Family Travel and Learning in Cancun, MexicoNovember 13, 2013
While in Cancun for our 100% fun and 100% educational vacation we called Riu Palace Peninsula our home base. RIU Palace Peninsula is an all-inclusive resort in Cancun; our family of four visited at the end of summer. We enjoyed the clean and inviting pools, each with their own personality. Even with five incredible pools, we spent plenty of time on the beach. We loved the diverse beach topography with both rocky edges and soft sand. The best part? It was easy for our family to go back and forth between the pools and beaches, and in and out of this luxurious all-inclusive. RIU Palace Peninsula is definitely a place we recommend to our friends!
About Our Room
The suite worked well for our family of four. There were two queen sized beds with ample space for our luggage and pack-n-play (provided by the hotel.) It also included a sofa (which could be used for sleeping) and a small table for having a snack. There is a bathtub in the middle of the room between the beds and bathroom area. While this isn’t a problem with younger children, families will be happy to know there is a privacy curtain that can be pulled across the room.
The room was exceptionally clean. They are decorated with a modern flare, with crisp white furniture and splashes of deep purple. The floors were tiled with no carpeting. Honestly, this gave me pause at first (My youngest lives up to the name “toddler.”) but the necessity of this type of flooring became apparent on our first trip back from the beach. Even though we used the outside sprayers to clean off residual sand, we still managed to bring a large amount back upstairs with us. I can’t imagine having carpet in that situation; I was thankful for the tile!
One of the highlights of our room was the balcony. We were at the far end of the building, so we had an incredible view of both the lagoon and the ocean. In this strategic location we could see both the sunrise and the sunset, and we indulged in a balcony space much larger than the others. I highly recommend requesting a room at the end.
Even with a standard balcony, there is much to enjoy. Comfy lounge chairs allow you to sit and take in views of all the pools as well as the ocean. The railing of the balcony houses a full sheet of glass, which made me feel safe about sharing the view with the kids, and it allowed for an unobstructed view of the gorgeous Gulf.
The elevator is easy to get to, and large hallways make luggage and strollers easy to use. There were always ample towels and blankets. You will find water and sodas in the fridge in the room, with plenty of space for adding juice or bottles. For parents who drink, there is alcohol in a unit on the wall of the room (all-inclusive comprises alcoholic beverages as well.) It is out of the way, and mounted high enough to be out of reach to curious hands.
Facilities and Amenities – Resort
There are five pools on the property. Two pools are for adults only – one in the adult-only villa area and one bar-pool. The other three were plenty for our family. There is a zero-entry pool, which my youngest delighted in. It was long and narrow, and works well as a lap pool. The second pool we played in was the infinity pool, which overlooked the ocean. This pool was consistently about 4 feet deep, and my oldest enjoyed diving for colorful rings at the bottom. The third pool we played in was perfect for cannonballs, as it was also used by the adults for water volleyball and other “sports.” The size ensured we did not get in the way of others, but the activity in the pool made it acceptable for more kid-like activities (like a game of splash.)
Right off the pool, guests can access the beach and waters of the Gulf. The beach on the right is a little rocky. There is plenty of sand for burying dad or building a castle, and the boulders are fun for climbing. The beach area in front of the pools is more traditional beach sand with no rocks. We enjoyed both areas equally, and appreciated the diverse landscape. Be sure to take advantage of the shower areas for washing off sand before heading back into the pool area.
Non-motorized water sports are part of the all-inclusive package. We checked out a Boogie board and snorkeling gear. Also included is a Scuba lesson in the pool. Older kids might enjoy participating in the water or sand volleyball games, or other fun activities set up by the entertainment staff.
Also, don’t overlook the Mayan ruins right on site! They are a beautiful addition to the hotel grounds.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are offered as buffet. There is a large variety of food and several kid-friendly options such as fries, cereal, juice and the like. Buffets include local fare as well as comfortable “American” food that they will easily recognize. The staff was also always ready to help us get seated and situated, and brought a high-chair for us right away.
There are several specialty restaurants on the property. You will need to make reservations two days in advance so plan this as soon as you arrive. We brought the kids with us to the restaurant without incident, but you can also arrange babysitting if you want to make it a special date. We ate at Krystal; the food was delicious! While my picky eater would not venture into the new territory of haute cuisine, the staff was happy to bring him a bowl of fries and plenty of ketchup.
I cannot say enough about the staff here. They were always willing to help. They treated the kids with special attention and kindness. I never felt that the kids were “in the way,” even at the specialty restaurant. It is the staff at RIU Palace Peninsula that won my heart and increased my desire to share the hotel with friends and family.
24-hour room service is available; there is a special menu for sandwiches and snacks. We did not use room service, as we preferred to be on the beach or in the pool, but it is available and included.
Finally, there is a small shop on the main level that offers additional snacks for purchase. We bought a bag of pretzels for a daytrip we took off the property.
RIU Palace Peninsula is right in the Hotel Zone of Cancun. We rode about 20 minutes to get there from the Cancun airport. We were within 2 -3 miles of the shopping district and downtown Cancun.
Right across the street from the hotel is one of many bus stops. The bus is the best way to travel around Cancun. It is safe and affordable. A bus comes about every 3- 4 minutes to stops strategically placed along the Hotel Zone, and they run 24 hours a day. The bus is $1 US per person; they accept American dollars or local currency. We took the bus several times while visiting and the kids enjoyed it.
There are a number of fun activities off the resort (if you can pull yourself away.) Visit the Mayan Museum or Crococun, take a ride in a speedboat to a snokling or diving location, visit Isla Mujeres or Riviera Maya, or venture out for shopping and local cuisine.
RIU Palace Peninsula offers an opportunity for the kids to take a break from you, with RIULand. There are supervised activities for kids ages 4-7 and 8-12. Activities vary daily and include games in the private RIULand pool, pirate contests and scavenger hunts, activities to encourage learning about the local ecosystems, and introducing the local culture.
Riu Art is tucked away on the lower level. Here, a local artist guides you through the process of creating your own painting. This is a nice place for older kids to take a break from the sun and bring home a souvenir.
Babysitting is available through the staff at $15 per kid, per hour. We took advantage of this one night. We waited until both kids were asleep before we left. One of the friendly staff members came up and sat with them in the dark – she read on her phone while we were gone. Overall, I was happy with the babysitting experience and would do it again.
Here’s the bottom line. The rooms are clean and work for families; the balcony is amazing. The all-inclusive options gave us opportunities to eat when we wanted, try new foods, and explore snorkeling for the first time. We adored the beach and pools; each of them were stunning but together they raised the bar for this hotel. The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome and special. The location was ideal, and the kids programs worked for our family. I recommend this place to anyone visiting the area!
Disclosure: Thank you to the Cancun CVB and Riu Hotels for accommodating my family and me on our educational and fun adventure in Cancun, Mexico. While we sincerely appreciate their hospitality, it in no way influenced my opinions about this kid-tastic hotel. Opinions here are honest and completely my own.