Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

January 27th, 2009
The Other Cancun :: RIVIERA MAYA part 1

You and your girlfriends live for your annual warm weather getaway, however with the all the financial downturn you’re having trouble putting it all together. You’ve already done the Bahamas, Jamaica, Cabo and Hawaii, and need someplace equally fantastic that won’t break the bank.

Why don’t you surprise your gal-pals by planning an upscale, “all-inclusive” trip to Riviera Maya.(That’s right, I said “all-inclusive” but the Riviera Mayan way is light years beyond Princess cruises or Club Med.) Only a decade ago, the Riviera Maya was virtually unheard of, but fast-forward to today and the 75 miles of snow-white beach south of Cancun, starting at Playa del Carmen all the way to Tulum, is sprouting luxury hotels faster than breeding bunnies. Many of these offer unbelievable all-inclusive plans that free you from the stress of all the planning minutia. This way you’re free to choose to chill beach side with your friends while you catch up on all last year’s happenings sipping( free) umbrella drinks, or when/if that gets old, you can take advantage of the variety of activities and adventures that are available–with no unpleasant sticker shock surprises awaiting you upon check out.

Riviera Maya has so much to see and do that its easy to find something that all your home girls will enjoy. Scuba-Susie will love the fantastic diving and snorkeling (the world’s second largest coral reef is found here.) History-buff Holly will insist that you explore at least one of the important Mayan archaeological sites –perhaps Tulum? And Party-girl Patty will be in heaven with the selection of trendy boutiques and nightlife at the nearby town of Playa del Carmen, while you’ll be perfectly happy lazing in the sun, reading your book by your infinity pool, lifting a finger only to order lunch and perhaps ask your private concierge to make you a spa reservation for later.

Best Affordable Luxury Hotels:

1. Royal Hideaway Playacar, Playa del Carmen

I stayed at the Royal Hideaway Playacar, the first adult-only all-inclusive resort to earn the prestigious AAA 5-Diamond Award, where I happily rambled around the beautiful 13-acre layout of lawns, bridges, streams and sand. Whirlpool bathtubs and Etro toiletries, walk-in closets, and comfy beds hit all the right notes for those seeking the optimum bang for their bucks. Lavish coffee and tea spreads, cocktail hour, complimentary room service, mini-bar, first-class spa, a DVD library, Complimentary Internet access in the Business Center, even a free overnight shoe-shine (for flip-flops?) up the all-inclusive ante.

The resort gets top honors for their personalized service starting at the reception area where you are greeted warmly with a glass of bubbly and a cool towel. Each villa pod has its own concierge that will bend over backwards to make your stay pleasant. Mine thoughtfullystarted out by asking if I wanted an early wake-up call so I could join the next morning’s outdoor yoga class.

The wide range of culinary choices is a welcome bonus since too many all-inclusives offered only a couple of restaurants or even worse, an endless parade of tired tacky buffets at all meals. Here, your girls can pick a different cuisine every night from their six a la carte specialty restaurants, ranging from Pan-Asian, Carribean, Mexican, Italian fine-dining to a full Dinner theater with banquet setting, lively entertainment and a 4-course meal. Along with the unlimited meals, alcohol, juices and snacks are also included so you’re just minutes away from “catering” a spontaneous gabfest over cocktails and hor’s doeuvres. There is a breakfast buffet, which was filled with gorgeous fruit selections well as heartier entrees, which I thoroughly enjoyed dining al fresco, watching the sunrise.

There’s no disco on site (phew–makes for much more pleasurable sleeping) but if you want to go boogie, your concierge can get you evening passes for the club at the Occidental Allegro right next door.

Note:
* Not all the rooms have a beach front view, plus it’s quite a small beach since this area has been thrashed by several hurricanes however, I barely missed it however, with the wide range of pools, cabanas and outdoor lounging areas available.

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