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All Star Activities
Family Vacation Suggestion List

Listed below are some of the best resorts for family vacations in  Mexico and Punta Cana with kid-friendly amenities and activities. 


Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Map of Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort

Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort is situated 50 minutes south of the Cancun International Airport and 5 minutes from Playa del Carmen, in the Mayan Riviera.  This beautiful resort, with its thatched roof lobby, Mediterranean style decor, and beautiful Mexican shoreline with turquoise waters, makes it a wonderful vacation destination.  One of the resort's more unique characteristics is the subterranean river which flows under the resort and forms canals through the resort's cobblestone pathways.  Your are surrounded by beautiful gardens, bridges, parrots and even authentic Mayan ruins on the property of this resort.

Geared toward couples and families, the Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort caters to all age groups, and provides excellent variety, quality, and personalized service. For all you beach buffs, they have a secluded, tiered beach with thatched umbrellas, lounge chairs and canopied cabana's with beds, affording the ultimate in privacy, service and sun bathing convenience.   

My family was fortunate to be able to spend Easter break in 2007 at this wonderful resort.  We absolutely loved everything about the resort and we had a terrific vacation. 

We flew into Cancun airport and took a shuttle to the resort.  Upon arrival someone was there to greet us and offer us a wonderful cold, fruit drink.   We checked in early so our room was not ready.  We did find that they totally ignore any request that you make in advance.   For instance, we were traveling with friends and requested to be put in the same building with them and we also requested a roll away cot.  They were not aware of either request at the time of check-in.  They did do their best to accommodate us with our room location but our cot never came until mid-week when we saw housekeeping storing one away and we asked to have it. 

Once we checked-in a representative of the resort took us on a quick tour to show us where the buffet, main pool and our building was located.  We enjoyed lunch and then headed to our room to get into our bathing suits and head to the pool.  The kids absolutely loved the beautiful pool area.  Drinks are served poolside and there is also a swim-up bar which my kids enjoyed.  Frozen drinks, virgin and with alcohol, were delicious.  Although gratuities are included we did tip the waitress at the pool.

Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort Lagoon and Pools


At the Occidental Grand Xcaret you will enjoy 200 acres of lodging  with 769 guest rooms, featuring authentic colonial Mexican architecture.  This resort offers you both comfort and elegance.  Rooms have either king size beds or two double beds with a maximum capacity of 5 people.  The deluxe guest accommodations are adequate and they have an ample private terrace. The junior suites are especially spacious, with a well-furnished living area, large bathroom and a large terrace.  The Royal Club is for Occidental Vacation Club Members and does have a variety of studio, one and two bedroom units available.

The accommodations are distributed among three story buildings surrounded by tropical gardens, pools and the river.  Each building has your own concierge. The best buildings to be located in are numbers 19 or 20.  These buildings are located by the main pool, close to bathroom facilities and the pool buffet and swim-up bar.  In addition, they are centrally located so they are a short walk to the main lobby and large buffet restaurant as well as the beach. 

We found the room to be nicely decorated but it seemed to grow smaller as the week progressed and four of us fought for the bathroom.  We were on the first level and had a nice patio with chairs.


This resort offers an extensive variety of activities for you to enjoy from dance lessons, eco-tours, archery, shuffleboard, water volleyball, basketball, mini-golf, and tennis courts, to relaxing treatments at the world class spa.  No surprise, the resort has an extravagant series of large swimming pools, 5  to be exact, with one designated to adults only and a children's pool.  The salt-water lagoon with beach, gym, disco, daily activities, nightly entertainment, ecological & cultural hikes, and bicycle tours add to the wonderful amenities found at the Occidental Grand Resort.

The nightly entertainment was very good.  The show changed each night and usually consisted of some pre-show activities such as the Kids Club children performing, an activity with volunteers from the audience and a band.  The main event each night occurred around 9:30 p.m. and it was like a small Broadway production with music and dancers.  The choreography and costumes were great and the dancers were very good and entertaining.  The kids looked forward to seeing the show each night.

Xcaret Park...

