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.