A Royal Master one-bedroom oceanfront suite // © 2016 The Royal Playa del Carmen
Feature image (above): Guests can lounge on-site, then head into town to experience the nightlife. // © 2016 The Royal Playa del Carmen
Tucked between Playa del Carmen’s beach and the city’s bustling stretch of shopping and restaurants known as 5th Avenue, it’s not hard to see why adults-only The Royal Playa del Carmen is one of the most beloved properties within the Playa Hotels & Resorts portfolio: It’s all about location.
The Royal caters to both those who want to relax on-site and guests who don’t want to spend all their time on property. For the latter, I suggest Asiana, an Asian-fusion restaurant that’s just outside the resort but still part of the all-inclusive plan. Clients can also hop on a bike and take a guided morning tour of Playa del Carmen, or stroll to 5th Avenue to buy souvenirs, sample gelato or experience the nightlife.
“The most important attraction in Playa is 5th Avenue, and it’s just one block away,” said Wally Dagri Trevisan, public relations director for Playa Hotels & Resorts. “We’re located right on the ocean, so guests can have privacy within the resort, but they’re still integrated in the town.”
Although the resort is sprawling, The Royal doesn’t suffer from labyrinthine uniformity. Instead, each pathway offers something unexpected — a sculpture, a “quiet pool,” a coffee house or a fountain. Ornate balustrades, Corinthian columns and warm-toned marble all add to an atmosphere that Trevisan describes as “Mexican hacienda in a white minimalistic key.”
And the rooms are just as luxurious. Among the 11 different types of suites, standard amenities include a double-size jet tub, a minibar and a “magic box,” a little cabinet where room service staff can leave meals without bothering guests and where guests can leave dirty dishes without cluttering the walkways outside their doors.
There’s also plenty to do on property. Guests have seven restaurants to choose from, in addition to three more across the street at the Playa-owned Gran Porto Resort. My personal favorite was The Royal’s Maria Marie, a Mexican-French-fusion dining experience epitomized by squash blossom crepes covered in poblano sauce.
Clients looking for something out of the ordinary can take advantage of a Tuesday night Fondue and Flamenco dinner. Launched in February, this private dinner and show can be booked at an extra charge. Clients impartial to Spanish guitar can opt for the Lobster and Jazz dinner instead.
Every night starting at 9:45 p.m., all guests can enjoy a Cirque du Soleil-style performance. I saw a fantastic show called “Mexico of My Memories,” a Mexican folkloric-inspired production that involved acrobats climbing on red strips of silk and dancing while suspended in midair.
In terms of relaxation, clients can visit the spa and try a massage treatment indoors, on the beach or even in their rooms. Visitors looking for a unique experience might opt for the Maya-inspired temazcal steam hut.
The obvious attraction, of course, is the beach, where guests can lie in the sun. Or, they can lounge by the many pools, which are serviced by “beachtlers” — beach butlers who provide guests with drinks, sunscreen and magazines in various languages.
The gym offers spin, Pilates and yoga classes in the oceanfront gazebo. There’s also a tennis court and a special pool used for the Scuba Diving School. While certification training comes at an extra charge, all guests are welcome to partake in a free introductory scuba lesson.
Ultimately, The Royal provides a variety of experiences, in no small part due to its prime location. And by the end of my stay, I had no doubt as to why people have, as Trevisan told me, “a special love for the property.”