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Champagne greetings, private butlers, beachfront massages—and that's just to say hello. Even in these belt-tightening times, or perhaps because of them, the Riviera Maya's luxury resorts strive to outdo one another with over-the-top amenities, ranging from tequila tastings to in-room chefs to personal Range Rovers.
The lion's share of Riviera Maya hotel rooms are in vast, all-inclusive beachfront resorts. (All-inclusive sometimes really includes all your costs—but sometimes not. Read the fine print.) They usually have multiple restaurants, swimming pools and entertainment options, and are popular with families—although some top-end properties don't take kids. Whether you choose to relax poolside or on the beach in a sun bed with built-in mist-sprayers, chances are you'll spend a good part of your trip admiring the ocean view. In fact, it's rare to find a resort that is not perched on the white sands of the Caribbean. Nearly all resorts (and many public beaches) along the Riviera Maya are only accessible through security gates off Carretera 307.
Death of the All-Inclusive?
A crop of new resorts along the Riviera Maya takes pampering to a higher level. By eliminating the all-inclusive option, they can provide every luxury imaginable. The price for a room at these resorts is exorbitant and you'll be charged for every single indulgence you consume. But in the end, you'll get exactly what you pay for, rather than paying for something you don't want or won't use.
Named for the Banyan tree that centers the property, the focus of this Asian-style resort is the award-winning spa. The service here is unparalleled, and the location is downright surreal. Designed to blend with their natural surroundings, some villas are built on stilts over the water, while others rest on the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean. For the ultimate in relaxation, every villa has a private pool, sundeck, and pavilion.
Pushing the boundaries of luxury, this exquisite resort spills across 20 acres of crystal clear lagoons. Nestled under a canopy of mangroves, rooms are spacious (some 3,200 square feet) and include outdoor showers, plunge pools, garden baths, rooftop sundecks, and private docks from which guests are transported throughout the property by boat. Reminiscent of Venice, roads are replaced by water canals that wind from the limestone lobby to the pristine beaches. The 17,000-square-foot spa is on its own private island.
The Viceroy Riviera Maya
Tucked in the forest of Riviera Maya, this luxury refuge embraces nature with 45 sumptuous bungalows surrounded by waterfalls and jungle at the edge of the sea. On arrival, guests are greeted with a coconut-lemongrass cocktail and then escorted to their suites by private butlers. Bougainvillea petals create a natural path from your private plunge pool into the palapa (thatch-roof) villa with its garden terrace and outdoor shower. Unlike many properties in the area, the Viceroy introduces guests to the environment and traditions of Mexico with tequila tastings, diving courses, and Mayan rituals.
Zoëtry Paraíso de la Bonita
This small, all-suites all-inclusive resort really does include everything in the price, which is a welcome change from the big resorts that promise everything and often come up short. With an attentive staff and well-designed, attractive rooms, it's the kind of luxurious retreat where you really can settle in an enjoy yourself. Even better? It's among the closest Riviera Maya resorts to Cancún's airport.
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