The Viva Wyndham Azteca is located within the gated community of Playacar which is just a short five-minute drive south of Playa del Carmen. The resort is smaller than others in the area with 335 guest rooms: it offers a more quiet and relaxed atmosphere than its sister resort, Viva Wyndham Maya, which is located a third of a mile south along the same beach. The Azteca is best suited for couples, families with younger children, or singles wanting a quiet getaway, while the Maya has more of a party atmosphere. Guests of the Azteca can use all Maya amenities including pools, sports equipment, bars, restaurants, as well as the spa and disco. Both resorts cater primarily to Europeans–Italians and Germans in particular, while American and Canadians are in the minority. No matter one’s home country, the Azteca can provide a great budget all-inclusive vacation on a five-star beach.
The Azteca is beautifully landscaped with palm trees, flowers, twining foliage, and Mayan stone art throughout its garden areas. There are arbors to provide shade along pathways and unique stone walls with pentagonal cutouts which guests can pass through on their way to and from the poolside snack bar; vacationers who stay at the Azteca know they are in Mexico. The resort has tried to keep a jungle “feel” and has left many mature trees and foliage between guest rooms and the pool. Native wildlife such as coatis and agoutis are often seen scurrying about hunting for food while iguanas lounge languidly on nearby rocks to sun.
Although the grounds are lovely for such a small Playacar property, those looking for an equally lovely and impressive lobby/reception area will be disappointed. The resort’s entry looks more like a storefront, while the open-air interior space is small but functional with several seating areas, the obligatory concierge/Guest Services desk, a decent-sized reception desk, and contemporary, colorful wall murals. Although the lobby is not large enough to accommodate a bar, the nearby Plaza Mexicali can certainly keep guests hydrated during the day and entertained in the evenings with live music, a DJ, or occasional karaoke. There is a very large central courtyard complete with fountain and small metal tables and chairs outside of the lobby and lobby hallways–watch for the special drink selections in the evenings. Attractively landscaped pathways lead to various directions from this “hub”, including the main pathways to the pool and beach areas.
Adjacent to the pool on an upper level, guests will find El Cenote snack bar with the striking palapa roof. This 24-hr. snack bar serves typical lunch and snack fare (burgers, pizza, nachos), and has both bartender and self-serve drink dispensers for water, juices, sodas, lemonade, and iced tea. Walking down a dozen or so stairs, guests will find an unheated Jacuzzi and pool with its gated children’s area, large sun shelves, but no swim-up bar. The sundeck offers padded loungers, palapas for shade, and natural shade provided by the mature landscaping. NOTE: While the Azteca is a smaller resort with a smaller pool area, there are still an insufficient number of loungers to go around–they are often “reserved” by 7 a.m. The resort makes inconsistent attempts to manage this problem while guests continue to leave belongings on multiple unoccupied chairs for hours at a time.
The beach is an easy transition from the pool with its cool, white sand and turquoise ocean water–Playacar has one of the best beaches in the Riviera Maya. Vacationers can take long walks in either direction; Playa del Carmen is a 25-min. walk north, while southbound guests can walk well past Sandos Playacar which is the last resort on this stretch of beach. Unlike the pool area, there is no shortage of loungers here. Beach palapas and a coconut grove provide shade for those needing respite from the hot Yucatan sun, while those wanting a tan can feel free to move loungers closer to the ocean. Non-motorized water sports are available for check-out including kayaks, hobie cats, boogie boards, and paddle boards. While there is no beach bar, there is a self-serve beverage station just prior to entering the beach area.
Many guests rooms at the Azteca have been remodeled with new bathrooms, furniture, and refreshed décor. The Honeymoon Suites have also been re-done and are particularly lovely with in-room Jacuzzis and balcony space with room for chairs and a small table. Guests should be aware that large balconies are not a standard room feature; in fact, most balconies are Juliet-style with standing room only. Those who want some space outside their room should request ground floor accommodations since outdoor terraces are large enough to hold a small table and two chairs. Also, room amenities at the Azteca are bare-bones: while coffee makers are conspicuously absent, digital safes, while present, are an extra charge. Mini-bars come with one bottle of water, two sodas, and one club soda (no beer); while resort policy dictates this is all one gets during a stay, some have had success in leaving a note in Spanish along with a tip requesting more items.
