by Candyce H. Stapen
The first thing we notice is the water — not the Caribbean Sea — but the myriad of canal-like fountains that lace the resort, creating ponds. The staff welcomes guests with cold face cloths, sparkling wine and juice for the children. The second thing we notice is that at check-in, no one grabs our hands to staple color-coded bands around our wrists. It’s a small thing, but we’re glad not to wear one at Now Sapphire.
A former Paradisus hotel, Now Sapphire morphed into an AMR property in mid-2010. Set by beachfront in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, the resort exudes a pleasing Mexican-Asian ambiance that combines thatched roof pavilions with Asian-style ponds edged with river rocks. Lobby furnishings display console tables and iron lanterns suggest Asian culture, under palapa shaped roofs.
Now Sapphire and Now Jade, another AMResorts’ Riviera Maya property, are beachfront, all-inclusive establishments — the first Now properties in the company’s chain. AMR already offers Caribbean visitors several types of vacations. Dreams Resorts offer modern rooms with flair. Our sense after staying at both the Riviera Maya’s Dreams and at Now Sapphire is that the Now properties aim to provide a trendy destination for those with and without children. That’s nice for families, especially those twenty-, thirty- and forty-something parents accustomed in their pre-progeny days to upmarket resorts with a bit of pizzazz.
Our Editor Loves
- Supervised activities at the Kids' Club
- Long, sandy beach
- Good food at 7 restaurants
- All Inclusive Rates
- Theme Park
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
At Now Sapphire, 14 low-rise, non-elevator buildings across the property offer 496 oversized rooms called "suites." Let's get picky for a moment. Traditionally, suite accommodations divide into distinct sitting and sleeping areas separated by a wall and/or a door. Not here. For parents, this distinction is key. The large room gives you plenty of space to share with your kids, but no privacy. Essentially, you and your children share one big room. Parents seeking some romance should consider two rooms. All accommodations feature marble floors, flat screen televisions, coffee makers and good-size bathrooms. All guests, no matter the room type, can take advantage of room service.
The tropical suites offer a garden view. They are a bit smaller than other rooms and sometimes farther away from the beach and dining areas. For those who want oceanfront rooms, the resort offers select deluxe junior suites that face the ocean and some oceanfront Preferred Club suites.
Preferred Club suites are larger than typical suites and feature Jacuzzi tubs on the balcony. These are very relaxing. We recommend the oceanfront Preferred Club lodgings, but not the Preferred Club garden view suites, as most of these look out onto a main walkway. If you splurge for the Preferred Club, be sure to reserve an oceanfront room.
by Kelly R
I stayed at Now Sapphire in a preferred club room for four nights, November 5-9, with a friend and her daughter. We stayed at Now Jade in December and loved it. While at Now Jade a few guests recommended Now Sapphire so we decided to give it a try.
The pros: lovely room with excellent cleaning service daily including turn down service each evening. Each time the staff does the turn down service they leave a schedule for the following day's activities at the main pool, kids club, and evening entertainment along with the weather forecast and shuttle info. You can reserve cabanas at the main pool one day in advance (at 8 am) and not have to worry about anyone stealing it from you or having to wake up super early to reserve it. They even put a little sign with your name on it. Friendly staff everywhere. Kids club was enjoyed by the 8 yo in our group and they have a fun little water park there and great activities all day. Food at the buffet (omelet bar) and Mexican restaurant (cheese appetizer, shrimp appetizer, flautas, tres leches cake, rice pudding, fritters) was excellent. No reservations needed except for Hibachi. Great view for lunch at Blue Water Grill. Lots of open air space and comfy seating in the main area where there is entertainment at night. Evening entertainment was good. Excellent house white wine (Sauvignon blanc). Cute coffee shop open 24 hours and made excellent lattes (and had almond milk on hand). Yummy snacks in the preferred club lounge 24/7. There are a few sweet cats living on the property. We also saw a few "Mexican dogs." Awesome bar with swing seats right on the ocean.
The cons: the adults only pool that preferred club allows you access to was disappointing (especially compared to Now Jade). There was no swim up bar, no ocean view, no music playing, no grill or snacks poolside. We found it boring and only went one time. The main pool also did not play much lively music except for during zumba. We heard a lot of spa music all around the resort and wanted more diversity and more "fun" and upbeat music at the main pool at least. The bars and restaurants were frequently out of the wine we wanted. The service at the breakfast restaurant that is included with the preferred club and the one sit down lunch restaurant, Blue Water Grill, was painfully slow. The food at the Blue Water Grill and Hibachi was just so so and no fish was included with hibachi which I was looking forward to. The "yum-yum" sauce at Hibachi, the pad thai at Lemon Grass restaurant, and the calamari and burrito at Blue Water Grill were all disappointing. The food offered by the main pool for lunch was also just so so, hot dogs and burgers and nachos every day. I was hoping for some tacos or some chicken on the grill. I woke up a few times during the night because of loud guests being heard very clearly from the bedroom.
