort also has a sports pool, a small wave pool, and a lazy river - just make sure to pack your own tubes because they are extremely expensive to buy on site. Trying to find seating was one of the absolute worst aspects of our stay at Paraiso Lindo because the reservation of chairs with a towel or a flip flop ("not permitted") was rampant and staff did nothing to correct the problem. It was the worst I have seen at any all-inclusive resort, and we spent a great deal of time walking laps around the gigantic pool trying to find anywhere to sit and relax. We were accused twice of stealing clearly vacant chairs from other guests, which also added to our pool-going experience. It should also be noted that most chairs are in the shade.
The towel system here is an exchange system of towel cards and towels, with hefty fees being imposed on guests if the borrowed towels are not properly returned. This resulted in many instances of towel theft before our very eyes - including guests who tried to steal towels from our clearly in-use chairs (we were in the pool right in front of them) so they wouldn't be charged. This entire system is awful and made us angry.
Bar service is very slow at the pool, but I can't blame the staff completely for this one...they have a long way to walk from chairs to the bar.
Also important to note - a walkway through the jungle is required to access the beach, and you cannot see the beach from the resort or pool areas.
The whole pool/towel situation at this resort is truly, truly bad and really turned me off.
Pros: activities staff, entertainment, traditional Mexican feel, free wifi in lobby and shopping center, clean, lively and fun atmosphere, great beach, lazy river, can use the Del Mar resort as well (we thought their pool area was nicer although we didn't use it)
Cons: dinner reservations required but impossible to get, wristbands required throughout stay, towels and towel card exchange system, reserving pool chairs a HUGE problem, inconsistent service, awful beds and pillows
We made the most of our stay, but as soon as we were offered the summer upgrade special to the adults-only Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso Beach, we immediately made reservations to move. The Paraiso Lindo is not a bad resort by any means, but the negatives we experienced are nearly impossible to overcome, particularly when compared to other resorts we have stayed at. Our two nights here felt like a great deal of work on our part: too much effort to get from place to place, too much effort to try to get a dinner, too much effort to enjoy ourselves at the pool, etc. This is not the all-inclusive experience I dream of during the cold Cleveland winters, nor is it the desire of most of our clients. With some minor changes, I feel this resort could be really great, particularly for families.
While I receive discounted travel because of my profession, in no way does it affect my reviews of the travel experiences I have. My opinions are my own.
Check-in: We arrived at the resort and were greeted with champagne and water to enjoy while we waited to complete the check-in process. The staff at the desk were extremely business-like, and there was a sense of stress and urgency behind the counter. Everyone was friendly enough, but I wasn't overwhelmed by a welcoming warmth. Following check-in, we were escorted to our building by golf cart.
Property: I really love the grounds at Dreams Riviera Cancun because it is lush and tropical, nicely maintained by the landscapers, and the buildings dotted with plunge pools really contribute to a luxurious feel. (I have heard that this property was originally constructed to be a Secrets resort, but I am not certain of this claim's accuracy.) Many of the restaurants are located in the main building, with other offerings like CoCo Cafe and shops nearby. It is an easy resort to navigate and guests do not have to walk great distances to reach amenities.
Room: We were assigned to room 1235, a tropical view suite located in the building just to the left when exiting the main lobby area. We immediately loved the warm tones, colors, and woodwork that gave the room a nice tropical feel. The balcony, once the sun passed overhead, became our favorite spot to sit and enjoy the view while reading or relaxing. The bathrooms do not have a great deal of privacy, so this could be of concern when traveling with anyone other than a spouse or significant other - the tub is fully exposed and the shower and toilet areas are both enclosed with glass. We found the lighting in the bathroom area to be rather dim as well. Our mini-fridge had a nice stock of beverages.
Food: We found the food at the resort to be good and were appreciative of the many options; however, we definitely noticed a difference in dining experience after staying at a Secrets resort for three nights, which is to be expected. The decor of the restaurants was more simplistic, the seating was less intimate, and the food presentation wasn't as artistic, but we still felt that the food was of decent to very good quality. While staying on the property, we dined at Portofino, Himitsu, and El Patio, with our meal at Himitsu being our least favorite of the three.
I was very pleased with the breakfasts and lunches I enjoyed at the World Cafe buffet, and because so many of the stations were of the made-to-order variety, it allowed for a great deal of customization. We found many delicious items to enjoy, from sushi to personal pizzas to fajitas. The salad and fresh fruit bar were both wonderfully stocked. (A full plant-based/vegan dining review will be posted here.)
Himitsu becomes an adults-only breakfast buffet in the morning, which is a really pleasant way to start your day if you are traveling sans children as we were. It was quiet and relaxed with an affable staff we looked forward to seeing each day. Various breakfast items were served, although guests can also help themselves from the larger buffet in the World Café.
Entertainment: There were various activities available throughout the day with live music and assorted performances scheduled each evening. By our choosing, we did not participate in much while staying at the resort, and found the evening shows/options to be mediocre. One of the resort highlights not to be missed is bike ride/tour to the nearby little fishing town of Puerto Morelos - guests really enjoy this excursion, which is included with your stay.
Pools and beaches: Numerous pools of varying depths are perfect for swimmers of all ages, so the resort really caters to families looking to log many hours poolside. The most shallow pool is a mere few inches deep and is home to two Ping-Pong tables; this is separated by foot bridge from a pool of approximately two-feet which is perfect for toddlers and seated adults. There is also an activity pool with basketball hoops and water aerobics classes, and an infinity pool that features a swim-up bar and a great view of the Caribbean sea. Jacuzzi tubs (two) are located away from the main swimming area, which could be both a positive and a negative - the location offers more solitude for sure but visiting the Jacuzzi is more of an activity in itself, not something you do while at the pool. Pool chairs are extremely close together - uncomfortably so - and it feels like you are right on top of other guests. Drink service at the pool is very spotty. The beach area was clean and generally free of seaweed (this is a constant battle in Mexico) and the beds on the beach were extremely comfortable and usually available.
Service: We were not overly impressed with service as a whole at the resort due to a couple snafus we encountered. The first involved housekeeping failing to provide us with a properly made bed, or even adequate bedding; this resulted in a mattress half exposed (ew!) and a lengthy wait for someone to fix it late at night. The second was upon checking out and making arrangements with the bell staff to retrieve our luggage (we tried to bring it ourselves but we were told the resort would handle it) only to have help not show up in time for us to make our transfer to the airport. The pool drink service was very slow and we actually had a server take our order but never return. That being said, the staff in the restaurants was very friendly and attentive and we were quite pleased with our experiences there.
Pros: nice family resort with a tropical feel, adults-only breakfast area and adults-only French restaurant, fantastic lobby for relaxing, large pool area, nice beach that is good for walking, great balcony on our suite, plunge pool suites
Cons: restaurants are simple in design with tables close together, bathroom layout not ideal for some travelers and has dim lighting, chairs at pool extremely close together, pool/maid/bellhop service very spotty while we were there, bugs - we wore repellant religiously and still had lots of bites