Hotel Review: Grand Palladium Riviera Maya – An All-Inclusive Yucatan Jungle Sanctuary

What does your family want most in a vacation?  Convenience?  Relaxation?  Fun?  Something new?  If you’re like our family, I’m sure some of those things are on your list.  I recently visited Mexico’s all-inclusive Grand Palladium Riviera Maya, and it met, or exceeded, all of those criteria.  Convenient – the flight to Cancun, Mexico was easier than you think, and the resort’s all-inclusive pricing allows you to forget about money once you’re there.  Relaxation – how does a mile long stretch of beach on the Caribbean Sea or a spa treatment sound?  Fun – pools, games, sports, activities, shows, good food, you name it.  Something new – how about an excursion to ancient Mayan ruins?  Continue reading for more photos and details from this beautiful beachfront sanctuary on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Grand Palladium Resort in Mexico's Riviera Maya

This was my first time to Mexico’s Riviera Maya, and I was invited specifically to check out the Grand Palladium’s new children’s program – Play at Palladium with Raggs.  However, after seeing this beautiful resort just south of Playa del Carmen first hand, I’m determined to go back with my entire family.  The resort’s lush gardens and thatched roofed covered walkways of the resort embrace the surroundings, and, in fact, the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya prides itself on being a good steward of the environment striving to maintain the jungle, animals, and waterfront.  The entire resort is entirely kid and family friendly, but there are also places for adults to have some grown-up time as well.

Grand Palladium Spa

When you go to book a room at the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya, you will notice five different resort properties listed including:

  • Grand Palladium Colonial Resort & Spa
  • Grand Palladium Kantenah Resort & Spa
  • Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa
  • Grand Palladium White Sand Resort & Spa
  • The Royal Suites Yucatán by Palladium

Don’t let that confuse or intimidate you.  Each separately listed resort is really just a subdivision of the larger Grand Palladium complex.

Grand Palladium Complex Map

The whole area sprawls over a mile from end to end, but guests staying at any one of the “resorts” have access to any amenities of the others including the pools, restaurants, recreational facilities, etc. – with the exception of the Royal Suites Yucatán, that section is meant to be a more exclusive, adult-only area for an additional fee.

Grand Palladium Royal Suites dedicated beach

Grand Palladium Lobby and Grounds

Entering the lobby you are welcomed into a large, open-air, terrazzo, with soaring thatched roof ceilings.  Many of the public spaces at the Grand Palladium are, in fact, open and exposed, letting the outdoors, indoors.  Fresh air wafts through the lobby, and the uncovered ceiling allows a large Mayan fountain to stretch to the sky.  The Grand Palladium was designed and constructed with its environment in mind and attempted to disrupt the natural atmosphere as little as possible.

Grand Palladium Lobby Feature

Upon arrival, the friendly staff tags your luggage, shows you to the front desk, and helps you get settled.  After the quick check-in process, they hand you a welcome drink, and escort you to your villa and room on a golf cart.  When visiting the Grand Palladium, be sure to take time to stroll the paths of the nature preserve-like property, it is definitely a large part of the vacation experience.

Grand Palladium Kantenah Villa


There are multiple room types at the Grand Palladium, and I stayed in one of Kantenah’s Junior Suites with a king size bed, sitting area, jetted bathtub and balcony (with table and chairs).  The recently renovated (2012), oversized room was large and quite comfortable, equipped with flat screen TV and stocked mini-bar fridge.

Grand Palladium Kantenah Junior SuiteGrand Palladium Kantenah Junior Suite

Because the Grand Palladium is all-inclusive, everything in the mini-bar is free of charge (or already paid for, however you look at it).  The large bottles of water were particularly appreciated.  [The beer would have been appreciated too, but I was working and wasn’t in the room long enough to sample.  Yet another reason to return.]

Grand Palladium Kantenah Junior Suite

The Grand Palladium can accommodate all types of vacationers – even multi-generational groups.  There are adult-only spaces, honeymoon reserved spaces, or family suites.  The junior suite where I stayed had a sofa that pulled out for a double bed.  Four could fit easily in the room, and children staying in the same room as the parents are free.  Or, if your kids are older (like mine, ages 13 & 16), you could get two junior suites combined for a family suite (note: you are paying for two rooms for the family suite).

My room overlooked the garden/jungle, and you could hear the waves of the ocean crashing on the beach beyond.  At first I was a little disappointed in not having a view of the ocean – as it was right there.  However, I came to greatly appreciate the orchid gardens filled with exotic trees and flowers, flamingo ponds, bridges and walkways through palm groves and mangrove swamps.  In the evening I even enjoyed sitting on a bridge, and waiting to see what animals would venture out for a look.

Grand Palladium iguana

Beach, Pools and Recreation

The beach was spectacular, clean, with soft sand, and plenty of lounge chairs positioned under palm trees or thatched umbrellas.  The beach stretched along the Caribbean Sea for nearly one mile from the northern end to the furthest southern point.

Grand Palladium beach on the Carribean Sea

Families can enjoy sunbathing on lounge chairs, splashing in the waves or other water sports activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, pedal boats, sailing catamarans or windsurfing.  All boats and water sports are included at no additional charge except for windsurfing lessons.  For an extra fee guests can go on guided boating excursions for deep-sea fishing or scuba diving.  There are plenty of activities along the beach to keep every age of the family engaged.  I was particularly impressed with the sea turtle sanctuary where the resort protects nests of sea turtle eggs and escorts the hatchlings to the ocean at birth.

