Tag Archives: Mexico and Costa Rica

Hotel Review: Blue Diamond Riviera Maya Resort (Mexico)

If you are looking for an adults only escape from the world, where you are pampered and spoiled, and travel time is short and sweet, let me recommend Blue Diamond Riviera Maya, located just south of the Cancun airport in Mexico.

This 5 star luxury, all-inclusive resort treats guests to excellent food and drinks with unrivaled service levels not typically found in the all-inclusive market.  There are 128 suites total spread out over 36 total acres, set along the coast in a tropical jungle, complete with a cenote and mangroves.

If you are looking for a party scene, this is NOT the place.  Also, you’ll need to be in the mood for some walking (though you can call the front desk and they’ll send a golf cart to shuttle you around).  There are also bicycles for your use to get around the resort, if you are so inclined.

The suites are simply stunning, with views of the cenote, jungle, mangroves, or beach.  And the beach is worth the walk — white powdery sand, great service, and relatively private.  No trip here is complete without a relaxing couples massage, and the spa (at additional cost) is a huge 25,000 square feet.  Room service itself is free, but has a $20 service fee along with a waiter who sets up your en-suite dining table, and stands outside your suite ready to serve your next course at the ring of a bell.  How often do you see that!

Prices here start at about $480 per night per couple all-inclusive, so it’s definitely in the luxury price category.  However, considering the quality of the rooms, service, and food it’s definitely a treat well worth the price tag.  For an escape from the crowds and to replenish the mind, this is my new favorite resort in the Riviera Maya area.

~Happy Travels!  Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant, Expert Family Travel.  972.625.6200 DFW metro area (Texas) serving clients nationwide.

 

Hotel Review: Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso (Riviera Maya Mexico)

I recently returned from a relaxing 3 night stay at the luxury, adults only all-inclusive resort Iberostar Gran Hotel Paraiso, which is located in the Riviera Maya area, just north of downtown Playa del Carmen.

The Iberostar Paraiso complex is a series of 5 resorts that share a shopping center, golf course, and conference facility (all located on the side of the complex that is interior/away from the beach).  Iberostar Grand Paraiso is the top of the five, and is the only resort that is adults only.  And while guests of the Grand can use the facilities at the other resorts, why would you?  Just about everything you want is right here.  And, in case you are wondering, the guests of the other Iberostar Resorts cannot use the facilities of the Iberostar Grand.

The property is made up of creme colored buildings, with muted sherbet tones and an occasional shock of color.  It is a classy version of “Art Deco Meets Sistene Chapel,” eclectic yet tasteful.  The first thing you’ll notice when you check in is the service level.  You’ll be escorted to your room with a tour, and shortly thereafter the butler will introduce himself and go over the features of your room and the services that the concierge desk (in conjunction with your butler staff) will provide for you.  The rooms are oversized and well equipped, and the beds comfortable.  Room service, pillow menus, shoe shine service (complimentary), and easy dining reservations make this property stand out above most others.

The food here ranges from very good to excellent.  Tony’s Turf and Surf for dinner is a gem.  Order ribeye and lobster, yum!  You can also find lobster on the breakfast and lunch menus.  The buffet restaurants have an a la carte menu, which I found to be better quality than the food on the buffet line.  Room service menu is 24 hours and takes about 30 minutes to be delivered (longer during peak times).

There are two outdoor pools.  The Main Pool is salt water with several warm tubs (not hot), and has a swim up bar and activities during the afternoon.  The activities serve to pull the guests together, and aren’t overbearing or obnoxious.  The guests were typically couples in their mid 30′s to mid 60′s, and everyone was relaxed and having a great time (always a good sign).  Friendly staff and friendly clients.

There is also a Tranquility Pool and does not have a swim up bar and no staff or activities.  The individuals and couples here were enjoying the solitude with a good book or sun nap, and it was very peaceful in this area.  The spa has an indoor pool, which also had a peaceful, introspective atmosphere.

The resort had a show or entertainment every night, and the place comes alive in the evening without any noise trickling into the guest room areas.  So, you can go to bed early or stay up late as you like.

