This summer we took our first international family trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico, just south of Cancun. We stayed at the Azul Sensatori Beach Resort, which was a fabulous family-friendly option. I must admit that I was a little nervous before we left, but it was probably my favorite family vacation we’ve ever taken. I could say so much about this trip, but in the interest of readability I’m going to offer some bullet points for anyone considering this resort (or Mexico in general).
What we loved about our hotel:
- This whole trip began because my son wanted to meet the Ninja Turtles. This hotel has a contract with Nickelodeon and has character entertainment with the Ninja Turtles, Dora and Boots, and Spongebob and Patrick. I cannot say enough about how much my kids loved this! The two highlights of the trip were probably having breakfast with the Ninja Turtles and getting slimed! Some activities included meet and greets, learning a dance from Dora, and hide-and-seek with the Ninja Turtles. The only day with no activities was Monday. If you were planning a trip, I would ask for the Nickelodeon calendar so you can be aware of what activities are being held on which days.
- In addition to the regular pools, this hotel had a kid’s play area. There was a 3 feet deep pool with water slide, a one-foot deep pool, and a splash pad area with sprinklers. This was separated from the bigger pools and even had kid-sized lounge chairs. We loved this area!
- We had never done an all-inclusive option with children, and it honestly made a huge a difference in the enjoyability factor for my husband and me. For five whole days I didn’t fix a single snack or meal, or clean a single plate! When we go to the beach in Florida, we typically get a condo and are still making many meals. Here, we were totally taken care of!
- The food was very good and very kid-friendly. There were several restaurants we didn’t try because they opened too late for our early-eating crew, but the buffet restaurant was always a hit.
- The pools were designed so well! There was no “kiddie pool” per se in the main area, but there were several rounds areas that were different depths, with some seeming as shallow as about 1.5 feet. Even my two-year-old could find a pool that worked for him.
- There was a small playground on the beach, which my kids went to everyday.
- Each afternoon (until around 2 or 3) there was a soft-serve ice cream machine on the beach–such a fun afternoon treat!
- All the bartenders were very helpful with making the kids fun drinks. And the margaritas were truly amazing!
- Our room was perfect for our family. Many hotels have trouble accommodating larger families, and this hotel had a family option with two connecting rooms. One room had a king bed and one had two queens, and both had a nice balcony. The balcony was great because we could sit outside and hear the ocean or entertainment even after our kids had gone to sleep.
- The hotel and pools were pristine, and spotting iguanas was super fun!
A few drawbacks:
- We felt like the hotel could/should have had more snack options. There was a only a two-hour window each day when no restaurant was open, but most food was more meal-like than snack-like. With kids who are accustomed to snacking often we had to get a little creative, but it wasn’t a huge deal.
- Communications before we arrived were a little confusing. For instance, I couldn’t get a straight answer on which characters would be at our breakfast.
- We had pre-booked a few things, but then our bill showed them again. At this or any resort, be careful to check your bill for any double charges.
- This resort is not the best place to actually swim in the ocean. Some people did, but there was lots of coral and other underwater structures, so our kids did not get in. We didn’t miss it at all, but it’s definitely something you want to know before you go.
Our thoughts on visiting Mexico:
- We absolutely loved visiting Mexico. The people were nice and hospitality, the area was beautiful, and we felt completely safe the entire time.
- We went off resort one day to go to a local market in Puerto Morelos. This was such a wonderful experience! We checked out several market shops, went to a local grocery store, and strolled the beach and dock. While it was still a touristy area, it had a bit more authenticity than a resort, and I know our kids will remember that fun adventure.
- The flights were easy! We were able to get a direct flight on the way down, and only had one stop on the way home. It was a great test run for bigger trips.
- One thing that was a bit overwhelming was finding our car when we exited the airport. Even though we had directions to the car we had hired, it was still quite confusing. Make sure you have VERY detailed directions to the correct area, as there are so many tourists and car services that locating the correct one is difficult.