Since Moon Palace Cancun is such a large resort I felt The Grand deserved it’s own dedicated post. For years Moon Palace operated with 3 distinct sections…Sunrise, Nizuc and Grand with guests being able to stay in one but use all 3 during their stay. In 2018 after the resort did some major renovations it reopened The Grand operating as it’s own hotel. Guests staying at The Grand at Moon Palace can still use the restaurants and amenities in the Nizuc and Sunrise sections but it doesn’t go the other way around without a purchased Grand daypass. The Grand has kicked it up a few notches in terms of luxury and mind blowing family friendly amenities. Living and working in Cancun means I’ve had the chance to get to know most of the big all-inclusive resorts quite well. A bonus has been my daughter Isla is growing up with these large hotels as her playground and I never hesitate to recommend The Grand at Moon Palace for anyone looking for a great resort for their family vacay in Mexico. Here’s my detailed family vacation guide of The Grand at Moon Palace…
Moon Palace Cancun is located in Cancun just south of the actual Hotel Zone. It’s only about a 20 minute drive from the airport which is great if you’re coming off of a long flight with kids. From having a lot of American friends and clients I know direct flights to Cancun aren’t always possible so a short drive to a hotel after you land has it’s advantages. Moon Palace is completely surrounded by mangrove with it’s only neighbouring hotel being The Royalton Riviera Cancun.
- Kids Club
I’ve always made it a point to visit kids clubs with Isla even before she could ever stay at one on her own (kids can’t stay in one of Moon Palace’s Playrooms without a guardian until they turn 4). We’ve always enjoyed popping into a kids club so she could play with some other kids, check out what toys or activities they have or sometimes even just to take a mid-day break from Cancun’s heat and intense sun. The Playroom is open every day from 9am-10pm.
Well the first time we walked into The Grand’s Playroom our mouths dropped. It absolutely has an undeniable wow factor from the moment you step through the front door and is hands down the best kids club I’ve ever seen at a resort! The Grand’s Playroom spans across 2 floors located within the fenced in Waterpark area at The Grand and sits in an entire building all by itself. It honestly feels like a cross between a children’s museum, an arcade, mini amusement park and indoor playground!
As soon as you walk in you’ll find a 3 floor climbing structure to the left. It’s connected to a fun feature kids can activate air to shoot balls through the middle area using air pressure & buttons to dump the balls out again. To the right is a snack bar serving up kid friendly foods like pizza, other snacks and drinks (all included with your all-inclusive stay) and the entrance to the neon mini golf.
Going up the large staircase on the second floor you’ll find a super fun Mirror Maze and their soft play Playroom. The upper Playroom is open to kids 4-7 years old with kids under 4 allowed in with an adult. If you’re headed to this upper play spot you actually have to sign in twice…the first time as you enter the main Playroom building itself to give your room #/check your daypass and then again as you enter the younger kids Playroom. This smaller contained Playroom for younger kids is supervised by staff looking after the kids signed in, constantly cleaning up and just engaging the kids by playing with them. It contains a few imaginative play spots like a grocery store complete with shopping carts & food as well as a schoolhouse. The rest of the Playroom is a soft play area with climbing structures, slides and a trampoline filled with balloons being blown around by giant fans (my daughter, who was 4 at the time, didn’t want to ever leave this spot).
On the main floor kids under 8 need to be with a guardian at all times…kids 8-17 can enter on their own. Off to the left on the ground floor there is a large arcade with unlimited free play. They have quite a fun variety of arcade games for all ages. We had fun playing some of the arcade games but we were obsessed with playing in the Laser Maze and Time Freak game (two people enter and compete against each other having to press as many lights all over the room as possible).
We also spent a ton of time in the back area under the ropes course where you’ll find all of the fun hands on science based play. Kids get to sort of experiment with different concepts through play in a similar way like at a science centre. There’s a wall you can guide a ball through by pushing and pulling different levers getting to see the path the ball will flow, a giant lite-bright and a DIY tornado machine.
There are a few other things like the bumper cars and Sky Trail we never got a chance to try out since my daughter was unfortunately too small at the time but it’s definitely on our list to come back so she can finally do them!
Canexican Insider Tip
*Bring socks for your little one (and YOU if you’ll be staying in the soft play area) as you can’t wear shoes inside the upper Playroom (my daughter is always running around in flip flops so I try and keep a pair of socks for both of us in my bag)
*Also be sure to have proper running shoes for your child if they’d like to do the Sky Trail ropes course
- Wired Lounge
Completely separate from the Playroom at The Grand is the Wired Lounge located in the Grand’s main lobby building. It’s open every day from 9am-midnight for guests of all ages so there is no signing in or supervision like what you’d find in the Playrooms. The Wired Lounge is an arcade filled with unlimited free play games. There are tons of classic and new arcade style games good for single or multi players. There’s also an area to grab snacks and drinks inside the lounge. We would end up in the Wired Lounge most evenings after dinner and dessert to hang out for a bit.
