These 12 elevated escapes are the best Cancun and Riviera Maya resorts to stay in right now, thanks to exceptional amenities and experiences.
Last updated: September 2023
Not all resorts are created equal, and these luxury getaways dotting the coveted Mexican Caribbean coastline are effectively setting the bar by going above par – and beyond. Think elevated amenities like eliminated check-in and check-out times, a personalized soap concierge, pet-friendly perks and in-balcony relaxation tubs. Or exceptional experiences like an authentic Mayan blessing ceremony, teeing off at a lagoon-front golf course and gratis access to award-winning theme and adventure parks. These spectacular beachfront havens are definitive proof that a little extra, and certainly a lot, goes a long way.
From adults-only boutique resorts to family-friendly all-inclusives, we have your edit of the best Cancun and Riviera Maya resorts to stay in right now. The common denominator? All 12 on our list are replacing the standard resort stay with standout amenities, services and experiences, resulting in a rewarding escape you’ll never forget.
But first: travel insurance to the rescue.
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Pro Tip: it’s best to buy your travel insurance policy within 14 days of making your initial trip deposit (like when you buy your flights or book your hotel).
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Choose Your Own Adventure at Xcaret Hotels: Hotel Xcaret Mexico, Hotel Xcaret Arte, La Casa de la Playa
There are in-resort water parks and then there are spectacular, off-resort adventure parks. Xcaret falls into – and is the only one offering – the latter. Whether checking in to family-friendly Xcaret Mexico, adults-only Xcaret Arte or exclusive La Casa de la Playa, all stays 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 culture-driven Xoximilco to the adrenaline-pumping Xavage.
Interested in island hopping? Your stay also includes complimentary ferry service to nearby Isla Mujeres on board Xcaret’s own, state-of-the-art Xailing vessel. All experiences include complimentary round-trip transportation to/from your Xcaret hotel, ensuring you can enjoy and explore more of the region safely and seamlessly.
Back at the resort you won’t want to miss booking a treatment at the world-class Muluk Spa either. 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).
Stay smarter: Book any of these resorts 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.
Mangrove Mantras at Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Sustainable luxury hotel group Banyan Tree is taking the concept of wellness retreats one step further with their recently launched, transformative wellbeing sanctuaries. In the Riviera Maya, restorative resort Banyan Tree Mayakoba offers the experience by booking their Wellbeing Sanctuary Pool Villa. This immersive, highly curated experience aims to revitalize both body and mind, boasting everything from in-room wellness amenities and a variety of on-property wellbeing activities to tailored, pre-sleep bath and body rituals and chef-made meals prepared daily with nutritious, locally sourced ingredients.
Furthering Banyan Tree’s commitment to community and sustainability, Banyan Tree Mayakoba also offers complimentary, interactive eco-boat tours through the resort’s surrounding mangrove forest and canals. As the traditional trajinera (flat-bottomed wooden boat) glides through the winding waterways, Tour Guide & Naturalist Jesus Cervantes will navigate guests through the region’s beautiful flora, fauna and wildlife.
Better yet – consider combining your boat tour with a unique culinary experience like an idyllic afternoon tapas cruise or a romantic, floating dinner under the stars.
Stay smarter: Book Banyan Tree Mayakoba 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.
Included Off-Resort Excursions at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun, an All-Inclusive Spa Resort
A getaway to legacy stay Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun is, in a word, sublime. Think: unforgettable dips in the glowing, crystal clear Mexican Caribbean sea, afternoons lazing by any one of several glistening swimming pools and eating your fair share of gourmet tacos from bohemian beachfront eatery Nah K’aax – washed down with a perfectly shaken margarita, naturally. Or spending a blissful morning at the world class Gem Spa. At this award-winning, 40,000 square foot refuge, restorative treatments like a Deep Tissue Massage with Onix Stones, Mayan Emperor Facial with Amethyst and a Cacao Body Wrap pair with a guided, 10-step hydrotherapy circuit ending in a dazzling Pool of Sensations.
I haven’t even mentioned the rooms – all, spacious suites. 602 such havens come equipped with private balconies or sprawling terraces, where endless ocean views range from partial to unparalleled. Suffice to say that with a resort as spectacular as this, no one will fault you for spending the duration of your overdue escape on-property.
