Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya pool

When cold fall winds first blow across much of the U.S., many parents’ thoughts turn to warm weather getaways. Mexico’s sunny Yucatan beaches are a popular choice, thanks to plentiful inexpensive flights and a myriad of hotel options.

Our family’s recent stay at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya (HRHRM) showed that the resort is a superb choice for a family getaway, with great options for parents and kids alike. The HRHRM is separated into two sections, each with its own lobby: Heaven and Hacienda. Heaven is an adults-only section, but guests can move freely between each area, enjoying restaurants and other resort amenities. (Golf cart-like shuttles transport guests back and forth between the two lobbies day and night, making it easy to get around.)

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Hacienda is where the family action is, and that starts with the pool area. The expansive pool includes a swim-up bar, bridges with rainfall-like waterfalls on either side and sports areas for water volleyball, water polo and more. The activity staff here is great, and there are plenty of scheduled events each day to keep the whole family amused. We were particularly amused by the water balloon game and pleasantly surprised at how many adults and children actually jumped into the pool to play. This is not a passive crowd!

Near the pool is a thoughtfully designed mini splash zone for the littlest ones, along with both wet and dry slides (there’s a traditional playground a few steps away). There are manmade lagoons and sandy baylike areas where kids and kids-at-heart can snorkel, swim or kayak.

The serious fun, at least for older kids, is a short walk away from the Hacienda lobby, where the recently built (and free to hotel guests) Rockaway Bay water park offers plenty of wet thrills. There are six large water slides, two of which are body slides. We tried them all—multiple times!—and had a blast. There are also smaller slides and an entire interactive play area for younger children.

Next to Rockaway Bay is another new addition to HRHRM, Camp Woodward. Coming in at 29,000 square feet, it is the first action-sport purpose-built facility in Mexico. It features a variety of programs for kids and teens, catering to all skill levels, as well as some opportunities for adult guests and team-building activities.

Rockaway Bay water park

Woodward, parts of which reminded my son a bit of the “American Ninja Warrior” television show, allows guests to participate in all sorts of action sports such as skateboarding, BMX, scooter, parkour, gymnastics, cheer and dance, in addition to indoor dryland snowboarding and skiing with ParkBoard and ParkSki training equipment. And there is an interactive digital media space where high-res cameras can be checked out for use.

Even cooler, visitors can take three unique classes here—Jam Band, Spin Session and RockTube—incorporating Hard Rock’s musical vibe into the Woodward experience. Instructors provide private or drop-in one- to two-hour sessions.

Camp Woodward

Also available here: a complete indoor concrete skate park, pump tracks, foam pits, trampolines, cheer and tumble floor, a parkour zone and mega ramps. The outside of the facility also features the above-mentioned ninja obstacle course, designed to ignite spatial awareness, athleticism, agility and amusement.

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Rooms at the resort are spacious and luxurious; ours was a two-level affair with a balcony on each floor; the upper balcony featured a hot tub, which the kids took advantage of every evening, while the adults chilled on the ground floor, sampling some room-delivered dessert and the free contents of the mini-fridge. After all, what more could you ask for in a relaxing family vacation?