Grand Riviera Princess All Suites and Spa Resort is part of a mega-resort complex in the Riviera Maya just 15 min. north of Playa del Carmen. It’s actually four resorts in one and includes the following: Grand Riviera Princess All Suites and Spa Resort, Grand Sunset Princess All Suites and Spa Resort, Family Club at Grand Riviera Princess All Suites and Spa Resort, and the Platinum Yucatan Princess All Suites and Spa Resort, also located over on the Riviera side of the property just south of the Family Club. The Riviera and Sunset Princess resorts are basically mirror images of one another, while the Family Club is now where the Platinum Yucatan Princess used to be located. The adults-only Platinum Yucatan Princess is a brand-new build as of 2014 and has its own beach access. Since this is a very large complex which holds just less than 2,000 guests, the Riviera and Sunset Princess resort amenities will be listed together while the Family Club and Platinum Yucatan Princess resort amenities will be listed separately.
This Princess-Hotels complex lies on a long and somewhat narrow piece of land surrounded by mangrove jungle–the Riviera Princess is on the north side while the Sunset Princess is on the south side. Given its layout, there are few rooms with true ocean views, most guest rooms have views of the multiple pools or surrounding grounds. If you have to have an ocean view, your only hope is to book an upgraded suite (the Platinum Suites within the hotel, not the Platinum Yucatan resort), and submit a room request one to two weeks prior; requests are not guaranteed, however. The property itself is beautifully landscaped, meticulously maintained, and has many water features and sculptures throughout. Originating from both lobbies and then merging at the first pool area, the main walkway is adorned with Mayan sculptures and, for the most part, has a darker border on each side for easier identification as the main thoroughfare. This walkway goes all the way to the beach and takes approximately 15 min. (from lobby to beach) at a leisurely pace. For those who have mobility problems, there is a tram service which runs every 15-20 min. and traverses the north and south sides of the resort.
Both the Riviera and Sunset lobbies are very similar and present guests with a certain “wow” factor. Once you step through to the two-story open-air lobby space you will notice the grand marble staircase, chandeliers, Mayan decorative touches and reliefs, and expansive grounds beyond. While the reception area and lobby bar are on the upper level, jewelry, gift, and sundry stores can be found below. Upon exiting on the ground level, guests can relax on comfortable chairs situated on several overwater thatched-roof platforms, while the adjacent central plaza is the evening live performance “hotspot”. A majority of the restaurants are positioned in between the Riviera and Sunset Princess resorts on both the upper and ground floor levels, while several additional a la carte restaurants are located down by the beach on the Sunset side of the property.
Multiple pools, some with Jacuzzis designated by white vertical columns, are definitely a highlight of this resort. Swim-up suite pools serve to interconnect two pools which separate the Riviera and Sunset resorts; guests can swim from the more quiet pool to the activities pool with the swim-up bar without having to get out of the water. There are two additional large pools adjacent to the luncheon/snack buffets (one on the Riviera and one on the Sunset side), while upgraded suite guests have their own private pool in their designated section (one for the Platinum upgrade and one for the Laguna Villa Suites). Main pool areas offer loungers and some natural shade, while palapas provide shade for guests who can get up early enough to claim one for the day. Pools close by 8 p.m.
The beach at the resort generally gets mixed reviews–guests often come expecting the turquoise waters of Cancun or the beautiful blue-green hues of Playacar beach, but the water can be a bit cloudy at times depending on the weather or the tides while ocean entry can be a bit rocky, so bring water shoes. Upgraded Platinum Suites and Laguna Villa Suites both have their own private beach sections in addition to the general guest section, and all are roped-off which deters guests from being able to move their loungers closer to the water. Since this is a narrower piece of property, these factors can make for a more crowded beach. All beach sections include loungers, natural shade, and palapas or shade umbrellas, while upgraded areas also include items like padded loungers and Bali Beds. There is a beach bar and BBQ station on the Riviera side, while the Sunset beach area has the water sports hut, dive hut, and the Chill Out Beach Club which is an additional charge for all guests. The Chill Out Beach Club has a restaurant, Bali beds, private wait service, complimentary WiFi for the day, top-shelf liquor, and lunch menu service from 2-5 p.m. ($). The entry fee to the Beach Club is waived if guests have dinner at the restaurant here ($), then the Beach Club is complimentary for the rest of one’s stay.
Princess Resorts offers some very nice guest room choices including Jr. Suite Deluxe rooms with Jacuzzi tub, swim-up suites (age 13 and older), Laguna Villa Suites with their unique outdoor grotto shower (adults-only), and Platinum Suites with balcony Jacuzzis which are closest to the beach. Those booking all Jr. Suite guest room categories should be aware that the following a la carte restaurants are not included in the all-inclusive package: seafood (Las Olas), and gourmet (Le Fleur). Also, aged liquors, wines, and champagnes are not included in the all-inclusive package deal for all guest room categories.
Families bringing children to the Grand Riviera Princess will be glad to know that overall, the resort as a whole offers many activities to keep all family members happy and busy. There are tennis courts, multi-sports courts, and archery/air rifle practice, while the optional water park is located at the Family Club section. For guests staying outside of the Family Club, however, admission to the water park is USD $10 p/p per day. The regular Princess Kid’s Club is located on the Sunset side of the property and while it is geared towards younger children, it is open until 11 p.m.
