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The Riviera Maya is a 75-mile stretch of Yucatan Peninsula that runs from Puerto Morelos to Carrillo Puerto and encompasses towns, beaches, rocky headlands, and virgin tropical forest. One of the major tourist destinations in Mexico, the Riviera is hailed as a more relaxed, idyllic, and natural setting than the heavily developed Cancun scene to the north. Elaborate eco-parks line the coast, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy world-class amusement rides while also appreciating the rich natural history and indigenous cultures of the region. The coast is also dotted with sheltered coves and white sand beaches facing onto clear turquoise waters, which are home to beautiful coral reefs, and host adrenaline-filled sports fishing opportunities and scenic kayaking expeditions. All-inclusive hotels in this area tend to enjoy less development pressure, producing large, spacious resorts with a wealth of features and amenities while immersing guests in unspoiled natural surroundings. Here, we dive into a few of our absolute favorites.
Best Overall: Grand Velas Riviera Maya
With three distinct zones — including sophisticated adult-only retreats, beachside family areas, and tranquil jungle sections — the Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers a unique tropical getaway that suits all types of visitors. At the Grand Class, stylish suites feature modern furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto private balconies with plunge pools and ocean views. Three restaurants serve contemporary French cuisine amid opulent décor. The Ambassador provides family-friendly, beachfront accommodations surrounding the large, free-form infinity pool, with casual restaurants creating Italian, Mexican and international dishes, accompanied by sweeping ocean vistas. The Grand Zen is set in an oasis of lush mangrove forest, peaceful koi ponds, and colorful tropical flowers. The wooden decks around the stone-tiled pools are filled with relaxing cabanas and sun lounges, and two restaurants provide fresh local seafood and exciting Asian cuisine in cozy dining rooms and relaxed open-air terraces.
Best Budget: Grand Oasis Tulum
For visitors looking to enjoy all the benefits of an all-inclusive resort without the accompanying price tag, the Grand Oasis Tulum delivers a first-class experience for less. Sleek, modern rooms are brightened by a welcome addition of fresh tropical flowers and they feature large TVs, coffee machines, and iPod docks. Over at the infinity pool, guests enjoy waterfalls and a swim-up bar where fresh sushi bites are available. The adjoining kids' zone is filled with pirate ships, slides, and kid-sized sun lounges. For parents, there are tennis courts and Temescal treatments in the spa. A range of restaurants serve varied cuisine from traditional Italian fare to a Mediterranean gastro-pub and Mexican/Japanese fusion cooking. Although guests can stay without purchasing the Grand experience, an extra $5/day gives you access to exclusive pools, restaurants, and bars, including a new wine bar and the popular rooftop terrace.
Best Boutique: Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya
Set on an isolated stretch of private beach and surrounded by untouched tropical forest, the Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita is an exclusive property of oceanfront suites, each one uniquely furnished with indigenous elements from around the world. The traditional theme is apparent throughout the hotel, with natural-finish wooden pillars, terracotta adobe walls, and rough-cut stonework throughout the complex. The spa and wellness center features the first Thalasso seawater treatments in North America, as well as Mayan massage and body wraps therapies. Three on-site restaurants offer charcoal grill, gourmet fusion, and sushi and ceviche dishes. No matter where you dine, be sure to take full advantage of the beautiful natural setting, with atmospheric alfresco dining terraces offering picturesque beach scenes. Guests availing themselves of the Endless Privileges program enjoy a host of extra benefits including sunset catamaran rides, private chauffeured airport transfers, spa therapies, and access to a nearby golf course.
Best for Families: Grand Residences Riviera Cancun
Just a short 15-minute drive from Cancun International Airport and 10 minutes to Puerto Morelos, the Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is an easily accessible property that nonetheless retains a peaceful and secluded air. At this family-friendly resort, kids under 12 stay for free, and a multitude of activities and amenities ensure a great stay for the whole family. Three hotel pools include a kids' pool, a large infinity pool with amazing ocean views, and an adults-only pool with swim-up bar. There are countless outdoor activities available, from snorkeling and beach activities to tennis and bicycle tours. The kids' club screens movies and organizes a busy schedule of activities to keep them occupied while parents relax in the spa center, join beach yoga classes, or work on their fitness at the well-appointed gym. Light snacks and drinks are offered at the Heaven Beach Bar & Grill, while El Fargo offers a varied menu of international and Mexican dishes in a relaxed dining environment.
