Barceló Maya Beach Resort
People come from all over the world to soak up the sun, swim in the turquoise waters and experience the vibrant culture and cuisine of the Mexican Riviera. Resorts abound from Cancun south along the Riviera Maya, but if it’s luxury you want, head to Barceló Maya Beach Resort, an hour south of Cancun.
Situated on one of the best beaches of the Mexican Riviera, this AAA Four Diamond Resort offers everything a luxury vacation should be. With five hotels, 20 restaurants, 19 bars, 9 swimming pools, 4 theaters, 2 water parks, and a world-class spa, what more could one possibly need? And to answer your question–can the “all-inclusive” label really deliver luxury? Most definitely, YES!
I’m staying at the Barceló Maya Palace Deluxe, the premier hotel at the resort. But all the hotels–the Barcelo Maya Colonial, Tropical, Beach, and Maya Caribe certainly meet Webster’s, and my, definition of luxury–“a condition of great comfort, ease and wealth.” The architectural design of the entire resort is inspired by colonial culture, which is further enhanced by its many murals, artwork, statues and rich furnishings.
As I enter the spacious open-air lobby with views of the blue Caribbean framed by beautiful archways, I’m already feeling stress drain away. I’m escorted to the Club Premium Deluxe area, which provides guests with the highest level of service, including private check-in and check-out, personalized concierge services, a private Club Premium Lounge with premium brand liquors and rooms with the best ocean/pool views.
My Palace Deluxe Junior Suite features a king bed and two comfortable sofas that double as day beds. The spacious room is quite comfortable for two guests or up to a family of four. A flat screen plasma TV, premium linens, huge marble bathroom with Raindance shower, deluxe robes & slippers and a bathroom scale (which should never be allowed in an all inclusive resort!) round out an assortment of upscale amenities.
Three steps off my private deck is one of the large swimming pools with both poolside and in-water lounges. I eye a large swim-up bar across the pool and quickly grab my swimsuit from the pocket of my suitcase. It’s only then that I notice the bottle of sparkling wine, the Barceló Tequila Anemone 100% Agave and the Petit Fours on my coffee table. Yum! But those can wait until later, as I slip into the pool and head to the swim-up bar for a refreshing tropical drink to begin my stay at Barceló Maya Beach Resort.
Sports & Entertainment
Guests can be as relaxed or busy as they wish, with a plethora of entertainment options. And they can travel between the five hotels at the resort to experience all activities, dining, shows and shopping. There’s a multi-sports court, tennis courts, volleyball & ping-pong, canoes, kayaks, water bicycles, snorkeling equipment, water aerobics, mini golf, pitch & putt, and a gym to work off all those extra calories. And if you prefer to sit by the pool or enjoy the warm Caribbean Sea by day and swing by night, there are a variety of nightly shows and discotheques to dance the night away.
And don’t forget to make room for a little “me time” at the 16,000 square-foot Barceló U Spa, which features 25 treatment rooms as well as a hydrotherapy room, three Vichy rooms and a Swedish and Scottish treatment room. In addition, little princesses will love the Kid’s U Spa, with fun treatments such as ice cream pedicures, hair braiding and even birthday parties.
Barceló Maya Beach Resort welcomes families of all ages and recently received the 2014 Traveler’s Choice Award for one of the 25 best family resorts in Mexico. The Barcy Mini Club offers lots of fun with a variety of activities for ages 4-12, and there’s even a special water park for kids. Teens also have their very own Teen Club with a variety of activities.
But if it’s privacy you want, there’s plenty of uncrowned beach space, an adult’s only pool and romance galore. In fact, Barceló Resort is one of the most popular spots for a destination wedding, offering compete wedding planning services.
Having experienced a private tour of the kitchen with Executive Chef Julio Reyes, I can assure you that cleanliness and safety are top priorities at this resort. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner available in all the buffet restaurants, there are several international à la carte restaurants, where guests have the option of eating, depending on the length and level of stay.
Three of my favorite à la carte restaurants are the Mexico Lindo Restaurant at the Barceló Maya Colonial, the Rodizio (Brazilian) at the Barceló Maya Palace Deluxe, and Palace Brasserie (French) also at the Palace Deluxe.
Mexico Lindo offers an upscale twist on traditional Mexican fare. I began my evening with a refreshing Mango Margarita and then a local regional favorite, Sopa de Lima (Lime Soup) and the sample plate of appetizers, including Marinated Pork Tacos, Mexican Yam Lasagna with Lobster Relish and a trio of Ceviches: green, white and red. For my main course, I selected the Duet of Salmon and Sea Bass with wormseed and chili pasilla sauces. I tried to forget the bathroom scale, taunting me back in my room and splurged with the Mexican Crème Brûlèe!
Rodizio is a Brazilian steak restaurant offering outstanding steak and pasta. While I chose the tenderloin, others in the group went for the never-ending skewers with green chorizo, chicken thighs, turkey breast, pork loin, veal picanha and rib eye. Again, I couldn’t help myself–I just had to have the Sicilian cannelloni stuffed with ricotta cheese.
The Palace Brasserie (French) offers romantic outdoor seating as an option. Their classic French onion soup is a must. The ravioli alle pistache and Burgundy escargot were two amazing appetizer offerings. My selection of surf”n’turf followed. Other favorites of our group were rack of lamb and duck salmistrado with red wine. Dessert time again! Crêpes Suzettes were totally worth the extra pounds I’ll have to lose when I return home.
Whether it’s your first visit to the Mexican Riviera or one of many, you’ll certainly want to experience some adventures beyond the resort. Barceló Tours (located on the resort property) can help you plan a variety of outings. There are adventures that include swimming with dolphins, catamaran cruises, touring ancient Mayan ruins of Tulúm or Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of modern times. And with 500 species of fish, 72 top dive spots and a 90-mile section of the 450-mile Great Mayan Reef, guests are assured of some spectacular snorkeling or diving.
Our group did the Tulúm-Akumal full-day tour, that included an amazing history lesson on this 13th century Mayan city from a knowledgeable tour guide. Located on tall cliffs overlooking the Caribbean, its view is spectacular from Tulúm ruins! We then headed to Akumal Bay, where the second largest reef in the world is located. Akumal, meaning ¨Place of the Turtles” in Mayan, is a great place for snorkeling, with a reef accessible from the beach providing up close encounters with tropical fish, turtles and stingrays. Having worked up quite an appetite, we were all ready for the next phase of our tour—a private beach club (reminiscent of something from Gilligan’s Island) where we had lunch.
Too soon the trip ended and I was headed back to Cancun to catch my flight home. As I reflect on the trip, I can say I’m sold on “all-inclusive,” especially if it’s as luxurious as Barceló Maya Beach Resort.