Overall, this was not a bad resort, but compared to Now Jade it lacked a lot.
This was my 5th trip back to Sapphire, and we brought friends with us for their second trip home! We had an amazing time from check in to check out! Sylvia and Hector gave us a warm friendly welcome home to start out the week! Around every corner was a "welcome home", and a hug from all who are genuinely happy to see you, whether it is your 5th time, your 1st time, or your 15th time home! The renovated rooms are very nice, we don't spend much time in them but the décor is updated, the bathrooms are improved, and the beds are still comfortable as ever! One of the best improvements for us was the new pool area flooring... they have removed the tiles and now it is just a cement cover, which no longer burns your feet when doing Zumba or just walking place to place! We stayed in Building 1 which is my favorite and close to everything! If you're lucky enough to book a swim up room... the pools looked amazing!!
A fabulous day for me was.. the gym... CoCo Café...breakfast... pool... Zumba... Water Aerobics... Pool... Crazy Games... Swing Bar... Pool... Dinnner.. Show.... Sleep... Repeat!!! There are so many activities during the day if you chose to participate! The Unbelievable Entertainment Crew has games, and tours, and lessons, throughout the day to keep you busy if you like that sort of thing! Otherwise they'll tell you to enjoy your day relaxing, and they'll see you around!! The restaurants are wonderful! We do the buffet for breakfast, which has a large variety of almost anything you can think of... omelette station.. fresh fruits.. pastries... etc! Dinner was always excellente'!! We had Cibu (mediterrranean) 3 times it was so delisc! Shout out to Anna who is the sweetest gal at the booking counter! The wait staff were wonderful all 3 nights!! Paramour (French), and Lemongrass were deliscious of course, and great service too!!
We did massages at the Spa (Shout out to Rafael who always got us set up), they're wonderful, and some of our group did massages down at the beach as well!!
Evening shows were excellent, THE ROCK SHOW IS AMAZING!! The lobby bar is always a great time to chat, meet new friends, and listen to the musicians before and after the show!
Claudia always had our room spotless, the AC was super chill, and the beds are comfy!!
Some of the family I want to mention..... The amazing Luigi and Crew!! They are the best, It truly makes me sad to tell them "see you soon" when we go home... they've become Life long friends, and we love them to pieces! They work so many long days to ensure all have an Amazing Vacation!! Luigi, Javier, Isaac, Ivan, Katherine, Karely, Omar, Julio, Osiris, And Dani... you're the best, we love you all!
Vincente' and all the amazing wait staff and bartenders... Jaime, Pedro, Refugio, Cesar, Antonio, Carlos, Alan, Jose', Diego, Iroshi, Crystle, Lemi, Juan, Victor, Raul, Feliciano, Carmen, Azusena, Gabriella, Luis, Mardo, Happy Feet, Jorge, Martin, Miguel, The beautiful ladies at CoCo Cafe, and i know i have forgotten some, but they're all amazing!!!
It was our anniversary the day we left so Martin and Crew surprised us with a cake at the pool... It is the little things that make you feel so special, and it doesn't matter how many times you've been there, they want everyone to have the best time ever and truly enjoy their trip!!
Until next time... we will miss you Sapphire Family.... See you Soon!
Beach and Pools
The long, sandy beach and the huge freeform pool, featuring a row of tiled underwater lounge chairs, are the big draws. More than 60 palapas shade the beach so you won't need to race to claim a shady spot before breakfast. In total, four pools are on the premises.
At the Explorer's Club, kids' ages 3 through 12 enjoy a range of activities from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. They splash in the kiddie pool, perform plays on the stage, do arts and crafts, compete in sandcastle building contests and watch outdoor movies. As with most kids' clubs that group younger kids with older ones, Now Sapphire's program attracts more 5 to 9 year olds, than other ages.
Near the Explorer's Club is the Core Zone Teens Club. The program proved a bit hard to find. The narrow lap pool with its kids' club view, supposedly just for teens, can't compete with the big main pool with its ocean view. The teen club has an outdoor Ping-Pong table, but it's not completely clear what equipment and what areas are teen-only. The best daytime activity for teens: the bungee trampoline jumping. This draws a crowd.
For sports, your family can play tennis, go kayaking, snorkel off the beach and sail Hobie Cats. The resort can arrange scuba excursions for certified divers for an extra fee.
Live shows in the evening take place in the indoor, air-conditioned theater. In the evening, there are free, family-oriented movies, too.
