by Stephen Jermanok
If you have any concerns about heading to Mexico, rest assured that the Yucatan remains a safe haven. Sunshine, warm ocean waters, a rich history and culture, and gracious hospitality are some of the reasons the Yucatan remains a popular worldwide destination. But perhaps the number one reason is its affordability. Not only do you feel safe at Paraiso Beach, but you’re immediately embraced by the nature of a tropical paradise at this Iberostar enclave of five hotels south of Cancun in the Riviera Maya. Swans and flamingoes swim in the ponds just off the elaborate lobby. Peacocks and Mexican raccoons wander the trails under the thick brush of palm and banyan trees.
Iberostar Paraiso Beach and Iberostar Paraiso del Mar share the same restaurants, pools and beach. Iberostar Paraiso Beach has its own lobby and the three-story villas have a darker color scheme than Paraiso del Mar, with more blue and red stuccoed walls. Besides that, there’s not much difference. Paradise beckons whether your room is in the southern half of the property (Paraiso Beach) or the northern half of the property (Paraiso del Mar). The highlight for many will be the landscaped grounds, overflowing with tall palms and tropical flowers. The addition of flamingoes and graceful swans is an added bonus for both kids and their parents.
Our Editor Loves
- Large pool complex
- Watersports Center
- Kids' Club
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Onsite Dining
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Housed in three-story villas, the 424 rooms at Paraiso Beach are all the same. All rooms are equipped with two double beds, a small sitting area with table and couch, and a balcony or terrace with table and chairs. Closet space is ample and comes with a safe. The mini-bar, stocked with complimentary beer, sodas, and water is replenished every other day. The bathroom has a bath and shower, with Iberostar's own brand of shampoo, soap, and body gel. For some reason, there was no conditioner, so make sure to bring some. Also found in the room were a hairdryer, coffee maker, and ceiling fan. Complimentary Wi-Fi access is available in the guestrooms. One caveat: similar to neighboring Iberostar Paraiso del Mar, Paraiso Beach does not have any elevators to the top level of rooms. So if you have a stroller or have trouble going up and down three flights of stairs, book a room on the ground floor.
The Family Rooms are the best option for families of five or more because they can accommodate up to six people comfortably. The Family Rooms guarantee connecting rooms of one king and two double beds. Each room features a private balcony and a bathroom. Family Room guests are greeted with the Family Welcome Kit upon arrival, too.
Before you head to the breakfast buffet, stake your claim at a shady thatched-roof cabana, whether on the beach or near one of the three connecting pools. If you head to the soft sands, kids can rent boogie boards to ride the surf, try their hand at sailing a catamaran, or kayak through the mangroves. For an extra cost, there's the chance to Jet Ski with mom or dad, ride a banana boat, or go parasailing. The hotel can also arrange scuba diving and snorkeling trips, or horseback riding on the shores.
The sprawling pool complex is the center of activity at Paraiso Beach. The energetic Star Friends team will have kids and their parents dancing to salsa and meringue, learning Spanish, and partaking in water aerobics, beach volleyball, and water polo. When you need a breather, head to one of the swim-up bars and order the next frozen drink, with or without alcohol. Since this is an all-inclusive resort, you don't have to worry about any surprises on the final bill from all those drinks.
Vacations are a precious time to catch up with the kids and give mom and dad some needed time off. Starky Kids' Club is available every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for children ages 4 to 12. Counselors will teach children Mayan culture through arts and crafts, dance, storytelling and games. Outside the club, you'll find a playground with slides and the right amount of sand to make sand castles.
At night, there are two shows in the theater, one starting at 8 p.m. for the kids, the other at 9:30 p.m. for the adults. The shows can be hit or miss depending on the performers and the material.
For teens, they can enjoy the teenage-only disco "Underground" or the game room off the lobby.
Iberostar Paraiso Beach has more food options than most cruises. There are two buffets, six specialty restaurants, casual fare like tacos, crepes, and hamburgers in the shopping center and at several snack bars, an ice cream parlor, and room service 24 hours a day.
Breakfast is served at either the El Puerto or La Plaza buffet. There's a good mix of fresh fruit, flavored yogurts, juices, breads, eggs, French toast, and meats. Kids will like the homemade churros (doughnuts) that they can dip in chocolate sauce. The same two buffets are also open for lunch and dinner. Many families are inclined to book up the week with the specialty restaurants, but remember that the main buffet is much faster for kids and they tend to be more family friendly. At one dinner, a clown made balloon animals for the kids at the buffet. There's also a good variety at the main buffet, from pizza and pasta to vegetable sushi to fish to Chinese chicken skewers and wok-grilled veggies.
If you're hanging out by the pool, head over to the El Faro snack bar for their selection of hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, salads, and fruit for lunch.
Make sure to book the a la carte or specialty restaurants as close to 9 a.m. as possible, when reservations are first accepted. Kids will like the Italian, Mexican, and Steakhouse restaurants. The Japanese, Mediterranean, Brazilian, and Gourmet restaurants, the latter serving rich French fare, might be better suited to mom and dad's taste.
Don't miss the creperie, hamburger diner, and tapas restaurant located across the street from the lobby at the shopping center. These restaurants are also part of the all-inclusive package and available to all Iberostar hotels in the Paraiso Playa complex. For a late afternoon snack, head to the ice cream parlor located near the pools.
Thankfully, the resort has room service 24 hours a day, so you can dine on wraps, salads, burgers, hot dogs, and tacos with your loved one while the kids sleep.
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The staff will plant a mimosa in your hands upon arrival, then skirt you by golf cart to your room.
Complimentary Wi-Fi access is available throughout the resort.
Those same counselors at the kids' club can babysit at night. Slip away for a quiet dinner for two at my favorite of the a la carte ventures, the Mediterranean restaurant, featuring grilled seafood, Greek salad, and as much red and white wine as you need to truly unwind.
There is a fitness center with cardio and weight machines.
The Art of Smart Timing
Iberostar has aligned itself with travel companies around North American and Europe, so that a week in paradise is attainable. This is certainly true at Iberostar Paraiso Beach and Paraiso del Mar, the most budget-conscious of the five resorts in this enclave. If you still find it too pricey, consider visiting the region anytime other than the peak season of Christmas week through mid-April. April and May, when the weather back home can still be a bit nippy, can be a very affordable time to visit. The week after Thanksgiving in America, is a time when many Mexican and Caribbean resorts have low occupancy rates until the Christmas rush. The weather is a sublime 80 degrees Fahrenheit with sea breeze every day.
Arrive to the area via flight to Cancun International Airport. The resort will arrange transportation at booking.
A tram is available every 15 minutes if the 10-minute walk from the beach to the lobby seems a bit too much. There are also numerous golf carts with employees driving you to your room or over to the golf course. Those golf carts are here for a reason.
For Mom and Dad
Visit the stylish spa for a plunge in the saltwater pool or a massage.
Or grab a round of golf at the golf course on the other side of the highway. P.B. Dye has designed a par-72 course with vistas of the ocean in the distance. You would think that in this hot climate, the greens wouldn't be very green. In fact, the greens are so lush, you feel like you're golfing in Vermont, not Mexico.