We headed to Cancun as a last resort option. A last resort, because Cancun has never been at the top of our list for places I was remotely interested in going. Whenever I think about Cancun all I can think about are spring break bikinis and young adults with extremely poor judgement getting plastered all the livelong day. But, we had a long break and wanted to travel somewhere warm and tropical with a beach and sand. When I called the vacations team at my airline, we found out that The Gran Caribe All-Inclusive Family Resort in Cancun was offering rates at 50% off! Plus, this resort did not allow student groups, so we felt somewhat more confident that the atmosphere would be more welcoming and appropriate for families.
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
Gran Caribe All-Inclusive Family Resort (name has since changed to Panama Jack)
Blvd. Kukulcan KM. 11.5
77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Phone: +52 998 881 7300
The semester was about to start for Gabriel, and just days before this trip we packed everything we owned and moved into our new house. The only problem was the carpet was in pretty bad shape, and had to be replaced. We couldn’t secure an appointment with the installers for another week, so it seemed only obvious to move everything into the garage and non carpeted areas of the home and leave for the sun and sand!!!
The Gran Caribe All-Inclusive Family Resort in Cancun was a great choice! It has everything we were looking for, and near Tulum and other cenotes! It is located at the north end of the hotel zone about a half hour away from the CUN international airport by taxi. It is located on a bus route and near several shopping areas. It backs up to an illustrious beach with sand for miles and water that is clear blue and crisp.
Our room was a great size with one queen bed, and a bunk bed in the sunken living room. Outside on the balcony, there was a large hammock and because our view faced an outside walkway it was fairly quiet after dark. We were very comfortable.
The resort is fairly large, with constant activities going on. Each night, vendors would set up their wares poolside. One of the nights they had a fiesta with every authentic Mexican delicacy you can imagine. One evening a puppet show, another evening a clown. The kids club was fantastic. Dinner was themed, and didn’t require reservations. There was mini golf, three pools, beach soccer and volleyball, health classes and a spa.
The local bus stop is just outside the main resort doors, and we took one day to travel into town. We picked up some boogie boards, sand toys, and pool noodles at the store, and a few snacks and souvenirs. It was fun to visit the local grocery and see life outside the resort, even though there wasn’t much where we traveled.
The kids club was tons of fun with games, parties, planned activities, face painting, movies, videogames, dancing, stage productions, water balloon fights, and more. There is a simple check in check out procedure, and the workers are all certified and seemed to really enjoy their jobs. They loved seeing the kids around the resort and always said hello and invited them to come play.
The resort offered two pools on either side of the east and west sides of the resort, plus a pirate themed additional kids club pool with a water slide open to all guests. There was one additional baby pool that was exclusive for the kids club. The pool facing the ocean was the largest pool. It had a shallow lounging area, with an inset sun deck, while the rest of the pool was deep and relaxing. The other pool was near the kids pirate pool and was a bit smaller sandwiched between the main building, and a restaurant. It was shaded fairly early in the day, which made it less desirable to swim in, however, it was definitely the more rowdy of the two pools.
The resort offered three restaurants plus a buffet which was always open and never very good. You could always count on a full selection of fruit, so we came here often to grab snacks for the kids.
Seating in the restaurant was on a first come first serve basis. We much preferred this over reservations as we’ve found it nearly impossible to get reservations after you arrive at other All-Inclusive resorts we’ve stayed at!
One of the restaurants was poolside, and it served lunch daily, plus offered a steak night on Thursday. The Mexican restaurant was our absolute favorite, and offered some of the best Mexican food we’ve had.
A second buffet type restaurant offered specific meals each night that changed based on the menu. The night we dined, the menu was noodle teppanyaki night where you selected the type of noodles, sauce, and vegetables to accompany your meal and it was cooked fresh in front of you.
The last restaurant was an Italian restaurant that was good enough, but nothing special. After trying all the restaurants, we wished we had eaten at the Mexican restaurant every single night.
► For Kids: This is a fun resort, with great access to the beach and lots of fun time in the sun. We really enjoyed this resort, and the kids liked going in and out of the kids club. It wasn’t quite as secure as I would have preferred, but the workers seemed to have a really good handle on things and we always stayed close by. All three of the kids loved the freezing cold water slide, and play fighting with their boogie boards on the sun deck while the other guests cheered them on.
Have you ever stayed in the Hotel Zone in Cancun? Which resort did you stay at? Would you stay again? We just have a hard time staying still. When we head back for Chichen Itza we’ll definitely spring for an airbnb and stay closer inland.
► Nap-Time Version: The Gran Caribe All Inclusive Family Resort in Cancun is nice and relaxing, with plenty of beach and water, and great food!
Staying at a resort, particularly an all inclusive, doesn’t give you much opportunity to see the country that you are traveling in. You don’t get to meet the locals, or see what day to day life is like driving through town, grocery shopping, and mingling. We got pretty sick of the resort, pretty fast. There is only so much hanging out drinking virgin margaritas in every possible flavor you can do, though is no fault of the resort itself. Read all about our experience driving through the Mexican countryside visiting the Dos Ojos cenote with three kids and seeing Tulum up close and personal!