We just got back from a fantastic week with the whole family at the Nickelodeon Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We have already visited this location’s sister resort in Punta Cana back in 2021 (feel free to check out the review for that location here), and we had such a nice trip there that we were ready to give this location a go as well. So now, lets take a deeper dive (sorry it’s long, had a lot to cover) at some of the Pros and things that we really loved about this place, as well as a few of the Cons (I mean no place is perfect), a few helpful tips and finally which resort out of the two our family declares the winner.
Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t resist a good theme. That goes for events, locations, shows, you name it. Good theming just adds on an extra special touch to everything that is already great and let me tell you they did their theming up right. From Good Burger (which even offered Ed’s secret sauce) to the room design, statues and décor throughout the restaurants, water park, lobby etc., the character meets and shows, and different slime time fun everywhere you looked including a slime drink which was delicious! They even had a recording of SpongeBob who would call the room each day which my kids just loved. I myself was a 90s kid who loved Nickelodeon and so was my husband. We’ve passed down some of that love for the old 90s Nickelodeon shows onto my kids (thank you Paramount+) and they already had an existing love of SpongeBob, which made the theming extra fun for the whole family.
2. Water Park
For a resort water park, this place was very impressive. Broken down into 4 sections to make it enjoyable for kids of all ages. The 1st section was Paw Patrol themed, designed for the little ones and had a number of great slides including a couple really cool tube slides that even my two older kids enjoyed. Section 2 was the center of the park and was SpongeBob themed with a number of medium size slides and water shooters etc. to entertain the kids. Section 3 had larger slides including a 4-slide mat racer set for those 42in and over as well as 3 tube slides and three body slides (one with a bottom drop out) for kids 48in and taller. The final section we didn’t even notice until day 2 but was an activity pool section with some rope crossing, lily pads, and small wave pool area and a climbing wall for kids good enough to swim without a life vest (basic life vests were provided at the water park but out of comfort preference we still packed our youngest puddle jumpers). We never had any issues finding chairs (a common issue at many other resorts we have been to). They had daily activities and games for the kids, they also did a daily sliming for all at the SpongeBob area at no extra cost. You can also book a private family sliming in the slime zone like we did, which I would recommend especially if you want good photos or videos as a memento of your sliming experience.
There are a number of Characters that you will have the chance to see at the resort through rotated daily meet and greets. The employees are great at taking photos/videos for you during these visits but there is also a photographer always present, and they will scan your bracelet for tracking, and you have an option to stop in and purchase photos or photo packages if you choose. We were highly impressed with the nightly entertainment offered at the resort. They had a few Nickelodeon themed shows, like “Slime Time Live”, “The Orange Carpet”, and “Slime Night” which were my favorites, but their off-themed shows were really fun too. We went to both the activities offered at the Main stage which was their large show venue as well as many of the shows/events offered at the Snick Lounge which was a bar style area with tables and a small stage in the lobby section. If you have to pick and choose which events you get to see I would aim to be there in first position for the “Orange Carpet” event which is a stage show with a bunch of characters and the kids dance and they throw out balloons and other things into the crowd. Directly after this show was the “glow party” at the Snick lounge and was essentially a “rave” for kids (more dancing, balloons, and fun). The second would be “slime night” if your kids don’t mind getting messy with a taste of the “real” thick Nickelodeon slime that you remember seeing in old shows as a kid. My boys didn’t love the slime that night (sensory issues) but still had fun with all the dancing while my daughter had a blast getting absolutely covered.
4. State of the Resort
Everything was very clean! The lobbies and gift shops smelled AMAZING to me, like I wish I could bottle that scent and take it home. Plenty of room everywhere. Honestly it was a little strange at times the amount of excess space and size of things based on the number of guests staying there. We asked how busy the resort was when we were checking in (as we are always most stressed with the idea of waits and large crowds), and the employee said around 70% but it felt not busy at all. I mean at times it felt like there were more employees there than actual guests. I don’t know if it is always like this or if we just got really lucky with the dates we picked to stay but either way it was a huge perk for us!
5. The Service
The last but seriously not the least pro to this wonderful place! The service all around was just outstanding. We qualified for butler service (I will explain this further in the pro tips section) which gave us a contact at our fingertips for anything we might need. They also checked in on us everyday. Wait staff walked around frequently at all areas offering drinks and at all the restaurants and shows they even made the drinks fancy and fun for the kids with candy or marshmallows across the top. Room service and the restaurant staff were fast and attentive. And the Nick team staff that did all the fun events were great and so friendly with all the kids.
- Kid Food Options
This was the toughest part for us. As adults we liked the food but for those of us who follow this blog often you may know that our two boys on the spectrum are VERY picky eaters, and unfortunately when you add the additional sensory aspects of a new or busy place, they are sometimes less willing to be pushed on even those “will sometimes eat” foods that we can get by with at home. Over the years I have tried to lessen the number of snacks I pack from home for these all-inclusive trips as most places have things they will eat or ways we can accommodate for the most part to get through, however beyond breakfast we struggled. They had small sections of what I guess they considered “kid food options” but none that I would have considered easy for all kid’s foods like we were used to finding more at other resorts. For a place designed for kids, I really think they need to work on this.
