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7 resorts in Mexico’s Riviera Maya that are perfect for families -- and you can book with points

June 29, 2020
12 min read
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Editor’s note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials' guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year. Many Riviera Maya hotels reopen on July 1, 2020.

This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

Easy-to-book nonstop flights from the U.S. to Cancun International Airport (CUN) make the culturally rich, jungle-like setting of Mexico’s Riviera Maya region an ideal and easily accessible destination for a warm-weather getaway.

Do you have a Southwest Companion Pass that allows you to bring a companion along for just the taxes on the ticket? If so, getting to Cancun is an awesome deal and in normal times, Southwest flies there nonstop from cities like Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore-BWI, Denver, Houston, Nashville and more. Connecting flights are available as well.

We've also seen great cash deals -- $162 per round-trip ticket, for example -- on United, Frontier and Volaris this year. And that was for travel during peak spring break dates in February and March.

I’ve been traveling to this region since 2006 and have seen a new crop of luxury resorts go up in the past dozen years. There are also new cultural activities -- walking among Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, zip lining above the jungle or swimming in cenotes (stunning freshwater swimming holes). If you’re an active family, this is your place.

Check out TPG's Mexico hub for everything you need to know about traveling to the beaches, ancient ruins and inland destinations.

Fundadores Park in Playa del Carmen. (Photo by Chad Zuber/Shutterstock)

This part of Mexico stretches from Cancun to Tulum along the Caribbean Sea and includes the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and the resort town of Playa del Carmen. It is dotted with adults-only resorts, but there are also plenty of properties (some all-inclusive) that cater to families. The all-inclusive properties mean no extra cost for extra cheeseburgers or late-night room-service dessert as well as watersports rentals and access to kids clubs. Who wants surprise charges at checkout? On the other hand, the properties that aren't all-inclusive can give you a great return for your points and many offer all-inclusive packages if you ask for an extra rate.

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Here are our favorite resorts you can book on points for a family getaway in Riviera Maya.

Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya

Program: World of Hyatt

Room with two double beds: Category 6 from 25,000 points per night

At Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, younger travelers ages 4–12 like the Kimbo Kids Club at this 214-room resort where they can sign up for activities like a boat tour that teaches about ecology or how to make crafts native to the region. This is not an all-inclusive resort, but it is one that caters to adults and kids alike.

(Photo courtesy of Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya)

Five room categories offer varying views and locations within the resort, including beachfront (with two double beds) where the sand is a short walk away. There are two outdoor pools, and the design is bright, crisp and modern. It’s lies within the 600-acre gated Mayakoba complex (also home to Rosewood, Fairmont and Banyan Tree properties), making it a great place for hiking or jogging on local trails or using a complimentary bicycle. Chauffeured golf carts are especially helpful when children get tired. Make this an especially worthwhile stay by earning points with the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Related: King of the Jungle: A review of the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya

JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa

Program: Marriott Bonvoy

Ocean View Deluxe Guest Room with two double beds and balcony: Category 6 (50,000 points per night on standard dates)

Part of the Marriott Cancun Collection — with Marriott Cancun Resort — this 447-room property just finished a $40-million renovation. Accommodations include ocean-facing rooms with two double beds and a balcony. With a full-service spa, there are treatments for everyone; There are even custom spa treatments on the menu just for tweens. Lessons in Spanish and building a killer sand castle are among other activities available at the kids club.

One of the three pools on property is just for kids, and a poolside private cabana keeps everyone together for the afternoon. Six restaurants easily satisfy the picky eaters in your group. If you don't have enough Marriott Rewards points, transfer some of your Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. You can also use an annual Marriott up to 50k award-night certificate that's conferred each year after your card renewal month on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

Related: The best Marriott property in Cancun: The JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa

(Photo by Daniel Hank/The Points Guy)

Marriott Cancun Resort

Program: Marriott Bonvoy

Resort View Guest Room with two double beds and balcony: Category 5 (35,000 points per night on standard dates)

Marriott's Cancun Resort is another great choice for families. All suites with king beds also have a pullout sofa to help accommodate small families. Other rooms offer rollaway beds, so check before you book if you have a larger family.

If your child is between the ages of 4 and 12, the kids club ($35 fee) offers lessons in Spanish and in making piñatas and other crafts. There's even a turtle-release program in September and October. Nine restaurants offer everything from sports-bar cuisine to poolside snacks. The whole family can participate in poolside and beachfront activities like beach volleyball and cooking classes. Since this is a Category 5 property, you can use a free-night certificate (worth up to 35,000 points) like the one you can earn on the renewal month from holding the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card.

