Just Checked Out: Viceroy Riviera Maya

There is no shortage of amazing hotels on the Riviera Maya including the Inviato-reviewed Esencia (a personal favorite) and Grand Velas – two extremes in size, design and clientele. Also on this stretch,  you will find Rosewood Mayakoba and Banyon Tree in the Mayakoba complex which are very popular destinations for the NYC crowd. Despite the U.S. State Department travel advisory warning due to drug violence on Mexico/U.S. border in the south, the Riviera is very safe. To lure travelers back, most of these wonderful resorts are offering great deals.
The Viceroy Riviera Maya, formerly known as the Tides, is no exception. The Viceroy Hotel Group runs beautiful hotels such as Viceroy Anguilla (which has appeared to have worked out its initial kinks), Viceroy Santa Monica and Tides Sugar Beach in Antigua (still known as the Jalousie Plantation)  An Inviato review is coming this month of our stay at the latter hotel last Spring.
The Viceroy Riviera has undergone a few changes from the original hotel and is now an all-suite hotel with 41 villas (on the beach and in the jungle) nestled over 6 acres. 11 of the villas are new and all now come with plunge pools, private patios and outdoor showers. There is also a new fitness center, library lounge, seaside restaurant (Coral Grill) and spa (still in development. more on this below).

Friends who stayed here last week came back with candid feedback mostly on the positive side:

“We loved this trip to Mexico because we mixed it up with beach and city. The latter being the city of Merida, a 3.5 hour drive west on traffic-free freeway.  We booked one-night stay at Rosas & Xocolate Hotel, a beautiful, award-winning Design Hotel located on Paseo Montejo, a Parisian-like boulevard. We toured the historical city center and visited art galleries and haciendas. Merida is a very colorful and modern city worthy of a longer stay.

Rosas Xocolate Hotel

The Viceroy was a great start to a trip. They are still working on changes, and while we were there, so were architects, designers and photo shoot entourage. They invaded the space with their importance, but it was fun to watch. I asked prior to booking there about construction and was told all projects had been completed, but during day they were working on beach bar so a bit of a little white lie. The hotel reminded me of Esencia somewhat – intimate boho luxury, huge palapa-roofed villas, private pool, garden shower, rich woods and colorful tile work.
Upon arrival, I wasn’t happy with the location of our villa near reception and what seemed like a mile hike to the beach. But it turned out to be the best because the walk thru the jungle day and night was enchanting and the only exercise I would engage in during our 3 night stay. We checked out the beach-front villa, which was beautifully upgraded, but at $1700/night , not so enticing. In contrast, our villa was $504, breakfast included, plus tax, tax, service and tax. With the money we saved on the room, we ate delicious $40 desserts and drank $200 bottles of local wine.
What we loved: What was atypical about the resort was the spa. I overheard architects, and the plan is to completely renovate it next. Words can’t describe the feeling of the place. I found it to be very earthy and womb-like. They burn cobal and do a cleansing ceremony between you and partner.  I met Olivia, who is a famous massage therapist with magical powers… for real. A shamanic experience! The services offered were exotic and well-priced and an additional 30% discount kept me going back for more.

What we didn’t love
:  We were disappointed was the potholed road and entrance leading into the resort.  The reception lobby has been upgraded and newly furnished, but it was not so impressive. On the other hand, the lack of a check-in desk was unusual and the gracious, warm welcome made up for the unimaginative decor. The beach was okay, very narrow in front of the resort and too rocky to swim there. We swam a little farther down.
Note: Viceroy’s neighbors are less posh resorts with water sport kiosks and tchotchkes for sale. However, they are visited by Europeans of all shapes and sizes who stroll the beach topless. Taking a peak felt voyeuristic –  but most of these people surely would look better with clothes on!To check out opening specials of the Viceroy Riviera Maya, please go to their website.

Photos courtesy of Viceroy Hotel Group

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