We just got back from spending a week at the Hard Rock in Cancun, an all-inclusive resort. I figured I’d write an in-depth review of our time there to help y’all if you’re thinking about staying there. This was our first international trip with our 4-month-old baby Tony so I’ll include some thoughts about taking a baby to an all-inclusive as well.
This is not a sponsored post (even if it was, I’m always 100% real with you guys). I like sharing my thoughts and will likely do more of these as we continue to travel together as a family. Let me know if you find this review useful by leaving me a comment below and if you have any questions, I’ll try my best to answer them. 😊
Allergy-friendly & Health Conscious:
This place is surprisingly allergy-friendly! They gave me a laminated card that I could take with me to all of the restaurants at the resort. I actually lost mine during the trip and they made me another one. Whenever I went to a restaurant they always asked if I had any food allergies and would write them down on a piece of paper that they’d hand to the waiter or place on the table.
Every restaurant had gluten-free options and they even had gluten-free bread available. (I loved the mini chocolate muffins at Zen’s breakfast buffet). I wasn’t 100 percent dairy-free on this trip, but they did have dairy-free milk available and I ordered an almond milk latte with breakfast every morning. From what I was told, two of their daily breakfast juices were made without any added sugar but some mornings, they’d have a special juice that they’d sweeten with honey. I would suggest clarifying if this is something that matters to you. Also, I was told that if I gave them a plate of fresh fruit (at Zen restaurant during breakfast) that they’d blend it up for me. I never asked because I like eating fresh fruit on its own and I think I’d also feel awkward asking for something like that…
If you are a “member” at their resort, you’ll also be able to visit to their “healthy bar” located on the “Rock Royalty” third floor where you’ll have access to more fresh juice throughout the day. See below for our thoughts on membership and the members areas (my husband’s family have been members for over a decade and we were able to use one of their weeks for our trip).
The entire place was stroller (and wheel chair) accessible. Some ramp entrances were hard to find but just ask and someone will show you exactly where to go. I loved that we could take our stroller into every restaurant. The resort is relatively small which makes it very easy to get around.
The Hard Rock provided us with a crib which was really nice. Tony co-sleeps with us so we brought along our in-bed co-sleeper and this wool bunting bag that we open and lay on top. You should do what you feel is best/safe for your baby.
There were a lot of babies at this resort but I’m pretty sure Tony was the youngest (four-months-old). He is exclusively breastfed which makes it easy to take him places and it’s also why I was comfortable taking him on an international trip. If you’re bringing a baby and need to mix formula, I would suggest emailing the resort to make sure they can provide what you need (hot water kettle, etc). I can’t say for sure but I think the Hard Rock would be accommodating based off of how they treated us.
One thing to be aware of: this resort plays loud music by the pool until about 4pm and there are also live bands near some restaurants so if you don’t think your babe will like that, find another resort. We brought along baby headphones to help decrease the noise and Tony was fine. We personally liked the rocker vibe and it made us feel “hip” (I’m obviously not actually hip because I use words like “hip”…).
The resort has an “El Kids Club” which is basically a daycare for your little one from 8am-9pm. If you leave your kid here you can’t go on an excursion or leave the resort. They have meet and greet breakfasts with characters like Barney, Angelina Ballerina, etc as well as a kiddie pool and other activities. You have to be 4-12 to stay here and if you’re under 4, you need an adult present. We took Tony just to look around but didn’t spend any time here.
They also have a show called “The Little Big Club” in their main auditorium that we took Tony to – they had Barney, Angelina Ballerina, Bob the Builder and Thomas the Train on stage. Tony sort of watched but didn’t care for it much. I loved it though. Roby basically had to drag me out so we wouldn’t miss our dinner reservation. The singers were great and it was just SO adorable.
There are six main restaurants that are part of this resort:
- Ipanema Grill: a Brazilian restaurant (like Texas de Brazil – popular in the US). They had a nice salad bar and of course a lot of meat.
