Located along 81 miles (130 km) of Mexico’s breathtaking Caribbean coastline just south of Cancun, the Riviera Maya is home to some of the most luxurious experiences in the world.
There are a variety of resorts and meeting spaces to choose from and every location showcases the abundant luxury, history and natural resources of the destination, while catering to the specific needs of a group function.
Highs from mid-May until the end of August that can reach 110˚F (43˚C) and balmier weather from December through the end of April, when the average temperature is 71-89˚F (22-32˚C). Rainy season (short afternoon showers) runs from September through the end of November.
Fly into the Cancun International Airport (CUN) from gateways throughout the US, Europe and Latin America and take ground transportation to your accommodations.
The Riviera Maya is known for its large properties that stretch out along its breathtaking shoreline; most of them are all-inclusive.
In Puerto Morelos the vibe is more “sleepy fishing village” than “mega resort,” though the word has gotten out and hotel projects—especially of the luxury sort—have moved in. Newly opened last summer, the Breathless Riviera Cancun is trendy and modern with 526 all-inclusive, adult-only ultra-contemporary suites—perfect for your younger-skewing groups.
But it’s not just all play: Breathless has a 9,000-sq.-ft. (836 m²) state-of-the-art Convention Center that can host up to 725 attendees. The all-inclusive, all-adult Excellence Riviera Cancun has 440 suites and an expansive, swim-up spa, plus 19,695 ft² (1,830 m²) of dedicated indoor meeting and event space, plus 10,000 ft² (929 m²) of oceanfront terraces and a spectacular stretch of beach for private cocktails.
A longtime favorite with the boardroom crowd, Zoëtry Paraíso de la Bonita boasts Five-Diamonds and 90 oceanfront all-inclusive suites, as well as 1,400 ft² (130 m²) of meeting space and a 22,000-ft² (2,043 m²) certified Thalasso Center & Spa, the first in North America. The all-inclusive Royalton Riviera Cancun is unique in that it has three distinct sections—The Resort or Diamond Club for families, and the Hideaway, a 340-room resort within a resort for adults-only for you to upgrade your VIPs. It also offers over 20,000 ft² (1,858 m²) of indoor and outdoor event space and a Casino on-site. The family-friendly Hotel Marina El Cid Spa & Beach Resort has almost 12,000 ft² (1,115 m²) of function space, including their new 7,500-ft² (697 m²) convention center. It also boasts a full-service 120-slip marina for deep-sea fishing adventures and an enticing list of kids’ activities.
On the road between Cancun and Playa del Carmen the sprawling Vidanta Riviera Maya luxury reserve is a large-scale venue with max appeal for incentive planners, with five resort hotel brands, gourmet restaurants, indulgent spas, three animal sanctuaries (flamingo, crocodile and sea turtle), one Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and their crowning jewel: a resident Cirque du Soleil Show, JOYÀ.
Some of the newest players in trendy Playa del Carmen will appeal to planners looking for a dynamic destination for small meetings and incentives. For example, the Thompson Playa del Carmen urban beach hotel has 92 guestrooms in its downtown locale—topped by a rooftop pool playground—and 27 more luxury rooms at its boho-chic Beach House, perfect for corporate retreats. In total, the hotel offers over 28,000 ft² (260 m²) of event space across seven distinctive venues. Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen brings luxury all-inclusive to its adults-only boutique concept, with only 60 guestrooms in the heart of all the action, with a rooftop bar and pool area, ideal for intimate events.
Also in that group, the Four-Diamond Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort is right on Playa Mamitas, considered the best beach in town, and just steps from all the fun in town. Its striking modern design encloses 314 guestrooms including 36 suites (some swim-up), plus over 15,000 ft² (1,394 m²) of flexible meetings and event space on three levels.
With multiple elite awards to its name, the Five-Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Maya has 539 luxury suites divided into three sections: ocean-facing, ocean-front and the Zen Grand Suites in a jungle estuary. Planners will be delighted with their 91,547 ft² (8,505 m²) of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, including a state-of-the-art Convention Center with 32 meeting rooms and two ballrooms that can host up to 3,000 attendees.
