Everything old is new again at Royal Hideaway Playacar

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Guests can enjoy poolside massages at the adults-only resort in the Playacar enclave.
Guests can enjoy poolside massages at the adults-only resort in the Playacar enclave.
It's been nearly a year since renovations wrapped on the Royal Hideaway Playacar. The hotel was the grande dame of Playa del Carmen when it opened 20 years ago as one of the first luxury all-inclusive resorts.


Since then, as Playa del Carmen evolved to keep up with the changing definition of luxury, the Royal Hideaway Playacar seemed to get lost in the shuffle. But following a resortwide remodel, Royal Hideaway has arrived for its regal debut.

The adults-only resort, located in the gated luxury enclave Playacar, kicked off the new year with updated guestrooms, meetings spaces, restaurants and theater.

All 200 guestrooms have been completely transformed, with upgraded furniture, artwork, bed linens and wallpaper and a revamp of all bathrooms.

It took the previous design, which was evocative of 1960s Hollywood (but not in a good way), and transformed it into a sleek but cozy modern design. New to the resort are butlers, who have been newly certified by the International Butler Academy and who staff each villa.

The resort’s 200 guestrooms have all been remodeled with new furnishings, artwork and linens.
The resort’s 200 guestrooms have all been remodeled with new furnishings, artwork and linens.

The resort has also renovated two of its restaurants, the Deck and Bar Allegria. The Deck serves casual Mexican and international cuisine like fish tacos, chicken fajitas, guacamole and shrimp cocktail. The menu is a significant upgrade from the previous iteration.

Bar Allegria has been remodeled with a Restoration Hardware vibe in the front and a sports bar theme in the back with flat-screen TVs, pool tables and high-top tables.

The resort also upgraded the Royal Theater Club, which puts on a series of nightly performances. Although it was a nice touch to the resort, it seems like the energy of the audience is a bit subdued, especially with the nightlife of Playa del Carmen less than a mile away.

The beach is still one of the finest in Playa del Carmen, with a wide stretch of powder-white sand and views of Cozumel in the distance. The resort also offers fun aquatic activities like snorkeling and catamaran sailings.

The Retreat by Royal Hideaway Spa is small compared to some other spas in the region, but the staff of therapists is top-notch, and they deliver A-list treatments, from deep tissue massages to neck and shoulder massages poolside.

And while the resort is showing off a newer, refreshed face, which is most certainly welcome, what hasn't changed there is the impeccable service, which was beyond impressive even when the facilities were in need of an upgrade.

Everyone on the property, from the butlers to the wait staff, reception and housekeeping is truly genuine, wanting to chat and make the experience as tailored as the guest would like.

Nightly rates begin at $400; see www.barcelo.com.

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