Literally translated Mayan Coast, the Riviera Maya can be used a general term used to describe the 93 miles of beachfront encompassing the area from Playa/Costa Mujeres all the way South to Tulum, including the coastal cities and towns Yucatán Peninsula like Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Puerto Aventuras. This post will dive into why the Riviera Maya should definitely be on your list.
There are over 170 major hotels and resorts in the Riviera Maya from high rises to boutique properties and everything in between. There are properties that specialize in romance travel, family vacations, wellness travel, and every other permutation of traveler. Resort activities are selected to provide an experience the brand is known for so they are by no means cookie cutter. The quality of beaches vary widely, even for properties next door to each other. You could visit 170 times, and have 170 unique stories to tell.
Last December I attended a FAMiliarization trip (“FAM”) hosted by my head office Classic Travel Connection. FAMs give travel professionals the opportunity to learn as much as we can about a property, get to know the management team, and experience the amenities for ourselves so that we can better qualify our clients.
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya
For the first half of that trip, we were based at the all new Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya. This sprawling family-friendly, all-inclusive property is as cool as can be! And brand new! We stayed in a Swim-Up Oceanfront Pool Deck Level Queen Suite which offers 2 Queen Beds, a Pull Out Sofa Bed, and 2 bathrooms. Of course we toured the entire property, including the impressive Lair Suite.
The massive waterpark is phenomenal! And this resort needed it as the beach is not quite swimmable.
I really enjoyed Nick and AquaNick and think families will too, as long as a great beach is not a priority for them. And truthfully, here you don’t need one.
Hilton Playa del Carmen
For the second half, we stayed at Hilton Playa del Carmen, another family-friendly, all-inclusive property, in a Junior Suite Garden View Double.
Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort town. This property has more of a traditional Mexican feel. The beach is swimmable here, which is a bonus, with public pier access right next door. Of course ocean views are always preferred, but I enjoyed watching the nighttime shows on the lawn from the balcony. You are also a short walk away from the famed 5th Avenue – a pedestrian avenue with dining, shopping, art galleries, crafts, etc. – where I purchased a delicate, hand made, miniature nativity set.
So what other properties did we inspect? So many! And not just all-inclusives. We toured a few that feature a European Plan (meaning meals are a la carte), that were sensational. I won’t cover every single property we toured, but I do want to showcase select favorites.
Hotel Xcaret Arte
Hotel Xcaret Arte was the overall winner for me. It is an adult-only, all inclusive property, with an authentic Mexican design. It is the sister property to family-friendly Hotel Xcaret, and adult-only La Casa de la Playa. Your stay at any of the Xcaret hotels include park admission to all of the Xcaret nature parks.
Atelier Playa Mujeres
Atelier Playa Mujeres is an adult-only, all-inclusive property that features gourmet cuisine. Hands down, the meals far exceed normal all-inclusive fare. Both the beach and pools here are breathtaking.
UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya
UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya is an award-winning, adult-only, all-inclusive resort. My honeymooners love it! Each room is assigned a local host to attend to the guests’ needs, and the service is unmatched. The beach, like most in Riviera Maya is not the turquoise color you see in Cancun, and may be rocky with large waves. But the pools more than make up for it.
Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun
Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun is an adult-only, all-inclusive resort known for its lively and welcoming vibe and rice art. I really enjoyed the food here as well. Jungle meets beach at Live Aqua so you’ll make a few friends.
Hyatt Ziva Cancun
Hyatt Ziva Cancun is a family-friendly, all-inclusive property that has an adult-only section. The property also boasts a dolphin habitat and the trainers put on show for guests. This is a fantastic option for families.
The Fives Beach Hotel & Residences
The Fives Beach Hotel & Residences is a sprawling resort more akin to townhouse living. It is well suited to larger families with one, two, and three bedroom suites. One of my favorite features is the jungle setting, which means you get to see all manner of wildlife.
NIZUC Resort & Spa
NIZUC Resort & Spa is an award-winning, family-friendly resort that features a European Plan. It is one of the most serene resorts I’ve ever visited. It is surrounded by a protected area that was home to a former Governor, and caters to clients seeking exclusivity, privacy, and luxury.
Not only do you have your pick of resorts in the region, options for excursions are endless as well. From visiting Mayan ruins and snorkeling in cenotes to swimming with whale sharks and ziplining in the jungle, there is something for everyone. Take a look:
Where you’re staying in the destination will be one of the main considerations for recommendations. Travel time can be extensive, especially with road work around the airport slated for the next 18 months.
Since COVID, the Riviera Maya has been my top selling destination and I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I wrap this blog post, I’m back here again and can’t wait to write about this latest experience!
The Riviera Maya / Hilton Tulum and Hilton Cancun / Akumal Monkey Sanctuary & Rescued Animals
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