If you and your kids can tear yourselves away from the pool and the beach, and you should at least for one day, the Riviera Maya offers much to enjoy. Explore Xcaret -- an eco-adventure park that offers snorkeling and swimming with dolphins, as well as exhibits of flamingos, scarlet macaws, sea turtles, jaguars, spider monkeys and other native animals. In the evening, the park puts on a reenactment of Pok-Ta-Pok, the ancient Mesoamerican ball game, complete with players adorned in traditional body paints. A lively folkloric show follows the game.
Also, Playa del Carmen is the region's shopping hub, offering blocks and blocks of pedestrian streets lined with stores and cafes.
Unlike at some all-inclusive resorts, the food at Now Sapphire is generally good. That's a big bonus for parents and also for fussy eaters. Besides buffets, specialty restaurants and a weekly beach barbecue spice up the dining. Unless you are part of a large family reunion, there's no need to make dinner reservations at theme restaurants. Families with young kids who prefer eating early won't have to wait for a table. For popular 8 p.m. dinners, there may be a bit of a wait. In that case, go to the restaurant, put your name down, obtain a beeper that notifies you when your table is available, and hang-out in the lounge with a cocktail while your kids drink Shirley Temples or any non-alcoholic beverages with a colorful umbrella. Everything considered, we like the food at Now Sapphire more than at the Dreams property we visited.
Another nice touch -- you don't pay extra for specialty meals. Also, there's no limit to the number of specialty dinners you may have.
The Market Cafe
The Market Cafe, the resort's main restaurant, serves buffet breakfast, lunch and dinners. Since the food stations are in an air-conditioned room off the main restaurant, the food remains fresher longer. This arrangement also makes the dining area feel less cluttered and less like a cafeteria. The casual Market Cafe is nicely laid out. From the wall of windows, we look out onto the beach and the blue Caribbean. High chairs are available for children.
For one lunch, along with a bread, chips and guacamole section, Market Cafe's ample buffet brims with a variety of salads as well as such hot entrees as pork, chicken and beef. In addition, a chef grills your choice of fish with the sauce you select while you wait. That goes a long way to eliminating dry and overcooked fish entrees that sit under heat lamps. For those with a sweet tooth, desserts include brownies, kiwi tarts and other pastries, fruit and ice cream with chocolate sauce and toppings.
For families who want even more of a causal and quick meal, the snack cafe serves a light lunch of salads, burgers and hot dogs that you eat at tables on the outdoor deck also overlooking the beach and the sea. The snack bar offers high chairs, too.
At Lemon Grass, the resort's Japanese inspired Teppanyaki restaurant, the chefs play with your food, twirling knives as well as flipping and grilling chicken, beef and fish. Kids tend to enjoy the showmanship, as well as the fare.
Cibu serves Mediterranean cuisine. A la carte dishes offer a range of rich flavors, and the intimate atmosphere showcases gold drapery and delicate flowers. Only open for dinner, Cibu is one of the most chic restaurants at the resort.
Paramour, the adult only (age 18+) French restaurant, could be considered the best specialty restaurant at the resort. Paramour offers couples a romantic, fine dining atmosphere. While eating, guests are surrounded by sculptures and flowers. The restaurant is only open for dinner.
Fresco, the casual Mexican restaurant, is surprising. We expect mediocre tacos and burritos with greasy rice. Instead, options include tortilla soup, tequila shrimp, red snapper with dried chilies and chicken breast marinated in coffee. And everything is delicious. Our only complaint: the portions are a bit small for those with hardy appetites, particularly for teens.
This restaurant serves some of the freshest seafood and fish dishes in the area. Open for lunch and dinner, Bluewater has a casual, yet elegant atmosphere, with a calming effect that matches the ocean view. Outdoor seating is available on the terrace.
Now Sapphire offers 24-hour room service from a limited menu that features continental breakfast as well as burgers, sandwiches and pizza from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can get steak and fish for an additional charge.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the resort.
Babysitting is available for an additional fee. Request this service in advance.
Preferred Club members check-in at an air-conditioned VIP lounge that serves hors d'oeuvres during the day, continental breakfast in the morning and desserts at night. Since the food at the resort is ample and the property offers room service, most families don't need the extra food.
The Fitness Center, with cardio and weight machines, is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season starts around mid-December and through mid-April. The low season runs from September to mid-December. Shoulder season is from mid-April through August.
Cancun International Airport is about 20 minutes from the resort.
Families can easily navigate this resort.
For Mom and Dad
The Fun Pub, a billiard and sports bar, is open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Preferred Club members also have access to their own, adults-only pool. It faces inland; however, the double-bed size loungers are a draw.