The Richness of the Riviera Maya
Ancient Maya sites, underground rivers and picturesque beaches are the hallmarks of the Riviera Maya region, which stretches approximately 80 miles southward from Cancún along Mexico's Caribbean shoreline. Coupled with these natural treasures are eco-chic resorts and the hip international hamlet of Playa del Carmen, the commercial center of the region. If a destination could be considered an "it girl," this is she.
Opening October 2009, the Dreams Riviera Cancún Resort & Spa is the newest addition to the Dreams Resorts portfolio. A special touch is the unique octagonal suites and guest rooms offering breathtaking three-sided vistas, while the beautiful resort grounds feature undulating swimming pools, freshwater cenotes, tropical gardens, and of course a palm-lined beach. Ideal for couples, friends and families, the resort has a fully supervised Explorer's Club for the children. It even features a planetarium!
Standard at all Dreams Resorts is a superior level of service and the trademarked Unlimited-Luxury® experience, including outstanding dining choices and complete meeting facilities with leading technologies. Guests can also enjoy an elevated level of style and service with the Preferred Club rooms and suites. Special savings are available with packages such as the "Girlfriends Getaway" and the "Kids Stay, Play & Eat Free." Check the website for current promotions. 866-2DREAMS, dreamsresorts.com
Opened in 1995 and operated since 2002 by the renowned Orient Express Hotels brand, the Maroma Resort & Spa by Orient Express has been acclaimed with virtually every award by the travel press. If a single resort can embody the Riviera Maya region, this is it. Each of Marom''s 65 spacious guest rooms and suites was crafted by hand by the same family of Maya masons and purposely aligned to the stars to ensure, the Maya believe, a proper energy fl ow so that mind, body and spirit are at peace. Interiors feature many sensual elements like curved lines, windows that capture sunbeams, and oversized tubs adorned with Mexican tiles.
The resort's Kinan Spa (Maya for "the source of life") envelops authentic Maya rituals and healing practices along with cutting-edge facilities and techniques. For outdoor pursuits the golf courses and eco-parks of the Riviera Maya region are nearby, though even closer is the world's second longest barrier reef, which provides world-class scuba and snorkeling while also protecting Maroma's talcum-powder-like white sand beach, which has been recognized as the "World's Best Beach" by the Travel Channel. Maroma has several current offers and special packages, including a fourth night free and a "Best Deals Days." 866-454-9351, maromahotel.com
With spectacular views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea, Hacienda Tres Ríos is at the forefront of sustainable tourism, creating memorable guest experiences while protecting the region's natural beauty and culture.
Nestled in the 326-acre Tres Rios nature park, the recently opened resort is only 45 minutes south of Cancun's International Airport, and it is quickly gaining a reputation for warm hospitality, incredible dining and luxury accommodations in an unspoiled setting.
The resort's "Endless Luxury" all-inclusive plan includes a deluxe junior suite, roundtrip airport transportation, a welcome bottle of wine and cheese platter, unlimited meals and drinks, adventure activities at Tres Ríos Nature Park, a 75-minute geothermal massage per person, and all taxes and services. 800-224-4231, haciendatresrios.com
Situated on a stretch of secluded powder- sand beach at the edge of a picturesque fi shing village, the Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort is a haven of luxury and warm, authentic hospitality. It is a member of the prestigious Preferred Boutique collection.
With Ceiba del Mar's "Rest and Relax - Fourth Night Free" special offer, guests can indulge, recharge and reconnect in style. The package includes four nights in a luxury ocean view room, welcome champagne cocktail, daily breakfast for two, one three-course private dinner for two accompanied by a bottle of wine and butler service, two 50-minute massages at the Wellness Aromatherapy Spa, exercise classes, and complimentary use of nonmotorized water and land sports. The "Rest and Relax - Fourth Night Free" offer starts at $1,344 per couple (double occupancy, plus up to two children from ages 1 to 12.) Visit the website for more information on this and many other available packages and special offers. 877-545-6221 or (52) 998-872-8060, ceibadelmar.com
With 11 resorts in Mexico's most desirable destinations, including Cancún, Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Riviera Nayarit and Isla Mujeres, Palace Resorts offers travelers many choices for relaxation and fun. Recognized for providing high quality at a great value, Palace Resorts' all-inclusive pricing includes luxurious accommodations, fine dining, top-shelf drinks, unlimited select tours, snorkeling and nonmotorized water sports, unlimited long-distance telephone calls, and all taxes and gratuities.
Throughout 2009, guests who book a package at any Palace Resorts in Mexico will receive an air credit for their travel. Air credits range from $100 for a threeto four-night stay, $200 for a fi ve- to six -night stay, and $400 for a seven-night stay or longer. Bookings must be made by December 15, and travel must occur by December 31, 2009. This offer may be combined with the "Palace Passport" for savings on tours and other valid promotions. 800-635-1836, palaceresorts.com
Cozumel's Many Charms
Known worldwide for its incredible scuba diving, Isla Cozumel also boasts of beautiful beaches, ancient Maya ruins, and friendly locals who are proud of their island heritage. Normally laid back and restful, on November 29 the island will be anything but that as extreme athletes from around the world compete in the inaugural Ironman Cozumel. (www.ironmancozumel.com) If your idea of a fun day entails swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and then running a marathon, well, by all means you should sign up now. For the rest of us, it's an opportunity to make a perfect vacation even better by seeing these athletes up close and in action.
