Serene respite at the Haven Riviera Cancun

A suite at Hipotels’ Haven Riviera Cancun.
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Hipotels chose an apt name for its first property outside of its native Spain, because in several ways, the Haven Riviera Cancun offers its guests respite in a region more often associated with raucous revelry than tranquil seclusion.

In that regard, location plays a key role. It's about a 15-minute drive from Cancun Airport to the resort's lobby, five minutes of which is spent on a gated, speed-bumped private road with signs warning to look out for crocodiles and other fauna (the Haven is located on a 250-acre plot that's part of a national protected area). For the time being anyway, it doesn't have many hotel neighbors along its stretch of shoreline, and the heart of Cancun's hotel zone is about a half-hour drive north. 

The adults-only, all-inclusive resort doesn't offer motorized watersports, and other daytime activities tend toward the sedate: paddleboarding and mixology, yes; aqua aerobics and foam parties, no. 

Nightlife is fairly tame, as well, with performances at the Moons cabaret theater and Docks pool bar. During my recent hosted stay, we watched two Moons performances: My favorite was a playful, PG-rated take on burlesque, with a prerecorded soundtrack heavily inspired by "Moulin Rouge."

The Haven's 333 rooms are divided into 13 categories, all featuring king-size beds; minifridges generously stocked with soft drinks, bottled water and beer; and as befits a newbuild property that opened last year, plentiful bedside electrical outlets and fast, reliable WiFi. Common areas are confined to the resort's central building, leaving the guestroom buildings free of excess foot traffic and helping to keep noise to a minimum. 

Most of the accommodations fall under the various Serenity Club oceanfront room categories, which include VIP amenities such as an exclusive check-in area, butler service, pillow and aromatherapy menus and access to the Serenity Club Lounge, where premium wines and spirits and snacks are available throughout the day. My Serenity Club swim-up suite offered a fantastic sunrise view.

Serenity Club guests and those who pay for massages have complimentary access to the hydrotherapy circuit at the resort’s spa.
Serenity Club guests and those who pay for massages have complimentary access to the hydrotherapy circuit at the resort’s spa.

One morning I woke up well before dawn and tried out the Haven's well-equipped gym (open 24/7), which made the 50-minute aromatherapy massage I received later that day ($165) all the more appreciated. The resort's 15,700-square-foot spa features a variety of treatment rooms, and Serenity Club guests also enjoy complimentary access to the eight-pool hydrotherapy circuit (other guests who pay for a massage also can use the hydrotherapy facility). Other spa center facilities include a Luxury Bridal Suite with manicure and makeup stations and a dressing area. 

On the subject of matrimony, the resort features a number of spaces suitable for wedding ceremonies and other events; for ceremonies, I was particularly impressed with the top-floor Sunset Terrace, and for receptions, the large, ocean-facing space outside the Vora Mar Grill restaurant seemed ideal.

(Event options will increase considerably with the addition of a 25,000-square-foot convention center, announced last month and set for completion next fall.)

The Haven has seven restaurants (all with open kitchens and none requiring reservations) plus the Mocaccino coffee bar and pastry shop. Vora Mar serves a variety of fish and other seafood grilled over charcoal and offers Spanish-inspired appetizers such as octopus carpaccio and ham and chicken croquettes.

During my stay, our group also sampled Satsu, where two huge sushi boats were just the start of an epic meal inspired by Japanese, Indian and other Asian cuisines; and Agua Bendita, serving steaks and other grilled items as well as Mexican dishes. Our final night was spent at flagship restaurant Olios, where highlights include a seared-tuna appetizer and lasagna with smoked cream and crispy Parmesan. 

Olios is the flagship restaurant at the Haven Riviera Cancun.
Olios is the flagship restaurant at the Haven Riviera Cancun.

For breakfast, options abounded at the food-hall-inspired Flavours buffet, but I skipped the omelet station and other made-to-order sections and headed straight for the tamales and chilaquiles. Another morning, I sampled the resort's 24/7 room service, skipping my usual huevos rancheros and going with my butler's recommendation of huevos motulenos (tortillas topped with eggs, beans and red salsa). I think I might have a new favorite Mexican breakfast. 

For those looking to venture off property, the resort offers a number of the usual Cancun/Riviera Maya excursions via destination management company Amstar: snorkeling, trips to Chichen Itza or Tulum, ATV/ziplining adventures and more. 

Our group took a catamaran tour that included a quick snorkeling stop and beach time on Isla Mujeres, which bustled with tourists and moderately pushy vendors of the usual single-entendre T-shirts, knickknacks and other souvenirs. 

It's all part of the fun of visiting a popular Mexican beach destination, of course, but I was happy knowing that at the end of the day, the tranquility of the Haven awaited. 

Get hip to Haven

The Haven Riviera Cancun offers an educational course for travel advisors. Those who complete the course receive one complimentary night, which can be combined with other travel agent offers. 

The property also offers agents fam rates for a minimum three-night stay. For more information, see www.havenresortsacademy.com.

Through Feb. 29, the resort is offering a Fall Into Relaxation Parents Getaway Package, which includes a chilled bottle of rose upon arrival, a couples spa experience, a private four-course dinner and more. The package can be added on to any reservation of at least three nights for an additional $500. 

Rates at the Haven Riviera Cancun begin at $585 for a gardenview junior suite in low season, $991 in high season; for a Serenity Club oceanfront swim-up suite, rates start at $1,080 in low season, $1,400 in high season.

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