I especially liked that the minibar could be restocked as you requested, instead of waiting the requisite alternate day (like you’ll find in many 4 star all-inclusives).  Service levels were focused on making the guest happy, which is refreshing.

And while this resort is a great choice for the honeymoon or anniversary couple, it’s equally suited for the couple (or several couples traveling together) looking for a  top quality vacation for the grown ups.

Barcelo Maya Palace Resort, Rivera Maya Mexico

The Barcelo Maya Palace Resort is the top dog among the Barcelo Maya complex of five resorts situated on an amazing stretch of beach, south of Playa del Carmen.

This property is especially good for upscale families wanting a worry-free beach vacation.  There is a children’s waterpark and kid’s club for ages to 4 to 12.  It is also a good choice for multiple families traveling together, since there’s so much to do (and eat) onsite. Continue reading Barcelo Maya Palace Resort, Rivera Maya Mexico

New: Now Amber & Secrets Vallarta Bay Resorts, Puerto Vallarta

Two hot resorts have hit the scene in Puerto Vallarta — Now Amber Puerto Vallarta (for all ages) and Secrets Vallarta Bay (for adults only).

Opening April 1, these two brand new AM Resorts are located on Banderas Bay, close to downtown Puerto Vallarta and only 15 minutes from the airport.

Now Amber is an upscale resort perfect for families, singles, and couples.

Secrets Vallarta Bay is an upscale-luxury all-suites resort for adults only.  Both resorts offer reservation-free dining, exceptional service, and beautiful rooms.

I am especially excited to see a new adults only all-inclusive in Puerto Vallarta, since the options up to this point have been limited.

I will update the blog with a review at some point when I’ve been able to personally inspect these resorts.  But for now, consider both resorts for your next beach vacation!

Now Amber Vallarta Bay Resort:  327 oceanfront suites – three pools – four a la carte restaurants, one buffet and one cafe – 24 hour room service – kids club – pool and beach wait service – Spa by Pevonia – golf range – fitness center – land and water activities – preferred club available.

Secrets Vallarta Bay:  271 oceanfront suites – three pools – four a la carte restaurants, one buffet and one cafe – 24 hour room service – pool and beach wait service – Secrets Spa by Pevonia – fitness center – pool and beach wait service – preferred club available.

Happy travels ~ Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant.  Reconnect Travel/Expert Family Travel.  Dallas-Fort Worth metro area (serving clients nationwide).  972-625-6200.

 

When to travel where…

Europe:

  • Price/Seasonality:  High season goes from June to mid September, when trans-Atlantic air is at a premium.  Low season is during the winter.  Mid season is fall and winter.
  • Weather:  Weather is best from mid Spring to mid Fall.
  • Best time to travel:  Mid September to mid-October is best in terms of pricing and weather.
Hawaii:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season is June thru April, then Christmas/New Years Weeks, and the two weeks around Easter.  The remainder of the year is Mid season.  Hawaii has no true Low season.
  • Weather:  Gorgeous year round.
  • Best time to travel:  Any time in the fall to mid December and late Spring (after Easter).
Tahiti:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season is June thru October, and then Christmas/New Years Weeks.  The remainder of the year is Mid season, with no true Low season.
  • Weather:  Rainy season is December thru February.  Weather is lovely year round.  Because they are in the South Pacific, our winter is their summer and is slightly warmer than the other half of the year (we’re not talking a big temperature difference).
  • Best time to travel:  November, then March thru May.
Caribbean and Mexico:
  • Price/Seasonality:  High season kicks off for Christmas holidays and continues thru Winter Break, Spring Break, and Easter.  The remainder of the year is Mid season.
  • Weather:  While year ’round tropical weather is in order, hurricane season is from June thru October.
  • Best time to travel:  May and November will give you the best prices out of hurricane season.  Hurricanes can happen on the Pacific coast of Mexico, too.
Walt Disney World/Orlando:
  • Price/seasonality:  Any time schools are out, attendance is up at the Disney Parks.  High season is during Spring Break thru Easter, Memorial Day to Labor Day (summer break), and Thanksgiving.  Peak season is over Christmas/New Years weeks.
  • Weather:  Summer is hot.  Spring and Fall is glorious.  Winter can be mild to downright cold.
  • Best time to travel:  September, October, and May.

