My wife and I booked a last minute trip to Cancun to celebrate New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day and we really looked at Trip Advisor for advice as you haven’t failed us yet. This review will be lengthy as we find the reviews so helpful, especially when trying to make a decision quickly. We only stayed at Live Aqua for 4 nights and tried to see as much as we could while we were there while still relax at the same time. We ate at every restaurant and hit every pool (hard work but we’re givers like that). We’ll try to provide information on all of the general questions that we had when we booked and we never able to get answers on the forum or from the hotel itself.
Short version: Some minor hiccups along the way but overall the hotel is amazing and you will not be disappointed. We rarely visit the same place twice and have plans to go back there as soon as possible. Food, service, facilities, everything made for a perfect, quick relaxing vacation. We would recommend this place to anyone. We are a married couple in our 30s but saw all ages and types of folks at the beach and bar. We think anyone would be comfortable here. If you are looking to relax with a cocktail by a beach or pool, look no further. Just book it. This turned into a second honeymoon we had such a wonderful, relaxing time.
We have been hesitant to hit AI’s in the past but this does not follow the AI stereotypes. (we hit our first, Couples Negril, in May was were pleased but we think Live Aqua is little bit better, but also a different type of resort/vacation). Word of caution: if you see a $400 resort credit in a package deal, skip it. It is not a true $400 credit but rather discounts equaling $400 on additional services (spas, beach cabanas, upgraded food etc). We asked about this credit when on the hotel reservation line and with US Airways line and were told the $400 credit could be used for additional costs, no one mentioned nor was it written anywhere there was a specific use breakdown until we got to check in. This was an annoyance but we made the best of it.
Transfer from Airport to Hotel: We had a transfer service through our vacation deal booked through US Airways vacations. It was a shared shuttle via Best Day travel and ride was smooth as we only had to stop at 3 other hotels before making it to Live Aqua. We waited 15 minutes at the airport for our van. A/C, nice driver, etc. It would have been nice to know this was a shared shuttle before booking (it just said an airport transfer was included) but this was not a crisis. No problems on the way back to the airport either.
Check-in: We arrived at 3:00pm and we booked an Ocean-View room. At first, they only had us staying to the Jan. 2 but thankfully we had out confirmation printed out and the email in our phone saying Jan. 3 We had booked an Ocean-view room but then we were told that they did not have any rooms available in that class so they offered to put us in a ‘Garden-view’ room with an offer of two 50-min massages. We found this annoying since we booked and paid for an Ocean-View room and they said they could see what we could do. Needless to say this wasn’t how we wanted our vacation to start and really worried if this would be a trend in Cancun or at the resort. Thankfully it wasn’t but first impression was not great. Meanwhile, other guests are getting hand massages and drinks and we are standing there trying to figure out what to do next with very little guidance as to what to do. After about 15 minutes, they said we could get into a garden room with the free massages and then go into an ocean room for the last day of our stay. That was not going to happen (keep in mind the cost of two massages does not come close to the cost of the difference between and ocean room and a garden room for three nights).
After getting a hold of a manger, we were finally able to sort things out. Finally they got our booking corrected that we were to stay for 4 nights and got an ocean view room with 2 queen beds instead of a single King bed. This whole ordeal was a lot of wasted time and a crappy way to start a vacation, but thankfully the rest of the trip was great. Meanwhile, while they were trying to settle our room we got a short hotel orientation explaining the restaurant times and going through the map of the resort . We did get an invitation listen to their ‘vacation club-timeshare offer that really made us feel uneasy. We just said no right away and they didn’t bring it up again. Our room was not going to be ready for a few hours, so we killed some time by scheduling our departure shuttle (we received instructions from our driver to do this when he picked us up) and making dinner reservations for the next few nights (there were only a handful of slot available for New Year’s Ever night at this point).
At this point we were starving so we decided to explore a bit until we could get into our room. As we walked down to the pool/beach area it started to sink in that the resort truly is gorgeous. The view from the main walkway past the infinity pool right into the ocean made us stop in our tracks.
We sat down for lunch at Azur on the beach and after the first bite of food, my wife and I were so happy that we chose this location. Amazing what some good food and a little wine can do. But we started to relax and by the time we ate our late lunch our room was ready. The service was great and we started to feel better.
