It’s never easy finding a resort that pleases the whole family. Especially one as demanding as mine – which is totally my fault as I appear to have passed my fussy-customer gene onto my children.

So, it was with some trepidation that we arranged to fly down to Cancun after a few days in New York. To be honest, I’m not sure what the origin of my anxiety was, I just didn’t associate Mexico with high-end service and luxury. I’m very pleased to say I was wrong!

We chose Dreams Riviera as it ticked all the right boxes; good choice of restaurants, decent beach, plenty going on for teenagers, nice looking rooms and a spa and fitness centre. It’s also all-inclusive which can be great, in the right place.

As we entered the vast and architecturally impressive lobby of the hotel we were immediately approached by the concierge who said simply, “Welcome home”. As you read this you may think he was being a little contrived, but with his warm Latin American smile the welcome was as genuine as a sombrero on a Mexican.

interior

We had paid a little extra to upgrade to Preferred Club rooms which come with some nice extra touches, but most important of all for me, the best views of the sea. Oh, and a jacuzzi on the balcony (why not?). While the rooms are not huge, they are very well laid out and beautifully decorated with an almost colonial feel that reminded me of Raffles, Singapore. They also have a well-stocked fridge as part of the package, which even include some snacks – the kids were very happy with the daily replenishment of M&M’s! If you like you can request interconnecting rooms, which are perfect for families and make the whole space feel like a suite.

riviera-dreams-9

And so, to the most important part of any holiday for me, the food. Like I say, this resort is all-inclusive, which can often mean, partly-all-inclusive. But here they describe it as “Unlimited-Luxury”, and not without reason. The food and drink here is in abundance. No sooner have you finished one meal when another eating experience presents itself. Like a mid-afternoon Mexican BBQ around the pool, or the daily parade by the head chef with his entire brigade brandishing little taster portions of the dishes from one of their six restaurants. As you may have worked out by now, I love my food, so this was a dangerous place for me. However, fortunately I love exercise too, so I just about managed to counterbalance the tripled daily calorific intake with a trip to the gym each morning.

Dreams Pool

Of almost equal importance of the food to me is service. I was expecting it to be along the same lines as the Caribbean, which is often described as “laid back” – personally, I have another word to describe service on the Islands, but, like I say, I am fussy. But here the service is first class. In fact I would go so far as to say it’s the best I’ve ever encountered in a resort. It’s also incredibly friendly and I now understand why the concierge welcomed us “home” because I can imagine people return here time and again.

So, back to the food, (it’s been a while), and there is no shortage of choice; Himitsu is Pan-Asian and you can either go a-la-carte or watch the chefs throw food around and generally show off at the tepanyaki plate, which is jolly good fun. There is also an excellent Italian, Portofino, a fresh seafood grill, Oceana, or a lively Mexican restaurant named El Patio, which was surprisingly my least favourite restaurant for the food, but great fun none-the-less. We didn’t make it to the fine dining French restaurant, Bordeaux, as it is adults only, and these days it’s not easy gathering the family around a dinner table at home, so it’s important for us to do so while on holiday. Of all the restaurants my favourite was the Seaside Grill, both lunchtime and in the evening. But particularly in the evening when they serve incredible steaks, one of which is a local cut called a tomahawk, which is a kind of rib-eye on the 2ft bone cooked over charcoal. It’s meant for two, but could feed a whole family!

c1

The resort also has a first class spa, which I highly recommend you visit at least once during your stay. And one of the best things of all here is a night club, which our teenagers enjoyed and visited every night while we worked our way through the cocktail list in the hotel’s beautiful lobby bar.

There are many interesting and challenging excursions in this part of Mexico.  You can dare to enjoy a thrilling jungle tour that will take you for a ride on your own speed boat through the mangrove channels. Or immerse yourself in the mystical Mayan culture that can be admired in Mayan ruins destinations like Chichen Itza and Tulum.

Or as we did in August, swim with whale sharks during their migratory period, 20 miles off shore, which was just incredible.

Whale Shark

THINGS TO KNOW

Despite being one of the best resorts I’ve stayed at you need to be aware that Cancun is a popular destination for our American cousins. Whilst we love them dearly, they tend to gather in groups and make full use of the free tequila. As you know, they are not the quietest people at the best of times, so fuelled with the local fire water they can take the pool bar over. But there’s always somewhere to escape, and they never seem to be around in the evenings. Strangely enough.

El Niño can occasionally cause vast amounts of seaweed to be washed up along the Cancun shoreline. This happened during our stay and it made sitting on the beach unpleasant due to the smell, and swimming in the sea out of the question. Dreams Riviera made a huge attempt to deal with it by continually clearing the beach, but they were fighting a losing battle. Clearly we were unfortunate and it’s not predictable when this could happen. But, like so many other coastal resorts around the globe these days, there is always the possibility of this natural phenomenon occurring.

Visit Dream Riviera website

Mark Colley

Managing Director – Sunways Travel

Call me on 01474 706 976 to personally discuss this destination or email mark@sunways.co.uk