- Zen: Asian restaurant that also offers a Hibachi dinner. They had gluten-free soy sauce! We loved their daily breakfast buffet (American + Mexican cuisine). They had fresh tropical fruit, a yogurt bar, gluten-free bread and other healthy options. I got an almond milk latte here every day. They also make fresh eggs and tacos right in front of you.
- La Frida: Mexican cuisine (my favorite for dinner).
- Ciao: Italian cuisine (loved that they brought out warm gluten-free bread. I also enjoyed the risotto and lamb chops. They ran out of gluten-free pasta, an off-menu item, so I wasn’t able to try that).
- The Market: International buffet
- Pizzeto: brick-oven pizzas
I follow a gluten free diet and was able to eat everywhere except for Pizzeto.
You can also ask for drinks and food on the beach. They have several grills near the main pool where you can get food. And if you don’t want to leave the room, they have room-service pretty much all the time. This was awesome for mornings or afternoons when the baby was napping.
There are also 5 bars. I’m nursing so other than the occasional sips of Roby’s wine/margarita during dinner, I didn’t have a need to visit those.
Salon & Spa:
When you book your trip, chances are that you’ll get “free” resort credit. Really, there’s a 20 percent fee that they charge on whatever you book and you can’t use the credit on everything. In many cases, its still a great deal though. For example, I got a shampoo/blow dry a couple times during the trip and used $50 resort credit – so I only had to pay $10 each time plus tip. You can’t get your hair done for $10 anywhere in the US. We also got massages which were fabulous. If you’re a spadie (you know, like foodie – and yes, I made up the word spadie) then you may want to check out a different resort. The spa is very simple but for those who don’t care for frills or for new parents like us who don’t have time to hang out in a spa all day, this place was just fine.
They provided programs and had activities planned basically nonstop from 10am-4pm by the pool. We didn’t take part in any of the day time events because we prefer to hang out on the beach but some events included: yoga, Zumba, foam parties, volleyball, etc.
Every night at 9pm they had shows which were really great – at least the ones that we went to. We put protective headphones on our baby and watched while he slept. Sometimes he would watch too, but on those nights when we got back to the hotel room all he wanted to do was “talk” (babble) to us about what he saw. It was adorable until we wanted to sleep and he didn’t lol. Roby loved the “rock concert” event where a cover band sang songs and dressed like rock bands (Kiss, Aerosmith, Guns and Roses, Queen). I loved the lights & fire show and the circus show.
They also had events after the show and a night club on certain nights. This is around the time we went up to bed.
The rooms are large and spacious but they are a bit worn compared to newer resorts. This wasn’t a big deal for us – but that’s something to be aware of. I loved that they cleaned our room daily and returned for turndown service. They also left little treats (petit fours) in the room every night and thankfully for me – most of them were gluten-free.
Special “Members” Areas:
Like many resorts in Cancun, Hard Rock hotels have a membership program that you can purchase and with membership comes perks. My husband’s family has a “palace premiere” membership and so we used one of their weeks. The Hard Rock Hotel used to be Cancun Palace and so even though we aren’t Hard Rock members – my husband’s membership plan was basically grandfathered in to include this resort. Anyway, because of this reason – we had access to all their “special” areas and to certain “special” events.
I think a membership is worth it for those who love Mexico and visit here often. We probably wouldn’t get it ourselves because we’re young, it’s expensive and we don’t go to Mexico often enough but if you can afford it, it’s incredible. I’m so thankful that we were able to use his family’s week because the extra service we got was just so so so great. We had two “butlers” dedicated to making sure we had absolutely everything we wanted. It was absolutely over-the-top amazing.
Members also have access to the third floor, which has two pools (one of them is adults-only) and a special bar with fresh juices, grilled meat, and ceviche. We loved it up here – I loved the fresh juice and I’m pretty sure the grilled food was a bit better (and definitely nicely plated). We also felt more comfortable taking Tony into the pool, since it wasn’t as crowded as the main pool.
My overall thoughts: it’s definitely a great party place with lots of entertainment and it’s also family-friendly. If you’re looking for a fun trip, come here but if you just want to chill on the beach and are looking for a relaxed beach vibe, I’d go elsewhere. I hope that helps!