Ten minutes north of Playa del Carmen, Azul Fives Hotel by Karisma, subverts the idea of the all-inclusive resort experience that’s become all-too common to Mexico with a concept they’ve trademarked as Gourmet Inclusive and believe me, that’s not an oxymoron. Even more interesting, perhaps – certainly for me personally – is the fact that it caters to a niche market which in any other circumstance I would be inclined to stay clear of as though it were kryptonite: families.
Yet it all seems to work so well. Even to a child-hating, foodie-hotel-snob going solo like myself. How is that?
The secret, I think, is in the suites: the multi-bedroom units were designed to foster familial togetherness and so hold as many as eight individuals in separate sleeping quarters with shared living areas, making it an ingenious arrangement for multi-generational vacations. Fully equipped kitchens and over-sized living quarters (1,300 – 1,500 sq. ft.) mean families can stay together and play together without always being on top of each other. Better still, lots and lots of room for uncle nanny and grandma babysitter means the kids stay engaged, attended, and out of my face. When even the family needs a break, there’s a qualified Kid’s Club so overstocked with toys, games, and activities – a play program designed by Fisher Price and My Gym’s Children Fitness Center, for example – that it’s practically guaranteed to wear the little buggers out. Over the course of the past three days I’ve seen my share of children, so trust me, I know what it’s like to be on red alert and ready to pounce. Yet even my acerbic self hasn’t seen fit – or had cause! – to raise an eyebrow or shoot the parents of some obnoxious brat the death stare.
So don’t go thinking it’s all about families. The design of the suites is such that friends traveling together can make the same arrangement yet still maintain degrees of privacy. Couples can opt for a self-contained wing and enjoy the romantic rainforest showers, double-whirlpool tubs, and 24-hour room service. Four stylishly-designed gourmet restaurants, supplied with organic produce from the resort’s 70,000 square-foot greenhouse – and top shelf alcohol – means nobody goes hungry. Ever. Which just might be my only qualm about this weekend: too much of a good thing sometimes necessitates a vacation from one’s vacation.