To say that I’m proud of the Epperly Travel team for how far they’ve come in a year (even less than a year for some!) is an understatement. Not only are each of these girls driven and passionate about the travel business, they are to their core the kind of good people you want to do business with. I spent six days traveling with them in Cancun and Riviera Maya, listening to the collaboration and brainstorming of ideas over meals, hearing all the right questions being asked of the properties we toured, and seeing them come to one another’s assistance for all things big and small (from forgetting sunscreen to full out allergic reactions).
I’ve always said that finding the right travel agent is kind of like finding the perfect hairdresser – you don’t want just anyone to take on that task (and, just like your perfect hairdresser can be the world’s best therapist, we can be the world’s best confidants when it comes to interpreting your needs and turning those into a reality!). With just a few simple questions – like learning your travel history, your favorite restaurants, and finding out how social you enjoy being – we can match you to the perfect getaway. This is ever so important when it comes to any part of the world, but we saw a small slice of that in the 14 properties we toured in the Cancun/Riviera Maya area.
Here’s a quick overview of each of these resorts – now you need to contact your agent of choice to get them to match you to the right place since we’ve seen them all firsthand!
Viceroy Riviera Maya
They say never meet your heroes, but I’m glad we met this one. I’ve always had an affinity for Viceroy properties for their more modern touches and unique sense of place, and the Viceroy Riviera Maya did not disappoint. Guests will enjoy the laid back setting, nestled perfectly within a rainforest and on a gorgeous beach. Each individual casita comes complete with butler service, an outdoor shower and a plunge pool.
El Dorado Maroma
This all inclusive property, located on the best beach in Riviera Maya, is a great value for guests who want to take advantage of Karisma Resort’s “Gourmet All Inclusive” program, which prides itself in a dining experience that is elevated to other all inclusive properties.
The only true 5 star property on the famed Maroma Beach, Belmond’s Maroma is like stepping into a fairy tale. Think perfectly manicured lawns, pristine beaches, and winding paths leading to various rooms, pools, and the unforgettable spa. Speaking of that spa – it’s worth a visit just to enjoy everything from the tranquil garden treatment area to the stingless-bees that produce honey for the property.
A gem for the AMResorts brand, Secrets Maroma is a sprawling 412-room resort that caters to an adults-only crowd looking for an even more refined experience than its sister properties. With its pristine beachfront location, well-appointed dining venues and laid-back ambiance (think: just enough of a great pool scene without having to fret about Pitbull music being pumped through the speakers), this is a surefire winner for couples and singles looking for something out of the ordinary when it comes to an adults-only all inclusive.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Standing leagues above the other all inclusive properties, not just in this area but honestly, in the entire Caribbean & Mexico, Grand Velas Riviera Maya prides itself in a high-quality, high service experience that can be found at very few all inclusive resorts in the world. The property is divided into three sections, the Zen class is the most affordable and, while it is a short 3-minute shuttle ride to the beach, staying here does not deter from the overall experience: it’s just as gorgeous as the rest of the resort. For those who want to be closer, the family-friendly Ambassador class provides a great getaway or, for the highest level of accommodations here, look no further than the adults-only Grande Class. Truly something for everyone, as long as everyone is a fan of top-shelf liquor, hand-crafted menus and a dedication to five star service – which, who isn’t?!
Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Nestled into a serene jungle setting with an emphasis on Thai traditions, guests will feel like they’ve been transported to a world much further away than Riviera Maya. While Banyan Tree’s architecture and background are uniquely Asian-influenced (each spa therapist and chef on property was originally trained in Thailand), the property manages to still achieve a sense of place that might be impossible anywhere besides the Mayakoba neighborhood. Don’t forget to ask us about the Ixchel dinner, where couples can enjoy dining on a private boat underneath the stars as they navigate the breathtaking canals of Mayakoba.
Easily on par with the high quality of Banyan Tree, Rosewood speaks more to fans of traditional luxury, much like their other properties (also a great option for Four Seasons junkies) in the Caribbean and Mexico. Rosewood Mayakoba is no exception to the brand’s dedication to excellent service, all done in a way that does not sacrifice the Mayan experience – from the fresh ingredients grown in the on-property garden to the sweet local preparing her hand-made tortillas for guests at lunch. Don’t forget about their overwater lagoon villas, which are truly one of a kind accommodations!
A great option for more budget-conscious families interested in the Mayakoba complex who still want the elegance and pampering of a luxury brand. The Fairmont’s stellar prices do not in the least deter from the overall experience, which is one that guests continue to rave about long after they’ve returned from the famous Mayakoba waterways and fun pool scenes that the property has to offer. Great value for couples and families, but especially families with the number of connecting rooms options.
Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita
Another key player in AMResort’s portfolio, the Zoetry brand specifically focuses on a level of health and wellness that competing all inclusive properties might skim over. Each menu has a number of healthy options and the spa-centric resort encourages guests to take advantage of their complimentary fitness consultations – all the while providing options for guests who are just craving something a little less healthy. The boutique property’s decor can best be described as eclectic, great for adults or couples who appreciate a less traditional approach to the all inclusive resort.
The crown jewel of Palace Resorts is planted smack in the middle of the Cancun Hotel Zone, but guests on property would never know it: it offers just enough seclusion from the outside hustle and bustle within its pristine white high-rise walls. With its strong all inclusive program that delivers extraordinary service (butler service, a pillow and aromatherapy menu for each room) and comfy rooms with giant jacuzzi tubs, guests have no reason to leave the confines and venture into Cancun land – not to mention, the beach and water here are breathtaking.
Finding a better value in the area might be a challenge: this adults-only all inclusive property sits in the Cancun Hotel Zone, but the property itself shields guests from any threat of outside partying. Unlike many of the other Cancun Hotel Zone properties, Live Aqua actually provides ample green space instead of the feel of a sterile hotel block: guests can wander through the resort gardens and into a tucked-away Japanese restaurant, or find their spot along the sprawling pool. The check in process includes a hand massage – one that we were lucky enough to experience firsthand. Prices here make Live Aqua one of the best deals in town.
One can never go wrong with a Ritz, especially fans of a more traditional decor and quiet crowd. The Ritz-Carlton Cancun is no exception, with its elegant lobby and high-end restaurant choices. Every evening, the property turns its beachside cabanas into the only toes-in-the-sand restaurant in Cancun – a treat that anyone can enjoy and make a reservation for, regardless of whether they are staying on property.
Perched at the edge of the Cancun Hotel Zone, this resort-style oasis is more reminiscent of a Riviera Maya getaway than it is for the hotel zone. Peaceful elements and architecture run throughout the property – it was originally built as an Aman Resort – but it is far from stuffy or overly quiet. The five-star paradise is the ideal setting for families and adults alike, but we’d suggest booking a room with a private pool to enjoy even more peace and quiet in the tranquility of one of the 274 rooms.
Secrets the Vine
Another adults-only gem from the AMResorts brand, Secrets the Vine is the first of its kind to focus on high-quality food and wine – especially wine, hence the name. Wine lovers will be pleasantly surprised by the nightly tastings and number of offerings from across the globe, but especially those from Mexico itself. Mexican wine might just be the area’s best kept secret. So few know about these delicacies since they are not exported into the US! The resort itself reflects a super modern feel with interesting Western-home style touches throughout – for example, the lobby boasts the only fireplace in a Cancun hotel. One can imagine why.
To begin planning your own dream getaway to Mexico or elsewhere, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our Request a Trip form. If you’d like to work with an agent who specifically went on this getaway, please contact Meg Taylor, Kourtney Coleman, Stacee Adams, Jennifer Anderson or Lindsey Epperly.