In addition, to all of the wonderful amenities of this resort, it is located adjacent to the amazing eco-archaeological  Xcaret Park.  It is just a 5 minute walk from the resort along the canal and each resort guest receives a complimentary one-day entrance to Xcaret Park (US$62 value).  At this park you can discover natural wonders, immerse yourself in underground rivers, swim with dolphins (advanced reservations are required), explore ancient Mayan ruins, and see more than 80 varieties of tropical orchids, a breeding aviary for wild birds, butterfly pavilion, jaguar sanctuary coral reef aquarium and a two hour show. This is an experience that you should not miss.

Xcaret Park -- Tropical Gardens, Beach, Ruins

I recommend that you go early around 9:00 a.m. and go directly to the underground river.  This way you will beat the crowds.  Our group of eight were able to swim/snorkel through alone and take our time which was really nice.  You wear a life jacket so you do not have to be a good swimmer.  I do recommend renting snorkel equipment ( especially fins).  There are two paths that you can take one is all underground and the other is half under and half out.  Since the water was a little chilly that early we decided to do the in and out side so that the sun would warm us.  It turned out to be great -- the kids loved it.  It does get very hot as the day goes on so be sure to take some water bottles along with you. They do have lockers where you can store your belongings before venturing into the river.  You should also be sure to bring towels and sun tan lotion along with you.   We actually stayed at the park until the kids started to get hot and tired around 1:30 p.m. and then we went back to the resort had lunch and swam in the pool.  We then returned to the park, since you have an arm band that is good all day, at 5:30 to see the show.  The show is from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.  and is very entertaining as well as educational.


Kids Programs...

Supervised program for kids 12 and under with a separate pool, clubhouse and restaurant, as well as daily scheduled activities Kids' club events include participation in the nightly entertainment.


The all-inclusive rate includes accommodations, all food and drink, (unlimited drinks, juices, domestic alcoholic beverages and wine with meals). Tax and gratuities are also included.

Our dinner the first night was at the main buffet and most nights after were at one of the reservation restaurants.  The food was terrific and the service was superb.  Although gratuities are included we did tip the waiters in the reservation restaurants.  We had breakfast each morning at the beach buffet.  We found it to be just as good as the main buffet with a beautiful view and outdoor seating.  Lunch was at the pool buffet.

This resort has a variety of restaurants for your dining pleasure, one which is exclusive for the Club royal clients.  You can find everything from hamburgers to gourmet food. Buffet dining is the standard for breakfast and lunch.  Reservations are needed at certain restaurants for dinner.  At the reservation restaurants men are required to wear long pants.  In addition, a shirt/shorts and shoes are required at all pool and beach restaurants for lunch and dinner.

The Occidental Grand Xcaret offers the following restaurants:

La Buffet - A large International buffet  that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Dress is casual and the food is plenty.  The variety is enough to satisfy event he picky eater.  Each night this restaurant has a different theme and certain foods are theme related.  Theme nights include Italian, Seafood, Mexican, French, Chef's Choice and Tex-Mex.

Sonora Grill - One of the best restaurants at the resort.  This Steakhouse offers a wonderful selection of grilled food.   Reservations are required.

Los Olivios - Mediterranean and Italian restaurant.  This restaurant is more Mediterranean than Italian so you should not expect a lot of pasta dishes.  This was a little disappointing for us however, the food is very good.  Reservations are required.

La Piazza - This casual, outdoor restaurant is a pizzeria with antipastos and desserts. Reservations are not required.

Paco's Tacos - This casual, outdoor restaurant has tacos and Mexican appetizers. Reservations are not required.

La Hacienda - Mexican restaurant with wonderful authentic food and great atmosphere.  Reservations are required.

El Pescador - Seafood restaurant a la carte, located on the beach.  This restaurant is for seafood lovers only.  If you do not like seafood or can not eat it then this is not the restaurant for you.  You will not find anything on the menu except for fish.  Reservations are required.

D'Oriental - This restaurant features Asian cuisine.  Reservations are required.

Club Royal - Exclusive for the Club Royal clients.

In addition, buffet restaurants are available for breakfast, lunch and snacks at the beach and main pool areas.


