So last July – after being grounded by the pandemic for months – Mexico opened up and I was absolutely thrilled to be invited on a fam to check out the Iberostar Hotel & Resort properties there. And let me tell you – they did not disappoint!
I was so impressed with what I experienced that I invited my hostess – Jan McCaughan the National Sales Manager at Iberostar Hotels & Resorts – to stop by and share some details on the Iberostar brand – and that she did! From the US to Europe to Mexico and the Caribbean Iberostar can be found all over the globe. Today, however, we focused on the Mexican and Caribbean properties as they are not only the destinations that are opening to us but also the closest to us.
Grab your room key – or in this case open your app (more on that later) and let’s start our virtual fam of the incredible Iberostar Hotel & Resort properties!
So, Tell Me About This Brand… Iberostar Hotel & Resorts – a global standard in the tourism industry – is a fourth generation 100% family owned and operated company that is based in Spain. Founded in 1956 by the Fluxa family when a small travel agency (with origins stretching back to 1877) was acquired by a Majorcan company. Their portfolio consists of urban and resort destination hotels, historical hotels, cultural hotels and more, with a total of 120 four- and five-star hotels in 15 countries including a ship on the Amazon!
What is the Wave of Change? Wave of Change is Iberostar’s pioneer movement that promotes social wellness and sustainability which is one of the many reasons I love this brand! Jan agreed and shared that they have a sustainability officer and that it is she who has been integral in getting all this going. The plan consists of three lines of action. The first is the elimination of single use plastics and I saw this firsthand in Mexico, but Jan advised that they are actually doing this worldwide and by the end of the year will have no single use plastic materials in any of their hotels. The second is promotion of responsible consumption of fish. This means that they don’t use fishermen that fish out of season and all the fishermen they do use have to be licensed. In fact, they can tell you exactly what boat the fish come from that you are eating! And the third is promoting projects for coastal health. For example, they have a turtle sanctuary at the Riviera Maya property complete with a nest and nursery for the hatching turtles. At certain times of the year they invite guests to come out, equip them with a special kind of light that doesn’t attract seagulls and they can actually watch the turtles being released into the ocean!
Can I Bring the Kids? There are Iberostar properties that are adult only as well as those that are family friendly. At the family friendly resorts, they have a super cool kids program called Star Camp which gives the kids so much to do they will never complain they are bored – believe me – I saw it firsthand in Riviera Maya. They explore, they experiment, they play as a team, they learn to take care of the world they live in and they make new friends! With 140 plus activities, new spectacular facilities and trained and specialized instructors you are leaving them in great hands. And they have them divided into three different age groups so the four-year old’s are not with the 15-year old’s, etc. They are grouped from age one to age seven, from age eight to age 12 and from age 13 to age 17. And what a great opportunity for a school-cation! Get them out of the house – they can do their schoolwork remotely and create fabulous family memories as well as a life as a living classroom experience!
What About the Mom’s and Dad’s? Golf anyone? Iberostar boasts their own – or access to 137 courses – all with unique designs and stunning natural surroundings in some of the best destinations on earth. With experiences designed for both experts and beginner’s – meaning if you are a golfer or a wannabe golfer you have great opportunities to learn from the pros! If you don’t want to bring your clubs – no problem – their clubhouse features all the services, you need as well as golf equipment. There are also preferred rates for guests and a beverage service cart that comes around in Mexico and in the Dominican Republic. Plus – in Jamaica they have a fabulous arrangement with White Witch and Cinnamon Hill – two renowned golf courses!
How About Wellness Opportunities? Iberostar offers fitness via Aliveness – a new way of feeling, exploring, creating, experimenting, moving freely and spontaneously and let’s not forget enjoyment! The features of this program include a total gym with modern equipment, a spa for treatments and relaxation, outside activities which allow you to see and be in nature and workshops to stimulate the creative spirit. I must say that one thing that I really enjoyed when I was there was the wellness aspect. Wellness comes in many different forms, but the ways Iberostar has created these opportunities takes it to another level – such as outside yoga classes to help with the mind, body, spirit piece and connecting you right to mother. Then there is Iberostar’s Fit and Fun – a new fitness program for adults led by fitness professionals that is designed to both be fun and challenging. It features a range of fitness adventures throughout the resort, in the gym, on the beach and in nature with extensive programs including TRX, kickboxing, bootcamp, Pilates and more. This allows guests to keep up good habits for a healthy and balanced life even while on vacation. And I also have to tell you guys that one of the other things that I really enjoyed there was Aqua spinning – yes – cycling classes into the pool! So unique and you think it will be easier in the water but it’s not and its quite the work out, so you don’t feel bad about a drink at the pool bar afterwards! And remember – this is all inclusive there’s no additional charge for use of the gym or any of these classes and activities!
