A gem on the Caribbean coast of Mexico
By Angela Rodriguez
It was late when I finally arrived at Vidanta Riviera Maya’s vast lobby to check in and the first thing that struck me was a disorienting feeling that made me question if I was indoors or out.
The massive and perfectly climate-controlled space ostensibly has no solid walls and that sense of being immersed in nature is one that stayed with me throughout my stay.
Its five resort hotels are seemingly carved out of the Mayan Jungle, with gorgeous pathways connecting them and wildlife teeming at every turn. My third-floor stay at their Grand Mayan Hotel includes a bird’s eye view of local bird-life and I could have spent hours relaxing in my private plunge pool sipping a room service cocktail watching their antics, but the vast complex had much to be discovered.
Two world-class spas, 15 pools, crocodile and flamingo sanctuaries, Cirque du Soleil’s first resident show in Mexico, and the crystalline Caribbean Sea are among the attractions that competed for my precious vacation time.
Truthfully, I wasn’t quite sure where to begin but The Grand Mayan’s stellar concierge staff was more than happy to help sort out the myriad details of both on and off site adventures. Conveniently each hotel building, as well as each pool, had their own concierge desk, which made making plans incredibly stress-free.
The Yucatan peninsula has many adventures to be discovered, but Vidanta has more than enough to keep you entertained for days without every leaving the property — beginning with the stunning beach for which the Riviera Maya is renowned.
The length of Vidanta’s half-mile beach is protected by offshore wave breaks so the surf is never too rough.
Some areas are soft sand ready for a swim and perfect for young kids to play in while others have large rocky formations perfect for amateur snorkeling that hints at the beginnings of the second largest coral reef in the world, that starts just a few kilometers south.
But Vidanta’s real beach magic is onshore, with cabanas, hanging beds and hammocks among the options for relaxing and reading a good book, reconnecting with loved ones over screen-free conversations or just enjoying the sea breeze for hours on end.
“That sense of being immersed in nature is one that stayed with me throughout my stay.”
Away from the sand there are 15 pools spread throughout the resort to tempt you with their unique vibes.
All of them have their own feel, but favorites include the Mayan Palace pool, which is the largest and has the most energetic environment day and night.
A poolside “palapa” (as their cabanas are called) is the perfect hub for a day of play for a family or group. Meanwhile, the Mayan Palace Pool with its infinity edge overlooking the main lake and the formed built-in lounges and intimate coves were perfect for grown ups despite the sandy beach and zero grade entry which invited kids to play.
Between them in energy level was the Beach Club pool, which brought the best of both worlds together.
It was sizable with many shallow areas for families to enjoy and a swim up bar to refresh at but its infinity edge looking out to sea was the crown jewel of the pool.
Its easy access to the sand and the sea were the perfect compromise between the eternal beachside dilemma of where to take your next dip.