2. The Beach and the Resort Layout
If you are a big swim in the ocean person, this place is probably not for you. They have a small and still very pretty white sand beach area but other than dipping your feet in the water, the area for swimming is small to nonexistent. We knew this going in and it didn’t bother our crew really. We still went to the beach (which was never crowded) and our kids built sandcastles and sat in the water and let the waves hit them and had a great time. The layout for the resort was also not really an issue for us but I could see this being a con depending on what you are looking for. Basically, the resort is spread over a huge piece of land with the rooms being close by the beach and the remainder of the facility including the lobby, some restaurants, water park, and places for shows are all a short drive away. This is similar at least in respect to the water park of how their sister resort in Punta Cana is set up. The resort is aware of this obviously and there are vans and sometimes golf carts to get you to where you need to go. We never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a van.
3). Autism Certification
Yes, you are reading the words autism certification in the cons category, and it is not because the resort is lacking in an autism certification, it is because like many resorts I have found, it uses these terms as what I can essentially only claim as a marketing ploy. I don’t want to rag on the resort too hard because everyone was really friendly and where there is amazing service there are also always people willing to be helpful and accommodating when asked. This is something I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about if it wasn’t for all the marketing campaigns I saw before coming to the resort stating that they were not only autism certified but had the added benefit of an “Autism Concierge” that you could reach out to ahead of time for any questions or requests. So, me, the person who has a whole section of her blog dedicated to traveling with her autistic sons, obviously hopped all over this noted service to see what all they could do. Well, there is only an email listed on the promos for this, but after MANY email attempts, which all came back unanswered, I decided that I would just wait and ask to talk to this “autism concierge” once I arrived. Everyone I asked about the service looked confused, said they didn’t think they had the service, and then upon looking into it further said that it was really just more of an “online thing” (whatever that meant). They said that they could still try to help with whatever I needed, my only real ask was about if I could drop my boys off at the kids’ club, to which they said they would need to do a 30-minute trial to see if they could handle watching them, otherwise they could go in but a parent would need to stay with them at all times. I said OK because the truth is we are not really kids club people anyway unless they have a fun activity listed that I don’t want the kids to miss out on. We opted out of the trial, but we did stop in a couple times to check it out still when it was raining, and the kids had fun playing on the slides and ball pit area.
4. Cost of Certain Things
The resort offered a character breakfast, but at over $100 a person we opted out of this experience. We felt like we had plenty of opportunities to see the characters without the added cost but if they were willing to make it a bit more reasonable on price, I’m sure we would have attended. We did two different character breakfasts at the Punta Cana location for example. The gift shop is also just straight up outrageous on their prices. Like take a normal, already overpriced gift shop and double it. They make the gift shops unavoidable by the way. You have to walk through the large one every day on your way to the waterpark/main stage area. So, make sure you pack what you need, get the kids fun souvenir style stuff ahead of time, or start putting some money aside now to cover the crazy high prices.
- Book with a member to get extra perks. The best perk, the butler service. For the length of our stay, it also helped us qualify for free private transport from the airport and a candlelight dinner. For additional room perks we filled out a form through email before coming where we chose our room scent, extra bottles of liquor for the room, a pillow menu, and we got a welcome gift (hat and shirt) and champagne upon arrival. There are also a couple of fun members only activities throughout the week that were fun. The wrist bands we wore throughout the week were a different color to show we were guests of a member, and it did feel like people noticed and maybe even increased their already excellent service a bit. We booked through Wish+Wander who is an agency that has access to book through a Karisma member if you are looking for a way to receive all these extra perks!
- Download the Karisma App on your phone. It will give you info and schedules for all the entertainment as well as a look at the restaurant menus, spa information and other services you may be interested in as well.
- The towels at the water park are not the same as the ones in the hotel area. They are thin microfiber towels (basically a large ShamWow). We were ok with them but if you or your kids don’t like them then grab some of the normal towels from the pool area by the rooms and take them with you to the water park.
- If you get to the shows at the Main stage early, there are first come first serve orange couches you can sit in which are the first two rows. Seems like you are more likely to get chosen for any crowd participation out of these seats as well.
- If you have picky eaters like mine, bring extra zip lock bags with you and stock up on preferred food at the buffets for later in the day. We would grab cereal (which were in boxes anyway), watermelon and sometimes some other fruit to save for snacking when preferred foods were hard to find. We also asked our butler to keep getting more of the complementary bags of lays potato chips stocked up in the room.
- All rooms are swim-outs. The water can get a bit chilly in these pools. We purposefully booked a room on the top floor hoping that being less shaded that they would stay warmer, and I do think it helped a touch. The kids got in every day and I even ventured in our swim out a few times.
There you have it. I know it was long but I wanted to make sure it was an depth review of what I have to admit, was my personal favorite resort we have ever gone to, and we have gone to some pretty great ones. We enjoyed the sister resort in Punta Cana a ton as well and it had a few pluses such as a better beach and a touch less spread out than this location. But between the enhanced theming, bigger and better water park, and shows, I think Riviera Maya location just has the Punta Cana location beat. Although honestly if your kids are young, you can’t go wrong with either. Happy Travels Everyone!