I will start this blog post by saying that I feel SO lucky to have been able to start travelling to more far-flung destinations once again! I also confess that we weren’t actually originally supposed to be heading to Mexico and the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort and Spa – we were actually booked into the Grand Sirenis in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, but due to two of the children contracting Covid (for the second time in 3 months) a month before we were due to depart the UK, I knew deep down that one of them wouldn’t pass the required PCR test to enter the DR, so a swift change of destination to Mexico (no testing required) was made.
Any boy do we have no regrets!
It was our first time to Mexico this February, and after being slightly nervous due to reading some stories about how dangerous Mexico could potentially be (although largely if you ventured off the beaten track in certain areas), everything about our experience at the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort and Spa has since put our minds at ease, and I can honestly say that we had the best time, with the helpful, exceptionally friendly staff a huge factor in this.
About 90 minutes away from Cancun airport, the Riviera Maya is a jewel in Mexico’s east coast, nestled along the Caribbean coastline of the state of Quintana Roo, located in the eastern portion of the Yucatán Peninsula. Whilst our experience of Cancun airport was a little stressful (more of that for another blog post!), our transfer, arranged by Tui, was largely easy and uneventful, much needed after a 10 hour flight and with 3 tired children in tow!
On arrival at our hotel we were greeted by friendly staff who spoke perfect English, and I was immediately enthralled by the sheer size of the lobby and scale of the hotel complex, that whilst huge, didn’t feel cold, unwelcoming or cavernous. Not a place though for those looking for small and cosy! Nearly keeling over with tiredness, we were driven in a golf buggy with our luggage (the relief!) to our hotel room, and after locating toothbrushes and PJs, immediately hit the hay so we could feel fresh in the morning.
When it comes to this review, I thought I would split it into ‘categories’ and give our opinion on different areas/factors of the hotel, kicking off with our hotel room…
Our Junior Suite was huge, much bigger than I expected, with 2 large (king size?) double beds, plus a large sofa/pull out bed for Arlo that didn’t get in the way (sometimes sofa beds can be a bit of a pain to keep changing within a hotel room, but no such trouble here). There was also a large TV with a variety of channels (good for cartoons and chill out time when we came back in the afternoons for a siesta), a table and chairs, coffee table and sofa (bed), dressing table, large wardrobe with hanging space and shelves, plus a mini bar that was stocked daily with plenty of water and cans of soft drink (free of charge). Our room had a balcony overlooking what we later discovered wasn’t ‘jungle’ but sub-tropical forest, and the aspect was very peaceful. Our suite had the biggest bathroom I’ve ever stayed in, with massive whirlpool bath (essentially a jacuzzi!), sink, rain shower and toilet- the size of which was ideal for a family of 5.
The suite was extremely clean and everything well kept, and we made sure we left a tip each day for the maids, who did a cracking job of entertaining the children with much-anticipated towel art! The only downside with all sharing a room, and having no separate area for the children, was that jet lag meant that for the first few days of our trip someone woke at 4.30am, subsequently disturbing everyone else. Still, manage to get a few hours work done before breakfast! #EveryCloud
Hotel grounds and aesthetic
One of the first things we noticed on our first day at Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya was just how lush and green everywhere was, and the children squealed with delight when an agouti (small, guinea-pig thing with long legs!) ran passed them. It really felt like the hotel was in the middle of the jungle (okay, sub-tropical forest), and over the course of our stay we came across coatis, iguanas, spider monkeys and beautiful, tropical birds on a daily basis. The hotel company has done a great job, considering the size of it, of integrating some decent-sized hotel buildings within the existing eco-system and making it look attractive, as well as supporting and encouraging local wildlife, which was nice to see. There was always a team of friendly gardeners tending to the grounds.
The massive entertainment theatre is a great example of this- the biggest semi-outdoor theatre I’ve ever seen as part of a hotel – yet it has been designed to be sympathetic with the surroundings and classic Mexican/tropical climate design using some natural materials. Each building containing hotel rooms was built with a Mexican (Mayan?) temple-esque vibe, and the hotel as a whole has a feeling of luxury whilst remaining welcoming and un-snobby, something I suspect is normally quite hard to achieve.
As well as the hotel rooms and restaurants, there are a few bars (including a sports bar), some shops selling souvenirs and essentials, a medical centre (thankfully not needed) and a few cafes where you could grab a coffee (I still need my coffee, even in 30 degree heat!).
All-inclusive dining is historically always something to be a little cautious of. There is many a tale of people who have fallen ill after tucking into the hotel buffet, but after a peruse of the set up here and sampling the food, my wariness subsided. The choice of starter, main and dessert options was incredible, and as someone who loves their food and isn’t particularly fussy, I found it quite overwhelming choosing each night! What was lovely was that even though it was a buffet, a member of staff would come and take your drinks order and keep it constantly topped up, something that was a nice touch and saved juggling the drinks along with food for a family of 5.
