Karisma Resorts and Their Bracelet of Charms

Perhaps, dear reader, you are not yet familiar with the string of jewels that comprise the incomparable Karisma Hotels & Resorts. That will not be the case once you have read this riveting little blog post.  You will not only be fully informed but thoroughly charmed . . . I’m sure!

hammockThe name Karisma is derived from our English word charisma and has come to mean the sort of charm that others find alluring or irresistible.   You will soon discover that the entire family of Karisma Hotels & Resorts are dripping with charm like a Cocker Spaniel caught in a summer storm dribbling puddles of water on your kitchen floor.

dsc03318Above I compared this collection of resorts to a string of jewels but, exercising my writer’s prerogative, I am shifting the metaphor more appropriately to a bracelet festooned with charms.   By way of full disclosure, my objective for the next several blog posts is to inspire you, like an ingénue with her first charm bracelet,  to start your own personal collection of Karisma Hotel & Resort visits.

Let’s start with the basics, shall we?  Karisma Hotel & Resorts is a family of gourmet inclusive adults only and family friendly properties situated in Mexico’s Riviera Maya south of Cancun.  You really need to begin adding charms to your bracelet immediately (if not yesterday) since there is a new Nickelodeon in Punta Cana and there will soon be additional resorts in Puerto Vallarta and Jamaica.

I spent the past few days inspecting all nine of the Karisma properties in the Mayan dsc03333Riviera.  (OK, we didn’t actually tour Hidden Beach.  They have naked people running around over there . . . seriously!)  I even graduated from Karisma Groumet Inclusive Experience University where I squeezed the entire four year bachelors program into two hours!  I even have the sheepskin to prove it.  OK, it’s actually paper but sheep are a little rare in that part of Mexico and sheep tanners even more so.

I only share this nugget with you to establish my bona fides as a Karisma expert.  (I will gladly show you my diploma but I am a tad shy when it comes to flashing my bona fides in public . . .  not that they aren’t quite respectable, mind you!).

OK, we are starting to drift a bit.  Back to the matter at hand.  Karisma Resorts is the parent company with Azul Hotels being the family friendly properties (along with the new Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts), the El Dodados are the adults only resorts where children, if you hear them referenced at all, are usually described by the guests in muted tones as “the coming barbarians”, “street urchins” or “rug rats”.  Generations Riviera Maya is a fairly new brand for those families where every generation actually enjoys each other’s company.  The high occupancy rate never ceases to amaze me.  (Just a little travel agent humor, dear family. Hugs and Kisses!).

With so many resorts in the destination, what makes Karisma Hotels & Resorts unique?  Pretty much everything.  They are not like any other hotel chain nor do they aspire to be.  From their partnerships with Jackson Family Wines, Canadian Beef, My Gym, and Nickelodeon to their pioneering transformation of all-inclusive into Gourmet Inclusive to artificial reefs and over water bungalows, they are setting the standard for the entire destination.

karisma-brands

There remains barely enough time in this post for a listing of the Karisma properties located in the Mayan Riviera.  For a complete list of all the Karisma Hotels & Resorts brands and properties click here.

Azul Beach Hotel

Azul Fives Hotel

Azul Sensatori Hotel Mexico

El Dorado Maroma

El Dorado Royale

El Dorado Casistas Royale

El Dorado Seaside Suites

Generations Riviera Maya

Hidden Beach (You’re on your own here.  I am not allowed to speak about this place, much less visit.  I had to wear blinders when we drove by.)

I know this has only whetted your appetite.  Don’t worry, when you come back (you will be back, right?) there will be oodles of great information delivered in the same soaring prose you have come to expect from this blog.

So if you want to learn about Palafitos (not to be confused with Piles of Fritos) where you are able to watch fish swim by without getting out of bed, which resort has one of the  top ten beaches in the world and where you can consume 23 courses at one sitting (more if your dining mates are not as adventurous as you), come back soon.

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!