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Reviews (14,598)
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7,127 - 7,132 of 14,598 reviews
Reviewed 24 April 2004

Okay, another Gala review so I'll try and be succinct! My husband, myself and two sons aged 6 and 9 travelled from the UK to spend 14 nights at the Gala from April 5th to 19th. It was our first visit to Playa. We have previously stayed AI at 4 other Caribbean resorts (Iberostar Bavaro and Sunscape in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and hotels in Antigua and Barbados) in addition to a further 5 AI hotels around the Mediterranean.
I selected the Gala pretty much solely on the basis of the Kids Club program and in this respect we were not disappointed. Both our boys are confident, outgoing and love to make friends and participate in organised games and activities. They also enjoy being allowed a degree of independence and 'freedom'. Consequently they loved the Club, it was hard to keep them out of it to be honest. Although they fell into different age groups for activities (4-7 years and 8-12) the staff were very flexible about allowing the kids to move from one age group to another dependent upon which activity they wished to do and also so that my sons could stay together if they wished. Both the boys enjoyed the two pools within the Kids Club complex which each had a slide. Occasionally the children asked to have dinner in the Club and we would drop them at 6pm for a couple of hours whilst my husband and I had a meal together. A real treat! Now I've probably given the impression that we dumped the kids in the club for the entire holiday LOL. Of course not! However, without a doubt, the Kids Program was appreciated by all of us.

We stayed in a Hacienda Suite which I thoroughly recommend. Our Hacienda section was second furthest from the main hotel and truly the distance was not an issue. I have read so many negative comments about the walk from the Haciendas to the pool etc but I can really only see this being an issue if you have young children aged perhaps 3 or 4 or if a member of your party has mobility problems. We didn't think twice about walking to and from our room several times a day and it was never once a struggle even in the hottest part of the day. I would, however, recommend requesting a Hacienda away from the road (Gala driveway) which was suprisingly busy. We were occasionally disturbed in the early morning by lorries and coaches. Also some of the Hacienda sections now have hammocks and hot tubs so you might wish to ask for a suite with these additional amenities. The suite was clean, water pressure variable but, yes, there was often a damp smell to the bedding especially if the air conditioning was off. The TV does not have any Kids Channels in English which was a little suprising considering the hotel caters to families the majority of whom seem to be be English speaking. This was not particularly an issue for us but if we had been travelling with younger children it may have been a disappointment. The Hacienda pool was popular with our kids and others. The boys made use of it most evenings when we got back to our room about 5pm.

On the subject of pools I was suprised to find that the Hacienda pools, the main pool and the adult pool are ALL 1.25 metres deep. My 6 year old could not touch the bottom. This was a problem for the first couple of days because although he can swim, he has never used a pool where he is out of his depth before. The baby/toddler pool did not meet his needs obviously and, with the exception of the steps and ledge around the main pool and the Hacienda pools, there was really nowhere he could swim safely. For obvious reasons he did not want to wear a float or arm bands. Fortunately for us he gained more confidence by the day and a little way into the holiday he was swimming freely and fearlessly in the main pool. However for anyone travelling with a 5 or 6 year old who has just learned to swim beware that they will not be able to touch the bottom of the pool.

Bikes: the hotel has bikes available to borrow for a maximum of two hours. Please be advised that, contrary to my personal expectations, there are no bikes for children.

Food: We ate twice in the Italian restaurant which was good but otherwise used the buffet every evening. My husband and I were pleasantly suprised with the quality and variety of buffet food available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I certainly rated it higher, for example, than at the Iberostar we stayed in at Punta Cana. The queue for made to order pasta was a pain but if I couldn't be bothered to queue there was plently of other choice. We did not get sick and believe me both my husband and I were really sick at both the hotels we stayed at in the DR.

Trips: We hired a car from reception and visited Coba. The kids enjoyed the bikes and climbing the pyramid. I did not enjoy them climbing the pyramid! It's very high and the descent is scary. We also went to Xcaret which was great but tiring for my younger son. My husband took my older son back in the evening to watch the show which they both enjoyed. I booked tickets for Xcaret from home via the internet. We spent the best part of another day at el Tamarindo Family Park in Playacar which is a small, newly opened waterpark with additional attractions including trampoline with bungee, zip line, mini golf, video games, climbing wall and restaurant. The other trip we took was by ferry to Cozumel. Boy! Was that a mistake. The ferry ride was so rough. We had only just left the dock at Playa and the ferry was bouncing across the waves. My younger son thought it was hysterical "Oooh Mum we're flying". However, he was the only one amused. My older son clutched his tummy for about 10 minutes then stumbled and lurched to the bathroom where he remained for the rest of the journey. He was so sick poor guy. Both my husband and I (and I guess all the other passengers) barely managed to retain our lunches. When we got to Cozumel I think the only thing on our minds was having to face the return journey. This was not a succesful trip for us and I would counsel you not to pick a windy day if you plan to visit Cozumel.

Not wishing to end on a negative I would just like to reiterrate that I thoroughly recommend the Gala if you are vacationing with children. Personally I would not stay there otherwise. One other minor gripe would be the queue at the pool bar often. Several times my husband or I had a wait of 10 minutes. The hotel was fully booked during our stay and I felt that there needed to be two members of staff serving drinks at the pool bar. The waiter/waitress service around the main pool and adult pool is intermittent but very welcome.

In summary, the beach IS spectacular, the sea IS an amazing shade of clear turquoise, the staff were, without exception, lovely and we DID have the most amazing and memorable family holiday. I would definitely return to the Playa region (shame it's a 10.5 hour flight for us) and to the Gala, although there are so many other beautiful places in the world I want to get to .... sigh! A privilege to have been though.

