The Kid Allergy Travel family absolutely loves getting away to the Cancun area of Mexico. This location is close to our home base in Texas (ie. short direct flights for antsy or young kiddos) and is relatively cheap if you are seeking an island vacation.
Why? This area of Mexico has focused on offering a variety of all-inclusive experiences that range from budget to ultra-luxury type vacations.
Our family loves knowing exactly how much we will be spend before we go and encourage everyone to consider this type of vacation....even those who happen to live with dietary or allergy restrictions.
Below we review two of our favorite all-inclusive Cancun area Mexican family resorts. Which one is right for your brood and their travel style?
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A member of Palace Resorts, this resort has 287 rooms. The hotel has a big resort feel and focuses on hosting a variety of activities to lure its guests. They run a confusing $1,500 resort credit with complicated limitations on what and when you can utilize it. Free, easy shuttle access is offered between sister properties to ensure you won’t tire of the same resort during your entire stay.
A member of Karisma Resorts, this resort provides you that boutique hotel experience with only 148 rooms. For being a small resort, they have a wide selection of dining options with five different restaurants on property included in the package. But, the house wine offering included in your all-inclusive package is abysmal. They regularly push premium bottle sales during dinner that can add additional costs to your bill. In theory, you can walk 25 minutes to the sister property, the Sensatori, but it is supposed to come with a $35 use fee. Plus, if you have kids with you, that walk requires you pass through a nude beach.
NOTE: Both offer timeshares and both will bother you to listen to their pitch multiple times throughout your stay. But, we found Azul Beach to be less pushy about it.
Closest: Beach Palace
Clear immigration, find a local taxi and ten minutes later you will have started your vacation.
Azul Beach, by contrast, is about a 30ish-minute ride south of the airport toward the Riviera Maya. It also brings with it a pricey $75 (ish) ride one way with the resort’s recommended transportation company Lomas Travel. If you bring US dollars you can get Coronas for the adults at $5 each. This makes the ride more pleasurable for mom and dad, but it doesn't erase the fact the distance makes traveling with small children more difficult. It also means you have to cut your last day shorter because the trip time back to town varies due to traffic conditions.
Best Beach: Beach Palace
The water is perfectly clear and calm. The sand is soft and white. But, with a pristine beach comes more crowds so just keep that in mind.
Azul Beach is in a section with a bit more seaweed (although they do make a stellar effort to clean debris from the beach several times a day). Plus, the water is more rough at Azul Beach which can be a concern for those with little ones or new swimmers.
Best Beach Loungers: Azul Beach
They have over 30 beautifully constructed thatched beds that provide privacy and attentive bar service. Every day at 3pm you line up and free cabanas are given out on a first come first serve basis for the following day (you even get to pick which one you want on a map according to availability!). I know...in places like Aruba and Grand Cayman you can throw your sever a $20 and they can get you out of standing in that line. We did not have any luck doing that. So, if you have small children and need the shade, you just need to accept that someone has to stand in line for 30 minutes every afternoon on your vacation. These cabanas are REALLY amazing though. So I promise...it will be worth it (especially with that all-inclusive beverage in your hand).
Beach Palace does have a VIP section with nicer beach loungers and better umbrellas but it does require a room type upgrade that must be done before you start your vacation. Even still they do not provide the same kind of privacy and luxury that the Azul Beach structures give you.
Best For Infants & Kids Under 12: Azul Beach
Upon request, rooms can be stocked with baby gear such as strollers, bottle sterilizers, pack and play for the beach and refrigerators for formula. This courtesy is so appealing that you will see a high percentage of guests falling in this family with infant category.
The under 12 crowd will be hooked mainly due to their partnership with Nickelodeon. They have a Nick Character breakfast package and your family can get slimmed while being photographed. The kids club is wall to ceiling Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Azul Beach also has a relationship with My Gym so if you get a rainy day, like we did, you can send your kids 5 year old or older to play on the pretty incredible indoor play gym equipment. Have kids under 5? Don’t worry, they can still enjoy the gym too. There just needs to be an adult chaperone at all times.
