Hotel do Bob Esponja, Mexico, targets Brazilians with in-room pool and water park

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Hotel do Bob Esponja, Mexico, targets Brazilians with in-room pool and water park

With slime baths and other games, SpongeBob SquarePants, his friend Patrick, Dora the Explorer and the PAW Patrol welcome guests to Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya.

The Mexican unit of the theme complex (the other is in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic), which has been in operation since August 2021 under a soft opening (pre-opening) scheme, was officially opened at the end of March this year.

Located between Cancún and Playa del Carmen, in the so-called Riviera Maya, in the state of Quintana Roo, the resort is half an hour from the airport, in a mangrove area. According to Karisma, which operates the project, 85% of the land has been preserved. “We don’t want to become a new Cancún”, said Marilyn Cairo, representative of the American network.

Nickelodeon operates on an all-inclusive system (all-inclusive food and alcoholic beverages), like most hotels in the Mexican Caribbean. There are six restaurants, three bars and 24-hour room service to accommodate the 280 apartments, all of which have a swimming pool and sea views.

The complex is divided into three parts: 1) main lobby; 2) water park, which is next door; and 3) an apartment building, about a kilometer away and where most of the restaurants and bars are also located. Vans and golf carts transport guests — it’s easier to see a lizard on the way than a tourist moving around on foot.

Dependence on internal transport brings a certain discomfort, especially from Monday to Thursday, when breakfast is only served in the lobby restaurant. There is not much waiting time, but having to move is a “job” that could be expendable for those who just want to relax.

The infinity-edge pool in the room is one of the resort’s differentiators, not exactly private. Access to it is via the apartment’s balcony, and the space is shared with a couple of suites — in the case of the upper floors. On the ground floor, rooms face the resort’s main pool.

No frills, the rooms are comfortable and spacious. Cushions and paintings by SpongeBob and company translate the atmosphere of a theme complex. The two bathrooms make life easier for larger families.

(This journalist traveled with an assistant, his nine-year-old daughter, who made good use of the bathtub and fled the pool — which is not heated.)

In a challenge to the stereotyped image of the Caribbean, the sea is not inviting to bathe — at least it wasn’t during the reporter’s visit. There is a lot of sargassum (a kind of seaweed), and employees try in vain to clean the sand.

In the restaurants, seafood, Mexican food and, of course, lots of hamburgers, to cater for kids and Americans — sometimes it feels like being in Florida. Disney-style shows and attractions are mostly in English. It is possible to schedule breakfast with characters.

Despite the American predominance among guests, Nickelodeon says that Latin Americans, especially Brazilians — regulars in and around Cancun — are part of the target audience. In 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, more than 180,000 passed through the region, according to data from regional authorities.

It certainly won’t be for the money that Brazilians will be convinced to visit the resort. A search on the website carried out in May did not find room rates for two adults and two children for less than US$ 1,100 (R$ 5,600).

The price for Americans is also on the souvenir shop labels. A SpongeBob plush goes for over R$200.

To make the rate worth it, you need to make the most of what is perhaps the resort’s greatest asset: the water park, which is free for all guests — admission for adults who are not on Nickelodeon costs US$ 199 (about Rs. $1,000).

Aqua Nick follows the pattern of the genre, with water slides (in one of them, a capsule, you experience the sensation of almost free fall when a hatch opens under your feet) and a river with waves. Even if you don’t like to slide, it’s worth climbing on the 70-meter high platform for a view of the entire complex and the sea.

The children have fun once a day with a shower of slime (here, not really the snot, but a green liquid).

In the park, drinks and fast food are also included. Bungalows (some even with TV) are paid separately.

Unless you are a big fan of resorts and don’t mind limiting yourself to the airport-hotel-airport circuit, it is worth planning to visit the various natural and historical attractions in the region, such as Isla Mujeres, the pyramid of Chichén Itzá, the island of Cozumel and Tulum, with their beaches and Mayan archaeological site, and cenotes (caves that house underground rivers). The hotel arranges tours.

Please note: make sure Cancun airport transfer is included in your rate or book the van provided by the hotel (US$43 per person, round trip). The report paid for a taxi the equivalent of almost R$1,000 (official price) for the stretch of about 30 kilometers.

Testimony: ‘I liked the water park, I didn’t really like the shows’

Estela Cavalini Constantino, 9

“I found the hotel very cozy. The sea was very beautiful, you couldn’t swim, because there was a lot of seaweed. The food was good. I thought that a hamburger I ate tasted very different from what you find in Brazil. I liked the most was the water park with the waterslides. I didn’t really like the shows with characters, as they spoke everything in English and Spanish; I think Brazilian children wouldn’t enjoy that much either. The room was very comfortable and spacious. It has two bathrooms, and the pool in the room is very surprising but very cold. It was boring to take a van or golf cart to get coffee, go to the park or check out. The place was beautiful. That was my perception.”

The journalist and his daughter traveled at the invitation of Grupo Karisma Hotels & Resorts

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