Before becoming completely enamored with Mexico, I knew I wanted to work in tourism– I truly wanted to help people spend their recreation/vacation time to the maximum. Now that I’ve established myself as Mexico savvy, between my large network of personal friends combined with the followers of Mexican At Heart, every month I get inquires on the who, where, when, and hows of Mexico travel, and the truth is, I don’t mind one bit helping people!
Most of the time people just come out and ask about what hotel to stay at in Cancun or the Riviera Maya — mostly honeymooners (yea, I’m at that age where all my friends are getting married!). That is a complex question that varies on the likes and dislikes of the traveler. I always ask: Are you active? Are you going to do excursions? Are you going to hide in your hotel all week? etc.
Usually a majority of people have lived the Cancun experience, so I rule it out, because Mexico is much more than a Mexican-style Vegas…But then comes this dilemma: Riviera Maya is a big chunk of land, stretching all the way along the coast for hours, so in order not to waste precious vacation time driving all around, to and from, I’ve come up with some questions that you need to ask yourself before deciding to pick between the Riviera Maya’s million gazillion hotel options.
How to Choose a Hotel in the Riviera Maya:
1) Are you active at the hotel or a complete beach bum?
2) Do you want adults-only or family friendly?
3) Do you want a nightlife outside of the hotel?
4) Are you going to stay in your hotel or venture your surroundings?
5) What excursions are you going to be doing?
6) What is your budget? Do you want all-inclusive?
An overall theme I found was that most lovebirds around my age wanted a romantic getaway, but not boring. In addition to lovey-dovey amenities, they wanted activities and entertainment. Okay so that answers questions 1 and 2 –try to look for a hotel that has a wide selection of restaurants, an entertainment staff, night shows, and things like complimentary use of kayaks.
Question 3 and 4 deciphers whether you should stay right in the town of Playa del Carmen or if it’s okay to stay somewhere else like Puerto Aventuras or Tulum. If you plan on partying every night, or wanting to shop and eat at fancy restaurants, you should stay near Playa del Carmen (like in the Playacar area). The last thing you want is to choose a hotel an hour away from Playa del Carmen and be shuffling back and forth every night.
Question 5 I think is super important because I know no vacationer wants to waste hours and hours of vacation driving around the whole dang state… plus, transportation costs are extremely inflated. If you plan on swimming with dolphins, visiting Coba, Tulum, cenotes or Xelha, I recommend staying south of Playa del Carmen — starting at Puerto Avenuras extending to Tulum (including Akumal). You will chop off lots of time sitting in a taxi when you could be outside enjoying your vacation.
Once you figured out 1-5, you can pretty much pick exactly what hotel is right for you based on your answer to number 6. A overall good choice for a vacation to the Riviera Maya is choosing a property at Secrets, Dreams, or Now Resorts. They have several properties that will cover your needs based on your answers. I recently had the chance to stay at Dreams Puerto Aventuras and Dreams Tulum and was thrilled with my choices. It was right in the location we needed to be! Eddy and I were there on our anniversary and were treated as so but even better, they catered to both me (the beach bum) and Eddy (the active one). Secrets Resorts offers the same, but is adults-only and Now Resorts is aimed at being trendy for young adults. There is something for everyone in the Riviera Maya!
It doesn’t take hours of research or deep Mexico knowledge to decide what hotel you should stay at in the Riviera Maya!