When it comes to taking a vacation with kids, built-in entertainment is like hitting the parenting lottery. Your kids can play all day long, make new friends and best of all, you get some chill time (no kids, what?!). So, when we heard that Iberostar had completely re-invented what it means to go to kids club, we had to find out more. From mini-chef challenges to a cool facility just for guests ages 4-17, keep reading for the scoop on the brand-new Star Camp, located at the Iberostar Paraíso complex in Playa Paraíso, Mexico.

The Resort

The resort itself totally caters to families. The food is done well: From specialty dining (seafood, Japanese, Steakhouse, Mexican) to an oceanside snack bar (all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream!) and buffets that never seem to serve the same thing twice, you’ll get all the perks of being at an all-inclusive, without feeling like one of the masses. Each section of hotel rooms has its very own concierge from the hours of 7am-11pm daily, and the staff is extremely attentive (someone will be on hand immediately if you, ahem, manage to disable your key) and knowledgeable.

There are plenty of activities every day: beach volleyball, pool games, archery, group workouts and more. The hotel design was inspired by the local Mayan culture (there are even real artifacts around the resort), and the grounds themselves are gorgeous, with peacocks strutting, iguana hanging around and coati just about everywhere. Lush green plants are everywhere and seem to swell with color.

All Things Star Camp

What is Star Camp?
Star Camp recently reopened with a whole new vision on what vacation fun means. Inspired by the Scout movement and incorporating the theory of multiple intelligences, the new program strives to combine fun with values and includes a range of activities (over 140, based on age!) that utilize and cater to the different ways kids learn: linguistic, musical, interpersonal, mathematical, naturalistic and more. There are 12 different categories including team sports, group challenges, science and cooking activities, board games, arts, crafts, physical leisure and even tech!

Where do the kids go?
The new facility is a beautifully designed space, with many sustainable features, including the outdoor playground, which is made with recycled plastic. There’s a room for Monkeys (ages 4-7), for Dolphins (ages 8-12) and for Eagles (ages 13-17).

The Monkey Room
There’s an indoor climbing/play structure, puzzles, crafts, Imagination Playground blocks and even Keva planks. It is adjacent to the mini auditorium.

The Dolphin Room
There’s a mini trampoline park, climbing wall, lounge chairs and video games, as well as crafting opportunities.

What do the kids do all day?
From 9:30 am-10:30 pm, Star Camp kids are supervised by a staff of trained professionals who enthusiastically escort them from place to place—all around the resort. It’s a busy day, and kids often move from one activity to the next, hour after hour. You might see members of Star Camp at headquarters and then, an hour later, they’ll be on the beach participating in a scavenger hunt. They cruise the lazy river, play capture the flag, do escape room challenges, have mini-chef baking challenges, and every night from 8pm-9pm they perform on the main stage, a different theme each night, complete with costumes!

How does the check-in, check-out thing work?
On your very first visit, you’ll need to head to headquarters, where you’ll fill out a form for each kid. The form will have basic info on how long you’ll be staying at the resort, how old your child is, whether or not he or she has allergies, etc. You’ll be logged into the computer and for the rest of your family vacation, all you have to do is sign your child in or out on the clipboard the staff carries with them at all times. So, if you happen to see your kids at the pool and you want to take them to the beach, simply sign them out and be on your way. Or, if you want to stay after the Star Camp show to watch the nightly entertainment, sign your kids in and they’ll be taken back to headquarters for a few last activities.

The Beach and Pool

Of course, no Caribbean resort would be complete without plenty of pools and beachfront. Playa Paraíso Iberostar does not disappoint. There is a lazy river, a wave pool, a splash zone for kids, five pools and a beautiful stretch of beach with warm, clear water, very little seaweed, and the perfect “concrete sand” for building castles. Grab a seat under a cabana, treat yourself to a soft serve ice cream or adult beverage, play volleyball, listen to music, and relax.

Other Amenities Perfect for Families

There are seven different room options, ranging from a junior suite to the Presidential Suite, and there are options to book adjoining rooms, which is perfect for larger families. The mini bar is stocked daily with water and other refreshments free of charge, and 24-hour room service is included as part of the all-inclusive package.

How to Get There

Playa Paraíso Iberostar resort is just 29 miles away from Cancun International Airport (CUN). You’ll be getting ready to explore the resort and beach an hour or so after you land. Rates start at $145 per night.

Online: iberostar.com/riviera-maya/iberostar-paraiso-maya

—Gabby Cullen

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All images by the author.

Portions of this trip were paid for by IBEROSTAR but all opinions expressed here are the author’s own. 

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