Sandos Caracol features a children’s waterpark. // © 2012 Sandos Hotels & Resorts
I was standing outside of the game room at Sandos Playacar Beach Resort watching dancers, dressed in fantastic Maya costumes, gyrate on the stage while my husband and our two teenagers were enjoying a game of Wii baseball. Dance shows aren’t really their thing and Wii isn’t really mine, but we agreed that, after the show, we would all get together for a family ping-pong tournament — something we can all get into.
Family vacations provide great opportunities for parents to connect with their children, but choosing the right family-friendly resort can make all the difference between a miserable trip and an exciting one. While there are many resorts targeting the family market in the Riviera Maya, the two Sandos resorts in the region are particularly appealing to parents and kids of all ages.
Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa
The Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa is located on a large white-sand beach in the Playacar area of the Riviera Maya, which is within walking distance of Playa del Carmen, a bustling beach town with a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, bars and nightclubs.
There are many different room types at the Sandos Playacar as well as a recently constructed, adults-only Sandos Riviera Select Club that has 396 guestrooms in a separate area with an adults-only pool area, buffet and pool bar. Guests at the adults-only Riviera Select Club share the same beachfront, restaurants, spa and recreational facilities of the Sandos Playacar Resort, so even though it is sometimes marketed as a separate resort, it’s more of a large separate area within the same resort complex.
The Sandos Playacar Beach Resort & Spa offers 244 guestrooms and junior suites and 120 hacienda junior suites. The hacienda junior suites are housed in 12 two-story buildings with private pools, and they are ideal for small groups as travel agents can book the entire 10-room hacienda for a single group.
The other 244 guestrooms include a variety of configurations that can accommodate two, four, five or six guests. The Playacar has been renovating its rooms and, at the moment, the most recently updated rooms are those farthest from the beach, entertainment venues, the main pool and the restaurants. Sandos Select Club rooms have the advantage of having exclusive pool areas, private lounges, a separate snack bar and a restaurant and a private beach area with hammocks, sunbeds and waiter service.
The dining at Sandos Playacar Resort includes a wide variety of high-quality restaurants. There are several buffets and five a la carte restaurants serving Mexican, Mediterranean, Asian, French and Argentinean cuisine. Guests staying seven nights receive three dinner reservations.
There are on-site clubs for babies, kids and teens, and kids ages 2-17 can be kept busy and happy enjoying a variety of activities with their peers. Older teens will also enjoy taking part in beach volleyball tournaments, Zumba workouts, water polo and other activities hosted by the hotel. There are seven pools, a playground, two tennis courts, a watersports center, a spa, a fitness center, a disco, a large game room, bicycle rentals and tours as well as nightly cabaret shows and musical performances, so there’s no shortage of things to do at the resort.
Sandos Caracol Eco Resort and Spa
The Sandos Caracol is located about 15 minutes by car from downtown Playa Del Carmen at the tip of an extensive natural area with jungle, cenotes, mangroves and natural lagoons both inside the resort area and surrounding it.
What sets this resort apart is its commitment to the environment and to environmental education. The resort has several cenotes on the property including a large one that guests can swim in. There are also a number of rare native plants and animals cared for by a trained veterinarian, including turtles, peacocks, herons, macaws, cormorants, deer, iguanas, Maya bees, racoons, crabs and donkeys. Daily eco-tours educate guests about the flora and fauna of the area and teach them how to be environmentally conscious both on vacation and when they get back home.
The Caracol is excellent for younger children as it has a massive kids’ club and a separate children’s waterpark with 17 waterslides as well as a beautiful white-sand beach with shallow off-shore snorkeling areas. The resort also features a club for babies and a kids’ club that accommodates children up to 12 years of age. Additional facilities include two swimming pools; a spa and a fitness center; a disco; a watersports center; two tennis courts; a theater with shows and live music; and a daily activities program for children and adults. There are eight restaurants at the resort including a la carte Mexican, Italian, Asian, Mediterranean and Brazilian restaurants. Reservations are required at the a la carte restaurants and guests staying seven nights receive three dinner reservations.
Sandos Caracol has 738 rooms in a variety of room types as well as 218 Sandos Select Club rooms. Junior Suites with an Outdoor Jacuzzi can accommodate two adults and three children. Sandos Select Club rooms have exclusive pool areas, private lounges, a separate snack bar and restaurant and a select beach club and a private beach area with hammocks, sunbeds and waiter service.