by Candyce H. Stapen
The Dreams chain offers a luxury, all-inclusive experience geared to couples and families. The rooms are luxurious, the pools inviting and the beach, white sand and soft.
From the town of Puerto Morelos, however, the resort seemed all concrete walls, something that worried us. We shouldn’t have been. The expansive open-air lobby with its ceiling fans and center fountain made us feel as if we had entered a grand Mexican hacienda. So did the wooden boardwalk lined with shops that led to the pools.
Part of the Preferred Hotel Group, the 485-room Dreams Riviera Cancun, is situated between Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Our Editor Loves
- Large children's and infinity edge pool
- Specialty restaurants with no extra charge
- Daylong children's program
- All Inclusive Rates
- Theme Park
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
Guestrooms and Suites
The rooms exhibit a contemporary flare with Mexican accents and upscale elements. Guestrooms feature creamy marble floors, whirlpool tubs, marble vanities, CD/DVD players and daily and stocked mini-fridge (no charge). A woven, wood-trimmed screen on the ceiling above the bed serves to define the sleeping area. The beds face the glass balcony doors, affording some units ocean views.
A row of wooden shutters cleverly divides the bed area from the bathroom area, letting light into an area mostly confined to darkness. However, the bathrooms lack doors. A small half-curtain separates the tub from the room and both the shower and toilet have smoky glass doors. With 'tweens and teens, this no-privacy arrangement won't work. Although brochures label every room a suite, possibly because the bathroom is part of the room, we wouldn't use "suite" to describe the basic room. Two adults and one young child have enough space in a standard room, but two children and two adults would feel crowded.
Privacy, or the lack of it, limited use of the first floor room's plunge pool and outdoor whirlpool tub. Like all the patios and balconies, the first-floor unit faced a busy pathway. Being in the tub felt like taking a bath in the middle of the resort. Always in the shade, the plunge pool, however pretty to look at, proved too cold, too. We suggest not spending the extra money for these rooms.
You might, however, want to consider a Preferred Club room. While not larger, these rooms come with access to the Preferred Club Lounge, where you have expedited check-in and checkout. In addition, the lounge serves continental breakfast, afternoon hors d'oeuvres and evening desserts.
Something to note: Dreams Riviera Cancun is popular for weddings. On both weekend nights during our stay, we watched wedding ceremonies (nice) and heard the partying (not so nice). The resort requires the bands or deejays to cease playing by 11 p.m. This could be an issue if you are traveling with young children who are light sleepers.
Just back from a 12 day stay here at Dreams Riveria. We had a great time, super clean resort. Food choices were excellent and we never tired of the choices. You will need to watch the restaurant closures.. seaside and oceana are opposite of each other.
Alot of weddings here with somenights the receptions were completing with each other and their music.. loud until 10 pm on the pool deck if your room was close by.
The entertainment crew kept the pools and guests busy with games. The dinosaurs on Halloween were so much fun. I was expecting more for day of the dead through the day but the show at night was good. Alfredo was super fun with everyone around, He really showed he enjoyed his job.There was another young man as well (I can;t remember his name) but they showed up everyday with a smile and enthusiasm.
Our room was clean and very comfortable. We had a premier ocean view on the 5th floor, adjoining with our family with great views.
The bar staff was amazing, Oliver at the Rendezvous bar was excellent, he called us by name every day and remembered our favaorite drinks, Mario at the infinity pool kept our cups full all day. Easy to find chairs at the pool as we were down by 0800, they would be full by 10 am.
Lots of activities to be involved in, lots of food all day long, lunch on the pool deck (BBQ, gumbo, seafood paella) along with the restaurants.
This is a large and busy resort, alot of large groups, family orientated. Easy access from the Cancun airport.. 20 mins south.
by Mark P
We spent last week at this resort and were not disappointed with this resort. The pools were good (could have been a little warmer) the food was good. The only issue with this resort was the entertainment. The people were all friendly. Which what we have come to expect from a dreams resort.
Pools and Beach
Three pools, including an infinity edge pool overlooking the beach, form the resort's heart. The children's pool, divided into two, is a kid magnet. One half features an in-water Ping-Pong table -- lots of fun -- and the other half, a large triangular shape, gives tots lots of space for splashing. The pools are so inviting that some mothers said their kids didn't want to leave the water to attend the children's program during the day.
