by Candyce H. Stapen
At check-in, we hear the sound of giggling kids coming from just beyond the lobby. We take that as a good sign. Even though it’s relatively early in the morning, a gaggle of kids gather in the pirate-themed mini-waterpark rising from the pool closest to the lobby. The children swoosh down the slide, run through the dancing fountains and excitedly wait to be doused with torrents of water from the bucket dump.
The Allegro Cozumel is what in real estate terms is called “an entry-level” property. The rooms are small and the food, often forgettable, but the resort has its plusses, especially for budget-conscious families. Hedges bloom with bougainvillea and green lawns dotted with palm trees surround the buildings, each one topped with a thatched roof and housing no more than eight units. Instead of evoking concrete apartment buildings of urban settings, the Allegro Cozumel, a 261-room property feels manageable and green.
Diving is one of the major reasons for choosing to stay on Cozumel — an island situated 12 miles offshore of Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s mainland. The second largest barrier reef system in the world lies within easy an boat trip of the beach. Depending upon your family’s priorities, you could be happy here.
Our Editor Loves
- Children's waterpark
- White-sand beach
- Easy access to spectacular diving and snorkeling
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Sports
- Connecting Rooms
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
At this 261-unit property, most all of the rooms are the same size, a compact 262 square feet. The closer you are to the beach, the pricier the accommodations.
All rooms have hammocks for siestas on and a mall patio or balcony. A towel animal on your bed welcomes you. Most rooms were renovated in 2008. Situated in two-story buildings without elevators, the rooms have white tile floors, white walls and come with once a day maid service. If traveling with young children, ask for a ground floor room for convenience and safety. Lugging strollers up the exterior staircase is work and the steps could be tricky for tots.
Standard rooms come with televisions and coffee makers, but no mini-fridge. The mini-fridges in the superior premium rooms are handy. Refrigerators are stocked with water, soda and beer every second day. We like the natural color rattan furnishings matched with the soft sea green bedspreads and drapes of the superior premium rooms. These accommodations are also closer to the beach and come with a flat screen television and a DVD player.
For a splurge, try the suites. Allegro Cozumel offers six of them. Although the bedroom is the same size as a standard accommodation, the suite comes with an added sitting area that along with a couch has a large Jacuzzi tub.
Cribs and cots are available, but cost extra. Unless you opted for a suite, placing a crib in regular bedroom would make the room extremely crowded and a cot would take up most of the floor space. A better solution is to book rooms that adjoin with an interior door.
Pools and Water Park
The big plusses for the Allegro Cozumel are the waterpark and the white sand beach. Kids can't seem to get enough of the pirate-themed slides and geysers. Actually, more than a few adults enjoy gliding down the curvy yellow slide too. The waterpark, plunked down in the middle of the pool nearest the lobby, features a tot-sized pelican slide for little ones and a mushroom-like apparatus that dribbles gentle sprays. The slide, more long than high, is fun and older kids know that being doused by the bucket dump's gallons of water is the best way to cool off.
The resort offers two pools in addition to the water park. A quiet pool is located in the middle of the property, while another pool overlooks the beach. Another tiny pool is for the exclusive use of members of the Allegro Vacation Club, a timeshare entity. Although a timeshare vacation club doesn't impact your guest experience, it does tell you something about the location: it's nice enough to attract people who want to buy in and visit again and again.
Unlike some other resorts on the island, the Allegro Cozumel features a good beach with soft white sand and typically gentle surf. This is a big bonus because not every resort on Cozumel comes with a good beach for swimming. The shore's gentle slope makes it easy to get in the water. Thatched roof palapas offer shade along the beach. When the resort isn't at capacity, there are probably enough, but if you and your kids need shade to enjoy the sand, get up early and claim a chaise lounge under a palapa. Poolside shade is somewhat scarce.
Kayaking, offshore snorkeling, sailing and windsurfing are also part of the all-inclusive package. Active families can play volleyball, beach soccer, billiards and basketball. An oversized chessboard on the lawn invites aficionados to make moves.
Easy access to the gorgeous reef system is one of the main reasons people choose Cozumel for a vacation. Palancar site, with its large coral heads, big barrel sponges and sea fans, is a short boat ride away from the resort. Paradise Reef, known for star coral and brain coral, is also nearby. Dressel Divers offers twice daily excursions to the nearby reefs.
At the Kids Club ages 4 to 12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., do crafts, play beach games and enjoy the water park. The main room is air-conditioned and fronted by a green lawn, great for games. Kids romp on the nearby playground, equipped with climbing apparatus and spring action horses. Thoughtfully, the playground is partially shaded. After all, both the equipment and the kids get hot.
Older kids and teens can participate in adult-oriented activities put on by the recreation staff. They can learn Spanish, play Frisbee golf, try a Zumba dance lesson and join in beach volleyball. In the evening, before the main show, the mini-disco often gets older kids up and dancing. The nightly theme shows begins around 9 p.m. and the disco for adults opens at 10 p.m.
Faro Celarain Eco Park, a 2,700-acre park at Cozumel's tip, is also worth a visit. Formerly called "Punta Sur," the park features secluded beaches--only some of which are safe for swimming because of currents-- and mangrove lagoons. A tram takes you to the park's lighthouse where, after climbing many steps, you are rewarded with a breathtaking view. The lagoon proves to be a great place to kayak and sail.
Shopping in San Miguel, Cozumel's main town, is another off-the-property lure. Stoll El Malecon, the waterfront strip, officially called Avenida Rafael E. Melgar. The stores sell silver jewelry, pottery, papier-mache, wood and other handicrafts.
If your family has never seen a Mayan ruin, San Gervasio is interesting. It's not the most impressive, especially compared with Tulum on the Riviera Maya's mainland, but Tulum is too far for a comfortable day trip. The Maya inhabited San Gervasi from about 200 A.D. to the late 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors arrived.
Topaz, the main dining room, serves breakfast buffets and themed dinner buffets. At lunch, the buffet has hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and chicken nuggets as well as salads, and chips. At the poolside snack bar, you can grab pizza and hot dogs.
For specialty dinners, a Mexican restaurant offers options that both adults and kids will enjoy. Kid-friendly options are provided on a children's menu.
Another specialty dinner option is The Oriental. This restaurant offers Asian-inspired dishes. Both this restaurant offers children's menus featuring pasta, grilled chicken and chicken nuggets. Kids are also welcome to select a regular entree.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The water park is a big plus and the property offers six suites that are perfect for families. Internet service is available in the lobby. Babysitting, for an additional fee, can be arranged but advance notice is required. Washers and dryers are available if you need to do your own laundry.
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.
American and United are the main airlines flying into Cozumel International Airport. In addition, you can fly into Cancun International Airport and connect to Cozumel via an air shuttle flight or you can take the ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel, about a 30-minute ride. Among the carriers serving Cancun are Air Canada, Air Tran, American, Delta, Jet Blue, Spirit, United, US Airways and others.
For Mom and Dad
The property has a gym, a small spa and offers disco nights.