We’ve already shown you the most popular Caribbean hotels on Oyster, and now it’s Mexico’s turn. Though we love less touristy locales like Manzanillo and Yelapa, we weren’t surprised to find that party-centric Cancun and honeymooners-filled Playa del Carmen were the most sought after destinations in Mexico for our users. And though Mexico City took the number one spot on The New York Times‘ list of where to go in 2016, it seems Mexico beaches still trump the burgeoning metropolis. Scroll down to check out the 12 most popular resorts in Mexico and let us know where you’d like to stay in the comments.
1. Riu Palace Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen
The 400-room, all-inclusive Riu Palace Riviera Maya sits right on the soft, sugar-white beach of Playa del Carmen’s Playacar. Surrounded by towering palm trees and expertly groomed greenery, the property is like luxurious tropical eye candy. Architecturally speaking, the hotel puts a stylish spin on the charming, traditional Mexican estate, resulting in an opulent-meets-old-world ambiance. The lobby—decked out in marble floors and huge chandeliers– also has an impressive rotunda and radiant glass-stained ceiling panes. The rooms got a refresh in 2012, so they too live up to the hype. There is a good variety of food options (like the Mexican El Porche or the poolside bar), plus a small spa and fitness center. But the pool is probably the highlight here—it’s expansive. As far as the Riu properties go, this one looks like all the others.
2. Solmar Resort, Cabo San Lucas
The Solmar Resort is a mid-range all-inclusive property on the smaller side, so guests get all of the perks of an all-inclusive in a more intimate environment. It also means guests don’t get multiple food choices—there is just one restaurant at the hotel (though guests are entitled to eat free at a few nearby restaurants as well). The real highlight is the hotel’s beachfront location, within walking distance of the marina and downtown. All rooms are suites, with kitchenettes, but decor-wise they are a bit out-of-date. The bathrooms show some wear and tear, and the bedrooms feature old, small tube TVs. Although the pool has a swim-up bar, the Solmar attracts both couples and families.
3. El Cozumeleno Beach Resort, Cozumel
El Cozumeleno is a mid-range all-inclusive resort located directly on a long, narrow beach in northern Cozumel. Its 252 rooms are no-frills and some have dated technology, but all units are spacious (especially those in the original building) and have furnished balconies with ocean views. The pools are the highlight here (one has a popular swim-up bar), but golf is also draw due to the resort’s location across the street from the island’s only golf course (guests get discounted rates). Breakfast and lunch are pretty average, but dinner is tasty and the menu changes every few days. Overall, the hotel is a solid pick for families and value travelers.
4. Excellence Playa Mujeres, Cancun
This adults-only luxury resort offers a nice all-inclusive experience with tons of variety—multiple dining options, several beautiful pools, a gorgeous spa, and dozens of wonderful activities. The rooms here are large and contemporary, with large modern bathrooms, Jacuzzis, and high-end amenities such as big flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and iPod docks. Some have a large rooftop terrace with a private plunge pool with ocean views. However, note that the beach is less attractive than others farther south, and that there are no attractions nearby. Still, though, compared with the nearby, comparably luxurious Beloved Hotel, the Excellence has more to offer in terms of options. It’s also quieter, since it’s adults-only, so couples looking for a romantic getaway might prefer this over the Beloved.
5. Samba Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta
Compared to the many massive hotels at the north end of Nuevo Vallarta, the Samba Vallarta‘s 183-room, four-story Spanish colonial-style building feels pleasantly small-scale—and the pools and beach tend to be less crowded than elsewhere. The clean rooms have basic, contemporary beach decor (light woods, turquoise bed skirts and runners), and the general ambience of the property is family-friendly and relaxed. For those who want to go the all-inclusive route but don’t want a megaresort experience, this affordable mid-range property is a fine choice.
6. Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa, Cabo San Lucas
The all-inclusive, adults-only Pueblo Bonitio Pacifica Resort is a tranquil, upscale resort on a gorgeous beach. It feels removed and secluded from the Cabo nightlife, though it’s only about a 10-minute drive away. Amenities are plentiful; there are two beautiful pools, tennis courts, five restaurants (including sushi and Italian options), five bars (no well liquor here; they serve Absolut, Bacardi, and Cuervo 1800, along with over 50 brands of liquor), a large fitness center, and a full-service spa with a sexy Jacuzzi and a meditation labyrinth. All 154 rooms feature understated, contemporary beach decor with dark woods, Mexican accents such as local artwork and floor mosaics, and soft yellow and white bedding. All rooms also have ocean-view balconies and free Wi-Fi, but outdated tube TVs—surprising for a resort of this caliber. Still, couples looking for a quiet, romantic getaway should be pleased with this option.
