I usually avoid all-inclusive resorts, but while living in Playa del Carmen, I decided to take a week vacation and stay at Bahia Principe in the Riviera Maya. When I travel, I generally prefer to try local food and explore all the restaurants and bars. But I decided it was time for Janice and I to enjoy a swim up bar and some relaxation. Plus, she was five months pregnant and really needed a week off!
Where is Bahia Principe?
Bahia Principe resorts in the Riviera Maya are located just south of the town of Akumal, or about half way between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. It is about a 90 minute drive from Cancun and the Cancun airport.
Bahia Principe is Really Four Resorts
The Bahia Principe in Riviera Maya is a large vacation hub comprised of four resorts, each offering a unique experience. Rather than a high-rise hotel format, the rooms are generally spread out around the properties in three story villas. So, depending on where you are staying, it can be a bit of a walk to some of the amenities and restaurants.
- : With 1080 rooms, this is the largest and oldest of the resorts, featuring two main swimming pools with swim-up bars, a kids’ water park and pool, and various smaller jet pools. There is also a teens club. Grand Coba is the best choices for families with small children and is typically the least expensive.
- : This has the longest beachfront of the four resorts, but it also has the largest pool with a swim up bar, exercise classes, and activities throughout the day. Nearby, you can find the teens club and a theater that features nightly entertainment. There is also a small quieter pool and another that is beside a large children’s complex featuring a kids club, small waterpark, splash area, and a playground. It offers 978 rooms across a range of suite types. Grand Tulum is an excellent option if you have kids older than toddlers.
- : This resort offers an upscale experience with 758 rooms that accommodate families as well as adults-only sections. The main pool is set up more like a river rather than wide open like at Tulum. The adult only infinity pool overlooks the ocean. I prefer the beach on this resort as it is spacious, but more compact. Finally, this is where you can find the sports bar Pakal, in case you happen to come during March madness, NFL playoffs, etc.
Restaurants & Dining
Each of the four Bahia Principe resorts has three styles of dining options.
- Buffet Restaurant: This is the main dining that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can only go to the buffet on your specific resort. It’s where most people will have breakfast, though they may choose other options for lunch and dinner.
- Pool Bars and Restaurants: Thees are the more casual spots scattered around the resort, often near the pools. They are great for lunch at the pool, adult and kid beverages, and snacks throughout the day.
- A La Carte Restaurants: These are the nicer restaurants that are open only for dinner. You will generally have to make a reservation in advance through the phone app and some have a dress code. Depending on which resort you stay, you have access to some of the restaurants on the other resorts.
The two Luxury resorts allow you to make unlimited reservations at the a la carte restaurants, while the two Grand resorts limit you to three reservations per week. Some of my favorite restaurants for dinner are:
Tequila: This is the Mexican restaurant located in Grand Tulum. While it is set up as a buffet rather than a served meal like most of the others, it is simply the best way to explore the cuisine of Mexico. Afterall, you didn’t come to Mexico to just eat chicken fingers right? You will find a section for antojitos (snacks like tacos, tostadas, tamales, empanadas, etc) as well as stations serving up things like enchiladas, mole, and Mexican desserts. Everyone should try this restaurant at least once when you stay here at Bahia Principe.
Alux: Fine dining overlooking one of the pools on the Sian Ka’an resort. Food doesn’t always live up to how it sounds on the menu but is generally excellent for high end dining on an all-inclusive resort.
Dolce Vita: Serves both Italian and Mexican cuisine, and there is something for everyone here.
Activities & Entertainment
Grand Coba and Grand Tulum in particular have a lineup of activities throughout the day and night. They have hosts that run games and activities at the pool. Because these are the two most family friendly, include things like a football toss and basketball shooting competitions, or even water polo. But there are also water aerobics classes for adults.
During the daytime you can play tennis or a round of golf. Or there are also a several watersports available like kayaking, snorkeling, and paddle surfing.
At night, there are concerts by the pool, silent clubbing (you wear headphones with music playing), and various other events.
Grand Coba and Grand Tulum each have a theater that puts on shows at night. These are an additional cost but are well worth it. They include singing, acrobatics, comedy, and more.
Can You Use Amenities at the Other Resorts?
Depending on which resort you book, you may be able to use amenities and dine at the restaurants of the other resorts. For the most part, this means you are allowed to use resorts which are classified as the same or lesser status (Luxury being higher status than Grand).
If you stay at Grand Coba or Grand Tulum, you can only use amenities at those two Grand resorts. But if you stay at Luxury Akumal or Luxury Sian Ka’an then you can use amenities and dine at restaurants at all four resorts.
Great for Families
Grand Tulum at a Glance
- Great for families with kids of all ages
- Kids waterpark, playground area, kids club, and teen club
- Daily activities for adults and kids at the main pool
- Swim up bar
- 3 Pool areas (main pool, quiet pool, and a more family-oriented pool)
- Sits right along a very long beach
- The Mexican restaurant Tequila is located here (my favorite for the variety of local cuisine)