Romance in the Riviera Maya

Rev up a relationship with sun and fun in Mexico By: Chanize Thorpe
Honeymooners can dine on the beach. // © 2011 Rosewood Mayakoba
Honeymooners can dine on the beach. // © 2011 Rosewood Mayakoba

Mexico's Riviera Maya is all about sultry, sunny days and sizzling nights. This area, just 35 minutes south of Cancun, epitomizes romance and is a top spot to reconnect or celebrate love's beautiful beginnings.

"Taking a sexy break is a fabulous way to inject a little oomph into your relationship," said love and sex expert Lola Augustine Brown, who dishes heart-felt advice in Cosmopolitan, FHM and "These getaways can bring you closer, make your union more passionate and may lead to more exciting experiences than you originally thought possible."

And despite news of the country's border-town violence, stats from the Mexico Tourism Board indicate that visits to vacation areas are on the rise.  

The Grand Velas Riviera Maya's deluxe all-inclusive concept makes for a hassle-free holiday, a boon for those watching their wallets. The 82-acre oasis, only a year old, is surrounded by verdant jungle on one side and blinding, white-sand beach on the other. There's plenty to do for nature lovers and beach bums alike.

Active clients will enjoy the nearby Maya ruins and underground river excursions. Relaxation seekers will appreciate the laidback vibe where the only energy they will need to expend is for paddling in the Caribbean Sea or for summoning the pool concierge for another tequila-infused cocktail.

And thankfully, all-inclusive doesn't mean a cookie-cutter product. The 15 restaurants and bars keep hunger and thirst at bay, and just when clients couldn't get any more relaxed, the 89,000-square-foot spa and its pages-long menu beckons. Splurge on the four-hand Maya massage treatment; it's designed to melt the tightest of muscles.

The Fairmont Mayakoba isn't some "corporate hotel" slapped in the middle of a beach. Thankfully, the hotel offers plenty of flavor to accompany its reputation as one of the region's most eco-friendly resorts. The Greg Norman-designed 18-hole golf course and 20-room Willow Stream Spa may seem sprawling, but they both manage to blend in with the property's 700-foot-long beach, preserved swamps and freshwater lagoon. The Bee in Love package is tailor-made for couples and includes a bevy of goodies from a bottle of sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries to a Maya serenade boat tour. And, as proof of a couple's commitment, a tree sapling is planted on property to congratulate the happy duo.

El Dorado Maroma is a magnet for eager honeymooners looking to snatch up the all-inclusive's eight new oceanfront villas and its Aguas del Amor private, outdoor showers. Outside the love lairs, couples drape themselves on poolside, king-size daybeds and lounge chairs, soaking up the sun and eventually convincing themselves to take part in the free meringue and salsa lessons, or the cooking and cocktail-making demos. Those who marry, honeymoon or anniversary at the property enjoy a free 30-minute massage lesson for two, a bottle of champagne and a candlelight dinner on the beach. But even if clients are not celebrating an event, these treats are available for a modest $175 per couple.

There are only 30 private villas at the intimate Tides Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen, which lends to its laidback and sexy vibe. The havens are decked out with a private plunge pool, an outdoor shower and a terrace, making it difficult to break away. Even the showers are a sensual experience thanks to a Soap Concierge who offers locally made Maya soaps. The concierge slices a piece off of the fragrant bar of choice -- from cinnamon to mint -- and delivers it to the room daily. When clients do leave their comfy canopied bed and private butler service, it's because they booked the spa's Xocolate Massage, an exotic treatment using chocolate -- a well-known aphrodisiac.

At the Rosewood Mayakoba, the five-star treatment begins with the chauffeur who helps clients into a swank Cadillac Escalade and whisks them to the all-suite resort. All of Mother Nature's bounty is at hand -- a sparkling lagoon, a white-sand beach and a neighboring mangrove forest. The pampering continues throughout the stay -- dinner for two on the beach complete with toes in sand, devouring grilled lobster and the tangiest margaritas around. It ends -- if clients so desire -- inside a supersized suite (many bigger than a Manhattan apartment) and the bathtub built for two. The butler has accented it with candles, rose petals and a bottle of bubbly, better than any Calgon treatment out there.
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