The games are tons of fun but probably our favourite features in the lounge are actually the interactive projection games!
When our daughter was still too young to really grasp or care about the arcade games she absolutely loved the floor projection features and games. Some of them just light up as you step and others you can play a game to see who could “catch” the most lights by stepping on them. It’s really one of the coolest things ever and kept our daughter busy, fascinated & happy playing on that interactive floor for the longest time!
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- Pools & Water Park
There are several pools to choose from in The Grand section. I love that they all tend to be smaller pools instead of just one or two larger pools which I find helps to spread resort guests out across the property.
There is a family activities pool by the beach which is considered their main pool and a few others closer towards the Nizuc section. I’ve never had a problem finding a lounge chair as they line them up around the perimeter of each pool. I’m often the opposite of most hotel guests that I’m usually after shade from an umbrella or tucked away in a corner instead of wanting to lie out in the direct sun. Overall I find the pools at Grand to be fairly quiet and pleasant to just hang out and swim in.
The Water Park is a full size water play area for guests of all ages. There are huge waterslides, a lazy river (they provide you with an inner tube to go around and we spent hours in that lazy river), a wave pool and a FlowRider stationary surf simulator. For younger kids there is a children’s water play area with mini water slides and splash pad type features. Our daughter at 3 was still too young to go on any of the big water slides so we stuck to the little kids pool, the wave pool and lazy river which was more than enough to keep her happy. If you plan on heading straight into the Playroom after swimming there is a giant cyclone style body dryer located at the entrance of the kids club.
Something I love about the Water Park are the complimentary lockers. On one of our visits we were just there on a daypass so we had all of our stuff with us and it was nice to be able lock up my wallet, car keys, cell phone and change of clothes. Most hotel guests aren’t usually walking around with their personal belongings as they can just leave them in their room but it’s still nice to have an option because let’s face it…cell phones usually still always come with us everywhere!
Canexican Insider Tip
*Bring your own pool floatie as the ones in the gift shop are super pricey! Don’t forget a small foot or hand pump to inflate it or sometimes you can ask the activities staff to do it if they have a compressor
*Also Moon Palace does not provide any type of life jackets so it’s important to bring a puddle jumper for your little one if they aren’t able to swim on their own yet
All of the food we’ve had at The Grand is delicious…from the buffets, the sit down restaurants for dinner and even room service available 24-hours! Our favourites tend to be Cusco for breakfast (we love that it’s closest to the beach and furthest from the lobby so it tends to be the most quiet), lunch at The Grand Buffet and Tavola for dinner. You can view the menus for each restaurant from the Palace channel on the TV in your room.
There are lots of international food choices from Italian at Tavola (those pizzas from their wood fired oven are incredible), Mexican at Cielito Lindo & Querido, Lebanese at Habibi, a fusion of Japanese/Thai/Chinese at Jade, French at Le Château, seafood with a touch of Caribbean flair at Caribeño, Peruvian cuisine at Cusco and an American steakhouse at JC Steakhouse.
A kids menu is always available at each restaurant with usually the same child favourite items like pizza, hamburgers, spaghetti and chicken fingers although my daughter is usually happy with something off the adult menu or sharing from our meals to try different things. The Grand Buffet has a kids food station lower to the ground for little hands to reach again with kid friendly food items and desserts.
At least once a stay we always opt for room service for breakfast. I wake up super early and my husband and daughter sleep in so I try and time my order to enjoy just as they’re ready to get up. It’s also super convenient when you have kids to be able to order room service through the Palace Resorts app.
For dessert I need to prepare you as The Grand at Moon Palace has without a doubt the yummiest selection of desserts I’ve ever had at a resort…and quite possibly anywhere! I genuinely love them sooooo much!!! It seems that a few years ago they got a new head pastry chef in (maybe it was around the time the new Grand section opened) and ever since then the pastries have been out of this world incredible. My husband and I are in and out of just about every resort throughout Cancun and the Riviera Maya for work so we get to see, experience and EAT at a lot of different hotels.
The honest to goodness truth is I never touch the desserts at other resorts (nope not even at our favourites) because I think they lack taste and just aren’t worth the calories. But ALL of the desserts across The Grand are worth firsts, seconds & thirds so save room after dinner! There is the cutest dessert/coffee shop called The Boulangerie in the Grand lobby that carries all of the desserts and then the restaurants have a good selection of them too. They also have lots and lots of choices for different flavours of ice cream, some really yummy sandwiches (we always head here for a light lunch at least once or twice a week) and lots of fresh fruit. We’ve headed inside for a mid-day scoop for a break from the sun.