The El Cozumeleno Beach Resort is one of the host hotels of the Ironman Cozumel. This beachfront oasis is an allinclusive resort known for friendly service and outstanding value. Located very near the Cozumel Country Club, El Comulemeno always offers 30 percent off greens fees for guests, and right now has an even better promotion featuring $50 rounds after 11 a.m. (some conditions apply of course.) Crafted by the Nicklaus Design group, this beautiful course is four-star-rated by Golf Digest. It features four sets of tee boxes, ensuring that golfers of every level are sure to have a great time. Diving, golfi ng and relaxing - now that's an island-style triathlon! 800-437-3923, elcozumeleno.com
Among all the resorts on the island, Hotel Cozumel & Resort has been recognized for its dedication to creating memorable vacations for the disabled and elderly and their families. This welcoming and beautiful resort features 10 handicapped friendly rooms that meet the special requirements to accommodate disabled or elderly guests, including ramps for easy access to all public areas and the beach. The resort has been recognized by Craig Hospital, which cares for patients who have spinal cord and brain injuries, and by A-1 Scuba & Travel Center, which supports divers who have disabilities.
Hotel Cozumel features spacious guest rooms with private terraces, the largest swimming pool in Cozumel, a private beach club with pier and dive shop, nonmotorized water sports and three on-site restaurants. "Advance Purchase" reservation savings on standard and all-inclusive plans are available. 877-454-4355, hotelcozumel.com.mx
Warming Up in Central America
As one of the Caribbean's richest nations in the currency of natural beauty, Belize is quickly becoming known as one of the hottest places for family "edu-cations." This new travel trend highlights getaways for families that offer unique learning experiences, embedded in the destination's culture and everyday life. From the cultural center of Punta Gorda - where Maya chocolate making, eco-excursions and homestay programs bring the Maya culture to life - to the butterfly and iguana sanctuaries and crocodile expeditions of the central and northern regions, Belize offers distinctive learning opportunities sure to astound parents and children alike. The Belize Tourism Board has more information on romantic escapes, scuba diving vacations and family edu-cations in Belize. 800-624-0696, www.travelbelize.org
The largest of Belize's islands, Ambergris Caye is a quintessential kickback- and-enjoy-life kind of place. The island's relaxed vibe is captured perfectly at Victoria House, an intimate hideaway of just 45 luxurious rooms, suites and villas spread across lush gardens with beachfront views. Only the word "free" could make it better, and now Victoria House is offering one free night when fi ve or more nights are booked in a Casita Room category or higher. This special is available for stays through November 20, 2009. 800-247-5159, victoria-house.com
Down in the Bay Islands of Honduras, the island of Roatan attracts scuba divers from around the world who come to discover spectacular reefs and Caribbean sunshine. The premier destination resort is Anthony's Key Resort, which boasts cabana-style accommodations, genuine hospitality, a modern fleet of dive boats and a PADI Gold Palm 5-Star Instructor Development Center. Anthony's Key offers several special theme packages including dive, snorkel, leisure and "honeymoon dive" promotions. 888-888- 5415, anthonyskey.com/islands
This September, the picturesque Pacifi c coast of Panama will become home to one of the Caribbean's best known vacation brands when the Breezes Panama opens in the resort community of Santa Clara. Featuring a spa, a casino, several restaurants and 300 guest rooms, it promises to be an ideal getaway for couples and families seeking sun, sand and rainforest adventures.
Active guests love Breezes Resorts for the many land and water sports offered, including rock climbing, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking and even a circus workshop with a fl ying trapeze. Gourmet restaurants ranging from Italian to Japanese cuisine satisfy even the trendiest palates, while poolside relaxation and unlimited premiumbrand cocktails stand ready to recharge any overworked spirits. At Breezes Resorts everything is included, even tips. Special offers are always on tap too, so click or call for the latest ways to save. 877-BREEZES or 800-GO-SUPER, breezes.com
The Sanctuary Resort & Spa is another Pacific coast treasure, this one in ecocentric Costa Rica. Far from the hubbub of city life, this sprawling oasis is a refuge of tranquility where the loudest sounds are the howler monkeys and where days begin with crashing waves, not alarm clocks. Accommodations range from the four-bedroom Villa de los Reyes to Seaside Cottages and ocean-view guest rooms - all featuring a Key West-inspired architecture amid the lush landscape of Costa Rica. The Sanctuary Resort & Spa offers an optional meal plan. For great savings inquire about the "Last Minute Deals" and other special offers. 877-992-6782, thesanctuaryresort.com
Now is the perfect time to experience the natural beauty and great values in Mexico and Central America.
Hopkins Bay Resort/Belizean Dreams - STANN CREEK
Your guide to the hottest spots in Mexico and Central America