Room: Ocean-View Mezzanine Rm 1407. It was near the end of the hallway away from the open air lobby and elevator so it was quiet at night in the hallway. The room did have two (2) queen beds instead of a single King, but the view made up for it as it looked into the courtyard below and we will post photos from our deck as it was nice to wake-up with that view. It was long and narrow but a good size. Bathroom had a separate tub and glass door shower. The hair dryer is small but not worth bringing your own for a beach trip. (we stuck to carry on only for this trip). Beds were insanely comfortable and the room had an aromatherapy burner in it that was a nice touch. A mini bar (all included) had beers, sodas and some snacks. Great room and the view was worth fighting for. There is an in-room movie and popcorn service that’s included but we did not use it.
Location: The hotel is in the “hotel zone” and right across the street from a main shopping mall. Going to a mall is something we would NEVER do on a vacation (we live in a major metro area with plenty of malls) but after our check-in mess and a later dinner reservation we just wanted to get off the resort for a while. The mall is actually really nice and a good way to kill an hour or so. Very touristy with a Hooters and a Planet Hollywood etc, but it is an open-air mall on a lagoon so just nice to walk around and people watch (we heard four different languages in a six-foot span). Some souvenir shops in there too. It is not a must-see but not bad either. There is also a bus that will take you all along the tourist zone and up to the major bars. We didn’t take this but it ran pretty frequently based on what we saw out the window.
Food: Overall, great food and strong drinks. No watered down slushy messes here. Some misses, which can be expected, but really we have eaten at some fantastic restaurants and some meals here were on the same level. Service is fantastic as well. Inlaa’kech and Hidden Garden are the only restaurants that you need reservations so we booked them once get there. We also had to book ahead for their special New Year’s Menu as all restaurants were offering the same menu, it was just up to us to pick which location we would like to eat after before the beach party for New Years.
Sunday Lunch (Azur Cafe) This was our first lunch. We choose to try some of the food on the buffet and try some food from the menus. Items on the buffet we liked- Fish in red sauce, Pork Ribs and we enjoyed the tuna tartar and calamari from the menus. All of it did not have the mass-produced taste or quality you would find at a buffet. All of it was delicious.
Curious though why the hotel keeps red wines cold. Our Cab. Sav. was served nearly ice cold and it just tasted strange.
Sunday Dinner (Inlaa’kech- Reservation required, and upcharge cost of $60 per person, we used our food credit for this): This restaurant is not included in the all-inclusive price so you get more private service and food options (i.e. lobster, lamp chops, filet mignon, etc.) You know you’re in heaven when you talk to the waiter about not being sure which entree to select and he tells you well just have both so my wife had a rib-eye and lobster tail and I have the NY strip and lobster tail. Note- they were out of the filet and lamb chops as we had the late (9:30) reservation and said there were many people there for the holiday. We can understand that to a point but it also gets a “really? are you kidding?” but nothing to ruin a reputation over. The steaks were cooked more medium –well than medium but still very tender, but the lobster tails were huge and grilled but still tender and overall a very good meal. It is important to note how beautiful the restaurant is as it’s hidden from the hotel walkways by a collection of mangrove trees trussing over the dining room and feature pool. You can’t even tell it is a restaurant when you first walk by it. The pool inside was empty during our dinner, which just became funny as we were basically eating next to a big empty hole. But didn’t spoil the evening. if we did not have a food resort credit to use, we are not sure we would have opted to eat there and not sure we would go back because the other restaurants are so great and already included.
Monday Breakfast (Siete Buffet): We were seating next to the window looking out onto the pool area as we sat decided which drink we wanted to start our New Year’s Eve off with: Mismosas! Fresh juices and coffee flowed freely too. The buffet is divided into three (3) stations on one side: Mexican- salsa, mole’, empanadas, and tacos; Sweet- French Toast, waffles, and crepes; Omelet stations. On the other side of the aisle you have a selection of fresh fruit, bread and pastries, juices, granola, etc. There is even a staffed smoothie bar. My wife also learned that can order ‘off-the-buffet’ as she got smoked salmon and capers each morning. If you can’t find something to eat here, there is a serious problem as there is any breakfast food you could imagine. Everything was very fresh and delicious, most of the main breakfast items were made right in front of you, yet there was never a huge wait for food. Totally a great way to start each day.
