Rosewood Mayakoba with Kids
We’ve been searching for a perfect kid-friendly hotel since, well, our kids were born. The Mauna Lani in Hawaii was our default destination every year for winter break or spring break, and it used to be extremely kid-friendly, but in recent years they’ve done away with virtually all of their kid activities and amenities. So we went looking for a new place – a warm destination no more than five hours from LAX, with beaches and pools and a welcoming atmosphere for kids. Based on my friend Wendy Perrin’s reviews, we headed to the Rosewood Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
To quote from Mary Poppins, it was practically perfect in every way. We were extremely impressed by every element of the hotel. From the room to the pool to the food to the service, the Rosewood Mayakoba does things right.
The Room at Rosewood Mayakoba
When we checked-in, I was slightly disappointed not to be upgraded…until I saw our room. The room was extraordinarily large, with plenty of space for five of us even with the extra bed that they brought in. Their normal occupancy is four in a standard room, but I was happy that they waived that for us. **Note: I’ve been told by several readers that Rosewood has refused to waive the max-four occupancy for them, even when one child is very young. That’s disappointing – it would have been a waste of space for us to be in two suites. Definitely write to them and plead your case. It does NOT hurt the overall experience for families of five to stay together, and the room is easily large enough.**
If you need even more room to spread out, there’s an upstairs private patio with a large sunbed – a perfect place to watch the stars at night. And because we stayed at the very beginning of my travel writing career, I only took one photo inside our room, as we checked in and had kid gifts waiting for us (below). I’ll photograph it better next time!
The bathroom at the Rosewood Mayakoba was amazing. Our kids loved the huge tub. The hotel set up a bubble bath for them at one point complete with balloons, but even if they weren’t bathing they were using the tub as a fort and play area. And I’ve written before about how nice it is to have kid-sized items in the room. The Rosewood Mayakoba didn’t disappoint. Not only did they have robes in three different kid sizes waiting for us (which fit each kid perfectly), they had matching slippers and even kid-sized hangers in the closet. Why can’t all hotels think like that?
But the best thing about the room was the private plunge pool. It was great for the kids to be able to jump in and swim for a little bit without having to pack up and head to the main pool near the beach. They took full advantage of it, swimming several times a day.
The Pool and Beach
Because we had a pool at our room, we only headed to the larger pool and beach four times or so during the course of the week. There are actually two pools – one near the lobby area that’s meant to be quiet, and the more kid-friendly one near the beach. Our kids are well-behaved, but just to be safe we only used the beach pool.
The pool was great in the afternoons with the sun slowly going down and the day cooling off a little. We were always there too late (3:30 onward) to get snow cones from the cart near the pool, which was a little disappointing, but at the same time, the kids probably would have ruined their appetites if they had been able to do that! My other very minor complaint is that the pool wasn’t perfectly kid-friendly. There is a large, shallow pool perfect for little kids. And then there is a connecting pool that’s five feet deep with no shallow area at all. Two of our kids are good swimmers, but even then it’s nice to have a gradually sloping area into the deeper portion of the pool for them to be able to stand up.
The beach is very nice, although the water looked a little too rough most of the week that we were there to take out the (free) kayaks and standup paddleboards. Next time.
Whether we were at the pool or beach, the service was excellent. As soon as we sat down we were always brought towels and a bucket of ice with bottled waters and an Evian facial spray that the kids loved playing with.
The Restaurants at Rosewood Mayakoba
In seven days we dined at the Rosewood Mayakoba for five breakfasts, three lunches and seven dinners, spread among the three main restaurants. The food options and quality were excellent. The food isn’t inexpensive, but the kids’ meals were all very reasonably priced ($5+/- for most). And when our kids ordered from the adult menu (since they’re mini-foodies), the hotel discounted their meals 50% – another really kid-friendly element.
While the Rosewood Mayakoba is extraordinary, the service is what sets the hotel apart. And the staff provides this level of service without ever being formal – just extremely professional, and extremely kid-friendly. Our daughter turned five the day after we arrived. We had arranged for the hotel to have a piñata and cake for her, but they went above and beyond. Virtually every staff member we passed wished her a happy birthday – even people who we hadn’t previously met! At breakfast, they surprised her with a cupcake and candle. At lunch, they brought her two special desserts. And then in the afternoon, another small cake was delivered to our room with a very nice happy birthday message. Wow.
