We are officially back in Dallas and back into the swing of things. We spend the previous week in Riviera Maya, Mexico and are already dying to go back! We traveled with our little family of four along with Travis’s parents and one of his brothers. We had the absolute best time and as always, it was so good to unplug from work and social media for a bit.
Last April Travis and I stayed at the Barcelo Maya Riviera – a brand new adults only hotel, and had the absolute best experience. The food was great, the amenities were clean, the beach was gorgeous, and the ambiance was dreamy. While we were there we walked down the beach to explore some of the other properties. The Barcelo hotels total 6 – an adults only, and 5 other properties. We wanted to peak at them and see if it’s something our girls might enjoy.
After checking out the properties ourselves and then hearing from friends that had stayed at the family-friendly Barcelo hotels, we knew we’d have to come back. So, this past spring we booked a family trip to head back to the Barcelo Maya Palace.
The Barcelo Maya Palace is the top tier family-friendly property. The nice part about staying at this property is that it gives you access to all of the other properties (minus the adults only). That means you can eat at any of the other restaurants, participate in the other properties’ activities and swim in their pools.
Barcelo Maya Palace – An All-Inclusive Experience
While we were there I got a ton of questions about how we liked it and what we did. So, I thought I’d share our experience here as well as answer your questions.
Overall, we wanted this trip to be primarily about relaxing and enjoying our time with the girls. We knew the girls wouldn’t be big enough to do some activities like jet skis and such, but we also knew the resort had a lot to offer for kids!
During the beginning of the week we had a bit of tropical weather. So, those first few days we ended up splitting our time between the pool and indoors. When we were indoors we actually had the best time. We brought some card games with us to play, but were pleasantly surprised at how prepared the resort was, too. The resort ended up passing out games to families, holding an indoor cocktail making class, and dance lessons! Abby and I learned to salsa together!
Because we felt like we missed out some full days of sun, we ended up scratching some of our adult activities. We forewent our massages and shopping trip to the “mall” area in an effort to spend more time with the girls at the pool.
For the most part, a typical day for us looked like: a buffet breakfast, pool/beach time, buffet lunch, pool/beach/activity time, and then dinner reservations. We pretty much rinsed and repeated each day and loved it!
The things we liked the most about this resort was the size of the pool, the kids pool/activity area, and all the games they had like basketball, boche ball, shuffle board, ping pong, etc. There was always something fun to do for every age group. The beaches were also gorgeous and sea turtles are constantly swimming up to patrons to be fed!
We love, too, that there are truly so many activities and day trips you can take that the resort works for kids of any age. We hung mostly at the pool with the exception of swimming with dolphins; but, they had so many other activities like parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, fishing, you name it!
- HOW DID YOU GET TO THE HOTEL? Great question! We reserved a shuttle from the airport to the resort ahead of time. We’ve traveled to Mexico several times now and do it this way every time. It’s the safest and easiest way to do it and you avoid getting into a cab situation that could go south.
- WAS IT SAFE? Absolutely! Our hotel was located in the Riviera Maya area, which is slightly outside of Cancun. We stayed on the property the entire trip and never left. We felt very safe on the property and the staff was incredibly friendly. From a COVID standpoint, the hotel appeared to be back to “normal” with the exception of some dinner reservations. There were still several restaurants that were not seating tables of more than 6 people. This only affected us in that our group was 7 people and we had to split up several times. Bummer.
- DID YOU LEAVE THE HOTEL? We did not. In the future there are some great day trips we might take with our girls to do things like swim in caves. But, for this trip we just hung at the resort.
- WAS THERE A KIDS CLUB? AGE RANGE? There is an amazing kids club and we’ve heard great things from friends who have gone before and utilized it. We didn’t end up using it this time, but saw the kids club kids daily. The kids looked to be 6 and under most days.
- WHAT KID ACTIVITIES WERE THERE? There are so many kid-friendly activities! On the premise there is a huge pool that has a lot of shallow areas as well as a part with jacuzzi jets. There’s also a large kids’ area with water slides (5 or 6 total) and 4 or so smaller slides for toddlers. There is a lap pool that has games going on all day from volleyball to marco polo. Right near the pools are all kinds of outdoor games such as bocci ball, basketball, foosball, ping pong, etc. Then, there are always beach games taking place such as sand volleyball. In addition to on-site activities, you can walk down the beach and participate in a number of water sports and activities such as parasailing, jet skiing, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming with the dolphins. We mostly hung by the pool, but the girls also swam with the dolphins!
- WHAT WAS THE FOOD LIKE? The food was wonderful. There are several restaurants with buffets for breakfast and lunch and the food options were endless. I’m a pescatarian so my options tend to be more limited in situations like that, but they weren’t at all. We had fresh fish at every meal, endless meat options, and so much more. You could eat healthy with ease, but also splurge if you wanted to. In the evening there are restaurants you make reservations for and we enjoyed each of those as well. We ate at a french restaurant, Italian, seafood, mexican, a steak house, and a brazillian steak house. There was also a hibachi restaurant, but we weren’t able to get a reservation for our larger party. As far as where the restaurants are, there are 5 in the Palace (the main property) and then restaurants at each of the other properties. We ate at all of the 5 restaurants on our property and then walked to the next property over a couple of nights, too.
- WAS IT DIFFICULT TO MAKE DINNER RESERVATIONS? Yes and no. In years past when we stayed at an all-inclusive hotel, we made the dinner reservations for the whole week on the day we arrived. This time they were only letting people make reservations for 3 days out at a time. This made it a bit more challenging. We also had a party of 7 and several of the restaurants were not seating parties larger than 6 due to covid. So, that was a huge bummer as one of the nights we had to split into two tables. Overall, I would say it was an okay process. It has room for improvement, but it worked out just fine.
- WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING? Oh man, it’s hard to pick one thing! I think I loved how large the pool was and how many options there were for everyone. From the kids area to water aerobics classes to the adult pool – there’s so much to do! The beach is also beautiful and massive. One of the days the sea turtles were swimming in knee deep water and guests were feeding them bananas! It was so cool!
- WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING? I think my least favorite thing was that we had some rain the first couple of days. The other bummer was that we weren’t able to go to the hibachi restaurant because of our party size and that was the one restaurant our girls wanted to go to.
- ARE THE BEACHES NICE? Yes! The beaches extend in front of all the properties so you can always find a spot on the beach. Several parts are rocky, but so much of it is the softest white sand. We loved that the beaches are shallow, too, for a long time. So, we were able to walk way out into the water before it started getting deep.
I hope you find this review helpful. I will be sharing how I stayed active, what my diet was like while there, and some of our outfits next week. Stay tuned!