It’s been a month since we returned from our getaway to Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort and I’m happy to be finally sitting down to tell you all about our experience and give you an honest review of the property. It’s been a full, whirl-wind month of celebrations & other life commitments, which made it feel as though we hardly took a vacation at all once we returned, but there are so many great qualities about this resort I’m excited to reminisce and divulge here and now (if you’re more of a visual person, you can skip to the video recap at the bottom).
We decided on an early April escape for a few reasons. First, I’d be celebrating my 40th Birthday and wanted a special twist. A beachy vibe seemed fitting given the unpredictability of Canadian Spring (it snowed the morning we left!). It was also a prime time between the end of the boys’ hockey season and the lull period before try-outs, and a great time to capitalize on early Spring packaged travel price dips. I thought I wanted to try a new destination we’d never been to – maybe Jamaica? Maybe in Europe? But once we started planning, Mexico seemed so fitting. Not only because of it’s the great price point for large families, but because it’s been a spot where so many beautiful memories of our crew have been made. Visits to Playa del Carmen & Puerto Vallarta during our dating years, our honeymoon in Riviera Maya, our first Mexican vacation as a family last year, and now a place I’ll remember ringing in a new decade of life. The food, the people, the beaches…Mexico has always been a good idea for us. But we did try a “new to us” location – Playa Mujeres (which means “women beach”) and chose Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort, thankfully, without any regret in so doing…here’s what we loved:
The AAA Four Diamond Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort is set along a private stretch of beach (Playa Mujeres) in a serene gated community with several other luxury resorts (Secrets, Excellence & Finest), only 10 miles north of downtown Cancun – just a 30-minute ride from the airport, which with kids in tow, was an attractive feature.
Check-in was quick & smooth, and possibly because of it’s gated, exclusive location, a no wrist-band policy in effect.
Affordability is subjective & relative to each family’s budget, and we don’t ever sugar-coat how many resorts in the sunny South are out of reach for us cost-wise because of our large size. It often means we’re paying for two rooms or large suites that make the price unaffordable (check out the best travel sites for large families/groups/multigenerational travel). Dreams Resorts are part of a group of resorts where kids stay & eat FREE! In comparison to other resorts in the same class, a packaged vacation to Dreams Playa Mujeres was within our budget. See how we got the most value for our money HERE.
The resort offers Unlimited-Luxury – everything included and then some (like reservation-free dining, Explorers club for kids, 24-hour room service, fully-equipped fitness centre & more). You also have access to the Secrets adults-only property, and dining exchange privileges. We didn’t try this out, as the older boys were a bit too mature for Kids’ Club and a few years shy of being able to be left at the teen zone.
The resort also has a “Preferred Club” option if you’re so inclined. It was quite a difference in price during the time of booking, so we bypassed the option favouring instead to upgrade once we got there if it seemed worth it. You’ll get upgraded suites, access to private lounges, special concierge service and other exclusive, enhanced amenities, like access to a lazy river, which is tucked away behind all the other resort action. We were too busy enjoying what was included in the regular package pricing, and the kids didn’t even know about the lazy river to think they’d be missing something – out of sight, out of mind and we were happy to have not dished out the big expense for a Preferred upgrade.
Family Accommodations & Atmosphere
We booked the Family Jr. Suite (Garden View) room category, and because of our family of six size, were accommodated in two-adjoining rooms: 1 with two Queen beds & sitting area w/pull out sofa, the other with a King size bed + sitting area. The rooms were quite spacious, fresh feeling with pops of turquoise, and easy to roam between with the double adjoining doors. If choosing between the option of a larger suite versus 2 rooms, we always like the double room option.
We loved having two bathrooms to choose from for getting ready, and with two younger ones in our mix who needed naps a few days, having the other room to not disturb them was a great option. The room also came with the usual perks you’d expect of a 5-star: slippers, robes, toiletries, in-room safe, flat-screen TVs, fully-stocked fridges and more. The spacious rain shower was lovely, and great for families when group lathering happens 😉
We stayed on the 2nd level in Section 8 of the resort, which I would highly recommend to families with kids of various ages in their mix. It was close to many of the resort’s restaurants (including the buffet), the front lobby, the Dolce Café (more about this later), the Core Teen Zone and the Kids’ Waterpark.
Our terrace had a nice view that overlooked the entire span of the resort with the beach at the farthest point. There was a jacuzzi tub outside, which we planned to use but never got around to, and a large cozy area to sit and enjoy our morning coffee or unwind at the end of the day. The only thing we didn’t love (like at all) was that our terrace was shared, meaning once you stepped away from the immediate vicinity of your sliding doors, it was an open area every other guest staying in our section could walk out to as well. The kids didn’t mind because they sometimes ran about with other kids outside at the time, but Andrew and I definitely like relaxing on a terrace/balcony with more privacy. The resort does have those available in other sections.
