Back in 2017, the opening party weekend for the then-brand new Unico 2087 Hotel Riviera Maya was, in a word, legendary. It started with endlessly flowing bubbly in a swim-out Estancia Suite while DJs spun throughout the property. It didn't stop until we had lavishly brunched, beached and closed it all down with sultry nightcaps at the Cuban-inspired Palmera Lounge. This experience was the benchmark by which I judged all other luxury all-inclusive resorts, because, at the time, Unico 2087 Hotel Riviera Maya was truly a game-changer in the luxury all-inclusive category.
When the resort opened, it billed itself as fun, fresh, youthful, but most importantly, all about the inclusions under its Unlimited Inclusions promotion. This meant that everything -- everything -- was to be included, even select spa treatments and excursions. As of April 2021, however, the resort did away with the promotion, which left the question, "is it going to be the same Unico?"
The check-in area, where guests can relax with a welcome drink. Photo Credit: Meagan Drillinger
To my relief (and delight), when I revisited the resort in November, it was pretty much exactly as I remembered it.
It started with a knock at the door of our Estancia Suite -- this time, ocean-facing and on a higher floor so that we had a soaking tub instead of a swim-out pool. A bottle of sparkling wine had arrived, which was the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of lounging on the sprawling terrace in a signature Unico 2087 bathrobe. If you haven't tried these robes yet, it's something that needs to be experienced. The hooded robes are made of sweatshirt material, making them extra cozy. Coupled with a glass of bubbles, it's easy to slip into the resort's approachably luxe vibe immediately.
We continued to eat like royalty on this stay. From the decadent a la carte breakfasts at 2087 restaurant to the fresh Japanese fare at Mura House, the quality of dining for an all-inclusive at the Unico 2087 Hotel Riviera Maya is what hooked me from the beginning. The resort has also brought on award-winning cookbook author and chef Lula Martin Del Campo as its next celebrity chef at Mexican restaurant Cueva Siete. Del Campo is the first woman to take the baton as part of the rotating-chef restaurant concept. Her stewardship began in September, and she will be the resident celebrity chef until fall of next year.
The view from the terrace of a one-bedroom Estancia Suite. All rooms above the first floor have outdoor soaking tubs. Photo Credit: Meagan Drillinger
One word of advice: Do not book your clients for dinner at 2087. While the restaurant is perfectly wonderful for breakfast and brunch, the dinner experience is a miss in my book. Try to prearrange a dinner reservation at any of the specialty restaurants, like Mi Carisa, Cueva Siete or Mura House.
Another new program the resort launched is Balcony Concerts. This surprise amenity features a pop-up, candlelit concert for guests to enjoy from their balconies. The concerts only pop up as a surprise and are available to one building at a time. Those who are the lucky guests for the evening will receive a special invitation the day of the show with details on how to enjoy the performance.
Embracing social experiences
While experiences are no longer included in the stay, those that the resort has available are fairly priced and can be an easy add-on to the trip. We opted for the Wine Tasting and Charcuterie, which costs $120 per couple and features a selection of five wines, paired with cheeses and cured meats. It was a fun way to meet other couples at the resort, which is one of the reasons I loved Unico in the first place -- the social aspect of it. Of course, the experiences can be booked privately for those who are more comfortable keeping things socially distant.
Speaking of social distancing, the resort has adapted to pandemic requirements. That includes sanitization stations and temperature checks as well as spacing out dinner and gym reservations. Reservations are required for dinner and for the fitness center to enable proper social distancing.
All in all, returning to Unico was a welcome reprieve from the hum and grind of a still-wonky "new" daily life. Knowing that I could count on the comforts and quality that I held in such high regard was exactly what I needed. And even though there are aspects of the resort that are different from when it first opened, its vivacious spirit and approachably elegant energy have not been diminished in the least.
Rates at the Unico 2087 Hotel Riviera Maya start at $650 per night, double.