Looking for a relaxing family vacation? Have you ever considered an all-inclusive Mexican resort?
I highly recommend Grand Palladium all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya for your next family vacation for many reasons, but my favorite reason is the resort has a peaceful family focus and environment. I’m sharing my family’s experiences on our trip in this post to illustrate for you why I recommend this resort. I was not compensated in any way for this post by the resort, this post is 100% my own opinion.
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I Love Family Travel
I love it when my family travels. We make wonderful memories as a family, memories we will all cherish throughout our lives.
My family of five vacationed at the beautiful Grand Palladium Resort in Riveria Maya, Mexico in March this year. We loved the resort for many reasons. In my mind, all-inclusive resorts are like a cruise on land. If your family likes cruising, you all will love all-inclusives.
There are benefits to an all-inclusive over a cruise, however, such as all adult beverages are included (some for purchase for upgrades) and it’s on land, so you don’t have the unpredictability of being on the sea. But in both vacation scenarios, there are options to add on like excursions, but they have a very similar feel to me because all food is included and relaxation is easily accomplished with both options. The resort provides a schedule of all the activities available daily just as a cruise does as well.
Grand Palladium exceeded my expectations, and I will tell you why.
Grand Palladium Layout
Grand Palladium at Riviera Maya is very large, it is partitioned off as five resorts all strung together with different lobbies and restaurants. The resort provides shuttles to drive guests all over the resort for easy access to restaurants, pools, the beach, and shops. A guest can walk or wait at the shuttle bus stops for a single car shuttle or ride the train. We never had to wait too long for a ride.
We were happy with this resort in that it was geared towards families, not college spring breakers. We were pleased to see the only spring breakers present were with families (sorry college kids, no offense but we have different ideas on what constitutes a fun vacation;) so the environment was family friendly.
Grand Palladium at Riviera Maya offers nine restaurants, five buffets, twenty-five bars, pools, beachfront, and many activities.
Large Resort with an Ecological Theme with Foliage and Wildlife
Grand Palladium is a huge resort consisting of 300 acres with a strong ecological theme displaying many gorgeous plants and animals. My children enjoyed seeing all the wildlife including iguanas, birds, raccoons, little guys that looked like big guinea pigs (my boys loved this because we have guinea pigs as pets), and packs of lemurs with striped tails that stuck up straight in the air.
One of my sons kept a running count of wildlife spottings. He reached the count of 102 iguanas, 42 lemurs, 18 guinea pig guys, 4 raccoons, and 5 cats in all during our stay at the resort. My boys loved seeing all the iguanas around the resort. Iguanas would come out to sun themselves near the pools, on the sidewalks, or grassy areas alongside the paths.
The resort is very large so it took us a few days to figure out the layout. The map is a necessity. Spend time studying it so the resort layout makes sense as you move about the resort. There are wooden covered path walkways throughout the resort. These were fun to walk through as the vegetation was thick and beautiful. We even spotted iguanas along the paths. The covered pathways were also nice to hide from rain or the sun when walking.
Arrival, Resort Staff, and Concierge
After our plane ride, we caught our prearranged shuttle van service to our resort. The ride was about one hour and twenty minutes from the airport to the resort. Once at the resort, we were pleasantly surprised as the staff brought us each a welcome beverage to enjoy while we checked in. The lobby was filled with comfortable couches, pleasing fountains, and it was open on two sides providing a relaxing outdoor feeling. The resort staff offered to bring our luggage to our room for us but we decided to ride along in the shuttle to get settled in our room before venturing out for dinner. We arrived later in the evening so we ate at the buffet (this is walk-in, no reservation needed).
The resort staff was friendly and helpful.
We visited in March and the weather was sunny, warm, and simply amazing. The temperatures were just what we were looking for reaching the 80’s. We only had rain one morning and it quickly shifted off for the sunshine. One day the winds were quite high and the ports were closed so my husband’s fishing excursion trip was canceled.
