We’re just back from an amazing week at one of our top resorts, the luxurious Azul Sensatori by Karisma in the Riviera Maya. Beautiful property, nice location, gourmet dining, lots of fun for the kids, below-average beach, plenty of pools, and above all some really great people. Ready to wade through the entire review?
The landscaping of Azul Sensatori is gorgeous – this resort really has come a long way since it opened in late 2008. Palm trees and hibiscus flowers are everywhere you look, lawns are lush and green, and low lighting provides a beautiful scene each night. Azul Sensatori, although having almost 500 suites, is not so large as to need a golf cart, and guests can walk from one side to the other in five minutes – so getting dressed for dinner and walking to the restaurants doesn’t require another shower after arriving!
Azul Sensatori is an all-suite resort, even the least expensive lead-in category, featuring jacuzzi tubs, minibars, 24 hour room service, LCD televisions with DVD players, and in-building concierges. Very modern decor – bright greens and oranges, modern artwork, very squared-off architecture. Oddly enough unlike some luxury competitors, Azul Sensatori doesn’t offer jacuzzi tubs on the balconies/patios, with the lone exception of the Premium Swim Up, which has a jacuzzi tub flush with pool level. Most suites have some type of oceanview, but some being set back or lower floors will be obstructed (if you want oceanview, book an oceanview category which will be closer to the beach and higher floors).
Three distinct pools run throughout the M-shaped Azul Sensatori – the Family Suites pool, the Premium pool, and the Adults-Only pool, and each have their own swim up bar. Numerous Bali-style pool beds surround each pool (although unfortunately, the beds and chairs in the Family Suites section do tend to ‘fill up’ with guests’ items early in the morning). Waiter service around the pools throughout the day make it unnecessary to leave your chair for anything you’d need. In the Premium section, pool concierges bring around drinks and towels, plus gourmet bites at noon. They also will set up your chair or pool bed with towels upon request – a very nice feature for the upgraded categories.
Well, the good reviews had to end somewhere, but this isn’t the fault of the resort (unless you can blame them for choosing to put their resort here). Very narrow stretch of beach, small swimmable area, and good amount of seagrass (depending on season as with any resort). Azul Sensatori has done a good job in using what they have – a full-service beach grill with covered seating, many beach beds and chairs, beach waiter service, and beach night shows a few times a week, including an amazing fire and water Caribbean show, but the beach is certainly not why you’d want to come to Azul Sensatori. Some resorts can be termed a beach resort or a pool resort – this is a pool resort by far.
Breakfast in Spoon (the main restaurant) gave a choice of ordering from a menu a la carte (with a fairly limited number of choices), or the ‘food display’, as Azul Sensatori terms their buffets. The restaurant was packed on our first trip in, but plenty of waiters to handle it, and our coffee cups and water glasses never quite hit empty. The buffet is on the small side, not a wide selection (and we noticed it didn’t vary much during the week); those hoping for traditional Mexican dishes or sauces may not be 100% satisfied, but the omelets, fresh fruits, and sweet rolls may make up for it. Breakfast was a 7 out of 10. Lunch was basic (they could use more sandwiches), and dinner was above average (a nice basic alternative to the specialty restaurants).
Tapaz is a Spanish-style tapas restaurant, serving small unique bites throughout the dinner with no menu. Really unique architecture with the ‘natural’ stone walls and ceiling, family-style round tables with a rotating platform in the middle to pass food items around the table, and the kitchen being in full view to watch the chefs prepare the dinner. We had five courses: three of small appetizer-type foods (crazy-spicy chipotle chicken chips, lamb meatballs, veal turnovers, calamari skewers, among others), then a main course (ours consisted of pork ribs with a tomato sauce, filet with a mustard sauce, sweet and sour pork, and a beef brisket), followed by several dessert selections. Plan ahead – this dinner takes a while, not a short sit-down-and-eat-and-leave meal, and some picky eaters may walk out hungry because of the limited selection. Our waiter (Chris) was excellent and very attentive (he went to another restaurant to retrieve a pinot noir we asked for), and service throughout the restaurant seemed quite good. An 8 out of 10 (some delays and only above-average food bring down the rating a bit, but service bumps it back up).
Zavaz for lunch was perhaps a bit more than we expected – more of a dinner menu than a lunch menu, but our party was more than satisfied with the food quality. Some of the best dining we had was the lunch portions of salmon, grouper, chicken breast, even the scallops and shrimp at the salad bar. Again the Azul Sensatori staff provided excellent service (sensing a theme here?), beautiful location overlooking the pool and ocean. Very limited menu choices (only 6 to choose from), but they do offer that salad bar plus a food display of 3-4 entrees. Nice kids menu – you can tell Azul Sensatori really caters to the family market. Lunch at Zavaz was an 8 out of 10.
Le Chique is an incredible experience that absolutely every guest should take advantage of! Azul Sensatori’s adults-only restaurant is the only one on property that requires reservations, and they will not seat a party more than four to maintain the intimate and relaxed atmosphere. They also won’t seat much later than 8PM, as the best feature of this restaurant is the set menu. The standard dining experience consists of an 8 course gourmet dinner spread out over two hours, with such menu items as gazpacho with chili oil in a seaweed bubble, pate, smoked duck (in a smoky bowl), soups, and more. Incredibly interesting, and a very fun experience, especially with your choice of ten different house wines. For those looking to go all out, Le Chique offers a 14 course wine-pairing dinner ($95pp additional) which is closer to four hours, adds extra course and gourmet bites, and is paired with 5-6 different wines depending on the fare – not to mention several of the dishes are brought to the table by the head chef or sous chef. Easily a 10 out of 10.
Sienna is an authentic-looking Italian cellar, complete with brick walls and a massive candle display, serving excellent regional Italian dishes. We had top notch service and the menu offered many different choices, from chicken to beef to fish to pasta (of course), along with several soups and salads. Again, access to ten different house wines. Great experience, an 8 out of 10.
Zocalo, the Mexican restaurant, may have been our party’s favorite (if it wasn’t for the children in the party, Le Chique would have won hands-down!) as we dined there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Excellent Mexican dishes, a nice food display spread for all three meals, great views over the pool, nice cantina outside for drinks, and a special brick oven pizza kitchen for lunch and dinner. Highly recommended, another 10 out of 10!
For more information, client reviews, current specials, and pricing for Azul Sensatori, click here.