The best new luxury resorts in Mexico’s Riviera Maya are saying buh-bye to clichéd all-inclusives; hello to inspired escapes.
Last updated: August 2023
It’s no secret that Mexico’s Riviera Maya and its gateway hub, Cancun, are largely synonymous with clichéd package tourism. Think: uninspired all-inclusives, spring breakers and nary a dose of culture – not to mention authentic Mexican cuisine – in sight. But a rising crop of ultra-luxurious resorts are flipping the paradigm along the glistening Mexican Caribbean coastline.
In the gated mangrove community of Kanai, mindful openings from Auberge Resorts Collection, The St. Regis and Ian Shrager’s EDITION are taking Riviera Maya luxury, plus sustainability, to a new level. Just south of Cancun’s bustling hotel zone, a quiet coastal outpost of the legendary Waldorf Astoria is meeting the demand for prestige R&R. And just past downtown Playa Del Carmen, two bespoke arrivals from Mexico-born hospitality group Xcaret are taking guests on exceptional cultural and culinary journeys celebrating the region’s Maya heritage.
Plus, a Belmond transformation seamlessly blending unparalleled elegance with fabled Maya folklore and contemporary craftsmanship. Did we mention Tulum’s newest elite escape from Conrad Hotels & Resorts, offering undisturbed extravagance on its own private bay?
Ahead, we give you the Riviera Maya’s newest and most luxurious hotel openings. Together, these eight elevated escapes are effectively rebranding the region as an exclusive destination rooted in inspired authenticity.
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Best New Luxury Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico: The St. Regis Kanai Resort
Located 40 minutes from Cancun International Airport and 25 minutes from downtown Playa Del Carmen, the gated resort community of Kanai – Maya for “where the sky is born” – is setting the bar for sustainable luxury development in the Mexican Caribbean. The elite collective of four oceanfront resorts and 700 residences resides within a whopping 680 acres of lush jungle and mangroves. Plus, 1.2 miles of pristine white sand beachfront flanking coral reef-harbored turquoise water. Impressively, Kanai’s developmental footprint accounts for just 9% of this total acreage – carefully preserving the vast majority of this fragile mangrove habitat.
Here, the brand new St. Regis Kanai (opened March 2023) sits suspended over the mangroves, where elevated wooden walkways seamlessly connect the property’s sleek, circular architecture inspired by the constellation Pleiades. Mexican architectural firm Edmonds International, with interiors by Chapi Chapo Design, pay thoughtful homage to the region’s Maya heritage. Think: nods to the ancient Maya Calendar, artwork by local artisans and a rich palette of limestone, walnut and layered textiles seen throughout the resort.
124 lavish guestrooms and 19 suites – including a 2,300 foot Presidential Suite – all boast sweeping ocean views. Also: a private terrace or plunge pool, walnut wood-carved headboards and access to the St. Regis Signature Butler Service.
Eight culinary offerings include Latin-inspired TORO by Chef Richard Sandoval, Eastern Mediterranean-rooted Chaya and transportive Riviera: pairing regional flavors with the South of France along the resort’s powdery soft beachfront. In the Library, guests can enjoy the storied St. Regis ritual of afternoon tea paired with a Mexican chocolate tasting, while the intimate St. Regis Bar offers enchanting views of the nighttime sky – plus the Kanai Mary, a Maya-inspired take on the brand’s signature Bloody Mary cocktail. In league with St. Regis properties around the world, guests won’t want to miss the resort’s celebratory champagne toast held each evening.
A series of fabulous amenities count cabana-dotted swimming pools (some adults-only; others family-friendly), an Athletic Club, Beach Club, Tortuga Children’s Club and the St. Regis Spa. Here, the Secret Garden ritual allows guests to hand-pick herbal ingredients from the property’s own garden, while the Celestial Energy treatment combines herbal cleansing, hot stones and aromatherapy inspired by Maya cosmology.
Stay smarter: Book The St. Regis Kanai directly through Under the Palm and enjoy VIP treatment and perks (think: priority room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, resort credits, early check-in, late check-out and more) – for free.
Best New Luxury Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico: Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection
Effortlessly floating over the mangrove forest of gated resort development Kanai, Etéreo – Spanish for “ethereal” – arrived in December 2021 as Auberge Resorts’ fourth luxury property in Mexico (you’ll need to head to the Pacific coast to experience the other three). 75 nature-immersed studios and suites lead to the property’s two sublime swimming pools, and further out, meticulously manicured white sand beachfront, via Kanai’s signature system of elevated wooden walkways.
