Las June I spent several days being treated as a total princess at the amazing Royalton Riviera Cancun. I typically go to Mexico for a holiday or vacation once or twice a year and enjoy living life at levels of service and luxury above my typical life in Brentwood. The Royalton treated me to levels of opulence and luxury that I could really get used to. I had read reviews on the Web that made Royalton Riviera Cancun sound like a fantastic place, so I had high expectations of what it would be like to stay there. However, the actual experience turned out to exceed my expectations at every point and the photos and raving reviews still didn’t do this resort justice. The sprawling ocean front resort, well appointed accommodations, and friendly staff gave me a genuine sense of how it feels to be catered to and pampered on a royal level.
The sense that the Royalton is a place apart begins with its very location. It is located a short drive down the coast from Cancun Isle, but before Playa Del Carmen. The drive from the airport took approximately 20 minutes. As I entered the lobby I was impressed by the sheer size of the place, as well as the dramatic ocean view.
The Royalton property is an enterprise that encompasses four main campuses including a common central area, a family & kids area, an adult only area called Hideaway, and an area reserved for Diamond Club level guests.
Every part of the property is laid out beautifully, and equipped with lounging areas and chairs so I could wander around, exploring the various views and services, and at any point could sit down and relax. Restaurants and bars were everywhere. Water sports and swimming were available at any of the spacious Signature Pools, the Infinity Pool, Kids Pool, Splash Park, or the beach. Beach areas were equipped with cabanas, lounge chairs, and people who seemed anxious to serve you whatever meal, snacks, or drinks you wished.
I’ve visited a number of all-inclusive resorts, but my Diamond Club level at the Royalton included an extraordinary number of services not the least of which was round-the-clock service by a personal staff of butlers. I would simply dial my extension and they were available at my beck-and-call. Erica was on duty during the day and Carlos at night. They would unpack my luggage, draw a bath, bring a drink to my room, book restaurant reservations, iron my clothes, and pack my bags for departure.
My room continued the Royalton luxury brand with a soaking tub and rain shower, a satellite television, and a fully stocked mini-bar. My Royalton’s Signature Dream Bed included high thread count sheets. I could choose from five pillows with varying degrees of pressure, from soft to hard. One of my butlers was available to bring samples so I could try each one and pick the one that was best for me.
The place was awash in music, elegance, and relaxation. A Dance Club and Sports Bar in the central area usually had some live music going on. Each night families with kids of all ages would join in dancing to a live band performing a variety of American hits in the large open lobby area. Musicians, dancers, and magicians would perform on the big stage in the main area in front of the large swimming pool. One night they featured a Michael Jackson themed show. Another night they did a Lion King show for the kids. Every night there was different family friendly entertainment.
The pace picks up in the evening at the Hideaway when an adult-only glow party begins on a spacious dance floor illuminated like a set from a Saturday Night Fever remake. Three deejays were playing three styles of music that dancers could only listen to over headphones. The headphones glowed with one of three different lights, each representing the particular music channel that the dancer was listening to at the time.
It’s difficult to describe the effect of dancing to the rhythm of some great song and being able to see by their telltale lights which of your fellow dancers were on the same channel you were. The scene was vibrating in red, blue, and green colors that were not only being emitted from the headphones and from the dance floor, but also from glow sticks, necklaces, and glasses that attendants freely passed out to the dancers. We were dancing under the stars and energized by the music and lights. I had never experienced a party like this; it was a blast.
Food and drinks are available in 14 bars on the site. Eleven on-site eating establishments offer more dining selections than I could have made use of if I had stayed a month. Culinary choices to appeal to any taste or diet including Japanese at the Zen restaurant, steaks at the Hunter Steakhouse, Italian at the Grazie Trattoria, Mediterranean at OPA!, Tex-Mex at Armadillo, seafood at the Dorado, Caribbean at The Beach Club Grill, Mexican at the Agave, and pub & grill food at the SCORE Sports Bar.
For diners who are unable make up their minds what they want, the Gourmet Marché International Buffet offers an amazing selection of entrées, dishes, and desserts fit for a king with food stations offering varieties of tasty dishes. The menu changes on a daily basis and the chefs are equipped to prepare foods upon request for any special diet — for example to accommodate a diabetic or someone on a gluten free diet.
The Zen Japanese restaurant serves everything you desire in the teppanyaki-style and my favorites were the lobster, shrimp, and ahi tuna, and of course the fried rice. My family loves to go to Benihana for birthdays and other celebrations, but the chef’s presentation and cooking at Royalton Riviera’s Zen was phenomenal — one of the best shows and dining experience of this kind that I ever enjoyed.
Mexican cuisine is one of my favorites, so I had to check out the Agave restaurant. I’m a picky eater and somewhat of a connoisseur when it comes to Mexican fare (thanks to my grandparents). I tried various combinations of flavors and textures and the extraordinary selection of salsas and sauces Agave offers to accent its appetizers and dishes.