6  Thank jigglypuff
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Virginia Beach, VA
11
Reviewed 20 April 2004

My husband and I just returned from a one week stay at the Gala Resort (April 10-17). My sister, her husband and their 2 children went as well. My sister and I both felt the lobby was a little unimpressive, and our rooms were average. Then again, we go to Disney several times a year and you cannot compare the two. After being there for about an hour, we started to get a feel for the resort and it was GREAT!! The staff was incredibly friendly and accomodating. The beach is very pretty, although the water was kinda rough the first couple of days.
The pool area is clean, as well as the restaurants and buffet areas. We all thought the food was very good with lots of choices to satisfy the kids and adults. Some all-inclusives have set times for meals, but you could literally eat around the clock here. Our rooms were kept immaculate and the turndown service every evening is a nice touch. I have read several complaints, and to be honest, I can't find a single thing to complain about. My 5 year old niece loved the "Kid's Club".
She got up every morning and checked out the activities she wanted to do for the day. It was as relaxing as you wanted it to be, but with plenty of choices for entertainment. I would highly recommend this resort for families and couples. I think alot of people set their expectations so high (Disney-style), that they don't realize what a gem this resort is. I would go back in a heatbeat!!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
Elizabeth, NJ
11
Reviewed 17 April 2004

I just got back from the best vacation. My husband son and myself enjoyed a wonderful week at the Gala Resort Playacar. We were there from April 10th-17th. We stayed in a hacienda which I feel is the best choice when you have children. The hacienda section is just outside of the main hotel. Each hacienda consists of ten units which share a pretty decent size pool. Some even have a jaccuzzi and hammocks. Our hacienda was the 6 section, and it took less than five minutes to walk from our room to the lobby. Our room had 2 full size beds a decent size bathroom and a small sitting area consisting of a love seat, 2 chairs and a large sized coffee table. The beds are hard, however the three of us slept well each night. The grounds were beautiful and well kept.
They would come to skim our pool, sweep around the pool and tidy up the chairs at least 3 times a day. The wait staff was the best. There are only 4 restaurants, Only 2 are opened as buffet for breakfast and lunch. In the evening 3 become a-la-cart and the Festival Lounge remains buffet for Dinner. The buffet dinner was OK, but it is tough eating the same types of food day after day. We ate dinner once at the Italian restaurant which was good and three times at the Mexican restaurant which was excellent. Our waiter's name was Daniel and he was the best of the best. The drinks were great, they were made on the light side, however if you wanted them stronger all you had to do was ask. The sports and entertainment group was awesome. They are such high energy fun people to be around. They work endlessly each day providing activities for children and adults and at night they provided some of the most enjoyable evening entertainment. They were exceptionally popular with the kids, because they were constantly joking and bantering with them. My son enjoyed many activities with them. We did not use the kid's club because we wanted our family vacation to be just that, however I heard many parents and children speak highly of it. We mostly satyed in the resort area with the exception of some great shopping at 5th Avenue. My husband and son also did the half day ATV tour at La Ouma Bonita, which they thought was OK. They were supposed to be back at the resort by 12:30 pm, but because of some transportation problems, they had to wait around and did not return until almost 3:00 pm. This was a little frustrating. We had the best time and were sad to leave such a friendly atmosphere. I plan on calling my travel agent on Monday!!!! I hope this has been helpful and welcome any questions you may have.

1  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 April 2004

My husband and I just got back from the Gala. We had a blast! I don't know what the other people were talking about who didn't like it. We had no problems at all. It is true about the beds being mattresses on cement slabs but we slept great.The grounds are lush, beautifull, and perfectly clean. The wait staff does everything they can for you. We took side snorkeling, fishing, and horse riding trips, all were wonderfull. The food was great. We ate at all 4 places. 1 night they ran out of some flavors of ice cream, no biggie.I fell in love with their grilled fish at lunch and the gucamole.(SP) I just couldn't recomend this place enough. For the money, your family will have a blast. We didn't bring our kids, but we really enjoyed the family atmosphere, as we are not partiers. If you are booked, look forward to one great time!

  • Stayed: March 2004
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank greenirish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
A TripAdvisor Member
boulder, Colorado
1
Reviewed 4 April 2004

This is one of only two resorts in the area that will let you take more than 2 kids w/o buying an additional room. I believe the other is the Bahia Principe (sp?). The Gala is located in Playacar, an exclusive golf, resort and condo community just south of Playa del Carmen. The community is clean and safe - great for walking or jogging off the food and drink. The Gala is nothing special. The beds are the hardest I have ever slept upon. The rooms are small including the jr. suite we stayed in. The landscaping and architecture are bland and the food is even worse. However, once I overcame my hotel snob attitude I had a great time. The jr. suites were located away from the beach at the entry (a big disappointment at first). However, this quickly turned out to be great because you could get the kids away from the beach and noise for a quiet nap which is always needed by all before the evenings festivities. The buffet restaurants are generally awful with the exception of breakfast. That is just the way a buffet goes I guess. The Italian restaurant is very average but the Mexican restaurant had good flavors and the best drinks at the resort. The kids LOVED the free evening shows and I even enjoyed them quite a bit. The beach is really great but it is hard to go wrong in Playa. The pool was small but fun.
If you go be sure to get out with your towels or "stuff" to save chairs by 8:00am or you may find a good seat difficult. Don't miss 5th Avenue downtown Playa. Too many people hunker down at the resorts and miss the best part of Playa. 5th Ave offers fun shopping, GREAT food and drink, fun bars (if you like bar hopping). It is safe to eat and drink and walk around even with the kids. You could spend all week eating out there and not even get to all the restaurants on one block. You can walk there but it will take 20 minutes or by cab it is $4. I am glad we stayed here but would probably try something different next time just because the facilities were so average.

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