top picks for riviera maya

Reporting back on the heels of my trip to the LOVE Mexico Show in Mexico’s wildly popular Riviera Maya. In addition to networking with many fantastic people and making new friends- I got the opportunity to re-acquaint myself with this strip of paradise. Mexico’s romantic Riviera Maya boasts breathtaking beaches, some of the world’s top resorts and is teeming with activities for adventure-seekers. Here, are my top picks around this alluring destination.

Boutique Accommodations

Tucked away, where the jungle meets one of the world’s top ten beaches, is the setting for Maroma Resort and Spa. This 65-bungalow, Orient Express property exudes shamanistic incantation in an hacienda- style hideaway that fronts a private, sugary, white beach. A series of whitewashed bungalows, villas and palapas dot the 25 acres on a mile-long stretch of beach. Maroma’s “barefoot elegance” atmosphere offers a casual, laid back setting with distinct character and charm. Guests can indulge in exquisite, Mayan-Creole dishes at one of the two rustic, seaside restaurants or sip on mango-cilantro margaritas in a relaxing waterfront bed. The award winning, 7,000 square foot, Mayan-inspired Kinan Spa promises to deliver a five-star experience with unique services such as the Aphrodisiac’s Chocolate Invigoration treatment. The unique feel of the property can be felt in the thatched-roof bungalow guest rooms too. From hand painted Mexican tiles to handwoven hammocks to scattered bougainvillea blossoms on your bed at turndown- Maroma does an exquisite job of combining old world charm with modern day elegance. Perfect for a wedding, honeymoon or simply to indulge yourself. This secluded, luxurious hideaway is a hushed secret.

If you prefer something a little less remote, the picturesque, seaside town of Playa del Carmen is a great option. A sleepy, fishing village until a few years ago, Playa has rapidly turned into one of the hottest destinations in Mexico. The well known “Fifth Avenue” or Quinta Avenida is lined with outdoor restaurants, chic shops, ultra hip bars and quaint cafes. Playa offers the best of both worlds with stunning beaches, sexy nightlife and nearby golf courses. My favorite newcomer to the hotel scene is El Taj Oceanfront and Beachside Condos. The property is made up of two separate buildings: El Taj Oceanfront and El Taj Beachside. Comprised of 57 spacious one to three bedroom units, El Taj Oceanfront sits directly on the beach and El Taj Beachside is across the street. This is not your typical “hotel”. The fully furnished units are for sale and offer all the comforts of home from fully equipped, gourmet kitchens to spacious living rooms with flat screen TVs and luxurious bedrooms. Not quite in the market to purchase a condo? No problem! Guests can rent a unit. This is the perfect alternative to a villa rental and is ideal for families needing a little more space, groups traveling together such as for a girls getaway weekend or an excellent option for your bridal party. Guests have access to all the on site amenities including an exclusive beach club, two distinctive swimming pools, upscale restaurant and full service gym. The overall motif of the property is reminiscent to that of Bali which makes sense since the designers traveled to Indonesia to bring a taste of the South Pacific to the Riviera Maya. Whether you’re relaxing on an authentic Balinese lounge poolside, sipping on a cactus margarita or witnessing a traditional Maya Wedding Ceremony with your toes in the sand- it’s hard to conjure up a more enchanting setting.

Unique Yucatan

A healthy distance from the Riviera Maya lies the only known seaside archeological site in the world... Tulum. If you only get one sightseeing excursion in, you should make it be here. Sugary sand, jade-green water and balmy breezes are the setting for the 11th-century walled city’s 15 pyramids. After getting a glimpse into the city that stood as one of the last Maya fortresses, you can hit the beach. Enjoy world class diving, great snorkeling or explore the cenotes (freshwater sinkholes) and the underground rivers from which they stem. And since I’m always on the lookout for the unique- I have to tell you that there is nothing cooler than exploring this site at night. The pyramids are illuminated in hues of blue, red and amber, adding to the mysticism of the experience. A 45-minute guided walking tour will escort you to the labyrinthine passages that lead 150 feet down to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. For those “yogis” out there- make sure to bring your yoga mat. I can’t think of anything more spiritual than reciting an “Om” amid these ancient structures. unique

For those seeking a different type of spiritual (some say consciousness-raising) encounter, I suggest signing up for a Temazcal. A temazcal is an igloo-shaped stone structure used in an ancient Maya purifying steam ritual. The ritual begins with a steam cleansing guided by a shaman inside the stone structure. Chants, mantras, prayers and massages led by the shaman are said to “cleanse” the soul of negative energy. The experience continues by taking a dip in cold water followed by another round in the temazcal and final blessings by the shaman using flowers and herbs. The spellbinding temazcal ritual will invigorate, rejuvenate and open you up to a mind-ex panding, cross-cultural experience.

Romantic Riviera Maya

Fall under the captivating spell of the Riviera Maya. Tropical beauty, sexiness, friendliness, and a wide range of experiences make this one of my top picks for Destination Weddings. This strip of paradise encapsulates romance and is a quintessential spot to start your life together or to simply reconnect with that special someone. Riviera Maya is the best of the best when it comes to variety, quality and fairytale experiences. Relaxation seekers will appreciate the leisurely atmosphere, as they spend their days bobbing in turquoise waters with their loved one or summoning the pool boy for another tequila-infused cocktail from their over sized hammock. Love is in the air with sunset sails, candle lit dinners on the beach, outdoor couples massages and five-star accommodations featuring private plunge pools, rose petal strewn bath tubs and personal butlers. Couples can have traditional nuptials in one of the many unique, oceanfront chapels while those seeking something more spiritual can have a symbolic Maya ceremony, led by a shaman or a non-denominational service with their toes in the sand and the ocean as a backdrop. Mariachis, lively marimba bands and fireworks are all par for the course for your wedding fiesta! From exotic venues, to mouth watering cuisine and unique ambiance- Mexico will give you the wedding of a lifetime. Riviera Maya offers something for everyone!

Make sure to check the Runaway Bride Blog often for updates on my travels, tips on new hot spots in Mexico and all things boutique, unique and romantic!