The Mayakoba resort enclave encloses some of the area’s top resorts—the Five-Diamond Fairmont Mayakoba, the Banyan Tree Mayakoba and the Five-Diamond Rosewood Mayakoba—that offer a total of 649 luxury rooms and suites, with a combined 42,732 ft² (3,970 m²) of indoor and outdoor meetings and event space, a network of crystal-clear cenotes (freshwater sinkholes, many swimmable) and the El Camaleón golf course, an 18-hole championship green designed by Greg Norman that hosts the only official PGA Tour event in Mexico. The 130 ultra-luxury stand-alone suites of the Five-Diamond, Rainforest Alliance Certified Rosewood Mayakoba were the recipients of US$1.5 million in enhancements in the past year, as were the dining outlets and public spaces. New in the enclave, the Andaz Mayakoba Resort opened late last year with 214 guestrooms (including 41 suites), a 6,652 ft² (618 m²) ballroom, 5 flexible breakout rooms and 9,687 ft² (900 m²) of meetings and events space.
Both Iberostar Hotels & Resorts and Meliá Hotels & Resorts’ Paradisus brands have kept themselves high on meeting planners’ lists. The adults-only, all-inclusive Iberostar Grand Paraíso has 310 suites with personalized concierge and butler services. Planners with groups at the Grand Paraíso have access to the Playa Paraíso Convention Center, with 6 large conference rooms with seating for up to 1,200 people, as well as access to the Shopping Center in the five-star Iberostar Playa Paraíso complex, which includes the Paraíso Maya (434 suites) and Paraíso Lindo (448 rooms and suites) resorts. The Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla offers adults-only all-inclusive service in its 394 suites, including 60 swim-ups—the most of any resort in Mexico. Planners will love the Paradisus Playa del Carmen Convention Center, with 25,000 ft² (2,323 m²) of state-of-the-art meeting and convention space large enough to host events of up to 1,500 people. If bringing a group with family members for an event, the adjacent Paradisus La Esmeralda has 122 luxurious Family Concierge Suites and plenty of kid-friendly amenities.
A favorite for incentive groups, the five-star eco-friendly Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort has over all-inclusive 700 rooms and direct access to the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park. The property also has meeting and events facilities for up to 1,290 attendees.
Playacar is a gated community just south of Playa del Carmen. The award-winning Four-Diamond Royal Hideaway Playacar is a sophisticated all-inclusive, all-adult getaway, with 200 elegant rooms and suites. It offers several event and meeting spaces with a maximum capacity of 250 people. Their Chef’s Table Experience is a favorite of C-suite meeting attendees, with a gourmet tasting menu of 12+ courses paired with the best wines served in an intimate room in the kitchen.
The all-inclusive Riu Playacar is fresh from a multi-million-dollar transformation. The entire complex was remodeled, including its 386 rooms and suites. This five-star property is located in a complex with the Riu Palace Riviera Maya, Hotel Riu Yucatan, ClubHotel Tequila and the Hotel Riu Palace Mexico (named “Top Resorts Groups in Mexico”), providing plenty of options for any type of group. The hotels share the facilities at the Playacar Convention Center in the Riu Tequila, with 11,000 ft² (1,022 m²) of meeting space.
In Puerto Aventuras, superstar meetings meet lavish extras at Heaven, the luxury all-inclusive adults-only resort within the 1,264-room Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, with 87,017.57 ft² (8,084 m²) of meetings space and unlimited dining, cocktails and banquets.
Planners booking groups of any size at the Barceló Maya Beach Resort have their choice of five resorts with a total of 2,734 deluxe rooms and suites, with 16 restaurants among them. Events can be planned at the shared Barceló Maya Convention Center with a total of 13 meeting rooms with a total capacity for up to 1,680 people.
If you’re seeking a luxury venue for smaller meetings, the Omni Puerto Aventuras Beach Resort boutique hotel has 30 oversized rooms with indulgent touches such as hammocks on each balcony, plus a 700-sq.-ft. (65-sq.-m.) executive boardroom that sits up to 60 attendees. Guests also have free access to the beautiful 9-hole 36-par Puerto Aventuras jungle golf course designed by Thomas Leman.
