Another gem on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Barceló Riviera Maya delivers intimate service in a big way.

Located a little more than an hour south of Cancun, the all-inclusive Barceló Riviera Maya resort comprises five hotels (Maya Beach, Maya Caribe, Maya Colonial, Maya Tropical, and Maya Palace Deluxe) on a long strip of white sand beach. The 619-acre compound is is large, to say the least, but guests are treated to expert individualized service.

If the palm tree-lined beach and aqua-hued Caribbean aren’t enough to put you in vacation mode, there are numerous swimming pools (some of which are nothing short of enormous) lined with chaise lounges and thatch-roofed outdoor snack and cocktail bars.

A variety of floor plans and suites are available, making it easy to accommodate generations of families as they vacation together. Kids will never know a dull moment, while couples, singles, and newlyweds (Barceló is also becoming a popular place to say “I do”) can eat, drink, and be entertained with a whole host of fun activities. Guests can play tennis, mini golf, basketball, beach volleyball, and bocce, or go diving, snorkeling, and windsurfing. Nature lovers can walk to the end of the long pier at the beach and dive in for a swim with colorful tropical fish. There are daily in-pool aqua aerobics, yoga classes on the beach, and several state-of-the-art fitness centers.

At Maya Colonial, there’s also a complete kids’ water park, though younger guests will have just as much fun in the big-kid pools that are equipped with water jets, countercurrents, slides, and fountains. A teen club has computers and stays open until midnight. The resort also offers child care with one attendant per four kids.

When it’s time to really relax, check out the Barceló Spa, where the Mayan philosophy is incorporated into well-being, health, and beauty treatments. Decide on your treatment and a staff member will pick you up in a golf cart to bring you right to the spa. In addition to traditional spa treatments that include facials, massages, and organic body wraps, the spa menu boasts a series of holistic therapies, including hydrotherapy, Reiki, and Temazcal (a Mayan steam bath that takes place in a dome-shaped building). The unique experience is led by a Shaman who takes the group through a hot detoxing steam bath in a room designed to recreate the feeling of being in the womb. Guests are then “reborn” upon exiting and shower in water heated to body temperature.


Unwind with a beach-side massage

With 25 massage rooms (and massages available at the beach), lymphatic, hot stone, and Shiatsu styles are offered to serve everyone’s need. In the flotation room, guests submerge themselves in a flotation chamber whose water contains salt from the Dead Sea to experience zero gravity while looking up at a simulated starry sky. Kids are never left out, so there’s also a separate spa designed for youngsters that offers manicures, pedicures, hair braiding, and other forms of pampering.

Barceló boasts 24 on-site restaurants that serve a variety of international cuisine, including Caribbean, Brazilian, Asian, French, and Italian. There’s also a beachside grill, but it’s hard to beat the resort’s enormous breakfast and lunch buffets, whose tables are covered with fresh fruit, salads, breads, pastries, cheeses, and various small bites. At designated stations, chefs prepare meat, fish, chicken, Mexican food, omelets, and other delectable choices. Try one of the daily soups or make your own sundae, and a server will bring you juice, cocktails, or a cappuccino.

When nighttime falls, the fun continues at Jaguar, a European-style discothèque where vacationers age 18 and older can dance the night away. There are also several on-site Broadway-style variety shows with music and dancers decked out in festive costumes. Here, your only worry will be missing out on one of Barceló’s countless offerings before it’s time to head home.