By Lena Katz
Tired of all the rain, hail, sleet and snow yet? Yeah, me too. It doesn’t seem to really fit the Valentine’s theme at all. That’s why I’m making February the official month of the mini-moon — and suggesting lovebirds should migrate south. With most of Mexico’s most popular resorts just a few hours’ flight from any U.S. hub, it’s the perfect three-day beach vacation getaway. Escape crowds and get canoodly on a romantic Mexico vacation at one of the hideaways below.
Los Cabos often reminds me of a smaller Spanish-speaking beachfront version of Las Vegas. Not muy romantic, I know. But certain hotels in this Mexico vacation hub know how to provide ultimate serenity and beauty in the eye of the tourism whirlwind — which is why you constantly read about celebs and jetsetters taking beach vacations here to “get away from it all.”
Demi, Gwyneth and their ilk are most often seen at One & Only Palmilla and Las Ventanas al Paraiso — stunning properties to be sure, but also among the most expensive in Mexico.
Slightly less prohibitive but still offering a luxurious Mexico vacation experience, I recommend the Pueblo Bonito hotel group, which gets special kudos for being Mexican owned. Of its four Los Cabos hotels, I find Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa to be the best for “togethering.” Spa is central to the hotel experience; the design incorporates lots of subtle water features, and the very air seems to have a dewy, blissful, rejuvenating quality.
Pueblo Bonito Rose recently introduced an all-inclusive option that includes room service … perfect for couples in that enviable “honeymoon phase” because they can literally stay in bed all day drinking Mimosas and feeding each other tropical fruits.
The Riviera Maya is the biggest Mexico vacation destination — it encompasses Cancun and Playa del Carmen, with Cozumel right offshore. Beach vacations here run the gamut from sexy and couples-only to family-friendly to tequila-powered crazy. For Valentine’s moments, I suggest postcard-perfect Maroma Beach, a gated resort community near Playa del Carmen.
Because of its secluded, exclusive location, Maroma is where you can find many of Riviera Maya’s adults-only, all-inclusive resorts like the luxurious El Dorado Maroma All Inclusive, eco-innovative Hacienda Tres Rios Spa & Nature Park All Inclusive and self-styled “sensual” Secrets Maroma Beach. Luxury brands bring their breathtaking best to those who can afford it: Splurge on spa treatments at Maroma Resort and Spa by Orient Express, or explore the Riviera Maya’s most lavish new development at Banyan Tree Mayakoba.
Another adults-only all-inclusive resort is the Valentin Imperial Maya Resort. This was a natural pick for a Valentine’s mini-moon piece because of its location: Playa Del Secreto, a half-mile white sand beach with a name that inspires “let’s keep this between the two of us” moments (at least in my mind).The first Valentin hotel outside Europe, it’s an impressive property with Spanish-inspired architecture, a 900-foot swimming pool, natural lagoon area, nine restaurants and 540 guest suites.
A Mexico vacation destination for decades, Puerto Vallarta is so built-up and heavily trafficked that certain parts of it give an overwhelmingly “big city tourist trap” feeling. However, it too has its more sophisticated, secret enclaves. Nuevo Vallarta fits this description (it’s technically outside the PV city limit, but only a 10-minute drive away).
It harbors some of the region’s most lavish hotels, including the elegant Grand Velas All Suites & Spa — a property that has perfected the admirable double standard of being an all-inclusive resort but not really feeling like one. Among a-la-carte properties, Villa La Estancia is one of my top picks for reasonably priced romance. Couples can comfortably laze the days away poolside at this picturesque new-ish property. Orbitz customers also vote sister property Villa del Palmar among their favorite romantic getaways.
Lena Katz is the author of SUN: California and SIP: California, part of the Travel Temptations series published by Globe Pequot Press.