Iberostar Selection Paraiso Maya - A Travel Agent's Unbiased Review - Part 1
My husband, two youngest children and I just returned from our first all-inclusive vacation AND our first trip to Mexico and man, oh man are we sad to be home.
To say we had fun is an understatement.
I'm going to preface this post by saying that while I had my travel agent hat on just a little bit, I mostly wore my mom and wife hat. So that means I didn't get all the photos and videos I would have and should have if this were a working vacation. At least I certainly enjoyed myself (which is what you should be doing on vacation, right?)!
Either way, this is the first of three blog posts where I break down my thoughts on the all-inclusive Iberostar Selection Paraiso Maya resort in Playa Paraiso, Mexico.
Stunning. Gorgeous. Lush. Tropical. These are pretty much all of the words that describe mine and my husband's thoughts as we entered the resort.
Paraiso Complex Breakdown
If you remember from some of my previous posts, the Iberostar Paraiso complex is composed of 5 resorts: Beach, Del Mar, Lindo, Maya, and Grand. Each resort is listed in it's tier within the complex.
The lowest tiers are the Beach and Del Mar, and they share all facilities including all restaurants and the pool is located in the middle of them. If you choose one of these two resorts, it's because of personal preference for room decor as there are essentially no other differences.
The Selection Paraiso Lindo sits opposite the Maya and these two resorts share a pool, wave pool, children's pirate ship water park, water slides, lazy river, beach facilities, and some bars and restaurants. However, exclusive to Maya guests only are a few restaurants, lobby bar, and the lobby coffee shop. Maya guests have access to everything at the Lindo, but Lindo guests do not have access to anything in the Maya lobby.
Finally there is the Grand, which is the adults only resort and they have access to all 4 resorts below it but none of the other Paraiso guests have access to the Grand. The Grand has their own pools, restaurants, bars, basically everything.
What Are the Differences?
Aside from price, each resort offers a different type of decor and vibe to it, but all with a Mexico touch. The Maya is themed after Mayan architecture complete with a replica of Chichen Itza, while the Lindo reminds me of a Tahitian village with touches of Mexican decor.
Here's a short video of the Lindo lobby walkway.
The Del Mar and Beach remind me of a lush, tropical jungle complete with flamingos, peacocks, and other exotic animals milling about. Some of these animals do make it over to the Lindo/Maya side as well. The Del Mar/Beach pool is pretty spectacular though, and tends to get a little rowdy (in a fun way) in the afternoon; however we did experience the same things on the Lindo/Maya side as well.
The Grand is sophisticated and elegant. I didn't get a chance to really look around, but it's a beautiful property with lush, manicured grounds, marble flooring, and modern artwork.
Maya rooms are all junior suites
Maya building have elevators
Maya/Lindo restaurants are all air conditioned
Del Mar/Beach restaurants are open air; no air conditioning
Del Mar/Beach guests have a limited number of a la carte restaurant reservations
Maya/Lindo guests have unlimited a la carte restaurant reservations
Pricing is less expensive and goes up in this order: Del Mar/Beach, Lindo, Maya, Grand
Our transfer provider dropped us off at the Maya lobby and we were immediately greeted, had our temperatures taken, and were ushered to a check in desk. We were given several options for room choices and wound up upgrading to a Junior Suite Superior on the 3rd floor with a pool view. Our room was right next to the main pool, a short walk to several restaurants offering lunch and dinner, and very close to the beach access walkway.
I highly recommend a 2nd or 3rd floor room. The resort is set around mangroves so I'd imagine the 1st floor rooms may get a bit muggy and/or buggy if you wanted to sit on the balcony.
Some people report that at this point, guests are ushered to a second concierge desk and pressured to participate in a presentation for the Iberostar Club. We did not experience this, but it could be because they knew I am a travel agent. We did visit the concierge desk to confirm our restaurant reservations for the next two nights.
Tip: You're able to make two restaurant reservations prior to arrival by emailing the Maya concierge the weekend prior to your arrival.
After visiting the concierge, we took a golf cart shuttle to our room and a bellhop brought our luggage in for us.
Some people say the rooms in this complex are a bit dated, but I found our room to be very large, clean, with authentic wooden decor. Some may consider the furniture a bit dated, but I found it comfortable. Many newer resorts are styled with modern and contemporary decor.
This is where I wish I had taken a room tour video!
Walking in, the main hallway is a dressing area with counter space featuring drinking glasses and a coffee machine on top, minibar fridge and a couple of shelves below, flanked by two large closets. We had MORE than enough space for my, my husband, and my two children's clothing, shoes, etc. This dressing space also had a full length mirror and a separate door to close the space off.