The nightlife is energetic and festive, yet while our rooms faced the main outdoor terrace where the bands played, noise was never an issue when we called it a day to sleep.
The grounds are impeccably maintained, and the gardens filled with lush vegetation and gorgeous bright yellow & pink hibiscus flowers were quite a sight. There were lots of friendly little (and mid-sized) lizards roaming about, which the kids got a kick out of most days.
The beach was lovely, not the nicest we’ve visited, but did have great features of being a bit more exclusive, not overly crowded, and the ocean very conducive to family swims. The ocean has some movement, but never got overly rough and dangerous. There is a lifeguard on duty, but he never got any “action” (thankfully) during our stay.
We were concerned about the amount of seaweed that may be present due to the sargassum phenomenon in and around this region of Mexico, and while there was a bit, it was well-managed by resort staff, no more bothersome than grass clippings floating about and did not interfere with our enjoyment of the beach what so ever. Check out the video recap below to see the beach condition for yourself.
There are lots of shaded lounge chairs strewn about to get a break from the sun, and we never had trouble finding one for our big gang, despite the towel drop & ditch lounger reservation being common (as with most other resorts in the Caribbean).
With four kids of various stages and ages ranging 3 – 11 years old, finding a resort with activities that will suit everyone’s likes is a KSF of our family travels, and Dreams Playa Mujeres made the cut.
Our older boys ages 11 & 8 years old loved the organized activities with the events’ staff most. They adored “Fredy” and did lots of on-resort activities throughout the day with the new buddies they met, including beach volleyball, pool basketball, mini golf (on repeat on the daily!), treasure hunts & water aerobics. The demeanour of the staff at any resort can make or break your vacation experience, and we can honestly say the staff at this resort were wonderful and treated us all like family.
While there is a great kids club (“Explorer’s Club for ages 3+), the itinerary seemed a bit more catered to younger crowds (6 and under) that didn’t appeal to our older boys, but why our 5-year-old daughter LOVED it. She spent one morning & lunch there where she played in their outdoor rec centre & made a mini pinata. There is a Core Zone teen club for kids 12 years +, which our boys’ ages 10 & 8 would have preferred, but they didn’t meet the age requirement. They could still access this area, but only from 10-12 noon and with a parent present.
For parents who like the kids’ club route you can drop kids off at 9:30 a.m. and pick up as late as 9:30 p.m. We didn’t use the service much as the kids liked hanging with their folks by the pools and splashing in the ocean for most of the time. The one day we did use the service it did seem well organized. NOTE: We chose not to put our youngest 3-year-old in the Explorer’s Club because the policy made clear they do not recommend children who are a “flight risk” or take off participate due to child-staff ratios. Noting this as it could have access limitations for children with special needs. Contact the hotel with any particular concerns about your child’s inclusion in the club before you go.
There was an outdoor family movie screening every night on the outdoor terrace of Core Zone which the kids really enjoyed also.
There are two infinity pools, six whirlpools, 2 kids’ pools and a waterpark at this resort, all well maintained and comfortable temps to dip in. We spent most of our time at the Kids’ Waterpark (lifeguards on duty), the Grotto pool (kids loved passing through the waterfall to grab a drink) and Sea Legs (the largest and most energetic pool to hang around).
It took a bit of time to find enough loungers with shade for us all to sit on (the towel drop seat reso phenomenon was alive and well 😉) but we always did eventually.
Other family faves: the BIG waterslides located in the Kids’ Waterpark (mom & dad had a blast shooting down them too!), a tequila tasting (for adults only, obvs 😉), the nightly shows outdoors (the fire show on the beach and pirate show & dinner were our faves!).
If you’re able to take a Mom (or Dad) time-out, pay a visit to the Dreams Spa by Pevonia® for some rejuvenation. The Neck & Back massage was wonderful and made even more enjoyable & peaceful because they perform the massages in mini huts outdoors (mine was called “Amore”). The change rooms are huge and have lots of little luxuries to enjoy during your spa experience and they have on-site lockers you can lock with your chosen code (no charge).
I got a $40 USD discount on my massage with the resort credit we received during check-in which was a nice perk. There is a nicely maintained fitness centre in the same building as the spa for those wanting to keep active during their stay.
I also tried out the complimentary Temazcal Ceremony (Video) – a must-try if you’re able to withstand very confined spaces and extreme heat conditions.