El Dorado Royale Resort, Riviera Maya Mexico

Looking for a long weekend escape to recharge your batteries? I can recommend the El Dorado Royale Spa Resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya for your next break. As an adults-only resort, you’ll find a peaceful, laid back setting. No screaming kids in the pool, no social director toting a bullhorn. It’s a wonderful resort choice for a couple on a romantic retreat, or for girlfriends on a spa getaway. Relax in a palapa beach bed with your favorite novel, while enjoying the cool Caribbean breeze and a frosty drink concoction. How does that sound to you?

In-suite Jacuzzis, pillow top mattresses, and 24 hour room service comes standard with all accommodations. This resort has been rated as one of Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 100 Hotels in the World. For an upgrade consider the swim-up junior suites which steps from the patio into the lazy river, or the Casita Suite with a private outdoor shower and hacienda-style expanded room design.

Dining here is about the best you’ll find in an all-inclusive resort, with no buffet lines in sight. So go ahead and linger over dinner, the menu is creative and the service is proficient. Try sushi and Pacific Rim delights at Kampai, or perhaps fondue at LaFondue. Or for an intimate setting you can enjoy a beachfront candlelight dinner (at additional charge). The 20,000 sq. ft. Casitas Spa and the Spa Royale offer an extensive selection of treatments, saunas and steam rooms. Non-motorized water sports such as kayaks, snorkel gear, and paddle boats are included at no charge. Other water sports are available for a fee, including scuba, deep sea fishing, and wave runners.

Dallas residents consider Cancun and Riviera Maya to be their “local” beaches. With flight times of around two hours and the resort location 20 minutes from the airport it’s an easy trip for a three night getaway. Meals, snacks, room service, beverages, and non-motorized water sports are included. Spa treatments and offsite tours are additional cost.

Property features 664 units in 10 categories.

Riviera Maya: Mexico’s Caribbean Jewel

Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, Riviera Maya sits on Mexico’s Caribbean coast just south of Cancun.  This resort area has been growing rapidly in the last decade and has become on of Dallas’ favorite beach destinations.  The resort area spans along 60 miles of beautiful white sandy beach, where jungle meets the azure blue sea.

There are resorts here to fit most budgets and expectations.  There are adult-only resorts that appeal to the honeymoon and anniversary clientelle, as well as those that are family friendly.  Most the resorts in the area are all-inclusive, which means that your meals, snacks, and beverages as well as some activities at the resort are included as part of your resort stay.  This makes for a very convenient and hassle-free vacation.  Sand, sea and unlimited frozen drinks.  How can you beat that?

Riviera Maya resorts are more laid back than those in Cancun’s Hotel Zone.  In Riviera Maya the resorts are sitting on acres, compared to the resorts in the Hotel Zone sitting on lots. Plus these resorts have plenty of activities and entertainment to keep you busy.  If you decide to wander, downtown Playa del Carmen is an easy taxi ride, and offers some shopping and a bit of nightlife to boot.

For daytime fun, head over to the archaeological-natural park named Xcaret.  The highlight activity here is  tubing down an underground river (called a cenote).  The caves are awesome, and the water is refreshingly cold!  Allow extra time to wander the park.

For the active client, there are several golf courses in the Riviera Maya area, with reasonable green fees.  Stay onsite at the Iberostar Paraiso Resort complex or the Moon Palace Resort if you’d like to focus on golf.  Scuba and snorkeling in the Riviera Maya area is exceptional.  Consider snorkeling from your resort, or sign up for a boat excursion for snorkeling or diving on the Great Meso-American Barrier Reef.

Getting to Riviera Maya from Dallas is a snap.  The flight from Dallas to Cancun is only about 2 1/2 hours, and American and Sun Country offer several nonstop flight options daily.  Book your package with transfers already included, which will save from the extra hassle and cost of a taxi ride.  From the airport, your resort is ten minutes to eighty minutes’ drive south.  And don’t forget, air travel to Mexico requires a passport.

~Cindy Grant, Travel Consultant, ReconnectTravel.com 972-625-6200