I had a truly memorable three-hour sit-down feast at the C/X Culinary Experience where I was treated to a European-style six-course pairings dinner. The meal came with an extra charge, but it was a great value. The executive chef provided rich commentary on each entrée and pairing. One course paired fresh ahi with Champagne. We cooked the ahi ourselves on a hot stone. The dessert course included a chocolate sphere we broke open to find it filled with a variety of tasty treats.
During one course, the sommelier named Gabriela, spoke about the pairing, which was a Mexican premium blend vintage called Megacero. She declared that her goal was “to serve the perfect wine at the perfect moment with the perfect food.” The fact is, I felt that each sip, each bite, and each moment of that incredible feast was close to perfection.
All that eating and drinking would make the experience seem indulgent and even a little decadent if it weren’t for the fact that the Royalton offers wonderful fitness programs. Most resorts, of course, have a room full of treadmills and stationary bikes and weights, but the Royalton Fit program offers a number of exercise options for the entire family, including Sunrise Yoga, Aqua Zumba, and a weekly Beach Fitness Challenge that is a competition designed to develop speed, agility, and strength (and boasting rights when you beat your family members).
Royalton Fit includes fitness and wellness classes and training developed by a Canadian fitness power couple. George Kiriakou has over 25 years of experience as a bodybuilder, professional wrestler, professional fighter, fitness instructor, fitness entrepreneur and Director of Sport & Fitness at Royalton Luxury Resorts. His wife Belinda, a fitness cover model and a weight loss and lifestyle coach, is Canada’s Champion IFBB Pro Bikini Athlete. Classes offered include boot-camps and beach boot-camps, plus classes in yoga, spinning, Pilates and stretch, Zumba, aqua-fit, TRX Training, and kick-boxing.
I engaged in a new form of exercise called Boga Yoga, which Belinda, conducted outside on inflatable yoga mats floating on a pool. One man in our party was experiencing yoga for the first time; another was a top practitioner. Both of them appeared to enjoy the class.
Our floating Boga Yoga mats were sturdy and tethered. We felt relatively stable, but the fact that we were on water meant that we had to keep our balance by engaging our muscles deliberatly while doing our stretches, poses, and exercises than while exercising on a floor. I never fell off the mat but some moves were challenging. Communing with nature helped me appreciate the activity. I could see the ocean, feel the sunshine, smell the fresh air, and hear the cries of seagulls. The workout was strenuous at some points, but because we were floating in a pool, when I got warm it was easy to splash some water on my face or fall (pretending by accident) into the pool.
Following the physical exertions during yoga, my experience in the Royalton Spa was especially welcome. I booked a relaxing massage and wanted to see what other features the spa offered. I discovered that they had a hydro-therapy circuit that includes five different stations in which high pressure jets of water applied soothing massage effects for various parts of my body. The level of service typical of the Royalton brand was apparent because a staff member guided me personally through each step showing me what to expect and then leaving me alone for a short time to enjoy the experience. The circuit ended with a cold plunge followed by a delicious dip into a warm Jacuzzi experience.
One of the spa attendants then accompanied me to a beautiful massage room for a relaxing treatment with a masseuse who was careful to find the exact pressure I was comfortable with. I was never so relaxed in my life and felt like I was occupying some medium space between waking and sleeping. Afterwards I enjoyed the rest of the spa amenities including the steam room, sauna, and hot tub. Once again, someone was at my side to guide me through each process and to ensure that I was getting the best out of each step. For example, giving me a lotion scrub to put over my body in the steam room, handing me a cool towel in the sauna, and turning on the jets in the hot tub. The environment and levels of personal care were extraordinary. By the end of the time I thought that I could probably take the best nap of my life. But I had other things to do.
The Royalton offers excursions, so I signed up for a Cenotes adventure tour that took us on a guided tour of two beautiful locations. Cenotes are natural pits, rivers, or sinkholes that result from the collapse of limestone bedrock. There are thousands of them! We were able to snorkel and swim with the tropical fish through one outdoor cenote that was at the confluence of river and ocean. In another, we could swim through channels connecting a partially submerged series of limestone caves and admire the untouched beauty of the stalactites and stalagmites. It was a magical experience!
The limestone-filtered water was so perfectly clear that it was like swimming through air. We could see the roots of trees growing down through the cave roofs over our heads.
The swimming, exercising, and dancing left me feeling like I was on target with my personal fitness plans. This trip included luxurious accommodations and service, a plethora of dining and entertainment choices, adventure, relaxation, and fitness. The good news in the end was that I hadn’t gained weight on my return, and felt invigorated and renewed by the experience.
It felt good on all levels for a few days to be treated like a princess. I would go back tomorrow, if I could.