If you’re looking for a family-friendly all-inclusive vacation with access to all the amenities of several other resorts, then the Family Club at Grand Riviera Princess All Suites and Spa Resort may be the ideal destination. The Family Club 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, Platinum Yucatan Princess All Suites and Spa Resort, and the Family Club which is now where the Yucatan Princess used to be located (close to the Riviera lobby and most resort restaurants). The Riviera and Sunset Princess are basically mirror images of one another, while the adults-only Platinum Yucatan is a new build as of 2014 and adjacent to the Riviera side of the resort with its own beach access. Guests of the Family Club are allowed access to a majority of the entire mega-resort’s amenities with the exception of the Platinum Yucatan–this resort is off-limits to all other resort guests.
Stepping into the Riviera Princess two-story open-air lobby will impress with its immense staircase, Mayan decorative touches and reliefs, chandeliers, and expansive use of marble. While in the same vicinity, Family Club registration is at a separate check-in area, so don’t make the mistake of getting into the Riviera Princess check-in line. Expansive and beautifully landscaped grounds of the Riviera and Sunset properties can be accessed by taking the main walkway–just follow the dark-bordered path lined with Mayan-inspired statues to the right and it will take you past the pools and to the beach in about 15 minutes.
Family Club grounds can be found a short distance to the left of the Riviera Princess lobby building. The Family Club includes the following onsite amenities:
- children’s water park (geared towards younger children)
- ice cream parlor only for Family Club guests
- pirate-theme buffet specifically designed for children (lower-height serving areas which include food that children typically like)
- separate Kid’s Club and Teen Club
- theater for child-oriented performances
- pool bar with wait staff (no swim-up bar, however)
- swim-up guest rooms for families
- some guest rooms have bunk beds + trundle bed
- complimentary use of strollers, baby bottle sterilizers, bottle warmers, microwave, and cribs
- complimentary WiFi
- private concierge
Since the Family Club only has one buffet restaurant onsite, it is advantageous that it is so close to the Riviera and Sunset lobby areas where most of the resort restaurants are located. Many major resort amenities are in this general vicinity, so guests of the Family Club don’t have far to go to access dining, shops, fitness center, spa, or outdoor sports activities. Beach lovers, however, will have an eight to ten minute walk to reach the beach; there is a resort tram/shuttle which originates at the Riviera lobby and traverses the northern side of the resort all the way to the beach–this service occurs every 15-20 min.
The beach at this Princess 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 (bring water shoes). Vacationers staying in the upgraded rooms at the Riviera and Sunset resorts have their own private, roped-off beach section, while Family Club guests can choose loungers within the general guest section. All beach sections include loungers, natural shade, and shade palapas, while upgraded sections include padded loungers and Bali beds. There is a beach bar and BBQ station on the Riviera side of the resort, while Friday is foam party day. The Sunset side of the property is host to the water sports hut, dive center, and the Chill Out Beach Club which is an additional charge for all guests. The Beach Club includes the following amenities: 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.
If the beach isn’t your thing, there are multiple pools situated around the resort grounds for everyone to enjoy. For Family Club guests, there are two onsite pools–one is the water park with slides and splash fountains for younger children, while swim-up guest rooms have a lengthy swim area. In between the Riviera and Sunset resorts there is a “quiet” pool, an activities pool with swim-up bar, and two large pools down by the snack bars near the beach. These main resort pools offer loungers and some natural shade, while palapas provide shade for guests who can get up early enough to claim one for the day. Most Family Club guests find that onsite loungers are easier to get at any time of the day in comparison to those located by the main pools.
Families bringing babies or toddlers to the Family Club will be relieved to know that baby amenities are provided on a complimentary basis–anything from cribs to bottle warmers can be obtained just by asking. If your child is between 4-12 years of age, the Kid’s Club is open until 11 p.m. which is a rarity in all-inclusive resorts in this area. Teens have their own dedicated space with video games and a refreshment bar.
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 frequent online discounts.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly
Pro: Stay at one play at three, lots of pools, kid’s water park, beautiful grounds, free WiFi, complimentary use of baby amenities.
Con: Service around the resort can be spotty, rocky ocean entrance, three-story guest room buildings with no elevators onsite–if you use a stroller you may want to book a ground floor suite.
Best Suited For: Families with children ages 4-8
No. of Rooms: 144
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, sofa bed or bunk beds with accompanying trundle bed, two armchairs, table, desk and chair, mini-bar, in-room digital safe, flat screen TV, coffee maker, ceiling fan, two telephones, alarm clock with iPod dock, iron/ironing board on request, hair dryer, Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, dbl sinks, and toiletries. Both 24-hr. room service and WiFi are complimentary. Here is a rundown of guest suite categories:
- Family Club Room: King or two dbl beds, sofa bed or bunk beds.
- Family Club Room with Pool Access: King or two dbl beds, sofa bed or bunk beds, security door access to the swim-up pool with in-pool tiled lounger (there are only 40 of these suites).
Physically Challenged Rooms: This type of room is available in other sections of the resort. Since this is a large mega-resort with just less than 2,000 rooms, those with physical limitations should carefully consider whether this type of resort meets their vacation needs.
Resort Amenities: Onsite amenities include the children’s water park, swim-up pool (no swim-up bar), pool bar, wait staff, Kid’s Club, Teen Club, theater, ice cream parlor, and kid-friendly buffet. Amenities at the Riviera and Sunset Princess includes multiple pools (some with in-pool Jacuzzis and swim-up bars), spa, fitness center, theater, tennis courts/multi-sports court, archery/air rifle practice, beach massage hut, inflatables for sale by the beach, two beach bars (one for upgraded guests of the Riviera and Sunset resorts), beach BBQ hut, Chill Out Beach Club ($), sports bar, casino, disco, shuttle service to Playa del Carmen ($), tram service within the resort, concierge, tour desk, internet room ($), gift shop, jewelry store, car rental, ATM, and photographers.
Restaurants/Bars: Onsite restaurant includes the pirate-themed buffet. Guests have access to all other resort restaurants including two primary buffets (one for the Riviera and one for the Sunset), two snack/luncheon poolside buffets down by the beach, and a la carte restaurants including Oriental (Miso–teppanyaki show tables), Mexican (La Hacienda), gourmet (Le Fleur), seafood (Las Olas), Swiss (La Fondue), steakhouse (La Vaqueria), and Italian (Mama Mia). A la carte reservations are required and can be made by the Family Club concierge. Those looking for late-night snacks will find them in the sports bar which is open 24-hrs. a day, while the ice cream parlor is available during the day. There is an onsite pool bar available; however, Family Club guests can access the following bars on the Riviera and Sunset properties: two lobby bars, several swim-up bars, pool bars, theater bar, central plaza bar, sports bar, and the Chill Out Beach Club bar ($).
Entertainment: Onsite entertainment includes shows in the children’s theater which are kid-friendly and encourage children’s participation, dance parties for children, while other resort entertainment includes live music at the central plaza, nightly theater shows in the main theater, a disco for adults, and the sports bar.