Our trip to the luxury all-inclusive Dreams Riviera Maya resort in Cancun, Mexico, did not start well.
“What gate are we at, Flea?” I asked, as we wandered out of Boots at Gatwick’s South Terminal.
“I don’t know, it says ‘gate closed’,” Flea replied.
I cannot tell you even now, just HOW we lost track of time so badly. But after arriving at Gatwick a whole 12 hours before our flight departed, we found ourselves sprinting through the airport with 11 minutes to go until our flight was due to leave.
I’m not going to lie – I was knocking cases and small children over like skittles. Thank God it was a short run to the gate, and Flea was faster than me. The waiting BA staff spotted her running, and started shouting, “Hurry up! You’re being off-loaded!”
Hardly surprising that when we arrived in Mexico, my #1, 2 and 3 priorities were to relax. Read on to check out our full review of the Dreams Riviera Maya Resort and Spa and don’t miss Flea’s video of our trip highlights!
Why Go Luxury All-Inclusive?
We don’t usually book ‘resort’ type holidays but after having a fab experience with Beaches last year, I was won over to the idea of having a holiday that’s just… easy.
With all-inclusive you get the comfort of knowing everything is already paid for (no going over budget), there’s a great choice of food and activities for the whole family, and you don’t have to compromise on quality.
Dreams Riviera Maya, Cancun
We were looking for reliably good weather and a luxury resort when I found Dreams Riviera Maya. We paid around £300 a night, plus return flights from Gatwick.
It’s worth shopping around, because I managed to save almost £1,500 booking with BA Holidays over another company, as well as managing to upgrade our flights to premium economy. We booked into a Preferred Club room, at a small premium (around £300 for the week) which meant we had a private hot tub, and access to exclusive lounges and beach areas at the resort, along with vouchers for various activities.
The hotel is a short drive from Cancun airport, and not too far from Tulum, and several key Mayan ruins. On the Caribbean Sea, it’s an amazing spot for diving, snorkelling and water sports, with weather averaging around 31 degrees in April.
Dreams Riviera Maya Resort Facilities
The resort definitely ticks the ‘luxury’ box, with a host of high-quality bars, restaurants and activities.
All rooms have whirlpool tubs, TV, DVD player, iPod docking station and free, fast WiFi. There’s a mini bar stocked daily with soft drinks and spirits, and 24-hour room service, also fully included.
Guests have access to a world-class spa with a gym and hair/beauty salon, although treatments in the spa do cost extra (check the daily newsletter for the treatment of the day, which will be heavily discounted).
There’s a children’s club for kids aged 3-12, which runs throughout the day, and has a good range of exciting activities – we saw children being taken down to the beach for open-air movies and marshmallow toasting, or taking part in climbing challenges, and pool games.
The heart of the resort is the private beach, with waiter service and two beach bars, and the large pool area including a kids’ pool, entertainment pool and infinity pool, with swim-up bar. Along with the usual sun loungers, you’ll find balinese beds and private corners in the gardens with hammocks to swing in.
Food and Drink
The quality of the food is critical when you’re choosing all-inclusive and I have a horror of arriving somewhere and being stuck with lukewarm buffet food or fast food options dressed up as themed restaurants.
By and large, Dreams Riviera Maya offers great quality food. There’s a buffet restaurant which is open all day, and which is – fine. But almost all the other restaurants are a better option (although they have shorter opening hours).
During the day, you can eat breakfast at the buffet, the coffee shop, or – our favourite – at the Oceana seafront restaurant, which serves freshly made omelettes, pastries, fruit and french toast, with gorgeous views over the pool and beach.
Lunch is available at many of the restaurants, and there’s a poolside food stand, serving freshly cooked quesadillas, burgers, and hot dogs. I also LOVED that each day, the chefs set up a giant paella pan and cooked up a massive fresh paella, served along with coconuts and heaps of nachos.
For dinner you can choose between Asian, Italian, French, Mexican, seafood and a grill restaurant. There’s one adults-only restaurant, and you can also choose to eat at the buffet. Our favourite dinners were at the seafood restaurant, which looks over the beach, and is unspeakably pretty in the evening as the sun sets. We also had room service for dinner one evening, which is great if you’re looking for a simple, quick option.
Room service is free, and there are a good range of dishes and snacks available 24-hours a day. Your room also has a mini bar stocked with soft drinks, beer and spirits, along with a Nespresso machine and coffee pods.
Activities at Dreams Riviera Maya
Although our #1 priority on this trip was relaxation, it’s nice to know you can get involved in activities at Dreams if you’re feeling more energetic than us. In the lobby there are three desks for local tour companies where you can book onto a range of day trips and activities – we opted for a day’s snorkelling around Cancun, including exploring the famous underground cenotes, or caves.
On the resort, there is a dedicated entertainment staff, and the cleaner leaves a daily schedule in your room. During our stay there were cycle tours, diving lessons, dance classes, cookery lessons, water volleyball competitions and loads more.
If you’re not into organised activities, there are Hobie cats, kayaks and paddle boards on the beach, which are free for guests to use, weather permitting.
We had a couple of small niggles with the Dreams Resort. Regarding restaurants, the resort has a “no reservations” policy which means we turned up at restaurants some evenings to be told there was no room, or a 90-minute wait for a table. If you don’t mind eating a little later, it’s a bit more flexible.
Due to jet lag, we were primarily up by 6.30am, and it was funny to watch people claiming the “best” sun loungers even at that hour. Who’s got that sort of energy? Although there are signs stating towels left will be removed, we often sat next to a “claimed” bed, hammock or sun lounger for an entire morning without anyone moving the towels.
Cost: Rooms at Dreams Riviera Maya Cancun cost from $350 per night for 2 people, with upgrades available for “Preferred Club” and “Ocean View” rooms. Preferred club rooms offer a private, unheated plunge pool or balcony hot tub. We booked via British Airways Holidays.
When to Go: High Season runs from December to May, with lower rates during Jun-November, which is hurricane season.
Find out More: You can find out more on the Dreams Riveria Maya website