By Jane Borden. Thinking of getting away to a sunny spot along the eastern Mexican coast? The Secrets Resorts and Spas brand of beach-side properties in multiple Caribbean and Mexican locations cater only to adults and predominantly to couples and prefers the phrase “unlimited luxury” to “all inclusive.”
While guests are indeed free to enjoy each location’s restaurants, bars, and activities whenever they want and at no extra charge, the ad-speak phrasing of “unlimited luxury” is meant to imply that they’ll never have to wear wristbands or carry badges to do so.
The brand's locations on the Riviera Maya of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula include:
- Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun is actually located in Quintana Roo just fifteen miles south of Cancun, making it one of the most convenient destinations in the area that’s not full of college students. The beach is simply spectacular.
- Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun is twice as far south (do they insert "Cancun" in the name because they fear travelers can't find them? Regardless, the gorgeous Maroma Beach area was named one of the best beaches in the world by the Travel Channel, making it well worth the trip for beach lovers.
- Secrets the Vine Cancun is the priciest of the Secrets resorts on the East Coast. Visitors appreciate butler service in better suites at this AAA Four Diamond resort and the generous and tasty breakfast buffet.
- Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun is the least expensive of the Mexico properties.
- Secrets Aura Cozumel gets mixed ratings from guests. Some praise the service and select restaurants; others report that the property needs updating and maintenance.
These properties can be best described as destination resorts, meaning that guests rarely leave the grounds. There is much to explore on the Riviera Maya and the Secrets resorts have concierges available to advise adventurous travelers interested in day trips, but the “unlimited-luxury” will appeal most to vacationers looking to unpack, put their wallets away, and not see another gas-powered form of transportation until check-out.
Guest Rooms at Secrets Resorts
The overarching style of Secrets Silversands’s 441 suites—as well as its restaurants and bars—is trendy. The minimalist design is heavy on cubes and rectangles: square ottomans reside where chairs might. Color schemes favor silver and white, from the pale-stone floors to metal light fixtures. The clean lines are pleasing and the palette is reminiscent of the white sands outside, but those who aren’t fans of contemporary design might find the effect stark and chilly. Each unit has a king-size bed (or two double beds), in-suite whirlpool for two, private terrace or balcony, and free stocked mini-bar.
The appointments in Secrets Maroma Beach’s 412 suites are homier; a four-poster bed, paired with wooden balcony doors and a straw ceiling fan, lends a colonial air. Cream walls are accented by splashes of color, such as see-through pale-orange bed curtains and bright-blue tile mosaics.
Even the smallest guest quarters at each all-suite resort are outfitted with a private terrace and seating area. Bathrooms all feature separate toilets, showers, and Jacuzzi tubs big enough for two. Lounging among the jets is especially nice for couples in ocean-view suites, as the wall between the bathtub and the bedroom is retractable, allowing for a clear shot of the beach from the bath.
Those who don’t like to leave it all behind can get their entertainment fix from satellite TV and free wi-fi throughout the resorts.
One fun reason to spend a little extra time inside: There’s something alluring about slipping into bathrobes and slippers, ordering dinner in, and raiding a tiny refrigerator. At Secrets, these typically overpriced amenities are part of the “all” in all-inclusive.
Dining at Secrets Resorts
Because most guests choose to eat all of their meals on the property, Secrets Resorts and Spas feature several restaurant and bar options, most of which are signature to the brand. For example at both Secrets Silversands and Secrets Maroma Beach guests will find a Mexican restaurant called El Patio, the Pan-Asian spot Himitsu, Italian food at Portofino and French cuisine at Bordeaux.
Each resort also has one international buffet, one outdoor locale specializing in seafood, and one pool-side grill.
One perk of the system is that the total dining capacity far exceeds the guest-room capacity, meaning that diners will never have to make a reservation or wait in line for a table. (Note: There is a charge for bottles of any wine other than the house brand.)
The six signature bars also range in style from the most casual, a swim-up bar called Manatees, to the most upscale, a late-night dance club called Desires.
Even though each property has the same kind of restaurants, the menus and décor are unique to each. Secrets Silversands’ eating and drinking spots are, again, very trendy. However, while the bars follow suit with the sparsely decorated rooms, the restaurants bend toward busy rather than minimal. Himitsu is drenched with bright red accents, and Marcel Marceau’s face lines the back of every chair at Bordeaux.
