Favorite DEN » The Riviera Maya
Sneaking away in the middle of the summer for just shy of a week is highly recommended and a deserved pat on the back. When it is as simple as the Riviera Maya, you’ll likely find yourself repeating trips. Many arguments can be made for vacationing on either coast of Mexico, but with cheap non-stop flights to Cancun from Austin-Bergstrom it makes for a simple decision, especially with the beautifully updated airport completed in 2010 catering to the area.
The region’s own travel website will provide some insight into areas of interest and excursions to explore. However, with my return trips over the years I’m still only slowly checking off the multitudes of things to see and do within Cancun, Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. There are so many others as well, all convenient to one another, on the eastern face of the northeast point of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Ocean.
This summer I experience my first all-inclusive megaresort, taking any guess work out of your vacation planning. It offered a calendar of hosted activities, nearly excessive numbers of bars/restaurants and enough accommodations for multiple events and weddings at once. While the El Dorado Royale Spa Resort was beautiful and easy, it left something left to be desired. With the more exclusive off-the-beaten-path boutique hotels, you feel more of a return home and can easily recommend to your closest friends.
Where Cancun and Cozumel have become famous with the help of MTV’s Spring Break Specials and cruise ships, Tulum hosts some of the easiest to access and most impressive Mayan ruins, while Playa Del Carmen is becoming more commonplace for smaller boutique hotels amongst the mega resorts. While I’ve experienced the touted attractions of each city I look forward to returning to explore three other lesser known resorts on future embarks.
The Riviera Maya based Be Hotels have two properties one in Playa Del Carmen and the other in Tulum. Both hotels are spectacularly designed to represent the city of their namesake and as such have been included within the Design Hotels Network. Be Playa is situated within the center of the city with the roof top pool overlooking the surrounding buildings, it is still extremely beautiful due to the exceptional interior and exterior design from the rooms through the common spaces. Be Tulum is more of a quintessential resort-like setting with it’s beachside setting, surrounding thatched roof cabanas, use of more natural materials and ample opportunities for seclusion. Both are choice options within the Riviera Maya.
Certainly a bit more funky and sophisticated is Reina Roja Hotel in Playa Del Carmen. This is Mexico’s boutique twist on Las Vegas’ new Cosmopolitan Hotel. Boasting a "green" element, this rarity hints at MOMA and a certainly hard to find avant-arde architecture within coastal Mexico. The concierge will arrange transportation to late night beach clubs, however once they close down you’ll find your room most conducive to hosting the after party.
The most modern and simplistic, while still remaining serene, is Hotel Deseo. Situated amongst cafes and restaurants, the lounge and hotel provide a bevy of posh furnishings juxtaposed against the aged adobe neighboring buildings for great effect. Containing many oversized rooms with walls of abundant light, the rooms also overlook a pool capable of watching projection movies while taking a soak under the stars. This small hotel has done a great job accentuating traditional Mexican architecture, both on property and as a focal point to surrounding buildings through the layout and design.
While traveling, becoming humbled by previously unseen beauty is one the greatest gifts. It was the unlikely meeting during this past trip of a hometown friend and his family while awaiting the return flight that made me thankful that the world is still small enough for extraordinary coincidences. It only furthers your gratitude to return to such an excellent city to call a home away from home.
Submitted by Bailey Tipps