All Inclusive Resort in Tulum: My Grand Bahia Principe Tulum Review
This post was most recently updated on December 12th, 2018
I just returned from my trip to Grand Bahia Principe, an all inclusive resort in Tulum, Mexico. The trip was a complete recharge and so fun. Read on if you’re considering a vacation to the Mexican Riviera.
Best part of an all-inclusive resort? You don’t have to worry about much. It’s the perfect way to unwind. I love not having to remember things or take care of anyone. Wandering around and exploring. Going on day trips to ruins, cenotes and adventure parks. Swimming in the ocean and more.
We had a group of 10 – my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. This was my second time in Mexico, I last went to the Yucatan with my parents when I was 16. Things have changed. It’s a lot more crowded and expensive but it’s still beautiful, tropical and 80 degrees or higher when it’s freezing at home. That alone is wonderful. I also love being surrounded with the jungle and seeing wildlife.
Mexico is not as safe as it was – still I felt safe at the resort (though I didn’t do anything risky and either carried or locked up valuables in my room safe). I didn’t go into town alone ever and while I might during the day it gets dark early and I’d have to feel confident enough to do that, which I didn’t. A resort has people from all over the world and I always felt really safe there.
All Inclusive Resort in Tulum
What’s included in this All Inclusive Resort?
This may be basic but for this trip we paid one price (an incredible $1200) for days which included all of the following:
- Roundtrip airfare nonstop from Salt Lake City Utah to Cancun, Mexico. It takes about 4.5 hours and we picked one that left around 9am and got in around 4pm on Delta. Perfect!
- Transportation to/from the airport in a van.
- Hotel room for 5 nights.
- Discounts on excursions.
- All your food and drink. Your wristband works at any of their resorts (there are several nearby).
- Golf cart rides around the resort.
- Nightly entertainment and activities like kayaking and paddle boarding (see below for details).
- Swimming pools.
It obviously didn’t include tips (bring a lot of $1 bills), shopping (some shops don’t accept credit card), the spa or other extras. I spent another $500 or more on those. I felt like I saved so much on everything that I could spend more elsewhere.
This is called a 5-star resort, but I’d say it’s more like 3.5 or 4 but I’m comparing it to something like the Aria in Vegas. However, the staff is so friendly. My room was clean and spacious. There are just little details that aren’t there, like a sense of urgency, communication and consistency. They did leave chocolate covered strawberries and apple different nights. I would’ve liked the staff to explain more at check-in. If it was truly a 5-star you’d pay much more than this…
When you want to eat, you go to the buffet. It’s open most of the time. There’s a HUGE variety of food to choose from. It’s not 5-star restaurant but it’s fast and so much variety there’s something for everyone. Pretty much I ate white fish, guacamole, limes and Mexican food at every meal. Also, fresh fruit and fruit salads. And there’s always bread, cheese, fruit juices like watermelon, lemon (fresh made lemonade), pineapple and orange.
The yogurt with different grains you could sprinkle on top was another favorite for breakfast. Still the smell is a little funky (I got used to it) and you should steer away from things like hamburgers if you expect them to taste like home. But the fries were good.
The medium rare steak at Taqueria was the best from a restaurant but the salmon from the Mediterranean restaurant was good too.
They bring you drinks too, soft drinks, a flaming Mexican coffee you should experience if you drink coffee. Or, if you drink alcohol, there’s wine, pina coladas, daiquiris (virgin available too).
There’s a kid’s area that’s fun with kid friendly sandwiches and food.
There are also snack bars by the beach and pools. What they really mean is there are smaller buffets that you can eat at. If you want to eat at their restaurants (they are buffets you can eat at during the day but you have to get reservations for dinner) you need to make a reservation your first day. They fill up fast. And they’re pretty good depending on what you get. Just plan on spending about 2 hours because no one is in a hurry! It’s ok, we’re on vacation. I stayed at an all-inclusive in Costa Rica and the restaurants weren’t that great but at this resort they were better than the buffet.
