Royal Treatment 3-31-2006

At Royal Porto, the only stress is what to eat next

By: Stephanie Stephens

To me, being on vacation means not having to make any decisions, but surfing the plethora of selections at the breakfast buffet was enough to make my hungry head spin. This was the second big decision of my morning in Spice restaurant at the Royal Porto Real Playa del Carmen Resort & Spa. I had to get tough, with choices like smoked salmon, waffles, a dozen different cheeses, authentic chliaquiles and quesadillas tempting me while chefs sent omelets up, over and back into the frying pan, still fluffy and intact.

The artfully presented food selections take center stage at this all-suite property, which has adopted the user-friendly “all-inclusive” designation catching on rapidly in the Riviera Maya. At Real Resorts’ newest addition, clients can choose from four specialty restaurants, the 24-hour Club or room service, which is always open. The hotel has six bars and lounges, including a Tequileria and a Cigar Bar.

One restaurant, Maria-Marie, serves up Mexican-French fusion cuisine. Asiana presents sushi, sashimi and teriyaki, while Pelicanos, located on the beach, cooks up Caribbean-fusion. Liquor including a wide variety of tequilas house wines and beer are all part of the deal. The sommelier is amiable and very knowledgeable, should serious oeno-philes desire a different, additional-cost vintage.

The hotel staff aims to please, although as expected, not everyone understands on the first try. Clients will, however, hear “It is my pleasure to serve you” frequently.

Clients will also notice the special touches that went into two years of planning this 315-suite hotel.

Mexican architect Jokin Luisa Donnay designed the resort, an eye-pleasing and distinctive environment of modern and classical Mexico. Everything was especially made for the hotel most by local artisans including art, furniture and sculptures like the intriguing folkloric characters outside. Floors of stone and marble, walls, ceilings and decorative lighting all make a consistent statement, whether in a public area or a suite with a hammock outside. Murals, columns and hand-painted mirrors meld with a multitude of textures throughout the facility.

The resort is located adjacent to a pier where the ferry docks, and Hurricane Wilma actually widened the already powdery white beach there. Besides relaxing at the two pools, sports enthusiasts can windsurf, sail or snorkel lessons are complimentary.

Shoppers will delight over Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue, right outside the door.

Clients should treat themselves to at least one treatment in SPAzul. The spa is complete with Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and plunge pool. Clients can also let go with a traditional temazcal.

The health-conscious hotel also has one of the

only hyperbaric oxygenation chambers in Mexico, and no, Michael Jackson hasn’t used it yet, but you can.


Hits: Large in-room Jacuzzi tubs; a physician on site.

Misses: The hotel has its own power supply, which occasionally falters.

Be Aware: The 307 ocean-view Royal Junior suites with private terraces require guests to be on the terrace to view the ocean. Suites face the courtyard (pools) or the avenue.

Plugging In: Many rooms have wireless Internet at no charge. Computers in the business center are coin-operated.

Clientele: Couples, honeymooners, business travelers and families

Rates: $180-$604 per person

Commission: 12 percent on rack rates; 15 percent on special packages

Royal Porto Playa del Carmen Resort & Spa