But here, guests are encouraged to explore more. Several off-resort excursions are included in the room rate, awarding guests the opportunity to further stretch land and sea legs alike. Among them, a small group visit offered every Wednesday to Museo Maya de Cancún (Cancun Mayan Museum). View exhibits on Maya history and art, marvel at ancient artifacts discovered at key archaeological sites in the region and follow the jungle path behind the museum to visit one yourself: San Miguelito. This small-yet-fascinating set of ancient Maya ruins features residential platforms, palace-like edifices, and even a three-story pyramid. Standing in stark contrast to the myriad of neighboring high-rise resorts, it’s a thought-provoking study of those who walked the jungle and beaches of Cancun long before tourists, and colonizers prior, arrived.
With views of stunning Isla Mujeres within eyesight of the resort, plus an UltraMar ferry dock conveniently located literal steps away, it’s fitting that Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach also offers lightly guided day tours of the paradisiacal island. Join other hotel guests on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, or visit independently anytime by taking advantage of the property’s complimentary roundtrip ferry ticket offer (one per hotel guest per stay). Shopaholics staying over a Monday or Friday can further take advantage of complimentary roundtrip transport to Fashion Harbour, Cancun’s answer to Rodeo Drive.
Stay smarter: Book Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach 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.
Surf, Soak & Spa at The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun
Let’s face it. There’s really nothing better after a long day of beach bumming, pool hanging or adventuring than going for a soak in your own private, in-room jacuzzi. And while many resorts reserve this coveted amenity for select room types only, The Grand at Moon Palace follows a mantra of luxury for all. Every single room at this five-star all-inclusive includes a private, in-room whirlpool tub boasting either ocean or jungle views.
Traveling with kids? You’ll appreciate that tub even more as you’re bound to need some R&R after taking advantage of all of the property’s kid-friendly amenities. As if an epic kid’s club (complete with bumper cars and a ropes course), bowling alley and arcade weren’t enough, The Grand also offers an impressive on-site waterpark. Offering unforgettable fun for kids and adults alike, this water-filled paradise boasts a kid-friendly wave pool, water slides, a lazy river and for those looking to hang ten: the opportunity to practice your surf skills by riding endless waves on the ProFlow Triple Wave Simulator.
We haven’t even mentioned the 75,000 square foot Awe Spa, offering a staggering amount of exceptional spa treatments all performed in your own relaxing spa suite. Plus! An invigorating hydrotherapy circuit, sprawling sauna, steam rooms, warming beds, aromatherapy showers, juice bar, a full service beauty salon, barber shop and even a fish spa.
Stay smarter: Book The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun 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.
Plant-Based Paradise at Palmaïa, The House of AïA
Vegans and vegetarians, this one’s for you. Say buh-bye to the days of limited dining options and hello to plant-based paradise at luxury wellness resort Palmaïa, The House of AïA. Between vegan founder Alexander Ferri’s progressive vision and Executive Chef Eugenio Villafaña’s creative culinary skills, expect elevated plant-based dishes such as smoked-carrot toast, pb-cheese & mushroom quesadillas and soy-marinated, watermelon poke bowls. Carnivores, fret not. Each of the beachfront enclave’s four restaurants, plus 24 hour in-room dining, has non plant-based dishes for you too.
Practiced not just on the plate, Palmaïa is committed to vegan-friendly design as well. All of the resort’s 234 oceanfront suites (arranged in adults-only buildings as well as family-friendly buildings) have been consciously outfitted sans animal products and animal-tested products, meaning you won’t find any leather furnishings or feathered decor. A plastic-free property, you won’t find single-use bathroom amenities either. Rather, refillable amenities made with 100% biodegradable ingredients and essential oils.
Remote workers and digital nomads, you can even request one of Palmaïa’s Beachfront Wellness Workaway suites. Equipped with desk space, a proper office chair, fiber optic wi-fi and oceanfront views, we can’t think of a better way to get into work mode.
A true pioneer in all-inclusive wellness, the healing hotel offers a generous range of holistic experiences, healing activities and even ancestral rituals. Activities like meditation, tai chi, hatha and vinyasa yoga, ancestral dance, cacao ceremonies, transpersonal astrology, sound healing and Mayan cleansing ceremonies, to name a few, are all included in your room rate.
Stay smarter: Book Palmaïa, The House of AïA 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.
