17th April 2019
On Mexico’s developed Caribbean coast Abi Campbell and family strike gold with a quieter luxury resort offering pristine beaches, ancient culture and spectacular nature nearby
Bursting with kid-friendly hotels, the peninsular Yucatan is an excellent choice for a family holiday but choosing where to stay can be quite a challenge. Being family owned arguably gives Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa something of an advantage – embracing family clientele into the fold is part of its philosophy. Much of the action on Mexico’s Caribbean coast happens south of Cancún where Grand Palladium has a second resort and (with prior arrangement) all-inclusive food and beverage are transferable between the hotels, as are use of the facilities – ideal for breaking up a visit to the Tulum ruins or the eco parks dotted along the Mayan Riviera.
The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres’ is a short 20-minute transfer north of Cancún airport, ideal for long-haul weary kids and parents. Costa Mujeres is the last stretch of relatively underdeveloped coastline on this peninsular, so those with younger children looking for a slower pace will find it here. Less than 20 minutes north again is the sleepy beach town of Isla Blanca, with virgin beaches and local restaurants serving beer and lunch for under a fiver.
The hotel boasts state-of -the-art technology such as keyless room systems, heat sensors that tell housekeeping if you’re in or out, and an app that calls a buggy to your precise location. There are boat taxis on the network of Venice-style waterways snaking through the 50-acre property.
The rooms have splendid luxury details – decor is modern without feeling alienating and each room has a furnished balcony. A glass partition between the bedroom and bathroom let you keep an eye on your minnows in the spa tub from the comfort of your bed and there’s an electric blind when you need bathing privacy.
The pool areas are nicely spread across the property. There’s a kids’ wet area with brightly coloured water slides and aqua play apparatus, conveniently located next to the kids club, a childcare mecca with all the toys, gadgets and facilities you would expect from a five-star resort. A dedicated teen room features gaming consoles.
When it comes to food, the Grand Palladium has nine excellent family friendly à la carte restaurants. Cuisines on offer include Italian, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Mexican and El Dorado, the steak house. If you fancy getting a baby sitter and having dinner à deux, there is the Chic Cabaret and Restaurant with live music, dancing, and acrobatics.
Fun abounds from redcoats singing a cappella impromptu by the pool, to aqua bike aerobics, snorkelling, diving, yoga, Pilates, salsa and live music shows at the open-air amphitheatre. Kids will be enthralled (or scared?) by the Mayan warriors and 12-foot teddy bears wandering around.
There is a fee for use of the Zentropia spa but if you need a break from your ‘little darlings’ this haven of tranquillity is guaranteed to wash those kids right out of your hair.
Tennis lovers will adore the Rafa Nadal tennis centre. Designed by the man himself, it has eight floodlit courts, classes, programmes and week-long or three-day tennis camps. Other sports are catered for with a football pitch, paddle court, gym and sports bar with obligatory giant screens.
It’s a short stroll to a stunning stretch of white beach with sun loungers, while Poseidon, the open-air beach bar and restaurant does excellent lunches. A word of warning, it’s a challenge to keep a tally on daily margarita intake when there’s no bar tab to pay at the end!
The Family Selection Program is a premium service with exclusive facilities in a separate beach-front building with its own reception and pool. Children will go gaga for the entertainment lounge with board games, computers and video games, mini bathrobes and slippers, and a milk-and- cookie turndown service from the child-friendly butler.
A day trip to nearby Isla Contoy provides insight into how the area looked prior to human inhabitants. This ecological reserve with a limit of 200 visitors a day is teeming with wildlife and is staggeringly beautiful, especially the perfection of the beach and shallow blue waters that hugs it.
Tourism has made its mark on Quintana Roo but the peninsular still retains much of its charm and natural beauty. Combined with exceptionally good value five-star resorts such as The Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres, it makes long haul travel with kids in tow, 100 per cent worth it.
Caribbean Warehouse offers a range of packages to the 5-star Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa. A seven-night all-inclusive holiday costs from £3,666 for two adults and two children, inclusive of international flights, transfers and 5-star accommodation (based on an October 2019 departure).
WHAT TO DO
The full-day trip to Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres including snorkelling equipment, lunch, transportation, drinks (alcoholic and soft drinks) is £99 for adults. Kids under five go free and kids from five to 12 get a 12.5 per cent discount. Dinner show at Chic Cabaret is £77 including food and drinks (bookable in the resort).