We’ve been sticking to winter holidays in the canaries since our four year old’s been around… so decided it was about time we took the plunge of taking a long haul with two small children. Knowing Sensatori’s are geared up for kids, we settled on trying their Mexico offering, the Azul Beach Resort, situated between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. We stayed for two weeks in March 2020.
General facilities at Azul Beach Resort
We were in a Luxury suite in building three, overlooking the family pool, with views down to the sea. We were happy with the room itself, it had plenty of space and storage. It worked for us because our youngest is still in a cot, but we would probably have opted for a Family suite if they both needed beds. Daily cleaning was thorough and our mini drinks fridge was restocked daily. The whirlpool bath was a good addition that we all enjoyed, and the sofa area on the balcony was pretty comfortable.
We enjoyed the variety of pool areas, and enjoyed a different spot every day. Bali beds are available around the adults only pool and on the beach (unless you’re premium, where they’re around the premium pool too). But you have to get up early to get them. Whilst sun beds are plentiful, favourite spots do get reserved shortly after seven. If like us, you don’t have a strong preference for beds you don’t need to reserve.The beach area was great, with a team of staff working all day to keep the sand clean. The beach bar is in a great setting and we loved the swings!
Just a note on cash- you can pay for everything in US dollars. We normally dont take cash and just withdraw whilst we’re away… but wish we’d been more prepared. The cash machine in the hotel lobby is extortionate… and you might want to take a range of smaller notes for tipping.
More on food and drink facilities below.
Is Azul Beach Resort Child friendly?
Oooooooh, ‘child friendly’ what a term! If we take that to mean that they make it easy for you to bring children with you, then yes it is child friendly. But that’s a far distance away from providing a child-focussed holiday. Let me elaborate.
They provide lots of stuff to make packing and travelling with children easier. Baby packs for the bedroom are provided, including bottle steriliser, bottle warmer, baby bath, and cot. We also borrowed a buggy which made travelling a lot easier (more tips on beach holidays with children on this blog), it was immaculate with a good sun shade. In all the restaurants high chairs were provided, and they were always properly cleaned. Jars of baby food were also available… but be warned the selection wasn’t great, and at times when there was only one flavour left (maybe courgette) alternatives weren’t offered. We read that you could request food was blended for you, but didn’t try it. We had taken our own food pouches so made do.
Around the resort, our daughter enjoyed the small play frame on the beach and the splash park. There were toddler sun beds dotted about which had great novelty value too! She’d been really looking forward to the slide before we went (and had talked about it non-stop), but it was a little faster than she expected which I think gave her a shock and she wasn’t confident enough to try again!
Footstools were provided in the bathrooms (and we’d also requested one for our room) but the sinks were still too tall for our daughter.There is also an indoor Playhouse. Again this is immaculate (sorry no pictures as photos not allowed inside). We took our children inside one cloudy morning, and let them play on the wide selection on toys.
So all of that made the holiday child friendly…. moving onto where they could have improved, starting with the evening entertainment. Maybe it’s because the only child holidays we’ve been on are in Europe that we were expecting nightly mini-discos. Something our daughter LOVES. Unfortunately they only have one of these a week at most. They’re great when they’re on, lots of music and games and glow sticks. Just not as many as we hoped! There were some other good alternatives too… there was a really enjoyable Pirate Magic Show, and a beach bonfire where children could toast marshmallows.
But there also seemed too many movie nights. For all supervised activities, children had to be over four and importantly unaccompanied. Our daughter is often shy with new experiences, so not being able to join her until she got settled meant that she wouldn’t go. And as adults aren’t allowed to go, if you donhave an under four, you can’t take them to the activities and stay with them. This was the same as the daytime activities… if it was a planned activity, parents weren’t allowed in and little ones couldn’t join in. So basically we didn’t do any of the activities in the play house.
If you’re travelling to Mexico with children, you might find this post on how we overcame the challenges useful.
The restaurants at Azul Beach Resort
For breakfasts we alternated between Spoons (a wide range and quick option) and at Zamos, where it took a more relaxed pace with waiter service.