Minimalist architecture envisioned by Migdal Arquitectos seamlessly blends with Etéreo’s verdant surrounds. Interiors are brought to life by New York-based studio Meyer Davis, where abundant native materials like tzalam wood (known as Mayan Walnut) pair with handcrafted decór from local artisans. Plus: a recurring motif of intricately carved wooden lattice walls – a tribute to the Maya belief in life cycles – as designed by revered Mexican artist Manuel Felguérez.
875-square foot studios feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows and private plunge pools located on sprawling terraces, while 1,375+ square foot suites boast butler service and private outdoor hot tubs. All, equipped with unobstructed ocean views. Five culinary options are anchored by Maya-inspired Itzam: offering exploratory regional flavors from land to sea, as prepared on a traditional, wood-fired comal oven.
At Sana, the on-site spa, a hybrid of ancient healing practices and modern wellness awaits guests looking to relax and reset. Here, a cavernous soaking pool is designed to emulate the region’s famed cenotes (natural limestone sinkholes held sacred to the ancient Maya). Additional amenities count in-pool fire pits and a complimentary Kids Club, plus a wealth of rotating daily activities via the resort’s Daily Experience Calendar. Embark on a biologist-led nature walk, enjoy a Mexican wine and spirits tasting or, set intentions during a shaman-led sunset cleansing ritual utilizing native, and sacred, copal incense.
Stay smarter: Book Etéreo, Auberge Resorts Collection directly through Under the Palm and enjoy VIP treatment and perks (think: priority room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, resort credits, early check-in, late check-out and more) – for free.
Best New Luxury Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico: Riviera Maya EDITION
The third of four luxury resorts coming to the lush mangrove enclave of Kanai, the Riviera Maya EDITION is slated to open by December 2023. Conceived by legendary hotelier Ian Schrager in partnership with Marriott International, the forthcoming Mexican Caribbean outpost of the innovative EDITION brand will be the portfolio’s first location not just in Mexico, but in all of Latin America.
The oceanfront escape will count 186 rooms and suites, crowned by a sprawling Penthouse Suite stretching 2,200+ square feet. Six dining and drinking spaces will feature a signature restaurant. The high-style hotel will further feature a beach club, pool bar, destination spa and extensive outdoor deck for large scale fiestas and events.
Stay smarter: Book the Riviera Maya EDITION directly through Under the Palm and enjoy VIP treatment and perks (think: priority room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, resort credits, early check-in, late check-out and more) – for free.
Best New Luxury Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico: Maroma, a Belmond Hotel
Everything old is renewed again at legacy stay Maroma, a Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya: reopening August 2023 after closing its doors in April of 2022 for an extensive revamp. Led by renowned designer Tara Bernerd, the transformation is a mindful celebration of the region’s enchanting Maya heritage. White stucco facades harbor indigenous materials blended with contemporary elements, brimming with handcrafted decór bringing to life the talent of local Maya artisans.
Telling stories at every turn, the hotel’s walls showcase Fotografía Maroma – a carefully curated photo series featuring the work of four Mexican creatives – while staff uniforms are authentically crafted in partnership with Collectiva Concepción. The slow fashion label is helmed by Mexican designer Concepción Orvañanos and powered by women-led, indigenous weaving communities throughout Mexico. Three swimming pools feature soothing sukabumi stone tiles, assuming the same turquoise shade as the region’s famed cenotes (natural swimming holes held sacred to the ancient Maya).
Ten oceanfront suites have been added to the boutique property’s original 63 rooms. Tropical hardwoods and gauzy white panels are accented by brightly colored woven textiles, whimsical hand-carved jaguars and further pops of color – and culture. All rooms come equipped with private terraces, some immersed in the surrounding lush jungle; others boasting unobstructed ocean views. Not to mention private plunge pools. Thoughtful luxuries like premium bath amenities by Xinú, nightly aromatherapy turndown and a pillow menu all await guests of Maroma.
At Casa Mayor, Mexican chef Daniel Camacho highlights his home country’s vibrant gastronomy through local, and hyperlocal, cuisine. Ninety percent of each dish’s ingredients are sourced from Mexico, while nearly half come directly from the Yucatán Peninsula. At Bambucho, expertly crafted herbal cocktails from bartender Ximena Moreno tell the stories of local Maya folklore in elegant, warmly-lit surrounds.
