We perennially love Mexico for its endless golden coastlines, amazing hospitality and fantastic food. Mix in some great shopping, cool historic sights, spectacular spas and a splash or two of tequila and you’ve got an amazing honeymoon destination, no matter your preferred relaxation method. Not only that, Mexico is constantly adding, renovating and debuting fantastic amenities. Here’s the best of the 2013 crop.
This church-spired, picture-perfect city is set a few hours from the capital, Mexico City. It’s even closer to the also-lovely colonial cities Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. Hop around Querétaro’s vintage plaza and its museums, cafés and cobblestoned pedestrian streets that are all lovingly preserved. The romantic La Casa del Atrio hotel offers designer rooms in an antique villa with a storybook garden (room rates for the two-night honeymoon package start at $550 and include accommodations, breakfast, dinner, a welcome bottle of champagne and more; lacasadelatrio.com ).
In the vibrant capital that is known to locals as D.F. (pronounced day-ef-ay), Mexico City’s cool new hangout is the Roma neighborhood, abutting the glam Condesa district. The artsy scene includes vintage couture boutiques and designer collectives; homegrown restaurants (Maximo for hyperlocal cuisine, Belmondo for salads); and the groovy, modern Hotel Brick, with high-tech trappings and a service-centric attitude (room rates start at $220 a night; hotelbrick.com ).
Photo Credit: MexicoBoutiqueHotels.com
Although this one-time fishing village located about 30 minutes south of Cancun has been on the tourism radar for more than a decade, the recent boom in elegant boutique hotel hideaways and upscale eateries is the reason it makes our must-see list. In addition to sparkling nightlife (there’s an outpost of the mega-disco Coco Bongo here), the golden beach is lined with intimate resorts.
Among them: Hotel las Palapas, with seven cozy surfside bungalows (room rates start at $175 a night and include breakfast; laspalapas.com ); Mahékal Beach Resort, with a super-private Aventura section (room rates start at $169 a night and include breakfast and dinner; mahekalbeachresort.com ; and Acanto Boutique Hotel, a candlelit hacienda a mere block from the ocean (room rates start at $200
a night; acantohotels.com ).
Photo Credit: Acanto
Also new in Playa: a culinary craze — check out Aldea Corazon, with a tiki-torched jungle patio; Ah Cacao Chocolate Café, for Mexico’s original sweet stuff, xocolatl; Oh Lala, a buzzy sidewalk spot; and El Fogon, a locals’ den for Yucatan cuisine. Work it off on the new bike path snaking through Playa del Carmen or strolling among the high-end shops.
The Secrets family of hotels, a brand of all-inclusive resorts with a focus on cuisine and service, has recently opened a host of properties at Mexico’s most popular beach destinations. Secrets Vallarta Bay is an adults-only, all-inclusive hotel with 271 suites, all with beach views and spa-like bathrooms. Cool factor: the resort is strolling distance to Vallarta’s vintage town center, where Richard Burton wooed Elizabeth Taylor on the art-studded Malecon promenade (room rates start at $295 per person, per night and are all-inclusive; secretsresorts.com ).
Photo Credit: Secrets Resorts & Spas
Secret’s sister property Now Amber Puerto Vallarta offers 327 modern, oceanfront suites. Book into the Preferred Club level for a private, full-service lounge and a dedicated concierge service. Now Amber’s unlimited luxury concept includes perks like Euro-bungee (an interactive trampoline activity that involves getting vertical), yoga and 24-hour in-room dining (room rates start at $195 per person, per night and are all-inclusive; nowresorts.com ).
Secrets The Vine Cancun is an adults-only, 495-room retreat on a white-powder beach that’s a mere 10 minutes from Cancun’s airport. The Vine focuses on the good life: romance, wine (with an Enoteca wine bar and a vast wine cellar), and a spa that’s decorated in stone that recalls the area’s underwater cenote caves (room rates start at $155 per person, per night and are all-inclusive; secretsresorts.com ).