Related: The best travel cards of June 2020

(Photo courtesy of Marriott Cancun Resort)

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen

Program: World of Hyatt

Room with two queen beds: Category 6 from 25,000 points per night

At the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen, the Tortuguita Camp Hyatt (the 314-room resort’s kids club, for kids between the ages of 4 and 11) offers fun activities like handcrafts, costumes, toys and cooking classes. There is also a teen arcade for kids 12 and up.

(Photo courtesy of Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen)

All three of the resort's infinity pools face the beach and the balconies are furnished (suite balconies have a private plunge pool). The resort is a few blocks from Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, a pedestrian-only stretch lined with restaurants and boutiques. There are four restaurants on property, from a raw bar devoted entirely to sushi (yum) to a relaxing terrace restaurant. If you need more Hyatt points to book your stay, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card at a 1:1 ratio to your Hyatt account.

Related: Review of the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen

(Photo courtesy of Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen)

Hyatt Ziva Cancun

Program: World of Hyatt

Resort View room with two double beds: From 25,000 points per night

Hyatt Ziva Cancun Beach at Sunset (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

What makes Hyatt Ziva Cancun — an all-inclusive sibling to the adults-only Hyatt Zilara Cancun — superior to other kid-friendly all-inclusives in the area is that it has a waterpark and KidZ Club with a game room, both included in the resort fee.

Related: 14 mistakes to avoid at all-inclusive resorts

Hyatt Ziva Cancun Kids Club. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

The included on-site food is fantastic, with a variety of themed restaurants and even a margarita bar.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun themed restaurant (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

At the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, there is also live music and cultural shows in the outdoor amphitheater designed for all ages, which makes a night out as a family easy (and "free"). Water activities on property include standup paddleboarding, snorkeling and paddle yoga. A highlight for kids of all ages is the included all-you-can-enjoy dessert store -- what could be better than "free" dessert?

Related: A review of the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cancun

Included candy store at Hyatt Ziva Cancun (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Grand Velas Riviera Maya

This all-inclusive 539-suite beachfront property, set on 209 acres, just rolled out a glamping option (included in the nightly rate) for kids, which folds in activities like making dreamcatchers, roasting s’mores over the fire and creating a puppet show. Children can choose to sleep back in their room or spend the night in their personal tepee. The kids club and teen club keep younger travelers engaged. Every suite has a spacious balcony, some with private plunge pools, and the new oceanfront Grand Class section recently changed from adults-only to all-ages.

Related: 11 all-inclusive family beach resorts you can book with points

(Photo courtesy of Grand Velas)

The smaller of the suites allows for two adults and two kids; larger families may like the two-bedroom Family Suites. Teens (between the ages of 13 and 18) have a dedicated club with video games, karaoke and a disco floor while smaller children enjoy the kids club. Traveling with a baby? Ask for the Baby Concierge to coordinate things like floaties for the pool and organic foods. Family entertainment includes cooking classes, sand-castle building, eco-cycling tours and astronomy nights.

Related: Getting ready for your child’s first flight: a survival guide

(Photo courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Maya)

You can't book the Grand Velas with traditional hotel points, but you can often book it through Chase's travel portal using either cash or points.

Panama Jack Resorts Playa del Carmen

A kids club with an outdoor play area plus family suites with bunk beds (in addition to a king bed and pullout couch) attract families to all-inclusive Panama Jack Resorts Playa del Carmen. This 287-room beachfront resort is a sister property to a Panama Jack in Cancun. The Playa del Carmen property is near the pedestrian-only Quinta Avenida with its shops and boutiques. Buffets are typically popular with all ages, but this resort has a buffet just for kids, and it's a huge hit with little travelers.

(Photo courtesy of Panama Jack)

The resort’s nightly entertainment -- such as Mexican Night where the lobby transforms into a Mexican fiesta -- is designed to attract guests of all ages.

This resort can also be booked using cash or Ultimate Rewards points through Chase's travel portal.

Related: The three best Mayan ruins in Mexico's Riviera Maya to visit with kids

Bottom line

Mexico's Riviera Maya region has a host of resorts that have at least a decade of experience in catering to what families want and need on vacation. Your brood will be pampered at any of these properties and, if you use your points, the trip will be a great value too.

With additional reporting by Mimi Wright.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy JW Marriott)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.