pool and seating area

The Resorts of Riviera Maya…Mexico’s East Coast answer to Cabo

Marchay’s fall team retreat in Mexico’s Riviera Maya involved site inspections of all the fabulous resorts in the area, including Etéreo, Rosewood Mayakoba, St. Regis Kanai, Belmond Maroma, and Waldorf Astoria Cancun. With a number of new openings, this region has become the Mexican East Coast’s answer to Cabo. Read on for the unique highlights of each property below: 


Set among the mangroves within the Kanai development, home also to St. Regis and Edition, Etéreo strikes a perfect blend of traditional Mayan design with state-of-the-art facilities. The 75 large rooms and suites are all ocean-facing, some with plunge pools. The spa complex has its own indoor and outdoor pools and relaxation areas, in addition to a studio where they do twice daily yoga and wellness classes. The resort features three restaurants, including a beach restaurant with delicious fresh grilled soft tacos and salads. There is a wood fired kitchen that hosts specialty theme dinners, in addition to the main restaurant with accessible Mexican fusion cuisine. A coffee “van” parked by the rooms serves excellent espresso and coffee-based drinks each morning.

There is a family pool in addition to an adults-only area with whirlpool. While we especially like Etéreo as a romantic option for couples, there were many families there with small children enjoying the tranquility of this beautifully executed resort. 

view of beach club

Rosewood Mayakoba 

As one of the first high luxury properties in the Mexican Caribbean, the Rosewood Mayakoba continues to set a high standard for the new resorts in the region. Set among a large complex connected by sandy pathways and a winding waterway, Rosewood is notable for offering different experiences from multi-bedroom homes on the banks of the jungly lagoon, to beach-front villas. The layout means a lot of privacy but also multiple restaurants and common areas with a buzzy, social energy. The bar can get especially animated and fun at night. The service has been honed now for years and is seamless.

While the Rosewood would satisfy guests for any occasion, the stunning houses and ample facilities make it especially good for families or groups of friends on a festive getaway. 

view of villa first floor from second floor staircase

St Regis Kanai 

The St. Regis Kanai is an immediately striking, ultra-modern spaceship like resort emerging from the mangroves of the Kanai development. Once inside, however, the abundance of Mexican crafts, carved wood and extensive foliage give it a proper sense of place. The resort, inspired by the “Seven Sisters” constellation of Pleiades, has 124 rooms and 19 suites is organized in a series of low white buildings in a semi-circle facing the ocean. The room quality was exceptional, well laid out with beautiful carved wood and polished stone. There were state of the art lighting, large baths and showers, plenty of closet space, and large terraces with oversized chaise lounges.

We also liked the quality of the amenities, including the best equipped gym we saw in any of the hotels, eight restaurants, a 20,000 sq ft spa with separate mens/womens outdoor hammam and pool circuit. There are numerous on-property pools, including one just for families, some larger pools ocean facing and one very private pool by a sports bar. We would recommend the St. Regis for travelers who want a contemporary resort with a lot of amenities, while still surrounded by Mexican touches and service.  

view of hotel, mangroves, and ocean

Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya

Originally built by Mexican architect Jose Luis Moreno and opened in the 1990s as one of the first luxury resorts in the region. Maroma was originally bought by Belmond in 2014 and has recently re-opened after a total and thoughtful renovation following the brand’s acquisition by LVMH. The result is a special retreat that most closely reflects region’s cultural history including a commitment to honoring Mayan spiritual traditions (including “offering” huts strewn throughout the property). The Belmond has the good fortune of having a number of suites and common areas built right on the beach, allowing guests to walk right out of their door onto the sand. Many of these are multi-bedroom units and combinable units, so you can have a multi-generational or large family compound beachside.  

The redesign adhered closely to property’s Mexican coastal aesthetic, so while the rooms have all of the modern amenities, they are more traditional and less contemporary than the new build hotels. The textiles, handcrafted furniture and tilework were gorgeous. The Guerline spa reception area has a contemporary European feel with an adjoining “lab” where you can make your own scents. This public area gives way to a warren of treatment rooms and a coed outdoor area with pool circuit and steam therapies. There are two major restaurants including Casa Mayor, with modern Mexican cuisine, and Woodend which features oven fired cooking by Australian chef Curtis Stone. We appreciated the large wine selection, which can be challenging to find in the region. While there are still amenities under construction like the kid’s club, Belmond lovers and those looking for a luxurious and elegant retreat with a real sense of place should try the resort. 

view of Belmond hotel poolPhoto Credit: Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya

Waldorf Astoria Cancun 

A luxurious beachfront resort nestled in the vibrant hotel zone of Cancun, the Waldorf Astoria embodies refined elegance with its contemporary architecture and breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea. Guests can indulge in spacious rooms, world-class amenities, and exceptional dining experiences, making it an unforgettable destination for travelers seeking relaxation and sophistication all within a short drive of downtown Cancun. 

View of pool and hotel building

Marchay Member Travel

15+ nights in 5* hotel

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Minimum $25,000 travel spend /year

One large vacation /year

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