The Fives Azul Beach Resort by Karisma – Playa del Carmen

REVIEW:

Karisma Hotels has managed to successfully reinvent the all-inclusive experience with The Fives Azul Beach ResortLocated approximately 45 minutes from Cancun Airport, in Playa del Carmen, The Fives Azul offers an upscale vacation program called the “Gourmet Inclusive” where 10 onsite restaurants take painstaking measures to create indulgent and flavorful dishes using the freshest of ingredients, many of which are grown right on the property. Locally sourced foods, as well as growing herbs, fruits and veggies onsite, is a feature that is gaining popularity in the travel industry as hotels and resorts move toward sustainability. Food allergies are a big concern at The Fives, wherein every restaurant hostess and server ask guests if any allergies exist.  

The second aspect of this unique all-inclusive destination is a determined effort to appeal to the five senses (sight, smell, sound, touch and, of course, taste) which is where this resort gets its unusual name. 

With the five senses in mind, sight is addressed with beautiful surroundings. The lobby, restaurants, rooms, and suites are pleasing to the eye with sleek lines, modern amenities, complimentary color palates, and striking decor. The property is visually stunning with breathtaking tropical landscapes and poolscapes that incorporate flowers and plants in a rainbow of color. And, instead of leveling the jungle to create this vacation destination, Karisma Resorts has incorporated the natural surroundings, allowing the jungle to flow through the mid-section of the property so guests have an up-close look at the wild and dense vegetation as well as inhabiting animals.  To that end, there are a variety of colorful birds, Spider Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Wild Boar, Capybara, Coati, Turtles, Iguanas, and a few small Crocodiles in the jungle and a collapsed cenote area, which guests can sometimes see from the safety of a footbridge (though, more often than not these animals stay well hidden).

A sense of smell is everywhere, from the bouquet of the gardens to the mouth-watering aromas wafting from the restaurants, to the lobby and individual rooms which are spritzed with scents designed to invigorate or relax.

Sound comes in a variety of ways, from ocean waves crashing against the pier and beach to birds singing and monkeys squawking in the jungle. Spanish music can be heard from the bar near the Mexican restaurant and subtle pop music is piped through the plaza area which contains a few gift shops. A large water wall festooned with flowers offers soothing sounds as guests stroll the pathway to their villas. When it comes to touch, The Fives has it covered with fine and fluffy sand, silky water in the pools, smooth wood or tile flooring, and furniture in textures of rattan, bamboo, teak wood and leather. Towels are extra thick, sheets and linen napkins are extra soft, and an onsite facility called Vassa Spa offers relaxing massages, steam rooms, and skin treatments.

Last but certainly not least there is taste, and this one needs no explanation considering the variety of onsite restaurants, each catering to a different international cuisine. As mentioned, this gourmet inclusive experience includes 10 restaurants and 9 bars, which are as follows.

AREZZO Italian Cuisine
FLAVORS
 buffet for breakfast and dinner, each night offering a different International theme.  This restaurant is also open for brunch on Sundays.
KOH THAI – Thai Cuisine
LA BRASSIERE – French (this restaurant is currently undergoing renovation)
MESTIZO – Mexican Cuisine
NATURA DAY CLUB and GRILL – Adults only for informal dining of bar and grill type foods.

OKA – Japanese Cuisine and Sushi
ORIOLA – for informal dining, located near the beach and Infinity Pool, and is available for burgers, sandwiches, and fish tacos.
PISCO – Japanese and Peruvian fusion.  Open only during peak season.
SEA OLIVE – Mediterranean Cuisine

Restaurant title color corresponds with the restaurant decor. Unlike the majority of all-inclusive resorts, most of the a la carte restaurants here conveniently do not require reservations, with the exception of Arezzo and Koh Thai.

In addition to several bars located at various pools and at the beach, The Fives features 2 specialty bars including GIN BAR, which, as you can guess, specializes in gin with various flavors and concoctions.  Children may accompany parents but after 5:00 pm this space is for Adults Only.

Similarly, there is a tequila bar located in the plaza area of the resort called CATINA 1910.  This intimate watering hole is decked out in colorful, floor to ceiling Mexican tile, an array of brass lighting, and photos of such famous Mexicans as artist Frida Kahlo and Revolutionary General, Pancho Villa.  The ceiling is wood planking to honor a similar bar where Pancho Villa thew a temper tantrum and shot his pistol into a wood ceiling to get attention. Cantina 1910 features Tequila Tasting nights and is a dream come true for guests looking to take photos for Instagram.

Outside in the picturesque plaza area, guests can sample tacos made hot and fresh while you wait.  A wide variety of toppings are available, all locally grown and handmade. In a word, delicious! And the Koh Thai restaurant extends premium seating into the stunning outdoor plaza area, which is flanked by jungle and manmade ponds.  With advance bookings, picnics and evening dining are available on the beach.  A limited but tasty menu of room service is also available.

