For someone who hasn’t visited Mexico as often as people think, I’ve gone there often in the last three years – twice to the Riviera Maya, once to Los Cabos, and three times cruising. These are destinations popular with tourists and essential to my work as a travel content creator and advisor. Now that I’ve become more familiar with these places, I would love to visit more culturally oriented destinations like Oaxaca or San Miguel de Allende.

But for now, I will go to these more popular areas when possible. That was the case with going to the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya, which is four all-inclusive resorts in one complex. Located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, it’s so massive that you must take constantly running shuttles to get around, especially when it’s as hot and humid as typical of early summer in the Caribbean.

I was in a press trip group with other American, Spanish, German and British writers. We stayed at the Family Selection area of the Kantenah resort, one of two luxury sections allowing unlimited access to most of the resorts.  The others are White Sand, Colonial and TRS Yucatan, the latter being the other luxury-focused and adults-only property. Here is my general take on the entire place, with rooms focused on the two upper-level resorts, amenities, entertainment and food.


Four of the eleven villas in Kantenah are Family Selection. This means guests staying here can access the other luxury property, TRS Yucatan, and all other resort restaurants, including entertainment programs and a private beach club. My room featured two queen-sized beds, a balcony overlooking the lush tropical foliage, a mini-bar fridge, and a sizeable bathroom with a stand-alone tub, separate closets for the toilet and shower and L’Occitane bath products. While mine was separate, others connected to allow families to enjoy two rooms.

Here are a few other things about Family Selection: The first-floor units have semi-private swim-out pools. Each villa has a concierge who can honor requests, from ordering room service food to making reservations for activities, dining and shows. You can access their services through WhatsApp messaging or ask for something at their desks.

The TRS Yucatan has a similar setup, but the rooms are larger, with a separate living room and bathtubs in the bedroom area. There are also “cabins,” with even more space, outdoor showers, hammocks on a terrace and canoes to paddle around a private circular lagoon.


Like any all-inclusive, the Grand Palladium Riviera Maya has everything you need to enjoy a vacation. The entire resort has over a dozen pools, most of which are massive and ideal for lounging or swimming, and twice as many bars, of which a considerable number are poolside. Naturally, except for TRS, each resort has a kids' club and pool. Sports facilities are available, including water sports for an extra fee and soccer fields.

Another all-resort facility is Zentropia Palladium Spa and Wellness Center. We all experienced this place with a 30-minute mini-massage and use of the hydrotherapy center. This was unquestionably one of the highlights of the stay. Within this building is the fitness center, which I didn’t use because it took too long to get there, even with the shuttle. Instead, I ran and walked each day in the steamy morning heat.

The Grand Palladium tries to preserve as much of the natural environment as possible. Guests encounter native animals such as iguanas, coati and agouti nearly anytime they step outside and stroll the grounds. A small cenote is on the resort premises and is only used for special private dinners and events. 


Resort guests can watch two dinner show programs. The more family-friendly production, Bravo, is at the Colonial, while the adult-oriented Chic is shown at TRS. The difference between them is pretty significant.

Bravo seemed more haphazard, with decent singing and dancing bordering on amateurish. At one point, a song combining Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury featured large-headed masked dancers that looked frightening. Someone in our group commented that she wasn’t sure this was appropriate for children, but we at least tried to appreciate some of the better numbers.

In contrast, Chic was worthy of an elaborate Vegas-style production, with excellent singers, musicians, dancers and acrobats spinning and twisting from hoops and long silk sashes. The only issue we had here was that many of the songs were cut short in medley fashion, and some of the numbers could have been longer. But we all enjoyed this show and the pre-show outside the theater.


As I encountered at the Dreams Las Mareas in Costa Rica, most of the food at the Grand Palladium was mixed. I had most breakfasts at La Hacienda, an extensive buffet eatery with nearly every dish imaginable. The food here was fine, but I had an omelet with a bit of eggshell, which I unhappily crunched.

The lunches were much better. We witnessed a ceviche cooking class, where fresh seafood and produce resulted in delicious lime-infused dishes. On another day, we went to the Helios Beach Club at TRS, where we could order sit-down entrees or help ourselves to a more vibrant buffet with salads, sandwiches, tacos, sushi and desserts, cocktails, beer or other drinks.

Our dinners at the shows also followed the quality of the entertainment. At Bravo, nearly all of us had either serviceable or downright inedible meals. But at Chic, nearly every dish of the seven-course meal was exceptional, and I thought I would have loved to have dined on this kind of food.