A luxury beach resort on the Mayan Riviera
If you fly to Cancun, grab a taxi and ride 25 minutes south, you end up in one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico, the Mayan Riviera. Riviera Maya overlooks the Caribbean Sea on the east side of the Yucatan peninsula. Known for its crystal-clear water, mild temperatures and white sand beaches, Riviera Maya is home to upscale resorts, world-class diving and ruins from the ancient Mayan civilization.
As we pull up to the El Dorado Royale, our eyes grow accustomed to the light and we take in the spectacular view. The elevated room is centered on a large decorative pool of bubbling fountains. Polished marble floors lead to huge windows that over look an expansive courtyard full of waterworks and lush landscaping extending several hundred yards to the seashore.
This adult only, all inclusive resort rests on 450-acres of Caribbean waterfront property bordered by tropical jungles. Featuring 500 guest’s rooms, six large restaurants, more than a dozen bars, giant resort-style pools, activity centers and a full-service spa, it offers plenty of entertainment options.
The front of our building is whitewashed adobe with brown wooden doors and arched entryways. The room features a king-sized bed surrounded by sheer canopies. On top of the bed, towel sculptures (two doves) are surrounded by flower petals; a large Jacuzzi tub is built into the living area and accented with candles and fresh flowers. The sliding back door opens onto a spacious patio with hammock and outdoor furniture. A sunbathing pool with a couple of lounge chairs surrounds the patio and drains into a four-foot-deep “lazy river” (you can swim the river to reach the main pools and swim up bars). Fifty yards from our room, the brilliantly blue Caribbean splashes onto the shore.
The temperature is a comfortable 74 degrees. We are by the beach listening to the water hit the shore in the sky spa. There is no need for CDs with nature sounds, candles or incense here. Built on stilts with a thatch roof and open walls, the sky spa allows sights, sounds and smells of the ocean to wash over guests as they receive massages. El Dorado Royale has a full-service spa complete with traditional massage rooms if you don’t want to wear your robe outside or prefer privacy.
Daytime activities included in the basic hotel package are cycling, tennis, scuba clinics, shopping excursions and a host of organized events from volleyball, and yoga to salsa lessons. Eleven pools, a fitness center, beach cabanas, snorkeling equipment, sea kayaks and paddle boats are also available. We soak up the sun and catch up on reading in lounge chairs by one of the biggest resort pools. Margaritas appear and disappear. The absence of children’s noises contributes to our relaxed mood.
In other areas of the resort, things are a little more hectic. The beautiful blue waters and lush tropical settings at El Dorado Royale attract many brides. Some prefer to tie the knot in the seaside chapel; others prefer the bridge over the fountains below the main lobby. Many more have their hearts set on beach weddings. Wedding parties are busy rehearsing and preparing for the big day. Numerous cafés and gardens are being used for rehearsal dinners and private receptions. Photographers are snapping bridal portraits and on-site wedding planners and additional staff take care of the details so weddings will go smoothly.
Reservations are not needed for breakfast or lunch, although fancier resort restaurants may have a waiting list. We found a small, out of the way Mexican-themed eatery that became our favorite. I was pleased with the food quality. My chicken barbacoa is one of the tastiest chicken dishes I’ve ever eaten. Wrapped in leaves with spices and fresh vegetables and slow cooked on a wood-burning grill, it is spicy, flavorful, tender and juicy. We also enjoy the roast piglet soft tacos with a fiery pico de gallo. The all inclusive format pushes you to eat. Wait staff seem disappointed if you don’t eat appetizers, entrees, dessert or come back for seconds. We decided to resist our temptations and leave after the light entrees.
The margaritas and late lunch drive us back to our beach-view room for a little siesta. The canopy around the bed is flowing gently in the breeze as I awake, and in the distance I hear music from a mariachi band. The shadows are long and activity is beginning to pick up as people go out for the evening’s entertainment. There is a large group of guests vying to be contestants in a jeopardy-type game show, and there are cocktails flowing at bars all over the resort. Also, as strange as it sounds, a classic rock band is playing tonight at the disco. We end up at the sports bar where the Houston Rockets are playing on the main screen. Our evening ends with a moonlit walk on the beach.
El Dorado Royale is a winner. It has fantastic grounds, plenty of activities and above average food and service compared to other all-inclusive resorts. It’s worth the upgrade price to get closer to the ocean. The property is big, so bring comfortable shoes; a fleet of golf carts are available if you want a ride. Dinner reservations are a must. Room service is the only backup if you run late. Excursions are available for an extra charge to the Mayan ruins, deep-sea fishing areas and numerous scuba attractions. To book, call Travel Lifestyles at 866-865-3509.