While the Azteca is smaller in comparison to most Riviera Maya resorts, there are many onsite activities to keep one busy including a rooftop tennis court, pool tables, table tennis, complimentary bicycle use with lock, fitness center, theater, and small spa. Families with young children will appreciate the Kid’s Club with small pool and the children’s mini-disco and theater participation. Azteca guests who wander over five resorts south to the Maya have access to archery, a larger spa, a disco, and an adults-only pool in addition to the standard amenities which are present at both resorts.
Despite its minor flaws, the Viva Wyndham Azteca is a wonderful budget-friendly all-inclusive resort in a beautiful and safe area with some of the best beachfront in the Yucatan. Vacationers looking for a lot of “bang for your buck” in an internationally-friendly atmosphere would do well to consider this Mexican resort.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Stay at one play at two, beach, free lobby WiFi, complimentary bicycle use
Con: Digital safe is an extra charge, not enough pool loungers, lack of A/C in some public areas, many rooms have Juliet balconies
Best Suited For: Families with young children, couples looking for a budget-friendly beachfront resort, singles wanting a quiet getaway
No. of Rooms: 335
Room Amenities: King or queen bed(s), A/C, balcony/terrace (most are Juliet-style), mini-bar, digital safe ($), flat screen TV, telephone, small table and two chairs, work desk and stool, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, shower, and toiletries. There is no room service or complimentary room WiFi. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Handicap Accessible: King or queen bed, roll-in shower, ground floor terrace.
- Superior Garden View: King or two queen beds, Juliet balcony or ground floor terrace.
- Superior Pool View: King or two queen beds, Juliet balcony or ground floor terrace.
- Superior Ocean View: King or two queen beds, Juliet balcony or ground floor terrace. NOTE: Not all ocean view rooms have good ocean views due to mature landscaping.
- Superior Oceanfront: King or two queen beds, Juliet balcony or ground floor terrace. NOTE: Request third floor for best ocean views.
- Honeymoon Suite (also referred to as Couples Retreat): King bed, in-room Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, dbl sinks, coffee maker, balcony with table and two chairs. These suites have ocean or oceanfront views with above amenities.
- NOTE: Best to avoid rooms on the south side by the Kid’s Club due to the noisy generator at the resort next door (Occidental Allegro Playacar). Also, this resort has three floors with no elevators; most tubs were removed with the bathroom renovations.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Main pool (no swim-up bar), Jacuzzi, spa, beauty salon, sauna, fitness center, non-motorized and motorized water sports, dive center, rooftop tennis, bicycles/lock, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12) with small pool, theater (no A/C), gift shop, jewelry store, concierge, tour desk, car rental, money exchange window, and complimentary lobby WiFi. Guests may use Viva Wyndham Maya facilities. There is no pool or beach wait service.
Restaurants/Bars: There is one onsite buffet restaurant (El Nopal–no A/C) and three onsite a la cartes including Asian (Bamboo–no teppanyaki show tables), Mexican (Xul-Ha), and Italian (Il Palco). A la cartes available at Viva Wyndham Maya include Mediterranean (Portofino), Mexican (Hacienda Don Diego), Italian (Miramare–no A/C), and fusion (Viva Café). A la carte reservations are required and are limited according to length of stay–three a la carte dinners for a seven night stay, two a la carte dinners for a four+ night stay, etc.; however, guests have been known to get additional reservations by checking with the Guest Services desk prior to 3 p.m. the day of the desired reservation to see if there have been any cancellations. Onsite bars include the “lobby” bar (Plaza Mexicali), and a poolside snack bar (El Cenote) which serves food and dring 24-hrs. a day. The courtyard also has different drink set-ups in the evening.
Entertainment: Theater hosts nightly shows, live music/DJ/karaoke held at Plaza Mexicali, mini-disco for the children, access to the disco at the sister resort, Viva Wyndham Maya.