Grand Palladium sea turtle sanctuary

The Grand Palladium Complex has at least six fresh-water pools including two massive pools with swim up bars and integrated lounge chairs in the water (these were very cool!)

Grand Palladium pool

There are two adult only pools, and many of the larger pools have integrated hot tub whirlpools – little “nooks” you can float into and relax your muscles via bubbling jets.  In addition, there is a new children’s pool (close to main pool) with slides and many splashground features.

Grand Palladium kids pool and splashground

At the far, southern end of the property, near the Grand Palladium Riviera section, was a salt-water pool.  I absolutely LOVED this pool fed directly from the ocean.  The waves rolled over tidal flats, under a bridge and directly into the sandy bottomed pool.  Minnows and fish floated along beside you along with all sorts of other oceanic wonders.  I could have stayed here for hours just watching what swam back and forth under that bridge.  Plus, the pool was remote and not crowded at all.

Grand Palladium salt water pool

Don’t feel like swimming?  There’s plenty of other activities at the Grand Palladium all included with your room including aerobics, aquatic gymnastics, ping pong, basketball, volleyball, football, tennis, Petanque, water polo, darts, archery, rifle range shooting, miniature golf, group games, paddle tennis, shuffleboard and badminton.  The sports center has tennis, volleyball, basketball, and shuffleboard courts, soccer fields, and a mini golf course.  You’re going to need all these activity options when you see how much there is to eat during your stay.

Grand Palladium Sports Complex

Dining and Restaurants

You will not go hungry at the Grand Palladium, guaranteed.  Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style in one of the resort’s five different buffet restaurants.

Grand Palladium breakfast buffet

Dinner is also served in the buffets or in one of 9 different sit-down, waiter service restaurants across the property.

Grand Palladium La Adelita Restaurant

These signature restaurants feature Mexican (of course), Japanese, Mediterranean, Italian, Brazilian, Asian, BBQ, and seafood cuisines as well as a steak house.  All meals include house wines, cocktails, and specialty drinks – no extra charge.  Snacks are also available 24 hours.

Grand Palladium La Adelita Restaurant

You better go swimming or enjoy some of the sporting activities to work some of those calories.  The food was of good quality – buffets were as expected, but the sit-down restaurants were first rate.  I especially enjoyed “The Adelita” Mexican Restaurant, and the grilled lobster served at Punta Emilia was absolutely spectacular.  That’s right, lobster… no additional upcharge.

Grand Palladium La Hacienda buffet

For some of the most adorable, fun, food you may ever see, check out the Raggs character breakfast offered once a week.  I included many photos in the Play at Palladium with Raggs post, but I’ll show you one below (follow the link to see more).

Raggs Breakfast - Grand Palladium

Spa and Fitness Center

An oasis within an oasis is the Grand Palladium Resort’s spa facilities.  For moms and dads who may want a little pampering, and/or a brief respite from parenting, the spa facilities are only for those 18 and older.  There are a number of treatments offered (for an additional charge) including massages, baths, facials, manicures, pedicures, and hairdressing.

Grand Palladium Riviera Maya spa

However, there is also a state-of-the art fitness center with treadmills, cardiovascular and weight-training equipment available for use at no additional charge.  The spa also has its own pool facility overlooking some of the most beautiful landscaping on the property – any adult guest of the resort can use this pool (you do not need to have a spa appointment), and it is one of the quietest and most sublime locations in the resort.  A perfect spot for a mom (or dad) wishing for a quiet hour or two away from the kids.

Grand Palladium Riviera Maya spa poolGrand Palladium Resort Mexico's Riviera Maya

Wedding Chapel

Last but not least is the wedding chapel.  The “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves” chapel is a drop-dead stunning location, and would make for a gorgeous setting for a destination wedding or vow renewal.  The chapel also holds Catholic Mass each Sunday for those families wanting to observe services on their vacation, or just observe a traditional Mexican Catholic cultural experience.

Grand Palladium Wedding Chapel

In addition to the chapel, there are gazebos throughout the property, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, or set in the lush, tropical, jungle, where couples can take their vows.  Aside from wedding ceremonies, these spots make GREAT locations for family photos – can someone say Christmas Cards!!!

Grand Palladium beach gazebo

It really is impossible to cover everything in a single post (even as long as this one is already).  If you’d like to know even more ins and outs, reviews, critiques, and trip reports about the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya, I encourage you to visit the fan site Palladium Addicts.  Here you can ask questions of visitors that love the property, and can help plan your vacation.  For more of my pictures from around the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya resort, check out the gallery below.  Note: the photo gallery requires Flash Player, click here to view all the photos from the Grand Palladium if your device is not Flash equipped.

In my opinion, the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya is a perfect family vacation destination, and really offers something for everyone.  Also, when I visited in December the resort was at 100% occupancy, and, yet, never felt crowded.  I started the article asking if your family was looking for something new.  You may have visited a beach resort before, but Mexico’s Riviera Maya also offers nearby cultural excursions to Mayan ruins or cenotes (water-filled sinkholes or caves) that provide enriching experiences.  I was able to take one such side-trip to the ancient Mayan walled city of Tulum, and I’ll post more details regarding that excursion at a later time.

Mayan Ruins - Tulum

DISCLOSURE: Dave Parfitt was hosted by the Grand Palladium Resort and received transportation to as well as all meals and accommodations at the resort in order to experience the new Play at Palladium with Raggs program.  However, all opinions expressed are those of the author.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on Twitter and “like” our Facebook page, too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.