Mexico: Viceroy Riviera Maya
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AddressPlaya Xcalacoco, Riviera Maya 77710 Quintana Roo, Mexico 866/332-1672 viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/rivieramaya
The Tuesday evening Antojeria at the hotel, a celebration of Mexican street food
Friday night beachside barbecues
A treatment at the Wayak Spa, tucked into the jungle-like setting among waterfalls and giant tropical trees
- 41 private beach-side villas /li>
- 3 restaurants: La Marea, featuring upscale Mexican cuisine; Coral Grill & Bar, beachside Mexican-Mediterranean on wood-burning grills; and Library Lounge, which evokes the residential feel of a luxurious living room
- 500-bottle wine cellar
- "Dine Anytime, Anywhere" Policy
- Casita Maya, a traditional Mayan outdoor kitchen offering cooking classesusing pit ovens
- On-site spa services
- Outdoor swimming pool and poolside bar
Even if not for the extraordinary accommodations, the resort's food alone would make a stay here sublime. At the Café Coral, a beachside restaurant serving casual salads, ceviche and sandwiches, I scarf a chicken and chimmichurri sandwich on a pillowy bolillo roll beachside, and wash it down with a fragrant concoction of dark rum, peach, pineapple and grapefruit juices that the bartender invented on the spot. Throughout the year, there are weekly, food-centric events: Tuesday evenings are Antojeria, a street food festival (especially good is the molcajete de camarones, served in a mortar-and-pestle of volcanic rock and overflowing with jumbo shrimp, grilled nopales, silky guajillo chile sauce, and bacon, topped with melty asadero cheese); Friday nights are a beachside surf and turf feast, when an army of chefs emerge from the kitchen to prepare a surf and turf feast, including fresh-caught shrimp, scallops, and calamari, barbecued suckling pig and chimmichurri-dressed steaks.
But my favorite meal by far was at the resort's elegant restaurant La Marea. There, chef Jetzabel Rojas cooks with a lot of panache, merging Mayan and Mediterranean traditions: a velvety shrimp–tomato bisque is spiked with chile; a paella of clams and chorizo is laden with huitlacoche (an earthy-tasting, almost truffle-like corn fungus), and fragrant, black recede negro, a traditional Mayan paste of charred dried chiles, garlic, and spices. It's a meal well worth traveling for—I hope to make the trip again, someday. —Kellie Evans
In the Area
- Ancient Mayan Ruins: Most who tour the Mexican Riviera visit the ruins at Chichen Itza or Tulum, but the site of Coba boasts the tallest pyramid on the Yucatán peninsula: Nohoch Mul is the equivalent of a 12 story building, and if you can manage the almost 45 degree climb to the top, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views. Arrange a visit though the hotel concierge.
- Swim in the Multun-Ha: The rocky Yucatán Peninsula scattered with cenotes—vast sinkholes in the limestone bedrock that have filled with fresh water. The resort can take you to the Multun-Ha, a privately owned cenote with a 100-foot-plus stairway that descends to a serene pool of water where you can swim under cathedral-high stone ceilings.
- Playa Del Carmen: Be sure to wander downtown Playa Del Carmen, the perfect place to go shopping for souvenirs like cinnamon-laden Mayan chocolate and hand-woven hammocks.