Despite the fact this resort has several amenity exclusions from its all-inclusive pricing, it continues to remain one of the better vacation values to date; watch for the frequent online discounts.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly with an adults-only section (Laguna Villa Suite upgrade).
Pro: Stay at one play at two, lots of pools, nightly entertainment, beautiful grounds.
Con: Service can be spotty, rocky ocean entrance, WiFi/room service ($) for Jr. Suite room categories, some amenities not included, needs more poolside shade palapas.
Best Suited For: Families with children ages 4-10, couples who don’t mind vacationing around lots of children, those who don’t mind mega-resorts.
No. of Rooms: 672
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, sofa, mini-bar, in-room digital safe, flat screen TV, ceiling fan, coffee maker, two telephones, hair dryer, shower, and toiletries. Room service and WiFi are an extra charge for Jr. Suite, Jr. Suite Deluxe, and Jr. Suite with Pool Access guest rooms. NOTE: In-room electricity only runs when the room key is engaged in its wall slot–bring an old room key or gift card instead to attempt to keep the A/C and mini-bar running if all room keys are taken outside of the suite. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds. Restricted access to a la cartes; WiFi and room service is an extra cost. Iron/ironing boards are given out by request.
- Deluxe Jr. Suite: King or two dbl beds, Jacuzzi tub. Restricted access to a la cartes; WiFi and room service is an extra cost. Iron/ironing boards are given out by request.
- Deluxe Jr. Suite Swim-Out: King or two dbl beds, Jacuzzi tub, direct access to the pool, in-pool tiled lounger with access to the main pool. Age limit is 13 to stay in this suite. Restricted access to a la cartes; WiFi and room service is an extra cost. Iron/ironing boards are given out by request.
- Platinum Suite: King or two dbl beds, balcony Jacuzzi, bathroom Jacuzzi tub, small bottles of rum, tequila, and vodka, iron/ironing board, robe and slippers, CD/DVD player, nightly turndown service, pillow menu, beach bag, in-room gift, complimentary WiFi and room service, and Platinum amenities (see list below). Some ocean view rooms available. Also, guests of this room category have access to their own private pool with Bali beds and wait staff.
- Laguna Villa Suite: King bed, in-room Jacuzzi tub, outdoor grotto shower, walk-in closet, armchairs, small bottles of rum, tequila, and vodka, iron/ironing board, robe and slippers, CD/DVD player, nightly turndown service, pillow menu, aromatherapy upon request, beach bag, in-room gift, complimentary WiFi and room service, and Platinum amenities (see list below). Guests of this room category have sole access to their own private pool complete with Bali beds, in-pool loungers, Jacuzzi, and wait staff. Also, because of the room layout, the tub and dbl sinks are behind the bed so part of the bathroom is open to the rest of the room.
- private check-in/out
- access to private pool and beach areas with its own wait staff
- private concierge service
- access to Platinum Lounge with continental breakfast, hors d’oeuvres, premium liquor, newspapers, flat screen TV, DVD library
- Thursday night special buffet
- preference for a la carte dinner reservations
- discounts on greens fees and spa treatments
- one hydrotherapy water circuit at the spa per adult per week
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available. This is a very large resort with few elevators. Those with physical limitations should carefully consider whether this type of mega-resort meets their vacation needs.
Resort Amenities: Multiple pools (many with in-pool Jacuzzis and several swim-up bars), spa/fitness center/theater are located between the two resorts, tennis courts/multi-sports court, archery/air rifle practice, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12) with children’s pool and playground, non-motorized and motorized water sports, dive center, beach massage hut, inflatables for sale by the beach, two beach bars (one for upgraded guests only), beach BBQ hut, Chill Out Beach Club ($), sports bar, casino (being built as of Sept. 2015 and will be next to the sports bar), disco, shuttle service to Playa del Carmen (USD $5 p/p each way), tram service within the resort, concierge, tour desk, internet room ($), gift shop, jewelry store, car rental, ATM. Guests are entitled to enjoy all amenities on the Grand Sunset side of the resort; however, there is restricted amenity use at the Family Club (water park $), while guests are not allowed on the Platinum Yucatan property.
Restaurants/Bars: Two primary buffets (one for the Riviera and one for the Sunset), two snack/luncheon poolside buffets, a la carte restaurants including Oriental (Miso–teppanyaki show tables), Mexican (La Hacienda), gourmet (Le Fleur–not included for Jr. Suite room categories), seafood (Las Olas–not included for Jr. Suite room categories), Swiss (La Fondue), steakhouse (La Vaqueria), and Italian (Mama Mia). A la carte reservations are required and can be made up to three days in advance at the reservations desk; guests staying in the Platinum or Laguna Villa Suites can have their concierge make reservations for them. Those looking for late-night snacks will find them in the sports bar which is open 24-hrs. a day on the Sunset side of the property. Bars available include two lobby bars, several swim-up bars, pool bars, a theater bar, central plaza bar, sports bar, and upgraded room category bars. The Chill Out Beach Club restaurant and bar is located on the beach on the Grand Sunset Princess side of the resort, but it is an extra charge for all guests.
Entertainment: There is live entertainment/music at the central plaza, nightly theater shows, disco, and sports bar.