The Temazcal Ceremony is held in a small, rounded clay-built “house of heat” or “temple of warm stones,” and was used in Aztec and Mayan cultures to heal and purify the mind, body and soul. The purpose of the Temazcal is to be reborn, by balancing participant’s wisdom, awareness and will. The ritual is said to have endless physiological and psychological benefits and work as a stress reliever because of it’s detoxifying and cell regeneration capabilities. I will tell you within the first 5 minutes of this ceremony I wasn’t’ sure if I’d last the whole ceremony. It’s INTENSE and I imagine anyone who’s claustrophobic would find the conditions unbearable. But I stuck it out, and sweat like I never have before and found the experience quite invigorating afterward although wildly intense during. I definitely had to go into an almost meditative state to withstand it. Several people exited from extreme discomfort during the ceremony. The benefits are definitely felt AFTER you endure it, and included feeling invigorated from the cold shower you cleanse in after, a sense of serenity (until I returned to my crazy little crew, that is:)) and a HUGE sense of achievement for withstanding what I’ll describe as a hot pressure cooker. They only hold the ceremony 1 x per day, and since space in the clay enclosure is limited, spaces fill up quickly. I booked with the spa from the connection in our room with about 24 hours notice.
We are not much into off-site excursions at this stage of parenting but know they did have some great ones, and you could get great discounts with the booklet the shuttle staff hands over upon your arrival (at least ours did through our WestJet vacation package). There is a beautiful golf course nearby, which guests have a complimentary shuttle to and from, but green fees are extra.
Finally, honourable mention goes to the live band at Sea Legs pool which played a certain block of time daily. Highly entertaining, we loved dancing like no one was watching. The singing talent was next level and the selection of music so, SO good! We made a family vacation playlist of some of our favourite tunes HERE
Foodie Family Options
So, while I wouldn’t say the food was blow-me-away level calibre, it did have LOTS of great qualities and many options for even your fussiest foodies. The International buffet (World Café) had all the usual suspects you’d expect of a 5-star (omelette station, pasta bar, and fresh meat grill, lots of fresh fruit, American Breakfast options, juices, cheese spreads, bread, etc.), but the selection of entrees was meh. We LOVE Mexican food and it was lacking in some of the region’s authentic, culinary flare. We ate at the World Café for breakfast each day but bypassed it for dinner most nights because there are some really great a la carte options that made up for the mediocre buffet selection. I didn’t get many snaps of the food because we were too busy enjoying it!
We ate at the Tides one day – the food was tasty, but the service was quite slow. Most days we ate at the pool-side grilling station they’d set up between the Grotto & Sea Legs pools with typical options like burgers, hot dogs, salads and drinks. There is a “That’s a Wrap” grab-and-go style dinner with very basic sandwiches, veggie sticks & chopped fruit for quick, healthy snacks. Some of the a la carte restaurants had lunch menus, but we liked just grabbing something quick and getting back to pool/beach life for lunches overextended dining. The buffet at World Café is also open for lunch, but we were usually at the other end of the resort around lunch hour (i.e. Closer to the beach or Sea Legs pool) and opted to eat closer to water fun.
Our Dinner favourites:
1) the Brazilian Steakhouse “Gaucho Grill”… an endless offering of tasty, tender meats of all varieties sliced right off the sword until you tap out. Even though they say “reservation-free dining” try to get an early reservation if you can…the wait on the night we went was 1 hour + so we were happy to have talked the concierge prior;
2) Teppanyaki style dining at Fusion (Japanese Cuisine). SO delish & highly entertaining…oh my goodness what they can do with eggs!!! The meal includes rice, chicken/fish/shrimp/beef, and a medley of veggies. They are also accommodating to dietary restrictions and did ask about allergies. This was the only restaurant that required reservations which they take at a certain time of day – 4 p.m. if I recall correctly. The teppanyaki experience was in high-demand, but there was also an a la carte dining option and the menu offering of a wide selection of sushi & Japanese-inspired dishes looked amazing.
3) Maris was my choice for my birthday dinner and we were not disappointed. The Tuna Tataki, Seafood Soup, Shrimps & Squid medley were our fave starters, and the Seabass Fillet in jerk marinade, Prawns in curry with lemongrass & the Braised Beef Ribs entrees get honourable mention…YUMMO!
Note: most restaurants had gluten-free & vegetarian options and we did see families with food allergies being accommodated.
And the Mexican Fiesta Theme Night is not to be missed! A full spread of Mexican cuisine (buffet style), usually served in the main outdoor terrace but relocated to the indoor Theatre because of a Wedding. You’ll dine to a Mexican Mariachi Band followed up with a Mayan Cultural show.
