Mayan Palace and Grand Mayan share a large resort between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. There are dining options here if you prefer to "stay put". More expensive than going into Playa, but if you don't have a car and take into consideration a $16 cab ride each way, it becomes more appealing. The beachside restaurant that was destroyed in 2005 by the hurricane is being rebuilt.
POOL BARS - there are two of these with excellent waiter service - they will run a tab for the day. Watch for happy hour-usually at 11am and sometimes again late afternoon. The swim-up bar closest the poolside restaurant stay open late - 10pm or so depending on the crowd.
BALCHI - the poolside restaurant serves breakfast with entrées in the $7 - $9 range. Snacks, pizzas, burgers, and simple dishes are featured for lunch. Nothing fancy and of mediocre quality. The bartenders are quite efficient at serving drinks and food to your lounge chair, palapa or poolside "bed" until 5 or 6pm. It's strictly table service later in the evening. The setting is nice by the pool - under the stars - and there is music on some evening. There are themed buffets on some nights and vendors set up poolside. Buffets are priced in the $30 - $40 range depending on the food served - We didn't eat there - the food just didn't look appealing.
DEL LAGO is a large palapa topped restaurant and showroom that serves daily buffets at $17.95 at breakfast and in the $35 - $50 range at night. On Mexican night at $50 per person, native drinks were included. The food looked good and plentiful, On one particular night beef tenderloin and fish were being freshly grilled to order - but we thought overpriced. The nightly shows are featured at 8pm and some are real "productions"... There is no charge for these and you can order drinks without food service.
TRAMONTO BAR has a nightly "happy hour" from 7pm to 8pm - No food is available here - not even snacks, which I think is a shame. It's a beautifully decorated bar with lots of stools, tables, chairs, and comfortable sofas overlooking the pool and ocean beyond. Some nights feature Karaoke, Poker, or Casino night and other nights it becomes a sports bar or music with a DJ. Simple bar food or even sandwiches would increase the number of people that it would appeal to.
TRAMONTO RESTAURANT has in interesting menu - reasonably priced with lots of selections - from $10 pastas and pizzas to ridiculously priced $45 for a 10 ounce - 3 course prime rib dinner . Nightly entertainment with a guitarist make this a popular spot. Make sure to have reservations or you will be turned away.
ROOM SERVICE is another option. It takes about 1/2 hour and the food is served hot. In fact the pizza delivered is better than that served poolside.