An Inside Look at Mexico’s First Cartoon Character Complex

Are American entertainment brands embracing the international resort travel space?

At the March 31 grand opening of Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya, the first character-themed resort in Mexico, Paramount Global announced a forward-thinking approach to offering its portfolio of iconic assets for children and adults to the vacationing masses.

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The first to be released is a subset of famous Nickelodeon characters. The 280-room Nickelodeon Riviera Maya Resort and Aqua Nick all-inclusive features iconic characters from the Nickelodeon game show constellation, cartoons, and cultural touchstones like slime and the orange carpet.


Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya. (photo by Greg Custer)

“We are going to develop this activity on a global scale. Our goal is to always bring kids and families together for fun and relaxation. To quote SpongeBob, “You never really know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory,” said Pamela Kaufman, president, Paramount Global Consumer Products and Experiences. During the official opening, she was accompanied by the governor of Quintana Roo, Carlos Joaquin, the founders of Grupo Lomas, Doris Lopez Lira and Jose Luis Martinez, and the leaders of Karima Hotels and Resorts.

Kaufman continued, “This resort builds on the overarching mission to give children and families the opportunity to engage with our incredible portfolio of shows and characters – on screen and in real life, through incredible experiences at every touchpoint.”

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Located south of Puerto Morelos and part of the Grupo Lomas group of mangrove-backed resorts, the $340 million development had its soft-opening in August 2021. Built during the COVID pandemic, developers had to take special protective measures like housing construction work in COVID-free workspaces.

The resulting station, operated by Grupo Lomas, has three physical spaces. A six-acre character-themed water park (access is currently limited to resort guests only) features the newest sparkling waterslides, two lazy rivers, food stations and group SLIME sessions. Steps away are the main lobby and entertainment centers (a theater, gift shops, sports lounge, and two of the resort’s six restaurants).

To protect the property’s vast coastal mangrove, the second main feature is a strip of natural space – left untouched, but for a single road that cuts from the lobby into dense forest that is home to native wildlife. The winding lane leads to the resort’s third space, a six-story hotel room complex.

In addition to the natural space, the station deploys artistic accents in a creative way. Wall hangings include original cartoon designs, stylized embossed hieroglyphics of Nick characters, and green mud accents. The look and feel is surprisingly sleek and refined, yet colorful and playful.


Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya characters interacting with guests
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya characters interact with guests. (photo by Greg Custer)

The focus is on four main brands: SpongeBob, Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer, and Paw Patrol, all of which roam the resort at specific times of the day. Boldly going beyond simple character encounters, the heart and soul of the resort is a team of highly talented, bilingual and bubbly dancers who act as character entertainers. This troupe of young performers appear at Aqua Nick, evening theatrical performances and impromptu lobby get-togethers for resort guests and the Nickelodeon gang. There is nothing like it at any other Mexican resort.

Karisma’s “Gourmet Inclusive” theme and the company’s longevity marketing resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean help enhance the resort. Mandy Chomat, president of Premiere Worldwide Marketing, explained how the Nickelodeon Resort brand evolved. “After the Punta Cana Nickelodeon Resort opened, we had to create a different concept for the rooms. We had to change to accommodate larger families. Here, all rooms are available for two plus three (children). We’ve also added more storage space and room for luggage. The units also have two full bathrooms,” she said.


A room at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera
A room at the Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera. (photo by Greg Custer)

Ty Granaroli, Executive Vice President of Themed Entertainment for Paramount, said, “We’ve taken a sleek approach to branding. One of the things you’ll notice is how the characters are etched into the surface, into the rock. We want to play with how people interact with our brand in markets around the world. And it’s not always the same. »

Uniquely, all 280 rooms have individual infinity pools, facing the resort’s beachfront. Ground-floor (“swim-up ocean front”) units lead directly to the beach-facing pool (with two swim-up bars) that runs the full length of the bedroom tower . There is a white sand beach, but its Caribbean coast is rocky and not swimmable. Swimmable beaches are a short walk to the south.

Is this a kids only resort? Not so much says Chomat: “We have a lot of visitors who come without children. They grew up with Nickelodeon and they want to relive that. Pam Kaufman expands by saying, “We target children and families. We have the first generation of kids who grew up on Nickelodeon who are now parents and in some cases grandparents. Spongebob is 21 years old.


Water Park at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya
Water Park at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya. (photo by Greg Custer)

As for the future of Paramount Global and the resort space, Kaufman said, “We’re talking about building more amazing properties, the question is where and when. We have an incredible portfolio. Paramount of course has Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and has opened two hotels in Dubai.

“A third of the audience watching SpongeBob are over 18 with no children. We’ve all been through a lot with the pandemic and it’s extremely comfortable to watch something that makes you feel so good, and we’re good positioned in space. Nickelodeon has never spoken to children. If you look at the brand, we have always treated children and families equally. It is one of the only brands in the world that respects children for what they are.

With rates currently at $450 per adult (all-inclusive), this resort certainly raises the bar for family entertainment. Given Paramount’s vast reservoir of content, the popular culturally-themed resort may be here to stay, in no time.

For more information, visit Karisma’s website.

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