Call it the destination du jour: the Riviera Maya really is a hot spot for weddings. This area has grown in leaps and bounds with a number of luxury brand hotels popping up on this stretch of lovely Caribbean coastline. What started as an offshoot of the popular Cancun strip has turned into a sophisticated locale filled with options for every budget. From high-end boutique villas once owned by royalty to chic eco-shacks on the beach—just sorting through the options can be a time-consuming and confusing task if you’re unfamiliar with the territory.
Playa del Carmen, roughly the centre of the action between Cancun and Tulum, is a thriving city with a not-too-distant past as a small fishing town and artist colony. I’ve had countless conversations with my father about Playa, which was once the place to catch a ferry to Cozumel. Wow—look how far it’s come! It was only a few years ago that I remember walking along 5th Avenue watching a Starbucks being built, and I woke the next morning to see it fully operational.
When it comes to DW planning, here’s why the Riviera Maya works: first, ease of travel. Flights to the Cancun airport are frequent and direct from most major cities in North America. Why not make it easy for your guests to get to your wedding? And this location is easy. Trust me, guests will sing your praises for picking a simple to get to destination! Secondly, hotel options. From large all-inclusive-style properties with 15 restaurants and mini Mayan architectural replicas on-site to four-bedroom boutique inns that shut off the power when the sun goes down (for all you eco-conscious couples), name your style and budget and there’s a good chance we can find you something you like!
Here are just a few of my favourite places and things along the Riviera Maya…
- Hotel Esencia (hotelesencia.com) on playa Xpu-ha (pronounced Es-scoo PAH or Es-shoe PAH). This small luxury property was once owned by an Italian duchess. It’s on a stunning beach, and if you are looking for an incredible, private honeymoon location this is it. Don’t forget to try the Love Ritual at their unique organic spa.
- Avenida 5 or 5th avenue in Playa. Yes, it has become quite touristy but even so, there’s still a charm about it and a few special stores and restaurants that I always love revisiting.
- Azul Beach Hotel (karismahotels.com/azul). Another place in my heart—this is a great place for weddings. It’s small, but not too small, and it exudes a nice laid-back vibe.
- The canals and natural habitat of Mayakoba (mayakoba.com), which in Mayan means “village of water.” The entire complex consists of four luxury resorts that have joined together via freshwater canals, cenotes and a PGA-friendly golf course. I think of it as a luxury eco-village for guests—a unique concept indeed.
- Playa Maroma. There’s a good reason why this beach has been named one of the top ten in the world: it’s just stunning—beautiful white sand, great swimming. It’s definitely worth a visit.
All in all, this just scratches the surface of some of the great things to see and do on this coast. Hands down it’s a great option for your destination wedding.