A little preliminary travel research on Riviera Maya might have you thinking that the region offers mostly adult-only resorts for couples and partiers. But there are plenty of hotels that meet the needs of families, too, with sand-castle contests, treasure hunts, free non-motorized water sports, and more. Check out our 11 kid-friendly hotel picks in Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Akumal, and Puerto Aventuras in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
This luxurious, 128-room property boasts the most comprehensive (and high-end) kid program in Riviera Maya. The Rose Buds for Kids program includes offers a wide selection of age-appropriate activities, and a kids’ club complete with a TV and game room, a quiet room for napping and reading, and an arts and crafts area. Kids (and parents) can take part in sand castle-building contests, pinata-making sessions, Mayan jewelry classes, and talent shows. The hotel also offers babysitting services, adjoining rooms, select children’s spa services, and a wide array of products for use during your stay, including baby toiletries, wireless baby monitors, child-sized robes, and in-room babyproofing items.
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.
Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is a luxury, all-suite resort in the sleepy town of Puerto Morelos. Even at full capacity, the hotel is quiet and feels uncrowded. The majority of guests here are couples and families, and there are plenty of multi-generational groups taking advantage of the hotel’s awesome multi-bedroom suites with full kitchens and living rooms. There is only one on-site restaurant, El Faro, which serves international and Mexican cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- but the menu can get repetitive, especially for those on the all-inclusive plan. There are three beautiful pools, including one for children and one for adults that has a swim-up bar. The beach is superior to many in the area, with soft white sand, calm waters, and a lack of seaweed. The hotel offers a kids' club (activities include sand art, face painting, and Xbox), as well as free parking and Wi-Fi.
Generations Riviera Maya by Karisma is an all-inclusive luxury resort teeming with family-friendly activities. From the 144 large suites with separate bedroom and living room areas to the massive Eko Kids Club and giant outdoor pool, the hotel has thought of every last detail when it comes to the little ones (free “baby amenities,” like a stroller, crib, changing table, and bottle warmer, are available upon request). Though Generations bills itself as a gourmet all-inclusive, the food is fairly mediocre, portions are small, and restaurant menus are limited.
One of Riviera Maya’s most sophisticated properties is also one of its family-friendliest: The Grand Velas offers a wide array of fun activities for kids and teens, including beach Olympics, movies, Wiis, treasure hunts, crafts, and painting. The hotel is divided into three sections; families are welcome at the Zen and Ambassador buildings -- both featuring kids’ clubs with daily activities and plenty of connecting rooms -- but note that kids under 12 are not allowed in the Grand Class section. There are kid-friendly menus at most of the eight restaurants, free non-motorized water sports, and babysitting services for a fee.
The 630-room Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal Don Pablo Collection is a top-notch all-inclusive directly in front of a sprawling beach with turquoise waters, white sand, and rocky reefs. Thirteen different restaurants and bars include beach bars, pool bars, buffets, and a la cartes. Family-friendly features include two sparkling beach-view pools, a Bahia Scouts kids' club for babies and young children, and a Teen Club for up to age 16. Off-site features shared across all resorts in the complex the Dolphinarium (in the Grand Bahia Principe Tulum property and a kids-only water park at the Grand Bahia Principe Coba.
The Fairmont is popular with couples for the level of privacy it offers, but it is also geared towards families, with a kiddy pool, and wonderful activities such as cookie-making sessions, arts and crafts, boat tour adventures, Mayan language classes, and sandcastle contests. The hotel also offers babysitting services, connecting rooms, free baby toiletries, loaner bicycles, and kids’ menus at all of its restaurants (kids 5 and under eat free). For parents, there’s a high-end spa, and adult-only pool, and a Greg Norman-designed golf course next door.
In addition to a kiddy pool and kids’ menus at the on-site restaurants, the hotel offers a bright and fun kids’ club and a toy lending program, great for parents who want to pack light. There’s also a child-size gym with ropes, parallel bars, a springboard and floor pads, and daily activities for kids of all ages. Front desk can book babysitting services, so that adults can enjoy the private beach, three beautiful outdoor pools, and even the tequila lounge while knowing their kids are safe and having fun.
The 1,031-room Caribe & Beach is a mid-range all-inclusive resort located right on a white-sand beach just south of Playa del Carmen. It is the least luxurious of the three properties in the Barcelo complex, but offers two huge pools, six restaurants, and a long list of activities for all ages. The hotel caters mostly to families -- with great kid-friendly features such as a kids’ and teens' clubs, rooms that can accommodate up to five guests -- and even a kids' spa.
Hotel Riu Palace Mexico is an all-inclusive, upscale, 434-room resort set along the beach in Playa del Carmen’s upmarket Playacar area. A 2012 renovation brought most of the interiors up to date with plenty of glitzy touches while the hotel's ground are some of the most pristine you'll see. Facilities are excellent, including ample eating and drinking options, plenty of pools (including a children's pool) and sports, and daily entertainment, while kids are also well-catered for with a kids' club and playground. All in all, it's a strong contender in a crowded market, drawing families and couples who prefer relaxing over partying.
Treasure hunts, ocean trampolines, arts and crafts, and sand castle contests are just a few of the activities offered at the Dreams Riviera Cancun's “Explorer’s Club," complete with a playground, an indoor game rooms, and video games. The club organizes weekly camps out on the beach, and outdoor movie nights for kids 3 to 12. Numerous pools, nine restaurants, and a white-sand beach with calm waters are other big draws.
The five-pearl Banyan Tree Mayakoba is one of Playa del Carmen's most sought-after resorts -- and not just be couples celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary. The 118 spacious villas are great for families; All villas have large living areas as well as outdoor dining areas, while Ocean Front Three-Bedroom Pool Villas at the Haven and the Three-Bedroom Family Residences also have full kitchens. Standard amenities include air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, well-stocked minibars, iPod docks, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and free Wi-Fi. Each villa is also equipped with two bikes that guests are free to use, a convenience for getting around the massive grounds. There are also a kids' club great daily activities, video and board games, and even a wide selection of classes, such as kayak, snorkel, boogie board, and Latin dance. Plus, it features a designated room for movie nights.