We rented a Jeep, right at the resort, and went to Tulum to see the Mayan ruins.  This was about an hour drive and was a very direct route.  It is the most inexpensive way to see the ruins.  It cost us approximately $80 (American dollars) to rent the car and $15 (American dollars) as an entrance fee.  The cheapest excursion we found was $90 (American dollars) per person.  Of course they do take you to a few other spots along the way.  Again, we stayed there about half a day and then headed back to the resort for swimming and lunch.  I recommend that you wear sneakers and be careful the rocks are slippery.

Since we had the car we decided to go into town at night to see 5th avenue in Playa Del Carmen.  Again, this was a very easy, short drive but parking was difficult. I would recommend a taxi cab from your hotel.   The area is blocked off for pedestrians only and many blocks of nice stores, restaurants and bars.  We ate at an Italian restaurant and it was terrific. This was a wonderful experience for everyone and I would recommend a visit to this area.


The Mayan coast has a warm, tropical climate with intense midday sun.  Suntan lotion is a necessity.  The average daily temperature ranges from 77 to 88 degrees F and the rainy season occurs May through November.


    Azul Beach Hotel, Cancun, Mexico

The all-inclusive Azul Beach Hotel is situated on the beautiful Petempich Bay near Puerto Morelos, just 15 minutes south of Cancun Airport and 30 minutes north of Playa del Carmen, in the Mayan Riviera.  This small and personal resort, lies on a spectacular stretch of white sand beach overlooking the turquoise waters of the Mexican Caribbean.  Geared toward couples and families, the Azul Beach Hotel caters to all age groups, and provides excellent variety, quality, and personalized service. For all you beach buffs, they have Beach Butlers and covered cabanas, affording the ultimate in privacy, service and sun bathing convenience.

There are
three full service swimming pools, one for fun, and two more relaxed. There is an onsite fitness center, and you can also get a massage, manicure, and pedicure at the beach.  In addition, the resorts has a children's activity center, daily activities and nightly entertainment. 

Water sports include: paddleboats, kayaks, snorkeling gear, hobie cats, boogie boards, ocean water slides, scuba clinics and scuba diving.  Land activities include: ceramic painting, Spanish lessons, yoga, gymnastics, and  beach parties.  Beach Cabanas are king-size, four-poster beds featuring retractable drapes and oversized pillows, perfect for days of private sunbathing and intimate star-gazing nights

This central location of this resort places you within reasonable proximity to the natural aquarium of Xel-Ha, Eco park Xcaret, Tulum, beautiful golf courses such as Puerto Aventuras Golf Club, and diving throughout this region.

Kids Programs...
Planned daily activities and a children's activity center are available.
Scheduled kids' club events include cookie-decorating sessions, pajama parties, Spanish lessons, beach soccer, pool races and treasure hunts.

The 98 rooms at the hotel are decorated in a contemporary decor and come in superior and deluxe categories. Rooms are either directly on, or just a few steps away from, the secluded beach of Bahia Petempich;   A superior room has 1 king size bed, a garden view, and a balcony or veranda.  The deluxe room has 1 king size bed or 2 double beds with either a balcony or veranda, and a  lovely view of the gardens or the Mexican Caribbean sea.  The maximum occupancy for the superior is 2 adults or 2 adults with 1 infant (0 - 2 years).  The  deluxe room can accommodate  3 adults or 2 adults with 2 children up to 12 years old or 2 adults with 1 child up to 17 years old. Children 2 and under stay free when sharing the room with adults and children 3-17 years are charged a reduced rate.

This resort has 4 restaurants for your dining pleasure.  You can find everything from hamburgers to gourmet food. A la carte dining is the standard for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner reservations are appreciated, but not required.

At the Blue Restaurant you will find a friendly atmosphere for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Breakfast is A la Carte, lunch is family style and dinner is unlimited dining with several complete menus.  Menus include the chef's choice. lobster, vegetarian, south beach diet and low fat/low carb in addition to their daily changing international theme menu.

The Blue Terrace  is for dinner only with A la carte dining. A wide selection of ocean fresh seafood and tender cuts of meat among other mouthwatering creations are available.