Monday Snack (Sea Corner- beside the Shore Club Pool) Fresh Guacamole, seafood ceviche and with a menu like that we had to just order one of each and work our way down the menu. Loved the seafood tacos and fried fish taquetos. Small portions were perfect for a snack instead of trying to get through a huge plate of food. Great flavor and seasonings, nothing is bland here. Does it get any better than eating chips and guacamole, drinking a margarita on a beach in Mexico? nope.
Monday Night Dinner (MB-Special New Years Dinner): The almond/ foie gras soup was tremendous and we had the option of a salmon or filet option for diner and again I could not decide so waited offered that I could have the salmon with a side order of Filet. My wife had filet with grilled shrimp. We did have red wine with dinner and we chose to try the Merlot and it was room temperature so the taste was perfect with the steak dinner. The decor was very modern and we had a seat with a view into the kitchen and we were not disappointed with the choreography of the chef’s in the kitchen. Fantastic service and a great meal. Never in a million years would we think we have experienced this at an AI.
New Years Party on the Beach- Very special night and one that we will both not forget. Half of the beach was setup for a cocktail party and we decided to take one of the several open beach beds setup along the edge of the dance ‘floor’ in front of the stage. At 10:00am they started with a special ‘Mayan’ ritual/ dance that were special for the region. Very professional and love the dancing/ music. Flanking the stage they had screens that showed various images from New Year’s Celebrations in New York and around the world. (Anderson Cooper/ Kathy Griffin views from Times Square along with the countdown til Midnight.) They have a live singer, whose name we did not catch but he is huge in Brazil as all the Brazillans on the beach went nuts when he got introduced. Then cue the music and DJ/ Dancing till 2:00am, and remember that all of this was going on the beach with an open bar with Champagne/ taco bars/ other appetizers and dancing. There were even fireworks at midnight. We were so happy and impressed with this party. None of the other hotels up the beach close to us had anything like this. It was amazing and we were so glad we did not go off to one of the usual Cancun bars. We had a fantastic party at our doorstep. The crowd as great and the dancing didn’t die down for awhile. Again, servers waited on you hand and foot. Drinks never went empty and bottles of water were always close at hand. They even gave out bags of grapes at midnight, going along with a Mexican tradition.
Tuesday breakfast: Siete again. MB also has a breakfast option but after a quick cruise through it, it looks like the same food so we just stuck with Siete.
Tuesday lunch: Burger from Shore Club. It was okay but should have stuck with tacos. Sea Corner is really the best place for a beach lunch.
Tuesday snack (Sushi Station): We tried a few rolls for a lite snack before our late dinner reservation and were rather happy with the quality. We tried the BBQ, California, Tempura Shrimp and Philadelphia rolls.
Tuesday Dinner (Hidden Garden- Reservation Required): This restaurant specialized in tapas type entrees and a cheese fondue appetizer. We were happy with the tapas but really excited about e fondue appetizer. It was a creamy combination of swiss/manchego and cheddar cheese in a mini bread bowl. You just simply cut away from the bowl and see the cheese ooze out. Again the atmosphere of the restaurant hidden among the mangrove trees and plants with a waterfall feature we were sat beside made the evening memorable. The tapas are very small (they are supposed to be) and each little bite was better than the first. It was great to leave a meal satisfied with great quality food versus stuffed with so-so food. Very impressed.
Tuesday Night Drinks (AKA Bar): This bar sits outside of the MB & Siete Restaurant and looks directly into the sushi station and pool table area. A nice simple bar and if you ask nicely for a scotch they might pull the black label scotch from under the bar instead of the red label they have out. They have the tequila tasting at this bar during the afternoon. Great place to grab a drink.
Wed: Breakfast Room service. We had an early pick up for our trip to Chichen Itza so we opted for room service (included) versus heading down to the buffet. It came right on time and omelets, etc were all great. (my wife ordered an egg white omelet with no problem).
Wed: we did lunch off the resort and dinner was at Azur on the beach again. Delicious sea bass and fillet, along with a ravioli appetizer. Fantastic service for our last night continued the trend. There was a dinner buffet along with a dinner show on Wed night. We caught the tail end of it that included some gymnastic type show. The buffet had a wide variety of foods from buffalo wings and tacos to cotton candy for dessert. We opted for a sitdown meal for our last night instead.
Thurs: enjoyed breakfast at Siete before heading off for the airport.
