The Grand Palladium Riviera Resort and Spa is part of a 300-acre mega-resort called the Palladium Riviera Maya complex which is located between Puerto Aventuras and Akumal. The complex is comprised of five resorts–the Riviera and adjacent White Sand which share amenities, the Colonial and adjacent Kantenah which share amenities, and the adults-only Royal Suites Yucatan which is often referred to as the Royal Suites. Guests of the Riviera have unrestricted access to every resort but the Royal Suites; this means access to five buffets, nine a la carte restaurants, 25 bars, nine pools, two theaters, a disco, sports courts, mini-golf, spa, fitness center, kids and teen clubs, and other amenities/activities located around the resort grounds. Guests looking for ways to get around the entire resort in addition to walking can use the golf carts and shuttle “trains”; additionally, there are pontoons which traverse the man-made lake which surrounds the Rivera, White Sand, and Royal Suite resorts. Guests who like to reduce their carbon imprint while on vacation will appreciate the fact that the Palladium Riviera Maya complex has won several awards for environmentally-friendly initiatives such as their reverse osmosis water purification system, biodegradable products, low energy lighting, and recycling program making this an eco-friendly resort despite its size.
The Riviera is located on the southernmost end of the Palladium complex which means that guests have easy access to White Sand amenities, but it is a distance for those who may want to access Kantenah with its stellar beach and teen/kid’s clubs or the Colonial with its more boisterous, party-like pool atmosphere. Vacationers thinking of staying on the southern end of the resort should also take into consideration the multiple bridges spanning the man-made lake which encircles the Riviera, White Sand, and Royal Suites making intra-resort accessibility more difficult for the disabled and for families using strollers. Regardless, the Riviera offers several advantages and may be the perfect vacation destination for vacationers looking for the following:
- larger guest rooms, all are Suites or Jr. Suites
- it has a more sedate atmosphere, including the main pool area
- the disco is located here (which is somewhat puzzling considering this is the quieter section of the complex)
- seawater pool located on the beach which offers a more natural swimming and snorkeling option other than entering the sea itself
Many vacationers choose the Riviera because of the secluded seawater pool and adjacent lounging and bar area (there is no food at this location, however). The seawater pool is not your standard in-ground variety, but rather a carved-out enclosure cleverly allowing ocean water and marine life to get swept in and out with the tides. Snorkel gear is not always necessary to see the fish, but water shoes are a necessity here due to the pool’s rough interior surface and possible marine life at the bottom. The adjacent seating area is tiered to take full advantage of the oceanfront view and offers full loungers, shade palapas, and several Bali beds which are first-come first-served. Since the beach and ocean entry is extremely rocky at this part of the complex, swimming outside of the provided pool is not recommended–guests will have to move further north along the beach to directly access the ocean. Many Palladium guests head over to the seawater pool on Monday evening for the “White Party” and fire show.
In addition to the seawater pool, the Riviera has a massive lagoon-style main pool which it shares with the White Sand resort. While this pool is less deep than the main pool over at the Colonial/Kantenah resorts, it has several features in common including built-in tiled loungers, several in-pool Jacuzzis surrounded by columns, and a swim-up bar. This pool also offers a separate smaller children’s pool (a children’s water park can be found over at the Colonial/Kantenah). The sundeck offers palapa-shaded loungers, but beach access from the main pool requires crossing over the man-made lake via a bridge, then using the provided walkway through jungle and mangroves. Adult guests wanting a smaller pool experience can head over to the adults-only pool with adjacent bar; this pool is situated on its own little “island” which means that guests will need to cross another bridge from the main pool over to the adults-only pool. All Palladium pools at this complex are unheated.
There’s only three ways to reach the beach if staying at the Riviera: take the walkway through the mangroves from the main pool, take the paved beachfront path from the seawater pool, or take the path located between guest room buildings 61-62 which connects to the paved beachfront path. The beach which is shared with White Sand resort is a mixture of sand, different sized rocks and coral pieces, while ocean entry can be rough in many areas. Better snorkeling opportunities can be had well away from the shoreline at White Sand, so best to bring one’s own equipment since the water sports check-out hut is at the Colonial. There are many palapa-shaded loungers on this stretch of beach, palm trees for additional shade, several hammocks, as well as the nearby Punta Emilia bar which serves drinks and bar food during the day. Punta Emilia becomes a very enjoyable tented a la carte restaurant during the evening, while after 11 p.m. it serves beer, soft drinks, and snacks all night long.
While several guest room buildings are close enough to the beach to hear the waves, ocean view rooms are hard to come by at the Riviera due to the trees and mangroves which separate the buildings from the beach. (Ocean views may be possible from some third floor rooms-inquire at check-in). Buildings 63-64 are closest to the seawater pool, building 68 is idea for total seclusion since it sits on the very edge of the resort, while building 60 has the best access to the main pool, lobbies, and restaurants. There are no elevators at the Palladium complex, so disabled travelers and families with young children may want to request a ground floor room. NOTE: Guest rooms are scheduled for renovation sometime in 2016/2017. Also, some guest rooms have poor WiFi reception in this southern area of the complex.