Restaurant Tainan  is  A la carte dining for dinner only and serves a variety of Asian inspired dishes.

La Mancha is a Caribbean cafe, serving exotic fruit juices, smoothies, ice teas, and a variety of coffee drinks. Light fare is also served including hamburgers, salads, brownies, cookies, and ice cream.

The Mayan coast has a warm, tropical climate with intense midday sun.  The average daily temperature ranges from 77 to 88 degrees F and the rainy season occurs May through November.

For further information go to



Bavarro Princess All Suites Resort
 Punta Cana, Dominican Republic



Bavarro Princess Lobby and Grounds

My family enjoyed staying at the Bavarro Pincess in March, 2006.  This wonderful resort is nestled amongst 92 acres of extraordinarily gorgeous grounds and natural rainforest. The  pristine white sand beach and beautiful turquoise water is a sight to see.  This immense village-like resort with casino has many lovely paths to walk on with an abundance of different species of animals including peacocks and tropical birds.  The Bavarro Princess is about a 40 minute ride from the Punta Cana International airport.


After check-in we proceeded to our 2 step, split level suite located in one of the eighty six 2 storey buildings that are dispersed throughout the resort.  Our building was located by the main pool and the beach.   This is a great location because you are very close to several restaurants, and of course the beach and pool.  The accommodations were  spacious with a king size bed and a living area with a pull-out couch. We requested a roll away cot for our daughter and it fit nicely in the living room area.  The room also has a kitchen area with a small table and chairs and a mini-bar with water, soft drinks and beer which is replenished daily.  Each room has a balcony or patio with table and chairs.  There were 8 units in each building.  The maximum occupancy for this room is 3 adults .



There are two swimming pools and an onsite fitness center.  In addition, the resorts has  a team that organizes daily sports and game programs each day.  Activities include pool aerobics, tennis, ping pong, beach volleyball, water polo, beach football, jogging, ecological walks, archery, and badminton.  In addition, there is live music with regular shows nightly.  Bavarro Princess All Suites Resort also has a water sport center for all non-motorized water sports activities such as : kayaks, canoes, windsurf, sunfish, catamaran, water bikes, introduction of scuba diving in the pool, and snorkeling.

Kids Programs....
Supervised program with daily scheduled activitiesKids' club events include participation in the nightly entertainment.


The Bavarro Princess offers many dining options from The Hispaniola which is the main buffet restaurant.  This is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This restaurant offer five theme nights. Casual attire is  acceptable and reservations are not required.  Food selection is plentiful.

The most striking restaurant is the Chopin, which has it's own magical setting, in the middle of a lagoon surrounded by foliage.  It is a deluxe buffet restaurant open for dinner only.  We really enjoyed this restaurant and went back to it a second time.  This restaurant requires reservations and proper attire.

There are four a la carte restaurants that require reservations:

Italian Restaurant " Bella Pasta" serves dinner at night and has a lunch buffet during the day time.  This restaurant is located by the main pool area and we ate here a lot for lunch. Long pants for men are needed at night and a shirt/shorts are required for lunch.

El Pescador serves fish and seafood specialties a la carte and is open in the evenings. Reservations are required and proper dress is necessary.

El Gaucho Restaurant is the barbecue restaurant that specializes in Argentinean meats in the evening and by day serves breakfast and lunch.  This restaurant is located right at the main pool/beach area and is where we ate breakfast and lunch each day.  We found the food to be just as good as the main buffet and it location was wonderful.

Sakura, which is Asian, offers a mix of Vietnamese, Chinese and other interesting dishes in a Pagoda-style structure set on a lagoon. This restaurant is located next to Chopin and it requires reservations.  Proper dress is necessary.

Licey is a gourmet, elegant dining and requires more dress-up attire. The menu offers international selections such as lobster and fine-cuts. Note: This is not included in the all-inclusive package.  This restaurant is open for dinner only and requires reservations.

MacPriness is the beach snackbar.

In general the food is mediocre and the process to make reservations is tedious.  You must get up early and stand in line in the lobby to make a reservation.  Restaurants get booked quickly.  Get there early and make as many as they will allow at one time.  Plan on eating at the main buffet a few nights because you will not be able to get reservations for every night.


