Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa is a five-story resort located halfway between the Cancun airport and Playa del Carmen by the former fishing village of Puerto Morelos. As is common for many Dreams properties, there is a feeling of expansiveness and roominess to the grounds without it being terribly difficult to get around. The general layout of this resort lends itself very well to this concept–a wide and lengthy walkway leads from the lobby to the pools while guest room buildings partially surround both. This configuration makes it incredibly easy for guests to access all areas of the resort no matter where their room is located. Vacationers should be aware that this Dreams property is a very popular destination wedding venue; there are approximately 460 weddings held here every year at various locations around the resort grounds. On some occasions this leads to guests being asked to move from their respective spot for the day, whether it’s poolside or on the beach, in order to accommodate the wedding party. While this doesn’t happen with any regularity, potential guests should be aware that such situations may occur during their holiday. Despite this inconvenience, Dreams Riviera Cancun has many repeat visitors; it is also a recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award and a repeated recipient of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for six consecutive years.
Since this is a Dreams property, expect there to be lots of families with younger children in attendance at all times of the year. The Explorer’s Club has many children’s amenities including a pyramid-shaped climbing wall, theater, splash pad, playground, indoor games room, as well as weekly campouts; parents may also drop their children off for dinner at the Explorer’s Club while enjoying a meal at the adults-only French restaurant, Bordeaux. While there are some activities for teens, the most extensive scheduling and available amenities are for ages 3-12. Couples wanting a more relaxed and quiet vacation experience may want to search for another resort since there are no adult-only spaces available outside of one restaurant and the two small Jacuzzis located by the guest room buildings–but don’t expect the Jacuzzi’s adults-only rule to be enforced by staff.
Parents who decide to forego the Explorer’s Club experience and wish to supervise their children’s activities themselves will find that the pool area is conducive to doing so while not being far from the “action” themselves. All three individual pools are clustered together–one can literally move from the activities pool to the heated children’s pool in a matter of steps. The infinity pool has the swim-up bar; a small section is labeled “Kid’s Korner Beverages” so that children and teens may also have their own swim-up bar experience. An additional smaller body of water adjacent to the children’s section is not really classified as a pool since there is only enough water to get your feet wet; however, there are typically ping pong tables set up here for daily fun. Loungers and sun umbrellas surround all pools, but the more prime locations are typically taken by 7:30 a.m. Poolside Bali beds are complimentary but these get “reserved” very early.
The resort has a very nice stretch of beach with fine, white sand which stays cool all the time, yet surprisingly there is minimal natural shade for a resort in the Riviera Maya–palapas are responsible for providing beach shade in both lounger sections (one for regular guests and another for Preferred Club guests on the north side of the beach). While both beach lounger sections offer a bar, the one with swing seats is for all guests. This location does tend to have a problem with sargassum (sea grass) which gets deposited at the shoreline, but the resort’s tractor tries several times a day to keep up with its removal. Ocean entry at the resort is gradual with no discernible rocks to maneuver, but watch out for the white flags flying on the beach in order to avoid jellyfish stings.
Perhaps the most unique feature of this Dreams property is the “octagonal” shape of most of the guest rooms. This kind of unusual shape can clearly be seen from suite exteriors which are closer to the beach and ocean in addition to bathroom areas within guest rooms. With beds at room center and wooden shutters as headboards, double farmhouse sinks are directly behind the bed; a Jacuzzi tub is out in the open along the back bathroom wall, while frosted glass doors hide a separate toilet and walk-in shower. This kind of bedroom/bathroom layout may challenge some families and groups with privacy issues, so it’s worth some consideration whether this would be a good room configuration for your fellow vacationers. Despite the bathroom layout issue, guest room choice is definitely a plus at this Dreams resort since there are no less than nine categories to choose from; another added plus is that many guest rooms have either a balcony Jacuzzi or plunge pool (there is little privacy for plunge pools, however). Guest rooms are generally pleasing to the eye with marble floors and bathrooms, dark woods, and neutral/warm color tones with orange pops of color.
Not to fear with hungry little ones, this Dreams property offers six a la carte restaurants (one adult-only), a buffet, a poolside grill, and a café; the buffet now offers snacks available all night long, while 24-hr. complimentary room service is available for those who don’t want to get dressed up and go somewhere to eat. There are six bars (plus an additional lounge bar for upgraded Preferred Club guests), with the lobby bar having interior and exterior seating.
Some guests may wish to walk the beach south to the nearby town of Puerto Morelos (it takes approximately one hr.). However, it should be noted that about a third of a mile north of the town there is a “lifestyle” resort called Desire Pearl which advocates adult themes which may be inappropriate for young ones to observe. Older children and adult guests may want to visit the town by taking advantage of the schedule bicycle tour instead.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Great resort for children ages 3-8, heated children’s pool, free WiFi, Explorer’s Club open until 10 p.m.
