Exotic Traveler Member’s perspective

The Spot:

It was off-putting when we arrived at The Fives Playa Del Carmen and our concierge at the member’s check-in began rattling off all the benefits that are now excluded. The property is under new management and is no longer run by the Karisma brand.  If you follow our travels you are aware that this particular trip had been elusive, this was the third attempt at this destination.  Our first planned visit was halted due to the pandemic, I had already packed the kid’s suitcases when the lockdown went into effect.  The following year we had to reschedule again when we found out our daughter’s passports had expired without enough time to renew them.

In late September 2020, Karisma reorganized its travel program creating a new collective between the ABEO Travelers and Exotic Traveler membership programs.  While you can still book The Fives beach hotel & residence property through Exotic, buyers beware you will not get your full benefits at this particular location.  

Exotic Member Benefits

The membership benefits are bonuses, plush amenities that are not essential to travel.  At the same time, those amenities are the entire reason that members buy in.   We love the perks and privileges.  So honestly, it rubbed me the wrong way to sip my welcome drink at this twice rescheduled trip and be immediately confronted with the list of benefits that they would no longer be honoring.  

One bedroom Penthouse Suite The fives!
One Bedroom Penthouse Suite

After check-in, we were shuttled to our one-bedroom penthouse suite which was ready early.  It was spacious and clean and we immediately made the decision to make the most of whatever surfaced on this vacay.  By the end of the week the monkeys on the property, the rooftop penthouse in the evenings, and the delicious cuisine won us over.  If you are an exotic member taking advantage of this spot while it is still available here is some intel on what to expect.

  • They will not honor promotional credits towards the spa, wine or gift shop.  If you are waiting for the annual exotic members sales this property isn’t for you.
  • Pool chairs go fast and your membership will only include one day reservation for the Bali Beds.  You can reserve additional days for $75 per day.  Upgrade your pool or beach day by adding the seafood tower for $25 it has lobster, octopus, scallops and white fish.  It comes with a balsamic salad and is totally worth it.
  • You still get your butler services, private transfers and 20% discount for upgrades but you’ll need to bring your physical member’s card for check-out.
  • The room is stocked with preferred alcohol bottles and pillow preferences.
  • Members get a premium room service menu but must pay a nominal fee for delivery, I think it was $3.50 which is just irritating.
  • We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner on the beach included with our membership and we were invited to a private member’s dinner with entertainment.

Good Eats

The cuisine is outstanding throughout the Karisma brand, so if you are a foody you will have the best of weeks.  It is such a pleasure to me not cooking any meals for a full week.  My daughters Giana and Misha couldn’t get enough of the French toast at Flavours.  My husband James was faithful to the omelet station there and I even got adventurous and tried the breakfast taco stand they set it up right outside of the entrance.

Oka Sushi Bar

We dined family style crisscrossing our arms to try a variety of rolls at the Oka Sushi Bar.  My personal favorite meal was the Fritto misto all Italiana and grandma’s lasagna made with a creamy veal salsa at the Arezzos.  We stopped in the Gin Bar on day four and I had hands down the best craft cocktail that has ever been mixed for me.  Along with fresh snipped herbs and pureed elixirs, they also served freshly popped popcorn it was a delicious combo.  When the kids couldn’t find items on the menu that appealed to them they ordered Mac and Cheese and it even that was served as a gourmet version.

Make it Laufty!

Within ten minutes of taking our self-guided tour we encountered our first monkey who lives at the resort.  They have a natural preserve area with a wooden bridge, there are spider monkeys, a wild hog and Coatis that reside in it.  The resort is surrounded by tropical forest, they house a secret healing garden at the center of it.  I booked a eco-tour that included a monkey sanctuary not knowing we would see monkeys casually throughout our stay.

Hidden Garden at the Fives Beach Resort
Secret Garden in The Fives Beach Hotel & Residences

I’m always in search of an distinctive experience and I tend to book at least one excursion off the property we are staying at.  I was drawn to the private eco-tour with Bushman.  The impact of ecotourism is felt by both the host and the guest, the concept is to create a more meaningful experience than your average excursion.  My main objectives was for my kids to get exposure and education from a totally different culture and lifestyle.  

Ecotourism

Bushman Photography offers Private Adventures and their itineraries are designed for travelers who care to learn and explore the deeper relevance of the communities they are visiting. A photographer & certified naturalist guides you on a day trip, “where you will discover extraordinary places unknown to most” tourist. “Our view is that the Mayan Community must benefit from our presence. “

If you are new to Ecotourism like we are, these are some of the principles that #ecotourism abides by:

Generate financial benefit for conservation.

Create empowerment for indigenous people.

Build environmental and cultural awareness and RESPECT.

Generate financial benefit for the local people and private industry.

Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental and social climates.

Our Rating/Was it impressive?

This resort meets our lofty standards and I would give it an overall 4/5 star rating.  The layout is neat with a central area that feels like you’re in a small town village.  The shuttles are hard to utilize unless you are a resident but we found a shortcut and stop relying on them.  The 1 bedroom penthouse suite gave us space to stay up and hang out once the girls went to sleep.  The rooftop had a grill, a jacuzzi, a patio bed, and a dining table.  A bathroom was also at the top of the stairs.

Cameras they made in the kid’s club at The Fives Beach Resort

Our kids had a blast at the kid’s club.  They did a variety of activities including an educational nature tour, a scavenger treasure hunt, they crafted a camera and on our last full day, they blew up inflatables and hosted a family pool party with games and prizes.  The girls were able to go there while we enjoyed a candlelit dinner to celebrate our anniversary.  

Our suite was in the 1600 building, here we are headed to our member’s dinner!

We also used the club while we enjoyed two 75-minute couples massages .  Since we couldn’t take advantage of the spa credits we booked with Karisma, we ended up getting our massages under a beach cabana from a competing company, they were $40 each.  They come right up to you with laminated menus of service on the beach.  We had a fantastic week and a vacation that will remain in our memories.