Located just north of Puerto Morelos on Bahia Petempich beach, Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya is a beautiful boutique-like resort perfect for families with infants or young children. Baby equipment, baby food, and toys are provided so that parents don’t have to tote their own child-related belongings from home, while the well-equipped Azulitos Playhouse and My Gym programs offer such diverse classes as kids yoga, a Mayan music experience, guacamole and piñata-making, and various other themed activities (children under the age of four are allowed to attend with adult supervision). Children have the opportunity to meet such Nickelodeon characters as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, while character dining/birthday parties can also be arranged. Even the spa is kid-friendly where children as young as five can receive various types of massages and facials.
Luxurious pampering begins at check-in where guests are greeted with champagne or a smoothie, a cool towel, and given the opportunity to choose one’s favorite type of pillow and room scent. The open-air lobby is a great space to spend some time throughout one’s stay with its hanging daybeds, comfortable seating arrangements, fountain, and accompanying sea view (there is no lobby bar, however). A high-pitched ceiling with a palapa roof and contemporary chandelier echoes the general style of the resort–upscale with a twist of the tropics.
Beautiful guest rooms, some with recent renovations, continue the chic styling of the resort with dark wood furniture, plush covered headboards in some guest rooms, comfortable mattresses, and marble bathrooms. Family Suites are ideal for families of five–a separate living room with a sectional sofa bed makes adjoining suites unnecessary. Swim-up suites have locked gates which help prevent little ones from accessing the water (Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya is one of the few Mexican resorts which allows young children in a swim-up suite), while Wedding Suites with dress mannequins are perfect for brides-to-be. Guest room buildings are divided into two sections, the older and original Villas (#1-#6), and the newer Premium section (#7-#11).
In addition to the swim-up suites, Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya provides plenty of additional swimming opportunities with four pools, two of which have swim-up bars. While all pools are small, several are beachfront; be sure to spend time at Aquanox Bar (by the activities pool) with its ocean view and swinging daybeds. All sundecks have loungers and umbrellas but lack natural shade.
While the resort’s beach area can be quite stunning at times, reoccurring problems with Sargassum (brown algae) during recent years may contribute to a less than stellar beach experience. While Sargassum may affect an unimpeded ocean swim, guests may not mind given the numerous Bali beds present on the beach. Some standard beds with a king mattress, palapa roof, sheer fabric panels and lots of cushions, while others are swinging Bali beds with ocean waves right under one’s feet. While a Bali bed experience is a “must” at this resort, guests have to sign up one day prior in order to reserve the bed of their choice. While the reservation process begins at 3 p.m., guests need to stand in line at the Beach Butler hut by 2 p.m.–unless the reservation is also confirmed the next day by 10:30 a.m., it will no longer be honored and the Bali bed will be assigned to someone else. Those who choose not to take time out of their afternoon to reserve a Bali bed can always take advantage of the loungers and shade palapas on the beach. The beach itself is quite typical for this area of the Riviera Maya with powder white sand and generally calmer water making it swimmable; resort guests can also check out kayaks and paddle boards on calmer days. Since the reef is fairly close to shore, snorkeling excursions can be booked from the resort for a fee; snorkeling can also be done close to the pier. NOTE: Parents walking south along the beach with their young children should be aware that one of the adults-only Desire resorts is located here; the resort features adult themes and activities which can be X-rated at times.
Despite its small size, Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya offers five restaurants, five bars, and an ice cream/crepe station. There are several unique offerings at the resort including a “sushi river” (a conveyor belt of small sushi plates) at Tainan, a tequila lounge with a frozen bar top, and an onsite tequilier and sommelier. Given Karisma’s “gourmet inclusive” reputation, foodies should be relatively happy here.
While families with small children should find this resort to be a potentially good fit for their vacation needs, it is important to keep in mind that there are not a lot of adult-oriented activities here. There is no disco or nightclub, there are limited daytime adult-oriented events, and the resort is fairly isolated from other towns/vacation sights unless taking expensive cab rides is within the budget. Also, Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya has become popular as a destination wedding resort, so it’s not exactly as quiet a place to vacation as it used to be. Adults vacationing here should be able to entertain themselves as well as ignore revelry made by wedding parties.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Baby/toddler friendly, Kid’s Club, kid-friendly swim-up rooms, Nickelodeon character interaction, free WiFi and international calls
Con: Limited adult activities, Bali bed reservation system, small beach, not teen-friendly
Best Suited For: Families with young children, destination wedding parties.
No. of Rooms: 148
Pool Closure: 8 p.m.