We haven’t even mentioned the hotel’s nature-immersed wellness enclave, Maroma Spa by Guerlain. It’s the first Guerlain spa in Latin America. Here, signature spa treatments pair with restorative mind and body rituals, all enhanced with healing botanicals from the spa’s on-site apothecary. A stone’s throw from the spa, guests can further discover the Melipona Bee Sanctuary: a partnership with Guerlain and Fundación Selva Maya protecting the Yucatán’s sacred, stingless and endangered bee species – producers of the region’s treasured Melipona miel (honey) – through the preservation and development of female beekeeping.
Stay smarter: Book Maroma, a Belmond Hotel directly through Under the Palm and enjoy VIP treatment and perks (think: priority room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, resort credits, early check-in, late check-out and more) – for free.
Best New Luxury Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico: La Casa de La Playa
From Mexico-born hospitality leader Xcaret – known for its suite of immersive adventure parks and grand namesake resort – this elite boutique hotel arrived in December 2021 as arguably the most luxurious all-inclusive stay along the entire Mexican Caribbean coastline. A one-hour drive south of Cancun Airport brings you to adults-only La Casa de La Playa, where Mexican authenticity abounds at every turn. Think: inspired spaces by Mexican architect David Quintana, staff uniforms as envisioned by Mexican fashion designer Carla Fernández (whose contemporary wares you can also peruse in the on-site concept store) and the hotel’s crown jewel: a star-powered “Culinary Ensemble” behind four sensational restaurants showcasing Mexico’s storied cuisine.
No luxury spared among the property’s 63 exclusive suites, all boast flawless ocean views, spacious terraces and private plunge pools. Plus, direct beach access and private butler service. There’s no lack of five star amenities either, like the 131 foot infinity pool stretching, suspended, over the ocean. Or the world-class Muluk Spa. This haven of relaxation goes far beyond the standard spa experience, offering completely customized, alchemy-based treatments, an extensive hydrotherapy circuit, flotarium, mud bath, natural caves-turned massage rooms and an authentic temazcal (traditional sweat lodge stretching back to pre-Hispanic times).
But the real star of La Casa de La Playa is its outstanding culinary program. At Tuch de Luna, renowned chef Martha Ortíz showcases the best of Mexican flavors through artistic storytelling. At Centli, maíz (corn, i.e. the lifeblood of Mexico) takes center stage from the Rivera-Rio Brothers, who also highlight the coast of northern Mexico at Lumbre. At Estero, native flavors from the Yucatán Peninsula pair with resurrected Peruvian ingredients from award-winning chef Virgilio Martinez (whose esteemed Lima eatery, Central, currently reigns as #1 on 2023’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list). Off-property, and underground, you can even enjoy a romantic dinner accompanied by live jazz in a private cenote (natural limestone sinkhole).
Dining aside, the boutique hotel further boasts a wine cellar featuring Mexican cuvées as curated by sommelier Sandra Fernandez, an extensive tequila and mezcal bar, a rooftop sky bar with panoramic views and – if that weren’t enough – a 24-hour cocktail bar. There’s even a Chocolatería serving grab & go cacao-based sweets as curated by master chocolatier Mao Montiel.
Stay smarter: Book La Casa de La Playa directly through Under the Palm and enjoy VIP treatment and perks (think: priority room upgrades, welcome amenities, resort credits, early check-in, late check-out and more) – for free.
Best New Luxury Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico: Hotel Xcaret Arte
Arriving just ahead of adjacent sister property La Casa de la Playa, Hotel Xcaret Arte opened its inspired all-inclusive doors in July of 2021. The adults-only AI concept takes an elevated, culture-first approach, designed entirely by Mexican talent with spotlights on the country’s art, traditions and heritage brimming throughout the luxurious property.
900 artfully appointed suites are spread throughout five distinct Casas, each celebrating different Mexican traditions through related, immersive experiences. At Casa del Diseño, guests can participate in a textile workshop offering hands-on weaving lessons, while Casa de las Artistas inspires guests to paint. Casa de la Piramide appeals to archaeology aficionados, who can explore Mexico’s rich and diverse pottery traditions. All rooms come equipped with breathtaking views, be it a backdrop of the property’s lush gardens, flowing rivers, private coves, swimming pools or glimmering Mexican Caribbean sea. Certain room categories further boast highly personalized butler service.
Ten epicurean experiences cross land to sea to vegan, appealing to even the most discerning of palates. The hotel’s culinary talent reads as a veritable who’s who of Mexican gastronomy, counting Michelin-starred Paco Mendez of signature eatery Encanta, plant-based luminary Miguel Batista of Apapachoa, award-winning Jonathan Gomez Luna – blending the cuisine of China with the Mexican state of Puebla at Chino Poblano – and esteemed Roberto Solís, preserving indigenous Yucatecan flavors at Xaak. There’s no lack of revelry, either, spread throughout the property across ten bars and lounges residing poolside to rooftop to the hidden speakeasy Deseo.
