The Riviera Maya is a stretch of land along the Caribbean coastline of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Located in the northeast corner of the Yucatan Peninsula, it encompasses the cities of Puerto Morelos, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Felipe Carillo Puerto. The Riviera Maya was originally called the Cancun-Tulum Corridor until its renaming and subsequent promotion as a tourism district in 1999. Now, the Riviera Maya is considered a "luxury product," and attracts large groups and visitors in search of adventure and a sunny respite.
Although it is only 30 miles to the north, Cancun is not part of the Riviera Maya. And, despite Cancun being a larger city, Riviera Maya has more hotel rooms. Although there are many hotels that are considered part of the Riviera Maya, they are technically in different cities. International meetings are frequently held in this region due to its accessibility (many U.S. airlines offer direct flights to the Cancun International Airport) and modern meeting facilities. Most planners meeting in the area use a destination management company to coordinate their programs.
Entry requirements: Passport is required for U.S. Citizens.
Language: Even though Spanish is predominately spoken in the area, the Mayan language also is used.
Time zone: The Riviera Maya is on U.S. Central Standard Time, GMT -6.
Climate: The average year-round temperature is 86 degrees (F°).
Currency: The Mexican peso is the official currency, but the U.S. dollar (USD) and credit cards are widely accepted. However, there are some merchants that do not accept the dollar. Pesos can be obtained through the airport's exchange counter, banks, ATMs, hotels and stores. Pesos and dollars use the same symbol. To distinguish between prices, look for USD or MN (Mexican note) following the figure.
Phone: The country code for Mexico is 52. To call outside of the local area, but within Mexico, dial 01, then the three-digit area code. To call a cell phone from a land line within Mexico, dial 044, then the three-digit area code.
Gratuities: 10 to 15 percent gratuity is customary. However, when staying at an all-inclusive property, ask the concierge if tips are expected.
Electronics: Standard electrical outlets are used; however, some are not fitted for three-prong plugs.
The Barcelo Maya Beach Resort is an all-inclusive resort complex comprising a natural park and five hotels: Barcelo Maya Beach, Barcelo Maya Caribe Beach, Barcelo Maya Colonial Beach, Barcelo Maya Tropical Beach and Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe. With all hotels in the resort built or refurbished in 2005 or later, the complex includes 2,741 guest rooms, over 55,000 square feet of meeting and event space, 43 restaurants and bars, three theaters, a chapel and a 24-hour medical center. Also on-site is the Barcelo Maya Convention Center, which has space for up to 1,400 guests. Amenities include A/V equipment and services, catering, administrative support and more.
The AAA Five-Diamond Fairmont Mayakoba is a member of the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (WHA), an organization that promotes conservation, sustainable tourism, and economic development for communities located in and around UNESCO World Heritage sites. Through the resort’s “green partnership,” planners can incorporate sustainable menus, recycling initiatives, ecotourism options and more into their programs. In addition to the resort’s 401 rooms, which are located throughout the property in two-story casitas (some with oceanfront views) and traditional low-rise buildings, there is 40,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor meeting space. Other amenities include several Mexican and international restaurants, a 20-room spa, an 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course, five swimming pools, and private beach access with views of Cancun and Cozumel. Groups staying at the resort also have access to an on-site DMC, resort-based transportation such as golf carts and lanchas (boats), BMW bicycles and a fleet of luxury automobiles.
In the heart of downtown Playa Del Carmen, Fifth Avenue is a bustling, red brick-paved pedestrian street packed with several stores, including the high-end department store Liverpool, souvenir shops, street vendors and open air restaurants. It makes for a fun day trip, but the street really comes alive at night. Mexico is considered the birthplace of real chocolate, so it only makes sense to incorporate it into your event. Ah Cacao Real Chocolate is a café that specializes in artisan-made premium cacao and chocolate products. The TripAdvisor Popularity Index ranked it as the second-most popular (out of 286) restaurant in the Riviera Maya.
Ajua Maya Restaurant is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. With its live Latin jazz, bohemian gardens and palapa dining, this five-star restaurant specializes in seafood, steak, authentic Mayan and Mexican cuisine and 19th century French-influenced Mestizo fare served by dancing waiters.
Go on a tour led by a native guide. Your group will likely learn more about the Mayan culture during a two-hour tour than they will their entire stay. Riviera Maya has many nature theme parks that make for informative and exciting day trips. Ask your DMC for suggestions, or visit websites such as travelyucatan.com or locogringo.com.
Take the 45-minute ferry ride to Cozumel, a popular diving and snorkeling destination, where groups can explore the jungle on ATVs, ride horses and Segways along the beach or swim with the dolphins, and more. All Tour Native is an adventure travel and ecotourism company that connects tourists to the region’s indigenous Mayan communities via exhilarating day tours. Their Jungle Maya Expedition, which includes zip lining, mountain biking, snorkeling and cavern swimming, is an exciting way to include sustainable tourism in your event agenda. Trekking through ancient Mayan ruins are also popular group activities, as there are numerous sites to explore in the area. Chichen Itza is among Mexico’s most famous ruins and is home to El Castillo, also known as the Pyramid of Kukulkan. Other nearby ruins include Chacchoben, Chac Mool, Coba, Mayapan, Kohunlich, Dzibanche and Oxtankah.