• Emily Mendez

Adventure On A Budget: Viva Wyndham Azteca in Playa Del Carmen

You don't have to be rich to travel. The key to traveling on a budget is to choose the right accomodations.

When you’re too broke to travel, it’s hard to log on to Instagram and not feel a little depressed when you see feed after feed filled with exotic destinations, stunning bikini pictures, and luxurious hotels. The good news is that it can be surprisingly cheap to travel to the exciting destinations that you see on everyone’s social media feed these days.

As a single parent, I am always looking for ways to save money on travel. When I’m on a budget, one of my favorite types of vacations is an all-inclusive resort. I found the Viva Wyndham Azteca in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico a great choice for adventure on the cheap. Here's my review.

The Resort

Emily Mendez, Viva Wyndham Azteca

This resort is located in the Riveria Maya region of Mexico, which has tons of heart-pumping, fun experiences like flying high above Mayan jungles on a zip line. What I liked most about the Viva Wyndham Azteca was how far my vacation dollars stretched. Rates were less than $100pp during the low season. Drinks, food, and shows were included. I traveled with my teen daughter and choose this resort because it had paddleboarding, windsurfing, and kayaking included for free . Plus, we had free access to the Azteca’s sister resort, the Viva Wyndham Maya.

The Location

BallistaBuffalo, Main entrance to Playacar, Mar 2012, CC0 1.0

The Viva Wyndham Azteca is located in the Playacar area of Playa Del Carmen, which is one of the most sought-after vacation spots in Mexico — and for good reason. Forget about lackluster views of trees and parking lots. In Playacar, there was miles of fine, white sand and abundant sunshine.

Getting There

It was very easy to get to Playa Del Carmen. We flew into the Cancún International Airport, which was the closest to Playacar. The airport serves more than 30 different countries in South America, North America, and Europe. There are many non-stop flights from the United States to Cancun daily.

Playacar Area

The Playacar area of Playa Del Carmen is extremely walkable and bike-friendly. I stopped by the Playacar Center Shopping Mall to pick up some handmade goods from local artisans. There were several local pharmacies and small convenience stores close to the shopping mall, which made it convenient to pick up sunblock and various essentials there. After I checked out the shopping area, I biked over to the Playacar Ruins, which is a must-visit. This fascinating historical site was one of the very first Mayan communities that the Spanish visited.

The Property

Emily Mendez, Beach Area, Viva Wyndham Azteca

The resort is located right on the beach, which is one of the reasons that I choose it. It was one of the few resorts that offered direct beach access at a really good rate.

The property was well-maintained with plenty of lush vegetation and shaded sun chairs. There were walking trails throughout the resort.

Emily Mendez, Beach Area, Viva Wyndham Azteca

As you can see, the beach does have some sargassum, which is a naturally-occurring seaweed that has been increasing all over the Caribbean in recent years. However, the resort did a good job of cleaning up the sargassum every day when I was there. It did not affect my vacation at all. We did boogie boarding, paddleboarding and swam every day.

Food and Drink

Emily Mendez, Viva Wyndham Azteca, Xul Ha Restaurant and Bar

When you stay at the Viva Wyndham Azteca, you can choose from four different restaurants on-site. Plus, there is a snack bar by the pool area that serves lunch, which was quite good. There is a coffee bar at the snack area. It served a variety of espresso drinks, which were all excellent.

We dined at the sister property, which was about a ten-minute walk on the beach. I felt completely safe walking along the beach with my daughter to the Viva Maya, even late at night. All of the restaurants at the Maya were excellent, as well. We especially loved the energy and atmosphere at Hacienda Don Diego.

The main buffet at the Azteca is called El Nopal and served a variety of international dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The selection was good and included made-to-order omelets, as well. The one negative is that the main buffet area was not air-conditioned. However, there were fans, which provided airflow.

The specialty restaurants were all excellent. Options ranged from sushi to Italian dishes. Reservations were required to dine at the a la carte eateries. We had no problems getting reservations as long as we were flexible.

Emily Mendez, Desert at Il Palco Restaurant


Emily Mendez, Water Sports, Viva Wyndham Azteca

One of the best things about the Viva Wyndham Azteca was the variety of activities. This fact is what makes the resort so great for adventure seekers. You can learn to windsurf. Lessons are offered almost daily. Take part in a Zumba class. Join a game of beach volleyball with fellow vacationers. Or, use the resort’s bicycles to bike around Playacar.

The Animation staff were all very friendly and try hard to make the activities interactive. Guests are encouraged to join in the fun. Each evening, there was a show that takes place in the main theatre. The shows vary from night-to-night. The performers were dedicated and entertaining.

Massage is also offered onsite so that you can enjoy a bit of rejuvenation after an exciting day of windsurfing or kayaking.

Important tip: Don’t damage or lose the equipment! While paddleboarding in the ocean, we lost the paddle. It was impossible to find it as the ocean currents were quite strong. I ended up PAYING for that mistake. So, be extra careful when using resort equipment.

Emily Mendez, Viva Wyndham Azteca, Massage Table

The Rooms

The rooms were very basic, yet clean. If you are looking for upscale, luxury accommodations, you will be disappointed. Expect no-frills, budget accommodations when you stay at this property and you will be fine. On the plus side, the rooms were very clean and spacious. It is important to note that the resort is focused on environmentally-friendly operating practices, so they do not stock bottled water. You are provided with two bottles for your stay. There is a 7-11 store within walking distance to the resort, which offers reasonably-priced bottles of water. So, go there to stock up for your excursions.

Final Thoughts

I found the Viva Wyndham Azteca to be an excellent resort for adventurous travelers who are on a budget. It is a reasonably-priced all-inclusive that provides clean, basic accommodations. The resort offers direct access to Playacar Beach. It is also in close proximity to all of the major attractions of the Riveria Maya — from the breathtaking beachside ruins of Tulum to the secret underground caverns called cenotes.


©2018 by Emily Mendez.