Stay the night: Azul Sensatori, Cancun

A plush, unrushed, all-inclusive resort for families and couples alike? Sarah Barrell put it to the test
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The Independent Travel

Sensatori Resorts are a relatively new departure for Thomson's Premier Collection.

They marry high-end services with a familiar package-holiday formula, and represent a classy introduction to the all-inclusive for those who, like myself, might be a bit wary. The first resort opened in Crete in 2008, followed in 2009 by this resort in Mexico (20 minutes south of Cancun airport on the Cancun-Tulum development corridor known as the Riviera Maya). Two more are to come shortly (in Tenerife and Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt).

This Cancun resort is exemplary, with 438 suites in several low-rise buildings set around five lagoon pools and a generous plot of Caribbean beachfront. It's plush but very much a package-holiday resort rather than a five-star hotel. Still, this all-inclusive starts delivering right out of the departure gate. Each passenger has a generous 23kg luggage allowance (plus 7kg of hand luggage).

One of the USPs for this range of 5T hotels (Thomson's highest rating) is that they stay on the company's books only if they receive a "good" or "excellent" in feedback from at least 90 per cent of customers. High-end facilities include "Gourmet Inclusive" dining (top-notch nosh, complimentary drinks and 24-hour room service), flat-screen TVs and hot tubs in the rooms, while toys and baby kit are loaned out. There's also a kids' club, which our family didn't need to try out thanks to the sensible layout of the resort. The beach has four-poster cabanas in which we could entice our three-year old to take a midday nap. There's also a little children's playground right on the sand with toys on loan. The beach is narrow with powder sands and the water is shallow and calm, so we could watch from our sun loungers as our kid toddled around with other children. A long wooden jetty with bench swings overlooking the impossibly blue Mayan waters was also nearby, providing a retreat for quiet reading.

A beach BBQ sprang up each day under some palapas, and most nights low-key dancing and dining would be conjured up in the same spot: you need never leave the beach. The resort aims, perhaps somewhat idealistically, to cater to everyone. There are Premium and Adults-Only suites with a swim-up bar plus and adults-only restaurant. There were as many honeymooners as young families. The resort avoids herding of any kind, be it for beach volleyball or afternoon poker. There's plenty to do but, mostly, you're left to please yourself.

The rooms

All rooms have marble bathrooms, rainforest showers and Jacuzzis, plus flat-screen TVs, DVD players and iPod docks. Some of the premium or adults-only suites have private pools and swim-up terraces. Suites interconnect for larger families and sofa beds are comfy. I would question the logic of putting the family room block right next to the main bar/disco; thankfully we have a child who sleeps heavily and we had packed earplugs.

The food and drink

There are six à la carte restaurants (including one headed by a Michelin-trained chef), but you can also use complimentary 24-hour room service. The food is really good considering the range and volume served. There's an accomplished Italian restaurant, superb breakfast and lunch buffets, an atmospheric Caribbean set over the water, and a 12-course tasting menu at adults-only Le Chique. The only tinge of mediocrity, oddly, was the dedicated Mexican restaurant.

The extras

Spa with beachfront massage gazebo, sunrise yoga lessons, tennis court with free lessons, kids' club, splash park and baby pool. Excursions and taxis are expensive, so budget if you want to visit local sites such as the Mayan pyramids at Tulum.

The access

Most rooms are wheelchair accessible and there are ramps for the pool and beach areas.

The bill

Thomson offers seven nights from £1,067 per person. This price is based on two adults sharing on a Gourmet All-Inclusive basis, with return flights from London Gatwick, priority resort transfers, all taxes and charges.

The address

Sensatori Cancun via Thomson (0871 231 5595; thomson.co.uk).

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