7 resorts in Mexico’s Riviera Maya that are perfect for families — and you can book with points
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new award category information. It was originally published on Feb. 13, 2019.
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 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.
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.
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.
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. Overall, the design is bright, crisp and modern and it’s within the 600-acre gated Mayakoba complex (also home to Rosewood, Fairmont and Banyan Tree properties), which has many trails for hiking or jogging or using a complimentary bicycle. Chauffeured golf carts are helpful when children get tired. You can earn points with the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
Program: Marriott Bonvoy
Ocean View Deluxe Guest Room with two double beds and balcony: Category 6 ($30 plus 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. There is a spa, and treatments just for tweens — like “Mayan Princess for a Day” — help build a mother-daughter experience. Lessons in Spanish and building a killer sand castle are among 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. Ten 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 a Marriott up to 50k award-night certificate that’s conferred on the card anniversary of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
Program: Marriott Bonvoy
Resort View Guest Room with two double beds and balcony: Category 5 ($30 plus 35,000 points per night on standard dates)
All rooms with king beds also have a pullout sofa to help accommodate small families. If your child is between the ages of 4 and 12, the kids club (included in resort fee) offers lessons in Spanish and in making piñatas and other crafts. There’s even a turtle-release program in September and October. Six 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 anniversary of holding the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
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 12) offers fun cultural activities like learning to speak Mayan, walking around the garden and identifying native plants, or experiencing how Mayan chocolate is made. A half-day at the kids club costs $45. If your child likes animals, try to visit during one of the club’s wildlife shows.
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. 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.
Program: World of Hyatt
Resort View room with two double beds: Category 6 (25,000 points for double occupancy, additional guests are 12,500 per night; kids 2 and under stay for free)
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.
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?
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 teens club keep younger travelers engaged. Every suite has a spacious balcony and some boast private plunge pools. The new oceanfront Grand Class section recently changed from adults-only to all-ages.
The smaller of the suites allows for two adults and two kids; larger families may like the two-bedroom Family Suites (there are also three-bedroom options). 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you traveled to the Riviera Maya? What did your kids enjoy most about the vacation?
Featured photo courtesy JW Marriott.
For a limited time, earn 100,000 points with this card after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. Offer ends 4/8/20. TPG values 100K Bonvoy points to be worth around $800. Aside from the huge welcome offer you'll earn up to $300 in statement credits each year and 1 free night every year after cardmember anniversary. Terms apply.
- Earn 100,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
- Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of Card Membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.
- Earn 6 Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. 3 points at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2 points on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
- Enjoy unlimited airport lounge visits when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select membership.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $450 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees