Posted by Runningrock
Great Location, Great for Families. Just Some Things to Be Aware Of.
Posted on 2 January 2018
My husband and I and our two teenagers stayed at Balam Ek with another family of four. The house was a good size and accommodated us well. The location was great, just a short walk or drive from town on the north side of Akumal.
The main house features three bedrooms, each with its own bathroom - a master suite with a king bed and balcony, a second upstairs bedroom with two doubles and a single bed, and a downstairs bedroom with a king bed and a private patio. The master suite has a small off-chute room with a single bed, perfect for a young child. You have to go through the master bedroom to get to this room.
Our teenage boys shared the upstairs bedroom. The shower in their bathroom is open to the rest of the bathroom and does not have any walls, similar to a bathroom you might find on a boat. Not a big deal, but it took our boys some getting used to with everything getting wet.
My husband and I stayed in the attached casita, while everyone else stayed in the main house. The casita was very nice and perfect for a couple. It has a full kitchen, dining area and living room. There's also a lovely outdoor tub overlooking the backyard. The open shower is also very cool. There are water dispensers in each bathroom and in the kitchen pantry as the tap water is not potable, not even to brush your teeth with.
Our concierge, JP, was wonderful and always immediately available. He met with us shortly after we arrived to explain where things were in the house, give us suggestions for things to do and places to eat and answer our questions. We had to call him a few times during our stay and each time he responded quickly, often showing up at the door very promptly. Ingrid was also very helpful during the arrangements and our reservation process went smoothly. We were able to split the rental payment so each family could pay separately.
The rental includes daily housekeeping (except for Sunday) and landscaping/pool maintenance. Andreas, the landscaper, was extremely helpful and always offered to open the coconuts for us. He also helped fix our safe and air conditioner when it was dripping water. All the staff were very pleasant and accommodating.
We had a chef cooked dinner on our last night and Tere was excellent. We picked our entree from a menu and she cooked a delicious dinner. You pay about $100 pesos per person plus the cost of food, tip and taxi for her ride home (we opted to give her a ride home since we had a rental car.)
The house includes kayaks and beach towels for your use. There is also a small plunge pool in the backyard. The beach is rocky with tide pools. There is a sandy beach a short walk away on Half Moon Bay. If you're wanting a sandy beach, you'll need to look in Half Moon Bay or on the south side. None of the houses along this stretch of the north side are on sandy beach. A few of the rental homes in the neighborhood have little patches of sand in their backyard. This one does not.
We did have a problem with ants in the house, but this is the tropics. Andreas sprayed and left us with ant spray, which helped. The one thing that might have helped would have been central AC which this house does not have.
If you're renting this house in the summer months, be aware that there is no AC in the common areas (living room, dining room, kitchen) or in the casita. There are portable air conditioning units in the bedrooms of the main house only. There are ceiling fans throughout the house as well. The casita has a portable standing fan. As much as we enjoyed the house and the location, I would probably not rent this house again in the summer months. It's probably fine during the rest of the year. It was too hot and humid for us (mid-June). There is a breeze, but not enough in my opinion in the middle of the day.
Some things that could use repairing or improving include the sliding screen doors in the living room and dining room. There are large gaps between the screen and the glass doors so that bugs can get in. The doors sticks due to the humidity and do not operate smoothly. They just need to be replaced. A screen door on the front door would also be nice and allow for a cross breeze. We kept the front door closed due to the mosquitos, which were plentiful. Short of central AC, a whole house fan would be very helpful in this house.
As with most bathrooms in this area of the Yucatan, flushing your toilet paper is discouraged. Instead toilet paper is thrown into a trash can next to the toilet, a concept we had to get used to and that not all Americans may be fully comfortable with.
The Wi-Fi is very slow at the house and pretty much non-existent in the casita. But hey, you're on vacation, so unplug! The house has a flat-screen TV and we were able to watch N. American Cup Soccer!
You can walk into town, as we did one evening for dinner. It's about a 15-20 minute walk. There's a great beach restaurant called La Buena Vida, less than a 5-minute walk from the house. We ate there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner! By far the best restaurant in Akumal and very reasonably priced. We also ate at Taverna, a nice Italian restaurant in town.
We used Akumal Dive Shop, for scuba diving. The staff there was excellent. There are a several markets in town for groceries, souvenirs and convenience items. We went across the bridge into Akumal village where the locals live and shop. Prices are a little cheaper for groceries. We ate at Ultimo Maya which is a little hole in the wall, but great food.
We also used the lavanderia (laundry mat) in the village, which was well worth the money. If you drop your laundry off in the morning, it will be ready later in the afternoon. It was about $7.00 USD for about two full loads of laundry. That's clean and folded! There is no washer/dryer at the house, so for us, this was a necessity.
If you're buying vanilla, the supermercado across the bridge has the cheapest prices. $5.00 for a 16.9 oz bottle that sells elsewhere in Akumal, Playa del Carmen and Cancun for twice as much, if not more.
Overall, this house is a nice rental with a great staff. I would recommend renting this house outside of the summer months. During the summer months is fine if you don't mind not having central air conditioning.