Note: you do have resort exchange dining privileges with Secrets Resort as part of their ‘Sip, Savor & See’ feature, which we didn’t take advantage of because it’s adults-only and we were content to dine as a family.
The beverage options were great – the kids loved Shirley Temples and chocolate milkshake slushies, and adults have access to on-tap and canned cerveza selections, top-shelf international & domestic spirits, a nice array of vino and the usual non-alcoholic selections of juices/sodas. My bevvie of choice on repeat: the “Iceberg” (a blend of cerveza & frozen margarita…divine & refreshing!)
Finally, Dolce Ice Cream bar & Café was a HUGE hit (and parenting life save some days when we needed a lifeline during hard moments), and with 24-hour access, most days gelato was another food group! We loved grabbing cappuccinos first thing in the morning, and there was a nice selection of muffins, scones, cookies and pastries throughout the day.
Tips & Must-Knows:
– don’t forget your beach pails at home folks! Having stayed at another 5-star chain last year where these were provided to the kids, we made the assumption these would be at our disposal – nope. $15USD PER BUCKET at the on-site Pier 21 shop (ouch!)
– there is no bar service at the Kids Waterpark, so if you’re looking to partake in some responsible bevvy sipping while watching the kiddos in their waterslide + wet park bliss, grab a few drinks before you head down from the buffet (right beside it) or The Terrace beside Dolce. You can still enjoy a cocktail down there, but they are trying to discourage inebriated parenting near water…totally get it and respect that.
– have a glance at your in-room digital tablet for the day’s activities, program changes & restaurant closures. We had our hearts set on a specific dining experience a few nights only to show up and it was closed (whoops). The screen in the main lobby will give you this information also.
– for swimmers-in-training, pack your puddle jumpers & PFDs. While a bulky pain in the rear luggage-wise, the resort does not have these on-site and the only other option we saw available was a blow-up version, which I’m pretty certain would not meet North American water safety standards.
– the resort is “reservation-free”, but if you have a special celebration, I’d advise contacting the concierge and having them waive this. We had a disappointing experience trying to get into Maris one night for dinner around 8 p.m. only to be told there’d be an hour+ wait. Since I wanted to eat there for my Birthday dins, Andrew contacted the concierge that morning and got us in for a 6:30 p.m. seating. They WILL make reservations for special occasions, albeit in the earlier time slots
– there was a bit more prevalence of mosquitos at this resort compared to others we have been to, one humid night, in particular, the little buggers were out big time. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of pest control spraying, or if the weather played a part, but the resort does offer in-room bug spray for families to use
– if you like privacy, request a room that does not have shared terrace access
– notify the resort of any special celebrations. Andrew gave a heads-up of my 40th and we arrived with a Birthday Banner across our hotel door and a bed full of balloons. They also left a bottle of bubbly & a birthday dessert the evening of my celebration which was complimentary and a sweet perk
– there is an on-site photo studio called Adventure Photos tucked behind the Kids’ water park area that offers a complimentary photo session for families, but time slots were extremely limited to no more than 2 each morning and evening so we missed this opportunity. Photos do start at $20 USD after your shoot so be aware costs can add up quickly after your ‘complimentary’ shoot. Pro family pics are priceless, though, and much easier to get your whole gang in then setting up a tripod and remote around the resort (ahem…trust! 😉)
– for kids too old for Explorer’s club and too young for Core Zone (8 years – 12 years), pack some long-range walkie talkies so they can enjoy a bit of freedom with the on-site activity staff on their own while you have peace of mind they are just a “roger” away. Check out our family travel must-haves!
– the weather was glorious this time of year … 25+ degrees Celsius and breezy most days (only 1 really hot, and uncomfortably humid day)Although, having travelled to Mexico many times now during all seasons, it’s usually a safe bet in the weather department year-round.
– April is peak destination wedding season, and there were lots of nuptials happening on-property during our stay. Like the resort we held our vow renewal at last year, Dreams Playa Mujeres also has complimentary Vow Renewal service with a 5-night min. stay in certain room categories.
So would we return to Dreams Playa Mujeres? It’s a collective “Si” for our gang. Overall, a great family-focused resort with a luxurious twist we’d be happy to return to one day. It was also a fabulous place to welcome a new decade of life and would make a great spot for any family celebration (reunions, multigenerational group travel, weddings, etc.).
We have heard great things about some of the other resorts in the Dreams & AMResorts collection and would feel confident booking a vacation at one of their other properties without hesitation.
We tried to answer most of the questions we had during or after our trip but if there’s something we missed comment below or email us and we’ll address it asap!
Qué tengas unas buenas vacaciones!