How’s the Food? Dubbed Honest Food, at Iberostar you are going to find all natural, fresh and homemade, responsible and healthy, multicultural and local food options. Which is yet another one of the things that I love – there’s a lot of farm to table because the region allows for it. And since everything is being made fresh for you, if you wanted something that is not there – no one will make an issue about it and will make you what you request! Another healthy thing in relation to food is that the buffets are now done as pre-plated and assisted for you. And, in terms of the experience that I had back in July it made everyone feel protected not only because it was pre-plated – but there was plenty of plexiglass and of course the staff wear masks at all times. And they are more than just buffets – they have ala carte restaurants as well featuring their honest food such as breads and pastas that they make themselves! Plus, it’s all show cooking too. For instance, at the buffet if you’re having a hamburger you can choose your meat – so if you wanted a turkey burger or veggie burger or good old fashion beef hamburger – you can get it.
What Are the Different Levels of Iberostar? So, in the urban settings the properties are more of a European plan which means no meals are included. But in Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of Brazil you have these amazing all-inclusive properties, and each level is based on a budget. So, based on what you tell me you need in a property that is where I focus on the differences – so that when I’m helping you book your trip know that I’m selecting a property based on what I think is important to you – as well as what is right for your budget. And that’s another thing that I love about this brand because there are levels for all budgets, but they are all fabulous properties, so nobody feels like they’re missing out on anything. They run the gamut from moderately priced properties to upscale family properties to prestige level adult only properties that offer butler service in all room categories. In addition, all properties in Mexico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are gated communities for that added measure of security.
Ok Tell Me About Each Destination Please! As I noted earlier – we are keeping it to a small sampling today – the Caribbean and Mexico. But remember – there are numerous properties all over this fabulous planet of ours!
- Jamaica Mon! In Jamaica you will find three resorts – Iberostar Grand Rose Hall, Iberostar Selection Rose Hall Suites and Iberostar Rose Hall Beach. All are located in Montego Bay (an area that so many people love) just 15 minutes outside of the Montego Bay Airport in Rose Hall. Rose Hall is notorious for “The White Witch” Annie which is a great history lesson for the kids to experience firsthand and not from a book. Plus, it will introduce them to new cultures which is priceless.
These three properties also represent three of the levels of the Iberostar brand that we touched on and include a moderately priced family property, an upscale family property and an adult only property (Iberostar Grand). And here’s something really interesting that Jan shared – their adult only brands are not just couples only – she travels with her sister and jokes that she loves her to death but she’s not sharing a bed with her! So yes – there are both king bedded rooms for couples and double-bedded rooms for your guys or girls’ trips. These properties are perfect for destination weddings as well as vow renewals. And they only allow two weddings per day at each of their properties which makes it so special – in addition to being a beautiful and romantic destination!
- Dominican Republic or the DR: Iberostar properties reside in several different areas in the DR. In Punta Cana there is the Iberostar Grand Bavaro, Iberostar Selection Bavaro, Iberostar Dominicana, Iberostar Punta Cana, Iberostar Bavaro Golf Club, and Coral Level at the Iberostar Selection Bavaro, in Bayahibe it’s the Iberostar Selection Hacienda Dominicus and Puerto Plata has the Iberostar Costa Dorado.
Puerto Plata is an amazing area where things are certainly up and coming and it offers a completely different vibe than being in Punta Cana. It is on the Atlantic Ocean side so you will find the sand there is a little more course than Punta Cana – similar to what’s on the Pacific side of the US or Mexico.
Punta Cana has the greatest number of properties and they are located on Bavaro Beach about 25 minutes from the airport. Here the sand is like powdered sugar – it just brushes right off. The beaches are quite different than if you’ve been to Mexico and feature these beautiful mountains in the background. And good news on the – there will be direct flights into Puerto Plata arriving 2021!
The Coral Level at the Iberostar Selection Bavaro is their newest addition in Punta Cana and is an upscale family hotel that has been taken to the prestige level. Per Jan it’s just like a hotel within a hotel. Unlike the Coral Level in Cancun which is adult only – the Coral Level Bávaro is family friendly. It features a private beach area and two outdoor pools so that way you don’t have everybody in one pool, and it makes for really great opportunities to spread out and keep that social distancing momentum going. There is also a golf course on property as well as a nice large casino and the rooms are newly renovated.
In Bayahibe the Iberostar Selection Hacienda Dominicus completed a renovation in December of 2019 so all rooms are remodeled and include Bluetooth and smart TV’s. They also refurbished and expanded the main buffet, the beach snack restaurant, the private beach club and the gym. It’s definitely a different flavor but it’s still such a Caribbean feel. And thanks to the renovations it’s really like a brand-new hotel. This property also has a turtle sanctuary as well as a coral nursery and is very big on giving back to the environment. Once again – they are really focused on that social wellness and making sure that travel is sustainable and equitable.