Beyond the birthday, the staff at the Rosewood Mayakoba was no less welcoming to our kids. Most staff knew our kids’ names and greeted them. At check in our kids received necklaces and small toys. There were beach bags, Frisbees and beach balls waiting for us in our room. Every night after dinner the kids couldn’t wait to see what carved animal figure would be waiting for them on the bed.
Housekeeping was the best we’ve ever seen. It went beyond the normal cleaning of the room. All sheets were changed daily. There were a huge number of fresh towels so that the kids could use the pool as often as they wanted. Our toiletries kits were always zipped up when we returned. Our iPhone charging cords were rewrapped perfectly every day. And there was always fresh fruit in our room – in fact it was replaced too often. One day there was a pear that we didn’t eat because we wanted it to get a tiny bit softer, and the next day it had already been replaced!
The restaurant service was also the best that we’ve seen – up there with the finest restaurants. All silverware was replaced after every course. Dishes were served simultaneously by five different waiters. There were always fresh breads brought after we sat down, amuse-bouches from the chefs, kid-specific amuse-bouches for the young ones (an amazing detail) and chocolates with the bill. Waters were always kept topped off, but never over-filled for the kids. It was literally perfect service.
The Rosewood Mayakoba Kids’ Club
The range of activities at the kids’ club looked great, including ceramic painting, piñata making, cooking classes, movie nights and eco-tours. Our kids did the eco tour one day and made pizzas and ice cream. They also painted one day. They didn’t spend much time there, but they enjoyed everything that they participated in.
The Rosewood Mayakoba is a luxury resort and it’s priced like one. However, for us, it worked out really well. Because we were replacing our annual trip to Hawaii with this one, I kept mentally comparing the prices to the Mauna Lani. And for a family of five, they actually were almost the same – largely because the Rosewood Mayakoba let us have five people in one room, whereas the Mauna Lani always made us purchase two connecting rooms. So the room prices evened out. Food was probably a little more expensive at the Rosewood Mayakoba, but it was also better. It helps that we booked through a travel agent (the great Lauren Maggard at SmartFlyer), which meant that two adult breakfast buffets were included every day.
Plane tickets were far less expensive to Cancun than to Hawaii, which added up to nice savings. Other transportation worked out about the same price-wise. In Hawaii, we always rent a car. In Mexico, we used hotel transportation to and from the airport and took taxis into town.
There are also a lot of things included in the room price that are extra at the Mauna Lani and other hotels. Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding is free. The kids’ club is free. And we had a butler assigned to us our entire stay who made our restaurant reservations, checked in on us around the resort, went shopping for us in town for a couple of things that we wanted to take home, and even bubble-wrapped everything breakable. While the idea of a butler was intimidating, in reality, it was done in such a non-formal way that it put us at ease.
Excursions / Day-Trips
We did a full-day tour to Chichen Itza (one of the seven wonders of the world) and Valladolid, arranged through Your Private Tour, spent a day at Xcaret, and went into Playa del Carmen twice. Chichen Itza was great, and it was nice to get there right when it opened to have it almost to ourselves before the tourist buses arrived. Xcaret was enjoyable but was extremely expensive – think Disneyland prices. Playa del Carmen is a lot more touristy than when we were there just six years ago, but we had two really good lunches in town – at La Perla Pixan Cuisine and Yaxche.
Overall this was an excellent vacation at the kid-friendliest resort that we’ve found yet, and it’s a good alternative to Hawaii – especially for families of five. The kid-friendliness is especially ironic (and impressive) as the Rosewood Mayakoba is also listed on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the most romantic hotels in the world. We’ll be back – the kids are already asking for a return trip!
Thank you for such an in depth review, it can be stressful traveling with kids hoping the hotel is what you booked. Your review now has me busting a gut to get there as I know we will have a fabulous time as my
kids are still only 7 & 5 years old.
