Last month, I had the best time relaxing in the Mayan Riviera. I got a lot of questions on social media about the resort we stayed at, and wanted to share my unsponsored thoughts in an Ocean Riviera Paradise Review.
We booked a last-minute all-inclusive vacation with WestJet on Expedia. We used TD Expedia to get 3x the points, and it’s how I book all travel, save for AirBnB. We decided to book only 5 nights, Tuesday-Sunday because there was an amazing deal on those dates, and we couldn’t justify another $400 each for two more nights. For us, five nights is perfect as it’s long enough to unwind, and not get too tired of being away from home, tapwater and pets! The flight from Toronto to Cancun was easy, and snag free. We waited over 30 minutes for our included transportation, which was a bit of a downer, since we were famished! Luckily our driver got us to our resort quickly and safely.
The check-in process at Ocean Riviera Paradise was seamless. There was no line, and we got our room and wristbands quickly. Before they brought our luggage over, we were stopped to talk to one of their “club reps” who told us about the hotel and all the amenities and restaurants. I did not take too kindly to this woman as she was blatantly making fun of my marital status, while simultaneously giving us a pitch to come to their breakfast. Not only did I have no interest in joining a vacation club, but being belittled for something personal was unwelcome. This was the only negative interaction with staff, and everyone else was very friendly and helpful.
Shop the post:
Ocean Riviera Paradise review: The Rooms
We got our room, which was on the second floor, facing the kids’ pool. I would highly recommend asking for a room on the adults only pool side, as the Daisy block was very loud! In the mornings, I would hear kids screaming down the hall, including one who knocked on our door at 7:00 a.m., waking us up. That morning we woke up early enough to catch the sunrise, so I guess it worked out. The room was very large, comfortable and had stylish decor. I personally loved the wood ceiling fan, as we could use that instead of AC. The bed was one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever stayed in!
The bathroom had a full bathtub with jets, which was so luxurious and a great way to relax. There was a shower room with a rain shower, which was a little dark with the doors closed, but still a nice amenity. I also appreciated the double sinks and ample storage for getting ready in the morning.
My absolute FAVOURITE part about our room was the gorgeous balcony. The green tiles were so beautiful, but the large egg swing chair was my favourite spot to read a book and have a latte in the late afternoons. It was so lovely spending every evening here, watching the sun set.
Of course, the room was well appointed with a large desk, room safe, fridge and closets. We were also greeted to a bottle of red wine, which was a nice touch. I would definitely come back to this resort for the comfy mattress!
Ocean Riviera Paradise review: The Food
I am gluten intolerant, and had NO issues eating gluten free at Ocean Riviera Paradise. The beachside restaurant had a smaller buffet and I would eat grilled fish, tacos or even gluten free pizza for lunch. For dinner, the large buffet had a large spread of options. There were lots of cooked meats, a taco station, antipasto, salad bars and gluten free pizzas on hand. Two of the five nights we were there, they had a themed buffet outdoors. Mexico night was fabulous with fresh tortillas, grilled meats and a jaw-dropping cheese spread.
Most nights, we ate at the à la carte restaurants. My favourite experience was the Mexican restaurant, which had an expansive gluten free menu. I had a delicious lamb dish that was regional. For dessert, I had deep fried tacos filled with mousse, they were like flavourful, tropical cannolis and I was in literal HEAVEN. The steakhouse usually had a waitlist to get in, but there were plenty of steak options for celiacs. One night, we also had seafood at the beachside restaurant, and I ate a delicious swordfish steak with grilled zucchini. On our last night, we ate at the adults only restaurant, and I had salmon tataki for an appetizer and Every restaurant was very gourmet, and flavourful. We didn’t have a single bad meal at this resort and it’s by far the second reason I would return to Ocean Riviera Paradise.
For snacks, there was also a cafe and ice cream bar. It was so easy to pop in for a latte and baked good in the afternoons. After dinner, we would always pop into the ice cream bar, which had almost 20 flavours that were all delicious.