7. Paradisus Cancun All Inclusive
The Paradisus Cancun is an all-inclusive, upscale mega-resort whose five interconnected pyramids overlook the gorgeous white sands and perfect blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean. Its 668 rooms are all smart and spacious with sea or lagoon views—though some are only partial. While breakfast can get busy, there’s no shortage of restaurants and bars to choose from and the huge pool never feels crowded. The impressive spa, large fitness center, and nine-hole golf course are also notable features here. Despite the property’s size, its interior tropical gardens also provide a lush even secluded ambience. Prices are competitive for this level of luxury, but couples may want to splurge for the adult-only Royal Service section.
8. The Royal Hideaway Playacar, Playa del Carmen
The Royal Hideaway is a member of exclusive hospitality consortium Leading Hotels of the World, and as such is one of the most luxurious properties in the area. It features upscale rooms with high-end amenities, a full-service spa with great treatments, several pools, and the best food around. The beautiful grounds, overall sophisticated vibe, adults-only policy, and beautiful beachfront location a short drive from shopping on Playa’s Fifth Avenue make it one of the most attractive options for couples in Playacar.
9. Hard Rock Hotel Cancun
With a gorgeous infinity pool featuring ocean views and two popular swim-up bars, five restaurants serving international cuisine, live entertainment, a great spa, and a wonderful kids’ club, the Hard Rock screams “all-inclusive Cancun megaresort”. All rooms feature contemporary decor with rock-n-roll-style twists, open bathrooms with double jetted tubs, balconies with either ocean or lagoon views, and modern amenities—including flat-screen TVs and iPod docks. It’s a solid choice for couples and groups, but families should note that it can get rowdy at times, especially in the swim-up bar areas.
10. Hotel Zilara Cancun
The appearance of the 288-room adults-only Hyatt Zilara Cancun goes against the often bad reputation all-inclusives have gained. Suites appear updated and buck traditional room layouts with a centrally located bed and spacious balcony (some are even swim-out). The bathrooms boast massive walk-in showers and Jacuzzi tubs with killer views. The quality of the food is surprisingly good and varied, including the convenient 24-hour VIP lounge. But like many all-inclusive properties, basic amenities can get crowded fast: Expect to fight for chairs by the pool or for dinner reservations at a decent hour. The vibe is also slightly older, so young couples or spring breakers may want to consider staying elsewhere. And families, of course, steer clear (no guests under the age of 16 are allowed).
11. Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen
The Grand Velas—set on over 80 acres of mangroves that meet a postcard-perfect beach of white sand and turquoise waters—is one of Riviera Maya’s most sophisticated properties. It features 491 top-notch suites spread out in three different buildings (two family-friendly, one adults-only), all with their own stunning pool complexes, gyms, and restaurants. The property is so huge guests will need to take a three-minute shuttle ride from the farthest building to the beach, but the hotel’s spotless service, outstanding food, luxurious spa, and wonderful amenities make it a great pick for discerning (and well-heeled) travelers.
12. Sensimar Seaside Suites & Spa, Puerto Aventuras
Sensimar Seaside Suites & Spa is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort located on a secluded beach halfway between Playa del Carmen and the famous Mayan ruins of Tulum. This hotel offers 282 spacious suites with double Jacuzzis, terraces or balconies, and flat-screen TVs with DVD players. While the location is fairly isolated, this resort has a long list of amenities including a great spa, tennis court, outdoor yoga sessions, and scuba clinics. There are many spots here to relax, including three pools and a total of 12 restaurants and bars. This resort is a great pick for relaxing days with a significant other, but travelers looking for nightlife and shopping might want to consider options closer to Cancun.
This article was originally published by Oyster under the headline Mexico’s 12 Most Popular Resorts. It is reprinted here with permission.
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(Photo at top: Jaclyn Liechti)