When Oyster visits properties around the world, we evaluate how every feature stacks up against the competition, from the rooms to the pools to the restaurants. So if you’re planning a family trip for Spring Break and need a place to start, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve taken into account the amenities offered, accommodations available, and atmosphere of the hotel. Take a look at our top family-friendly picks in Riviera Maya, and get inspired!
Paradisus Playa Del Carmen La Esmeralda is one of the best family-friendly, all-inclusive resorts on the Yucatan Peninsula. This luxury property is located directly on the Caribbean and includes access to a white sand beach. The swimming pool, with a pirate ship playground and a swim-up bar, makes it a popular spot among families and partiers. Even the most affordable rooms here include marble floors and sensory soaking tubs. Upgrading often means swim-up pools and/or kitchenettes. Restaurant and bar options include everything from a show cooking buffet, to Argentinian-style steaks, to burritos, to sushi. Vacationers that go all-out for the Family Concierge level rooms get access to private pools, a tricked out club lounge, and expedited service -- but those who don't book it have reported feeling like second-class citizens.
The Grand Velas -- set on over 80 acres of mangroves that meet a postcard-perfect beach of white sand and turquoise waters -- is one of Riviera Maya’s most sophisticated properties. It features 491 top-notch suites spread out in three different buildings (two family-friendly, one adults-only), all with their own stunning pool complexes, gyms, and restaurants.
The Palace offers a high-end all-inclusive experience on a gorgeous stretch of white-sand beach 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. It’s the smallest, newest and most upscale of the three properties in the Barcelo complex, with 756 beautiful rooms surrounded by gorgeous pools and manicured grounds. All rooms are Junior Suites or Suites with pretty bathrooms featuring separate showers and tubs. The Palace has great family-friendly amenities, including a kids’ club, rooms that can accommodate up to five guests, and a kiddy pool.
The ultimate family getaway, the all-inclusive 438-room Azul Sensatori mega-resort offers a fabulous kids' club, with fairly modern amenities, lots of fun colors and spaces, and even a life-size Dora the Explorer running around. For the adults, the spa is airy and luxurious with soothing decor. On the hotel's website, the beach looks stunning, but in reality it is full of seaweed and rocks, making it not the greatest place to swim. It is, however, still a great place to rent some kayaks, play beach sports, and get a golden Mexico tan. Fortunately for those looking to swim, the winding lazy river pool weaves around the property, which many swim-up rooms border.
The 446-room Iberostar Paraiso Lindo is an all-inclusive, family-friendly resort located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on the Riviera Maya. The indoor common areas channel a real sense of the region's history and culture through their artwork, wood carvings, and furniture. Outdoors, guests can enjoy lounging in the lazy river or wave pool, playing water polo in the activity pool, romping with kids in the pirate ship water park, or floating peacefully with a cocktail past the swim-up bar. The private white-sand beach has plenty of sun loungers and offers a wide range of water sports. Rooms are simple and charming, if somewhat basic and dated in style, with modern bathrooms and touches of Mexico in the decor. The resort is part of the five-hotel Iberostar complex and guests are welcome to use the amenities at the other properties, which can be reached via free shuttle.
Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa does a lot of things differently from its upper-middle-range, beachfront, all-inclusive competitors. The property is divided into adults-only and family-friendly sections, meaning that some rooms and restaurants, and a pool, are free of kids. The grounds are jungle-like: there's a natural cenote (crystal clear for snorkeling) and guided rowboat river cruise. Animals, like donkeys and coatis, roam free. For kids under six, the on-site water park is lots of fun, as is the kids' club. There's room for improvement though: rooms have awkward layouts and past guests have complained about odors and mold. There are restrictions on the all-inclusive restaurants, the beach is rocky, and the pools get crowded. Overall, however, this property is a solid choice with some fun perks and generally budget-friendly rates.
The 400-room, upper-middle-range Catalonia Playa Maroma is set on Punta Maroma Beach, one of the best white-sand beaches in Mexico. It is a slightly more personalized all-inclusive resort with an eco-friendly vibe, hacienda-inspired architecture, and plenty of space for families and couples alike to play, socialize, and relax. The resort offers plenty of sports, entertainment, water activities, and family fun, and the nearby offshore reefs and caves are nirvana for snorkelers and divers. Rooms are spacious and breezy, with well-maintained Mexican decor and private balconies.
The Viva Wyndham Maya is an all-inclusive mid-range resort located in the beachside, gated community of Playacar, a few miles from the center of the popular tourist city of Playa del Carmen. The 604 rooms are clean and bright, but basic and on the small side. The property is middle-of-the-road in terms of the quality of the food and activities, although there are classes, games, and shows scheduled nearly every hour, as well as a 24-hour bar and snack bar for night owls. Unique offerings including trapeze and juggling lessons for adults and kids, and the location is great for taking day trips to area eco parks and archeological wonders. The white-sand beach is gorgeous, but the pools are not as large as those at neighboring resorts.
El Cozumeleño is a mid-range all-inclusive resort located directly on a long, narrow beach in northern Cozumel. Its 252 rooms are no-frills and some have dated technology, but all units are spacious (especially those in the original building) and have furnished balconies with ocean views. The pools are the highlight here (one has a popular swim-up bar), but golf is also draw due to the resort's location across the street from the island's only golf course (guests get discounted rates). Breakfast and lunch are pretty average, but dinner is tasty and the menu changes every few days. Overall, the hotel is a solid pick for families and value travelers.
The Now Jade Riviera Cancun is a 550-room megaresort that manages to be both family-friendly and romantic. The hotel's location in low-key Puerto Morelos helps, while its chic spa and unique decor distinguish the resort from its competitors in nearby Cancun. Also, the adults-only pool here is not restricted to Preferred Club guests, which sets this hotel apart from sister property Now Sapphire. All units are suites with ample space (especially the bathrooms), and the use of a vibrant color palette helps avoid the dreaded "generic hotel" vibe. The private Jacuzzi tubs are also a nice touch, with many located on outdoor balconies. The biggest drawback is the beach, which is smaller and less impressive than many others in the area.
The 261-room Allegro Cozumel is an affordable, mid-range, all-inclusive hotel at the southern end of Cozumel. With a prime location on Palancar Reef, it is a beloved spot for divers. There are a long, sandy beach, water park, and kids' play area in addition to tennis courts, basketball courts, and a full fitness center. Four restaurants and five bars provide food and drink variety and there are four pools on-site. Fun extras include a full-service spa, deep-sea fishing, and of course, diving excursions. The rooms are simple and clean, but a tad dated -- some have tube TVs and most have very firm beds.