Tip: The dressing area counter also has two large glass refillable water bottles. There are UV sanitized water filling stations throughout each building.
On the opposite wall was a doorway to the bathroom, which was huge! The bathroom had a walk in shower and toilet to the left, a massive jacuzzi tub to the right, and double sinks in the middle.
Tip: My kids (ages 5 & 7) loved to get their evening bath in the jacuzzi tub while my husband and I showered.
Going back into the hallway/dressing area was a doorway to the bedroom, another huge space. We were given a double bed room (they also offer King) but wound up having our two beds pushed together. Opposite the beds was the TV on top of a stand with additional shelving and drawers. Next to the TV was a built in luggage rack to the right, and a suit hanger to the left.
Continuing into the room, you'll step down into a separate living room space with desk, sofa, and chairs.
Tip: We chose to have our two young children (5 & 7) sleep on the pull out sofa in this room and they were very comfy here.
Also in this space was a large sliding glass door to the balcony with two chairs, small side table, swinging hammock chair, and pull out bathing suit drying rack (so clever!). My kids loved the hammock chair and the balcony was big enough to keep our 4 pool floats out there without a problem.
Pools & Water Features
AquaFun: Pirate Ship Water Park
Our first day we never even made it to the beach! We took the kids to the children's water park, which is a giant pirate ship water playground with small slides, built in water guns, spray features, and a bucket that fills up with water and dumps it everywhere every few minutes...and more. Online pictures didn't quite do this section justice; it's so much bigger in person!
AquaFun: Water Slides
Next to the pirate ship are the new water slides, completed in early 2021. There are four mat racing slides that unfortunately weren't operating at the time, and three body slides: a drop slide, fully enclosed tube slide, and open tube slide. You'll need to be at least 4' tall to ride these slides and my kids weren't quite big enough. However my husband and I had a blast on these slides!
We moved on to the wave pool, which is so much fun! This wave pool is great for small children as it is zero entry and for about 30-45 minutes each hour, it is flat. But once you hear the siren, typically on the hour, the wave pool starts up with continuous waves that are just a ton of fun to float over or jump. Luckily, this pool is shallow enough that my 5 year old could easily stand and play in almost the deepest sections.
On the other side of the Wave Pool lies the main pool, and long, flowing pool with two quieter sections, and one fun, louder, party zone dubbed the activity pool. Some people complain about having a hard time finding loungers, but we never seemed to have an issue finding any when we needed them.
In the main activity section of the pool is where the entertainment staff gets fun games going, like their crazy game, volleyball, water polo, etc. Twice a day, everyday the staff has some kind of crazy, fun, and silly game that my husband and I participated in more than once. Be sure to join in and have fun!
This is also where the swim up bar is located and they make excellent drinks. The bar is in a grotto-like location, which is a lot of fun. The bar and activity pool definitely start to liven up around 4pm and later.
Tip #1: BYO pool floats and have the towel hut blow them up for you for free!
Tip #2: BYO insulated cups and straws and the bar staff will fill them with your drink of choice.
Tip #3: The main pool is quite deep at 4.3 feet and my kids had to tread water or use a float to hang out here.
The beach is just beautiful, but in my opinion, what beach isn't? You'll take a short walk on a wooden pathway through the mangroves to get to the white sandy and wide beach. There are tons of loungers under palapas, which I love. If you remember my blog post about the Aruba Marriott, my biggest annoyance was the palapa reservation system. That doesn't exist here as it is first come, first served, and of course included in your resort stay.
Located behind the loungers and palapas are a few massage pavilions where you can get a beachside massage, beach bar, and snack bar. The beach bar is full service and offers beachside chair service, which is excellent.
Tip: Be sure to tip your beach server. Ours was amazing and she started bringing us drink refills before we even asked for them!
The snack bar offers quick snacks, perfect for a day at the beach. They offer things like hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, nachos, soft serve ice cream, cold sandwiches, salads, and fruit.
Tip #1: Next to the snack shack, everyday around 1pm, the chefs make fresh-made paella, a little bit different each day. It is not to miss!
Tip #2: The local members of the raccoon family, coati, are mischievous and cute little creatures but DO. NOT. FEED. THEM. They are scavengers and will get into the trash cans and take food from your bags so just be aware!
In part 2 of my Iberostar Selection Paraiso Maya resort review post series, I'll cover the spa, fitness center, golf club, and Star Camp so don't miss it!