We've got the travel jitters. The good kind.
We've not been to the Cancun / Riviera Maya region of Mexico so are excitedly nervous over what to expect. It's an incredibly popular travel destination, and we're hoping it lives up. All this talk of the most beautiful white sand beaches, and the best resorts, and non-stop nightlife has us a tad concerned. Sometimes we agree wholeheartedly when finally making it to a well traveled, popular destination (hello, Hawaii), and sometimes we fail to see the fascination.
This is a biggie, though, because lots of people we love, love this place.
Right now, we're descending through a gorgeous sunset into the Cancun airport, so we'll soon have an initial impression. And a margarita.
First impression. Amazing.
Riviera Maya isn't the only "first" associated with this journey. Believe it or not, we've never stayed at an all-inclusive resort. We might be the only travel writers we know getting around to this indulgent experience so late in the game.
Okay, so here was our check-in experience at the Royalton Riviera Resort.
Warm neck pillows.
The tying on of the telltale all-inclusive braclet.
We're here on an Expedia assignment (for whom we write), and part of the visit is about checking out an Expedia +VIP Access property. What does it mean to be an Expedia +VIP Access property? Lots of perks such as outstanding service and complimentary upgrades. Plus if you're an Expedia Rewards +Silver or +Gold member, you have the chance for even more fun stuff: a welcome gift, free parking, early check in, etc.
The excitement on Kent's face is because we've just learned that we've been assigned to the Hideaway – adults only – section of the hotel. But wait; there's more. We also get to try out the resorts Diamond Club services. We're told to expect private butler service, prioroty access to restaurants, and all sorts of other nice-to-haves that will pop up during our stay.
Dreamy, just dreamy.
As much as we'd like to spend our days chilling out at our Riviera Maya resort, we can't. What we're really here for is to get a taste of Expedia's selection of activities in the area. Of course you know that Expedia offers flights, hotels, cars, etc. But you may not know that you can also book all of your on-the-ground fun right on Expedia's website.
On our first full day here, we got up early and took part in Expedia's Tulum Express tour. We were scooped up in a clean, comfortable fan and – along with about 15 other people – escorted to this popular, clifftop archaeological site.
One of the rare cities constructed by the Mayans, we enjoyed our informative tour and had plenty of time to kick around the historic area on our own.
The number one rated activity in the Cancun / Riviera Maya region is often Xcaret Park. Noticing it was one of our Riviera Maya activity options on Expedia, we jumped on the chance to see it for ourselves.
Described as a "rare sample of Mexico’s finest traditions in a single park." our experience delivered. We could have spent days checking out the different activities and simply lounging on the prime beachfront property that Xcaret occupies. Yes, you can spend part of your time chilling out here.
Interestingly, what we enjoyed most was our meal at La Cocina, one of Xcaret's many dining options. The Mexican food was just as described – authentic. That, coming from two Mexican food snobs.
As was the case with yesterday's Tulum tour, we got whisked back to our resort at the end of the day – all part of our Expedia-booked package.
Clearly, we've had a good run of activities, making relaxing sound that much more appealing. Finally, we had some time to lean into the beachfront haven that is our hotel. This morning we walked the entire footprint of the resort, had a long workout in the multi-story gym, pool-hopped, and devoured a leisurely breakfast of buttery, fluffy blueberry-pecan pancakes.
Because we needed energy for our evening, we had a low-key afternoon, lazing around and getting some work done. After an early dinner, Expedia's vendor picked us up for an evening strolling hoppin' 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen. We capped off our night with a visit to the super-charged show and dance extravaganza, Coco Bongo .
Words cannot describe it. Just go!
Our time on the Yucatan Peninsula has (regrettably) already come to an end. On the positive side, though, we knew that our pre-arranged airport transfer would free us of any worry. As expected – actually, before expected – our driver was waiting to ensure we got to the Cancun airport hassle free. What we really appreciated is that he went so far as to tell us what to expect once inside. He even gave us specific directions to the American Airlines counter. Be sure you check out both shared and private transfer options when booking your Expedia vacation to Cancun / Riviera Maya.
On the plane back home we discussed how nice it was to have all of our logisitics taken care of via the activities we experienced. Not being planned tour guys (yeah, that was another first), we really saw the value and convenience in simply putting our trust in the hands of others.
UPDATE: You can also check out Expedia's video-overview of the experience.