Food! The Restaurants
As a food blogger and recipe creator, I must address the food at the resort. I was very happy, the food was delicious!
We were impressed with the food in the buffets and the restaurants. There are many restaurants to choose from, fourteen in all, but we didn’t even have time to visit them all in our six-night stay. The menus offered a good variety and all five of us easily found food choices we liked. This can be a giant task for our family as I am a vegetarian and my youngest is rather a picky eater. Both of us loved the options offered even with our specific needs.
There are two restaurants that require twenty-four-hour reservations: the seafood (Punta Emilia) and the Japanese (Sumptouri) restaurants. The sit down for dinner a la carte restaurants usually had a waiting list to put your name on which ranged from immediate seating to a forty-five-minute wait. It’s a good idea to leave wiggle room for potential wait times when considering planning your dinner time. The buffets always offer immediate seating during open hours.
The Breakfast Buffet
We enjoyed the breakfast buffet every morning. My oldest son loved the freshly made homemade crepes and ate one at every breakfast with banana slices and Nutella. The made-to-order fresh omelets were a favorite of mine, my husband’s, and our middle son. I could eat that every day of my life! We found it fun to pick out our omelet ingredients and watch the chef make our omelet fresh right in front of us.
My youngest son always picked easy breakfasts like cereal, chocolate milk, or pancakes. The wide variety of foods offered is overwhelming at first when walking around the buffet, but in a good way because having many choices is a good thing for a family of five with very different tastes.
I loved how the restaurants offered hand cleaner for guests as they walked in. We all want to stay healthy, especially on vacation so as a resort guest and a mom, I was very glad to see this action taken to help prevent the spread of any germs.
Our Favorite Restaurant
Our favorite restaurant was the Japanese restaurant Sumptuori, where a chef came to each table to do a live customized culinary show while making our food right in front of us. The show was complete with knives and food being tossed and caught by the chef as well as tall reaching flames of oil on an onion ring tower. The quick chopping and sautéing were mesmerizing to watch and they expertly made delicious fried rice with vegetables as the middle course after the appetizers. It was amazing how they customized a dish for what each person ordered at the table during their show.
It was so fun to watch my boys watching the chef. My boys watched in fascination, their eyes were wide with amazement, their faces bright with smiles of joy as the chef worked his magic. The food was delicious and my youngest son even asked for more rice while wearing the chef hat, and he is not usually a rice eater.
My second favorite restaurant was the Portofino restaurant specializing in pasta dishes. The food was delicious everywhere we ate at the resort.
Activities at the Resort
We were pleased there was so much to do at the actual resort itself so we didn’t even go on excursions (there are excursions available, however). Our goal was to enjoy a relaxing vacation so running off on an excursion didn’t fit our vacation goals this time. We felt this resort offered a very relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere with the multiple pools, a good variety of restaurants and bars, oceanside amenities, and many activity opportunities. The resort also offers a tiny zoo area where alligators, flamingoes, and iguanas live.
The resort offers a children’s check-in club as well. We did not utilize the clubs because our boys weren’t interested in trying them out, but the resort has options for various ages for families interested in kid clubs. They offer a baby club for ages 1-3 (I’m not sure if they take infants or not), a mini club for ages 4-12, and a Black and White Juniors Club for teens. They have a full schedule of fun activities planned for kids, the activities really sounded fun but my boys wanted to hang out as a family (I loved that!). The teen area offers activities like video games, shows, sports, parties, and dinners.
The Sports Center
The resort offers a sports center for impromptu fun easily accessible by hopping on a train. My family enjoyed the basketball court, the miniature golf course (which we found challenging but gorgeous in foliage), and a shuffleboard game. The sports center at the resort also offers soccer fields, archery, rifle shooting, BB guns, and volleyball.
Equipment can be checked out at the sports center booth. They also generously offered us bottled water while we were there at the sports center. We were grateful because it was quite hot at the time. When we were done we simply waited for the next bus or shuttle to come by.