At El Patio, though, the effect is endearing: heart-shaped stands filled with votive candles flicker near tables, and raw leather chairs smack Mexican authentic. There is a dress code. Secrets Maroma Beach’s restaurants and bars are cozier. Décor is more sophisticated and muted. Additionally, the four cuisine-specific restaurants—Italian, French, Asian and Mexican—offer outdoor seating for nice nights.
Honeymoons at Secrets Resorts
Whether hiding under a palapa umbrella for two on the beach, floating on rafts at the edge of one of several separate pools or whispering in a dark corner table over dinner, new couples on honeymoons will find plenty of opportunities to see no one but each other at Secrets Silversands or Secrets Maroma Beach.
In fact, the Secrets properties so cater to honeymoons that if you bring your marriage certificate with you, they’ll tack on a special complementary greeting: flowers, a fruit basket, sparkling wine and, on the morning of your choice, a champagne breakfast. Those booking an ocean-view suite for seven nights will additionally receive two different couples’ treatments at the spa, a private beachfront dinner, and the orchestration of a candle-lit rose-petal bath.
Energetic, outgoing couples might enjoy honeymoons at Secrets Silversands, where world music is piped onto pathways through ground speakers, performances take place nightly in an outdoor theater, and guests interact in a communal whirlpool by the beach.
Those looking for honeymoons where they can disappear into quiet will likely prefer the Secrets Maroma Beach property, whose most romantic aspect may be its swim-up suites.
Narrow, tree-lined pools line the first floor of buildings, with water creeping up to the terraces’ edge. (Some of Secrets Silversands’s first-floor suites are also labeled “swim-ups,” but the distance to the pools is far enough—and the privacy scarce enough—that couples on honeymoons may prefer having their own balcony upstairs.)
Destination Weddings at Secrets Resorts
Destination weddings in the Caribbean grow more popular among American couples every year, and Secrets is savvy about that.
Both properties are outfitted with a special gazebo for the exchanging of vows; or, for couples seeking sand and surf, ceremonies can be arranged by the beach.
If you’re hoping for the latter, Secrets Maroma Beach is probably a better choice simply because the beach in that area of the Riviera is more picturesque than in any other. Truly white sands give way to crystal-clear green water that breaks into bright blue skies—it certainly gives one the impression of being in a house of worship.
Depending on how type-A you are, the resorts are equipped to do everything for you but read the vows. The most extensive of several packages includes a wedding organizer, a personal dressing assistant, gown ironing, hair and makeup styling, a banquet for 20, cakes, centerpieces, boutonnieres, a photo album, and a video of the ceremony.
That’s all in addition to more standard package perks such as room discounts and spa treatments. There’s even a portable aisle on hand; in other words, they’ll literally roll out the carpet for you.
Activities at Secrets Resorts
Secrets Resorts and Spas have enough activities going on that you’ll never have to do anything twice. What Secrets Silversands lacks in beach real estate—the floor by the waters’ edge is too rocky for swimmers to wade out on foot—it makes up for in coral-reef proximity. One of the area’s most beautiful and lively diving and snorkeling locales is just a five-minute boat ride away (transportation fee is charged). Trips can also be arranged from Maroma Beach.
Both resorts offer sailing, wind-surfing, and kayaking trips with water-sports guides. Fitness nuts will mind the daily schedules for yoga and water aerobics. Land sharks can dabble in archery, bocce ball, ping pong and billiards. And guests seeking to expand their skill sets might sign up for a cocktail class or dance lesson.
Again, the activities at each property reflect that resort’s particular style. Chess at Secrets Silversands is quirky; huge rooks are moved about a life-size board. Chess at Secrets Maroma Beach is sublime; a board is painted onto a small table located with two stools in the middle of a shallow wading pool.
Then, of course, there are the spas. All manner of treatments are available: facials, manicures and pedicures, exfoliation treatments, and massage therapy ranging from relaxing to deep-tissue.
The amenities are more extensive at Secrets Silversands; an attached outdoor “water circuit” features several hydrotherapy stations which patrons move through in cycles. The couples’ rooms at Silversands’ spa—appointed with a shower and double hydro-tub—is especially luxurious.
