by Candyce H. Stapen and Whitney Rife
The Iberostar Quetzal and its sister resort the adjacent Iberostar Tucan, share facilities, but have separate lobbies. Checking in at the Iberostar Quetzal, the ornate mirrors and carved furniture evoke colonial Mexico. Enter the Iberostar Tucan’s lobby and be greeted by statues of Maya gods and two real scarlet macaws.
Each resort offers rooms in two- and three-story buildings that reach from the dining areas in a line toward the pool and the ocean. Iberostar Quetzal has 350 rooms on one side of the property. The rooms at Tucan and Quetzal are nearly identical, varing only slightly in decor. The two resorts share the dining, entertainment and recreation areas as well as the children’s programs, beach and pools.
Guests pass through the onsite “jungle,” which is a patch of tropical gardens, while walking to the guestrooms. Seeing the pink flamingoes, toucans and monkeys that live among the shady trees is a bonus. The jungle is one of the Iberostar Quetzal’s defining characteristics in Playacar — a large development of hotels, resorts, townhomes and condominiums that contain the Iberostar properties.
Along with sandy beaches, Playacar offers easy access to Playa del Carmen, an open-air, pedestrian mall lined with boutiques, restaurants and cafes and clubs. In the Iberostar pyramid of family properties, Quetzal is at the base. The resort is a good choice, offering a great value, budget-stretching vacation with tropical scenery, a children’s program and a wide stretch of beach.
Our Editor Loves
- Good value all-inclusive resort
- Long, sandy beach
- Jungle interior with flamingoes, monkeys, toucans
- All Inclusive Rates
- Children Programs
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Pool
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Iberostar's rooms are pleasantly surprising and exceed expectations for a budget-oriented, all-inclusive resort. The decor's bright colors and Mexican touches evoke the Yucatan. Blue and white tiles form headboards, accenting the mustard hued walls. Beds are covered with yellow spreads adorned with a pattern of vines and flowers.
All rooms have a sofa that can double as a third bed. Although there's space for a crib or a cot, the room would be crowded. Rooms come with coffee makers and mini-fridges stocked with water and juices. Staff replenishes the items each day. Rooms are tidied once a day; there is no turndown service.
Suites add sitting areas and bathrobes and that much valued ocean view. From a regular room, you're likely to be looking at a garden or another building.
We have stayed at many Iberostar properties before and were confident Quetzal would offer the same quality of service and we were not disappointed.
At check in we were greeted by Missy with her warm and friendly smile.
Everyone there was great including Eduardo at the towel hut (ola do Brasil!) and the lady at the ice cream shop who knew my favorite was the passion fruit drink.
The beach in Playacar is beautiful, the water is so warm and crystal clear.
The food at the buffet was very good, with a great selection.
However, there were 2 negatives:
1) We were in block 12 and there was a lot of mosquito on the balcony. Our kids had many bites on their legs. We stayed at Iberostar Paraiso Lindo before and never had this problem.
2) I wanted to make sure I had enough pesos set aside to pay the environmental tax at checkout so I found out it was 140 pesos from 2 different employees at the lobby during my stay. However at checkout I was informed by a man that it was 150 pesos. I told him it should be 140. After a few minutes he told me it was indeed 140.
I am not sure if it was an honest mistake or intentional. Granted, it was a very small amount but if this happened to all the guests it could be significant. Had I not asked for the amount beforehand I would have paid 150 pesos without a question.
All in all, our family had a wonderful vacation and we will be back.
Reception: fiendly, efficient. Woman that will greet you claiming to be concierge is time share. Her desk is to right of check in. If you need ssistance gusest services is to the left of check in area.
Rooms: Really need soe attention. We had small leak from bathroom ceiling, bathroom sink faucet becoming detached,face pad (displaying numbers) faded out to where you had to gueess numbers and functions. But absolutely cool and well stocked. Housekeeping service was prompt and did a good job.
Beach & Pool area: fine, no complaints. Be prepared for more beach vendors than ever before. They are relentless, but always friendly and never pushy.
Where this Iberostar loses us is the food service. It was way below IBEROSTAR standards. (IOO) Supply ( at any given time many food trays empty) Even early on food service times. The variety was strange, odd combinations of offerings and the temperature of breakfast foods was always off. Our group only ate at the buffets in the evening and beachside for breakfast and lunch. The service was always adequatge to very very good.
I think they are going to have to spiff it up a bit, way too much competition at all price levels out there.
Beach and Pools
The big draw is the large, free-form main pool. We are happy to note that poolside and along the beach there are many thatched palapas (umbrella-like awnings). With the resort not completely filled with guests, its easy to get a spot. However, with a full house it may be more difficult to snag a chaise lounge, so it may be wise to wake up early and steak out your poolside area. The beach, however, is an inviting, wide stretch of soft sand and a mild sea that offers calming, shallow waves.
One interesting hang-up is that each guest is allowed only one pool towel at a time. These, of course, may be switched out, but you can't get two with just one pool card. If you only need one towel, this isn't an issue.
