Exploring the Riviera Maya

Lysa Allman-Badwin | 3/12/2015, 12:28 p.m.
If you were to look at a map of Mexico, which looks like the lower portion of a mermaid, you ...
The El Dorado Spa Resorts and Hotels, by Karisma, is an amazing property featuring luxuriously decorated suites and a wealth of excellent amenities.

On this particular visit, we were looking for adults-only, all-inclusive and on the beach. Our search was extensive, but in the end, we decided to settle on the El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels, by Karisma.

Named among Conde Nast Traveler readers’ top 100 hotels in the world and a AAAA Four Diamond Resort, as well as garnering three of TripAdvisor’s “Top 25 Hotels for Romance in Mexico,” the El Dorado features 478 luxuriously decorated suites in almost a dozen categories: Jacuzzi junior, ocean front Jacuzzi Jr., swim up Jacuzzi Jr., royal, premium and several luxury, two-bedroom presidential suites.

Each encompasses the customary accouterment you would expect with added touches depending on the level of suite you choose, including a Jacuzzi for two, a minibar stocked daily with beer, water and sodas, plush bath robes, double sinks, glass enclosed showers and a private terrace or balcony.

Nine themed restaurants and 17 bars cater to guests’ every taste, need and desire.

Nine themed restaurants and 17 bars cater to guests’ every taste, need and desire.

On the gastronomic front, everything is gourmet, and there are nine themed restaurants to choose from for exceptional Italian, Asian-fusion, authentic Mexican, seafood, Caribbean, premium meats and steaks, plus a pizzeria, health food and sandwich bar options. There is also a special Food Network-style culinary theater, where diners enjoy a multicourse dinner by the resort’s executive chef and sommelier. And, should you desire, 24-hour room service.

Wine, sophisticated cocktail, tropical specialty drink, beer and fine tequila fans will find plenty to scratch their liquid itch at any of the 17—yes, 17, some swim-up—different bars, offering an extensive array of local and international premium brand liquors, all of which are included in the price of your stay.

Activities are numerous as well, including tennis, bicycles, paddleboats, kayaks, scuba clinics, yoga, water aerobics, bike tours of the property and adjacent mangrove, beach volleyball, tours of their 70,000-square-foot greenhouse), a weekly 5k run and an activity desk to help you plan off-property activities and excursions.

They also have a wide expanse of beach—not really suitable for swimming while undergoing storm regeneration efforts—with plenty of beach chairs, cabana beds and shade huts, and a nice gym with all of the modern machinery and equipment you could need (and a trainer), plus a variety of (additional cost) classes such as spinning, body sculpting, hand weights and the like.

We were in complete heaven at their Spa Royale, highlighted by full salon (manicure, pedicure and facial, hair) services, relaxation, sauna and steam rooms, a variety of body exfoliating massages, scrubs and treatments, and the bomb, the beachfront Sky Massage, a beautiful, tree house-like structure over the beach with the sounds and scents of the ocean wafting over our senses as we lay there for an amazing one-hour couples massage.

At night, they really turn up the heat with some of the best live music and shows I have ever seen at a resort, featuring their own house band and a different professional featured singer each night, followed by a nightly specialty show, plus a live DJ spinning well into the wee hours of the morning. The property also features a chapel (popular for their many weddings), several retail stores, a photo shop, jewelry store, art gallery and tobacco shop.

One of our favorite aspects was that despite this wide range of amenities and that the resort has a capacity for 1,500 guests (and were at about 80 percent occupancy the week we visited), we never felt like there were more than a couple of hundred guests on the property at any one time. Part of this is because of the design, extending over such a wide expanse of property that they have golf cart shuttles that run night and day. It really felt like a boutique, intimate experience.

Lysa Allman Baldwin is a freelance writer and the publisher and editor of Amazing Escapades, featuring “adventures for the mind, bod and belly” (www.amazingescapades.com).