Room Amenities: King or two queen/dbl beds, balcony/terrace, A/C, table and two chairs, mini-bar, digital safe, flat screen TV, telephone, radio alarm clock with iPod dock, DVD player, coffee maker, iron/ironing board, robe and slippers, umbrella, hair dryer, shower, bidet, robes, toiletries, 24-hr. room service, WiFi and international calls are complimentary. Here is a brief rundown of room categories:
- Deluxe: King or two dbl beds, shower-only, with garden or ocean view.
- Jacuzzi Jr. Suite: Two queen beds, Jacuzzi tub, and dbl sink.
- Jacuzzi Swim-Up Jr. Suite: Same amenities as the Jacuzzi Jr. Suite along with direct pool access.
- Family Suite: Separate bedroom with king bed and flat screen TV, separate living room with L-shaped sectional sofa bed, armchairs, coffee table, flat screen TV, bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and dbl sinks.
- Family Swim-Up Suite: Same amenities as the Family Suite along with direct pool access.
- Honeymoon Suite: Separate bedroom with king bed and flat screen TV, separate living room with sofa, adjoining dining area with small table and four chairs, bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and dbl sinks.
- Wedding Suite: Separate bedroom with king bed and flat screen TV, separate living room with sofa, small table and chairs, bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, dbl sinks, private vanity area with makeup station, lounge chair and sitting area, bridal dress mannequin.
- Azul Suite: Canopied king bed, adjoining sitting room with two chaise lounges, window seating, in-room Jacuzzi tub, spacious closet, bathroom with dbl sinks.
- Royal Suite: King or two queen beds, sofa, table and two chairs, liquor dispenser, Jacuzzi tub, dbl sinks.
- Royal Swim-Up Suite: Same amenities as the Royal Suite along with direct pool access.
(Connoisseur Collection): Azul Beach Resort Riviera Maya now offers an upgraded room category service for guests to enjoy called the Connoisseur Collection. Amenities include the following:
- pre-arrival arrangements for in-room liquor choices, mini-bar preferences, spa/restaurant/excursion reservations
- airport transfers
- assigned concierge/”Majordomo”
- en-suite check-in
- resort tour
- unpacking/packing done by the Majordomo
- personal cell phone for direct calls to the Majordomo
- in-room bottle of champagne, fruit basket, premium coffee and teas
- espresso machine
- personally monogrammed robes
- Smart TV
- guaranteed connecting rooms
- some in-room spa treatments are possible
- 15% off spa services, special events, and premium wines
Connoisseur room categories include the following:
- Connoisseur Suite: Separate bedroom with king bed and flat screen TV, living room with sofa, armchair, flat screen TV, bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, dbl sinks, and Connoisseur amenities. Ocean view.
- Connoisseur Swim-Up Suite: Same amenities as the Connoisseur Suite along with direct pool access.
NOTE: Those with mobility problems should think twice about booking a swim-up suite since pool entry is managed via a small pool-type ladder rather than steps. Also, guests who are more choosey about their room view should avoid Villas #10-#11 since the view is of guest rooms located opposite.
Physically Challenged Rooms: While there are ramps and accessible-friendly ways to move around the resort, guest rooms are not fully wheelchair accessible in terms of bathrooms and room details.
Resort Amenities: Four small pools (two with swim-up bar), Jacuzzi, spa (child-friendly), beauty salon, fitness center, non-motorized water sports, theater, baby equipment use, Gerber baby food, Azulitos Playhouse (ages 4-12), My Gym (ages 4-12), Nickelodeon experience, small beach playground, pool and beach wait service, Beach Butler station (access to beach-related items such as extra sunscreen), Starbuck’s kiosk, internet room, concierge, tour desk, gift shop, jewelry store, car rental, and medical services.
Restaurants/Bars: One breakfast buffet (Blue), and five a la cartes including Asian (Tainan–no teppanyaki), Italian (Roma), Latin American (Latino), a beachfront a la carte featuring more casual fare and healthy options (Chil), and Blue which offers a variety of dinner menus including a Vegetarian, Wellness, Sustainable, Chef’s Menu, and Lobster Menu. No reservations are required. Those who like to dine on the beach will enjoy the beach picnic menu, while guests looking for an ice cream, crepe, or Panini will enjoy Scoop. There are five bars including two swim-up bars, beachfront bar, poolside bar with hanging beds, and the Tequila Lounge–a hip, vintage-era cantina whose frozen countertop will keep your drink the perfect temperature. Top-shelf liquor is included.
Entertainment: Tequila tastings, live music, theater performances.