Riviera Maya and Azul Hotels

Riviera Maya and Azul Hotels

My poor neglected blog! I'm a firm believer that you shouldn't rattle on to fill space if you have nothing of substance to say. Does anybody else get sick of reading fluff published just to say a blog is updated frequently? It really turns me off.

I just returned from a week in Riviera Maya with my family to see the Azul and El Dorado Resorts and get some much needed r&r. Even Hurricane Alex didn't spoil our vacation. We did have lots of rain, but still enjoyed the trip tremendously.My poor family had to stay at the Azul Sensatori all day playing while I walked till I got blisters touring resorts. The things I do for you people! Obviously I'm joking, I love my job and there's no where else I'd rather be forming blisters than Riviera Maya. There will be lots of pictures on Facebook, plus a short review of each here. Overall, I was impressed with each resort. With most hotel collections there's always one room category or particular hotel where I'm left thinking 'I'd never send anybody there, hope no one asks for it." I honestly did not feel that way about either of these. I can't wait to go back sans kid to try one of adults-only properties.

Karisma Resorts family oriented brand Azul has two properties close to each other just 20 minutes south of the Cancun airport.
Azul Beach is the boutique style property with just 98 rooms, perfect for families with small kids. The intimate size of the hotel still packs in a great variety of restaurants and bars. I tried my first "mosquito" here and I'm hooked! An all-lobster menu at Blue and Mexican cuisine overlooking the sea at Chil plus Asian at Tainan means you're not sacrificing great food for a kid-friendly vacation. There's also La Mancha for healthy snacks and fresh smoothies. The star of the bar scene is Agavero Tequila Lounge, where over 30 varieties of tequila are served in an old 1800's cantina vibe complete with dark walls, red velvet banquettes and frozen bar top.
The kids will still have plenty to keep them happy. There is a kids club with more toys than you can imagine that are also available for you to 'check out' and play with in your room. Each restaurant has a kids menu so they can try some new things or stick to the old nuggets and mac&cheese. Gourmet Gerber baby food is also available for the little ones. One of my favorite features here is the beach picnics.You can select a menu that is brought out to your family on the beach. The best thing about each Azul is you don't have to bring a single piece of baby gear if you don't want to. They supply cribs, bottle warmers, changing tables, strollers, toys....whatever you need. You'll thank me for mentioning that when you're waiting in customs without all the junk ;-)

Azul Sensatori - We stayed here the entire week, so I can tell you this hotel is fabulous for kids! The Azulitos kids club here is the best equipped I have ever seen. It looks just like the pictures from their brochure. (rare) The place is always immaculate and everyone there is so friendly. Now, I saw some kids that definitely would have tried my patience, but the ladies there always kept a smile and handled them beautifully. That takes some very special people! There was always an activity going on, but interestingly enough just a few families seemed to participate. It never felt crowded and the kids were always busy with some activity if they wanted. You can also take toys from the lending library here. That xylophone in the pic followed us everywhere. The children's pool is just outside Azulitos with a mini slide and splash area. Even the bathrooms beside the pool were always spotless! I thought that was impossible.
Don't get the impression that Azul Sensatori is a kids free- for-all though. There is an adults only pool and bar. The family pool and children's facilities are tucked away on the side of the resort so it doesn't feel like you're at Disney on the beach. I was actually concerned when we first got there that I didn't see that many kids or hear any screaming, thinking "uh-oh my wild one is gonna be out of place here!" Even at over 90% occupancy the resort is so well laid out that it did not feel like the entire place was a playground.
6 gourmet restaurants sprinkled around offer cuisine from Italian to Caribbean. We of course tried them all =) Toys for the kids are at each restaurant if you need some help entertaining them while you enjoy your dinner. Spoon was my son's favorite for every meal. There is a kid size buffet there and plenty of windows to people watch. I can't pick one single restaurant that we like more than another. We enjoyed the variety at Tapaz and left stuffed. (I'd heard reviews about leaving there hungry, and I'm trying to figure out what these people are used to eating) I don't even remember how many times we went to Zocalo. They knew our names after 2 days. My husband always jokes that I must be part Mexican since it's my favorite food. The food here is not your typical corner restaurant Tex-Mex. It is gourmet and more authentic. Everything I tried was great. The Relleno I had here was a completely different interpretation of an old favorite and absolutely delicious!!! (That's Malcolm's finger in my plate..)
The adults-only restaurant Le Chique, was definitely an unforgettable experience. Familiar dishes are re-interpreted with different textures over a 12 course dinner. The pic to the left is shrimp cocktail. This was the only night we left the little one in Azulitos and almost forgot to pick him up! He was quite upset about being the last kid there, but excited about the movie and popcorn he got while we were gone.
The shows each night were always kid-friendly with an 'after-party' in the Mojito Bar for adults. I loved the Mayan show! The Micheal Jackson show was definitely better than Chris Brown's little tribute at the BET awards. I think a few guests were confused because they seem so excited to get the performer's autograph and picture after the show. Maybe it was the tequila...The Mojito Bar has over 30 different Mojito flavors and I did my best to sample them for this review. The servers around the show area remembered which ones I'd already had and suggested new ones. Amazing, with the number of people they were keeping up with.
The staff at Azul truly shines in the service arena. Just about everyone we passed offered up a friendly 'Hola!' all day and night. (Yes even the room service waiter at 2 a.m. was friendly) ...and not in a fake forced way. Side note: It really helps if you at least attempt some basic Spanish. Everyone here spoke English and it is not required, but it really helps you not look like a snobby American to try =) Here's where my time in Miami helped out again. 5 years of Cuban Spanglish enabled us to communicate pretty well with everyone and get some good practice. We surprised a few people when we understood their conversations and luckily didn't catch anyone talking about us. (Wish I could do that at the nail shop) A few days in my son was responding to simple questions in Spanish and counting everything in sight. How long would that take in a class?

Since this post is long enough to make up for the 3 months absence I'll continue El Dorado in another one...

Travel On Purpose