Thanks for the comment! Yep, my 5-year-old and 7-year-old loved it. It’s worth the splurge. I’m already looking at dates when we can go back.
can you tell me what room level you stayed at as you describe it above? we are interested in visiting and have kids ages 2, 5, 7. They originally tried to book us into a 2 bedroom suite but the rooms are so large compared to most that i can’t believe they can’t accommodate small kids in even the basic room…
Eric Stoen says
According to our confirmation email we were in a “Lagoon Studio Suite 2 Queens”. It’s my understanding that that’s their most basic room level? They brought an extra bed in for our youngest daughter and there was more than enough room for all of us. I would hope they still allow families to do that?
Paula Bowen says
We went in June and it is fabulous. I am booking to return next year. What made it amazing for us from a Mom’s point of view.
1. The butler unpacked my husbands and the kids cases, usually my job
2. We needed more drawers and they were delivered within 5 minutes.
3. The pool is kept at body temperature – lovely and warm – no runny noses / cold within 3 days
4. The children’s club is in the vicinity of the pool, brilliant if one kid want to stay in the pool and the other
want to go to the club.
5. Butlers/waiting staff are at the pool to find and set up a bed, no getting down there to find towels and books
left on beds since 6 am with no occupants.
6. If it rains – which it can do doing hurricane season lots of treats to keep you all entertained and happy.
7. Children’s menu in every restaurant
8. Baby sitting staff are employed by the hotel.
9. Nothing is too much trouble where the kids are concerned, the hotel gets it that a happy child makes a
happy Mommy and Daddy.
10. Constant breeze so no unbearably hot sweaty days, but don’t be fooled that the sun isn’t intense it is.
I love it …..
I agree with everything! We didn’t use our butler for unpacking, but he did go shopping for us at one point on his way home from work for some local things that we hadn’t been able to find in any of the Playa del Carmen shops. And yes, it’s great that the kids club is so close to the main pool. Kids and go in and out at their leisure. We’re looking at booking a return trip as well.
Have you tried the banyan tree maykoba was wondering the differences between the two
Eric Stoen says
No, we haven’t stayed at any of the other Mayakoba resorts. Banyan Tree and Fairmont are both supposed to be good.
may i ask which type of room you stayed in ? we are also a family of 5 – i have been eyeing this hotel for a while, never even thought to go with the kids – but now i am sold
Eric Stoen says
Hi Janice. According to my confirmation it was a “Lagoon Studio Suite 2 Queens”. They brought in an extra bed for us and there was PLENTY of room. Have a great trip!
I agree with Eric. We just booked again for next year and the Lagoon studio has an extra cloakroom (toilet & sink – British phrase) which if you have 3 kids would come in handy. They are planning a new pool for the teenagers and an extra kids club for the older kids., I don’t know when these will be ready but customer services will be able to help. Have a great time.
I have a family of 7 and am trying to take more adventurous trips with the kids that don’t break the bank. It looks like this hotel is quite expensive from what I can find online? Any suggestions for more reasonably priced but comparable locations?
Eric Stoen says
Hi Amanda. I just wrote up a post on making travel more affordable: https://travelbabbo.com/2016/01/affordable-family-travel/. For the Rosewood, look for dates when the hotel isn’t full and where rates are lower. But a family of 7 definitely makes it more challenging since you would need two rooms, doubling the costs. I can’t speak to anywhere we haven’t stayed, but I have a Resources section of my website – https://travelbabbo.com/resources/ – that lists other travel blogs and their specialties. If my travel suggestions are out of your budget range, one of those other websites should be perfect for you.
My kids are 10 and 6 and we’ve taken them to Rwanda, Zanzibar, Amsterdam, London, and Ecuador–a paltry 5 to the 32 you’ve managed! So my question is…how do I get a job like yours?! It sounds like heaven.
Eric Stoen says
I’d love to get to Rwanda and Zanzibar with the kids! We’ll be in Tanzania next month, but won’t be able to make it to Zanzibar. As far as travel writing for a job, do you have a website and social accounts? Post photos and trip recaps. Start building up a following. It can take off from there. There are a lot of articles online on how to start blogs. Just have a unique niche so that you stand out.
