Beach and Pools
The big draw is the large, free-form main pool. We are happy to note that poolside and along the beach there are many thatched palapas (umbrella-like awnings). With the resort not completely filled with guests, its easy to get a spot. However, with a full house it may be more difficult to snag a chaise lounge, so it may be wise to wake up early and steak out your poolside area. The beach, however, is an inviting, wide stretch of soft sand and a mild sea that offers calming, shallow waves.
One interesting hang-up is that each guest is allowed only one pool towel at a time. These, of course, may be switched out, but you can't get two with just one pool card. If you only need one towel, this isn't an issue.
Lucy's Club runs supervised activities for kids ages 4 to 12. The club takes place between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The children's playroom displays colorful decorations in an open-air atmosphere. It's welcoming, with its yellow and blue picket fence. At the facility, kids whack pinatas, paint, create crafts and watch movies. Oftentimes, counselors take the children to splash in the one-foot deep, children's pool. The counselors speak both English and Spanish.
Each day the Star Friends (the resort's recreation and entertainment staff) plan activities, like water aerobics, yoga and beach games. Older teens may want to play volleyball, tennis, Ping-Pong or billiards. Quetzal does not offer specialized activities for teens, except occasionally during holidays when the teen count runs high. Kids can also play on the tennis courts or run relays on the beach.
The evenings bring live entertainment and musical concerts produced by the hotel staff. Shows take place in an open-air theater with a roof, marble floors and bamboo chairs with seatbacks and comfortable cushions. The 8 p.m. show is for families, while the 9:30 p.m. show is best for adults. At the edge of the dance floor, a semi-circle of children's chairs is a nice touch. After all, kids want to sit upfront and Iberostar invites them to do so.
For families the Riviera Maya offers an array of off-property outings and adventures. From Quetzal it's a short cab ride to Playa del Carmen, the shopping area. Shops along the pedestrian-only area, Avenida 5 sell silver jewelry, pottery, Mexican tablecloths, wall hangings and blankets. This is the place to find souvenirs for everyone in the family.
Xcaret is a must-see and situated near the resort. Try to avoid it on days when the cruise ships are in port, as Xcaret is a top shore tour. At Xcaret, an eco-adventure park, you can swim with dolphins, take a dip a natural pool. A variety of wildlife are waiting to meet you, including flamingos, jaguars, turtles and tapirs. Adventurous children will enjoy walking through a bat cave. In the evening the park hosts a demonstration of Pok-Ta-Pok, the ancient Mesoamerican ball game. The game displays players' traditional body paintings and ceremonial dress. Afterwards, there is often an entertaining folkloric show.
At Xplor, another eco-theme park, one admission gains you access to several adventures. Families can fly down zip lines, ride through muddy creeks or raft through an underground river. Lunch, though not as adventurous, is included in your ticket package.