So, you’re planning on spending your next holiday in Mexico, but you don’t quite know yet where to go or where to stay? We’ve all heard of Tijuana and Cancun, but where you really should be heading off to is the Riviera Maya. It’s this long strip that’s situated between Cancun and Tulum.
It’s home to one of the most beautiful Mayan archeological sites: Tulum. It’s also home to several ecological theme parks like Xcaret (sh-karet) and Xel-Ha (shel-ha) and the beaches are to die for. It’s also home to some of the best 4 and 5 star all inclusive resorts in the world. I’ve had the pleasure of staying into several of them and I’m happy to share my top picks with you.
As I am always travelling either with my husband or either with a girlfriend or another couple, my suggestions are not really catering for couples with kids. The suggestions are made in random order by the way 🙂
1. Occidental Grand Xcaret
This 5* all inclusive hotel is actually located inside the Xcaret Park! You can upgrade your stay there with an Xcaret Unlimited Xperience package if you stay in the hotel for 3 nights and more. This allows you free entrance to the Xcaret park for as much as you want to, amongst lots of other extras of course. The hotel doesn’t really have a huge white sandy beach, but there is a quiet cove where you can immerse yourself into the Mayan water. There’s also 5 big swimming pools, so you’ll have your pick of different places to swim during your stay. There’s also 11 (yes, you read that one right) restaurants located onto the hotel complex, including 5 a la carte ones (make reservations ahead!).
We were there for our honeymoon and we got to stay in the Royal Club, where we were staying in one of the Royal Club Master Suites. The Royal Club is a secluded section of the hotel. Only guests staying into one of the Royal Club rooms have access to the separate restaurant, you have your own pool, there’s a private and very speedy VIP check in and you’ve got your own concierge who will take care of you during your entire stay.
Let me just say that the room was huge … we had 2 bedrooms, a dining room, a living room and a whirlpool tub that fitted two people. As it’s an all inclusive, the minibar was stocked and refilled on a daily basis. We also had 3 television sets in the room. One downside: you have to pay for your wifi in the room. I still don’t know why hotels charge you extra for something that should really be included …
2. Bluebay Grand Esmeralda
I love this hotel!! I’ve given this tip to many friends in the past, all of whom came back ecstatically. When I visited the Bluebay Esmeralda, the hotel had just opened a couple of months before . You could see that they were making something spectacular of this location. There’s normally only rocks and a little bit of sand on this beach, but as you can see on the main picture, there’s a lovely white beach now. You can enjoy your romantic getaway in the sand and frolic in the waves. Another reason why I love this hotel so much: they’ve got a Belgian chef. He uses actual Belgian chocolate in his desserts and for his chocolate fountain. The food at the buffet and the a la carte restaurants is yummy. Another plus: the staff is so friendly! And of course you’re thinking now “well yeah, they’re payed to be friendly”, but in the Bluebay there’s nothing fake about the friendliness, the genuinely want to give you the best possible service.
Some facts and figures: there’s 7 restaurants, 5 of whom are a la carte, there’s 3 swimming pools and here they have a concierge in each building of the hotel. Also here, there’s wifi, but it’s at an extra charge if you want it in your room. Our friends and I stayed in a swim up suite – on of the best inventions ever made in the hospitality sector! You have your room, right? There’s a terrace, right? But get this: right onto your terrace, you have your very own swimming pool!! You can actually jump into your swimsuit, run from your room onto your terrace and jump into the water! (which we did 🙂 ) How awesome is that? I mean, look at it:
Oh, and there was also a bottle of Don Julio Reposado Tequila waiting for us in the room. To this day, we’re still looking for a bottle here in Belgium. If someone can help us, please let us know in the comments … we’re desperate!
3. Riu Playacar
First up: I love Riu Hotels & Resorts. I’m a BIG fan. I’ve been staying in a lot of Riu hotels now over the past few years and I’ve never ever been disappointed. The service is great, the rooms are nice and spacey, the food is up to par, … If you are in doubt about your hotel choice and there’s a Riu on your list, choose Riu. They have this level of quality that they carry out onto all their hotels.
Riu Playacar is a 5* all inclusive that’s located near the lovely town of Playa del Carmen. If you want to go shopping, go to a restaurant outside of the hotel or go enjoy a lovely cocktail, then Playa del Carmen is the place to be. Playacar is the hotel zone next to it. To me, this hotel is perfect for young couples or young groups of friends. Playa del Carmen boasts of a lively scenery with lots of bars, cafés and beach parties. It’s also where the annual BPM festival is each January.
Riu Playacar is a 24h all inclusive, catering to those with nightly cravings! It’s not one of those huge hotel complexes like the previous two, but a nice and cosy hotel. There’s 3 restaurants, but as a guest of Riu, you can also go and enjoy the amenities of all the other surrounding Riu hotels (apart from the Palace hotel). Great system, no? There’s 2 swimming pools with swim up bar and the hotel is situated immediately onto the lovely white Playa del Carmen sands. There’s standard rooms and junior suites in the hotel, the junior suites have a separate living room, but apart from that, both rooms are the same. By the way, there’s a spa and wellness centre, so you can really enjoy some R&R!
In conclusion: the Riviera Maya has some awesome hotels. Keep watching this blog space in the future for my tips for trips to the Riviera Maya too. If you already want to book your stay into one of these three hotels, follow these links: