The Fives Downtown

100   Recommended

Room 414 , Whirlpool Balcony Suite
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Room 414

Whirlpool Balcony Suite

Liked:
Location
Service
Food
Amenities
Room

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Room
Whirlpool Balcony Suite

Since I hadn't found any reviews on this nice looking property, I figured I'd pop down this week, check it out while it's still newish and unexplored, and report some findings for the general betterment of FT!  :)

 

So here we go!

 

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Check In

Check In went smoothly and quickly.

I booked online the morning of my arrival, had asked for an upgrade, and checked the app just an hour or so later and had been assigned exactly what I was hoping for - score! This was midweek/low season, and it had been raining, so perhaps there was more vacancy than usual explaining the upgrade, but... whatever, I'm grateful.

 

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I didn't get my digital key, so went into the lovely lobby/open-air atrium to complete the check in. Not much traffic at the front desk. A deposit on my Amex Ascend* of five thousand pesos to establish a tab to charge food and such to the room was required, no problems there, just a little different.

*That's right, no Aspire yet. I get Diamond the hard way. Hop-hop-hop :)

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Room

I asked for highest floor, and got it. The hotel is only four floors of rooms, with a rooftop Purobeach pool/bar/restaurant. The only room on the top floor is some super-suite with it's own private continuation of the pool. We didn't rate that kind of swank, but the room we DID get was pretty sweet:

Two room setup, a long room with kitchen near front door, continuing into a small "dining room" with a round table and chairs. This area continues into a "living room" with hide-a-bed couch, a padded chair, and a coffee table. There is a TV on the wall, perhaps 40" or so?

 

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The second room comprises the King bedroom and large bathroom.

 

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The living area and this bedroom are divided off with wooden slider doors (which gives a nice presentation as they slide open to expose the bed head-on with it's grey fabric headboard, twin sconce lights, a wood tile wall backdrop, and sidetables with USB and outlets on both sides.)

 

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The whole suite's decor was very well done and cohesive. Textured concrete tile and wood walls, wood flooring with rugs near beds and living areas. Very up to date kitchen appliances (midsized fridge/freezer, small oven, sink, coffee maker, etc. I didn't see any cutlery in the drawers though: if you were planning on a long stay and actually using the kitchen, you might need pots and pans and dishes.)

 

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Bathroom / dressing area had four separate closet doors, plenty of hanger space as well as shelves. A properly bolted-down safe, some drawers, ironing board, and complimentary Curio-branded beach flipflops as a little lagniappe. Cute touch.

 

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Shower was a larger rain-overhead + removable showerhead. Frosted glass doors on this and the adjoining pooper-area. Reasonably private, and the whole bathroom could be closed off with an additional set of wooden sliders if extra privacy was required. It IS a 1 king, so even if you had kids on the hide-a-bed, you've got two sets of wood sliders and the frosted glass shower/commode doors between you and others. Some nice smelling citrus shampoo/lotion/conditioner/bath gel, as well as a small loofa waited in the shower, with other usual amenities (Q-tips, hair cover, sewing kit, etc.) on the sink.

 

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Bed: A tad on the soft side, but clean and comfortable. White duvet, plenty of pillows, including some throw pillows.

 

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Small stool under bedroom TV. TV itself had a smattering of English channels, HBO, sports, and news. Some was Spanish with English subtitles, some the opposite.

 

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This particular suite faced the ocean, towards 5th Avenue (the "strip" of Playa del Carmen) and had a balcony that opens from two glass slider doors from both the bedroom or the living room. On the balcony, two chairs, a very small drink table, and a whirlpool tub. It is a true "bathtub" not a "hot tub". It is reasonably private. (There's no other tall buildings anywhere in the view ahead: this is the tallest building in the area, so no one's looking back at you if you do decide to bathe out here, you can probably make it happen if you're discreet with your towel placement and speed of exit/entry. ㋡ )

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Service

Front desk: good to go. No language barriers, all very straightforward and quick.

Valet: "free" with resort fee, a little slow sometimes and a little weird how you don't pull up to the actual hotel front door, but instead a side garage entrance. Dunno, maybe we did that all wrong and should have gone to the front door. Either way, it worked okay.

