mirrored pool surrounded by white lounge furniture and greenery at Grand Velas Riviera Maya

At Frida, the contemporary Mexican Restaurant at AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Maya, my husband and I spoon complimentary ants and grasshoppers into the customized guacamole made table side by a well-trained waiter. We’ve asked for the insects (a Mexican delicacy) to be served on the side, and we nibble them with some trepidation, washing them down with Barcelona-level gin and tonics — mine is made with carrots. At this uber-luxurious, all-inclusive, five-star resort, enveloped among 206 acres of unspoiled jungle and mangroves, and positioned by the ocean, the edible bugs are not the only thing complimentary. Everything we eat and drink or even think about is included. Mind you, free is a euphemism for paying in advance but it’s a mind game that works. Checked into one of the 539 (1,100 square foot) pampering suites that compose this utterly posh retreat, we’ve experienced a range of high-end experiences, comestibles, libations, and lavish living that far exceeds the room rate. Able to choose from eight restaurants (six of them gourmet), we dine with glee one night at Cocina de Autor, the first restaurant in the world in an all-inclusive to garner AAA Five Diamond status. Helmed by world-renowned celebrity chefs Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso, it involves a languorously compelling, multi-course ramble through the cuisine of Mexico. 

More About Grand Velas Riviera Maya

lounge chairs facing a body of water and palm trees at grand velas riviera maya
Courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Maya

In truth every bite and sip we take at Grand Velas reigns supreme, as do the facilities. Expansive, they include an innovative Kids’ and Teens’ Club and a Baby Concierge. I don’t have children with me, but the family pool warms my heart with kid-sized loungers, a child-friendly section of the pool, and spa treatment nooks for parents who don’t want to be far from their brood. The resort’s stunning and transformative SE Spa (at an additional cost), located in another part of the resort, is well worth leaving the family behind to gain a few hours of serenity. A world-class wellness center encased within a cenote, the spa builds its defining theme around a signature seven-step water journey. Treatments borrow from local culture — such as an effective and unusual massage I experienced which uses warm nopal paddles to unravel muscles. 

More All-Inclusive Resorts in Tulum and the Riviera Maya

Grand Hyatt Playa Del Carmen

a bed with white sheets facing a pool and lounge chairs at grand hyatt playa del carmen
Courtesy of Grand Hyatt

Be among the first to stay at the newly launched Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen, conveniently located just steps from the colorful Quinta Avenida in charming Playa del Carmen. On the Mexican Caribbean Sea, the hotel boasts 314 guest rooms, 36 of them  suites with swim-up options or plunge pools. Pet friendly (note: Mexico makes it easy to bring vaccinated pets on vacation), the resort exudes contemporary sleekness and scenic water views. Three infinity pools, two restaurants, a sushi bar, coffee bar, room service, onsite cooking classes, bike tours, and the popular Hyatt Loves Local Market (which showcases local wares and artisans) are some of the myriad amenities. Parents can relax at the first-class, nature-inspired Cenote Spa, while kids play at the guide-supported Tortuguita Day Camp.

Casa Chable

South of Tulum in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, set between the jungle and the sea, this intimate hotel feels seamlessly woven into the landscape. The first luxury eco-resort within UNESCO World Heritage Site, remote (but accessible), it embodies the dreamy concept of barefoot luxury. With just five stand-alone bungalows and a main villa that holds five more guest rooms, Casa Chable invites guests to slow their pace, digitally detox, and connect with nature. Book the all-inclusive package option which offers an immersive three nights, complete with transportation, culinary experiences, a three-hour boat excursion, three meals a day, alcoholic beverages, complimentary mini bar, and much more. 

Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya All-Inclusive Resort

Expect to return. That’s because when you take your family to this festive enclave of fun, they’ll beg to come back next year. Indubitably a hoot for kids (and children of all ages) thanks to its Family Zone (with a kids-only pool, waterpark playground, abundance of beach sports, family yoga, and activities galore), this extravagant 735-room retreat lies just 30 minutes from Tulum. Not just a playground, Hilton Tulum also prides itself on an array of cultural, wellness, and eco experiences that include sustainability workshops in the jungle, mystical full moon beach celebrations, Mayan calendar readings, and soothing sound healing. Meant to conjure both a sense of place and simply entertain, Hilton Tulum flaunts 9 pools, 13 all-inclusive restaurants, and a luxury spa with 16 treatment rooms. Want to go off property? An able concierge team proposes memorable activities from zip lining over ancient ruins to monkey interactions. 

Unico 20° 87° Riviera Maya

outdoor pool surrounded by palm trees lounge furniture at unico

Exemplifying the adage “location, location, location,” Unico nestles on a postcard-perfect beach midway between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. Adults-only and honeymooners’ favorite, it emanates a festive air while ensuring that it weaves in Mayan culture and Yucatan flair throughout its contemporary footprint. Brandishing a boutique feel — despite the fact that it vaunts 400 rooms — the retreat keeps guests busy with a host of signature excursions and activities, plus a first-in-class spa. Luxurious butler-attended rooms offer sublime amenities such as a pillow menu and personalized minibars. Of Unico’s five exceptional restaurants, Cueva Siete roots most deeply into the region, relating the story of Mayan culture through its menu. 

Excellence Riviera Cancun

In the characteristic town of Puerto Morelos, along Mexico’s undulating Caribbean coastline, the Excellence Collection offers up another of its outstandingly opulent, all-inclusive Mexican outposts — this one not far from Tulum. Full of variety, the adults-only Excellence Riviera Cancun tempts with a range of suite styles, including bi-level guest rooms with rooftop pool terraces. A buzzy destination on the water, Excellence has six sparkling pools, whirlpools, and jacuzzis, a lazy river that winds through the resort’s jungle terrain, and an activity calendar that offers everything from nightly entertainment to kayaking to yoga. Stick to your routine with workouts in the over-the-top fitness center and unwind in tranquil Miilé Spa, complete with an authentic Mesoamerican Temazcal. With 11 distinctive restaurants and 12 bars, this glamorous five star all-inclusive provides astonishing value for its price point. 

Featured image courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Maya