You might be surprised that a place so near Cancún—a town where, likely as not, you and 15 of your closet college buds once played quarters with shots of Jose Cuervo—would be where you’d choose to spend the first blissful days of your marriage. But there you have it: The Riviera Maya, nestled cozily between beach and jungle, just 45 minutes by shuttle from the Cancún airport, offers one of the most luxurious, peaceful and unforgettable escapes in all of Mexico—maybe all the Western Hemisphere. Spend your honeymoon at the gorgeous, nature-inspired Rosewood Mayakoba Resort, and the world outside—not to mention the last few months of your planning craze—just washes away.
BY DAY: There’s really nothing better than lounging in a striped cabana by the pool (which is also right by the ocean), with practiced servers attending to your every margarita-and-guacamole need. You’ll spend many happy hours just switching chairs, from the beautiful open-air bar to beach to cabana and back again. Maybe you’ll break it up with a couples massage or body wrap from the award-winning spa—though should you need a more drastic change from that heavenly routine, you can ask the hotel to arrange a day trip to nearby Punta Venado, where you can ride ATVs or horses, or both, around the lush green landscape, followed by a cooling dip in the ocean for guide-led snorkeling for two. (The local sea turtles, big as golden retrievers and twice as gentle, swim right up to you.)
You might also want to spend an afternoon exploring the famous ruins at Tulum, an ancient Mayan port city about an hour off-site. Or maybe you’ll just bop around nearby Playa del Carmen, which buzzes with shops, restaurants and clubs— and offers a famed pedestrian promenade that’s wonderful for just strolling.
BY NIGHT: Come sundown, the entire place glows with the golden light of a handful of restaurants, including a tequila/sushi bar—not to mention the exotic sounds and sights of nature, with all the birds and frogs and even a couple crocs that swim around the freshwater lagoon. So there’s little call or reason for you to leave the property. One of the happiest moments of your trip will come at sundown, as the two of you sit in your private plunge pool on a porch overlooking that lagoon, sipping the gratis house tequila and watching great white flocks of birds alight in the trees to settle for the night.
WHAT TO EAT: The restaurant by the resort’s centerpiece infinity pool, Casa Del Lago, has such a spread at breakfast that you won’t need to eat again until late afternoon (and then you’ll want it to be the tortilla chips and fresh guac with cocktails): We’re talking fresh fruits, a hundred types of pastries, and made-to-order huevos divorciados, which might sound like a dish to avoid on your honeymoon but is really just two eggs cooked with two different sauces, separated by beans. They’re delicious. You can eat there for lunch and dinner, too, but chances are you’ll prefer a trip to the resort’s Punta Bonita in the evenings, because it sits right on the beach, where it’s just you, the stars, a little candlelight, and the best tortilla soup on the planet. There are also a million opportunities, from room service to the tequila bar to cabana service, to nibble a series of signature tapas—and there’s not a miss among them. For a change of pace, you can ask the concierge for a ride to a neighboring resort property, where you can sup on Thai or French while enjoying a slightly different gorgeous view from a different gorgeous beach.
WHERE TO STAY: As with the tapas, there’s really not a wrong step when it comes to lodging at Rosewood Mayakoba; it is everywhere both modern and welcoming. But if you can stay anyplace in the entire resort, you should opt for the Deluxe Overwater Lagoon suite. It might not be as fancy as the Island Suite (in which you literally have your own island), but it does offer an otherworldly experience: You’ll take a boat on the lagoon to your private porch, then climb up to find a room with walls made of windows, an outdoor shower to pair with the glassed-in indoor shower and claw-foot tub, and a private plunge pool overlooking the expanse of nature that feels more Africa than Mexico. The beach rooms are stunning, too, but the lagoon room is unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s at once open and yet private; luxe, but not in the least overdone.
WHAT TO PACK: Swimwear, a few sundresses for dinners, pretty cover-ups (it is an upscale resort), and sun hats—you’re much closer to the equator, remember, and that sun shines hot. Also, don’t forget your underwater camera; you’re right by the world’s second largest reef, and the snorkeling and diving are spectacular.
BEST TIMES TO GO: November weather is absolutely beautiful, and even then—before the holidays and after the hurricane season—the Riviera tends to remain uncrowded. The good weather lasts through February, though, and if you don’t mind the heat, all the way through May is perfectly lovely. Late summer and early fall are the stormy seasons, which can be nice for lower prices but iffy in terms of beach days.
NEWLYWED NEWS: The best Rosewood deal going allows couples who have a ceremony at almost any Rosewood property a complimentary two nights for a honeymoon at any other Rosewood property—plus dinner for two, champagne and breakfast.
GETTING THERE: A simple direct flight into Cancún from PHL takes about four hours; from there, it’s a 45-minute cab or shuttle ride to Rosewood Mayakoba.