Crème de Riviera Maya: The Top Five (or so) Resorts

No less a literary lion than Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds . . .”  My detractors (may a pox be upon all your houses) would probably say I am a rare double qualifier under both the “foolish” and “little mind” categories.

In each of the first two posts of my now “wildly popular” (my term)  Crème de Mexico series, there were five resorts listed.  See Los Cabos and Cancun.  So, in the interest of being consistent if not imaginative (See Oscar Wilde quote . . .  what is it with these people and consistency anyway?), I have tried every way possible to shoehorn only five resorts into the Riviera Maya edition of this series.  Is it my fault that luxuriant crème seemingly flows through the Mayan Riviera like butter off a stack of blueberry pancakes?

So, without further ado, here is my personal list of the top five (roughly, give or take, more or less) resorts in the Riviera Maya.

El Dorado Casitas Royale

El Dorado Casitas Royale Exterior 2Those familiar with Condé Nast Traveler know that they have some very exacting standards.  El Dorado Casitas Royale by Karisma was voted one of their top 100 hotels in the world.  Those who know me, and even those who only catch a fleeting glance of my profile, know that I place a high premium on eating with a shared emphasis given to quantity and El Dorado Casitas Royale Saladquality.  This property had me for life when I discovered they offered a Gourmet Inclusive Experience.

You need to book at least a one week stay in order to sample all seven, count ’em, seven all-inclusive, à la carte restaurants ranging from International, to contemporary Italian, to Pacific Rim to . . .  you get the idea.

Casita is the diminutive form of house in Spanish, thus little house, which is exactly what you get with this property.  You need to spend a little time on this page to discover all that this term means.  For example, I discovered I have some hitherto unknown and apparently long suppressed exhibitionist tendencies because I loved the roofless outdoor showers.  Having said that, the paparazzi trying to scale the walls for a photo were annoying.  I was especially insulted that they all felt compelled to bring telescopic lenses!

El Dorado Casitas Royale Swim Up SuitesTrust me when I tell you, you need to book early (with yours truly, of course) and secure a swim up casita.  From your water-mirror balcony you can step directly into your pool which is connected to a lazy river leading directly to the swim-up bar.   I know, it sounds just awful, doesn’t it, especially to you folks in the northern parts of the US who have endured such a brutal winter.  I have two pieces of sage advice for you:  book your stay at El Dorado Casitas Royale and move to Texas right after you return!  Check out this video.

Secrets Maroma Beach

Secrets - Swim Up RoomRegular drinkers of my unique blend of kool-aid will know that I am a monster fan of Secrets Resorts.  In fact, I have written so many posts about the chain that they have earned their own category on my blog, quite astutely called Secrets Resorts.  One of the things I like best about Secrets is that while the service, cuisine and surroundings unfailingly adhere to the same high standard, they couldn’t be more unique in personality.

This particular property is blessed by being on the most pristine and famous beach in Mexico, Maroma Beach.  While all the spas in the Secrets chain are by Pevonia, I think this property has one of the most amazing facilities I have every seen.  You simply must take a moment and view the gorgeous pictures on the spa section of their site here.

Pevonia Spa at Secrets MaromaThis resort is the epitome  of romance.  Are you looking for the perfect place for your wedding, honeymoon or anniversary?  Consider you quest over.   Whether your story is just beginning or you are writing anotherSecrets Maroma - Weddings 3 chapter, it would be difficult to find a better setting for your personal romance novel.  As an added bonus, If your story line requires a jilted former lover,  a goofy yet loveable best friend, an annoying hanger-on or even a deranged stalker, I can fulfill any of those roles with equal aplomb for the most modest of fees.  Just have your people contact my people.

 Grand Velas Rivera Maya

Grand Velas Riviera Maya exterior flowersAs a marketer, I  am a sucker for a great tag line but only if the product or service rises to the level of the implicit promise.  Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare.  Now that has a nice lilt to it.  Do you like a nice ocean view room?  This property has 300 ocean view suites.  Do you prefer to languor in a well-appointed spa?   Grand Velas Riviera Maya has the most highly awarded spa in Mexico.  Does the term all-inclusive seem incongruous with the finest cuisine.  This resort can claim Cocina de Autor, the first restaurant of any all-inclusive resort to receive the AAA Five Diamond Award for restaurants.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya suiteAre you beginning the get the picture?  This resort really does have features that are beyond compare.  This property brings the term regal to mind.   Maybe it is the Butler Concierge that is provided for every guest.  Also, Chef Xavi Perez’s Cocina de Autor, mentioned above is only one of five gourmet restaurants, among them Chef Karl Gulotta’s Piaf Restaurant and Chef Ricardo De La Vega’s Frida Restaurant.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.  I was once named one of the Leading Sycophants of the World but at the time I was trying to finagle a free stay a deluxe resort so that hardly counts.

Royal Hideaway Playacar

Royal Hideaway Restaurant EveningThis resort is another Leading Hotel of the World property.  It is relatively small with only 200 rooms and is situated on 13 lush acres with one of the most stunning beaches in the Mayan Riviera.  If you appreciate classic Mexican colonial style, you will love every minute you spend here.

If you are up to the challenge of taking dining to another level (speaking personally, I was born ready), check out the Chef’s Table Experience, a gourmet tasting of more than 12 courses suitably paired with the best wines, naturally.

Royal Hideaway PlayacarIf your last limbo contest and beach volleyball game are but a distant and faint memory, I suspect you are going to fit right in.  This resort is all-inclusive but also all adults.  You won’t find any adorable (to their parents at least) little rug rats running to and fro disturbing  your carefully cultivated state of absolute zen.  You will be left alone to ponder life’s deep existential mysteries.  If a mutually acceptable solution to the Israeli / Palestine dispute is ever found, my bet is it will be by somebody sitting poolside at the Royal Hideaway sipping mindlessly on a Piña Colada.

Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso

Iberostar Grand hallwayIf ever there was a resort that was aptly named, it is the Iberostar Grand.  I have been privileged to stay there on several occasions and I have never ceased to marvel at the grand scheme of this palatial resort.  All you have to do is gaze at this hallway.  It looks like the entrance to a palace of the Sultan of Brunei, for goodness sakes.

If you are looking for romantic accommodations, check out the picture below.  All the rooms are spectacular with bathrooms larger than most starter homes.  Just beware of “hydration hesitation” where you find yourself mentally frozen in the middle of the bathroom wearing nothing but a perplexed look trying to decide between a soothing jacuzzi bath and a bracing rain shower.  It can happen.

Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso honeymoon gardenBeing an avid golfer, I love the fact that you can be whisked away from the front entrance by a chariot . . . OK, it may have been a golf cart . . . and 60 seconds later you are checking in at the pro shop at the Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club.  Ask us about packages that include golf!

My goodness how time flies when you are daydreaming about your next perfect vacation.  Rather than risk having your eyes glaze over or worse, having you slip into an irretrievable catatonic state, in the case of my last two resorts I am simply going to refer you to previously written literary gems found on this inimitable blog.

Blue Diamond

Blue Diamond ResortA Blue Diamond In A Silver Setting

Rosewood Mayakoba

One of the canals of Rosewood MayakobaSide Trip To The Sensational: A Remarkable Resort

The more punctilious among you may feel compelled to point out that there are seven resorts mentioned in this top five list.  You clearly were not paying attention to the clues strewn around this post like popcorn kernels after a Superbowl party.  I did try to give you a heads up.

Look on the positive side.  You are just going to have to live a little longer than you previously planned in order to experience every one of these gems.  Once you have, let me know which one is your favorite . . . if I am still around!

A Blue Diamond In A Silver Setting

Have you been struggling over what to give the light of your life this Valentine’s Day? If you are a man, just admit it:  you’ve been struggling.  (I’m giving you a huge benefit of the doubt by assuming Valentine’s has even crossed your mind more that three weeks out!)  You needn’t panic.  I have the perfect suggestion.

It was Carol Channing in the Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes who introduced the song that Marilyn Monroe shortly thereafter turned into a bit of enduring American lore:  “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend”.   You could do the diamond thing, a safe if uninspired choice.  I, however, have a better idea.  Rather than handing her a rock this Valentine’s, why not rock her world with a stay at the unforgettable Blue Diamond Riviera Maya?

Blue Diamond Luxury Resort

Here are a few thoughts to ponder and they’re all very powerful.  This property is all-inclusive (thus you know exactly what you will spend), all suites (who isn’t impressed when throwing open the doors to a suite) and all adults (if you need this benefit explained, maybe you should just buy a diamond).  So are you all in?

I know, I’m treating this weighty matter in much too cavalier a fashion.  We both know the stakes are extremely high since your credibility for, say . . . the next twenty years or so . . .is on the line.  You don’t have to tell me that most lovely ladies, not matter how delicate, have memories like six ton elephants.  Have you ever seen an elephant turn on a trainer?  Not pretty.  So let’s see if I can assuage your concerns.

Blue Diamond ResortSETTING

As with any diamond, you must consider the setting.  This luxurious property is positioned in the midst of 36 acres of lush tropical jungle. It fronts the tranquil, azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.  It rests in the midst of manicured gardens and is linked to the lapping ocean waves by a broad band of silvery sand.

CUISINE

If you are truly going to impress, both the dining and imbibing must comport with this significant occasion.  Even one mediocre meal or dubious drink is unacceptable.  Fortunately, in neither case will quality or variety disappoint.  You can share an incomparable gilded sunset at Aguamarina which features international cuisine coupled with a panoramic ocean view.

The Cigar Lounge at the Blue Diamond Riviera MayaIf your companion fancies Nouvelle Fusion, than you have obviously partnered way above your station since I am pretty sure neither one of us has a clue what that is.  But here is the great part!  Blue Diamond has a restaurant called Ambar which is all over Nouvelle Fusion like a duck on a junebug (granted an unfortunate turn of phrase giving we are discussing haute cuisine at the moment).

As for libations,  a chic rooftop bar called the Cigar Bar is the perfect location to sample a wide assortment of wine and spirits.  When craving a cappuccino or a tasty hot tea, Café Brulé is perfecto mundo as we like to pretentiously say whenever we chill out down on the Riviera.

ACCOMMODATIONS

If this is a romantic getaway for just the two of you, you just might be spending more than the normal amount of time in your room . . . ahem.  If that sounds about right, then the accommodations are of critical importance.

Suite at Blue Diamond Rivieria MayaIs it just me or does this private plunge pool have midnight skinny dipping written all over it?  Take a moment and read this page to learn all about the floor-to-ceiling windows, the plasma flatscreen TVs and the soothing rain shower.  (I’m thinking after the midnight skinny dipping you might need the rain shower to cool down!)

ACTIVITIES

Maybe it’s best we just move on to discussing the structured activities offered by the resort.  Those activities range from wine tastings and cooking classes to Spanish and yoga classes.  If you prefer to soak up a little more sun there is windsurfing, kayaking, sailing and introductory scuba diving lessons.

I invite you, as the resort itself likes to say, to “Uncover a dream destination amid the waves!”  Or, as we prefer to say, “Lend us your dreams and we will repay you with memories.”  Are we agreed then?  This Valentine’s you are going to give her a Blue Diamond set in silver sands!  Or, as my waiter unfailingly remarks with transparent flummery, “Good choice!”