Located north of Puerto Morelos between Moon Palace and Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita lies Royalton Riviera Cancun Resort and Spa. Since it’s only 15 min. south of the airport and a fairly new resort (it officially opened its doors Dec. 2014), it has become a popular all-inclusive vacation destination in a short amount of time. At present, the area surrounding the Royalton has not been developed; instead, dense forests of mangroves are the balcony views for many guest rooms.
The resort consists of three sections in four U-shaped building segments: the Resort section on the northern side of the property (family-friendly with children’s water parks, main pool areas, consisting of buildings #7-#9 and part of building #6), the adults-only Hideaway section on the southern side of the property (consisting of buildings #1-#2 and part of buildings #3-#4), and the smaller Diamond Club section which is immediately adjacent to the Hideaway (consisting of building #5 and part of buildings #3, #4, and #6). Here is a list of amenities which makes the Hideaway and Diamond Club sections special:
Hideaway: Can access all but Diamond Club section and amenities.
- private check-in/out
- separate adults-only guest room buildings
- additional in-room amenities (robe and slippers, aromatherapy, upgraded room service menu, and beach bag)
- adults-only pool with swim-up bar
- adults-only restaurant, Dorado
- adults-only beach bar and lounger section
- weekly “chocolate party”
Diamond Club: This is basically an upgraded room category with special perks/amenity section. This is NOT adults-only.
- private lounge for check-in/out
- lounge serves continental breakfast, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, has its own bar, free use of computers
- Diamond Club pool with swim-up bar
- butler service (can pack/unpack, make dinner reservations, do limited amount of laundry, fill Jacuzzi tub–more expensive guest rooms only, help arrange special occasions)
- a la carte restaurant for lunch, Armadillo
- beach bar with swing seats and lounger section
- preferred guest room locations (closer to the beach/pools with better views)
- upgraded room amenities (pillow menu, additional room service items)
- several bottles of in-room liquor
- Nespresso coffee maker
- 10% spa/beauty salon discount
Although the road from the main highway to the resort is approximately two miles long with plenty of speed bumps and nothing to see but mangroves, the expansive ocean and pool views upon entering the lobby make the drive worth it. A comfortable open-air seating area makes the most of these views while it’s an easy jaunt downstairs via the handy escalator. Because the resort is located in a more remote off-road location with no free shuttle service offered to nearby towns, it can take some time and extra expense to either reach the main road to take a colectivo (USD $10 cab ride o/w or 30+ min. walk), or take a taxi into Playa del Carmen from the resort’s lobby (40 min. ride for USD $60 o/w).
Guests who plan on dealing with this kind of vacation restriction by staying onsite will appreciate that Royalton has a plethora of amenities and activities for all ages. Pool lovers will enjoy the many options here–seven pools, most with swim-up bars and two with foam parties–while two “splash pads” (water parks) will keep children entertained for hours.
Adults can enjoy aqua exercise classes, tequila tastings, yoga on the beach, betting at the casino, or check out water sports equipment like kayaks, paddle boards, or hobie cats for fun in the sea (be prepared to pay the one-time “reef preservation fee” of $3 cash). There is an onsite spa and well-equipped gym, or for those who just want to relax there are numerous hammocks and Bali beds around the property. Even though there is no dedicated theater, most evening shows are held adjacent to the main pool below the lobby while a weekly fire show heralds the beach party with music and dancing. Teens have their own space at the Royalton where they can enjoy pool, foosball, video games, air hockey, and ping pong.
While pool lovers will have it made at the Royalton, beach lovers, on the other hand, will have to deal with episodic water discoloration due to the nearby mangroves–don’t expect the lovely turquoise waters of Cancun at this location, especially before or after a storm. There are three beach sections and a beach bar for each including the general Resort section on the north end, the Diamond Club, and the Hideaway section on the south end. All sections include regular loungers, padded loungers, padded double loungers, contemporary Bali beds, and shade umbrellas. There is very little natural shade on the beach while shade umbrellas are few and far between; upgraded beach sections do offer more canopied loungers, however.
Royalton guest rooms are beautifully designed with a rich variety of textures and shapes including crème colored tufted bed seats and etched glass shower doors, while Jacuzzi tubs adorn many indoor and outdoor spaces. Fans of the popular rooftop Jacuzzi will be happy to learn that the resort offers this room amenity in addition to Swim-Out Suites, Family Suites with sliding doors for privacy, and Chairman’s Two and Three Bedroom Suites for large parties/families traveling together. Royalton offers an online room selection for a nominal fee–just enter your reservation information, choose your desired guest room area, then select your specific room well in advance of arrival. As long as the room isn’t taken out of inventory due to repairs, check-in should take a minimal amount of time with this handy feature.
Not a fan of making advance reservations for dinner? At the Royalton, they aren’t necessary for any of the six a la carte restaurants (the only exceptions are the teppanyaki show tables). While Diamond Club upgraded guests can choose to have their butler make reservations on their behalf, it’s not required–guests are given a device which notifies them when their table is ready if waiting is necessary. The buffet at the Royalton has a wide variety of food stations including many cooked-to-order offerings, a children’s area, fresh juices, and healthy food choices. If watching a favorite sporting event is in order, guests may partake of pub food while watching one of the 26 flat screen TV’s in the sports bar.