- Mexico or One of My Favorite Places to Visit! Here you can find properties in Riviera Maya including the Iberostar Grand Paraiso, Iberostar Selection Paraiso Maya, Iberostar Selection Paraiso Lindo, Iberostar Paraiso Beach, Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar, Iberostar Tucan and Iberostar Quetzal, in Cancun – Iberostar Selection Cancun and Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Cancun, in Cozumel – Iberostar Cozumel and in Riviera Nayarit – Iberostar Selection Playa Mita. This gives you lots of different opportunities because you have options not only in the Cancun and Riviera Maya area, but you also have hotels on the Pacific side to choose from as well.
Playa Mita which is right outside Puerto Vallarta is an amazing place and really, it’s a hidden gem. You guys know you I love Quintana Roo and everything about the Cancun area, but you need to try this side of Mexico. And now thanks to a new highway that that just opened it’s only 40 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta airport which is really is nice. And the property here is amazing. Per Jan they built the rooms into the side of the hill so it’s all oceanfront.
That’s also what I loved about The Coral Level in Cancun as well as the Iberostar Section – all the properties face the ocean and have a jacuzzi tub on the balcony – so you can have that jacuzzi tub right outside your room and all the privacy you want.
We had a great experience at the Paraiso Maya in Riviera Maya and I really enjoyed how open the space was. This one is very family friendly with a lot of different pool areas, so you are not going to ever feel crowded here no matter how many people are at the resort. And that brings up an important point about the Iberostar properties. Even before the pandemic people wanted to feel like this resort is theirs and they don’t want to be crammed or have to put a towel down at 6:00am to save a spot. And that just doesn’t happen at Iberostar. They have plenty of spacing including plenty of beach area. The other thing that you’re going to enjoy is the food truck in Cancun. I loved just going up to a food truck, getting my meal and heading back to the beach and once again – its included in the price!
And you guys there is a newly opened water park at the Iberostar Selection Paraiso Lindo! To use the water park, lazy river and wave pool you have to be a guest of the Lindo, the Maya or the Grand which are the upscale family properties. If you stay at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach or Iberostar Paraiso Del Mar you have to pay extra to use them.
What Else Can I Expect from Them? Well, you can enjoy the Iberostar experience even more with their app for iOS and Android with exciting new features! It allows you to access web check in which make arrivals faster, more convenient and safer, you can access all events and activity times and add them to your daily planner, you can make dinner reservations in the restaurant or you can order room service – even getting the menu via a QR code, you can get full details of all the hotel services and facilities with an interactive map with GPS like capabilities and you can chat with the hotel staff or concierge!
In addition – I experienced a number of the different protocols that are in place and I loved how the staff made it feel so welcoming and inviting. They would say things like “I invite you to take the hand sanitizer,” or “Please let me take your luggage and we will sanitize it.” No matter where we went it was like that and I want to give kudos to Iberostar for really showing me how amazing travel to Cancun can be now!
Jan explained that they have put a lot of work into their safety protocols and the staff are so eager to have people come back and are following all the World Health Organization and the Cristal requirements. And it is apparent throughout the properties with things like taking your temperature when you’re checking in and how the front desk is set up for social distancing now. In addition, rooms are now left empty for 24 hours after check out and an electrostatic spray is used to sanitize the rooms. And of course, the pools are also being cleaned and sanitized as well as anything else that is touched. And once again – I was there and saw the crew sanitizing and saw how they have really gone above and beyond to make sure that people really feel comfortable. And this helps not just the travel industry in the US, but the Mexican people have their jobs in tourism to be able to go back to as well. And if you want to hear more, I’m happy to talk to you about the personal experience that I had!
You Mentioned Other Destinations? Yes! There is the floating Iberostar Heritage Grand Amazon in Brazil that Jan described as like being on a National Geographic exploration during the days – she went piranha fishing! – and a luxury cruise in the evening where everyone dresses for dinner. Then in New York City you have the Iberostar 70 Park Avenue which is in the heart of Manhattan in a fabulous location. There are a total of 21 resorts in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean – with ten in Mexico, three in Jamaica, six in the Dominican Republic – which we spoke about – as well as and two in the United States – the other is in Miami. In addition, there are properties sprinkled throughout some amazing locations in Europe including Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Montenegro, Croatia and a newly opened property in Rome just a block from the Trevi Fountain.
Updated COVID-19 Information: As each property resides in a different destination please check with the Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health in the destination you are interested in visiting for up-to-date entry requirements.
I hope you are as impressed as I was with not only the properties and their offerings but also with the safety precautions that have become so especially important to us as travelers in this day and age. As I said – this is just some samplings of what Iberostar has to offer and not a full list of their hotels in any way, shape or form so please reach out to me and we can get the conversation started on which property and destination would best suit what you are looking for in your next getaway.
For more details on the fabulous Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, their price points and more – contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!