Lunches- we never made it to Spoons for lunch. The Beach BBQ was definitely our favourite, it’s a fab setting and good, easy food. If you’ve got a little one park yourself next to the climbing frame. We thought the pizza place behind the splash park was great too. Delicious pizzas, just be aware they only serve soft drinks there so pop to the bar and take one with you if you can’t live without a beer! Finally Zavas offer amazing burgers for lunch (make sure you try the Mexican Burger), but again don’t go if you want anything quickly!
Dinner options. Having children meant we passed on the Le Chiquita experience, which is by all accounts amazing. Happily, TUI arranged an alternative taster session; seven courses inspired by le Chique served at the Tapaz restaurant. Ok it wasn’t the same, but it did feel like a treat and meant we didn’t miss out completely.
Our favourite restaurant was Tapaz, it had a great menu and felt like a real treat. The Italian was also a great choice, mainly because the service was exceptional. In the other restaurants, waiters were friendly and polite, but we found the Italian the only place which felt like 5 star service; we were better attended, they fussed over the children and made sure that our drinks were flowing! Zocalos, the Mexican restaurant did good food, as did Zavas and are worth a booking. In all the restaurants there are children’s menus, and they’re all different which is great.. too many places have the standard chicken nuggets and pasta at every place!
Other bits about Food & Drink;
- Room service. Easy and included in all inclusive. Alcoholic drinks aren’t included, but you can buy bottles of wine. We only did it a few times but it took around half an hour to arrive.
- Wine and spirits in the all inclusive were fine. Red wine was better than the white. I don’t really drink Chardonnay but found it was more palatable than the Sauvignon blanc. If you did want Pinot Grigio it was about $40US and decent. You might consider trying the rose as well!
- The Mojito bar did a great selection, lots of flavours! It’s adults only, but one of us popped in and then we could enjoy them in the lobby or on the roof terrace.
- The Aperol Spritz bar is mega quirky, but you’re lucky to catch it open. Early evening (6.30pm to about 8pm) is your best chance.
- The Waves bar was definitely the best swim up, where you can enjoy sitting in the sun.
- Reservations are a pain but avoid going to the concierge at the start or end of the day when it’s at its busiest. You can only book for three days at a time.
- Starbucks is right in the centre of the hotel, obviously drinks are not included but some people need their fix! If you dont want to pay, take a flask- you can top coffee from outside spoons.
Activities and entertainment at Azul Beach Resort
Every week there is Mexican beach party with mariatchi band. It’s good fun and nice to do something a bit different eating on the beach.
There’s a decent selection of evening entertainment (usually the main act around 9.30pm) but with two little ones the best we could do was listen from the balcony! We did enjoy the singers in the lobby earlier in the evening.
We thought the day time activities were great, from Zumba to Spanish lessons there really was something for everyone and the entertainment team were really great.
If you’re here without kids, the Friday Moët party looks amazing. A bottle of Moët on a Bali bed, a DJ and lots of inflatables in the adults only pool. I’d say it’s worth the extra cost.
Places to go around the Riviera Maya
Playa del Carmen.Ooooooooh we LOVED wandering up and down 5th Avenue, soaking up the atmosphere!! Don’t expect a glimpse of the ‘real’ Mexico- it’s tourist central. BUT it’s quirky and a lot of fun. We just asked the hotel doorman for a taxi, it arrived within minutes, took us to a tourist drop off and waited for us until we were ready to return (we spent about three hours there). It cost about $80US.
Another alternative is Cancun, but we heard it lacks a real ‘centre’ so you cant just wander from shop to shop (or bar to bar), you need more of a plan and taxis in between. To see a bit more of Mexiacn history and culture there are trips to the well known Chichen itza or a bit closer, to the Cobo Mayan ruins. This might be a better choice if you’re visiting before November 2020, as at the moment you can still climb the stairs. In November the restrictions start.
We had a great day at Xcaret Park; a natural theme park. Lots of animals to see, and you can swim in natural underground rivers which is a lot of fun. There are lots of opportunities for additional activities (at an additional cost) such as swimming with dolphins. There are good shows to see; flying men and a horse display, all culminating in a huge show at the end. It’s a bit like Mexico through the ages with lots of singing and dancing. Worthwhile staying if you dont mind the later finish. We went with a Tui organized trip and were expecting carnage at the end getting the coaches back, but were really impressed by the smooth operation.
So there’s my round up. No doubt I’ve not included something important… just let me know and I’ll add it in! If you have any specific questions, pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!