Happy Wednesday my friends! Hope this week is treating you well and that you are enjoying this summer. It has been a great one for us as many of you know we had our first family vacation in the Mayan Riviera (Cancun area), Mexico in mid-July, 2016. I wanted to share a review of the resort we stayed at, Azul Sensatori by Karisma Hotels & Resorts, for all of you planning your next family vacation. Overall our vacation experience was amazing and an unforgettable one but that’s not to say the resort was perfect so I want to highlight the pros and cons as per our own experience. When I first start researching for a vacation I, like most people, rely on TripAdvisor as one of the best resources for reviews. I found it helpful to read reviews from families with small children to know what to look for. As a general rule when I use TripAdvisor I tend to steer away from perfect ratings (because let’s face it no resort or hotel is absolutely perfect) and the lowest ratings (I find these are often made by individuals who had a very specific bad experience and are usually so negative I don’t find them helpful). Azul Sensatori had a large number of reviews over 6,000 to be exact and they were overwhelmingly excellent and very good ratings so I knew that was a great start. This is a lengthy post as I wanted to make sure I cover all of the areas for families wanting to travel there.
1. Fantastic resort for families with young children:
They have the Nickelodeon Experience and Azulitos Playhouse and an outdoor splash pad area with a shallow pool. There is a convenient restaurant called “Pizza Dude” right beside the outdoor area, we didn’t eat there but it’s a good option if you don’t want to walk over to the other dining places at lunch time. They feature all of the popular Nickelodeon characters (Dora, Sponge Bob, Ninja Turtles, etc) and these characters are often found throughout the resort in full costume greeting the kids and giving families photo opportunities. My girls loved this and it made it so much fun for them especially as the characters would often show up to the main buffet at breakfast giving the kids an exciting start to their day (as pictured above). All of the kids staff were friendly, enthusiastic and great with children. The indoor play area was a convenient option especially if the whether is bad or you need a break from the heat. There is the option to leave your children (over the age of 4) so that parents can have a break throughout different times during the day, we noticed many parents using this service. I thought that we would utilize this service but in the end we didn’t as the girls were well-behaved and we enjoyed having them with us. They also have options for teens but I can’t comment on this area.
2. Great service:
The staff at the resort for the most part (read my cons for more on this) were quite helpful and seemed genuinely friendly and motivated. We particularly loved the buffet staff, a huge shout out to Oscar (our fave server!), he and the rest of the staff made us feel welcomed every morning and provided excellent service from helping to surprise my hubby on his birthday, to ensuring our table was cleaned and that we always had a drink, to serving us a lovely plate of desserts with a decorative chocolate message “Have a great trip” on our last day. This made the experience even more special. The entertainment staff were also very enthusiastic getting people motivated to participate in activities throughout the day and making sure all the guests were aware of what shows were on at night. My hubby had fun participating in archery, water polo, beach soccer and kayaking on a couple of days with our girls. These activities are free of charge but you do have to pay a one time tax ($4 USD) for the kayaks. They also had waitresses on the beach walking up and down the beach all day ensuring you had drink brought right to you so you didn’t have to keep getting up to go to the beach bar or get fresh water/juice for the kids.
3. Great food:
The resort states that they provide a gourmet experience and this is true of the a la carte restaurants of which we ate at 4 out of the 6 available. We unfortunately never made it to Le Chique (which is supposed to be one of the best ones) as it’s adults only. The main buffet “Spoon” had a delicious breakfast buffet with a wide variety of choices including freshly made smoothies, crepes, pancakes, and omelette’s. Then we tried the Mexican restaurant Zocalo, the BBQ Grill on the beach, Tapaz the Spanish restaurant and Zavaz the Carribbean option. We were not fans of the Mexican (go figure!) but loved Tapaz, the BBQ Grill and Zavaz was our unanimous family favourite. Both Tapaz and Zavaz provided many options that were not only great tasting but were presented beautifully (the food pics above are from Zavaz). These restaurants also offered lunch menus which were probably equally as good but since we enjoyed eating at the BBQ Grill on the beach for lunch we didn’t make it to the restaurants other then Spoon on the first two days. The BBQ Grill is open from 11am to 3pm and offers your typical BBQ fare such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, sausage, rice, salad, salsa, guacamole and so forth. The food was good but the reason we loved it so much was more for the experience. I’m pretty simple so sitting on a picnic table with my family listening to the beach waves and staring at the gorgeous view of the ocean while sipping on a pina colada and eating soft serve ice cream is as perfect as a vacation gets for me! This was also a highlight of our trip.
4. Well-maintained resort and not too large:
I’m not a fan of mega/multiple resort complexes as I have found this impacts on the level of service you receive. I also prefer being able to get around the resort without having to walk long distances or catch one of those buggies to get to another part of the resort. You could see staff maintaining the grounds everyday to improve things and ensuring it was clean. The pools were large, clean and had great swim-up bars offering a large selection of yummy drinks (my fave’s were the pina colada’s, mojitos and mudslides). All of the staff worked hard up-keeping various things around the resort and helping to ensure all of the guests had a pleasant stay.
5. Beach cabanas:
The beach was lovely with soft off-white sand and one bonus was that they offered large cabanas free of charge. We took full advantage of the cabanas everyday at the beach. It was relaxing and peaceful to have a mid-afternoon nap in the cabana instead of heading back to our room (there is a pic above of the cabanas and the 4 of us fit comfortably for our nap). It also provided shade which was important during the day as a break from the sun. This was another highlight for us for sure.
1. Room at check-in & front desk service:
The most significant con for us was upon arrival being told that the room with 2 queen beds we booked was not available and that we would have to get a room with one bed. The staff member (Fabiola) was not particularly helpful or apologetic and told us you are not guaranteed the room, it is whatever is available at the time of check-in. We let her know this was not acceptable but after being exhausted from the early flight and the only other option she offered was quite an expensive upgrade, we accepted the room as we believed it was a large King size bed and were told it was ocean view as requested. When we got to our room it was one queen size bed and a pull-out couch plus the ocean view was minimal. After one night in this room we spoke to management expressing our disappointment with the room and this manager resolved the situation (although it meant one more night in the original room) giving us a room on the top floor (which was a more expensive when we were booking) with a great ocean view so in the end it worked out and we didn’t let it ruin the experience for us. They do need to improve the front desk service, ensure guests receive what they request and if not they need to upgrade at NO charge so we did voice this to the management.
2. Beach seaweed:
The downside to the beach was that there was seaweed which was very visible in the early morning. I have to say they worked hard to get rid of it throughout the day although some days it was difficult for them to keep up with. Personally for me this was not a deal breaker and didn’t impact my experience negatively but I wanted to mention it as I know it may be a deal breaker for others.
3. Buffet food selection for lunch and dinner:
Although overall the food was great, the buffet selection at Spoon for lunch and dinner was disappointing and after going twice the first two days we realized the a la carte restaurants and BBQ Grill were the places to go instead.
Overall, I would certainly recommend this resort to families and my hubby and I agreed that we would return to this resort once again. That is a significant thing for as we usually don’t want to return to the same resort/hotel as we feel there are so many destinations to travel too. However, given our positive experience especially how much our girls enjoyed their time at Azul Sensatori Mexico we would go back for a second time.
Thanks for stopping by and reading!
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