From new favorites to old standbys, there are plenty of options for families looking to book a vacation at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. We polled our latest class of 30Under30 travel agents and, while many agreed that the perfect fit depends on the family involved, there are a few standouts with great food, fun activities and plenty of opportunities for adults and kids to do their own thing.
AAA Travel Michigan’s Jordan Lapetz notes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recommending a property for families. Some clients might want a very high-energy resort with lots of activities and on-site inclusions, since they may not be comfortable heading off-property with their children.
“The ages of the children are a huge factor in determining what type of resort or amenities on site the children will want and actually use,” Lapetz says. “I have had many families come to me and explain in the past, the kids just hung around mom and dad because the resort was not as family friendly; my response is to find a resort that everyone can enjoy together, as well as within their own spaces.”
Amber Koll of The Travel Advantage in Sioux Center, IA, agrees that whether or not a resort is a good fit for a given family depends heavily on the ages of the children involved. That said, she considers the Moon Palace Cancun a great pick.
“They have tons of activities for kids of all ages, plus they usually offer resort credit that can be used towards tours to help offset that extra cost,” Koll says.
Allison Kobasky, who is with Miami-based Over the Moon Vacations, loves sending clients to Hard Rock’s resorts, and she says that families shouldn’t be put off by the brand’s reputation for being a “party place.”
“It’s actually quite the opposite,” Kobasky says. “The resorts are stocked with a ton of amenities like mini-golf, arcades and ‘music labs’ where you can literally be part of a band for a bit, as well as a casino, spa, access to golf courses and more. All of these things are also available via the hotel's ‘limitless resort credit’ concept, which allows you to redeem a certain amount of credit towards different activities, completely free with your stay as long as you pay a small service charge for the amount you use.”
Ryan Barks of Travel Haus of St. Louis also favors Hard Rock-branded properties, as well as the Moon Palace Cancun.
“Hard Rock and Moon Palace both have an immense amount of activities for all ages from two to 102 and can receive a great amount of resort credit as well to use on things on and off the properties,” he says. “This is perfect for multi-generational trips, as well as families with more than one age of children.”
Barks is also looking forward to Karisma’s new, flagship Nickelodeon hotel, which is scheduled to open next year in the Riviera Maya. “Nickelodeon is a fantastic property for kids of all ages,” he says of the brand’s initial Punta Cana location, “but does not have a child-like feeling throughout the property, so adults can also enjoy themselves.”
Samantha Collum of West University Travel in Houston says that her favorite recommendation for families is the Grand Velas Riviera Maya.
“The Grand Velas does a fantastic job of pampering everyone, from newborns to grandparents: they offer a baby concierge so you can leave the stroller at home, their kids club is included and offers plenty of activities, and adults can indulge in the spa or sip a cocktail by the beach,” Collum says. She also notes that it is one of the few family-friendly properties to win the AAA Five Diamond Award, making it a good fit for families looking for luxury.
New York City-based SmartFlyer’s Allison Law also loves the Grand Velas all-inclusives, particularly the ones in Los Cabos and the Riviera Maya. The all-inclusive aspect affords older children and teens a measure of independence, she says, since they can hang out around the resort and eat on their own without worrying about busting the budget.
Grand Velas Los Cabos
“The unbelievable food options and quality will definitely be up to even the harshest food critic’s standards,” Law says. “The sprawling resort grounds offer endless activities for all ages to participate, and the properties also offer great connecting room options to accommodate families.”
Jordan Glanda of Touraid Travel Inc. in Plattsburgh, NY, often recommends Azul- and Dreams-branded properties, based on feedback from her clients and her own travels.
“Of course, it does depend on the experience that the family is looking for on their vacation,” Glanda says. “Some properties are vast and some much smaller. Also, some allow for a lot of off-property activities, while others really try to make the resort in itself a destination. I trust the above properties to really cater to my clients and see to their needs through.”
For Christabela Pierre of Atlas Cruises & Tours in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, the Hyatt Ziva, Panama Jack and Iberostar properties in Cancun are all great picks.
“These properties do a wonderful job of blending adult fun with kid fun,” says Pierre. “Some have small water playgrounds, or family-friendly restaurants with kids’ menus, while still offering parents the ability to be adults and enjoy romance on their vacation.”
Kristen Munch of Frosch Travel in Chicago loves the Rosewood Mayakoba for its many multi-bedroom units and villas, as well as the wide variety of activities that are available at the property.
“The Mayakoba community is excellent for bike riding through the grounds or taking a boat ride through the mangroves while learning about the flora and fauna native to the area,” says Munch. She also recommends the resort’s cooking classes, which give guests the opportunity to dive in to the region’s native delicacies.
“I would recommend any Riu property,” says Trevarus Martin of Book and Bag Travel, LLC, in Katy, TX. “Simply, put they're affordable and fun.” He also notes that, because Riu has a wide variety of locations in Mexico, the brand gives clients plenty of options.
Kaitlyn Kubitskey of My World Travel LLC in Louisville, KY, had a great experience when she sent her clients to The Grand Mayan Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen.
“I had a family of six love their time here and they felt worry-free the entire time,” Kubitskey says. “The hotel has tons of activities catered toward kids and a great connection with the local tour industry that took them to Mayan ruins, cenotes, to a national park to zip-line, and into the town to explore. The adults and kids loved it!”
Kubitskey also says that the Club Med Ixtapa has been on her radar – while she hasn’t sent anyone there yet, she is looking to send a family of clients there at some point in the future.