ETC: Cafe/ Deli Boutique (The Hidden Gem of the resort) Cafe lattes, smoothies, cookie/ cakes and my wife’s favorite (chocolate on a stick) just because. Seriously, just some amazing milk or white chocolate on a stick like a lollipop. We ever took a few cookies and macaroons for our day trip to Chichen-Itza for a light snack. There are also some other desserts and Panini available there but we never tried them.
Egos Bar: After-dinner bar with house music and lounge seating. We only stopped in once into this bar but it seems nice for a gathering with friends after dinner. There is a dj and dancing in this bar on some nights.
Shore Club Pool and Swim up Bar: All of the pools are heated but this one is the smaller of the pool areas and offers the swim-up bar and more music while you sit there and get some rays or talk with visitors/ neighbors from FL, NC, GA, etc. As you empty glass hit the deck, Alexandra and staff where there to offer another as you didn’t even have to tell her your previous order as she knew what you had. First day we just reserved two chairs looking out to the beach, but the second day I was able to reserve one of the free beach beds with a umbrella beside us to save us from the sun’s rays and just sit in the shade and enjoy the breeze and drinks. Drinks are strong and plentiful. The staff caters to every need. There are no drink menus, so know your cocktails of choice before you go. Mojitos and margaritas were fresh and delish, and did not taste like syrupy junk. You can order food right at your beach chair too. My wife, on a pure whim, just asked if she could get some chips and guacamole and less than 5 minutes later it was there.
The main infinity pool is amazing and the water is tremendously warm. We spent a little bit of time there on our last full day after our Chichen Itza tour. We could have spent 10 days at this hotel and never been tired of it.
I did notice on the forum reviews that the beach/ pool chairs get reserved early on so I did go down before 8:00am to get a prime chair or beach beds at the Shore Club (the area around the swim up bar pool) every morning. At that time I would say that 75% of the loungers were reserved by various books, magazines and other towels. We spent 95% of our time just relaxing on the beach. Great view, great weather.
You can rent beach or pool cabanas for an extra cost but even if our resort credit ($30 off an $85 cabana) we saw no need for it. It would have been nice but we enjoyed ourselves with out it.
Beaches: The flags were Red every day we were there so we couldn’t enjoy the beach and ocean as much as we wanted to but we did go out and kept close to the shore as the life guards wanted us to remain in a small area so we could keep an eye on us as a group. We jumped in the waves and made it out to a sand bar about 100 feet from shore were the water was only about knee deep. Water was that amazing blue and warm. The sand was nice but we would have to put it as the 3rd nicest beach we’ve been to behind 1) Anguilla and 2) Negril, Jamaica. Again, though, it is a gorgeous beach on the ocean.
Gym: We did hit the gym Monday morning before breakfast and it was nice with 4-5 treadmills and 3-4 working elliptical machines. There is a small free weight area with two benches and then there are several weight machines if you wanted to do circuit training. There is a smaller enclosed area off of the main treadmill area for abs/ stretching. Towels and water bottles are plentiful and staff is eager to bring you something if you catch their attention in the middle of your workout.
Spa: We did take advantage of our $85 resort credit and did the ’day-pass’ feature that allows you to take advantage of the spa sauna/ Jacuzzi/ steam room and whirlpool combination with intermediate dips into a ‘cool’ pool to relax your senses. My wife got a coffee ritual scrub/body wrap thing that she says was amazing. The interior of the spa is very dark and relaxing. A day pass ($20) is great way to see the spa without having to pay for a whole treatment.
Other details: The service was unbelievable and we did end up tipping a lot more than we anticipated. We did use the computer center that is located beside the concierge/ excursion center to print out our boarding passes and book our off-site tour. We looked a head of time into a private excursion to Chichen-Itza and we did find out that it was over $100 cheaper to book away from the resort groups. (review on that to come but it was worth every penny). Wi-Fi worked best in the rooms and I never got a signal outside the resort on the beach or restaurants.
Another fun fact (not to ruin the surprise) but there are three beautiful resident parrots of the resort. They come out for a little while each afternoon flying around and for photos. A great little addition.
If you have read this far, you are probably really looking at booking a trip to Live Aqua. It was an expensive trip and we tipped more than we normally would but over a holiday and after such a great experience it was really worth it.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.