Tee Off at Iberostar Selection Cancun
Does your dream vacation include working on your golf swing? At five star Iberostar Selection Cancun and adults-only Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Cancun, a sprawling par 72, 18-hole competition golf course designed by veteran Japanese golfer Isao Aoki is located right across the street. Located by Cancun’s glimmering Nichupté Lagoon and surrounded by mangroves, you can expect endless stretches of rolling greens alongside many of the lagoon’s natural inlets, water obstacles and even crocodile sightings. And because Iberostar is an all-inclusive resort, the theme continues with unlimited food and drinks on the course.
Not just on the golf course, you can also bring your A game to the court. The resort further boasts two tennis courts, basketball courts and volleyball courts, plus a pro-size regulation FIFA soccer field. And for those looking to dive in, an on-site, PADI-certified diving center offers beginner instruction as well as experienced underwater excursions.
Stay smarter: Book either of these resorts 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.
Sun’s Out Fun’s Out at Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun
Looking for endless entertainment during your beachfront getaway? Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun‘s got you. Offering unforgettable fun for both adults and the younger set, the Caribbean-themed resort offers a mind-boggling range of activities. You can participate in the resort’s signature Flip-Flop Olympics, whip up your own frozen libation on a one-of-a-kind blender bike, take your best shot in beachside cornhole, join a passing Caribbean parade, take a salsa dance class, sip a marg from a floating bar, cozy up to nightly beach bonfires (s’mores included), enjoy a tequila, mezcal or rum & chocolate tasting and believe it or not – SO much more.
Meanwhile, your kids will be having the time of their lives at the Parakeet Kid’s Club, where children aged 4 – 12 can participate in arts and crafts, cookie decorating, face painting, and more entertaining activities.
Plus! Complimentary branded flip-flops, express check-in, a customizable in-room minibar stocked with your own faves and the ultimate in-room luxury: 24-hour room service.
Stay smarter: Book Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun 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.
Lather Up & Consult a Resident Shaman at Viceroy Riviera Maya
Named the #1 resort in Mexico by Travel + Leisure in 2021, it’s easy to see why the Viceroy Riviera Maya continues to enchant, and impress, visitors. The adults-only luxury escape offers a la carte or all-inclusive stays, which you can enjoy from one of 41 residential-style private villas. Among each villa’s not-so-standard amenities? A private plunge pool, sun deck, outdoor shower and inside – plush Egyptian cotton bedding and daily, aromatherapy turndown service.
Not to mention your very own Soap Concierge. Upon arrival you’ll be greeted by the suds-skilled curator, who will present you with a selection of artisanal soaps formulated from organic ingredients found throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. Select your preference and the concierge will slice, from large blocks, personalized soap bars right in front of you.
You’ve heard about farm-to-table but what about garden-to-spa? When you’re ready for some R&R, head to Wayak Spa’s k’oben (traditional herb kitchen). Here, fresh herbs from an on-site garden are dried and prepared for treatments by the resort’s resident Mayan Shaman, Julio. Born in the small Yucatán village of X-pichil (meaning ceiba tree, held sacred to the Maya), Julio comes from a long line of shamans and proudly keeps the ancient family practice alive today. Specifically, you’ll want to book the signature Wayak treatment. This energy cleansing experience combines healing herbs, a relaxing massage utilizing ancient Maya techniques and a cupping ritual to align, release and reinvigorate. Traveling with your S.O.? Julio can even officiate a traditional Mayan blessing ceremony whether you’re saying I do, renewing vows, or just because.
A slew of unique culinary experiences and cooking classes further solidifies Viceroy Riviera Maya on our list, including the resort’s weekly Antojeria Night. Enjoy traditional Mexican street food from Chef Julio Chavez Arias, creatively inspired and interpreted from his upbringing in Mexico City and travels to Veracruz, San Miguel de Allende, and Oaxaca. The gastronomical immersion includes approximately ten, individually plated antojitos (literally, “little cravings”) paired with ocean views and the lively sounds of traditional Mariachi music.
Stay smarter: Book Viceroy Riviera Maya 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.
Royal Room Service at Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun
Nestled along secluded Maroma Beach you’ll find the upscale, adults-only getaway of Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun. Here, for a nominal price difference, you can upgrade your room tier to the perk-filled Preferred Club. Your stay is instantly elevated with enhanced room amenities like an upgraded mini-bar, a pillow menu and premium bath amenities, plus upgraded suites (choose from ocean view or swim out) as well as preferred locations throughout the resort.
