Written by Joy Thrun.
The Riviera Maya is one of my and Tom’s favorite resort areas. Here are some of the reasons why. The travel time and time zone makes the destination a breeze on travel days. The flight time is just over 3 hours. Northwest and Spirit fly nonstop commercially and the charter flights operate daily in the high season. Apple Vacations has great service on their USA 3000 charter flights with hot food and free movies, quite an upgrade from the commercial flights these days. The resorts are awesome and there are options in all price ranges which is why you need a good travel agent to help you pick the best resort for your needs. From adult only properties to family oriented you will find the options plentiful and confusing. We have NO FEES for any vacation booking package and we know what vendors offer the best prices. Many vendors have strong relationships with certain hotels so we know how to find the best buy and availability.
The beaches are glorious, sugar sand, aqua blue water, great snorkeling and water sports which are included in the all inclusive packages.
The sightseeing is world class, culturally and for the active traveler. The Mayan culture is fascinating and some of the pyramids are as old as those in Egypt. You can zip line, scuba dive, dolphin swim and visit Xcaret, rated the best sightseeing attraction in all of Mexico and the Caribbean.
The shopping in downtown Playa del Carmen is fantastic! 5th Avenue (the main drag) is foot traffic only and has wonderful silver from Taxco, handicrafts, amber and hip clothing. The restaurants and clubs downtown are also wonderful. Don’t miss Yaxche for Mayan cuisine and the Blue Parrot for music and dancing.
We have been to the Rivera Maya 10 times and on our trip in September we stayed at the Grand Palladium White Sand to inspect the hotel for a group we have staying there in March. Then we stayed at the Moon Palace to experience the golf at the Jack Nicklaus signature course there.
The White Sand is a great resort. The rooms are all Junior Suites. This is one of the few hotels that will allow a family of 5 to stay in one room and actually have enough space. The floors throughout the suite are onyx. The bathrooms feature Jacuzzi tubs, walk in shower, bathrobes and slippers. The balconies are very large and the beds are not Mexico hard. This is one of the nicest rooms we have experienced in an all inclusive hotel. The rooms do not have moisture cream and the hotel does not accept American Express. The only 2 negatives I could find.
The hotel, like many Spanish owned resorts, is 4 hotels in one and you can use all the pools, restaurants, lounges, shops of all the hotels. This means it’s large but it offers a great variety which I really enjoyed. There is a lot of walking and bridges on the White Sand side. It reminded me of Venice because it has a large lake/canals including a pontoon boat that operates tours, hence the bridges.
The pools are awesome, all the hotels have huge pools. The White Sand pool is massive and has a great swim up bar and Jacuzzis. There is a bridge to the quiet adult only pool with it’s own bar and Jacuzzi. There is a great salt water pool near the Wedding Gazebo that you might miss if you didn’t know it was there. The pool at the Colonial is also large and more lush with landscaping.
The spa is great! You can use the air-conditioned comprehensive workout room, pool, Roman tub and Tom’s personal favorite stone walking treatment for free. Any of the “treatments” are at an additional charge. The massage rooms are inside for single massage or couples and they have a secluded elevated outdoor massage area. This spa rivals any of Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons Spas.
There are several specialty restaurants including a steakhouse, Brazilian, Mediterranean, Japanese, Ribs, Italian, Mexican and a table service 24 hour restaurant right on the beach as well as 2 buffet restaurants. There is live music in the lounges, shows nightly and a very cool disco. The service is wonderful throughout the resort. If you want to be close to the restaurants and pool ask for building 54. If you want to be near to the beach, request building 58 however this is about a 10 minute walk to the main hotel. There are shuttles that run but the walk was a bonus for me. The stores are actually good. There are shops in both the White Sand and the Colonial and you should make sure to check the selection and prices before you shop downtown. Downtown Playa del Carmen is about a 25 minute cab ride and costs 185 pesos ($18.50 US).
We have staff members that visit the area and different hotels on a continual basis so you could not ask for a better agency to book your Riviera Maya vacation with. Call us amigos today and we can help you book a trip to this exciting travel destination.