by Stephen Jermanok
A 30-minute drive south of Cancun International Airport will bring you to the start of the Riviera Maya and an exquisite stretch of beach coined Playa Paraiso. This is home to the IBEROSTAR Playa Paraiso Resort, five hotels, none higher than three stories, nestled into the palms, mangroves and white sands. The IBEROSTAR Grand Paraiso is an adults-only resort where children are not allowed. The remaining four hotels are all family-friendly, where villas form four parallel lines from their respective lobby down to the beach, and guests of the Paraiso Maya are welcome to visit any portion of the other four resorts, including the restaurants. It shares similarities, restaurants and kids’ club with Paraiso Lindo, but can also access the Paraiso Beach and Paraiso del Mar properties. Though they often share facilities, each hotel is different. This couldn’t be clearer upon entering the massive Mayan temple that stands atop the lobby of the all-inclusive IBEROSTAR Paraiso Maya.
The Maya is the most dramatic and more upscale property of the four IBEROSTAR hotels in Playa Paraiso. Inside the lobby, you’ll find huge sculptures of Mayan deities. Walk over to the circular Kukulkan bar that sits directly under the Mayan temple and you can’t help but be awestruck looking up at the many levels of the structure. The opulence continues as you walk through the hallways that connect the rooms under soaring atriums.
Like the other properties found at Playa Paraiso, the rooms at Maya are placed within a series of three-story villas. Yet, the Maya, with its interconnected hallways, feels much more like a high-end resort. This is certainly true when you enter the rooms and find a spacious junior suite. This is the only family-friendly hotel in the IBEROSTAR complex that features Jacuzzis and Internet service in the rooms and has elevators to bring those strollers up and down, without having to worry about stairs. Other special features include free access to the saltwater pool, sauna and steam room at the spa, three private (and peaceful) adult-only pools, and the Japanese and gourmet restaurants, reserved only for guests in the Maya.
To learn more, visit IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts.
Our Editor Loves
- Riviera Maya Beach
- Lucy's Mini Club
- Sprawling pool complex with wave pool
- All Inclusive Rates
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The majority of rooms are junior suites with two double beds, shower and Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, and a large terrace with hammock. Buildings 60 and 61, closest to the beach, house superior junior suites, which have a slightly bigger sitting area. Yet, compared to the other hotels in the complex, the standard junior suite sitting area is more spacious. Family suites are also offered with the same amenities as junior suites, yet with a little more space to spread out. All suites have air conditioning, ceiling fans, flat-screen cable TV's, DVD players, safes, hairdryers, coffee makers and a mini-bar.
The big bonus at the Maya is that Internet service is available in the room for an extra charge. (The other resorts do not offer in-room service.)
Elevators also alleviate the need to stay on the ground floor if you have small children. Like the Lindo, the Maya also has a concierge at each villa to book restaurant reservations and help set up the Internet connection.
We are family of 5 (53, 53, 26, 24, 9) plus boyfriend. Found resort through Delta vacations and would recommend Delta over Apple, Bookit... Our family enjoys all inclusives, and discovered the benefits of the mega resorts last year at Barcelo Punta Cana. We found the Iberostar offered more options than the Barcelo; better drinks, food available on beach, and the fabulous fit-fun gym. We are blessed with Lifetime in Michigan and found the same classes and intensity at Iberostar's Fit and Fun. Instructors Diego, Uriel, and Ema were awesome. The starcamp program appears well organized but our nine year old did not use. He spent the days with the entertainment team. Many thanks to Jennifer, Eric, Humberto and the entire team for the fun in the sun. Service is outstanding throughout the resort. Appreciated the real fruit smoothies blended by Juan and Hugo at the wave pool bar. Food is similar to other inclusives, we found Italian the best, steak and brazilian are recommended. Beach and grounds are perfect, especially the food selection available beachfront; burgers fries, salads, fruit, nachos. Nightly entertainment is vast; shows, family games, laser tag, car racing, never a dull moment. Our only opportunity for improvement is the rooms, the HVAC systems in both our rooms did not work well and were noisy.6170 and 6176. Maintenance attempted to correct during our stay, an update of the equipment and room decor would enhance the resort.
by Maria B
Overall this place was good. We first got a broke down room with the lights broken and no outlet plugins to charge phones etc but they quickly gave us a new room that was better. We went from the 4th through the 8th. My birthday was the 6th. We couldn't get a reservation for the al cart steak house but Angel did a phenomenal ob and still let us eat since we came right at 6. They gave me birthday shot, cake with candle and sang happy birthday to me with a bow made with a napkin in my hair. It was great. Then the nightly cleaning people decorated my bed and gave me a bottle of champagne. They went above and beyond. Also, since we traveled with our kids 2 & 10, there was plenty of kid activities to do. Kids pools, wave pools, foam party, beach activities, nightly entertainment with carousel, bounce houses, etc. My kids had a great time. The steak house was definitely the best food. Other food and buffets were just average. In the plaza mall they did have a good crepe and ice cream shop. Fitness center was great. I will say the mosquitoes are awful. Definitely bring bug spray. Even with the bug spray I still got bit. I have stayed other resorts in Mexico and didn't get eatin alive like I did there with the bugs. Overall it was a good time!