The reservation specialist started with a 2 bed suite and did approve down to a 1 bed suite but at 1150, it was definitely a few levels up from the most basic room (I think the one you mention) which at this time is running around 575. Our other option is the Belmond Maroma which looks beautiful but doesn’t seem as inherently kid friendly…
Hello – love your blog! Quick question about your stay at Mayakoba – did the lagoon studio suite have the extra toilet? I think the “deluxe” lagoon suite has two toilets, but the lagoon studio appears to be the only one with 2 queens.
When you say they brought in an extra bed, was it like a rollaway kind of bed? Just trying to imagine it …
Also, I took a look at Private Tours and wondered what made you pick Chichen Itza over Tulum? They both look great but Chichen Itza seems a lot further away?
OK, maybe it wasn’t such a quick question! Look forward to your 2016 travels and posts!
Eric Stoen says
Hi Gin. The suite that we were in only had one toilet. That didn’t seem like an issue to us, but maybe it is to others because the hotel tells me that’s one of the reasons why they usually limit that suite occupancy to four. Same with the extra bed – they brought in a rollaway bed, but they usually try to put families of five in their slightly larger suites so that they avoid the rollaway beds. Maybe we caught them at a period of high occupancy.
We chose Chichen Itza because it’s officially one of the seven wonders of the world and that seemed like a cool thing for the kids. Next time we go back we’ll go to Tulum.
Thanks Eric. I second Yun’s comments – your blog is an inspiration and we hope to visit many of the places you’ve recommended. We’ve been looking closely at Rosewood Mayakoba and can’t believe how expensive the flights from San Diego to Cancun are in June. 800-900 for non-red eye flights. We have Chase Sapphire rewards we can use for part of it, but do you have any suggestions? I tried looking at LAX but it doesn’t save much at all after the cost of getting to LA.
Actually, Hawaii is no better at 800+ for direct flights to Maui or Honolulu, which is why we started looking into Mexico this time around. So perhaps it’s just the cost of flights has skyrocketed?
Eric Stoen says
Wow, that’s far higher than I’ve seen before. I just priced next month for spring break and it’s only $346 round-trip from LAX non-stop. You must have picked a more in demand week. I agree on Hawaii – it’s almost always $800-1000 round trip from LA. But I took it for granted that Cancun was always half that. Are you flexible at all on dates? Sometimes moving the dates by a day or two in either direction can save you some money.
We will stay here this coming Easter. I hope we will have a pleasant stay with our 6yo daughter at Rosewood Mayakoba. You and your families are such an avid traveler and you document them very well. I used to write a blog before having a kid. Now my 6 years old girl already travelled to more than 25 countries in five different continents but I almost never wrote about it anymore. I should have continued to blog our trip after having kid. You are such an inspiration. Looking forward to your next trip report!
Eric Stoen says
Thanks Yun. Enjoy the Rosewood! You should start blogging again and writing up some of your best experiences. My 6-year-old is only at 20 countries, so your daughter is ahead of that! I’m sure you have some great advice for other families.
Hello – I am interested in traveling to the Rosewood Mayakoba with my wife & our would be 9 month old daughter. Thoughts on if this is a good idea or better of to wait until she gets a little older? We are traveling from Boston, so trying to get at least one leg non-stop & not fly more then 5 hours direct. Thanks
Eric Stoen says
Hi Jim. We traveled a lot with our kids at the same age and have no regrets, so if you and your wife want to go, and if your daughter will have fun at the pools and beach, go for it. After 9 months or so flying gets harder for the next year, when she’ll want to crawl and walk, so 9 months is actually a good age to fly. Just don’t expect to have a romantic getaway – everything will be about entertaining your daughter!
Paula Bowen says
The pool is lovely and warm, and I don’t mean just heated its like a bath. Plus apart from the great customer service and catering to all the children there is a breeze to take away the heat of the Mexican sun and Cabanas by the pool. I wish I had known about this place when my kids were little. Hope you have a fabulous time.
Hi again Eric:
Our trip to Rosewood Mayakoba is coming up soon, so we are wrapping up our travel planning. I did have a question for you about tipping … Did you tip on a daily basis? I realize that Rosewood does the full service kind of thing and tacks on service charges on everything there, but upon googling “tipping at Rosewood Mayakoba”, I came across some articles/forums saying that they still tipped anyone and everyone who helped them.