There were also tennis courts, paddle courts, badminton courts too but we didn’t use them so I’m not even sure where they are located at the resort.
The resort does offer spa services however we did not partake in the spa. Spa services are an extra fee. There is also a spa pool.
Pools: The Main Pool
They offer adult only pools, pools for everyone to use, and a kid’s area pool with water features and slides. Our youngest enjoyed playing and swimming at the kid’s playground pool. The two large main pools were very large with great options for lounge seating around the edges of the pool and in the middle of the pools with areas of bubbling water. At the main pool, the resort also offers fun activities run by the resort staff.
Our family participated in a couple of the staff guided activities including the football toss and water polo. For the football toss, participants had to throw a football through a hoop and my husband won the contest and a free t-shirt. My kids participated in the water polo game guided by resort staff and they had so much fun playing the game! My boys really enjoyed playing the game with the resort staff, they really made it fun for the kids. The resort also offers water volleyball and aqua gym time.
Poolside Games and Amenities
My boys loved the poolside games positioned around the main pool including a sand bag toss, ping pong, and a giant Connect Four game. They really had fun with the giant Connect Four and they held their own game tournament. Resort guests can trade their towel card for a fresh towel near the pools also, this is a giant bonus because I didn’t have to lug towels to and from the room each day.
My boys also loved when the staff would come around the pool with the little red ice cream cart to hand out treats to resort guests. The bar also had a freezer full of ice cream for snacks near the pool. There were also buffets near the pools as well if a snack was needed during a swim break.
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The Swim Up Bars
One of my family’s favorites was visiting the swim up bar in the main pools complete with bar stools submerged in the water. My boys would take their Bubba cups and swim up to the bar to order an alcoholic free daiquiri, margarita, or a fun drink from the menu of children’s slushy drinks. My husband and I enjoyed having a beverage in at the swim up bar as well, a very enjoyable feature at each of the two main pools. Be sure to bring your own insulated cup for bartenders to fill up for you. We brought this one.
Adult Only Pool
We did not visit the adult only pool, however, the resort offers this amenity.
A Pool Connected to the Ocean
Los Rocas is the salt water pool the resort offers which is connected to the ocean where people can swim, snorkel, and observe fish who swim into the pool from the ocean. There is a small gateway on one side of the pool where fish can swim in and out of open to the ocean. This pool and beach area offers a bar and beach chairs as well for guest enjoyment.
My favorite part of this beach area offered the beach beds by the ocean (no brainer here!). I could have stayed there all day! Every day! We loved to lounge on the beds, sip a beverage, and watch the ocean. Even my boys loved these beds. Listening to the waves while resting on a beach bed with a margarita in my Bubba cup was one of my favorite past times at the resort. It really was my favorite spot:) The beach at this end of the resort beach front was the rocky area so it was not suited for swimming other than in the pool. However, the sandy beach stretched on for a great distance beyond this beach area which was better suited for ocean swimming with more sand.
The Beach! Oh, How I Love the Beach at the Ocean!
Sitting by the ocean is so relaxing and a favorite past time of mine anytime I can get myself near the ocean. I love the sounds, the gorgeous water, and the smells of the ocean. A piece of heaven on earth for sure! I could stay at the ocean all day. My boys love the ocean for the swimming, the sand, and the waves.
There is a designated swimming area on the beach at the Palladium which I recommend because the other areas have more coral so it hurt to walk out into the ocean. There were also dips in the sand that made it hard to walk into the ocean in some spots. The beach was gorgeous, however, but the dips in the sand and abundant coral made ocean swimming more challenging. The waves were tame because the beach sits in a bay. The resort we went to the year before had a sandier beach and larger waves (which my boys loved to swim on with their body boards). But the ocean is lovely to me no matter if it’s swimmable or not. I’m ocean obsessed, I can’t seem to stop writing about that!!
The beachfront area offers multiple lounge chairs so we never had a hard time finding a chair to relax in by the beach. The resort also has hammocks for lounging in scattered about the beach area as well.
