When our oldest daughter was 9 months old, my husband and I did something very spontaneous: We took a last-minute vacation and flew standby to Cancun, Mexico. Our ultimate destination was Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya, a resort region just south of the city of Cancun. We had a blast.
Between those beautiful white-sand beaches, crystal blue water, great food, and buckets of cervezas, we were glad we opted to go to this part of the Caribbean with an infant. Another great benefit to visiting Cancun and the surrounding areas of the Rivera Maya is being able to explore ancient Mayan ruins and the breathtaking cliffside ruins of Tulum.
As we learned first-hand, the area offers many great, family-friendly luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts from which to choose. This abundance of luxury hotels means that the odds are pretty good that you’ll find a great hotel experience for a last-minute, luxury family getaway. While some may prefer the more laid-back feel of the resorts in nearby Playa del Carmen, some of the premier family-friendly luxury hotels in Cancun also could fit the bill.
The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun
Luxury hotel loyalists know that the Ritz-Carlton brand is synonymous with posh vacation accommodations, first-class service, and a kids’ club fit for little princes and princesses. With 363 luxury guest rooms and suites with Caribbean views, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun has crafted the ultimate in pampering for family guests.
In particular, the hotel has three “Itzy Bitzy Ritz Kids rooms,” specifically designed for parents traveling with infants. I so wish we would have had one of these nursery suites when our daughter was a baby. The Itzy Bitzy rooms include everything you need for your stay with baby, including a gorgeous crib and plush rocking chair for those middle-of-the-night feedings. You can reserve an Itzy Bitzy room by calling the hotel directly.
If you are traveling with school-aged kids, The Ritz-Carlton’s Ritz Kids program, a kids club designed in exclusive partnership with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, provides children 4-12 years old with a chance to explore and learn about the local ecosystem and ocean environment. What’s more, the “Kids Night Out” program on Friday and Saturday nights means your little ones will be entertained while you sneak out for a date night and dinner.
Viewfinder Tip: Cancun has a reputation for lively adult nightlife, so be sure to call the hotel to ensure your baby will be able to sleep.
If you are a foodie interested in taking a cooking class, the property’s Culinary Center, a residential-style kitchen overlooking the Caribbean Sea, provides hands-on instruction or a private chef series. Some classes and presentations also are family-friendly. Perhaps the best perk of staying at The Ritz-Carlton? The Ritz-Carlton Club provides your family with exclusive concierge services, as well as daily complimentary food and beverages in the Club Lounge.
Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort
Palace Resorts’ all-inclusive Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, located in the heart of Cancun’s beaches, sun, and nightlife, provides families with an abundance of all-inclusive food options such as 14 restaurants, 24-hour room service and a variety of room types and programs suited to families. Everything is included and kids stay free during summer months.
The property is separated into three sections: Sunrise, Nizuc, and Moon Grand. Each of these sections has different views and amenities. The hotel also has “Family Deluxe” and “Family Connection Luxury Suites” with guaranteed connecting rooms and priority access to “The Playroom,” Moon Palace’s kids’ club for children ages 4-12. The Playroom offers a play place for toddlers, a beauty salon for little princesses, and a movie theater complete with concessions and cozy seating.
What is most impressive about this kids’ club is the long list of activities geared to entertain your little ones; everything from tennis and Spanish lessons to beach camping, games, kid disco, and masquerade parties. Outside, active families will enjoy the opportunity to swim with dolphins, lounge by one of seven pools, or hang ten on the property’s FlowRider double-wave simulator that provides visitors of all ages and skill levels the chance to practice surfing skills.
The Playroom at The Moon Palace, Cancun
The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa
Those families looking for comforts of home (such as preparing meals independently) will love the villas at The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa. The studio, one-, and two-bedroom villas offer private beachfront balconies and patios, full kitchens or kitchenettes, and washer/dryer units. My kids love The Westin® Kids’ Club and the club here is pretty great. For parents, date night couldn’t be easier, as families with children 4-12 have the option of hourly, evening, or full- and half-day kids’ club sessions for the little ones.
The kids club is also relatively affordable, with standard hourly rates starting at US$9 per child and US$19 per child for evening care. After dinner, the whole family can reconnect for s’mores on the beach.
It’s impossible to cover all of the exceptional family-friendly luxury hotels in Cancun and the Rivera Maya, but hopefully these three give you an idea of what’s available. Hopefully, the hardest part of planing your family trip to Cancun will be deciding when to return to discover another one of the stellar area resorts.
What sorts of amenities do you seek when you travel with family?