We honeymooned in 2004 at Las Ventanas so we know all about the full service staff, butler, etc. We did not carry cash everywhere with us, but we did leave a sizable tip for our butler at the end of our stay.
Just wondering what you did and if you have any comments on what you saw from other guests around the resort? Also, we have not been to Mexico since they stopped accepting USD for purchases, so I guess I’ll need to get some pesos for the trip …
Eric Stoen says
Yes, I Googled “Tipping at Rosewood Mayakoba” too when we were there. I wish they had really clear tipping guidelines. If I remember correctly, we left a nice tip for our butler at the end of the stay in an envelope with the front desk. He had gone above and beyond – always finding us around the resort, and even going shopping for a few kitchen items that we wanted that we couldn’t find in the touristy areas of Playa del Carmen. I don’t remember tipping other employees? We may have left something for housekeeping – I usually do. I always tip at the end of stays, but I know the general wisdom is to tip daily since you get better service?
I am thinking about going to Rosewood Mayakoba in July with a friend and two kids ( 7 and 9) for about 6 days. I was wondering if have a rough idea what we might spend on meals/drinks for the week.
Eric Stoen says
Hi Liz – sorry for the delay. I wrote to the hotel’s PR agency to get a feel for current restaurant pricing but didn’t hear back.
In looking at our final invoice, we averaged a little over $400/day on food and drinks at the hotel. That included one breakfast – a boxed breakfast for five when we had an early morning excursion – and most lunches and dinners. That was two adults and three kids. So it added up, even with kids priced at 1/2 when they ordered off the adult menu.
Very helpful post! We’re staying in Mayakoba for a week soon with our 2 boys (ages 6 and 8) and are trying to decide whether to rent a car from the airport for a week so that we can go to Tulum, Chitzen Itza, Xcaret, etc on our own vs doing tours, which seem pricey. We always rent a car when we go to Hawaii, but most reviews of Mexico seems like families don’t usually rent cars in Mexico? Any advice on this topic appreciated!
Eric Stoen says
We’ve never rented a car there, but I’ve gotten emails from families who say it’s a great way to go. Given what we’ve spent on airport transfers, private tours to Chichen Itza and taxis to/from town and Xcaret, I’m sure a car is a lot less expensive, and it definitely gives you more flexibility. One quote from a reader: “Renting a car was super easy and by far the best, most cost efficient way to explore. The drive from Cancun down to Tulum is one straight road so it is virtually impossible to get lost.” If you’re concerned with costs, it’s worth checking with your hotel on parking prices first. That can add up.
12 nights for 3 people for 38,000 USD – wow that’s an insane amount to spend on a vacation.. lol I guess I’m a bit jealous of you people being able to afford that. It sounded great until I looked up the price.
Eric Stoen says
Wow, you sound nice. Let’s break down your comment:
1) I just chose 12 nights at random this fall and got a nightly rate of $450 for three people (October 6-18 2020, 2 adults, 1 child in a Lagoon Studio Suite King). With taxes the total price is US$7,254, and you get a $1,200 resort credit ($100/day). If you only found US$38,000 you need to search again.
2) 12 nights is a long time anywhere, especially if you’re only finding a room that’s $3,000/night. At that point, even if you didn’t mind paying that much, why not move on to another hotel after a few nights? The hotel was nice, but I don’t know that I would want to stay 12 nights.
3) Why would you say “you people”? The world is divided enough right now. Most family travelers are the same, wanting family-friendly accommodations with things for kids to do in good locations. I’m not writing about a US$38,000 hotel and expecting all families to be able to afford that. We had a great time at Rosewood Mayakoba (not sponsored), and it’s generally in the $400-700/night range for families from what I’ve seen.
Have you been back since this review? I wonder how things are several years later. Thank you for this well written and comprehensive review, though! I was trying to decide between a trip to the Big Island or Mexico…
Eric Stoen says
No, we haven’t been back. I tried to book a return trip at one point but they didn’t have anything available. Hoping everything is just as good now as when we visited, except that several people have emailed me saying that Rosewood Mayakoba isn’t flexible anymore with letting families stay in one villa.