Choosing romance in an adults-only resort can still leave time for culture, heritage, traditions and a sense of history — or can it? Wondering about the possibility of finding balance in an all-inclusive resort drove this Cultural Heritage TravelingMom to Cancun to the Excellence Riviera Cancun Resort where she found romance wasn’t the only thing offered to visitors.
Slipping off with your lover for some personal time in an all-inclusive resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a grand notion; daydreams unfold easily considering how you might idle away the hours. Adults only is the style at Excellence Riviera Cancun, one of six resorts in Mexico under the umbrella of the Excellence Group. Some of the others are named Finest and Beloved, with a new property opening in 2016 in the Dominican Republic.
With 400 suites in 14 buildings at Excellence Riviera Cancun, romantic adults heading to the room might get confused. The buildings are numbered one through eight, connected with covered passageways bordered with lush landscaping, looking pretty similar. Four are handicapped equipped.
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Recognition of your holiday home seems to settle in after a few strolls through the property.
People-sized, this 11-year-old resort according the General Manager Jean Francois. “We consider walking distances and the scale of the properties in proportion to you.”
Everything’s a suite, and they come in nine styles. Tantalizing soaking tubs with jets or spacious tile showers, king beds or two doubles.
Junior suites are 668 square feet, including a sitting area with a desk, and you can choose from pool or ocean views or reserve a swim-up yard connecting you from your door, hammock or outdoor lounging bed to a system of meandering gentle rivers.
Floors are cool marble, sleek with muted colors.
TravelingMom tip: the floors and the views lure the eyes up and out so the one step down from sleeping area to living room and balcony or patio could cause a fall.
Club level rooms and honeymoon quarters expand to 1,000 and more square feet, some with two stories that include a rooftop pool, lounging bed and broad views of the resort and the sea.
The 14 lodging buildings are long and low, none more than three stories. Elevators are abundant but the wide exterior stairways with handrails are enticing since the foods are abundant too.
Lodging is grouped in sort of a horseshoe and the front desk staff in a spacious lobby almost insists on helping visitors find their rooms, at least the first time.
Miss America-style banner ribbons wrap room doors where special occasions are taking place: Anniversary! Honeymoon! as joyous announcements.
Restaurants are grouped compactly, all 11 of them, with big glass doors that open effortlessly: no handles, no buttons, they just sense your presence.
Some have no doors, just open air to the sea and the resort landscape.
TravelingMom Dining Tip: Descriptions are available in the arrival info booklet, but eateries have different personalities to reflect your changing emotions. I say walk around, go in, and contemplate the mood you want to create.
For instance, breakfast in the Barcelona provides scores of buffet choices, with table service for beverages and white linen cloths and napkins. Two very large interior air-conditioned rooms is the environment.
Breakfast in the Lobster House is palapa-style with open-air walls, a lazy river pool winding around three sides and an utterly charming four-table balcony dining room with white wicker furniture.
Ten wide wooden steps up to this romantic spot that you’d easily miss if seated at the first table in view.
Café Aroma is important to know about if you’re a sweet-tooth traveler because pastries change three times a day; be there at 3:00 p.m. for cakes.
Wandering is an activity at Excellence Riviera Cancun. This turns out to be more than the ubiquitous people watching.
Just chill if that’s the best holiday. Keep your eyes pealed if you like discovering surprises.
Fashion watchers: Resort wear is entertaining with women choosing fashions with a flair and the guys they are with comfiest in baggy shorts and shirts.
Art and literature: Sculpture that’s animal and life-sized appear on the grounds, and a book nook with tomes free for the taking is nestled in a corner of the great big gathering place of sofas and soft chairs that doubles as theater seating for nightly performances on the stage.
Sustainable gardening: So easy to walk right by and so interesting to linger, reading rustic little signs if you care about indigenous plants. Cactus, oyster plants, prickly pear and blue agave are a few in this little patch tended in the midst of splendor all around.
Flavor balance: Of course spirits are free flowing; those too are all included. But there’s balance. Right next to an alluring open-air bar is a help-yourself wooden kiosk. Waffle cones are protected in a glass-front case and the soft ice cream is dispensed with a traditional handle. So much finer than eating from a cup.
The Spa Adults Only
Everyone gets a personal valet for an hour before massages or facials. No extra cost, just normal. That was a first for me. Bring your bathing suit.
Be game for a barrage of exhilarating experiences in that hour – 17 water treatments including pummeling jets kneading the tight places in your neck and shoulders and nap-inducing benches in a dry sauna.
Your valet wraps you in warm towels after the 40 degree cold pool plunge and helps you position in front of the belly-massaging jet with force so strong to treat inner organs that holding on to hand rails is necessary.
A rainbow of lights trigger many senses in one shower; a bucket of water dumps on your head in another.
Last of the 17 experiences—a bubbly pool to stretch out full body on massaging rollers. Anticipate a plush robe and a warm towel for your neck en route to the massage. Paper panties too.
TravelingMom Tip: Book your massage with the shaman. Although everyone I questioned was more than satisfied with their massage therapist, I suspect mine was superior in the hands and the spirit of Jose Maria, a shaman.
Two hammocks hang from trees in a secluded pathway not far from the Spa but easy to overlook. Lolling about in those hammocks is a recipe to overlook the low dome, sort of an igloo made of red bricks with stacks of wood next to it.
My kind of travel—–indigenous cultural traditions made available.
This is a sweat lodge and resort guests can book a 90-minute ceremony involving volcanic rocks, three pots of tea and abundant spiritual heritage.
The cost is $100 per person, and the best way to arrange this is to mention your interest to the Spa manager.
I also found culture and pampering at Finest Playa Mujeres another of the six all-inclusive resorts in Mexico in the Excellence Group. And here’s how History Buff TravelingMom Angela Tiffin introduced her kids to cultural heritage in Riviera Maya.