Hey all, thought I'd report on Playa Del Carmen....
Went last week, so first week of May. I went as part of a couple, with my non-kiting girlfriend. What we wanted was a high luxury hotel where she could hang out all day drinking mojito's on the beach and eating top class food, ideally with me able to kite for hours directly in front to come back in for mojito's and top class food. I wanted a few other kiters around and some repair facilities within reach.
We looked at the spot and researched it well. All the websites said May, although end of season was still good. We emailed and checked out the local kite center which is www.pdckiteboarding.com/
. We looked at google maps and checked out all the hotels in the area. We chose http://www.royalhideaway.com/index2.asp
The spot, pdc kitesurfing and some of the hotels on spot (not the one we stayed in) are mentioned on planet kitesurf website.
I checked windguru before going and it looked pretty flat.
On arrival wind was up late evening, found 2 other kiters in the hotel who said they had no wind all week. I managed 1 session on my 12m (im 90kg's) the whole week. I got out a second time for an hour on a rented 16m from pdc kiteboarding. It was not good, there was no wind. Generally nothing all morning, it would pick up frustratingly in the afternoon and sit at around 10-12 knots. Then in the evening when dark it would get up to 14-16 knots.
However, I may return to this spot mid season.
On conversation with the guys at pdc kitesurfing there opinion was that May is to late, its the last month of the season but even so, its touch and go. This May has been particularly flat. It hosted the PKRA on the same stretch of beach a month earlier. March is a good time.
The set up on spot, depending on what your looking for is, is pretty good for what I wanted.
Most of the hotels, including SANDOS (on which pdc kiteboarding is connected with), looked bog average, touristy and commercial, I would call them all 3, maybe 4 star resorts at a push. However they could give you a good deal. The Royal Hideaway is clearly the best hotel on the spot and possibly in playa del carman as a whole, its ultra all inclusive and truly 5 star, every luxury was afforded, the service around the pool was excellent, it was great looking with an infinity pool right on the beach and hot tubs. The restaurants were varied and entertaining, serving top class food. The guy in the hotel watersports centre knew how to launch a kite which is an important thing and was helpful. The hotel knew what kite surfing was and was supportive of it, although not a lot of kiters stay there. There is a swimming area in front of the hotel, but you can get out by going down the edge of it.
Pdc is right down the end of the beach, about a 12min walk from Royal Hideaway. Its attached to a hotel called SANDOS, so if your a beginner and need space to learn and board start, you've got it down there. However, anywhere else you have swimming area's, patrolled by lifeguards, and a lot of sea traffic like parasails and hobby cats. If you are intermediate, then go for it... but check with your hotel that the guys in the waterspots centre know what kiting is and can launch you, sometimes there is not enough space to self launch safely. PDC is just a small shack on the edge of SANDOS with a couple of local managers and seasonal young foreign kitesurf instructors. I did not see any storage, but they did repair my 12 overnight for me. I think they operate out of a vehicle or lock up in the SANDOS hotel and seem to have a steady flow of learners.
The spot mainly has cross shore north-south winds and gets choppy, there is no flat water. In the deep blue about 300m out you get the odd shark. However PDC run expeditions to other spots and lagoons.
In conclusion, if you are in a position like mine, with a non-kiteing girlfriend and you just want to get some kiting in on a couples holiday, with some other kiters around and a repair facility available. Mixed with an awesome ultra luxurious, romantic hotel then I would recommend.... but obviously don't go May, go mid season in Feb/Mar.
If your looking for pure kiting on an awesome spot with kite vibe in spades.... go elsewhere....