By Nina Kokotas Hahn
With fall settled in and the winter holidays around the corner, there’s no better time than now for couples to escape on a Mexico vacation. Not just any ordinary Mexico vacation—I’m talking about an all-out luxury vacation at the stunning new Viceroy Riviera Maya.
Forget all inclusive hotels, giant resorts, mediocre food and sub-par service—this 41-villa seaside refuge will knock your socks off in the most unexpected ways. Located just outside of Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean Sea’s Maya coast, Viceroy Riviera Maya delivers the beach, ocean and tropical breezes, and so much more—everything from a deep respect for Mayan culture and an abundance of friendly service to outrageous spa treatments and one of the most remarkable food and beverage programs I’ve experienced this year.
So what’s the big deal about going now? Let me explain.
You and your honey need to get away. How long will we keep saying “we really need to get away” before we finally make it happen? Viceroy is romantic without feeling tacky or cheesy, and the opportunities for togetherness feel so natural. Book one of the 11 new villas (I prefer the tucked-away jungle villas) and hang out in your own private backyard complete with a hammock, plunge pool and outdoor shower. Walk the jungle paths steeped in calming copal incense, swim at the pool, or rest on swinging canopied bed (no charge!) at the beach serviced by a tropical butler.
The world needs a getaway. Everyone is talking about the end of the Mayan Cycle on December 21, but contrary to popular belief, most Mayans believe it simply marks the end of one full cycle and the beginning of another—not the apocalypse. No better place to prepare for the next cycle than the Maya coast and the Viceroy, which takes great pride in honoring ancient Mayan traditions. My favorites are the intensive Temazcal ceremony performed inside an adobe with steam and herbs, and the Tzolkien couples spa treatment performed in a secluded jungle hut.
Mexican food and bevies never tasted so good. Food in Mexico was never my friend until my stay at Viceroy Riviera Maya, where Chef Jetzabel Rojas Barragan serves amazing dishes like marquesitas crepes, cactus gorditas and fresh ceviche. She also leads a cooking class in the gardens where foods are cooked in banana leaves over hot coals in the ground. Cocktails like the pineapple ginger margaritas rimmed with spicy salt are equally outstanding. I loved the changing daily programs like Mexican tea time, tequila tasting, an artisan mixology class, and the Chef’s Table dinner at La Marea restaurant, where sommelier Carlos Cime shared Mexican boutique wines.
Riviera Maya adventure is easy to find beyond the beach. Just off the resort’s private pier, we boarded a boat and snorkeled around the second longest barrier reef in the world. We explored the ancient Mayan cities of Tulum at the beach and Coba in the jungle. We swam in cool blue cenotes, which are natural holes in the earth filled with fresh water. At night, we shopped and walked the streets of Playa del Carmen.
It’s the perfect time of year for deals, sunshine and celebration. Traveling now through November means you’ll miss hurricane season (which ends in October) at the same time that you’ll score high temps in the low 80s, “shoulder season” deals, and the chance to see turtles hatching on the beach. The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival from November 22-24 is an added bonus.
Nina Kokotas Hahn is a contributing magazine writer and travel blogger. Globetrotting since infancy, she’s the daughter of a travel agent and knows a thing or two about finding hidden gems and great travel deals.