Lucy's Club runs supervised activities for kids ages 4 to 12. The club takes place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The children's playroom displays colorful decorations in an open-air atmosphere. It's welcoming, with its yellow and blue picket fence. At the facility, kids whack pinatas, paint, create crafts and watch movies. Oftentimes, counselors take the children to splash in the one-foot deep, children's pool. The counselors speak both English and Spanish.
Each day the Star Friends (the resort's recreation and entertainment staff) plan activities, like water aerobics, yoga and beach games. Older teens may want to play volleyball, tennis, Ping-Pong or billiards. Quetzal does not offer specialized activities for teens, except occasionally during holidays when the teen count runs high. Kids can also play on the tennis courts or run relays on the beach.
The evenings bring live entertainment and musical concerts produced by the hotel staff. Shows take place in an open-air theater with a roof, marble floors and bamboo chairs with seatbacks and comfortable cushions. The 8 p.m. show is for families, while the 9:30 p.m. show is best for adults. At the edge of the dance floor, a semi-circle of children's chairs is a nice touch. After all, kids want to sit upfront and Iberostar invites them to do so.
For families the Riviera Maya offers an array of off-property outings and adventures. From Quetzal it's a short cab ride to Playa del Carmen, the shopping area. Shops along the pedestrian-only area, Avenida 5 sell silver jewelry, pottery, Mexican tablecloths, wall hangings and blankets. This is the place to find souvenirs for everyone in the family.
Xcaret is a must-see and situated near the resort. Try to avoid it on days when the cruise ships are in port, as Xcaret is a top shore tour. At Xcaret, an eco-adventure park, you can swim with dolphins, take a dip a natural pool. A variety of wildlife are waiting to meet you, including flamingos, jaguars, turtles and tapirs. Adventurous children will enjoy walking through a bat cave. In the evening the park hosts a demonstration of Pok-Ta-Pok, the ancient Mesoamerican ball game. The game displays players' traditional body paintings and ceremonial dress. Afterwards, there is often an entertaining folkloric show.
At Xplor, another eco-theme park, one admission gains you access to several adventures. Families can fly down zip lines, ride through muddy creeks or raft through an underground river. Lunch, though not as adventurous, is included in your ticket package.
Though you can eat whenever you want at Iberostar Tucan, the food is typically average. At breakfast, lunch and dinner, there are big buffets with a variety of hot and cold items. In addition, the resort has a handful of specialty restaurants. The number of specialty restaurants available for you to sample depends upon the number of nights you stay. With a seven-night reservation, you are guaranteed three specialty restaurants. When the resort is not busy, you can request to dine at more specialty restaurants than your reservations allow.
Typically, the cooked-to-order entrees taste the best at the buffet. Most lunches and dinners include salads, soup and an array of hot entrees. Pizza is often a favorite among the kids. Typically, there are at least one or two items that each family member likes. In addition, kids can eat hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos from the poolside carts from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and finish up with ice cream served at another cart.
El Bonsai, the most popular restaurant, offers Japanese delicacies that are cooked right in front of you. Families often enjoy the waiters' show of twirling knives and spatula flipping entrees.
Palapa Uxmal is the most tropical restaurant, serving seafood-centric dishes. The restaurant is open as a buffet during lunch and breakfast. A la carte meals are served in the evening.
La Hacienda, another kid-favorite, serves traditional Mexican recipes, like tortilla soup and beef tacos. It is a good idea to book ahead. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m.
Palapa Marimba is a buffet restaurant that serves pork chops and flank steak to true meat-lovers. It is open for breakfast and lunch.
La Gondola, serves made-to-order fresh pasta and other Italian specialties. A trio of Mexican guitarists sometimes stroll La Gondola singing. These talented men created a charming atmosphere.
A resort with room service is the perfect cure for a cranky child waking up from a nap. Iberostar serves an assortment of sandwiches from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The buffets and restaurants serve better food that you can order and take back to the room.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Like many resorts, this one offers crafts and activities for everyone in the family. For instance, your kids can select and paint pottery, like a mug or a bird figurine. Or they can get a henna tattoo, often popular with tweens. The tattoos are natural, painted-on and eventually wash off.
Babysitting is available in your room for an extra charge.
At the onsite dive center, you can book outings to explore the rich reefs of the Riviera Maya. Dives cost extra.
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available.
The gym, though not big, opens early and closes late.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season starts around mid-December and through mid-April. The low season runs from September to mid-December. Shoulder season is from mid-April through August.
Fly into the Cancun International Airport.
If you do not plan to rent a car, then make sure you have booked your transportation from the airport to your resort ahead of time. That way you can avoid the gauntlet of vendors trying to get you to book transportation and outings.
For Mom and Dad
A swim-up pool bar called Aqua Bar is for adults only. This is a great place to relax or to blow off some steam, while putting the babysitting service to work. The pool is a bit small, but surrounded by trees that create a secluded and romantic atmosphere.
An onsite spa has a steam room and offers massages and spa treatments.