It was actually a twist of fate that brought us to Mexico in October for our family vacation. We had booked an all inclusive trip to Jamaica many months before, but Hurricane Matthew happened and we felt really nervous about going to a place that could be impacted by the storm. Thankfully we had purchased Sunwing’s cancellation insurance with the forethought that travelling to the Caribbean during hurricane season is chancy. We changed our plans after much debate about where to go, and ended up choosing the Grand Sunset Princess resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Riviera Maya was highly recommended by several friends, and the multitude of restaurant options and plentiful pools was what clinched the decision for this location. We opted for the Platinum Suite and I cannot say enough about how happy I am that we made this decision.
When we booked the Platinum Suite package with terrace jacuzzi we could not have imagined just how beautiful this room would be – it surpassed all hopes and expectations.
The room was modern, bright, and clean. The washroom had a glass surround shower, frosted glass surround toilet, and a soaker tub. The beds were comfortable and we loved having the separate seating area off to the side for reading or for my husband and I to relax in once the kids had fallen asleep. The view was only okay, but really, this was not important to us since the views around the grounds were spectacular. The clothing storage in the room was not quite enough for the four of us (because it’s actually impossible for me to pack light). Next time I would bring extra hangers, because the closet is quite large but only a dozen hangers were supplied.
The Platinum area is closest to the beach, but it is also the farthest from the main building and lobby. This was never a problem, we had many gorgeous long walks on the resort grounds. On the days where we wanted to skip the walk, there was a cart that takes you to back and forth and it comes every 10 or 15 minutes.
I was REALLY lucky with my beach vacations this past year, visiting Cayo Coco, Varadero, and Mayan Riviera. I am going to be honest, Varadero kind of ruins you for all other beaches – it’s just that spectacular. However, the beach at Grand Sunset Princess is pretty darn beautiful. The water is quite clear, however there was some patches of cloudiness that we were told were as a result of the construction of a new hotel on the grounds next door. The waves were mild through most of our visit, I suspect the shoreline is somewhat sheltered as a result of nearby Cozumel island. The water was perfectly warm for swimming.
Another reason to opt for the Platinum package at this resort is the roped off section of the beach just for Platinum guests. In this space there is an abundance of thatch roofed huts for shade, drink service (and they are super attentive), it’s a bit quieter than the main part of the beach, and there is always a lounger free. Absolutely no need to come down to the beach early and lay a towel on the chair in hopes of getting a good spot.
One of the best afternoons was spent snorkelling. There are free non-motorized sports available from the resort. We signed out snorkels and masks in the hopes we might see a few fish. Nearby where we were swimming, another family had brought some buns from the restaurant and were feeding fish. We swam over and checked out the frenzy, I have never seen anything like it. Swarms of fish all around, it was one of the most spectacular things to experience and I knew in that moment we were creating memories and a love of the ocean that the kids would carry with them forever.
Food and Dining
Food is a pretty big source of stress for us on holidays. My oldest son has life-threatening allergies to shellfish, and my youngest son has some very particular food aversions (read: beyond picky). So, what we need on a holiday is an environment where we feel the food is safe from cross contamination or that the server takes seriously our needs for special food handling. We also need lots of variety, so that we can check out a few different spots if the buffet is having Asian night which would be a disaster for both boys. Grand Sunset Princess has more than 10 restaurants, plus a grill by the beach, and a taco cart by the pool, and a grill cart by another pool.
We ate a la carte 5 of the 7 nights we were there and all the food was incredible. There are lots and lots of bars, and it was never a long wait for a drink. I would rate the food as excellent, and we never worried about sanitation or quality. That confidence led my husband to have the Beef Carpaccio for an appetizer one night – which would be the only thing I suggest steering clear of.
The pools here were literally endless. There were several ‘main’ pools, and most were connected to eachother with narrow sections that were accessible by everyone but also were attached to the Swim Out hotel rooms.
We spent quite a bit of time at the main pools nearest to the beach, there was a swim up bar at each one, some great benches in the pool for relaxing, and the temperature was very comfortable. Getting seating in the shade was a bit challenging sometimes, but we did always find some after a bit of walking around.
There was constant service if you were feeling too lazy to swim over to the bar, and the chairs were nice and comfortable. I was impressed at how clean the pool area was kept – the abundance of plastic cups left poolside didn’t stay there for long.
The kids liked the hustle and bustle of the main pools, and all the things to do while in them, while I preferred the Platinum pool area. I made it my mission to spend at least one day relaxing on a sun bed reading with a bottle of champagne chilled in the ice bucket on the table beside me. This pool was a literal sanctuary, right beside our hotel room, and two steps away from the Platinum bar and lounge area.
There was no shortage of things to do at the hotel, which for me was also an important factor in selecting this resort. The boys are definitely too old for any kind of kids club activities, but they need more to do than just swim and lounge for seven days. We snorkelled in the ocean, tried out scuba diving in the pool, went to the shooting range (air gun activities, like the ones used in the Olympics), watched a few of the shows, and went for plenty of walks on the grounds. There were many little spots perfect for passing the time reading or hanging out in the shade.
The shows were so-so. There was a fire show one night that was outside and quite cool to watch. We went to the Grease theater show and left after about 10 minutes. It’s pretty predictable hotel entertainment, set to a soundtrack, and lacklustre after the really spectacular shows we were treated to in Cayo Coco.
The Other Stuff You Should Know
There are wild animals all over the grounds, I cannot remember what they are called now but they look like a Lemur and act like a raccoon. They are attracted to the trash and don’t trouble people. I suppose some people may find this off putting, which is why I think its important to mention