Family travelers have seen it all from resorts going the extra mile with special goodies awaiting children in the room to free meals as part of the rate. But, nothing tops what Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya; the kid-friendly theme is woven into every aspect of the resort. If you’re familiar with the steady stream of educational and humorous content produced by the network, this resort is a central hub for wholesome entertainment.
Here are five reasons why you may be surprised by the upscale nature of a resort where guests get “slimed” daily, drink green mystery cocktails and snap photos with characters from their favorite shows. If you think this resort is just for kids, read on. Couples, too, are quite common as they are eager to experience the epic water park, beautiful waterfront suites (each with their own balcony plunge pool) and varied dining that goes beyond the standard buffet.
The Nickelodeon themes
If you don’t watch Nickelodeon programming, a lot of the magic might get lost on you when staying here. But, even Gen Xers who grew up on programs like “You Can’t Do That On Television,” “Doug” and “Rug Rats” will feel totally at home or can easily do an online search to see what the newest shows are. Other familiar names like Garfield and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are present everywhere, too.
The most important thing to highlight is that it is all so thoughtfully done. This is not your traditional theme park resort where the brand is plastered in your face. The staff has been trained with exceptional prowess, rather surprising for an all-inclusive property (and a hallmark of Karisma Hotels & Resorts that runs it). Guests receive welcome drinks as they settle in with kids having their own area to relax and play.
While sprawling, the staff does an excellent job of explaining where everything is around the grounds. You’ll want to take advantage of the free shuttle service that helps cross long distances (valuable on warm days). Daily activities include opportunities to connect with your favorite Disney characters including snapping photos or lounging by the pool.
The rooms and suites
While you may assume that an all-inclusive resort with a cartoon theme would have average accommodations, you’d be wrong. The rooms and suites here are rather upscale with plush duvets on beds, luxe toiletries in bathrooms and spacious living spaces with either sofa or Murphy beds in many rooms.
Designers took a creative and fun approach to the in-room design focusing on the channel’s most famous shows. Options vary between suites in the waterfront building, that each come with their own plunge pools on the terrace (even on higher floors), to lovely guest rooms in buildings closer to the main water park. In all, there are a dozen different types of suites here.
The most lavish suites take things to the next level with even larger living, dining and outdoor terrace spaces plus multiple bedrooms and the option to connect to neighboring accommodations. Many of the one-bedroom suites even have two full bathrooms, which is rare in many resorts that typically opt for having a half-bath instead. They also benefit from swim-up pools on the balcony, which is a highly coveted feature here.
Families will love that part of the experience here is complimentary cribs and strollers, something some hotels charge extra to use. Butlers for the Signature Suites handle special requests and serve free afternoon tea or wine tastings in the suite. They also provide an aromatherapy menu for guests to experience for scents on the pillow or in bathroom toiletries. These top suites also come with extra perks like two spa treatments, welcome gifts and private meet-and-greets with Nickelodeon characters.
The largest suite option is the Big Kahuna Suite with its super-fun Nickelodeon art, cartoon features and living areas. Its most spacious terrace with soaking tub and patio has spectacular sea views. No matter what room type guests select, all of them here have views of the Mexican Caribbean Sea.
All-inclusive resorts aren’t always known for the best cuisine, but the experience here is quite different. The property takes pride in offering made-to-order dishes at every restaurant including the highly-popular Italian restaurant serving delectable cheesy pies from two enormous pizza ovens and the live cooking stations at the buffet outlet near Aqua Nic.
Specialty restaurants include different dining rooms like Good Burger (inspired by the show of the same name), a fresh seafood venue, Le Spatula (named for Sponge Bob’s own cooking utensil) serving breakfast buffets and several bars (including many guests can swim up to). Here, there is something for every taste, and with kids in tow, the number of options that appeal to a younger palate are commendable.
Next door, for those that don’t want the full Nickelodeon experience, adults can enjoy another all-inclusive option with its own plethora of dining options. El Dorado Resorts, a sibling brand of all-inclusive resorts, has numerous food options including Mexican, Asian fusion and Indian among them, too.
Dubbed the Gourmet All-Inclusive experience, the rate comes with loads of extras you won’t find at other resorts. This includes roundtrip airport transfers, a welcome cocktail (or slime smoothie), alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, all meals, nightly entertainment including shows and live music, kids club access and a long list of daily activities with everything from Spanish lessons to yoga, cooking and dance classes.
One of the largest water parks in the area, this is a complimentary feature for guests of this resort. Others can purchase a limited number of day passes. But there is so much space, there is something for all ages to enjoy. This includes a lazy river, various water slides of all sizes, swimming pools with splash pads, staff-led activities and private cabanas where people can relax between pool dips.
The chance to get slimed, in honor of a famous Nickelodeon show, has become a hallmark of any stay here. It takes place daily at Aqua Nic, but there is also an option to experience a private sliming if you wish for an additional fee. The photo opp could be really worth it.
For those that want more relaxed time to themselves can visit the spa, which blends Mayan traditions with the latest spa techniques. It offers a full menu of treatments, but deserves accolades for having a special menu just for younger guests to enjoy a little pampering of their own during their trip.
Club Nick is a children’s activity center with supervised activities, surprise visits from characters and plenty of fun for kids between the ages of four and 12.
This is one of two Nickelodeon-branded resorts (the other is in Punta Cana). It is sure to become a favorite for families looking to please all ages. From foodies to toddlers (and everything in between), this is a vacation experience to remember for years to come.