Azul Fives’ large pool meanders through the resort. // © 2011 Janeen Christoff
Playa del Carmen is one of my favorite places in Mexico. I love the eclectic bars and restaurants as well as the fun gifts you can find in the local shops. It is, at once, a foodie destination, a beach getaway and a shopping extravaganza. So, to find out that hotel management company, Karisma, opened its newest property just 10 minutes from Playa del Carmen made my day -- or, better yet, my weekend.
The property, which opened in December, is a sprawling 360-suite resort with a beautiful white-sand beach, delicious restaurants and a number of unique features designed to make the property a good fit for families and groups alike.
While the hotel was designed with families in mind, you would never guess that upon arrival -- and that's a good thing. The lobby seems more befitting a small, boutique property, and the personalized check-in experience and champagne upon arrival make guests feel right at home.
With the resort's 360 suites, guests will probably feel more like they are staying in someone's private condo. And, this is partly true. The resort features a vacation-ownership aspect, and many of the condos in the rental pool are part of this program. However, that doesn't affect the end result -- stunning, modernly furnished rooms that are spacious. The resort's room configurations are optimal for large families and groups, which is a major selling point for the resort. Deluxe rooms can accommodate up to four people, and those are the smallest rooms. The rest of the rooms at Azul Fives sleep between six and eight people comfortably.
The most unique suite is the two-bedroom penthouse suite, which can accommodate six guests and also includes a private rooftop patio. Not only can the private, rooftop lounge be used as an outdoor living room, but each is equipped with a barbecue grill. Guests can host their own barbecue, or they can have a chef at the resort cook for them.
All rooms include the basics, such as air conditioning, ceiling fans, a flat-screen cable television with DVD player, deluxe bathrobes, a radio/alarm clock, a safe-deposit box, a minibar, an iron, an ironing board and a coffee maker. Bathrooms feature rainforest showers, double sinks with marble countertops and a hair dryer.
Another reason that the resort doesn't feel unneccessarily huge is because of the layout of the property. Small three-story buildings line a lazy river-style swimming pool that meanders through the resort creating private coves. Each area has its own bar, and several of the bars offer swim-up drinks as well as poolside snacks.
The property's white-sand beach is a short walk from the resort and, for those who prefer it, there is club car service that takes guests right to the waterfront. Here, they will find Zbar and Senses restaurant, as well as an infinity-edge pool with a bar and grill.
Clients can choose to lay by the pool or head down to the beach where there are private cabanas in the sand and, at Zbar, there are also large beds on the upper balcony for relaxing.
One of the most outstanding features for families is the resortís Azulitos Kids Club. In a large room designed just for children, kids can play with equipment from My Gym and Fisher-Price toys for ages 6 months to 5 years old. The My Gym center features ropes, parallel bars, a trampoline, a springboard and more for children ages 6 months to 12 years old. There is also an arts and crafts room, an interactive game room and a mini-theater. Scheduled activities include playgroups, singing, talking, sharing and other activities.
While the Azulitos Kids Club is great for children, it can also provide a respite for parents during which they can head to the Vassa Spa and relax with a massage. The 10,000-square-foot spa overlooks the resort's mangroves and offers a hydrotherapy suite, a couples spa suite, a bridal spa suite and a variety of treatments. Guests can also work out in the fitness center, which features the latest training equipment.