Enjoyable beach vacation
Overall we had a wonderful experience, it had everything we needed for a week, and we would go back. The atmosphere is family friendly and laid-back, not a party scene. What follows is in-depth about our experience for those who like details. I have a few suggestions/complaints but they are very minor.
*Warm water, sandy, shallow areas, and lots of room on the beach
*It's a huge resort and I'm guessing not close to full, so there was room, food, service, towels, shows, transport, etc for everyone.
*The pools are very cold, much colder than the ocean. Hardly anyone was in them. This would be #2 on my improvement list.
*Drinks are generally good. Bartender skills/knowledge vary, but they are willing to take directions. They are not full strength at the all-inclusive price, but when you start drinking at 10 in the morning this is not a bad thing.
*There is a lot of variety at the buffet, and quality is always okay, occasionally a dish was very good. Labels for food were often missing, wrong, or in the wrong place. If I was to pick my #1 thing for the resort to improve this would be it. Very frustrating not to know what the food is or to have to ask all the time!
*Give yourself time to get around. The resort is big, and restaurants may be on the Coba side. There are various shuttles with different routes. A few maps exist with route names/numbers, but don't expect the shuttles to have those names/numbers on them. Ask the drivers.
*A la carte restaurants -keep your expectations low: Teppanyaki Japanese, Hindu Thali, and Le Gourmet were good. Tequila Mexican wasn't much different from the buffet Mexican. Maybe it's regional differences, but I enjoy the Mexican restaurants at home, and what I had at the Cancun airport, much more than the resort.
*Housekeeping cleanliness was good enough, but we had to ask specifically for some basic things like refilling as the tissue box, doors were not wiped, floors not wiped, and sheets were strangely not covering the foot of the bed.
*Some quirks like bathroom light sensors positioned so that they turn off either very quickly (room) or while you're still standing at a pew (lobby); many unlabelled light switches.
*Our bathroom was not a room, just slightly separated from the sleeping area. Toilet has its own stall, but the door is glass, and not quite mirrored enough. Ask questions about your room if you're not intimate with your roommates.
*The environment feels safe, but use the in-room safe, keep valuables secure, and don't flash wads of cash like a woman in front of me at the pool bar line up with a thick stack of USD.
*Shows: We enjoyed the Black Bird Beatles musical, and each of us liked at least parts of the Origen show. The Fiesta Mexicana was a pleasant surprise if you get into the spirit of it. Be prepared for limited food options and long lines. If you are a vegetarian or have other dietary requirements, it might be a plan to eat at the buffet before you go.
*Activities: we joined the bike tour a couple of times, with different leaders and it was a different experience. A nice way to get out and around. There seems to be a good variety of things to do but we didn't try anything else.
*Staff were almost all lovely and keen. Of course there are always a couple of people who are more bored or dialing it in. Knowing a few words of Spanish helps a lot. Most staff spoke and understood enough English, but sometimes it required talking to someone else. Some strange behaviours like asking us twice whether we wanted coffee but not actually bringing it.
*The BP app for information and registration is clunky and incomplete. For example, we registered for our shows, and it showed the location for some but not all. This would be my #3 area for improvement: an orientation, guidebook, information, communication, labels, signage, etc.
*The alignment between the resort and the tour agency and the transportation company was not very good. The resort could do more to provide information about available resources on site.
*People were generally well behaved, but there are those who smoke in crowds and lines, don't wash their hands after going to the bathroom, hold up their phones for long periods during shows, go ahead of others who have been waiting to take spots on the shuttles, think that we all want to listen to their music on the beach, etc. The resort could help by establishing, communicating, and gently enforcing norms.
*I had been to the BP Grand Akumal several years ago so I knew what to expect. If you just reduce your expectations a tiny bit you will have lots of room to be pleasantly surprised. I would call this 4 star by most standards, not 5.
*We had both been to the area before and were looking for a recharge so we didn't feel a need to leave the resort. There are some shops if you want souvenirs, and they seemed to be of good quality, but expect tourist prices.