Exploratory culture awaits off-property, too. All stays at Hotel Xcaret Arte (as well as La Casa de La Playa) feature the luxury hotel group’s All-Fun Inclusive experience: unlimited, gratis access to all eight of Xcaret’s immersive theme and adventure parks, ranging from award-winning Xcaret Park to the floating fiestas of Xoximilco to the adrenaline-pumping Xavage. Interested in island hopping? Your stay also includes complimentary ferry service to nearby Isla Mujeres aboard Xcaret’s own, state-of-the-art Xailing vessel.
Stay smarter: Book Hotel Xcaret Arte directly through Under the Palm and enjoy VIP treatment and perks (think: priority room upgrades, welcome amenities, resort credits, early check-in, late check-out and more) – for free.
Best New Luxury Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico: Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya
Opening January 2022, this elite Hilton escape is offering unparalleled luxury just twenty minutes north of bohemian Tulum. Wrapping around its own private bay, you can take a dip in any one of five sparkling pools, gawk at magnificent oceanfront views and indulge at eleven dining and drinking venues. At Autor, a six-course chef’s tasting menu masterfully highlights the best of the region’s native cuisine (also available vegetarian).
Tropical-chic suites offer superior in-room amenities like premium bath products, plush spa robes, Nespresso machines, private balconies and ample space starting at over 500 square feet. Plus, you can go for a soothing soak-with-a-view in your balcony’s own relaxation tub – all room types have them. Elevate your stay further with an upgrade to the Ceiba Club, unlocking such luxuries as private check-in and check-out, a personal concierge, upgraded room amenities and an exclusive Ceiba pool and beach area.
Reach an even deeper state of bliss by visiting the Conrad Tulum Spa, where all treatments utilize fresh, garden-sourced herbs and begin with a unique copal ceremony. Copal is a native tree resin held sacred to the Maya that, when burned, gives off purifying properties (and smells amazing). Not just for the body, transcendent experiences also await for the mind. Rooted rituals such as a purifying gratitude ceremony are held in a crystal clear, nearby cenote (natural limestone sinkhole) and officiated by the resort’s in-house shaman.
Stay smarter: Book Conrad Tulum directly through Under the Palm and enjoy VIP treatment and perks (think: priority room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, resort credits, early check-in, late check-out and more) – for free.
Best New Luxury Resorts in the Riviera Maya, Mexico: Waldorf Astoria Cancun
A far cry from the raucous resort scene of Cancun’s hotel zone, the Waldorf Astoria Cancun is a masterful blend of the brand’s storied Art Deco glamour and the sultry tropics of the Mexican Caribbean. The property recently opened in November 2022, situated along a quiet stretch of white sand coastline just ten miles south of Cancun International Airport. After the turnoff from the highway, a winding entrance through verdant mangrove forest brings you to the refined retreat.
173 guest rooms and suites exude tropical elegance. Floor-to-ceiling windows showcase each room’s star amenity – the incandescent ocean views – paired with tropical hardwoods, calming neutral hues and coral-inspired decór. Also: soothing rain showers, the fluffiest robes and slippers and a soaking tub on your private balcony. Upgrade to the Presidential Suite to enjoy two private plunge pools, a gourmet kitchen, library, pool table and screening room.
Five culinary spaces count standout venues Malpeque, an open-flame grill firing up freshly caught seafood, and JA’O, a contemporary take on Mexican cantina fare. Head to the signature Peacock Alley Lounge for aperitivos and nightcaps alike, where plush curved seating and a pearl-accented Art Deco clock pay homage to the legendary drinking den of the original Waldorf Astoria New York.
Prestige R&R is best achieved at either of the property’s two ethereal swimming pools, the pristine beachfront or the 40,000 square foot Waldorf Astoria Spa. Here, 21 indoor and outdoor treatment rooms, plus a sauna, steam room, ice fountain and relaxation pool, play host to a restorative spa menu featuring native ingredients and techniques. To truly transcend, enlist the resort’s in-house Maya shaman for an ancestral healing ceremony.
Stay smarter: Book the Waldorf Astoria Cancun directly through Under the Palm and enjoy VIP treatment and perks (think: priority room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, resort credits, early check-in, late check-out and more) – for free.