While this resort is only one year old, there are already signs of “settling”–cement cracks and loose pieces of concrete may pose a tripping hazard, but the resort has already begun repair work and loose tile replacement.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly with an adults-only section
Pro: Multiple pools/bars/a la cartes, no dining reservations needed, some rooms sleep families of five, free WiFi, casino, adults-only section
Con: Ocean can be murky due to mangrove proximity, cement cracks/tripping hazards, inconsistent butler service
Best Suited For: Families with children ages 4-15, couples, honeymooners.
No. of Rooms: 1,183
Room Amenities: All guest rooms are jr./full suites and include a king or two queen beds, A/C, balcony/terrace, sitting room area with dbl sofa bed and coffee table, desk and chair, ceiling fan, mini-bar, digital safe, flat screen TV, telephone, USB charging stations (including one in the digital safe) and Bluetooth audio stations, coffee maker, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, dbl vessel sinks, dbl rainforest showerheads, Jacuzzi tub, toiletries, 24-hr. room service, free calls to the USA and Canada as well as free WiFi. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories.
(Regular Resort Section):
- Luxury Jr. Suite: King or two queen beds. Ocean View and Swim-Out Suites can also be booked within this room category. Mangrove, pool, or ocean view. Diamond Club upgrade available.
- Luxury Suite: King or two queen beds, Jacuzzi tub in the room, balcony Jacuzzi in some rooms. Ocean View and Swim-Out Suites can also be booked within this room category. Mangrove, pool, or ocean view. Diamond Club upgrade available.
- Luxury Family Suite: King bed, living room area separated by sliding glass door, large sofa bed/lounger combo, coffee table, two flat screen TV’s, balcony Jacuzzi in some rooms. Swim-Out Suites and Ocean View Rooftop Pool Suites can also be booked within this room category. Pool or ocean view. Diamond Club upgrade available.
- Luxury Presidential One Bedroom Suite: King bed in separate bedroom area, living room with large sectional sofa/sofa bed, kitchen table and four chairs, kitchenette with wet bar, microwave, breakfast bar seating, barware, walk-in closet, two full bathrooms, two flat screen TV’s Nespresso coffee maker, large balcony with Jacuzzi. Swim-Out Suites and Ocean View Rooftop Pool Suites can also be booked within this room category. Diamond Club upgrade available (but not the Rooftop Pool Suite).
(Additional Diamond Club Upgraded Regular Resort Rooms):
- Diamond Club Chairman’s Two/Three Bedroom Suite: King bed and two queen beds in the other bedroom(s), each bedroom has its own full bathroom, indoor Jacuzzi, and balcony/terrace area, large shared living room with several sofas and sofa bed, pool table, dining table and eight chairs, kitchenette with full refrigerator, microwave, wet bar, balcony/terrace Jacuzzi, balcony/terrace furniture includes several full-size loungers, armchairs, and outdoor dining table. Swim-Out Suites can be booked within this room category. Ocean view.
(Adults-Only Hideaway Section): Hideaway rooms come with aromatherapy, robe and slippers, beach bag, and an upgraded room service menu.
- Luxury Jr. Suite: See above. Diamond Club upgrade available.
- Luxury Suite: See above. Diamond Club upgrade available.
- Luxury Presidential One Bedroom Suite: Ocean View Rooftop Pool Suite cannot be booked within the Hideaway section, but the Swim-Out Suite can be booked within this category. Diamond Club upgrade available (but not the Rooftop Pool Suite).
(Additional Diamond Club Upgraded Hideaway Rooms):
- Diamond Club Honeymoon Suite: King bed, in-room Jacuzzi tub surrounded by strings of crystal beads hanging from the ceiling, chaise lounge, balcony Jacuzzi. Ocean view.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Seven pools (many with swim-up bars and one infinity pool) and two children’s “splash pads” or water parks, Jacuzzis, spa, beauty salon, fitness center, rooftop tennis courts, spinning classes ($), non-motorized water sports, snorkeling excursions which leave from the beach area, casino, giant chess/checkers, disco, sports bar, hammocks, pool and beach wait service, Bali beds, free WiFi, free calls to the USA and Canada, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), children’s theater, playground, teen club (ages 13-17), concierge, tour desk, gift shop, ATM.
Restaurants/Bars: One buffet restaurant (Gourmet Marché) and six a la cartes including Mexican (Agave), Armadillo (Tex-Mex; open for lunch for Diamond Club upgraded guests, open-air), Mediterranean (OPA!), Italian (Grazie Italian Trattoria), steakhouse (Hunter), and Japanese (Zen–teppanyaki show tables). Reservations are only required for the teppanyaki show tables at Zen; show up at the lobby guest service desk by 7 a.m. the day of the requested dinner in order to sign up. The restaurant Dorado is for Hideaway guests only. Additional dining options include the sports bar (pub food) and Beach Club Grill. Ice cream lovers will want to stop by Scoops Gelato, while guests can get coffee and baked goods at Caffe Lounge. There are nine bars for all guests to enjoy, Hideaway guests have their own beach and swim-up bars, and Diamond Club guests have their own lounge bar, swim-up bar, and beach bar with swings.
Entertainment: There is no dedicated theater, so nighttime shows are typically held by the main pool under the lobby. If it rains, the show is moved to one of the large conference rooms. There is also live music, a weekly beach party, a casino, special poolside entertainment for Hideaway guests, and pool foam parties.