Canexican Insider Tip
*Moon Palace takes food allergies and dietary restrictions seriously. They will ask you as you enter each restaurant or when you call for room service if anyone in your party has any allergies. I have a severe intolerance to onion & garlic and have been able to witness firsthand how they specially prepare items for me and make special notes to ensure I receive a custom safe plate of food
*I have small collapsible food containers I keep with me for snacks as a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to styrofoam or plastic when I’m out. Although you can’t really take food back to your room from restaurants you can walk away with sandwiches, fruit and/or desserts from The Boulangerie so be sure to bring something along to be prepared. Let’s face it kids get hungry for a little something at odd times so it’s good to have something on hand in the room!
- Getting Around the Resort
The golf cart shuttle service is now a sophisticated little taxi to get you exactly where you want to go around the resort. There are designated cart stops around the property with clearly marked golf carts so you know which route they’re travelling. If you let the driver know your room number they can often drop you off at the closest entrance to your building which is good when you have a little one in tow and beach/pool items. The golf carts travel right across Moon Palace so you can easily get to the Sunrise and Nizuc sections as well.
Moon Palace does also still run their lobby to lobby coach buses but I’ve just personally never been a big fan of them. It always feels like such a hassle to get to the lobby, wait in line and then pile onto a full size bus to drive over to the other lobbies. When I’m with my daughter I much prefer waiting at the small golf cart shuttle stops where she could run around a bit and play and then just hop on a golf cart that takes us straight to where we need to go.
The rooms at The Grand are all super spacious. The majority of the rooms are quite new since The Grand’s reopening as they were all built and ready for guests in 2018. We aren’t really hung up on room locations (floor or proximity to the beach) as we find we don’t spend much time in the rooms. I’ve also noticed with the golf cart shuttles you can quickly and easily get around the entire resort so it’s not that big of a deal even with little ones wherever your room is. There are advantages to ever location either you’re closer to the beach, the Water Park or lobby.
Each room comes with a large in room whirlpool jacuzzi tub (my daughter loves to take a little bubble bath every day after a long day in the pool or on the beach). The balconies are also nice and big and spacious and always seem to be in perfect shade! I love the big cushy loungers they have on the Grand balconies so I can sneak out onto the balcony nice and early to get some work done.
If you have more than one child and/or older children you may be more comfortable with connecting rooms to spread out a big for sleeping arrangements.
So the truth is most people who go to Moon Palace or The Grand aren’t going for the beach. Guests return to Moon Palace trip after trip for the service, food quality and amazing amenities with some barely ever setting foot on the beach. The reason the beach isn’t always a highlight is the water just tends to be darker than the crystal clear oceanfront found in the Cancun hotel zone just to the north. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the sand (or water for that matter other than it being dark). The sand itself is beautiful white soft sand which is perfect for making sand castles with. A little fun fact is the sand found on our beaches along the entire coast stays cool to the touch so you and your little ones will never have to worry about hot sand burning your feet!
Canexican Insider Tip
*Catch a sunrise! If you’ve never been to Cancun before you may not know that Cancun and the entire Riviera Maya are east coast facing. What that means is the sun will set on the opposite side of the beach in behind the hotel buildings but our sunrises are gorgeous so set your alarm clock at least one day to get up at the crack of dawn to watch one of our breathtaking Cancun sunrises!
- Nanny Services
We have used the nanny service at Moon Palace Grand one time. Palace Resorts contracts out the nannies from Cancun Nanny Services as they have already been registered to provide babysitting services at their properties and know the hotels well. The cost when we used the service was $15/hour for a minimum of 4 hours plus a $25 transportation fee (no need to also purchase a daypass for them as the hotel includes it for them). You can reserve a nanny in advance or once you arrive to the hotel by calling the front desk and giving your room number. Hiring a sitter during your vacation can get quite costly but worth it if your kids are still small and you’re looking for a child free evening or afternoon at the spa.
You’re able to give the nanny some direction and boundaries if you have any specifics on what you’d like them to eat (including any food restrictions) and where you’re comfortable with them going during that time (stay in the room, go to the kids club, pool, beach, lobby etc.). We used to always have an extra room key made to give the sitter so she could come and go with our daughter back to the room to take a nap. When she was very small I also preferred they order room service to the room instead of going to the buffet because the idea of trusting the nanny with the task of trying to get my then rambunctious little toddler food in a busy buffet restaurant without her running off or getting into something scared me.
