Published on January 21st, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut
HOTEL REVIEW: Azul Fives, Riviera Maya, Mexico
|One of the most beautiful parts of the Azul Fives resort in the Riviera Maya is the winding swimming pool.|
THE ARRIVAL: Part of the all-inclusive Karisma hotels family, Azul Fives Hotel is an upscale, family-friendly resort with 360 units, set on a quiet beachfront stretch of the Rivera Maya. A ride of about 45 minutes from the Cancun airport brings you to the entrance and lobby, which are deceptively small; the property opens up as you walk (or take a golf cart) to your room after check-in.
|The Azul Fives resort is set on a lovely stretch of beach in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.|
THE STYLE: Grounds are beautifully manicured, and the three-story guest buildings are set along a winding, canal-like swimming pool, resulting in a high percentage of rooms with pool views. A clean, contemporary upscale style characterizes the guest rooms and public areas, and the king suite where I stayed was spacious and comfortable. Unlike some all-inclusive resorts that require guests to wear unstylish wristbands, Azul Fives provides guests with an ID card; a very nice touch that is indicative of the property’s more upscale approach. The staff is exceptionally friendly, and many employees take the time to introduce themselves by name and seem to have a good memory for recognizing faces. And while the hotel is geared largely toward families with small children, it maintains a peaceful, luxurious ambiance.
|My room at the Azul Fives hotel had a comfy king bed and a large bath area.|
THE AMENITIES: Azul Fives offers both all-inclusive (all meals included) and European Plan (no meals included) options, so you can pick which you prefer (if you’re going to be staying on-site most of the time, it’s most likely more economical to go the all-inclusive route). Regardless of which program you choose, you can enjoy what the hotel calls “Gourmet Inclusive” cuisine in four restaurants: I especially enjoyed the Thai-style chicken curry at Tsuki, an elegant, a-la-carte Asian restaurant, and the flakey and rich turkey pot pie at Flavours, the buffet restaurant, which has a different theme every night, each with a wide array of food.
Of course the outdoor areas are a big draw at Azul Fives; in addition to the lazy river pool, there is a large pool sitting right next to the attractive, uncrowded beach, with plenty of lounge chairs and Bali-style day beds.
Azul Fives is decidedly family-friendly, with a complete children’s program, children’s booster seats and high chairs readily available in every restaurant, and multiple shallow swimming pool areas that are ideal for kids. During my visit, even the nighttime events — which include live music and dance performances — attracted parents with young children. Suites, which can be reserved with one, two or three bedrooms, are especially practical for families, thanks to the living areas, multiple bathrooms and fully equipped kitchens.
I found myself falling into a relaxed, enjoyable routine during my stay; I ate fruit for breakfast (although I could have indulged in the large buffet breakfast), then did a brief workout in the uncrowded gym (which sits next to the large spa that I unfortunately did not use), followed up by a swim in one of the pools and lunch — the daily outdoor barbecue was my favorite place for mid-day meals. Afternoons were spent strolling along the powdery beach, and after a consistently filling dinner, I headed to whatever the programmed evening entertainment was for the evening (one night it was a live reggae band on the beach, but my favorite was the traditional Mexican dance performance in the second-floor nightclub).
Off-site activities can be arranged through Lomas Travel, which has an office in the lobby (the company also can provide airport transfers with their fleet of Lincoln Navigators), and the town of Playa del Carmen is about 15 minutes away by taxi.
|Suites with multiple bedrooms make especially good sense for families at Azul Fives.|
BEST FOR: Families with children up to early teens, and perhaps couples, looking for an all-inclusive vacation with an upscale, contemporary feel.
RATES: $594 and up per person, double, for a three-night all-inclusive stay, with discounted rates for children.