All-inclusive exploration at Live Aqua Boutique Resort

The rooftop lounge at the Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen.
The rooftop lounge at the Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen.

All-inclusives are not for everyone. While the convenience of an all-inclusive is a key draw for many travelers, especially those simply looking to enjoy a beautiful beach, such resorts can feel restrictive for travelers who want to get out, see and do.

Enter Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen. A member of La Coleccion, an exclusive group of hand-picked luxury resorts under the Grupo Posadas umbrella, Live Aqua Boutique Resort is one of Playa del Carmen's only all-inclusive hotels that puts guests at the heart of the action.

Located directly on 5th Avenue, Live Aqua Boutique Resort is a 60-room, boutique-style resort that flies under the Live Aqua flag,and just happens to be one of my favorite hotels in Playa del Carmen. It is truly the best of both worlds: the perks of an all-inclusive with a location that allows guests to get out and explore.

The 60-room hotel has four room categories: Deluxe, Junior Suite, Master Suite and the luxurious Fifth Avenue Suite, which looks out over the bustling thoroughfare from its expansive patio (complete with Jacuzzi). Each room is minimalist in style, with wood and steel accents, black bathrooms, 46-inch LCD televisions and more. All rooms include unlimited meals and beverages, 24-hour room service and free WiFi.

Guests enter the adults-only hotel through a spacious central courtyard, which has the main restaurant, El Mural, as well as reception, the spa and a small fitness center. Keep an eye out for the three resident turtles that live in the small pond in the courtyard. El Mural is the heart and soul of the hotel, backed by a brilliantly colored (you guessed it) mural that takes up one of the massive walls. El Mural serves breakfast and lunch daily, as well as dinner that covers international, Mexican and Asian cuisine.

The crown of the hotel is its rooftop. It's marked by a chic lounge space that surrounds the pool, with hanging Bali-style pod lounge chairs. This is the social hub of the hotel, where groups of singles or young couples spend the day lounging on daybeds, sipping cocktails from the bar or snacking on ceviche or sushi from the Sushi & Tapas restaurant. Sushi & Tapas has views over the Caribbean and a sleek, fun atmosphere. The menu is original tapas dishes created by the chef, as well as a selection of fresh sushi.

Just outside the front entrance is famous 5th Avenue, putting most everything visitors will want to see and do within walking distance: bars, restaurants, the beach, galleries and shopping. For visitors who want beach time, Live Aqua Boutique Resort has an arrangement with nearby Mamitas Beach Club so that guests can have access to the beach at a discount price.

This hotel is perfect for groups of friends or couples. It has a sophisticated, low-key, social vibe without being over the top, but is close enough to the party action for travelers who are looking to let loose.

Rates start at $225 per night. 

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