PLAYA PARAISO, Mexico With each new all-inclusive resort opening,
Spain-based Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, now with 74 properties
(and counting) in 11 countries, redefines the art of the vacation
property with increasingly innovative architecture and services.
The 446-room Iberostar Paraiso Lindo, which opened in December
and is located a 15-minute drive north of Playa del Carmen along
the coast’s main Highway 307, embellishes many of the successful
elements of the company’s first resorts in the region, Tucan and
Quetzal, farther south toward Tulum, and its sister properties at
Paraiso, the Paraiso Del Mar and Paraiso Beach.
Iberostar’s method is to essentially build two resorts with an
elaborate pool system separating them. Plus, a guest from one
resort can visit a restaurant from the other, and vice versa.
Usually, the theater is shared as well, and guests from both
properties can attend the nightly shows.
Iberostar plans to add two more resorts at the Playa Paraiso
site the Iberostar Maya, a compact (for Iberostar) 82-suite number
that will be the sister of the Lindo, is set to open in the late
fall. The fifth Paraiso hotel, the Iberostar Palace, will, in the
language of local Iberostar officials, be even smaller and more
upscale than the Maya and is planned to open next year.
So, by 2005, Iberostar will have a total of eight hotels in the
Mexican Caribbean (including the resort across the causeway on
Iberostar’s plan is to make its Paraiso development into a
mini-city with all the accouterments. To that end, the company
opened a 15,000-square-foot convention center in December and is
constructing a championship Perry Dye 72-hole golf course across
the highway, set to open at the end of this year if the weather
cooperates. You may wonder why Iberostar is building so many rooms
in one location. The answer pretty much is because the demand
On a recent hosted visit, Lindo’s general manager Jesus Busque
happily said they were full. He attributes the success of the new
Iberostar Paraiso Lindo to the work of U.S. wholesalers Apple
Vacations and Funjet, both of which offer ample charter lift into
Cancun. Apple Vacations alone sends 50,000 clients to Iberostar’s
Riviera Maya properties annually.
The Paraiso Lindo is shorter in length than the neighboring Del
Mar and Beach properties, which means less walking to the theater
and restaurants that are near the lobby. It shares a decent beach
(although there’s a pretty good undertow in this area) with massage
and bar service as well as some ocean activities, such as
windsurfing and catamaran sailing, available.
What’s unique about this Iberostar resort is its architecture,
which blends elements of European, Caribbean and Mexican design
into a cohesive whole. Materials and colors reflect adobe and sky,
water and wood. Its lobby features a wood-painted replica of a
16th-century Spanish church altar. Fronting the theater are two
towers that curve upward like a musical note and are topped by
parallel wood beams.
Rooms are good size and feature excellent Mexican artwork on the
walls. Two double beds or a king are offered in the regular
category, and there are 62 junior suites and two presidential
suites. Standard amenities include cable television, air
conditioning and a ceiling fan, in-room safe, complimentary
minibar, coffee maker, Mexican tile floors and a balcony or patio.
Bathrooms come with separate shower and tub, hairdryer, lighted
cosmetic mirror and phone. Irons and ironing boards are also
Clients can nibble or feast on a variety of cuisines 24 hours a
day, including room service. The all-inclusive label here applies
to all food and drink, both alcoholic and non. Besides the
specialty restaurants a Southwest/ Cajun, gourmet, Italian, Asian
and steakhouse/fondue, all of which require advance reservations
another restaurant serves a buffet breakfast and lunch. Out at the
pool, a grill and snack bar is available during the day, as well as
an ice cream bar.
Food quality at our stay was above average, with the breakfast
buffet getting the top marks. Also good were the Southwest/Cajun
eatery and the fondue restaurant, which is great fun for the
There are also 10 bars and lounges our favorite being the lobby
bar with its tubular aquarium.
Shows at the theater run the gamut from traditional Mexican
fiestas to tributes to Hollywood hits (although the Michael Jackson
imitator needs a deep-sixing if you ask me). Kids can join the fun
at 8 p.m., while an adult version runs at 9:30 p.m.
Families are especially welcome at all Iberostars, and this
resort scores high with its version of Lucy’s Mini Club (other
Iberostar resorts have the same name and program). It’s available
from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for children 4-12.
Exercise and fitness buffs have tennis courts, a small but
functional exercise room with treadmills and other equipment and a
spa and beauty parlor.
The resort also boasts a few token shops, such as a sundry/gift
outlet and a jewelry store. For those who simply must be wired,
there’s also an Internet cafe.
Not included in the all-inclusive list are, obviously, phone
calls and laundry. Babysitting at an hourly rate is also extra.
But the swimming pools really make this place special. There are
five of them, scattered about and connected by “the lazy river,”
which is a slow-moving canal traversed by inner tube. The Lindo
also boasts the only wave pool on the Riviera Maya the waves vary
in size from gently lapping to tsunami.
And to top it off, the gentlemen and ladies, if they so desire
can retire to the Cigar Bar for a nice Cuban stogie and brandy.