My only complaint about the food service at Ocean Riviera Paradise were the alcoholic drinks. I wasn’t a big fan of their house white wine, and there were no options without an extra charge. The spirits being served were also lower level, and while the bars were stocked with medium and top shelf brands, they were all for extra charge unless you were part of their vacation club. I found this a bit misleading, and ridiculous that a 5 star resort would charge for Smirnoff vodka or Canadian Club. Luckily, tipping bartenders usually leads to the better name brand alcohol! This is a good tip for any resort, as suddenly your mojitos will taste a lot better! We also stuck to drinking rum and tequila mostly, as they were better quality brands. I know this is picky, but I feel that a 5 star resort should serve proper cocktails with decent liquor. It’s also an easy fix for the resort. As for the wine, we usually stuck to their proseco which was fine!
Ocean Riviera Paradise review: The Amenities
There are a few pools at Ocean Riviera Paradise, and ironically, we never swam at any. There were so many kids when we visited, shouldering Christmas vacation, so we stuck to the beach! There is also an adults only pool if you want to escape, while the kids’ waterpark looked fabulous and had adorable jungle creatures and water slides. If you’re part of their vacation club, there’s also a private pool and lounge area.
There were many bars and beach huts by each pool, including a crêperie (yes! can you believe it!?) and swim-up bars. I liked how they had more classic palapa roofs and blended in beautifully with the hotel. We spent most of our time by the beach and I really enjoyed the Healthy juice bar, where the bartender would blend fresh fruits on demand! There was one bar by the beach, and they also hosted beach parties with a BBQ, coconuts and buckets of beer and cider. I loved how there were so many options, and each day was different.
If you’re into working out during vacation (I did once, then gave up), there’s also a gym on site. The gym was very large and well-equipped, but I would have loved a yoga room with softer floors to do some stretches.
On our last night, we went for a round of bowling before dinner. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. Kids and adults alike were all having fun and it was the perfect break from the heat and humidity. Every night there were also shows put on in the beautiful indoor theatre. We saw the Mexican folklore show, which featured some regional dancing and an amazing lasso routine. Most nights we ate dinner late or would grab dessert and drinks, but I liked that they put effort into evening entertainment with live music performers, margarita stations and DJs.
Also on site is a business centre, kids and teen club, gift shops, photography shop and car rental. Overall, the amenities were well appointed. The resort is very large, and it’s a long walk to the beach, but there are many places to eat or grab a snack, or find yourself asleep in a hammock.
Ocean Riviera Paradise review: Hotel Design
I’m not going to lie when I say I booked this resort because of the design. One word: obsessed. This hotel was made for Instagram, and photographed beautifully.There was even an insta-worthy Mexico sign at the pool by the beach! From the swing bar to the giant-sized parrot light fixtures in the lobby, the resort is stunning.
Every space had a unique design, that all fit into this retro beachy vibe. Rattan furniture, live plants and rich colours were accents. The retro architecture on the white buildings were very chic and reminded me of South Beach, Miami. I am copying the balcony design and ordering green painted tiles and a rattan egg chair for my own condo balcony! Each restaurant was decorated in a unique scheme and I enjoyed visiting all of them. It was a total feast for the eyes, and I loved how the resort was laid out with little outdoor lounges, hammocks and gardens.
Ocean Riviera Paradise review: Location
Ocean Riviera Paradise is located about 15 minutes from the heart of Playa del Carmen. A cab ride costs 350 pesos, which is about $18 USD. I wish there was a shuttle bus offered 2-3 times per day to accommodate guests.
From Cancun airport, the hotel is about 30-45 minutes away, and is close to the main highway. The location is very convenient, as you can catch a Collectivo or bus and visit Tulum for a day, or shop on Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen. You can also catch a ferry and visit Cozumel for world-class scuba diving, or visit the incredible Xcaret park a mere 20 minute drive from the hotel. I also recommend visiting Puerto Morelos and going snorkelling! I love how Playa del Carmen is in the middle of all the best activities in the Yucatan peninsula.
The design, rooms and food are the major strengths of this resort. If I would stay in the same area of Playa del Carmen, I would definitely consider returning to this particular resort. While I wish the resort was adults only, it is PERFECT for young families, with lots to do and luxurious amenities. It was also an incredible value and a full $300-500 less than other 5 star resorts nearby. We had an incredible vacation, didn’t get sick (very important) and enjoyed the sea, sand and sun. I couldn’t ask for much more.