South of Cancun about 90-minutes are Maya ruins which offer a glimpse at the life there from around 500 to 1500 AD. The spread of remains is highlighted by El Castillo (The Castle), the largest structure on the hallowed grounds. Once a holy building and lighthouse, it’s almost 30-feet tall and sits on a high cliff overlooking a white sugar beach with aqua ocean. This place remains one of the special places in the world today — imagine its calm days before foreign explorers arrived in the 16th century.
It doesn’t take long to fall in love with the stretch of coast from Cancun to Tulum — it is without a doubt one of the world’s best destinations — quality golf there is salt on the rim of a margarita. We stayed in the all-inclusive Bahia Principe Luxury Akumal which is about 25 minutes north of the Tulum ruins. It was one of two all-inclusive resorts we stayed at during our 10 December days in Mexico. We’ll leave the shaming to the Yelpers because it’s not our style, but we can confirm the Bahia Principe was better than the other. Everything at Bahia Principe was served with a little more effort and care — the food was better, more of the resort’s offerings were open and the staff was undeniably friendlier.
Most massive resorts with several square miles of swimming pools and buffets take some investigation to understand the property and what it has to offer. This sprawling property is the same — it’s essentially four resorts within the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya Resort:
- Bahia Principe Luxury Akumal
- Bahia Principe Luxury Sian Ka’an
- Bahia Principe Grand Coba
- Bahia Principe Grand Tulum
There are subtle differences among them, but you’d have to sample the pine coladas at the swim-up bars to decide which is best for you — it’s a tough call. There are other Bahia Principe’s around the world in Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Spain — they’re very talented at hospitality. It feels like their servers, bartenders and front desk staff are genuinely happy to be there.
Along with infinity pools, tequila bars, beach lounges and other resort comforts is the best of all — the PGA Riviera Maya Golf Club. The Robert Trent Jones II design is painted with the reasons people visit the Yucatán Peninsula. The golf course is a wander through the jungle with cenotes, ups-and-downs, mangrove lagoons and limestone cliffs. A lovely layout is matched by even better course conditioning — the greens are smoother than a Freddy Couples golf swing.
In addition to the resort — there is a real estate component for those that want to play the golf course and relish in the Riviera Maya forever. A casita here starts at around $500,000 USD — worth every penny and peso.
One of the worst problems of the Pandemic is that its cast a grumpy shadow over the world, but it hasn’t marred the spirit of the people in the Riviera Maya. They remain gentile, kind and full of joy.