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Barely 30 minutes separates the nonstop party that is Cancun and the infinite relaxation that awaits along the sublime, white-sand coast located just to its south: Mexico's Riviera Maya. I have visited the region several times and here are six of my favorite resorts for couples looking for a convenient yet indulgent getaway (Cancun is just a two-hour to four-hour flight from many U.S. cities) that feels oh-so-far away.
Maroma Resort and Spa Quintessentially Mexican in design – rustic-elegant white buildings with hand-carved wood beams and palapa rooftops – this welcoming 64-room resort (shown above at left; courtesy of Orient-Express Hotels) instantly makes you feel at home. Lush landscaping, candlelit walkways and one of Riviera Maya’s finest beaches are the visual treats, while the soothing Kinan Spa and contemporary Yucatan cuisine in El Sol (one of three restaurants and two bars) deliver physical comforts, made all the more enjoyable by the staff’s gracious service, from $525/night.
Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Spacious suites with sophisticated world-theme décor and luxurious bathrooms, plus “endless privileges” all-inclusive pricing (room, meals, beverages, and other extras are included in the rate), mean couples have nothing to worry about except enjoying their time together. In fact, wellness is this intimate and sensuous 90-suite resort’s overall theme, offered through fresh, gourmet cuisine and a 22,000-square-foot Thalasso Center & Spa, from $684/night, all-inclusive (if booked before 12/23/10 for travel through 4/29/11).
Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya This palm-lined enclave, built on a slender 36 acres of scenic lagoons leading to a stunning white-sand beach, features chic, contemporary décor in 128 two-story and bungalow-style villas. Beachfront Casitas (shown at right; courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotels) offer the easiest access to the sand (and a beachside pool), while Cenote Rooms, overlooking a tranquil saltwater lagoon, are adjacent to the spectacular spa. Four restaurants and three bars offer plenty of dining options, from $695/night (with $100 daily resort credit).
The Tides Riviera Maya More intimate than many other Riviera Maya properties, this 30-villa resort is all about wellness and effortless chic – eco-conscious design with dreamy white draping in a jungle-meets-beach setting. Each palapa-topped stucco bohio (villa) has a draped king-sized bed and louvered doors leading out to a private plunge pool. La Marea, a restaurant overlooking the tranquil beach, serves Mediterranean, Mexican, and Mayan specialties, while the small but excellent spa combines marine elements with natural jungle botanicals, from $455/night.
El Dorado Royale (www.eldoradosparesorts.com) If you enjoy having room to roam, this upscale, adults-only all-inclusive offers plenty of space to play: 13 pools and seven restaurants spread along a stunning stretch of beach. In addition, each of the resort’s 639 suites features a Jacuzzi for two, and the most romantic are either Oceanfront (shown at right; courtesy of El Dorado Royale) with views of the sea or Swim-up with step-in access to a lazy river leading to two swim-up bars, from $494/night, all-inclusive.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba To truly unwind in style, book one of the 78 Pool Villas at this 20-month-old resort – you won’t want to check out. The décor combines an Asian aesthetic (clean lines) and Mayan warmth (colorful accents) and when you step outside, you can enjoy lush green space overlooking a garden, courtyard, or lagoon with a double hammock and a private pool. The beach is reachable via golf cart or lagoon shuttle boat, four restaurants offer everything from Thai to Mexican to modern eclectic fare, and the Banyan Tree Spa brings relaxing ambience and expert Thai technique to Mexico, from $688/night.
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