Other Beachside Amenities
There were also two beachside volleyball courts right next to the beachside buffet restaurant (snack bar like foods) and bar. This was near one of the main pools. They also offer beach soccer but we did not see this activity when we were at the beach. The resort provides a schedule to help in planning pool and beachside activities for the day.
A Special Note About the Beaches for Families
A special note to families: The resort allows nude sunbathing at the beach and the adult only pool. I mention this so families can be made aware of this topic. A few women did partake in this practice as they were topless, but the people sort of blended in so it wasn’t obvious. I think it is important to let families know about this practice at the resort so they are aware.
Also, important information for families, there are hours when lifeguards are present.
Outdoor Game Area Near Pool
There is a little area in between one of the main pools and the beach with outdoor games including a giant checkerboard game, a ping pong table, and a few other outdoor games. My boys loved playing the games and then plunging into the nearby pool. The resort does a good job of providing many activities near the pool. This aspect of the resort is perfect for a family with kids who may have different interests because the family members can all stay in the same general area, but still enjoy individual recreational favorite activities.
Beachside Snack Bars
I’m revisiting this topic because it’s so valuable to me as a mom with boys who get hungry frequently. Often at midday, we would be at the beach and want a snack or lunch. In two locations along the beach, the resort offers food. One offers a buffet of more snack-like foods, burgers, and chicken nuggets and the other is a counter where Mexican type dishes are made to order on the spot and delivered to tables. This saved us when the kids were hungry but we didn’t want to go back to the lobby to visit the buffet. The more snack-like buffet is sandwiched in between the beach and one of the main pools. This was convenient because we could easily swim and spend time at the beach, have a snack, and then head right into the pool. A genius setup for families!
The gazebo deserves a mention because it is so beautiful sitting tall and majestic on the beach. The breathtaking gorgeous gazebo on the beach perfect is for weddings or photos. We saw resort workers setting up for a wedding one day, a simply stunning place for a wedding. I loved the breathtaking view gazing upon the giant white gazebo placed so elegantly on the sea shoreline.
The resort also offers a lovely pontoon ride through the resort waterways providing a boat ride tour to guests. This was a fun relaxing family activity we enjoyed. The scenery was gorgeous and it was so relaxing to be driven around the resort in the boat. The flowers and vegetation are simply serene.
The ocean was accessible just a short walk down the path next to our building. The walk down to the beach was gorgeous with the full healthy foliage of the trees and plants. Once we reached the ocean shore near our room, we saw it was the rocky area of the beach. The fun surprises we found were the many rock coral sculptures scattered everywhere built by other resort visitors. My boys loved making their own sculptures to add to the resort guest made sculpture garden. It was truly a unique experience.
Nightly Shows in the Theaters
The resort provided shows nightly either on stage or as a live band in the lobby. We watched the White Party and Fire show one of the nights. It was a fun show to watch as the performers danced about and did tricks with fire. We also enjoyed dancing in the lobby while a live band performed two of the nights. My younger two boys even danced! It was a priceless moment! We also took in the stage production put on by children resort guests that went along with the High School Musical dance movie clips. We also watched the karaoke show which was entertaining as well.
Our Room: Because The Room Matters Too
We are a family of five and finding accommodations for five can be hard to find on vacation as many room accommodations and packages are for a family of four. This resort offered a great solution for our family providing for five people to sleep in one room. Our room setup included two queen beds and a couch pull out bed (which my son did say wasn’t very comfortable, however).
Our room was near the ocean which was a bonus. We could not see the ocean from our room because of all the vegetation, but we could hear it from our patio. The resort provided a little rack on the patio for hanging up wet suits (something a mom loves!) plus two chairs and a small table. I loved the view of the trees and vegetation from our patio and I didn’t even mind that we didn’t have an ocean view. I woke early one morning before my family and read my book out on the patio while listening to the ocean waves. A slice of heaven in my opinion!
