Can you think of a better way to get some much needed rest and relaxation than to stay at a luxury all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico?
Given my history of budget travel, this particular luxury all-inclusive resort did wander far beyond my usual travel budget, so in the interests of full disclosure, this trip was not sponsored by the resort company. This was a work related bonus and I’m not about to refuse an all expense paid vacation to the tropics. The best part, no other co-workers were in attendance. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good people, but they happen to be at the top of my “People I Don’t Want to See While on Vacation” list.
If you don’t know, the Mayan Riviera and Playa del Carmen is on the Yucatan Peninsula, 45 minutes south of Cancun, along the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Okay, enough of the geography lesson, let’s get to the resort now.
We stayed at the Occidental Royal Hideaway Playacar. This is an adults only, luxury all-inclusive resort where the five star service starts the moment you enter the property. We were given a warm welcome from the valets who escorted us to the reception area, where we were greeted with a glass of champagne, to make the check-in process more comfortable, of course.
At 200 rooms, the Royal Hideaway is a small resort, which affords guests more privacy and peace & quiet. Our room was spacious and very well appointed. The bed was super comfortable. I liked how the rooms were configured into villas. There were 11 villas with a small number of rooms in each – some villas were all suites, so they had even less rooms. Each villa has a “Private Villa Concierge” to assist you with restaurant reservations, excursions, etc., which was awesome (like the service wasn’t fantastic enough already).
The resort has all the amenities you’d expect from a luxury all-inclusive like a spa, fitness center, tennis courts, several different water sports, and 6 pools, just to name a few. The Royal Hideaway also has a weekly dinner theater show and live music every night at Bar Allegria.
There are 6 specialty restaurants and afternoon tea ranging from authentic Mexican to Italian cuisine – all of them were great, but we liked Azia the best. They specialized in Japanese and Thai food. Who knew you could get sushi that good on the Yucatan Peninsula?
With all of this at your disposal, they make it pretty easy not leave the property at all during your vacation. I recommend getting outside the walls of the resort and check out Playa del Carmen. There’s great shops, restaurants, street markets and nightlife around 5th Avenue. The local beach is nice and you can catch a ferry to Cozumel the pier.
While on the Mayan Riviera, you need to go to the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. I like history and I’m a sucker for some good ancient ruins so it was on the must-do list. Our “villa concierge” helped us arrange the excursion with a local tour representative who met us at the hotel. It was a full day tour that included lunch and stops at Chichen Itza and a large Cenote for swimming. If you don’t know what a Cenote is, it’s like a big sink hole full of ground water. The ancient Mayans would use them for sacrifices too.
We made it back to the hotel in time to catch the last of afternoon tea and a splash in our favorite relaxation pool before dinner.
This vacation getaway got me to rethink my travel budget. As much as I enjoy our budget travel adventures, why not set aside some extra funds for a taste of the good life? From time to time, it’s okay to be good to yourself and splurge on a nice meal or a luxury resort while traveling.