Set in a secluded bay, the Unlimited-Luxury all-inclusive Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa boasts an on-site Dolphin Dreams Dolphinarium, complimentary green fees at the nearby Riviera Maya Golf Course and indoor meeting facilities with capacities for up to 250 people at one time, plus a large private terrace and beach areas for events. Due south of Puerto Aventuras in Akumal, the brand-new (March 2017) adults-only UNICO Riviera Maya aims to create a “curated all-inclusive experience” with modern facilities and 448 upscale guestrooms (some with swim-up pools) and a convention center with one main ballroom (11,603 ft² / 1,078 m²), 10 breakouts (4,220 ft² / 392 m²) and outdoor event spaces. The adults-only Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya also offers Unlimited-Luxury all-inclusive features to its 434 suites with a view—some with swim-out service to the pool from their private terrace—plus the aforementioned complimentary green fees at the Riviera Maya Golf Course. It has dedicated meeting space with theater seating for up to 600 and an extensive beach area for private gala dinners.
Looking for something extraordinary and off the beaten path? The Explorean Kohunlich in the jungle of Chetumal is ideal for a corporate buy-out. It has 40 luxury bungalows and a meeting room for about 20-30 people, though because of the nature of the property and surroundings it’s more ideal for one-of-a-kind team-building events.
Besides the stellar meeting facilities in the Riviera Maya’s myriad hotels, there are local restaurants that can host small to medium groups, such as the Ajua Maya in Playa del Carmen and golf courses such as the El Camaleón Mayakoba and the Iberostar Golf Course, with capacities for up to 500 people.
Experiencias Xcaret has the market cornered when it comes to venues with a twist for groups in the Riviera Maya. Through their office Xcaret Groups, planners will find added-value for their events at parks such as Xel-Há, Xcaret, Xplor, Xenotes Oasis Maya, Xoximilco and Xichén that include food, beverage, entertainment and more for groups of 20 to 6,000 (think pristine fresh-water sinkholes, flat-bottomed boats floating on lagoons, turtle sanctuaries, dolphin swims, zip-lines and more).
Corporate events, private cocktails, food tastings with wine pairings, musical performances with their amazing cadre of artists and dancers, water activities, the option of private use of Xplore Fuego at night and much more are available through this one office. And these aren't just any venues.
Xcaret, for example, is an eco-archaeological natural sanctuary, where (among many other venues) they can set up a private presentation of the Xcaret México Espectacular performance in the Gran Tlachco Theater with dinner service (max capacity 6,000) or prepare a more intimate cocktail with dinner at the Escollera lookout with views of the Caribbean Sea. At Xel-Há, the Lighthouse facing spectacular landscape by the Caribbean Sea can host cocktail parties for up to 300, while a setup on the bridge over the lagoon at the Bar del Puente can host 90 people for a cocktail.
Outside this group of parks, Playa del Carmen is as cosmopolitan as a former small fisherman’s village can get. Shopping (high-brow and low), restaurants from taco stands to international cuisine, bars, hotels, cafés and much more await visitors. Famous for its beaches and snorkeling, towns like Akumal offer the possibility of snorkeling with sea turtles and multicolored fish, while Tulum offers that plus the added glory of a majestic Mayan ruins on a bluff overlooking the sea. Of course, deep-sea fishing and sunset cruises are on the menu, and, as with any self-respecting Mexican Caribbean destination, there is championship golf on tap at designer courses such as the Playacar Golf Club, El Camaleón Mayakoba, and the Iberostar’s Playa Paraíso Golf Club.
Coming Up: AMResorts is set to open the 500-room Breathless Playa del Carmen Resort & Spa, the 200-room Breathless Impression Playa del Carmen, the 534-room Now Riviera Cancun, the 400-room Sunscape Cancun and the 426-room Breathless Cancun in 2018. A Secrets Riviera Cancun is also in the works for 2019. Construction has resumed on the Riviera Maya Kanai project in Puerto Juarez with opening dates projected for 2018 for a 156-room-and-villa St. Regis Kanai Resort (with 15,000 ft² / 1,394 m² of event space), a 180-room W Kanai Retreat (with 7,500 ft² / 697 m² of event space), and a 224-room Park Hyatt property.