The Bathroom Setup and Fridge
The bathroom setup for the room lacked privacy, however. This setup was different than what my family is used to but we made it work by dressing in the bathroom or shower stalls. The shower and bathroom had their own separate stalls, the sink and mirror were out in the main room, and there was a jacuzzi tub in the middle of the room as well. My boys loved the jacuzzi and went in with their swimsuits on to enjoy bubble baths every day.
The room fridge was stocked daily for us with beverages, bottled water, and a few snacks which we loved. Don’t drink the water from the faucet in the room, use bottled water instead (even to brush teeth).
The building our room was is was a peaceful environment. The rooms were lined all along the four walls with an open-air ceiling over vegetation and a running water fountain in the courtyard. It was a gorgeous, relaxing, and inviting atmosphere.
The resort offers some shops to buy souvenirs, plus a photography service where you can elect to purchase photos a photographer took of your family during the day at the resort. There are also vendors but they only take cash, so if you plan to shop at the vendors at the resort, remember to bring enough cash. The resort shops, however, do take credit cards. We found nice souvenirs for our family in the resort shops.
Other Resort Activities Offered that We Did Not Participate In
The resort offers more activities in addition to those I mentioned above. We did not participate in these activities but they offered cooking lessons, a soft game, fruit decoration, yoga, pilates, stretching exercises, darts, piñata party (we wanted to do this one but we didn’t make it), foam party, kitchen tour, salsa and merengue dancing, bartending lessons, tequila tasting, pool bike, sun salutation, t-shirt design, discotheque for adults, pop fitness and jumping.
The Big Burning Question: Would I Go Back?
Yes, I would definitely go back to Grand Palladium resort. Our family enjoyed our stay there. It was relaxing, the scenery was beautiful, the staff was helpful and friendly, it was clean, and the food was delicious. I loved the ecological theme of the resort as well.
Our family has gone on several vacations and this was the most relaxing trip we’ve ever gone on.
- Plan ahead to bring everything you think you might need when you leave your room because it is a big resort, so you don’t want to have to run back to your room if you forgot something.
- Since it is a big place, allow extra time because getting to the restaurants takes time whether you wait for a shuttle or walk.
- Plan ahead for snacks and grab extra cereal boxes for snacks to keep in the room for when a kid gets hungry but you don’t want to walk to a restaurant (like at night in your room or early in the morning for an emergency snack before hitting the buffet for breakfast).
- Bring your camera each time you leave the room just in case you come across a terrific photo op. We did not purchase any of the professional photos because we took so many photos, but the professional photos were of great quality. Need a new camera? We bought this one before I even stared this blog for family photos and trips and I LOVE LOVE LOVE this DSLR camera: link to Amazon Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm IS II Lens
- Use the resort’s beach towels rather than bringing your own. You can use a towel for the day and turn it in for them to launder. The next morning you can get a fresh towel.
- Bring an insulated Bubba Cup or Yeti cup to keep iced beverages cold in the heat. Bubba Classic Foam Insulated Desk Mug, 52 oz., Black
- Save some sand in a little vial from the beach as a easy, cheap souvenir. Be sure to check for local laws regarding this.
- Bring a bag to the beach to collect shells and coral the kids find while searching for beach treasures.
- Bring any desired bottled water from your room as bottled water was not offered at the bars (bars only offered other beverages like alcoholic beverages, soda pop, and juice).
- Bring $150 to $200 in ones for tipping bartenders, housekeeping staff, drivers, and waitstaff.
- Play with the dates if you have wiggle room to try and book your stay at the cheapest rates (they vary so you have to watch them over time, book when it’s the cheapest).
Thanks For Reading and I hope this post helped you!
I hope you found this helpful in planning your next family vacation. If you liked this post, you might also like DIY Cheap fun family souvenir tradition or what to pack for an family trip to an all-inclusive resort or a review of another Mexican all-inclusive resort for families.
Or you might find this post helpful 10 Things NOT to pack for a family trip to an All-Inclusive Resort.
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