An ideal destination for young families, couples and multi-generational travellers alike, northern Quintana Roo has indeed a lot to offer as far as luxury hotels in Cancun and tropical exploration go.
I went to Mexico in order to study the depths of the “affordable luxury” concept and experience the particularities of five hotels, spreading from Playa Mujeres to Riviera Maya. Here’s what I found.
Blue Diamond Riviera Maya is an adults-only, modestly-sized luxury resort with just 128 rooms, a rarity in a region where most hotels go far over 500 rooms. The resort is actually part of the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels of the World association and, consequently, is maintained to very high standards throughout.
I was assigned a Patio Suite which was not only bigger than my apartment back home but was also equipped with its very own pool. This particular range of room also benefits from the services of a personal butler, which ended up playing a crucial role in the quality of my stay. He made dinner reservations, fetched bikes, booked spa treatments, inquired about excursions and basically executed any and all of our wishes.
Not bad, eh? In terms of layout, the suite consisted of a living room with a guest bathroom, a master bedroom, a massive bathroom with a walk-in closet and, outside, a fully private terrace, outdoor marble bathtub and pool.I even became acquainted with a family of coatis as the parents escorted their offsprings on their daily scavenging expedition across the lawn and across the canal.
Located on a vast 36 acres of lush tropical jungle, the Blue Diamond Riviera Maya is truly one of the best luxury hotels in Cancun and the kind of place where nature truly is at your doorstep. Most of the buildings are constructed along a peaceful waterway originating from the property’s very own cenote. Contrary to many other properties along the Riviera Maya, the Blue Diamond Resort isn’t built vertically but rather horizontally; buildings are only one or two stories high, leaving ample room for vegetation to grow as it pleases and keeping neighbours to a minimum. The Patio Suites are part of four interconnected private courtyards with each manicured garden with a plant-based work of art at its centre overlooking a natural canal.
The art of living in its purest form: this intimate adults-only property only has 35 rooms, all of which offer fabulous ocean views and Bvlgari toiletries. With its rocky sea cliffs, subtle opulence and compact layout, Villa Rolandi has a certain European flair to it, which will undoubtedly please guests familiar with the old continent. The simple fact that you can only get there by boat — the hotel is on an island, after all — is very much reminiscent of Venetian vaporettos.
Thanks to its unique location on the Isla Mujeres littoral, Zoëtry Villa Rolandi possesses a modest but private beach with calm, translucent waters and stone-free sand. Truly one of the best beaches in eastern Mexico.
The reputation of this commended 5* complex largely precedes it — it was recently awarded five AAA Diamonds — and its extraordinary attributes continue to seduce luxury aficionados. Grand Velas Riviera Maya stands out not only by the quality of its installations but also its sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere.
The resort employs a myriad of acclaimed chefs including a Maître Cuisinier de France at Restaurant Piaf, who unquestionably serves some of the best dishes outside of France along with delectable wine pairings.
The complex consists of three spectacular pavilions for a grand total of 529 immense rooms: the Grand Class for adults (90 rooms in three categories, each equipped with a private terrace and pool), Ambassador for families (195 in six categories, equipped with child-and-baby-friendly amenities), both situated along the ocean. The Zen Grand Natural View, however, is the most surprising of the tree as it is set in the very heart of a protected, flourishing Mayan jungle — the hotel even offers discovery tours with a zoologist, who was quick to tell guests all about the local residents, e.g. spider monkeys, jaguars, turtles and iguanas.
The 254 rooms in five categories are located on the edge of a lake with active marine and floral life. The ultimate option for an atypical stay!
This trendy adults-only chain is famous for its festive atmosphere and its younger (or at least, young at heart) clientele, which is particularly fond of the legendary “foam parties”. The 526 chic rooms of the resort are sorted in three different complexes: the Xcelerate for partygoers, the Xhale for tranquil luxury and the Allure for guests wanting to experience a bit of both.
Food-wise, the Breathless Riviera Cancun is a Mexico luxury resort in a league of its own with its 24/7 buffet and its no-reservation, à la carte restaurants (both a rarity in the world of resorts) even at Silk City, where chefs combine Pan-Asian cooking with performing arts and a piping hot teppan. The hotel also owns a magnificent spa offering unparalleled views of the dense mangroves.
Because the beach is actually quite underwhelming, pools are where it’s at; not that it’s a sinecure by any means, as over 80 rooms offer swim-out access to the architectural masterpieces that are the main pools of each complex.
Although this intimate hotel — with just 120 rooms — opened its doors 20 some years ago, it’s the 30 brand new water bungalows that get all the attention nowadays. Rightfully so, though, as they are one of a kind in North America.
These palafitos offer direct access to the sea and encompass three glass floors panels, allowing guests to admire the prosperous marine life right under their feet, in addition to being located in a private area with an exclusive restaurant and spa. Moreover, Conde Nast Traveler recently ranked El Dorado Maroma’s beach of the ten best in the world, mostly due to its tranquil waves and bright aqua waters.