Guest contributors John and Sandra Nowlan visited the all-inclusive Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico—they describe their multigenerational visit through the eyes of their grandchildren.
“Another great thing is the balcony which had a Jacuzzi and a great view of the ocean. Sitting out there practically screamed vacation!”
That was the comment from our 13-year-old grandson, Cameron, when he enjoyed a break from school at the family-friendly Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. We were there for a week with our three adult children and five grandchildren, assigning the young ones the task of keeping a brief daily diary. They embraced the challenge with enthusiasm.
Cameron went on to comment about the accommodations and architecture at the resort. “The rooms are quite nice with better internet than my room back home,” he wrote. “And the décor of everything is fine except for the Italian restaurant, Portofino. Why does it look like a disco with draped walls and changing colours?”
He did enjoy all the food and drink. “Food is good—all the snacks in the lounge and assortment in the buffet. Everything is sublime. The drinks were sweet and refreshing – all I could ask for in a drink. The staff were great and did their jobs perfectly.”
Our three younger granddaughters were especially fond of the Kids Club and the food. “I love this place”, wrote 10-year-old Eva. “The Mexican restaurant is very loud and crazy with awesome food. There was dancing and singing. My omelet at the buffet was the best ever and the kids’ drinks were great. My favourite was the Dirty Monkey, made with fresh bananas.” At the Kids Club, Eva enjoyed the video games, the drawing contests and the face painting. “The bungee jumping trampoline went higher and higher and I did a back flip. Super fun.”
Adah, age 8, loved the Asian teppanyaki restaurant. “It had explosions of fire and good food,” she wrote in her diary. Breakfast at the a la carte restaurant, Oceana, had in her view, “…the best bacon ever.”
The youngest grandchild, Abbie, age 6, liked “swimming at the beach and at the pool and in the hot tub”. She added, “I made new friends” and, at the Kids Club, “liked hand waxing.” She was referring to making sculptures of her hands in multi colored wax.
The Kids Club didn’t have much appeal for 16-year-old Kieran. But he did like almost everything else. “My favourite thing about all inclusive resorts is the constant access to tasty refreshments,” he wrote. Kieran’s top choice was the virgin pina colada. “The pools are excellent with basketball, table tennis and volleyball. The staff is very friendly. But the drinks in the Preferred Lounge were better than at the pool bar.”
Like the other four kids, Kieran loved the restaurants. “At the buffet, there was great Mexican food at all times of the day as well as many other choices. The Italian restaurant dress code (long pants & collared shirt for men) is silly due to the informality and chaotic atmosphere in the restaurant. My favourite was the Mexican specialty restaurant because of the enthusiastic waiters and excellent food.”
Movies by the pool at night with popcorn and drinks was “a great service,” according to Kieran, but he did have a major evening complaint. “Having weddings and receptions late in the evening with loud people and music right outside sleeping quarters is bad design.” The resort had 470 weddings last year! Lots of noise at night.
Dreams Riviera Cancun is a compact resort but management acknowledged that frequent weddings, receptions and booming music close to the accommodations late at night is a problem. They hope to solve it in the future with soundproof windows.
There’s one attraction that all five grandchildren loved. The Crococun Zoo is just up the road next to the main highway to Cancun. It features crocodiles, birds, snakes, deer, monkeys and hairless Mexican dogs in a natural environment and allows visitors to touch or pick up most of the animals. Adah, age 8, loved the monkeys and the dogs. “What was really funny,” she wrote, “was when I said ‘Hola’ to the parrot and it said ‘Hola’ back to me.”
AMResorts, the parent company of Dreams, now has 43 luxury properties in the Caribbean with 12 more in development. Before we joined our family at Dream Riviera Cancun, we spent two days at a new adults-only AMResort, Secrets Playa Mujeres, on a gorgeous, secluded beach just north of Cancun. Less than two years old, this sprawling resort has five acres of undisturbed tropical vegetation and is very eco-friendly throughout the complex. The large suites are even more comfortable and luxurious than those at Dreams (without the loud noise at night) with restaurants that are superb. There are more than 80 chefs on staff, all Mexican and all well trained in culinary school or on the job. We were very impressed.
Next door to Secrets, Dreams has a new, equally eco-friendly resort under construction. In 2017 it will become the flagship in the family resort chain. Even a water park is part of the plan. We told our grandchildren about the new Dreams Playa Mujeres and they got very excited. Pencils and diaries are at the ready for their next Mexico visit.
*John and Sandra Nowlan are travel and food writers based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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