Typical Country Side

We took a full day excursion with Bavarro Runners Safari Adventures.  It was a wonderful day where our children were able to see different parts of the island and how the local people live and work. 

We drove thru the fields of the largest sugar cane plantation in the country and we tasted freshly cut sugar cane.  We visited a typical country home to see how coffee is roasted, Caribbean fruits are grown and how they live from the land. In addition, we saw a cock fight demonstration, which was the highlight of the day for the boys.

Dominican Country Home

We went to the Bavarro Runners Beach Ranch and had a Dominican buffet lunch and  we went horseback riding along the coast line.  It is a great opportunity for those who have never gone riding before.  The horses are trained to follow the trail and return to the stable and it is at a reasonable pace.  My daughter was 10 at the time and she had to ride with my husband. 

We also stopped at a tobacco factory.  We learned about the Dominican tobacco industry and how cigars are made.  It was a long day, the food was mediocre but it was a great learning experience.  

Tobacco Factory

The average yearly temperature is 89 degrees F.  Tropical storms are possible during the rainy season which is June through October.


    Club Med Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Club Med Punta Cana is located in Higuey, Dominican Republic,  just 2 miles from the airport.  It is the ultimate vacation destination for families as well as beach and adventure lovers, who share an enthusiasm for outdoor recreation.  This resort is located on 75 acres of lush tropical gardens with the largest beach on the island. 

For the sports enthusiast recreational activities such as golfing, tennis, bocce ball, kayaking, flying trapeze lessons, sailing, snorkeling, windsurfing, volleyball, basketball, softball, water polo, table tennis, roller-blading and fishing are available for guest participation.

Kids Programs....
Programs have been
designed to provide educational fun for children from newborns to teens. Children are broken in groups based on age and supervised age-specific children's activities are scheduled daily.

Baby Club Med is for children 4-23 months old. The children are divided into two groups: children who are not yet walking and those with a certain level of mobility. Baby Club Med is a paid service with an additional charge.  Activities include learning games, puppet shows, indoor/outdoor play and much more.

Petit Club Med is for 2 - 3 year old children.   Activities include early learning games, rest periods, nursery rhymes and songs, walks, face-painting, puppet shows, arts & crafts, pajama parties and much more.   The clubhouse is surrounded by an outdoor “funscape” area with toys including dollhouses, trains and slides.  Please note: This is an optional service and must be paid for at the time of booking.

Mini Club Med is for children from 4 to 10 years old. They are divided into sub-groups according to their age. The children have a full schedule, including sport, playful, and creative activities.  Activities include flying trapeze, tennis, soccer, sailing, in-line skating, games, arts & crafts, mini-scientist and more

"The Ramp" is where hip teenagers, age 11-17, hang out. This exclusive area dedicated to teenagers is a playground for different forms of self-expression and they are free to do what they want, when they want.   Activities include games, parties, arts & crafts, flying trapeze, trampoline, juggling, beach volleyball, sailing, in-line skating, tennis, hip-hop, video production, sound mixing, cinema, theatre or dance classes.

This resort has 519 rooms that are divided in colorful bungalows with pastel hues. The bungalows, with 2 floors, are ideally designed for families, and are amidst the tropical gardens.  All 519 rooms are suites with sleeping alcoves for kids. The rooms are large and comfortable. Club Med Punta Cana offers two types of rooms:

  • Family Sea View room - A 323 sq. ft. room that divides in two with a sliding door. Includes a balcony with view of the sea, one double bed and two twin beds.
  • Family room - A 323 sq. ft. room that divides in two with a sliding door. Includes a balcony, one double or one king bed and two twin beds.

Club Med Punta Cana provides guests with elaborate themed-buffets that offer everything from Italian to Mexican food.
La Samana - A large, brightly colored restaurant open three meals a day

L'Hispaniola - This restaurant serves an international buffet for lunch and dinner
with great views of the beach and sea.

The average yearly temperature is 89 degrees F.  Tropical storms are possible during the rainy season which is June through October.

For further information go to