You’ll also have access to the exclusive Preferred Club lounge and bar, where you can enjoy culinary perks like afternoon hors d’oeuvres and sweets while sipping premium liquor. Rounding out your upgraded stay? A dedicated Preferred Beach Club, personal concierge service and access to an invigorating hydrotherapy circuit at the property’s tranquil spa.
Stay smarter: Book Secrets Maroma Riviera Cancun 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.
Pet-Friendly Luxury at SLS Cancun
This amenity is geared towards our furry, four-legged friends. Luxury hotel SLS Cancun, located in the upscale marina neighborhood of Puerto Cancun, welcomes 1 pet per room (up to 22 pounds). A $100.00 USD fee is added on top of the room rate, which grants you thoughtful perks for your pup: an in-room bed and beach bed, special pet-friendly amenities and even a designated menu.
You can take your pup with you all throughout the high design boutique resort, comprised of 45 contemporary suites conceptualized by Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni. From the daybed and fire-pit equipped Bungalow Beach Bar to private poolside cabanas (complete with couch seating and your own flatscreen TV), a Japanese-inspired Argentinian grill and even a 175-slip private marina, your pampered pet never needs to leave your side.
Plus, enjoy lively resort happenings like weekly happy hour, all-you-can-eat brunch and bonfire sunsets complete with s’mores and espresso-based carajillo cocktails.
Stay smarter: Book SLS Cancun 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.
Timeless Views at Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita
At this adults-only resort located on a secluded stretch of white sand in between Cancun and Puerto Morelos, you never have to worry about arriving ahead of check-in time. Or calling reception on the morning of your departure to request a late check-out, for that matter. Rigid check-in and check-out times are a thing of the past here. Just like the endless lapping waves of the Mexican Caribbean sea, time at Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita runs fluid.
Upon arrival (whatever time that may be), you’ll be guided to your premium all-suite room equipped with what we feel is the most precious Riviera Maya amenity of them all: a sparkling oceanfront view. All rooms have one, in addition to further Endless Privileges such as a welcome bottle of tequila and beach bag, luxurious Bvlgari bath amenities, nightly turndown service, twice daily mini-bar refreshes, 24-hour room service and more.
Plus! An on-site Thalassotherapy spa, the opportunity to participate in a cleansing temazcal ceremony and for those looking to work on their swing – complimentary greens fees at nearby golf courses.
Stay smarter: Book Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita 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.
Sacred Spa Rituals at Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya
One of the only points hotels you can stay at in Tulum, the brand new Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya, an elite Hilton property, is offering up unparalleled, boutique-style luxury. Alongside superior in-room amenities like your own Nespresso machine, plush spa robes and premium bath products, you can go for a tranquil soak-with-a-view in your balcony’s private relaxation tub – all room types have them.
Reach an even deeper state of relaxation by visiting the Conrad Tulum Spa, where all treatments, utilizing fresh, garden-sourced herbs, begin with a unique copal ceremony and guided meditation. 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, Conrad Tulum Spa offers transcendent experiences for the mind as well. Transport yourself to a time of ancient wisdom with a purifying gratitude ceremony held in an otherworldly cenote (sinkhole) officiated by the resort’s in-house Mayan Shaman. Or, cleanse body and spirit alike with a comforting Water Ritual combining benefits of the sauna, steam room and cold plunge pool. Whichever spa treatment or experience you choose, you’re guaranteed to leave feeling purified, relaxed and revitalized.
Stay smarter: Book Conrad Tulum 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.
Pure Paradise at Palafitos Overwater Bungalows
Need we say more? Effectively bringing the Maldives to Mexico, the star amenity at Palafitos Overwater Bungalows is the resort itself: a series of 30 exclusive, luxury bungalows perched right over top the sparkling waters of the Mexican-Caribbean sea. In fact, Palafitos happens to be the only overwater resort in the entire region. Combined with the property’s signature Gourmet Inclusive dining, it’s safe to say this overwater escape is elevating all-inclusives in both a figurative and literal way.
Bliss is an understatement. You’ll soak in stunning, 360 degree views of the surrounding turquoise sea and virgin beachfront behind, which you can do from within your idyllic bungalow, while lounging on your private, wraparound deck or while taking a dip in your private infinity pool. Your overwater retreat further boasts glass bottom floors, direct ladder access into the ocean, a romantic outdoor shower, in-bungalow jacuzzi, private butler service and included, 24-hour room service.
Stay smarter: Book Palafitos Overwater Bungalows 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.