Best for Romance: El Dorado Casitas Royale
Couples looking for a tranquil, private, and indulgent escape should look no further than the El Dorado Casitas Royale. Set within the grounds of the El Dorado Royale — and with full access to all the hotel's amenities — the luxury villas provide next-level tropical elegance and comfort. Polished wooden furnishings and natural-finish ceiling beams lend a gentle, traditional feel to the modern rooms, and the large bathrooms offer stone tiles, a double vanity, and a relaxing double hot tub with a romantic outside shower attached. The two-story villas offer private balcony pools and bars overlooking the grounds and beaches, as well as a generous wooden veranda with a thatched roof, white cotton drapes, and a soft double bed for star gazing during the warm evenings. Meanwhile, swim-up suites allow for private access to the lazy river and swim-up bar in the palm-filled pool courtyard.
Best for Luxury: Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
Located on a stunning stretch of pristine white sands, Secrets Maroma Beach makes full advantage of its enviable location. A huge infinity pool overlooks a sandy courtyard filled with swaying palms and tropical shrubbery which leads onto the private beach. There, guests can receive massage treatments while relaxing on shaded sun lounges and plush cabanas. Spacious guest suites are elegantly furnished with carved wooden furniture, earthy orange and red color schemes, and private terraces with plunge pools. The luxurious Secrets Spa offers massage and hydrotherapy treatments, as well as a full-service beauty salon in a serene setting. Dining options range from Italian cuisine in a fountained marble restaurant setting, hibachi-style Japanese tableside cooking experiences, and fresh seafood and grill options on a casual alfresco terrace. As far as drinks go, there are a number of social poolside bars, the sophisticated lobby bar, and a popular nightclub which hosts daily entertainment including live music and dance exhibitions.
Best for Singles: Heaven at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya
Visitors looking to party like a rock star invariably flock to Heaven at the Hard Rock Hotel, the adults-only corner of the massive sprawling resort. With rock-themed décor and a lively atmosphere, the Riviera Maya outpost lives up to the image that this brand has long cultivated. The huge pool — with its bridges, waterfalls, whirlpool tubs, and swim-up bar — is the centerpiece of social activities, with regular foam parties led by fun and enthusiastic staff members. Small but tastefully decorated rooms are packed full of modern amenities. As well as the restaurants and bars in the all-ages section of the resort, Heaven features four restaurants of its own which specialize in dishes from steakhouse dinners to elegant French cuisine and hearty Italian fare. Numerous bars throughout the resort keep guests imbibing throughout the day, and the cavernous nightclub features dazzling lights, whirlpool tubs, and live DJ events.
Best for Business: Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso
Just a short, direct drive from the Cancun International Airport, the Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso is well set up to cater to business travelers, conferences, and team building events. The striking effect of the Renaissance-style hotel is accentuated by an impressive lobby with a stunning rooftop mural, green marble pillars, and lush foliage. Within the hotel, the convention center hosts nine venues ranging from intimate boardrooms to spacious conference spaces with a capacity for 1,500 guests. More relaxed business can be conducted at the on-site 18-hole golf course, on the alfresco terrace of the beach bar, or in the refined cigar bar. At the conclusion of the day’s business, guests can unwind with a soothing spa treatment, work out in the modern gym, or relax on sunbeds and cabanas around the large courtyard pool. A diverse range of Italian, Japanese, French, and American steakhouse dishes are served at six hotel restaurants.
Best Hostel: Hostel Humanity
Just a short walk from the beach in the village of Puerto Morelos, Hostel Humanity provides cozy and friendly accommodations for social, fun-loving travelers. The simple but cheerful color scheme of bright primary hues reflects the laid-back and enjoyable atmosphere of the hostel. Guests can be found mingling in the common area, relaxing in outdoor hammocks, or enjoying the sun in the hostel pool. Dorm rooms and a private double room are available, all with ensuite bathrooms and air-conditioning. W-iFi is available throughout the hostel, and hot drinks and fruits are provided in the mornings in the small but serviceable common kitchen. Knowledgeable staff is happy to help guests arrange activities and excursions, and are often found enjoying evening drinks with guests on the rooftop terrace before heading out to the local nightlife hotspots.