Restaurants: Everyone helpful and no language barriers. One person was a little curt at one of the restaurants, but the tequila bar tender working the night of the 30th made up for that other person with his great spirit, and some righteous guacamole.

In general, everyone seemed helpful, getting elevators, asking if we needed anything, without being overbearing and hand-out-for-tips type "helpful" like you get at snooty hotels.

Dining

Dining: there are a few options in-house.

There is an Italian restaurant, Mercatto, which also serves as the breakfast "buffet" for mornings. Decor was clean and crisp, plenty of tables, no waiting when we went there.

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"Buffet" was on the skimpy side, further explanation below.

 

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A "Marley Coffee" shop, which is a coffee and scones kind of place with juices and small plates. Apparently it's a chain with figureheading from a son of Bob Marley, but has some bad corporate road behind them. Google the lawsuits and such if the business end of things interests you, but to most people I assume it's just going to be good coffee and a fast grab. Didn't eat here, but waited in the coffee shop air conditioning where we could see the car come out from the valet. Decor here is cool. Plenty of various seating, couches, stools, small tables. You know, like a hipster coffeeshop should look.

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On roof was the Purobeach bar and restaurant. We went up multiple times during our stay only to find the whole pool/restaurant locked down because it was raining, or had rained earlier, etc.. Too bad, it looks reasonable pricewise and has creative looking dishes. When the weather is agreeable, this has to be a smash location with the views and breezes!

FullSizeRender 8.jpgWhich brings us to a couple negatives on the dining and common area parts of my stay:

My main negative, which I have to allow some allowance for, because it was raining pretty darn hard, was that Purobeach was closed most of the time I was there. Which in and of itself is understandable when it's actively pouring rain. But when I'd ask "When will it reopen?" or "It hasn't been raining for three hours now, will it reopen at all tonight?" there didn't seem to be a rain-day policy. For that matter, I would have loved to go hang out up there and sit in the covered areas or get in the pool even if it was raining. Locked up, no go. Which also prevented us from trying the restaurant up there. Which, again, looked very cool. Bummer.

Other issue, breakfast buffet:

Day one, breakfast at Mercatto. Diamond guests get "the continental buffet" included. It's literally four bread choices, a few fruits, coffee and juice. If all you want is a muffin, some pineapple, and coffee, I guess you're set.

I was told there would be a small upcharge to get some unspecified additional benefit.

"Okay, so it's only a few pesos/$3.00 US to upcharge from continental: I'm in! What do I get?"

Mumble mumble...

"Can I get pancakes then?"

No, that's not part of the upgrade price, that's extra.

"No problem, I'll just have fried eggs and some ham."

The eggs are included in the upcharge, but it's another few dollars for some little pieces of ham.

"But I can get an omelette with the ham scrambled into it, in the included upcharge, at no extra-extra fee?"

Si.

"Whatever, fine, I'll have the eggs, and the green juice."

Oh: The orange and grapefruit are included (40 peso menu price) but the green juice (also 40 peso menu price) is not. That's extra.

"Ok...?"

...This went on for two days, where I was never sure what was included with the upcharge (I guess it's just "Eggs" which can have some meat scrambled into, as long as you order a 3 egg omelette. BUT if you order *2* eggs fried, then you have to pay extra-extra to get the same meat that comes with the *3* egg omelette.) Just when I'd given up on trying to figure out what was included, then, on the final day, the buffet inexplicably became larger and included all the things I had paid extra for on days 1 and 2. Still wasn't much of a spread, but now there's scrambled eggs and some meat along with the breads and fruit. Weird and confusing.

 

Location

At first it seemed this hotel was in the middle of nowhere, but I wasn't very familiar with this area of PDC, so hadn't picked up on the fact that it IS pretty central. The 5th Avenue strip, a couple-mile pedestrian drag is just a block or so away, so while you can hear ooonst-ooonst dance music into the night, the lights and crowds are not really an issue. You're far enough away, but right there if you want to walk down.

