Laid-back yet luxurious, the Viceroy Riviera Maya hotel just north of Playa del Carmen, is a secluded, adults-only getaway that begs for you to go barefoot to walk its glittering acres of beach, wade in the Caribbean and stroll the smooth, jungle-lined paths of the resort. Lounge beside the lagoon pool, snorkel in the sea or soak in your villa’s private plunge pool – there’s no such thing as being too relaxed, right?
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A bottle of wine; GoldSmiths get a tequila-tasting session
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £439.91 ($575), including tax at 34 per cent.
Beyond the usual invigorating facial or deep-tissue massage, the Wayak Spa promises to heal body and spirit through traditional Maya rituals. The Temezcal, an intensive sweat lodge ceremony, is said to be not just therapeutic and relaxing, but a mystical journey, as well.
At the hotel
Private beach, spa, yoga classes, gym, concierge, limo or town car service available, DVD library, reading library and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, Blu-ray player, iPod dock, minibar and Neil George bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Tucked away among the waxy fronds and tropical palms of the surrounding jungle, the thatched palapa-roofed Royal Villas are perfectly private. Rock the day away in the hammock on your secluded sunbathing deck or take a dip in your very own plunge pool – swimsuits optional (who's to know?) The massive ensuite also has a soaking tub for two and both indoor and outdoor showers. Oh, and don’t lift a finger, either – that’s what your mayordomo (or butler) is there for.
The unheated, sculptural lagoon pool is surrounded by double sunloungers and shaded by palm trees. Forget your sunhat? Simply grab one of the straw sombreros on loan.
Don’t bother packing your snorkelling gear; the hotel has water shoes, flippers and snorkel masks for your use.
Butlers stand ready poolside with iced face-towels to cool sun-warmed brows, or to change damp chaise-lounge covers post swim.
Small dogs and cats under 20lbs are welcome for $50 per night and will be set up with a dog bed, bowls and kibble. The butler will even take them for a stroll. Just let the hotel know when booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Riviera Maya.
For over-the-top romance, arrange for a candlelit beach dinner at a table set with white tablecloths in a private palapa surrounded by glowing torches in the sand.
Relaxed linen ensembles for him, tropical maxi-dresses for her, and designer swimwear and sunglasses for everyone.
The relaxed, open-air Coral Bar & Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving savoury Mexican dishes, fresh ceviche, expertly grilled fish and even pizza. You won’t want to miss the surf-and-turf beach barbeque hosted every Friday night. Soft lighting, breezy curtains and a wall of ocean-gazing windows set the tone for a romantic dinner at La Marea, a contemporary, Mediterranean-inspired Mexican restaurant.
Watch the waves roll in with an icy, salt-rimmed margarita or specialty tequila in hand from your seat at the al fresco Coral Bar & Grill.
Both restaurants stop serving at 10:30pm.
A room service menu covering everything from traditional Maya egg dishes to grilled catch of the day is available from 7am until 10:30pm.
Perched on a seven-mile stretch of white sand beach, Viceroy Riviera Maya is seven miles north of Playa del Carmen and 40 miles south of Cancun.
Cancun International Airport is 45 minutes away by car, and several airlines, including United (www.united.com), American (www.aa.com) and JetBlue (jetblue.com), offer direct flights from New York City and other major international cities.
Taxis are available for around $80 one-way from the airport. However, if you’d like to explore the area, renting a car is advisable. There are several reliable car-hire options at the airport. Valet parking is available at the hotel for $8 per day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Seven miles from Playa del Carmen, the glittering stretch of beach on the Caribbean is a perfect place to cast off for pristine snorkelling or swim, or to just sit with a good read. Viceroy Riviera Maya is all about relaxation, but the concierge can arrange for horseback riding, kite surfing and private boat excursions. They can also reserve your tee-time at one of a handful of golf courses for every skill level.
Tour the pre-Hispanic cities of Cobá and Tulúm with an expert guide. Climb the tallest Maya pyramid in Mexico, discover archaeological treasures and swim in a cenote, a deep natural sinkhole, many of which are considered sacred. Or, see what some consider one of the seven new wonders of the world, Chichén Itzá, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest and best restored Maya cities. Marvel at the ancient architecture including a temple dating back to 950 AD and a 75-foot pyramid constructed in the 11th century.
Although you’ll feel worlds away from reality at the resort, the buzzing little town of Playa del Carmen is under 10 minutes away by car. There are several restaurants worth the short trip, too. With a few open-air dining rooms to choose from, you can dress down for the casual bar overlooking the cobblestone streets or dress up for the open air roof garden with ocean views at La Casa del Agua (+52 984 803 02 32) on Fifth Avenue. Pan-seared Caribbean lobster in a white wine and butter sauce or a hearty steak with Roquefort are favourites on the Mediterranean-influenced menu. Whatever you fancy, be sure to pair it with a selection from their extensive wine cellar. Several variations on carpaccio, house-made pasta and substantial surf-and-turf fare are presented in a cosy, candlelit room at the Italian-focused Cenacolo, (+52 984 803 5705) also on Fifth Avenue.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxury hotel in the Riviera Maya and unpacked their tequila and Maya textiles, a full account of their relaxing Mexican break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside/postcard from the Viceroy in Riviera Maya…
Follow the winding path through lush greenery, where exotic birds twitter in the trees and a tranquil waterfall gurgles in the distance, and you’ll find your way to a thatched-roof palapa villa with crystal clear Caribbean views that you can call home for a spell. Welcome to the jungle, indeed. But the Viceroy Riviera Maya is not just any tropical retreat – to complete the picture, it’s bordered by dense flora on one side and a sugary stretch of beach on the other.
Here, you can ponder the day’s shade of blue over expertly mixed margaritas at the breezy outdoor bar and grill, let the sound of the crashing waves move you through a yoga session on the private pier or set out for a snorkel in the pristine waters. You can’t help but be lulled into a relaxed state here. Of course, the double sun-lounger lagoon pool (with ocean views), gourmet cuisine, sublime spa and serene suites with your very own mayordomo (or butler), only add to the state of total tranquilo. You just might choose not to find your way back down the jungle path to reality again…