I’ve gotten quite a lot of calls lately from families and couples wanting to vacation “somewhere” along the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Most people know it’s around Cancun yet far enough away from the party-like atmosphere this city is known for. Once they find out Riviera Maya is the area south of Cancun and north of Tulum, Jimmy Buffet’s “Mexico” quickly becomes #1 on their iTunes playlist.
It’s easy to understand why people are drawn to this area. Beautiful beaches, an abundance of sunshine, a fun culture, and usually, a non-stop flight to Cancun. And I’m sure the image of relaxing on a beach with a Dos Equis in hand doesn’t hurt.
Now that you’ve figured out where you want to go, it’s time to figure out which resort is right for you. With over 200 resorts along the Riviera Maya, narrowing them down is like finding a needle in a haystack. Especially the needle with the color thread you need. Most are all-inclusive resorts and range anywhere from a 2 star property up to a 5 star that would impress even the traveler that swears “a la carte” is best. Some are terrific for families - others for romance. The key is knowing which resorts best fit with they type of trip you’re looking to take.
If you’re looking to travel with the kids, two great, all-inclusive resorts to check out are Aventura Cove and Azul Sensatori. Both offer kids clubs, rooms that can hold a family of five (a huge bonus in our house), and separate kids and adults-only areas. Aventura Cove is slated to become part of the Hard Rock Hotel group in early 2013 so keep an eye out for some hip improvements that both kids and adults will love.
The Rosewood Mayakoba is a great, romantic resort featuring modern suites with open spaces to take advantage of the lagoon or beach view. All rooms have private plunge pools with some offering private rooftop terraces. If you prefer an all-inclusive, check out and Royal Hideaway Playacar. A private concierge service, great location, and a variety of on-site restaurants add to the overall appeal.
For those seeking high-end luxury, Banyan Tree Mayakoba is the definition of luxury. There aren’t rooms at this Asian-inspired resort - only villas. Each one offers a large pool and outdoor living space. Spa therapists are trained at one of the Banyan Tree Spa Academies around the world to provide their clients a truly authentic Thai massage. Grand Velas is an all-inclusive luxury resort where families are welcome. While the kids are enjoying their programs, take a dip in the infinity pool, dine at one of the many fine restaurants, or relax in the spa. There are also separate adults-only and family accommodation sections.
Once you’re booked, don’t forget to look into visiting the archaeological site at Tulum. Or interact with Mayan culture at Xcaret, an eco-archaeological site. And if swimming with fish makes the cut, snorkel in the largest natural aquarium in the world known as Xel-Ha.
I will visit the Riviera Maya myself this fall. The prices drop, the hotels and tourist attractions are less crowded and the evenings are a bit cooler. Luckily, the beachside Dos Equis are still plentiful.
Danielle Meeker is a Travel Advisor with Liadis Travel, Ltd. in Newtown Square, PA and a Haddonfield resident. Danielle@Liadis.com.