From a luxurious stay in a swim-out suite to a trek to Tulum with tots in tow, Mexico’s Riviera Maya offers the perfect backdrop for a laid-back vacation that the whole family will enjoy
Bianca BujanYou wake up slowly, squinting your eyes as the glare of the morning sun shines through a crack in the curtains. As you rise out of bed, you slide your feet into your snug hotel slippers and pull on your oversized, plush robe. Grinning, you glance around the room and relish in the calm. Your children are still asleep, exhausted from a day spent splashing in pools, swooshing down water slides and collecting coconuts along the sandy shores of the Caribbean Sea.
You flip the switch on the coffee maker and slide the curtains open. As sunlight pours into the room, your kids stir. Rubbing their eyes, they bound out of bed, slip on their swimsuits and race through the rear sliding doors of your hotel room. They leap off the patio steps one-by-one into the warm pool below, splashing and giggling in unison.
You grab your cup of coffee, shuffle onto the back deck, settle into a cozy deck chair and exhale deeply as you watch your kids play. The perfect start to another day in paradise.
Here’s where to stay, play and dine all day in Playa del Carmen, Mexico with kids…
1. Repose like royalty
Bianca BujanThe breathtaking entryway of the Grand Riviera Princess is only the beginning of the palatial paradise that lies just beyond check-in. Fresh air breezes through the open lobby as vaulted ceilings with pillars resembling upside-down ruins force your eyes upwards. When you’re called up to check in, you’re greeted with a smile and a chilled glass of bubbly as paperwork is quickly sorted.
Unlike most luxury resorts, the Grand Riviera Princess is home to a variety of stand-alone accommodations within the property that are custom designed to appeal to guests with varying needs. There’s a building reserved specifically for nuptials, offering exclusive services and amenities for wedding parties and their respective guests. There’s a neighbourhood of private, multi-level, luxury villas nestled along a quiet lagoon and an adults-only spot for discerning guests who are looking to indulge in the ultimate luxury getaway. For travellers with kids, there’s a vibrant vicinity designed just for families too, boasting everything you need for a stress-free stay.
2. Pool hop, peruse and play
Grand Riviera PrincessWith 12 swimming pools, six tennis courts, two beach-access spots and activities scheduled throughout the day, there is no shortage of things to do in the resort. Start your day with a dip in your swim-out pool and then walk over to the water park for some action-packed fun with the wee ones. Pool hop your way toward the beach as you gaze at the iguanas, cats and coatis—cute, little Mexican hog-nosed raccoons—that linger along the wel-groomed pathways.
In the afternoon, settle in along the sandy shore and watch as your kids wade through the waves, collect shells and build sandcastles while you sip on piña coladas and soak up the sun. After dinner, be sure to catch a live show. Talented actors take the stage to perform family-favourite classics like Frozen and Moana, dressed in eye-catching costumes and singing dance-worthy tunes.
3. Find your fit at the Family Club
Bianca BujanFor families, a swim-out suite at the unbeatable Princess Family Club is a must. The rooms are equipped with bunk beds for the little ones, soaker tubs and all of the add-ons a family could need, from cribs to change tables to bottle warmers. Best of all, the suites can accommodate large families so five or more are comfortable, not cramped.
The Family Club includes a separate kid-focused, pirate-themed buffet, a larger-than-life water park and an exclusive ice cream parlour where you can cool off with a sweet treat at any time of the day—all within steps of your room. The property is home to the Kids Club, where children aged four to 12 can partake in fun crafts, gardening, movie nights and disco parties. It's perfect for parents who want to slip away for a date night or a soothing sojourn at the spa.
4. Take a day trip to Tulum
Bianca BujanHop on an air-conditioned bus and head 40 minutes south along the Caribbean coast to Tulum, where you can take in a half-day tour of the majestic Mayan ruins. Cancun Adventures has fun and informative tour guides that will keep your kids entertained. They offer snacks, bottles of water and umbrellas for tour guests—must-have essentials for this exciting excursion.
Upon arrival, you’ll be taken aback by the wall that surrounds Tulum. As you trek along the tree-lined path, listening to tales that reveal tidbits about the historical site, your anticipation will mount. Filled with curiosity, you’ll duck through one of the five tiny doorways that slice through the sturdy stone wall to discover a wide-open space—rolling hills and the crumbling remains of a civilization that once called this site home.
The most spectacular sight is the castle that sits perched atop a limestone cliff, poised in a postcard-worthy position above the turquoise water that sits below. Play a game of "I Spy" and spot the oversized iguanas that sunbathe on the surface of the structure's walls. Be sure to wear your suits as you’ll want to cool off with a dip in the ocean at the hidden beach that sits beneath the cliffs. Comfortable clothes and shoes are a must as you’ll want to enjoy the lengthy stroll through time in Tulum.
5. Enjoy round-the-world fare with à la carte dining
Bianca BujanWith two international buffets and 12 à la carte restaurants featuring family-friendly fare, the meal options at the Grand Riviera Princess are endless. You can enjoy a teppanyaki dinner at Miso one night, authentic Mexican at La Hacienda the next and then perfectly prepared pasta at Italian eatery Mama Mia. Dining with picky eaters? Not to worry. Every restaurant offers the same kid-friendly menu featuring fun favourites like chicken nuggets and mac 'n’ cheese.
For date night, book a table at the ultra swanky Chill Out Lounge (not included in the all-inclusive rate). Sit side-by-side and take in the sunset as you sip and savour five-star fare and listen to the waves crash on the shore. Don’t wait until your last night though. Guests are granted day passes to an exclusive beach area that can’t be beat!
6. Getting there
Bianca BujanA direct six-hour flight from Vancouver will get you to Cancun, Mexico, where you’ll catch a 40-minute shuttle to your destination on the coast near Playa del Carmen. You can book your resort, flights, shuttles and excursions all in one spot through Sunwing Vacations—a one-stop-shop for tropical family travel. Sunwing often offers last-minute deals and—bonus for families—they charter their own planes which fly directly to sunny destinations around the world. The airline offers fun (and free!) activity packs to keep younger guests entertained in flight.