All-Inclusive Resort Showdown: Valentin Imperial Maya vs. Catalonia Royal Tulum

Thought this would be fun!! Since I’m now an expert on two Riviera Maya resorts (hah!), I thought we’d do a showdown. Pretty simple rules – looking at both resorts equally, just the basic amenities. Nothing you have to pay extra for, such as spa services, upgrades, or packages.

Sorry I don’t have pictures for everything – I’ve got lots of food from VIM, and very little food from CRT! And I didn’t want to only show you one in this showdown, cause that wouldn’t be fair. Look back at all the VIM posts (there are four total from 2014 and 2015!) and the recent CRT post for other pictures.

Full disclosure: We loved both resorts, and highly recommend either of them. It all depends on what you’re looking for from an all-inclusive vacation.

The Contenders

Valentin Imperial Maya (VIM) and Catalonia Royal Tulum (CRT)

Beach

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM: Super long, which is a bit of a hassle when you’re trying to find a place to sit. Palapas are spread out, so you’ve got a bit more privacy for your lounge chairs (which are nicely padded). Lots of seaweed, and lots of waves. Drink service was consistent.

CRT: Small, with horribly uncomfortable chairs close together. No palapas, but the entire area is shaded by palm trees so you can usually find some shade. No seaweed, super calm water. Drink service was consistent.

Winner: CRT

 

Pool

VIM quiet pool on left, CRT on right

VIM quiet pool on left, CRT on right

VIM: Two main pools, one party pool and one quiet pool. Seating around the main pool is difficult to find shade. Swim up bar in main pool, walk up bar in quiet pool, drink service at both. Not enough seating, so expect to play the towel game at the main pool especially.

CRT: One pool. Nearly every seat has shade. Walk up bar, drink service. Plenty of seating available all day.

Winner: Tie

 

Room

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM: We’ve stayed in the middle tier, Golden Suites. Room has a separate sitting area, balcony, and large bathroom with dual sinks and a huge shower. Toilet has a glass door. Also has a jacuzzi tub in the bathroom.

CRT: Upgraded to the top tier, Junior Suite. Room has a small sitting area next to the bed, balcony, and single-sink bathroom with rain shower. Bathroom is all in one room with a wooden door.

Winner: VIM

 

A La Carte Restaurants

VIM: 6 – Italian, Steakhouse, Indonesian, Asian, Mexican, and French. Smart casual dress code (long pants and closed shoes for men). We ate at all of them.

CRT: 5 – Italian, Steakhouse, Tapas, Asian, and Mexican. Casual dress code (shorts and sandals allowed for men). We ate at two of them.

Winner: CRT simply for the dress code

 

Buffet Restaurants

VIM: Breakfast and lunch only, in the same locations. Lunch selection changes daily. Breakfast has smoothies, omelets, crepes, and other made-to-order items.

CRT: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though in different locations. Lunch and dinner selection changes daily. Breakfast has omelets, crepes, and other made-to-order items.

Winner: CRT

 

Snack Bars

VIM: Lunch service at quiet pool, plus daily changing grill lunch served poolside at main pool; ice cream machine available at beach

CRT: Sandwich/pizza restaurant at pool, plus occasional burger lunch served poolside; sandwiches and popcorn available during the day in lobby

Winner: Tie

 

Room Service

VIM: 24 hour selection; lunch and dinner menu available all day until breakfast begins; wait time up to an hour depending on when you order

CRT: 24 hour selection; after 11:00pm four to five choices available; wait time around 30 minutes

Winner: VIM

 

Drinks

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM: Top shelf liquor (Grey Goose, Baileys) available; very few drink menus; wide selection of spirits, beer, and wine; Coca-Cola; extensive coffee menu

CRT: Mid-range liquor (Stoli, Bacardi); drink menus at every bar; limited selection of spirits, beer, and wine; Pepsi; coffee or espresso; smoothie bar on beach

Winner: VIM

 

Ambiance

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM: Very luxurious, spread out, lots of open spaces; often noisy

CRT: Jungle-feel, no wasted space; very quiet

Winner: Tie

 

Activities and Nightlife

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM: Nearly constant activities ranging from water sports to cooking classes to pool parties; nightly shows and live music; daily schedule delivered at turndown service

CRT: Sporadic activities pool and beachside ranging from volleyball to jenga tournaments; single-performer in lobby and once a week pool party (there is a disco, but we never went in so I won’t judge on that); weekly schedule posted in each building

Winner: VIM

 

Staff

VIM: Consistently good service throughout; rooms cleaned at roughly the same time each day

CRT: Consistently adequate service throughout, with a few standouts; rooms cleaned at all hours of the day (we had turndown show up at 10pm one night)

Winner: VIM

 

Check-in/Check-out

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM on left, CRT on right

VIM: Champagne on arrival, called up one by one to check-in; no wristbands; taken to room via golf cart; check-out a somewhat lengthy process

CRT: Fruit juice on arrival, standard hotel-style desk for check-in; wristbands; free to roam after check-in; check-out as simple as turning in keys

Winner: CRT (though champagne would be nice)

 

Guests

VIM: Primarily American and Canadian; mix of groups and couples; ages tend to range from early 20s to early 70s

CRT: Primarily European and couples; ages tend to range from early 30s to early 60s

Winner: CRT (guests were much less obnoxious)

 

Which Should You Choose?

VIM: If you want to drink (a lot), eat (a lot), and play (a lot). Overall more luxurious, abundant, and energizing.

CRT: If you want to swim (a lot), sun (a lot), and read (a lot). Overall more romantic, intimate, and relaxing.

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