Royal Hideaway Playacar, Playa Del Carmen
Close to the buzzy village of Playa Del Carmen yet far removed enough to appeal to tranquility seekers, this 200-room all-inclusive resort on Mexico’s Riviera Maya is pitched at lovers of every age, from young honeymooners to couples celebrating their ruby anniversary. Officially, children over the age of 13 are welcome, but the vibe is grown-up and families might be better entertained at a property more suited to their needs.
The Grounds at Royal Hideaway Playacar
Even for this stretch of coast, where sprawling, gated properties are constantly trying to one-up each other in scale and grandeur, The Royal Hideaway Playacar makes a show-stopping first impression. A circular driveway sweeps around to a towering Spanish Colonial portico, while the lobby wouldn’t be out of place in a European castle, complete with somber oil paintings and gargantuan chandeliers. Spiral staircases, gushing fountains and acres of marble give way to 13 acres of oasis-like grounds, manicured gardens and man-made waterways flanking paths leading to the villas and beachfront.
The Rooms at Royal Hideaway Playacar
The grandeur comes down a notch in the rooms, which are located within villa blocks of two or three floors clustered around the gardens, pool and beach. Here, the style is less Old World glamour and more breezy Caribbean, with dark wood furniture, cool tiled floors and small terraces that look onto either tropical gardens or the ocean. The love-struck guests seem happier out of the rooms anyway, lazing by the pools, taking advantage of the many watersports available just steps away on the golden sand beach or exploring the nearby towns and historic ruins.
The Restaurants at Royal Hideaway Playacar
Dining is one of the highlights at this property, thanks to an inventive collection of restaurants that deviate from the standard Mex-Caribbean fare (which, let’s face it, can get a little tedious at all-inclusives in this region.) Guests can work their way around the globe over the course of a few days, from rustic Italian at Palazzo to Pad Thai and sushi – yes, sushi! – at the excellent Azia.
Las Ventanas offers an upscale, fine dining experience and a premium wine cellar for those who want to branch out from the all-inclusive house wine selection. Guests can also book a private Chef’s Table in the kitchen of Las Ventanas during which chef Florian Dürre whips up an inventive degustation menu that includes both classical techniques and a touch of molecular gastronomy. Traditionalists need not despair: there’s also a classic al fresco grill and a casual Mexican-inspired restaurant called Spices.
The Pools/Beaches at Royal Hideaway Playacar
While infinity pools are ubiquitous these days, the main one here is especially large and has the virtue of overlooking a pretty, pristine beach. Other, smaller, pools dot the properties and suit those wanting a bit more privacy – the sun lounges around the infinity pool can fill up quickly. Non-motorized watersports like snorkeling and kayaking are included, while more gear-oriented activities like fishing, diving and parasailing cost extra.
The Nightlife at Royal Hideaway Playacar
While the hotel does have two bars that can be fun and convivial, most visitors head into nearby Playa del Carmen -- a once-sleepy fishing village that has evolved into a sophisticated tourist hotspot -- for more lively entertainment. A host of bohemian, artsy open-air bars attract a young and boisterous crowd during the high season (November to May), while shoulder season offers a better chance of claiming a barstool and ordering a round of margaritas at one of the establishments along 5th Avenue.
Recreation at Royal Hideaway Playacar
The Mayan ruins at Tulum (open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily) are a must-see for anyone visiting this region. They’re not the largest or most historically significant of the Yucatan’s archeological sites, but they’re certainly the most comely, situated on a grassy, windswept bluff overlooking a picture-perfect arc of white sand beach, where many visitors stop to cool off after exploring the ruins.
Watching the sunset from the terrace of Spices, the oceanfront restaurant at Royal Hideaway Playacar, where guests gather to swap stories and drink cocktails by the light of tiki torches.
The Bottom Line
A luxurious, secluded all-inclusive retreat ideal for a romantic long weekend. First-timers to Mexico will enjoy the resort’s many diversions while getting to experience an authentic taste of the Riviera Maya with forays into the charming village of Playa Del Carmen.
Address: Lote Hotelero No. 6 Desarollo Playacar
Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Room Rates: $$$$