For the duration of our stay we mostly used the main dining buffet for breakfast and dinner, and then a smaller buffet restaurant nearer the family pool that we liked to use when it came to lunch.
We also had the option for our stay to book 3 a la carte evenings in the themed restaurants out of a choice of Japanese, Thai, Brazillian, French Italian and Steak, with us choosing the latter two (we really wanted Thai but this was fully booked for the duration of our stay). The food in each of these was superb, they clearly employee chefs who are fully versed in the appropriate style of cooking. The only issue we had was in the steak restaurant when our food and drink took forever to come out (nearly an hour to get a drink, then two hours for food). By the time we got served Adam and I were pretty tipsy because the waiter kept topping up our wine, I’m guessing to detract from the delay. Welcome in some ways, but still not ideal when dining with kids! I’m hoping this was a one off, it seemed like there might have been a delay with the chef arriving and getting going with cooking.
Pools and beach
When it came to the pools, we really couldn’t fault the cleaniness and variety of pool options. We hung out at one of the main family ones as it suited 3 young children, and loved the tunes playing and activities on offer (Freddie and I got stuck into a pool volleyball match one day with about 16 others!). The different depth levels within the pool suited the swimming abilities of each child, and the big pool inflatable obstacle course was a big hit. The swim-up bar was a welcome bonus too, and we enjoyed iced soft drinks and cocktails whilst in the pool. Arlo learnt to swim properly in this pool which we are SO happy about (months of swimming lessons at home have been a SLOW process).
The children in particular enjoyed the ‘lazy river’, and there is also a huge ‘quieter’ pool more suited to adults who don’t want music blaring out, so something for everyone.
The only ‘downside’ if I’m being fussy is that the kids pool with a few little water slides is only really suitable for those up until about age 6. Arlo enjoyed the slides, and Sasha came on with him a few times to humour him, but Freddie was really too big now. If waterslides are a deal breaker, then this isn’t the hotel for you.
The beach was paradise- white sands, turquoise sea within it’s own little bay (and most importantly, CLEAN), and plenty of sun loungers for everyone- we never struggled to get one even arriving mid-afternoon for a change of scenery from the pool. We were able to buy the children buckets and spades for a reasonable price from one of the little shops located on site, plus the kids had fun playing beach football and using the goals there a few times. I also appreciated the open showers located between the beach area and the pools- made getting the sand off 3 children so much easier before the wanted to head back to one of the pools.
Entertainment, spa and extras
One of the most impressive features of Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort and Spa was the HUGE, covered, entertainment amphitheatre, which hosted a different show every night, with some of the entertainment on offer being top quality. We did see the shows every night of our stay, because jet lag on a couple of nights meant we were all quite tired so ventured back to our hotel room, but what we did see, The Lion King being a great example, was 10/10. With staggered seating, you could see everyone on stage clearly, and waitresses were extremely attentive, taking drinks orders and bringing them to us, which meant we didn’t have negotiate the bar.
One morning, Adam and I took it turns to have a massage over at the stunning spa (him sports, me Swedish), and it was heaven! Cecilia, my masseuse, was fantastic, and I can genuinely say she gave me one of the best massages I’d had in a very long time. The spa is vast, much bigger than I expected for a hotel spa, within its own building, and had the most beautiful pools in which to chill out in afterwards. It’s a bit of a luxury, but it’s always so nice to have a couple of hours ‘me’ time each on a family holiday, as much as we love spending time with the children.
Within the spa complex was also a small, but well equipped gym (with ice-cold air conditioning) that Adam visited a few times- check out that view!
When it came to the trips that we wanted to do (more of them in another post!), I visited our Tui rep in her office underneath reception, and booked and paid there and then. We decided to do a morning expedition to the Tulum ruins, along with a trip to visit a cenote and Mayan village – we highly recommend all three of these, even with young children, and they felt very safe! I think the hotel ran a kids club, but ours didn’t sign up to it as it would meant the older two being split from Arlo due to age, something none of them would’ve wanted.
All in all we had an amazing holiday, and I would certainly go back if it wasn’t for the fact that we like to visit new places. Despite the flight time, the whole set up is very family friendly, even if Cancun airport is pain when you land (trust me, if was easier flying out of it than coming in!). Having visited here, and it setting the bar high, we’re now keen to try the Grand Sirenis in Punta Cana, especially as that has the waterpark aspect too.
I hope I’ve covered lots of the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort and Spa hotel here in this review… if I think of anything else, I’ll add it, and if you have any questions, please do comment below and i’ll do my best to get back to you!
See some more of my travel posts HERE