A Riviera Maya empire expands with Hotel Xcaret Mexico

The Hotel Xcaret makes use of the area’s natural cave and river systems.
The Hotel Xcaret makes use of the area’s natural cave and river systems.

The jungles of the Riviera Maya are known for the lost empire hidden within them. For more than 3,000 years, the Mayan people ruled the jungles of southern Mexico and into Central America.

So it seems only fitting that Experiencias Xcaret Group, the company behind the seven ecoparks devoted to Mexican and Mayan culture, history and heritage, is expanding its own empire within that very same jungle. If seven theme parks were not enough, the group has opened its first all-inclusive hotel, and that is only the beginning.

The lighthouse/waterslide at Xel-Ha; admission to this and other Experiencias Xcaret parks is included in the room rate.
The lighthouse/waterslide at Xel-Ha; admission to this and other Experiencias Xcaret parks is included in the room rate.

The Hotel Xcaret Mexico officially opened its doors Dec. 1, on the massive jungle compound on the coast of the Riviera Maya that is home to the Xcaret Park. The megaresort has 900 suites spread over five "casas," which each operates like a minihotel.

Arrival at the property is unlike that at any other all-inclusive arrival on the Riviera Maya. The long road to the resort winds its way through the jungle compound, finally ascending a small hill that leads to the lofty-ceilinged, open-air lobby. From the lobby's high perch, guests are greeted with a seemingly endless view over a long infinity pool that leads to the Caribbean Sea.

But this is only the beginning. The resort property itself is built to be reminiscent of the Xcaret Park with a Jurassic Park-meets-Mayan city vibe. The all-suite buildings have facades of rugged white stone, each with a balcony or swim-up terrace and hammock.

The vines are just starting to creep their way around the stony faces, and with time the buildings will be entirely shrouded. An extensive network of paths across the hotel property leads to secret beaches, caves and coves that both kids and adults will love to explore and discover.

One of the main pillars of the resort is its commitment to the environment and sustainability. In fact, the resort was one of the first in the Americas to receive the EarthCheck Certification for planning and design. The property was built around nature, letting the design flow with the natural environment. Beyond that, the resort is committed to highlight what makes it distinctly Mexican. The entire resort was custom-made in Mexico, from the furnishings to the artwork.

The biggest selling point to the resort is that entry to all of Experiencias Xcaret's theme parks is included in the room rate, meaning guests have full access, from transportation to entry to dining. Shuttles run from the lobby every half-hour taking guests to as many parks per day as they wish.

And, coming soon, a trajinera (or Mexican-style riverboat) will take guests via waterway into Xcaret Park. But with endless on-site activities — from beaches to the on-property lagoons and cenotes to a 24-hour fitness center — guests might not even find it necessary to leave.

Accommodations at the Hotel Xcaret Mexico feature either a balcony or swim-up terrace.
Accommodations at the Hotel Xcaret Mexico feature either a balcony or swim-up terrace.

Each of the five casas has its own theme: adults only, luxury adult, family, luxury family and wellness. Most of the ground-floor rooms are swim-up suites. Rainfall showerheads, Jacuzzi tubs, flat-screen TVs and fully stocked minibars are just some of the amenities that guests can expect in-room. Casa Fuego is a luxury, adults-only experience, with its own private gym, restaurant and rooftop infinity pool with bar and daily DJ entertainment.

Gastronomy is another important pillar of the Hotel Xcaret concept, which has truly elevated the all-inclusive dining experience, paying homage to Mexican cuisine's recognition as Intangible Cultural Heritage by Unesco.

Ten restaurants and eight bars are scattered throughout the resort, but center stage is, no doubt, Mercado 17. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this 360-degree culinary tour takes guests through a dining experience similar to a local Mexican market, where chefs grill taquitos, sopes and other Mexican treats at central cooking stations, with stools circling the counter.

Other dining options include a Mexican steakhouse; a poolside seafood restaurant; a family-friendly restaurant with kid-friendly snacks; a pan-Asian restaurant with teppanyaki, sushi and the Mixology Bar; an adults-only Italian restaurant; and more. A must-try is Las Cuevas, a Mexican restaurant cut out of the natural caves below the resort. There is also HA' restaurant, which is available at an additional cost as it's helmed by a Michelin-starred chef.

The spa takes wellness a cut above other all-inclusive resorts. Muluk Spa is built out of the natural caves on the property. Fifteen cabins are tucked inside individual caves, while the hydrotherapy experience includes a Jacuzzi, pool, sauna, steam room and cold and hot pools. A temazcal, a kind of sweat lodge, rounds out the experience.

The takeaway from the Hotel Xcaret Mexico is that it is unlike any other all-inclusive in the market. The hotel truly hits the mark as a family-friendly resort that also caters to adults-only guests. And they aren't stopping there. Over the next few years the company will open an additional 11 hotels, a stadium and two more theme parks, locations and themes to be announced.

Rooms at the Hotel Xcaret Mexico start at $500 per night. See www.hotelxcaret.com/en.


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