Best Multi-generational & Older Kid Appeal: Beach Palace
Your teenager or 70 year old dad generally does not want to be stuck in a Nickelodeon themed hotel. I have seen many a teenager overlook the uncool factor for Disney but this is not done with the same Disney finesse. Plus, Beach Palace has easier access to third parties that hire out motorized water sports. Beach Palace is a quick walk down the beach off property versus a more difficult 15-minute drive from Azul Beach to the pier at Puerto Morelos. Added bonus: Beach Palace has two separate pool areas (one near the beach and one rooftop). If you teenager needs a bit of independence, they can get it without you fearing too much distance.
Worth the Room Upgrade: BOTH
Beach Palace is worth the Ocean View Room upgrade because of the spacious patio. Patios have two person adjustable bed loungers along with two chairs and a side table.
Azul Beach is worth the Swim Out Suite upgrade if all children in your group can swim. It isn’t a private plunge pool but it is super nice to be able to sit within the comforts of your room if you kids want to take a quick dip in the pool. No need to schlep the whole crew to a crowded public pool lurking for an available lounge chair to deposit all your belongings.
Best Bar: BOTH
Beach Palace has a fantastic rooftop bar called Sky Lounge. The 360-degree views of the city are incredible. The bar is right next to a pool and a hot tub. Plenty of loungers are available to take in the sun while enjoying the free all-inclusive cocktails. But, this is a sun lover’s paradise. There is very little shade perched this high in the sky. Our young children couldn’t stay for long periods of time during the heat of the day because they do not have it set up to provide a bunch of shade.
By contrast, Azul Beach has the Aquanox Bar that is surrounded by hanging beds and completely shaded. When we had a younger child that napped, this was our afternoon destination. The beds are family sized meaning all four of us could fit comfortably. Plus, being steps away from a bartender ensures your all-inclusive beverage will never run low.
Best Gluten Free Kid Food: BOTH
I know what you are thinking. Can you really enjoy an all-inclusive resort in Mexico if you have to eat gluten free? Like most people who live a gluten free lifestyle, I generally have a “no buffet” eating rule for Kid Allergy. The cross contamination anxiety is too much.
But, interestingly enough, Mexico is one of those places I do tend to relax this rule.
Ok, so admittedly, I am a fluent Spanish speaker and that does help when communicating about what Kid Allergy can and can’t eat. But…over the last few years, I feel like I have discovered a way to do all-inclusive Mexican resorts strategically. The trick: find an all-inclusive Mexican resort that provides more a la carte restaurants on property than buffets plus includes in room dining in the overall price.
These two resorts do a great job of tagging your room number with information that there is an allergy in your party. They both ask every time you are seated to let them know exactly who is allergic and to confirm the allergic ingredient or ingredients.
Beach Palace has fantastic gluten free pancakes which can be chef made in the buffet restaurant by request every morning. Plus, the buffet restaurant does have a separate labeled gluten free table. We also enjoyed that the in-room dining menu is labeled gluten free and is available to view through your television.
Azul Beach has the ability to make whatever you crave and bring it to any restaurant on property no matter the theme. That means (let’s say) if you are like Kid Allergy, you like ground beef tacos. You can eat your beloved gluten free Mexico food anytime whether the rest of the family is enjoying Japanese or Italian. This is great for a picky eater who might be nervous about trying new foods in a new environment. Azul Beach’s strength also lies in offering naturally gluten free foods that are tasty and healthy. It was nice to spend a vacation with Kid Allergy eating scrambled eggs with mango and papaya instead of sugar drenched gluten free French toast or a preprocessed packaged gluten free blueberry muffin.
Big, activity-focused resort with crystal clear calm waters just 10 minutes from the Cancun airport offering more multi-generational & teenager appeal. It is less focused on intimacy but provides a more festive environment and convenient in-town access.
Boutique, infant and under 12 focused Nickelodeon themed resort located in the quieter Riviera Maya that is tailored for those who enjoy watching the waves than playing in them. Big on intimacy and luxury for those who want a quieter family get away.