Family Travel Forum's review of spacious condominium living at The Royal Resorts complexes located along the beachfront in Cancun, Mexico.
On our recent return to Cancun after the devastating Hurricane Wilma in 2005, we stopped by the elegant Sisal Restaurant and were reminded how great the Royal Resorts are for families. That’s because the stylish Sisal, which served terrific Mex-inspired continental fare to our journalist group and about 100 guests of the Royal Sands Hotel, is part of the Royal Resorts extended family of businesses. Since we first stayed at a Royal Resorts property in 1999, they have continued to run an efficient and friendly timeshare resort operation.
You see, the privately-held Royal Resorts company sells a one-week share in two and three-bedroom condominium “villas” or apartment timeshares as vacation homes. Many families love Cancun and choose to purchase two, four, six-week stays or longer, but the point is, when those owners are not in residence, Royal Resorts reaches out to the traveling public with rental units that are well maintained and well priced for week-long vacations. And even short-stay guests can take advantage of the many perks that they make available to entertain their owners.
What makes the Royal Resorts’ properties so special is management’s personal attention to detail. A fully-equipped kitchen in each unit, beachfront views from the balcony, nice linens, an outdoor poolside meal, small grocery stories at each property, a friendly staff — all contribute to making your stay a totally relaxing experience. Don’t even concern yourself with turista — Cancun’s city water system is repurified by each hotel before reaching the rooms, and all food is prepared in spotless, hygienic kitchens.
Guests stay Saturday to Saturday, which fits in with the schedule that timeshare units are free. Rental families will enjoy the perks that owners receive, such as discount tour prices for Yucatan sightseeing, bargain-priced dining, particularly at the Royal Mayan’s open air palapa (our favorite cafÃ© because of its Mexican ambiance) and an opportunity to get to know the wonderful staff.
Family Entertaining Activities
Though there isn’t an ongoing supervised kids club, kids are welcomed (lots of grandparents here) and a wee bit indulged.
Staff babysitters are available with advance notice, and at a reasonable rate. Full-size bikes and snorkel gear can be borrowed free of charge; however, touring nearby Mayan ruins is more rewarding than trying to snorkel in the gorgeously clear, but sometimes rough ocean. Meals are always a pleasure, as waiters try to make dining entertaining so parents can linger over the yummy margaritas.
One potential worry–the large pools at some of the properties are only 1 ft. or 5 ft. deep, so your pre-swimmers will be stuck with the kiddies or left holding onto the sides of the pool. You’ll have to be on guard, as the lifeguards are only on beach duty.
Luckily, there are hour-long, staff-supervised activities to keep kids and their grownups busy throughout the day. This should not be confused with a drop-off kids program, but often parents just sit around the pool and watch while their school-age kids join in the group fun nearby. Each hotel also has an Activities Center with a games area, ping-pong table and a reading corner. Use the free shuttle service, popular with teens, to check them all out.
Among the favorite outdoor group activities are snorkel and scuba lessons in the pool. There’s beach soccer and volleyball, kid’s karaoke, Spanish classes, Latin dance lessons, water aerobics, minigolf and several handicraft workshops. Some properties have tennis courts and all guests are entitled to special discounts at some of the local golf clubs such as the Cancun Golf Club and the Playacar Golf Club in Playa del Carmen. At night, there is a variety of parties, cocktails, theme dining nights, some of which feature live music and dance presentations, karaoke and even casino nights (no money involved).
A recently established program offers families the chance to participate in the city’s annual sea turtle conservation program. Green and loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on the beaches at The Royal Sands, The Royal Mayan, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander at night. Resort security staff move the nest to an enclosed pen above the high water mark where the eggs hatch 45 to 60 days later. When the baby turtles are strong enough to be set free, guests are notified so that they can bring their children to help release the turtles and learn more about them.
Five Family-Friendly Resorts
The rooms and amenities are very similar at the four large beachfront properties, each of which is a contemporary, pale-colored concrete high-rise with some unique qualities of its own. The fifth property faces the lagoon, is older and smaller. We think your family would be happy at any of them.
The first three: the Royal Islander, the Royal Caribbean (where our family stayed) and the Royal Mayan, are adjacent properties on a beach that’s profiting from a beach restoration project undertaken after Hurricane Wilma. They share all amenities and facilities and are moderately priced
Royal Islander: The Royal Islander’s enormous, free-form pool with swim-up bar is the property’s focal point and sits across from the Hilton CancÃºn golf course. It’s brighter, though, because its modern style is softened by bougainvillea dripping off all the balconies. Just over the road, the full service marina offers sailing, fishing, windsurfing, water skiing and jetskis.
Royal Caribbean: It’s central and ideal if you want to be in the heart of the action (guests sleep late but can be rowdy late at night.) Here, floodlit tennis courts complement sailing from the private marina and lounging at freshwater pools.
Royal Mayan: It’s homey with many folksy wood carvings, a great restaurant and Mexican-Mayan style. It’s the most expensive of these, with a tiny Mayan archaeological site hidden in the jungle directly in front of it. An oversized freshwater swimming pool is set amidst extensive gardens next to the Royal Yacht Club Marina and Captain’s Cove restaurant, where sailboats for hire let you glide around Nichupte lagoon.
Royal Sands Resort, more upscale and quite large, stands out for its somewhat more deluxe apartment units. Site of Sisal Restaurant, it has two swimming pools, tennis courts, a dive shop, water sports desk and an attractive spa for those who would prefer to relax and be pampered. The spa boasts a sauna, steam room, jacuzzis, gym and beauty salon, and treatments range from facials, massages, aromatherapy salt glows and detoxifying seaweed body wraps to anti-stress formulas.
Club International Cancun is a, low-rise place facing Isla Mujeres with a different feel. Its quiet, lushly planted grounds, fine beachside restaurant, very gentle surf, easy access rooms and smaller pool make it more comfortable for families with elders, toddlers, or both. It does have two swimming pools with footbridges, palm-shaded islands and a swim-up bar, and is reviewed elsewhere as a favorite with grandparents.
For reservations and more information, contact Royal Resorts (800/221-8090 or 52/98/81-01-00).
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