To borrow a Yogi Berra quotation my recent look at The Fives Azul Beach Resort Playa Del Carmen was like Déjà vu all over again as it marked the second time I’ve seen the upscale beachfront Caribbean resort but the interval between visits long enough I didn’t recall this fact  until after entering its grounds.


photo by author

A friend who owns a villa at The Fives was kind enough to reach out to resort sales staff to arrange a visit for me while holidaying in the area but after steeping out of the cab I realized I explored the resort shortly after it opened in late 2010.  While there was enough that felt familiar there are new additions to the resort including a cluster of new villas carved out of the jungle around the central cenote that defines the resort layout.

Resort map courtesy of The Fives Azul Beach Resort

Nature and the natural world is a part of this 480-unit family friendly all-inclusive resort with frequent appearances by local spider monkeys and raccoon-like coati and other wildlife, many spotted from the wooden boardwalks than span the cenote in the middle of property.

photo by author

The main pedestrian plaza features a cluster of restaurants, shops and a Starbucks which is included in the all-inclusive dining plan.

photo by author

photo by author

On the plaza just outside the main buffet restaurant, Flavors, is a list of daily activities for adults and kids who may join the supervised activities program called Azulitos which has games and play space in the Azulitos Playhouse as well as a kids-only pool and even spa services for the little ones.

photo by author

Among the 13 buffet and À la carte restaurants is Koh Thai, an Asian influenced eatery with the choice of dining on an outdoor deck or indoors beneath a 15-foot standing Buddha in the Bangkok-inspired dining room.

photo by author

A cozy corner is Nineteen Ten, a Mexican cantina flavored bar named for the year of the outbreak of the Mexican revolution and decorated in colourful terracotta tiles offering a vast selection of tequila and mezcal from all over Mexico. Make a point to  visit this adult-only bar as its well worth a refreshment detour.

photo by author

Steps from the beach and reached by a glass elevator is the roof top Zky Bar which is an all ages sports bar and lounge until 11 PM when it becomes adult-only.

photo by author

While The Fives lacks a huge section of white sand beach, the small area it does have is organized well with two pools, an adult-only infinity pool and an adjacent all ages pool.

photo by author

Like the beach lounge chairs most of the the white fabric cabanas are available on a first come, first served basis.

photo by author

photo by author

Like other areas of the Riviera Maya which have been beset by the brown seaweed Sargassum in recent years so has The Fives been affected making beach watersports and swimming a challenge however the appearance and quantity varies from nothing to ankle deep depending upon wind, time and tide so it’s not something that can be accurately forecast prior to arrival.

photo by author

I was shown an adult-only  ‘One-bedroom Swim-up Resort Residence’ which are the newest suites featuring a king bed, his & hers vanity, a walk-in rainfall shower stall,  large walk-in closet and direct access down a few steps into the pool.

photo by author

photo by author

photo by author

photo by author

The Fives Azul Beach Resort Playa Del Carmen is just north of the city of Playa Del Carmen  offering  good access to shopping and sights but is just far enough removed to be beyond the busy tourist zone along Fifth Avenue. The variety of exotic cuisine and authentic Mexican flavours paired with larger family-friendly suites at very competitive price makes this resort a strong contender for best luxury resort value in Riviera Maya.

Pros

  • Giant rooms and suites up to three bedrooms
  • White sand beach with loungers and cabanas
  • Family friendly with extensive facilities and activities for kids including kids’ menu and cribs, cots, baby food and and baby monitors for infants
  • Seven swimming pools, including enormous main pool and kid-friendly options
  • Thirteen restaurants serving cuisine from around the world
  • Nine bars and lounges, including a couple of swim-up options
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the resort and free international calls

Cons

  • A smallish section of beach
  • Located away from the action of Fifth Avenue (could be a pro for some)
  • Lots of kids running around might put some solos and couples off
  • At times a lack of loungers around the infinity pool
  • Newer villas a bit of a walk from the beach; golf cart rides available