- Entertainment & Activities
Moon Palace hosts a different live show each evening in their theatre ranging from an amazing Michael Jackson show to a fire show or magic shows. A schedule is available from the front desk so you can check out what is planned for each night.
Guests have the use of non-motorized water sports items such as kayaks, stand-up paddle boards & small sail boats. The water found along Moon Palace’s shore is quite calm so it’s the perfect place to take the kids out on the ocean to try some water sports activities.
You can also borrow bicycles at no cost to use to explore the resort grounds. You can find them inside the Grand’s Water Park by the kids pool/splashpad area. They don’t have any bikes with training wheels or infant seats which has held us back from using them yet as a family but now that our daughter can ride a 2 wheel bike without training wheels it’s on our list for our next visit!
The Palace entertainment staff also put together a busy weekly schedule of activities usually suited for guests of all ages. Often there are beach volleyball games scheduled, foam parties, theme nights, other poolside games and soccer. Ask for the activities schedule when you check in or you can usually find a large board by the pool.
- For the Parents
Moon Palace has a 27-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course right on the property which is easily accessible by a designated golf cart from the lobby. It’s a great feature as only a small handful of resorts in the area have a course actually right on the premises.
There are also a few spa options for adults on the Grand, Sunrise & Nizuc sections as well as a spa located at the golf course. Most guests receive resort credits which can be used towards spa services.
Grand guests have access to 3 different adults only night clubs, lounges & bars throughout the hotel. Unique Night Club is in the Grand section (open Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays 10pm-3am), Skybar is on the upper level inside the Sunrise lobby (open 5pm-12:30am) and Noir is also in Sunrise (open Tuesday, Thursdays & Saturdays 10:30pm-3am).
Canexican Insider Tip
*Take a golf cart over to the golf course with your kids just to take a peek. You get in a fun long golf cart ride and there’s a chance you can spot a crocodile on the course or in some of the surrounding small mangrove areas while the cart winds along the pathways. These crocs can be quite dangerous so it wouldn’t be recommended to go looking for them on foot but fun to see from a safe distance on a golf cart.
Additional Tips & Extras Worth Noting
- COVID-19 notes: this was originally written before the 2020 pandemic unfolded…current changes at the hotel due to COVID health & safety restrictions include only certain restaurants are open on a rotating basis, buffet restaurants are open but with served food by staff, the kids club is closed, masks are mandatory indoors (lobby, spa & while entering restaurants) & temperature check upon arrival
- Between June-October is nesting season for sea turtles in and around Cancun. Moon Palace has a great program to help protect these baby turtles by collecting all of the eggs laid by Green Turtles & Loggerhead Turtle (the most common sea turtles in the area) along Moon Palace’s beach. They rebury them in a secure area marked with the number of eggs and estimated hatching date. When it’s time staff dig up all of the hatched turtles and ask guests to assist them to release the turtles. It’s a great family activity the kids can help with!
- I do recommend you bring your own car seat for the ride to and from the airport. Mexico does not have any car seat laws but in my opinion that doesn’t mean it’s ok to just hold your little one or chance a 20 minute car ride on a busy fast moving highway. I’ve witnessed several crashes between tourist transport vehicles and it’s made me cringe at the thought of kids being onboard. For specific tips regarding travel options for car seats for infants, toddlers and older kids please read my post Getting Around Mexico with Kids
- Bring your own reusable straws (our favourites are from Klean Kanteen because they are stainless steal, easy to clean and come with a removable flexible silicone bent tip. In an effort to be more environmentally conscience, resorts in Mexico like Moon Palace no longer have plastic straws for guests.
- Bring insect repellent! I find we get mosquitoes all year long in Cancun and the Riviera Maya with an increase during the months we see more rain (May-October). In general I rarely come across mosquitoes during the day or even night but find if they’re around they come out in full force during dusk. A good hour or so before and after the sun sets is when I always feel it’s important to put on a bit of repellent to keep them away.
- The Lost & Found! I can’t be the only mom who accidentally leaves things behind as we venture around resorts. I once forgot to grab my daughter’s backpack (she was only 3 at the time so not fully responsible to be on top of it herself) as we were hopping off of a golf cart in The Grand and was extremely nervous because we had put my daughter’s stuffed bunny in the bag. We went straight to the lobby by the concierge desk when we realized. Thankfully it had been sent there right away and my daughter got her little stuffed bunny BFF back. As a mom I’ve tested out the Lost & Found at a few different resorts and could write a whole post on the subject! lol
- Take your kids to the bathroom in The Grand lobby! It might sound like the weirdest tip but my daughter had never seen such a large fancy restroom and still talks about it. There’s a huge powder room sitting area with light up mirrors so it’s kind of a fun little thing for kids to see.
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