Most adults and most kids want to be on the beach or around the pools. Therein lies the problem. Dreams lacks enough chairs with shade on the beach or by the pool to accommodate guests when the resort is full or near capacity. As a result, guests begin claiming chairs (by plunking down towels) as early as 7 a.m. By 7:45 a.m., well before we want to awaken on vacation, all the beach and poolside chaises with shade were taken, as were most of the pool chairs and outdoor beds. Although Dreams does request that guests not save chairs, stating that attendants will remove items from chaises unoccupied for 30 minutes, the resort does not follow through.
The Explorer's Club, which operates from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. for ages 3 to 12, has an unfortunate location set way back from the beach. In addition, the facility, surrounded by a log fence, appears to be a dark space tucked under a restaurant. From the outside, even we didn't want to enter. But don't be frightened: The facility offers a nice mix of indoor and outdoor spaces. The four air-conditioned rooms open onto an outdoor play area with a Chichen Itza pyramid-shaped climbing wall, a basketball court, a bungee trampoline and lots of bean bag chairs. A theatre, craft room, lounge with foosball and a dining area make up the indoor space. Kids build sandcastles, splash in the children's pool, go on treasure hunts and enjoy ice cream eating contests. All children must be signed in and out.
The signing policy plus the fact that typically all ages do activities together makes the Explorer's Club more popular with young children. The older kids, however, might like the weekly beach camp-out in which they get to sleep surfside in tents. The Explorer's Club continues in the evening with dinner and a movie, affording parents the chance for a romantic dinner on their own.
Dreams offers fewer recreational activities than the Club Meds. Along with swimming, Dreams has sea kayaking and 30-minute outings on Hobie Cats. If you don't know how to handle these sailboats, often a staff member will go out with you. Also on property: tennis, bocce ball and volleyball. Some evenings the resort shows a family movie outdoors by the pool.
Food is a major part of any vacation experience, especially at an all-inclusive. After all, some of the allure -- for parents at least -- is the ability to taste the quesadillas, sample the sushi, try the Mongolian wok vegetables and still be able to fill a plate with reliable fried chicken plus a slice of roast beef.
Meals at Dreams were certainly better than those at many all-inclusives we have visited. For no additional fee, you can dine at a number of specialty restaurants. Except for the Asian fusion restaurant Himitsu's teppanyaki tables (you sit around a griddle table to watch the chef cook), reservations aren't required.
To dine at the specialty restaurants, you may encounter a wait of 30 minutes or more for seatings between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., when the resort is full. The restaurant takes your name then hands you a beeper. While waiting, you can sit in the lobby and listen to music. To avoid lines, arrive for dinner before 6:45 p.m.
With hungry kids, who must eat right away and usually want to eat early, arrive close to 6 p.m. when most of the specialty restaurants open or dine at the World Cafe, the large, main restaurant serving a buffet.
Our verdict on the food: good, but inconsistent. At the oceanfront Seaside Grill, the calamari tasted fine but the fish tacos were mediocre. The next day, the grilled daily catch came overcooked and dry but the steak was good. At Portofino, the Italian restaurant, the shrimp and scallops and pasta were tasty but both arrived at the table tepid instead of hot. At Himitsu, we ate our best meal, a shrimp and chicken teppanyaki.
The property also has a Mexican restaurant and Bordeaux, serving French cuisine, that's restricted to diners age 13 and older. The World Cafe serves ample buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even picky kids should be able to find something they like. In addition, the Barefoot Grill near the pool dishes out hot dogs, hamburgers plus daily specials such as paella from about 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. When you need to make a quick getaway for an outing or simply want to relax on your patio, try room service, all at no additional charge.
Just want some coffee, tea or hot chocolate and a sweet? There's a place for that too. Coco Cafe, open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., has these items as well as tables outside the cafe. We liked lingering here in the afternoon; the morning cereal cookies, a conglomeration of grains, were great to take to the beach.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting is available for an extra fee. Cribs and rollaways are by request and some buildings offer adjoining rooms. Room service is available too.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season runs mid-December through May and the low season is June through mid-December.
Fly into the Cancun International Airport, which is about 20 minutes from the resort.
Either rent a car or book your transportation from the airport to your resort ahead of time. That way you can bypass the gauntlet of vendors trying to get you to book transportation and outings.
For Mom and Dad
Get pampered at the spa, dance at Desires Disco and enjoy a show at the nightclub. For an extra fee, the resort will serve a romantic dinner for two on the beach (reserve ahead).