The desert look tasty but didn’t taste great to me, not even the flan 🙁 but the coconut and chocolate ice cream was delicious. One night they had chocolate sauce I could drink by the cup it was so good.
Activities on Resort
On resort there are free shows every night. They are of varying quality. My aunt LOVED the Michael Jackson lip sync show. Me, not so much. I liked the Mayan show (incredible costumes and dances) and the Caribbean show which was all dancing. There’s karaoke sometimes at the bar or a mariachi band. Across from the entrance to the resort they have shopping and a town square place where there are concerts but they usually start at 11pm – too late for me!
Tennis courts. Guided bike rides. Spanish class. Exercise class and more. You should get a paper in your room each day telling you what is happening around the resort.
You can also check out snorkel gear, kayaks and paddleboards for free. It may not be amazing snorkeling but like I said, it’s free. However, I made a big mistake and waited until the last 2 days to try out the kayaking and paddleboarding. There’s a flag flying and if it’s red it means they’re closed down. That’s what happened – it was too windy and I never got the chance. Wish I’d gone on the second day I was there when the weather was better!
I still had fun swimming in the ocean. The wind made for great waves and I just floated in a life vest (yes you should bring one from home). I wish I’d brought a bodyboard and watched this video on how to bodyboard before I left.
There are 2 beaches – they have lounge chairs set up on the white sand. Some people complain about the seaweed but it wasn’t a big issue when we were there. The staff rake it up and it’s in small piles by the shore. It sounds like it’s unpredictable and can get bad sometimes.
They have a dolphin pool that I didn’t see but some people weren’t complimentary about it which dampened my enthusiasm to go.
Temperatures were in the 80s or mid-70s the whole time and I went in late November.
In a future post I’ll write about the trips we took off resort.
If you’re travelling with kids, there are activities all day, a water slide area and they even had a party with bounce houses one night we were there.
Here are the day’s activities:
The rooms are large with a couch, balcony and sitting area. There’s a flat screen TV, a refrigerator you can use, a safe with a key for valuables, 2 bathrobes, extra towels and phones. There is a single plug near the nightstand, otherwise there aren’t a lot of plugs and that’s the only one close to the bed. They leave you shampoo, conditioner, soap, shower cap, and a toothpaste/toothbrush. There’s a phone.
Your room fridge is stocked with Coke, Sprite, beer, chips and candy bars. Large bottles of water are left for you to use (even when brushing your teeth) and there’s a coffee maker. No one drinks tap water – it’s not sanitary enough.
They have free internet in the lobby, but it was elusive. I paid $9 for 2 weeks (even though I was only there a week that’s the only offer). If you have Verizon, you can sign up for a plan before you go so it’s just $5 a day to get the same data and talk plan you have at home. It lasts 24 hours from the time you activate it and resets the next time you use it again. So a very good deal.
There’s a large gym with modern equipment like weight machines, treadmills, ellipticals and exercise balls. I walked so much I didn’t go in but if you are the type that needs to hit the gym every day, you’re covered.
This is more of a massage place but it has lockers, robe and basic slippers. There aren’t a lot of amenities (no spa, sauna/steam room, shampoo, hairspray, etc). It’s small but pleasantly decorated. I got an hour Mayan massage which was about $125 which is expensive. It was good but not incredible. I’m not really sure what makes it Mayan – the passion fruit massage oil? I felt like more people would visit if they dropped the price during slow season. They seemed to have a tough time getting clients. Why do you need a massage when you’re on vacation? Because it speeds up your unwinding.
Buy and wear a Mexican style shirt or dress right away. It helps me feel part of things. For the hand embroidered shirts it was about $40 and $20 for a machine embroidered shirt.
I scheduled something off resort every other day, I’ll talk about the places we went in a future post, along with a packing list so you don’t forget anything for your trip.
On my off days I went to the beach, read and enjoyed no responsibilities. I like staying up late and sleeping late every day.