This luxury property has left no stone unturned when it comes to providing upscale amenities for families, couples, and singles.  Not to mention that it’s an ideal wedding destination that caters to 15-20 weddings a week, on average, during peak season. 

The Fives Azul is family friendly yet with adults in mind.  For families with young children, the hotel stocks strollers, cribs, high chairs, and some other large items so parents need not worry about traveling with cumbersome necessities. Babysitting services with a kids’ playground and child pool are available so parents can take a break.

Yet, on the flip side, some villas are dedicated entirely to adults, with their own kid-free pools and bars.  This feature is so popular that the resort is currently undergoing construction to build 2 more adults-only villas. There are even adult restaurants on site, where families with children are allowed but only until a specific time.  Afterward, it’s strictly 18+.

Accommodations come in a wide variety to suit everyone’s needs, from regular rooms to spacious suites with the option of connecting rooms for large families or groups, therefore providing extra beds as well as an extra bathroom.  There is also the option of ground floor Swim-Out Rooms, where small rivers of water meander around the villas and join with larger pools.  Swim-out suites are not recommended for children under the age of 12, who might wander onto the patio and fall directly into the pool.

Alternatively, guests can opt for Penthouse accommodations called Sky Suites that feature a choice of one or two bedrooms, a living area and kitchen, plus a second floor with a rooftop terrace complete with patio furniture, BBQ facilities, canopy daybeds, and a hot tub Jacuzzi.

Bathrooms contain separate toilet and shower areas, separate his and her sinks, plus modern wardrobe storage facilities, including an iron and board, and a safe for valuable items.  Robes and slippers are also provided, along with an array of organic bath products.

Daily activities range from Spanish lessons and taste tests to live shows and energetic Zumba classes at the pool. Sky Bar, located near the beach, features live entertainment such as Michael Jackson tribute shows, and an elevated tower provides beachside massages. For an upcharge, Bali beds can be found poolside and at the beach for a pampered sunbathing experience.  Oversized chess and checkers are available near the beach, along with a horseshoe pit and a hammock area.  And then there is craft night where local artisans set up in the plaza to sell their goods.  In short, The Fives Azul has a LOT going on in an effort to please every kind of visitor. Thankfully, guests are provided with a schedule of all activities upon check-in.

A fitness center can be found above the stores in the plaza area, and individual concierge offices are conveniently placed throughout the resort for help with reservations, pool towels, rain umbrellas, or any problems that might arise.  Small open-air trams help to shuttle guests from their villas to the lobby, restaurants, or beach.  But the resort isn’t overly large and everything is within walking distance if you don’t mind stepping it out.  In truth, the 10 or 12 minutes spent waiting for a tram could easily get you to your intended destination on foot.

Like most all-inclusive resorts, The Fives operates with color-coded wristbands that define what guests have access to based on the vacation package they paid for.  It goes without saying that guests in regular rooms have lesser access than those who have paid for Penthouse Sky Suites or Adults Only accommodations.

There isn’t much this resort has overlooked when it comes to providing guests with a truly memorable, upscale vacation.  We were impressed from the moment we arrived and we think you will be, too.  In short, “It was a pleasure,” which just happens to be the catch phrase all employees use when tending to guests.

PROS: 

  • The entire resort is very clean, modern, and well maintained. 
  • Employees are extremely friendly and helpful. 
  • Multiple strategically placed concierge offices are truly convenient. 
  • Every aspect of the resort is beautiful.
  • The food is excellent and well varied (though perhaps too fancy for children or travelers with simpler taste).
  • Bars serve Premium drinks and a variety of mixed cocktails
  • The resort is big enough to compete with much larger properties in the area but is small enough to feel comfortable, and it is easy to navigate.
  • A doctor is available on site.
  • The Fives feels comfortable and safe.
  • Although some nightlife can be found at the resort, with Zky Bar featuring some live entertainment and a drinking atmosphere; overall, the resort is not a party destination (such as you would find in Cancun) and maintains its upscale quality.
  • Provides an amazing Destination Wedding with 3 separate venues/backdrops for the ceremony and celebration, with plenty of features at the resort designed to cater to the bride and bridal party.

CONS:

  • Evening trams do not run as regularly as day trams so if you don’t want to walk or miss your restaurant reservation, it’s wise to give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
  • The aromas used inside the lobby, rooms, and restaurants are indeed lovely and guests are likely to remember them long after they leave the resort.  However, they might pose a problem for guests with allergies or any kind of sensitivity to smell.
  • The music outside Mestizo is quite loud on evenings the restaurant is open, and can easily be heard inside the rooms and suites of Villas 17 and 18.  For parents trying to get young children to sleep, or guests wishing to watch television or retire to bed early, the noise can be problematic. Thankfully, it shuts off at a reasonable hour of 11:00 pm.
  • Resort is not disability-friendly / mobility-friendly.

 

**All Photos and Video belong to Been Here Done That (BHDT Magazine) and are copyrighted.  Please do not copy or share without permission.  Thank you. 

 

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