Check-in: We arrived at the resort and were greeted with champagne and water to enjoy while we waited to complete the check-in process. The staff at the desk were extremely business-like, and there was a sense of stress and urgency behind the counter. Everyone was friendly enough, but I wasn't overwhelmed by a welcoming warmth. Following check-in, we were escorted to our building by golf cart.
Property: I really love the grounds at Dreams Riviera Cancun because it is lush and tropical, nicely maintained by the landscapers, and the buildings dotted with plunge pools really contribute to a luxurious feel. (I have heard that this property was originally constructed to be a Secrets resort, but I am not certain of this claim's accuracy.) Many of the restaurants are located in the main building, with other offerings like CoCo Cafe and shops nearby. It is an easy resort to navigate and guests do not have to walk great distances to reach amenities.
Room: We were assigned to room 1235, a tropical view suite located in the building just to the left when exiting the main lobby area. We immediately loved the warm tones, colors, and woodwork that gave the room a nice tropical feel. The balcony, once the sun passed overhead, became our favorite spot to sit and enjoy the view while reading or relaxing. The bathrooms do not have a great deal of privacy, so this could be of concern when traveling with anyone other than a spouse or significant other - the tub is fully exposed and the shower and toilet areas are both enclosed with glass. We found the lighting in the bathroom area to be rather dim as well. Our mini-fridge had a nice stock of beverages.
Food: We found the food at the resort to be good and were appreciative of the many options; however, we definitely noticed a difference in dining experience after staying at a Secrets resort for three nights, which is to be expected. The decor of the restaurants was more simplistic, the seating was less intimate, and the food presentation wasn't as artistic, but we still felt that the food was of decent to very good quality. While staying on the property, we dined at Portofino, Himitsu, and El Patio, with our meal at Himitsu being our least favorite of the three.
I was very pleased with the breakfasts and lunches I enjoyed at the World Cafe buffet, and because so many of the stations were of the made-to-order variety, it allowed for a great deal of customization. We found many delicious items to enjoy, from sushi to personal pizzas to fajitas. The salad and fresh fruit bar were both wonderfully stocked. (A full plant-based/vegan dining review will be posted here.)
Himitsu becomes an adults-only breakfast buffet in the morning, which is a really pleasant way to start your day if you are traveling sans children as we were. It was quiet and relaxed with an affable staff we looked forward to seeing each day. Various breakfast items were served, although guests can also help themselves from the larger buffet in the World Café.
Entertainment: There were various activities available throughout the day with live music and assorted performances scheduled each evening. By our choosing, we did not participate in much while staying at the resort, and found the evening shows/options to be mediocre. One of the resort highlights not to be missed is bike ride/tour to the nearby little fishing town of Puerto Morelos - guests really enjoy this excursion, which is included with your stay.
Pools and beaches: Numerous pools of varying depths are perfect for swimmers of all ages, so the resort really caters to families looking to log many hours poolside. The most shallow pool is a mere few inches deep and is home to two Ping-Pong tables; this is separated by foot bridge from a pool of approximately two-feet which is perfect for toddlers and seated adults. There is also an activity pool with basketball hoops and water aerobics classes, and an infinity pool that features a swim-up bar and a great view of the Caribbean sea. Jacuzzi tubs (two) are located away from the main swimming area, which could be both a positive and a negative - the location offers more solitude for sure but visiting the Jacuzzi is more of an activity in itself, not something you do while at the pool. Pool chairs are extremely close together - uncomfortably so - and it feels like you are right on top of other guests. Drink service at the pool is very spotty. The beach area was clean and generally free of seaweed (this is a constant battle in Mexico) and the beds on the beach were extremely comfortable and usually available.
Service: We were not overly impressed with service as a whole at the resort due to a couple snafus we encountered. The first involved housekeeping failing to provide us with a properly made bed, or even adequate bedding; this resulted in a mattress half exposed (ew!) and a lengthy wait for someone to fix it late at night. The second was upon checking out and making arrangements with the bell staff to retrieve our luggage (we tried to bring it ourselves but we were told the resort would handle it) only to have help not show up in time for us to make our transfer to the airport. The pool drink service was very slow and we actually had a server take our order but never return. That being said, the staff in the restaurants was very friendly and attentive and we were quite pleased with our experiences there.
Pros: nice family resort with a tropical feel, adults-only breakfast area and adults-only French restaurant, fantastic lobby for relaxing, large pool area, nice beach that is good for walking, great balcony on our suite, plunge pool suites
Cons: restaurants are simple in design with tables close together, bathroom layout not ideal for some travelers and has dim lighting, chairs at pool extremely close together, pool/maid/bellhop service very spotty while we were there, bugs - we wore repellant religiously and still had lots of bites