Riviera Maya's beachfront hideaway
When you need a break from the massive all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, the beachfront Viceroy Riviera Maya offers an escape hatch. Upon arrival at the intimate hideaway, you’ll relax in the open-air lobby with a mug of refreshing coconut milk infused with lemongrass. The hotel’s Mayan shaman will greet you with a blessing, using an incense of copal (an amber-colored tree resin native to these parts) to banish any stress before the start of your stay. Then the bellman will lead you down a maze of paths lined with dense tropical jungle — we even encountered one of the resident spider monkeys there — before dropping you off at your thatched-palapa-roof villa for in-room check-in.
That blessing must do wonders, since it seems nothing can disrupt your beach bliss. The 41-villa Riviera Maya hotel has a no-kids-under-14 policy and attracts mostly couples, which means that you’ll be able to soak in your personal figure-eight plunge pool, nap in your swinging hammock or rinse in your outdoor shower without anyone bothering you.
When you have reveled in enough solitude, visit the hotel’s alfresco restaurants. Try the casual Coral Grill, which has great views of the Caribbean along with a Mexican-Mediterranean menu (don’t pass up the housemade lavash with sweet tomato marmalade or the torta yucateca with pibil pork and pickled red onions) or the fine-dining La Marea for high-end Mexican plates (go there for the Thursday Chef’s Table to let our chef surprise you with a weekly changing prix-fixe menu). But you’ll want to make time for the Friday evening beach barbecue, an elegant affair where you’ll sit at tables in the sand and feast on family-style platters of local fish, squid, shrimp and more, as well as the Tuesday street food tasting, where you can nibble on everything from empanadas to snapper tacos with grilled pineapple.
You also could join others in a yoga class on the luxury hotel’s own pier, sit in the temazcal (a purifying Mayan sweat lodge) or take a tequila-tasting or guacamole class. But if you need another escape, make your way through the paths to The Wayak Spa. The small facility only provides four treatment rooms, so you’ll get peace and quiet while the aesthetician rubs your weary body with a mud made from that aromatic copal.