On a personal rant/note, the 5th Ave. area strikes me as the sad and yukky part of Mexico tourista culture. Within a mile walk down 5th, *everyone* had a hand out, shilling whatever crap they were selling, getting in your face "Señor! Tour to pyramids? Best price! Cocaine? You want to get high? Ferry tickets you buy here! Weed? Try our free tequila tasting?" - NONSTOP. I was propositioned for coke and weed no less than ten times, which by itself is a "whatever" annoyance, but I was in the middle of a conversation with my wife, and you're interrupting us!  I understand salesmanship, but just no boundaries, no class, just lies and scams every couple yards. What do I need ferry tickets from God-knows-who-you-are for, when we are literally across the street from the legitimate ferry ticket office? Wearing fake "uniform" vests and such to make the hawkers look like "officials" as they tell you you are "required" to buy from them... Whatever, dude, get out of my way. Mexico has it's natural beauties, but also a lot of trashy aspects. This cranky tirade may be coming on strong because I am currently riding out some Montezuma's Revenge since I flew home yesterday.  :) Geopolitical rant over.

Anyway, you can walk to a lot of things nearby, including a Walmart for supplies (they take USD with an upfront exchange rate, btw), tons of restaurants, bars, beachside massage places (I walked down a little farther off the beaten path to the non-scammy and nice "Calle 16 Massage": 2 x $40. So my wife and I got a full hour massage for $20+tip each, in a beachfront palapa/polebarn kinda arrangement, clean tables, and not too bad a massage!)

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Tons of places to get a street taco, elotes, or a dessert treat from pushcarts in the park just behind the hotel to the left, which was decidedly non-touristy and local. My quick restaurant heads-up: If I went back, I'd for-sure hit Kaxapa Factory, just .3 mi away walk. Good stuff for a lunch or casual dinner! Venezuelan food, proprietor is squared the heck away, reasonable prices, everything was big and tasty! Also Yum Yum Thai-Indian just down the road a block is very nicely done too. Great atmosphere, decent chow.

 

Overall

> Cost/Value: This was a points stay, so the value seemed good enough. 111,000 points for three nights, which, if you factor the upgrade was very reasonable.

> Breakfast: could have been more squared away, although nothing wrong with it food-quality-wise if you're a light eater.

> Pre-stay/Communications: I emailed the hotel, sent them a PM on Facebook, and attempted contact via Instagram. I didn't ever -and still haven't- gotten a response to my question on a promotional rate they had on their official Facebook page. Not awesome communications.

The website address they give on some of their social media doesn't actually exist. (It's old address, replaced by the official Curio one, I guess, but... update needed!)

On that note, there was also a promotion on getting 5,000 points per 3 night stay on the offical Curio website. I felt I would be eligible, but when I asked about it via online chat prior to arrival, and then again upon check-in, got shrugs. On checkout, I asked again, and the front desk gent said he'd email me after he spoke to the manager. Haven't heard back yet, so I'll update with results in a few days. Still pending a judgement here.

 

>Decor, architecture, property: Spot on. Very nice, intimate feeling hotel. Not a resort, but rather an excellent representation of what the Curio vibe is supposed to reflect. Not one area lacked in thought as far as design and execution of the look and feel of the property. Nicely done, Curio.

> WiFi: Screen capture of the internet speed:

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Gym

Small, but functional area off the lobby. Usual equipment, water (not bottled, and as much as I hate onetime plastic waste, I would have appreciated bottled water here in Mexico.)

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Pool

Purobeach is a company that I guess Hilton contracts its pool/bar setups out to in some properties. I first discovered PB concept at the Hilton Diagonal Barcelona, which was very nice, but extra $$$, and kind of a hoppin' dance club vibe. Wasn't sure if Playa del Carmen setup would be similar, but it was no big deal: Nice L-shaped infinity pool, shallow for mostly wading and cooling off between tanning-flips, but a lovely view all the way to Cozumel island. Plenty of chaises and Bali bed setups. The always-empty restaurant behind the pool area had a very cool vibe, clean white linen and rustic wood. Bar staff helpful. 

 

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Would I return? Oh yeah, if I was in Mexico again, it was a very nice stay and property.

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