Luxury in Riviera Maya by Bonnie and Bill Neely

Mexico’s Yucatan Penninsula is, without a doubt, one of the finest holiday spots you could choose…for exquisite scenery, vast archeological sites, perfect year-round climate, numerous adventure activities, restful and luxurious accommodations, relaxation, excellent cuisine, fresh seafood, and some of the friendliest people you’ll find anywhere to provide for your every need. The beaches of the exquisite Caribbean rival any in the world for tranquil beauty. Whether you want a family vacation, a romantic holiday, ecology or adventure, golf or spa, diving and snorkeling, or exploring Mayan archeological sites or shopping and fine dining, this is the place to go.

Decades ago Mexico’s reputation among travelers was a semi third-world society with Montezuma’s Revenge waiting to attack your gastro-intestinal system, but how this has changed as Mexico, and especially the Yucatan Peninsula, has emerged as one of the premiere tourism areas of North America. I visited this beautiful coast of Quintana Roo thirty years ago and found only a couple of reputed hotels, and the area was a haven for Hippies to hang out, smoke pot, or get drunk and worship nature. The jungle touched the Caribbean coast, and lifestyle of locals was nearly as it had been for centuries. What a contrast to today’s prime vacation spot with vacation places to meet every request, often at bargain prices.

Cancun Airport is the modern, clean gateway, where many hotels provide transportation, and taxis are moderately priced, plentiful, and safe. Cancun was the first resort area in Yucatan to become popular and has for years been a favorite Spring Break destination for youth of the United States. Now the beach strip of Cancun has numerous hotels and motels and non-stop fun of all kinds. However, the natural beauty of the green jungles has pretty much succumbed to the cement jungle of modern civilization…But just south of Cancun in the area called Riviera Maya, you’ll find the best of tourism opportunities and the preservation of the picturesque natural beauty the ancient Mayan civilizations enjoyed.
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Care has been taken by developers,the government, and tourism councils of Rivier Maya to build resorts rivaled by none anywhere while preserving nature of this blessed area from Puerto Morelos (just below Cancun) to Felipe Carrillo Puerto. No building can be higher than the natural palm trees. Architects and builders must show how they will preserve the flora and fauna, rivers and land while building. They must present a thorough green system that does no damage to the environment when the property is running at capacity. It is amazing how beautiful clean living can be! Tourists can help keep it tht way by recycling and by requesting that linens not be changed until they have been used for two or three days.

Accommodations for every lifestyle are available, from little beach palapas (huts) where you can sleep in hammocks and experience life jungle-style ( but with good bathroom facilities.) You can choose to stay in modest but clean motels, little apartments, or fabulous resorts. The one I chose is among the newest along the coast, Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya, about a half-hour from the airport and just north of Playa del Carmen.
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The Mandarin Oriental is a beautiful resort on the coast with a carefully preserved jungle environment. The expansive reception area has a thatched, high roof with natural timber exposed beams over a polished marble floor, surrounded on three sides by a serene reflection pool. The dense, natural jungle completes the backdrop scenery. After a most inviting welcome we were taken to our quarters by quiet, environmentally friendly golf carts on the single, narrow road, which runs nearly a mile straight to the Caribbean beach. Just off-shore are the famous Isle de Mujeres and Cozomel, where snorklers and divers treasure the wondrous sights and colors of the second largest reef in the world. The Mayan Reef is second only to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
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Staying farther from the beach is not a disadvantage because golf carts are free transportation available within minutes of a phone call to the lobby. Breakfast is in the inviting Aguamarine Restaurant overlooking the beach. With crystal white sand and clear, cerulean blue-green water, peaceful waves create their constant reassuring sound. The shore for Mandarin guests is kept pristine and has a lifeguard on duty during the day. You can choose to enjoy a drink or food beside the swimming pool overlooking the beach. The hotel’s fine dining restaurant is Aguamarina, located on the lagoon, and serves excellent cuisine with Mayan flair.
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The resort’s Spa is near the Lobby and gives the gift or serene relaxation as soon as you enter. There are many free services available to any hotel guest, including state of the art exercize room and classes, outdoor swimming pool, indoor heated pool with bubble massage, sauna, and relaxation room for quiet meditation or reading. Everything you need is provided for shower and locker facilities at no charge. You can also make appointments and select from a vast menu of massage services and spa treatments which are based on the Mayan healing elements of earth, water, air and fire. Prices vary from $200 U.S.

Whether you stay a night or a month in these exquisite surroundings with the lovely people ready and happy to meet your every need, you will leave refreshed but sad to say “Hasta Luego” (until later)… because you WILL want to return!