Don’t forget to spend some time at the beautiful open-air lobby with its steep A-line thatched roof and lovely “chapel” in the lobby’s center–it is a smaller fantasy-like replica of an old Spanish church’s exterior. Seating areas within the lobby are varied and comfortable with plenty of sofas and chairs, while large wrought iron chandeliers and archways provide an elegant Spanish Colonial feel to the space. There are beautiful ornate fountains and other water features to enjoy from here as well as a lengthy lobby bar for evening cocktails.
Just a word about the dining reservations system–guests are no longer limited to a certain number of a la carte dinner reservations based on length of stay. Reservations are not necessary at most a la cartes with the exception of two restaurants (Punta Emilia and Sumptuori’s teppanyaki show tables). Guests who wish to make reservations for these restaurants must be in line at the Guest Services desk by 8 a.m.; even so, it may still be difficult to get a reservation prior to 10 p.m. during peak travel seasons.
Vacationers who choose to stay at the Riviera will no doubt enjoy its quieter atmosphere, remote location, and easy access to the seawater pool. The entire Palladium mega-resort experience literally has something for everyone, but it also requires prior research in order to determine whether this type of resort will meet vacation needs and expectations. Potential guests should explore the Palladium website which has a very comprehensive virtual tour of the Riviera along with other resorts in this complex. Also, there are additional websites which offer more detailed information on the Palladium including Palladiumaddict.net and UnofficialPalladium.com
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Stay at one play at four, free WiFi, seawater pool access, rooms for families of five
Con: Rockiest stretch of beach, room WiFi, dated guest rooms, lack of ocean view rooms, property accessibility for the disabled and families with strollers
Best Suited For: Vacationers looking for a mega-resort atmosphere, those who don’t mind taking resort transportation, couples looking for a more remote and quiet resort retreat
No. of Rooms: 324
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, sofa bed, coffee table, table and two armchairs, mini-bar, digital safe, flat screen TV, ceiling fan, telephone, coffee maker, alarm clock with iPod dock, iron/ironing board, robe and slippers, hair dryer, Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, toiletries, and free WiFi. Room service is from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds. NOTE: There are two types of Jr. Suites–one with an open concept bathroom with the Jacuzzi tub in sight of the bedroom, and one with a more private bathroom. This room category can sleep families of five.
- Suite: King bed in a separate bedroom along with a flat screen TV and table and chair, separate living room with sofa bed, several armchairs, coffee table, second flat screen TV, balcony off the living room and bedroom areas, Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom along with separate shower.
- NOTE: All guest room buildings have three floors with no elevators.
Physically Challenged Rooms: The Palladium complex as a whole can be difficult to navigate for those with disabilities due to the many bridges and uneven pavement which exist throughout. The Riviera and White Sand sections have bridges which makes these resort areas the most challenging to get around.
Resort Amenities: Large main pool (swim-up bar, built-in loungers and Jacuzzis), adults-only pool with built-in loungers and Jacuzzi, children’s pool, seawater pool (all resort pools are non-heated), man-made lake with pontoon service and other resort transportation, crocodile exhibit, disco, theater, pool wait service, beach hammocks, beach bar with 24-hr. food and drink, car rental at the White Sand lobby, concierge, tour desk, and ATM. Guests are free to use the amenities at the Colonial, Kantenah, and White Sand resorts. In addition, Segway tours of the Palladium complex are available for an extra fee.
Restaurants/Bars: There are two buffets (Kabah and La Laguna) and five a la cartes including the new Spanish tapas (La Lola), Brazilian (O’pavao), Italian (Portofino), grill (Ribs and More), and the beachfront seafood a la carte (Punta Emilia). There is no limit to the number of a la cartes, and no advance reservations required for these restaurants with the exception of the Punta Emilia (the Sumptuori’s teppanyaki show tables over at the Colonial/Kantenah also require reservations). Reservations can be made at Guest Services in the lobby the day prior–be there well before 8 a.m. to line up. During the daytime Punta Emilia serves as both a bar and a lunch option. Additional dining/munching options include paella served by the beach bar at the Colonial resort on Sundays, and there is a beach BBQ once a week with two seatings on the Colonial/Kantenah beach–reservations are required and can be made at the Guest Service desk. There are nine bars located at the Riviera/White Sand side of the resort including the Riviera and White Sand lobby bars, theater bar, disco bar, La Laguna restaurant bar, swim-up and pool bar, adults-only pool bar, Punta Emilia beach bar, and Las Rocas seawater pool bar. Guests are free to use the restaurants and bars at the Colonial, Kantenah, and White Sand resorts.
Entertainment: Theaters at both the Riviera and Colonial resorts host nightly shows, the disco (teens have access to the disco various nights of the week until it opens for the adults), “White Party” at Las Rocas on Monday evening, and live music in the Riviera/White Sand and Colonial/Kantenah lobbies.