Travel counsellor and Channel Eye guest columnist Nicki Harrison gives the low-down on her recent trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
‘Last month I was lucky enough to take a little break and travelled with the family to the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean coast of Mexico to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday. Upon arrival in Cancun, we were welcomed by gloriously warm weather (about 26oC) which, in February and with all the recent storms that have hit us, was a welcome change.
‘We choose the beautiful resort of Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun, an all-inclusive adults only hotel right on the beach in Playa del Carmen and had six days to enjoy the amenities. The resort itself was stunning, maintained to the highest standard by some of the most courteous and kind staff I’ve met in a long time. The staff even managed to keep the seaweed at bay – a well-known problem in the area. But honestly, had I not read about it before we travelled, I would barely have noticed, as the beaches were pristine by the time we settled in to breakfast.’
The dining experience
‘The all-inclusive is completely á la carte, with no tacky wrist bands or noticeable restrictions, which made our whole stay even more relaxing. There’s a daily activities program that offered little taster experiences from kayaking to dancing, rifle shooting to beach volleyball, as well as beautifully appointed rooms and a selection of bars. A swim-up pool bar serves unlimited alcoholic and soft beverages with the option to try some quirky local cocktails, smoothies and of course your favourite tipple.
For those who stay longer than we did, you can also stretch the all-inclusive to visit the other Secrets hotels in the area and enjoy their dining venues – all part of the price (although you have to pay for the transfers between the hotels).
‘My favourite experience within the resort, however, had to be the Teppanyaki dinner at their pan-Asian restaurant Himitsu. Still part of the all-inclusive package, this wasn’t just an ordinary dinner but more of a dinner show. Prior to starting, we were given a selection of starters including sushi and miso soup and the chance to choose two main meal options. When the chef started cooking the main course, the show really began. When dinner starts off with a burst of flames, includes some knife play and ends up with a sumptuous meal, you have yourself a table of delighted diners.’
Beyond the resort
‘Outside of the resort, we enjoyed two more fantastic experiences. For water sport enthusiasts, there was a local dive centre that offered snorkelling and diving trips, kayaking and jet skiing. We had to give the latter a go and it was great fun. I also discovered that I’m a lot more cautious at sea than I am behind the wheel of my little Mini, despite my best efforts to “go with the flow.” Also, I do a great limpet impression when desperately hanging on whilst my husband was doing the driving (I had the bruises to prove he was not afraid of speed at sea.)
Being operated outside of the hotel, these excursions came at an additional cost, but my husband went back a second time and my dad a third time, so it’s safe to say that it was worth every penny.
‘For culture seekers, from the Riviera Maya, it’s possible to do a half (or full) day tour to Chichen Itza and you can arrange this from the hotel. We went for the half-day trip and got up early to beat the crowds (something I would absolutely recommend). We arrived before the heat of the day and were led around by a fantastic and knowledgeable guide who taught us about the history of the site, the native Mayan people that once lived there, about their customs and rituals to honour the gods, and also a great trick to identify real obsidian…
‘And after all of those fantastic experiences and activities, sadly it was time for us to come home and we only scratched the surface of what can be done in the Riviera Maya. From zip-lining, quad biking, swimming in a cenote, horse-riding on the beach, visiting some of the other traditional towns like Tulum or taking a trip to swim with turtles in Akumal, there is so much to do even when you choose a “relaxing” all-inclusive beach break.
‘Until next time…’