The Maya shares its facilities with the Lindo. Start at the wave pool, the only one of its kind in Riviera Maya, created under the waterfalls of a Mayan-styled bridge. Nearby is the lazy river, an oh-so-slow-ride through the twisted mangroves, where you can often find a Mexican raccoon lurking in the trees. If the kids get thirsty, head to one of the swim-up bars in the sprawling pool area and grab a virgin pina colada under the shade of a man-made waterfall. The pool slopes, so the area around the rim is shallow enough for young children to swim.
The water in the ocean can often be warmer than the pool, yet the rolling surf might be a bit too much for younger kids. Grab a boogie board and ride the waves. If you're feeling more energetic, head to the water sports center and sign up for a Hobie Cat or kayak ride. For an extra charge, kids can go on a banana boat ride, bug their mom to take them on a jetski ride, or go parasailing. A dive center on premises offers scuba diving instruction and can take families out to dive or snorkel on the reef.
Lucy's Mini Club
Lucy's Mini Club, the IBEROSTAR Kids Camp, is available to all children ages 4 to 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They have their own facility, complete with swimming pool and playground. This being the Maya hotel, counselors teach kids the culture and history of Mayan culture through art, story telling and games.
At night, the elaborate theater puts on dance and music performances. The nightly show starts at 9:30 p.m. A kid's show and mini-disco starts at 8 p.m., and if your child's not shy, he or she usually ends up on stage. There's also a disco for teens and parents over by the shopping center, if you feel like getting down to the wee hours of the morning.
A La Carte
While you might be tempted to just head to the buffet for dinner, due to the convenience of dining quickly with the kids, you'd be mistaken not to try the El Rancho Steakhouse and Mediterranean La Marina, located just off the lobby of the Maya. Walking into the steakhouse is like entering a large restaurant in Dallas with the country music blaring and a large slab of rib-eye, filet mignon or beef ribs soon appearing in front of you. Wash it down with a bottle of the Merlot-like Spanish red wine. Desserts include pecan pie, ice cream and apple strudel. Across the hallway, La Marina is known for its grilled tuna and salads of cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. El Rancho is only open for dinner, whereas La Marina serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The two other a la carte restaurants in the Maya feature Japanese and French fare. Gourmet Museum Restaurant and L'Etoile are only available to children older than age 12. Don't despair, amigo. Families at the Maya can dine at any of the three other hotels, so the list of restaurants include buffets, snack bars, and specialty dining at Mexican, Italian, Brazilian and Cajun restaurants.
In the morning, head to the buffet at the Mediterranean restaurant, La Marina, and choose from a selection of tropical fruit, cereals, yogurts, eggs, omelets, pancakes, French toast, bacon, and sausage. There's also a menu on the table to order omelets and eggs, without have to waiting in line at the buffet counter. Or try Restaurante Bufet El Fogon, located in the pool area and open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For lunch, most people will dine at the snack bar at the pool or on the beach. Expect to find hot dogs, burgers, fries, pizza, tacos, salads, fruit, and pastries for dessert. Near the pool snack bar is an ice cream fountain, popular during the daily bingo game in mid-afternoon.
Over at the shopping center are three other family-friendly restaurants, all free of charge. They include a 50s burger joint, a tapas bar, and a creperie.
The Maya also offers 24-hour room service if the kids can't seem to make it out of the room after their long day in the sun. Chicken fingers, hamburgers, hot dogs, and tacos are some of the kid-friendly fare.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
There are designated tram stops along the Maya property if you don't have the energy to make that 10-minute walk from beach to the lobby.
Just outside IBEROSTAR Paraiso Beach is a fitness center that offers machines, free weights, and daily aerobics classes.
On the walk over, look for the graceful swans and flamingoes that call Paraiso del Mar home. Near the swimming pool, you'll find Ping Pong tables and a large chess game. There's a billiard room and games center, just off the Maya lobby.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season, from Christmas to April 1, is the most expensive time of year. If you can avoid the winter months, the price is reduced. This is especially true in the summer months, but make sure no hurricanes are headed toward Cancun before you leave. Many cities now offer direct flights to Cancun, making the Iberostar Paraiso Maya an easy getaway. It helps that the resort is near the international airport and an air-conditioned bus from Iberostar is there to pick you up.
Arrive to the area via flight to Cancun International Airport. The resort will arrange transportation at booking.
For Mom and Dad
While the kids are away for the day, take advantage of the free time to try the P.B. Dye par-72 golf course, located across the highway from the complex. A driver will pick you up at your room and drive a golf cart to the clubhouse at your reserved tee time. You'll be impressed by the layout of the course and the well-maintained putting greens. If you really want to de-stress, try one of the massages, aromatherapy wraps, and facials at the spa. Even if you choose not to try any of the treatments, you're entitled to free use of the saltwater pool, steam room, and sauna at the spa.
Arrive to the area via flight to Cancun International Airport. The resort will arrange transportation at booking.