The Grand Palladium White Sand 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 White Sand and adjacent Riviera 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 White Sand 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 White Sand, Riviera, 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 White Sand is located on the southern side of the Palladium property between the Colonial and Riviera giving it decent accessibility to several primary resort amenities including the spa, fitness center, mini-golf, and sports courts. Those thinking of staying on the southern end of the resort, however, should take into consideration the multiple bridges spanning the man-made lake which encircles the White Sand, Riviera, and Royal Suites making intra-resort accessibility more difficult for the disabled and for families using strollers. The advantages of staying at the White Sand are the following:
- larger guest rooms
- more quiet part of the Palladium complex, even at the main pool
- adults-only pool area with bar
- better snorkeling opportunities
- Mayan Suite guests can use their own canoe to get around the man-made lake
- quicker access to the beachfront restaurant Punta Emilia and new Spanish tapas a la carte
- wedding gazebo for destination weddings
Palladium Riviera Maya open-air resort lobbies are impressive places to relax with high thatched palapa roofs, many comfortable chairs and sofas, and adjacent water features, and the White Sand lobby is no exception. Guests can stop and admire the floor-to-ceiling statue with Mayan carvings along with the hexagonal terra cotta and white “arches” which partially surround the statue. It’s just a few steps to the lobby bar, while covered walkways lead guests from the lobby to many other resort areas. During evening hours, this can be a quieter place in which to have a cocktail in comparison to the Colonial/Kantenah lobbies.
Just as the Colonail and Kantenah resorts share the same pool, the White Sand and Riviera share their own massive lagoon-style pool. While this pool is less deep, it has several other features in common with the Colonial/Kantenah pool including built-in tiled loungers, several in-pool Jacuzzis surrounded by columns, and a swim-up bar; this pool area also offers a separate smaller children’s pool (a children’s water park can be found 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’ just across the lake from the Mayan Suites. While it is easy for Mayan Suite guests to use their own provided canoes to reach the adults-only pool, other guests will have to cross another bridge from the main pool to reach this adults-only area. Even though it is much smaller than the main pool, this one also has built-in tiled loungers, a Jacuzzi surrounded by columns, and padded loungers and shade palapas on the sundeck.
White Sand guests are also close to the secluded seawater pool of Las Rocas with its own bar and shaded loungers over on the Riviera resort beach. This seawater pool is not the standard in-ground variety, but a carved-out enclosure immediately adjacent to the ocean where water and marine life get swept/channeled in and out with the tides along this stretch of beach. It is an isolated spot but offers its own “White Party” and fire show on Monday evenings along with an everyday opportunity to snorkel in a more structured environment. It is best to wear water shoes when swimming or snorkeling at Las Rocas due to the pool’s rough interior surface and possible marine life at the bottom of the pool.
If snorkeling at Las Rocas is not exciting enough, there are always opportunities to do so in the waters off the White Sand resort beach. The beach here is a mixture of sand, different sized rocks and coral pieces, while ocean entry can be rough in many areas; better snorkeling can be had well away from the shoreline, 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 seafood restaurant during the evening, while after 11 p.m. it serves beer, soft drinks, and snacks all night long.
Guests looking for more overall guest room space will find that here at White Sand resort. Not only are the rooms larger, but there is one room category which can accommodate families of five (Jr. Suites). Couples wanting a more romantic type of accommodation should consider the Mayan Suite with its large deck and full loungers, private canoe to use, and unique outdoor shower. Mayan Suites are a big draw for Travel Club members, so there may be some booking difficulties in this room category as well. (Apple Vacations and Transat have been known to book these categories online). Guest rooms generally do not have ocean views, while standard three-story guest room buildings do not have elevators–families with very young children and physically disabled guests should plan accordingly.
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 (Punt 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.
There’s no doubt that vacationers who choose to stay at the White Sand will enjoy its quieter ambiance and access to an additional form of transportation with the pontoons. 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 White Sand 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, larger guest rooms, rooms for families of five
Con: Dated guest rooms, lack of ocean view rooms, dining reservation system, limited room service hours, property accessibility for disabled and strollers
Best Suited For: Vacationers who enjoy a mega-resort experience, those who want to be closer to the “action” yet have the easy option for a more quiet resort experience
No. of Rooms: 264
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, sofa, table and two chairs, desk and stool, coffee table, 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, shower, Jacuzzi tub, 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, sofa bed. 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. These rooms sleep families of five. Lake, jungle, or garden view.
- Suite: King bed in a separate bedroom along with a flat screen TV and table and chair, separate living room with sofa bed, coffee table, and second flat screen TV, large bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower, balcony off living room and bedroom areas. Jungle or garden view.
- Mayan Suite (adults-only): King bed, small sofa, coffee table, dbl sink, bidet, outdoor shower, large terrace with kayak landing, use of a private kayak, hammock and two full loungers.
- NOTE: There is a walkway between buildings 58-59 which provides direct beach access. Building 52 is closest to the spa/fitness center and mini-golf, while buildings 56-57 are closest to the main pool. Jr. Suite and regular Suite guest room buildings are 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 exists throughout. The White Sand and Riviera sections have bridges which make 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 at the Riviera resort (all resort pools are non-heated), man-made lake with pontoon service and other resort transportation, spa, beauty salon and fitness center nearby (adults-only), sports center and mini-golf nearby, disco at the Riviera, theater, beach hammocks, beach bar with 24-hr. food and drink, main pool wait service, crocodile exhibit, concierge, tour desk, car rental, and ATM. Guests are free to use the amenities at the Colonial, Kantenah, and Riviera 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 White Sand/Riviera side of the resort including the White Sand and Riviera lobby bars, theater bar, disco bar at the Riviera, 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 Riviera 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 lobby areas.