You may know Riviera Maya for the world-class resorts of the Mayakoba development—Banyan Tree, Fairmont and Rosewood—or the many high-rise hotels that overlook the Caribbean Sea along the Yucatan peninsula. But hidden away in the rain forest, about a mile south of Mayakoba, is Viceroy Riviera Maya, a cluster of thatched-roof villas that are the definition of a low-key tropical paradise.
Avoid the modern resorts, big signs and heavy traffic of the highway and turn down the dirt road to the Viceroy. Its narrow, unassuming entrance mightn’t shout luxury, but the thatched-roof rotunda begins to ease your worries. Then a staffer walks you down a winding stone path with overhanging vegetation and into what is a 41-bungalow village of rustic luxury.
Each of the 41 villas captures a simple, yet sophisticated, Mayan vibe and includes a private plunge pool surrounded by an outdoor desk, rain shower and hammocks. The Luxury and Royal Villas measure 1,000 square feet. The Signature Villas (1,400 square feet) include deep soaking tubs. The Viceroy and Premium villas (1,700 square feet) provide butler service. The two beachfront villas are also 1,700 square feet. All are private enough that you could spend your visit seeing no one but room-service staff. (Rates $662 to $1,419 or $1,062 to $1,819, with meals included.)
The hotel’s two restaurants, Coral Bar and La Marea, are outstanding. The poolside Coral Bar (part of the all-inclusive rates) serves Baja shrimp tacos and mushroom risotto that are delicious. La Marea is a fancier restaurant, which offers refuge when the ocean winds are strong. Though short, the wine list has good wines for every taste; try the Casa Madera Chardonnay Reserve, a Mexican white wine that surprises with its quality.
The hotel also has a small, but well-equipped gym. The spa is centrally located with a full range of massages and beauty treatments—just the added touch of luxury to help you completely escape from the outside world.