Reef 28: City Break in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Reef 28 in Playa del Carmen combines the best of a beach vacation, it’s one block from Mamita’s beach, and a city break, it’s one block from 5th Avenue, into a cosmopolitan adult-only getaway. This all-suite property features chic accommodations,  a relaxing spa, a rooftop bar with ocean view, and a casually sophisticated ambiance.

A sister property to the Reef Playacar, Reef 28 is also an all-inclusive resort, although it doesn’t feel like one because of its city location. Unlike a resort location, the restaurants, spa, and property is open and available to non-guests. Look up and down the street and the property blends in, just like every other hotel in the area, and non-guests can stop off for a drink, meals, or spa treatment. I think this ups the expectations of service and quality of restaurants, a plus for guests, but there can be a few moments of confusion.

The lobby is bright and welcoming with a front desk just steps from the sidewalk. A lobby bar serves up a welcome glass of champagne to guests as they check in, and chances are you’ll stop by here for a nightcap as you’re returning from a night out in Playa.

The concierge as guest service desks can be found to the side of the lobby and we stopped by often for information and to arrange transportation. Staff is available to help you plan day trip excursions as well as visits to the other Reef properties where you have full privileges.

suite at reef 28

Rooms are located around a central atrium, providing a bright and spacious feeling, even while indoors. Suites are minimalist, without being stark and sterile, making good use of wood and earth tones accent pieces in a white room. The sitting area was comfortable and was suitable for a work area. Plug-ins, including USB charging ports, were plentiful and well located.

A small balcony was off the living area and looked at an adjacent flower wall. It was pretty but felt a little crowded, and not somewhere I spent much time beyond morning coffee.

The marble bathroom was spacious and beautiful, with plenty of counter space. I always love rain shower and this one offered fragrant upscale toiletries.

 

For a real treat, though, head up to the rooftop to enjoy the infinity pool, hot tubs, and Arriba lounge. Although it was a little windy during our stay, we still spent much of our time on the rooftop enjoying the ocean view. Food and bar service is available, although I thought this was the weakest part of the all-inclusive service. Service was slow, despite – or maybe because – few guests on the rooftop. Food was very average, a disappointment compared to food options throughout the rest of the property.

Beds, lounge chairs, and various tables and conversation pits give you all sorts of choices on how to spend your time. When it was windy, we asked for an extra towel and used it as a light blanket. When it was calm and warm, we chose a bed right next to the pool with a view of the bay. And when we were hungry, we grabbed a table and chair for a rooftop nosh. Arriba is open until midnight and is a nighttime hotspot.

Wifi is complimentary throughout the property, and while I didn’t spend all my time working or on my devices, it was consistently strong except for the rooftop. Plan on taking a break from your devices when heading to the pool

Breakfast is offered at Vienti8cho (veinte ocho is 28 in Spanish) on the ground floor of the atrium. Take your choice of the buffet or menu service, both options included in your all-inclusive price. My choices were consistent, good coffee, fresh fruit, and a plate of chilaquiles. Delicious! Breakfast is served until 11 am.

 

Dinner at Cachito is a topnotch dining experience under the guidance of Chef de Cuisine, Margarita Carrillo, who was recognized by the government as Culinary Ambassador of Mexico. They got that right! The dinner menu made for some tough choices, but you’d be forgiven if you went straight for dessert – the pastel de chocolate y almendra y crocante de cacao (dark chocolate and almond cake with caramelized cacao nibs) was to die for!

We didn’t try Asiatico, a Thai restaurant on property, instead choosing to head to the Reef Coco Beach to try the Samurai, a combination sushi spot and Japanese steakhouse. Complimentary transportation between the hotels is provided by the Reef 28 shuttle and the meal is covered in your all-inclusive price.

Part dinner and part cooking show, if you’ve dined at a tableside Japanese steakhouse, you’ll know what to expect. Steak and chicken dinners are included. An additional surcharge (which can be charged to your room) applies for shrimp and lobster. I was happy with my steak and lobster choice.

One confusing part of the food and beverage options were the menus. Because the restaurants at Reef 28 are open to non-guests, prices appear. Rest assured that with only a few exceptions – which are identified – your meals and beverages are included.

 

A highlight of the stay was an afternoon at Okom Spa for a hydrotherapy circuit. The circuit starts off with some relaxation time in the sauna. Just as you start to loosen up and relax, you’re led to the cold plunge pool for a dunk up to your shoulders to close up those pores. That’s followed by a series of water treatments ranging from underwater pulsating jets, waterfalls, and soaking areas, all of which I enjoyed while sipping on a glass of champagne. A spa attendant is close by to make sure you’re getting the full benefit of the circuit therapies but doesn’t hover.

 

The spa has four treatment rooms and a full menu of massages, body treatments, and facials. Even if you don’t have time for a treatment, stop off for the hydrotherapy circuit.

If you’re craving the beach, it’s a couple minutes away. Or, if you’d prefer, the shuttle will take you to the Reef Playacar.

I recommend setting aside a little time for exploring and shopping on 5th Avenue. However, fair warning – your Reef 28 bracelet (a black cord band with a small disc on it) is easily visible to the shop owners and street vendors. Don’t be surprised at the number of shop owners and vendors who claim to be your “driver from last night” or the “busboy at the restaurant” or the “bellman in the lobby.” We wondered why we didn’t recognize anyone and it took us a while to catch on that it was all a sales ploy.

Reef 28 is located at 1 Avenida Nte& Calle 28 Nte, 77720 Playa del Carmen. Rates start around $250 per night. You can try checking for more competitive rates through Hotels.com, Travelocity or others.

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Reef 28 in Playa del Carmen combines the best of a beach vacation, it’s one block from Mamita’s beach, and a city break, it’s one block from 5th Avenue, into a cosmopolitan adult-only getaway.

The author received a complimentary stay for the purposes of a review.

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