Mexico’s Caribbean coast is bordered on the northwest by Yucatán, on the west by Campeche, and on the south by Belize. For most visitors, the beaches define the region — powdery white sands that curve to embrace clear turquoise lagoons. Inland, Maya ruins beckon — Tulum, Chichén Itzá, Sayil, to name but a few. The region also encompasses some pretty stellar resorts, four-star properties that bring together luxury, adventure, and absolute pleasure. Here are 6 that took our breath away.
Paraiso de la Bonita Resort and Thalasso, Punta Tanchacté
Eclectic is the byword at this luxury all-suites hotel. A pair of stone dragons guards the entrance, and the spacious two-room guest quarters — all with sweeping sea and jungle views — are outfitted with furnishings from Asia, Africa, the Mediterranean, Indonesia, or the Caribbean. The restaurants, which are among the best in the Riviera Maya, adroitly blend Asian and Mexican flavors. The knockout spa has thalassotherapy treatments, some of which take place in specially built saltwater pools.
Secrets Maroma Riviera Cancun, Manazana
This resort’s sweeping driveway and grand entrance lead to a gorgeous Spanish marble lobby, where bellmen in pith helmets await you. The guest rooms are similarly opulent: all have Jacuzzi tubs, marble bathrooms, ornate Italianate furnishings, and private balconies. The property, which includes six swimming pools and more than a dozen restaurants and bars, is centered around a luxurious spa, where you can get a decadent Maya massage or facial.
Maroma, Punta Maroma
At this elegant, extravagant hotel, peacocks wander jungle walkways and the scent of flowers fills the air. Rooms, which have small sitting areas, are filled with whimsical decorative items and original artwork. The king-size beds are draped in mosquito nets. A full breakfast is served on each room’s private terrace; the restaurant excels at such dishes as lobster bisque and honeyed rack of lamb. A cutting-edge “flotarium” (a tank of water where you float deprived of light or sound) was recently added to the already luxurious spa.
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Ikal del Mar, Punta Bete
The name, which means “poetry of the sea” is apt: this romantic jungle lodge on Punta Bete’s beach epitomizes understated luxury and sophistication. Guests have included European heads of state, who surely cherish the privacy and serenity. Villas are named after poets and have thatched ceilings with intricate woodwork, sumptuous Egyptian-cotton sheets, Swiss piqué robes, and tony Molton Brown soaps and shampoos. Beside the sea near temple ruins, the spa delicately fuses Maya healing lore and ancient techniques into its treatments.
Explorean Kohunlich, Kohunlich
At the edge of the Kohunlich ceremonial grounds, this ecological resort gives you the chance to have an adventure without giving up life’s comforts. Daily excursions include trips to nearby ruins, lagoons, and forests for bird-watching, mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking. You return in the evening to luxurious, Mexican-style suites filled with natural textiles and woods. All guest quarters are strung along a serpentine jungle path; they’re very private and have showers that open onto small back gardens.
Casa del Agua, Puerto Aventures
This small, discreet, romantic hotel, lovingly designed by Mexican architect Manuel Oreanamos, has one of the coast’s most sumptuous beaches. Each of the four large suites is strikingly different from the next. The Arroyo suite has a stream of water running above a round king-size bed; the Caleta has a double shower in a secluded garden; the Cenote promotes relaxation with its meditation room and to-die-for ocean view; and the Cascada commands a stunning vista of Puerto Aventuras from its L-shape balcony.
See Fodor’s Carribbean Coast for more information