When your romantic twosome suddenly morphs into a party of three (or more), travel can sometimes seem like a hassle not worth enduring. But before you completely give up your jet-setting ways, consider the array of kid-approved amenities on offer at Mexico's family-friendly resorts—made all the more appealing thanks to a something-for-everyone approach and an easy flight. Throw an all-inclusive package into the mix, and your budget-managing headaches are all but a distant memory. Here are eight hotels that make traveling with kids feel like a walk in the park.
Hyatt Ziva Cancun
While it's always a good sign when a hotel bills itself as a family resort, Hyatt Ziva Cancun takes it to the next level. Its white-sand Caribbean shoreline, where the gang can snorkel or play beach volleyball, gives way to three infinity pools, a kid’s pool attached to its own small water park, a spa, and a fitness center. There are also nine restaurants and seven lounges and bars, including a microbrewery. (In case you were wondering, babysitting services are available on demand.) Other kid-friendly activities range from salsa dancing lessons to an all-ages tennis clinic.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya
The 85 acres of lush mangrove forests and white-sand beach that make up Grand Velas Riviera Maya contains everything you could want in an all-inclusive. There are eight restaurants whose cuisines span the globe; a 75,000-square-foot spa; a 24-hour concierge; and 491 sprawling, tropical-themed rooms that, at 1,000+ square feet, are bigger than most New York City apartments. While there’s plenty to do on site, the resort’s proximity to Playa del Carmen’s attractions is as much a draw as its cozy confines. Don’t miss Xel-Ha Park, the world’s largest aquarium where you can swing Tarzan-style into sparkling inlets and swim with dolphins, or the Xplor Adventure Park, which offers 14 zip-lines and jungle cave tours for the truly adventurous.
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Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda
Today's parent knows the struggle of trying to tear children away from their video games. Thankfully, you won’t have to at Paradisus Playa del Carmen, whose game room comes stocked with Nintendo Wii, PlayStation, and Xbox 360 consoles. Still, there are plenty of diversions to wean them off the tube, from treasure hunts and Olympic-style decathlons on the beach to nature tours and a kids club that puts on a rotating roster of craft projects like piñata building and mask making. When they’re not snorkeling, kayaking, or displaying their competitive streak on the beach volleyball court, older kids might spend their time making friends on the rock-climbing wall.
Barceló Maya Beach Resort
Tots sometimes get stressed out, too, so it makes sense that child-friendly versions of pampering amenities for adults are offered at Barceló Maya Beach Resort. At this massive 1,024-room, five-resort complex, you'll find aromatherapy treatments available at the U-Kids Spa and an 18-hole mini golf course in addition to kiddie pools and slides at Barcy’s water park. Clock in some family time aboard a chartered catamaran or fishing tour, or simply laze on the palm tree-studded beach. Feeling sunburnt? There’s also a six-lane bowling alley and a disco (complete with all-inclusive mocktails) where teen guests can socialize into the wee hours.
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Grand Bahia Principe Tulum
If family bonding is your vacation’s primary objective, happiness may be found chatting the hours away under a palapa on the white-sand beach or snoozing on the pool deck at Grand Bahia Principe Tulum. You can also swim with dolphins or shadow a trainer for a day. But even kids need some "me" time. Enter the Bahia Scouts Program, a nature-based activities club where youngsters can make friends of their own while learning about the plants and animals native to the hotel property and surrounding land. There are also bumper car rallies and water park adventures available for more adrenaline-seeking tykes.
Hard Rock Hotel Cancun
Forget the party reputation of its sister properties in Vegas and Los Angeles (though there’s still plenty of head banging here). Located on a white-sand beach in the city’s easily accessible hotel zone, Hard Rock Cancun is a family-friendly oasis where kids are the real rock stars. Teenage artists can participate in the music lab, which culminates in a live performance in front of resort guests (there’s an adolescent version, too); wallflowers can choose from the 20-deep Fender guitar menu to practice in their guest room at no extra charge. Little ones can’t carry a tune yet? Don’t miss the small water park and wading pool.
Azul Beach Hotel Riviera Maya
Twenty miles south of Cancun, in the quiet town of Puerto Morelos, the 148-room Azul Beach Hotel is tailor-made for traveling kin. If your entourage includes more than one youngster, consider booking the Family Swim-Up suite, a spacious room that fits up to five people and whose terrace sits on the edge of one of the resort’s four outdoor pools. When the kids tire of the water, they can check out the kids club, which offers cooking classes, yoga, and movie nights just for little ones, while the four on-site restaurants serve plenty of kid-friendly menu options in addition to a SpongeBob character breakfast.
Dreams Playa Mujeres
Water babies will find lots to love at Dreams Playa Mujeres, a sprawling 502-room property with more pools (nine, to be exact) than some kids can count. In addition, you'll find 10 restaurants, an 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman, a dolphin sanctuary, and six bars (again, babysitting services are on hand). With two waterparks and a meandering lazy river, you’d be forgiven for never making it to the hotel's private white-sand beach. Though there are dedicated kids and teen clubs to occupy youngsters, older kids can take advantage of unexpected activities like archery lessons, batting practice, and beach football.