As you might have guessed, Secrets Maroma Beach’s spa benefits are tied to its beaches: Massages for one or two can be received under billowing huts near the surf. The combination of sensations—breeze, the sound of crashing waves, and the gentle kneading of hands—is heavenly.
Nearby Secrets Resorts
The Riviera Maya is teeming with history, adventure and nightlife. Secrets keeps a special concierge on hand to help guests learn about and schedule a variety of day or night excursions.
A trip to the area would not be complete without visiting some of the ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization, which rose to prominence in the third century A.D.
Chichen Itza is probably the most trafficked locale (and also the closest of the major sites). The jungle-surrounded Coba pyramids and the ruins at Tulum, the only ancient Mayan city built on the coast, are also worth visits.
Adrenaline junkies can find tour packages that will have them rappelling down ravines, riding zip lines through jungles, and swimming in underwater rivers. To go it alone at a more leisurely pace, you might consider hopping a ferry from Cancun to nearby Isla Mujeres, where visitors can swim with dolphins and then explore the small island via golf cart.
There is no dearth of boozy boat cruises for partiers who want to dance the night away, and believe it or not, there actually are a few bars in Cancun without black lights and plastic neon shot glasses.
But since you’ve already paid upfront for you package at Secrets, it might be worth your while to visit the on-property nightclub, Desires, which stays open later than the rest of the resorts’ bars and usually features guest DJs, who keep the dance floor hopping.
What Could Be Improved at Secrets Resorts?
Although tipping was never explicitly encouraged, neither was there an edict to eschew it. I found that gratuities were often expected, or at least accepted. The policy—to tip or not to tip—should be clear.
Ideally, since all other charges are paid up front, guests would play a flat gratuity rate up front as well (or at check out). After all, the benefit of all-inclusive resorts is that one need never worry about carting around money or trying to do arithmetic after too many margaritas.
Secrets Silversands had recently opened when I visited, so I’ll the make the assumption that the kitchens and chefs where working out the kinks. But I’d be remiss not to mention that the food was, on the whole, disappointing—which is especially a shame when you’ve already paid for it up front. (The food at Secrets Maroma Beach was quite good.) However, considering I heard more than one couple complain about it to the staff, I hope that the situation will have already been rectified by the time you read this.
My only other concern is an esoteric one: Considering that the Maya Riviera is so rich with cultures old and new, it is especially odd to feel so little of that influence while staying at Secrets.
Secrets Silversands and Secrets Maroma Beach have worked so hard to provide everything an American couple could conceivably desire—sushi, Heinz ketchup, R&B—that some of the authenticity of being on the Yucatan Peninsula is lost.
Secrets Silversands — and Secrets Maroma Beach to a lesser degree—are essentially American resorts, which have been transplanted to the Caribbean. But, then again, that is simply their niche. And it’s an experience many travelers seek: to want for nothing in the sun and sand.
Are These Secrets Resorts Right for You?
Secrets is the kind of place where you check in at the front desk so you can check out of the world.
Trendy young couples will enjoy the stimulus of Secrets Silversands’s non-stop sound system and ebullient activities staff, while couples who want to fly solo might find more of an escape at Secrets Maroma Beach.
Neither is the right spot for adventurous, DIY couples, though—because why would you spend all of your time away from a resort when you’ve paid to have your meals there and engage in its activities?
But then again, a romantic vacation doesn’t necessarily need ravine rappelling as a component. It only needs sun, sand, a little booze, a lot of breeze and plenty of opportunities to snuggle—at dawn on the beach at Secrets Silversands watching the pelicans dive for their breakfast, in the afternoon on the beach at Secrets Maroma Beach watching white sailboats float beyond the waves, at night with your toes in the surf holding a champagne flute in one hand and your honey’s in the other.
Those are some of the best things the Caribbean has to offer. And Secrets—the Maroma Beach property in particular—has scored some prime Caribbean real estate indeed.
More About Secrets Resorts
Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun
Bahia de Petempich
SM 12 MZ 31 Lote14-02
Puerto Morelos, Benito Juarez
Quintana Roo, Mexico 77580
Phone: 52 998 193 1800
Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
Carretera Federal 307 Chetumal - Puerto Juarez, al norte de punta Maroma
Km 306.5 S/N
Playa del Carmen
Al lado de Catalonia, Mexico CP 77710
Phone: 52 984 877 3600