Con: Wedding ceremonies/receptions may interfere with guests enjoying certain resort amenities, spotty WiFi, small pools too close together
Best Suited For: Destination weddings, families with children ages 3-8, couples who aren’t looking for an adults-only vacation experience.
No. of Rooms: 486
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, table and chair, small sofa, ceiling fan, mini-bar, digital safe, small flat screen TV, telephone, coffee maker, radio alarm clock with iPod dock, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, dbl sink, Jacuzzi tub, separate rooms with frosted glass doors for both the toilet and walk-in shower, toiletries, 24-hr. room service, free calls to the US, Canada, and Mexico with the mobile app. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
(Non-Preferred Club Rooms)
- Premium Deluxe Garden/Tropical View: King or two dbl beds.
- Premium Deluxe with Plunge Pool: King or two dbl beds, terrace plunge pool. Garden or pool view.
- Premium Deluxe Ocean View: King or two dbl beds. Partial ocean or pool view.
(Preferred Club Privileges)
- private check-in/out
- private concierge
- upgraded mini-bar and room service menu
- pillow menu
- complimentary access to the spa’s hydrotherapy circuit once p/stay
- daily newspaper
- access to a private lounge with top-shelf liquor, continental breakfast, snacks and hors d’oeuvres, desserts, computer and printer use
- private beach section with a bar and wait service
(Preferred Club Rooms)
- Preferred Club Ocean View: King or two dbl beds, balcony Jacuzzi.
- Preferred Club Ocean View and Pool Front: King or two dbl beds, balcony Jacuzzi.
- Preferred Club with Plunge Pool: King or two dbl beds, balcony Jacuzzi and plunge pool. Garden/tropical and pool view.
- Preferred Club Oceanfront Honeymoon Suite: King bed, coffee table, balcony Jacuzzi and table with two chairs.
- Preferred Club Master Suite Ocean View: Separate bedroom with king bed, walk-in closet, sofa and coffee table, flat screen TV, separate living room/dining room area with sofa, two armchairs, coffee table, flat screen TV, dining table and four chairs, bar sink, microwave, full refrigerator, balcony with Jacuzzi, table and two chairs.
- Preferred Club Oceanfront Governor Suite: Separate bedroom with king bed and sofa, separate living room/dining room area with sofa bed, coffee table, flat screen TV, dining table and four chairs, bar sink, microwave, full refrigerator, half bathroom, large terrace with plunge pool, Jacuzzi, table and several chairs, two full loungers. These rooms are on the ground floor with direct beach access.
- Preferred Club Oceanfront Presidential Suite: Separate bedroom with a king bed and armchair, separate living room with two sofas, armchairs, coffee table, flat screen TV, dining room area with table and six chairs, large wraparound terrace with plunge pool, Jacuzzi, table and several chairs, full loungers. These rooms are on the ground floor with direct beach access along with reserved seating in the Preferred Club beach section.
- NOTE: Oceanfront typically means one can see the ocean from the bed. Also, plunge pools have privacy issues even in the Preferred Club category.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Three pools (infinity beachfront with swim-up bar and built-in tiled headrests, activities pool, and heated children’s pool), two Jacuzzis, spa, beauty shop, fitness center, non-motorized water sports, bicycle tour to Puerto Morelos, sports bar/disco, Kid’s Club (ages 3-12), playground, rock climbing wall, children’s theater, some teen activities, pool and beach wait service, Bali beds, hammocks, giant chess set, wedding gazebo, gift shop, concierge, tour desk, jewelry shop, cigar shop, photo shop, car rental, medical service, and complimentary greens fees at Grand Coral Riviera Maya or El Tinto golf courses.
Restaurants/Bars: There is one buffet (World Café, ask for the adults-only seating section if you want to try and get away from all the children), a poolside grill (Barefoot Grill), a café (Coco Café), and six a la cartes including Italian (Portofino), Mexican (El Patio), Pan-Asian (Himitsu–teppanyaki show tables), seafood (Oceana), steakhouse (Seaside Grill), and an adults-only French restaurant (Bordeaux). No reservations are required at the restaurants with the exception of the teppanyaki show tables at Himitsu–guests must line up before 3:30 p.m. in order to reserve a spot the evening they are dining. There are six bars including a swim-up bar, lobby bar, sports bar/disco, pool bar, beach bar, and juice bar at the spa. Upgraded Preferred Club guests have access to a private lounge with a bar along with a beach bar in the sectioned-off beach lounger area.
Entertainment: Live music in the lobby, evening shows on the lobby stairs, sports bar/disco, theme parties, movies on the beach.