Traveller Review – Grand Riviera Princess Resort

As a family with three kids under 10, we just came back from a week at the Grand Riviera Princess Resort in the Riviera Maya from Oct 28-Nov 4. Our stay and experiences at the resort overall was very positive.
Our flight arrived in the late afternoon and we had no problems finding our Sunwing representatives at the airport. After a 45 mins drive to the resort, check-in was also quite smooth and quick. They even had glasses of champagne for us while we checked in! As we had heard from another reviewer on TripAdvisor, there was an additional fee that we had to pay upon check-in – for beach clean up, etc. I think it totaled $75 or $100.
PROs:
– The swim-out suite was brilliant! A big hit with the kids as they were able to quickly change into their bathing suits first thing in the morning to go for a swim before breakfast. The way our suite faced, we didn’t get a lot of sun in the afternoon but that was okay because we rarely stayed in or near our suite during the day.
– There were lots of pool options, even with one on them being closed for renovation. The one outside the Snack Riviera restaurant was quite busy and lounge chairs were hard to find as people claimed them very early on, but otherwise we didn’t have any problems finding chairs for all of us. Most of the pools were gradual with the deepest part being 4.8 ft so it was great for the kids. My 4-yr-old was able to stay in the shallower sections and the 7 & 9-yr-olds can swim comfortably everywhere.
– The nightly entertainment was great. The theatre puts on a lip-sync show each night – ie. Aladdin, Moana, Frozen. Aladdin was very interactive and the kids loved that; Moana was everyone’s favourite. The music is very loud though and I had to cover my 4-yr-old’s ears during the shows while she sat on my lap. Other kids weren’t bothered so my kids may just be more sensitive to loud noise. Main plaza would also have evening events – the fire show and Thurs Mexican night were highlights.
– The main plaza also had these large lounge beds that the family loved to crash on after dinner and listening to music. They were big enough to accommodate all five of us and my 9-year-old still raves about them!
– Booking dinner reservations with the family club concierge or excursions with our Sunwing representatives were very easy. It’s a good idea to have an idea about your plans for the week planned out a bit so you can book everything in the first couple of days. The day excursions required at least a day’s notice.
– The overall resort was gorgeous, big and grounds were well maintained! Some tiles in a few of the pools needed replacement though
– The food was pretty good. We ate in the a la carte restaurants on four nights and the buffets the rest of the time. I actually didn’t think the a la carte restaurants were much better than the buffets. We went to Miso twice (once for their regular section and once for the tappenyaki) – both was pretty disappointing. The food was either overly salty or oily. Fondue and the seafood restaurant were both great. There was the same kids’ menu at all the restaurants but my kids often ordered off the regular one and that was fine. There were two main buffets and they were great. Lots of variety. The breakfast omelet station was a must! We weren’t impressed with the dinner pasta station. With the amount of food that they have to put out and people to feed, it was pretty impressive!
– As part of the Family Club, there’s also a separate family buffet but we only went there once for breakfast. There’s an old fashion ice cream shop next to the family buffet. I don’t think a lot of people knew about it but it was great!
– The free shopping excursion with Sunwing was great too because we got two hours in Playa del Carmen to do our souvenir shopping. Before that, you have to endure two stops at a jewellery and tequila store. Hubby ended up buying tequila at their store so it worked!
CONs:
– All the reviews will have a comment about the coatis. They’re part of the raccoon family and are very pervasive at the resort. It’s not uncommon to see them along the pathways, on the lawns, or climbing out of a garage can, and often travelling in groups. We weren’t bothered by them but something to be aware of, especially if you have food around you.
– The beach was nice but the water was pretty murky and you had to wade out quite a bit to get to the clear water. The kids didn’t seem to mind though.
– The kids loved the trundle bunk bed in our room, but did have trouble climbing up and down from the top bunk. The frame is quite blocky and they found it hard to find places to grip when climbing up/down.
– Mosquitos! Bring some spray with you. We were all bitten several times.
Other things to mention…
– No need to buy pool toys. We found there were enough left over floaties from past guests around the pools that the kids had some to play with.
– We tipped often. We tipped a US$1/day for housekeeping (extra if we left a lot of mess), and restaurant staff. A lot of hard working people.
– Bring sunscreen with you as it is really expensive there, and apply often! The sun is a lot stronger than what we’re used to in Canada.
Overall, we had a fantastic stay at the resort. We would definitely recommend it for families!
-All photos courtesy of https://www.princess-hotels.com/en/hotels/riviera-maya/grand-riviera-princess/