Hard Rock Hotel, the brand internationally known for rockin’ the house has gone south, with three hotels hitting Mexico. Each is all-inclusive and beachfront. Hard Rock Hotel Cancun (the former Cancun Palace) is in the heart of the glittering hotel zone with a balcony on every one of its 601 rooms. Bonus: Guests receive two free tickets to headliner (think: Shakira) concerts during their stay (room rates start at $171 per person, per night and are all-inclusive; hrhallinclusive.com ).
At the west coast Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta, guests kick back at two pools, four restaurants and just as many bars. All rooms boast Jacuzzis (room rates start at $171 per person, per night and are all-inclusive; hrhallinclusive.com ).
And the sprawling Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya (the former Aventura Spa and Aventura Cove Palace) offers an adults-only wing, yoga classes, a Zen labyrinth, an enormous spa and 10 dining options including a martini bar (room rates start at $171 per person, per night and are all-inclusive; hrhallinclusive.com ). All three also offer wedding packages exclusively designed by party planner to the stars, Colin Cowie.
BlueBay Blue Diamond Riviera Maya (the former Mandarin Oriental Mayakoba) is a super-luxe, 128-suite, adults-only all-inclusive retreat set in Mayakoba, an exclusive oceanfront enclave of high-end resorts, golf courses and mangrove-lined canals on the Riviera Maya. Guests indulge in varied à la carte dining, yoga, a pristine beach and beautiful nature trails (room rates start at $606 per person, per night; bluebayresorts.com ).
Photo Credit: BlueBay Blue Diamond Riviera Maya
Photo Credit: BlueBay Blue Diamond Riviera Maya
Viceroy Riviera Maya (the former Tides Riviera Maya) feels like a private club, with only 41 secluded designer villas tucked into the jungle, all with plunge pools. Guests savor a magnificent beach, fine dining and stellar service—there’s a soap concierge, among other dedicated staff members, and a shaman, who blesses arriving couples with a plume of incense (room rates start at $605 a night; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com ).
Photo Credit: Viceroy Riviera Maya
Secrets Marquis Los Cabos refreshes Marquis Los Cabos with an all-inclusive luxury philosophy. On offer are 235 art-filled suites, gourmet restaurants, a lemongrass-scented spa, sleek gym and pools overlooking the Sea of Cortez (room rates start at $307 per person, per night and are all-inclusive; secretsresorts.com ).
Photo Credit: Secrets Resorts & Spas
Wyndham Cabo San Lucas Resort has been redone in hacienda elegance. Its location smack-dab in downtown Cabo San Lucas, beside the marina and steps from Cabo’s popular nightclubs, gorgeous golf courses and favorite area excursions, is a draw. Among 286 sunny rooms are 22 suites (room rates start at $100 per night; wyndham.com ).
Photo Credit: Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival: This celeb chef-studded fest unfurls at the adults-only, gourmet all-inclusive El Dorado Royale, A Spa Resort in mid-March. Expect tastings, contests and parties for hotel guests and festival ticket-holders alike (room rates start at $531 per person, per night and are all-inclusive; eldoradosparesorts.com ).
SUP: Standup Paddleboarding: SUP—essentially surfing with an oar—is the latest watersports craze to hit Mexico’s surf-happy west coast. Los Cabos has Cabo SUP for rentals, lessons and guided tours. Pacific Paddle serves Puerto Vallarta adventurers.
Cancun Whale Shark Tours: Take a whale shark tour off the coast of Cancun and you’ll get in the water and splash around with these gentle giants of the water. The misnamed animals are actually the world’s largest fish (many of them clock in at over 35 feet long).
Underwater Museum: Cancun’s mesmerizing Underwater Museum is a spectacular art gallery with a twist, as it’s submerged, in shallow water and accessible to divers and snorkelers. Dozens of interesting images of people—carved of stone and sprouting coral—recently joined this liquid world.
The Tequila Train: Guadalajara, an artistic colonial city set a couple of hours inland from Puerto Vallarta, is the gateway to Jalisco state AKA tequila country. The new José Cuervo Express train runs on weekends, delivering a fun-filled day of tastings, tours, dining and entertainment. When you tire of sipping the strong stuff, take a tour of the pretty city. Base your stay at the romantic hotel Villa Ganz, a gracious mansion with four honeymoon suites (room rates start at $200 a night; villaganz ).