We were hellbent on an easy, one-week romantic getaway to some place warm, and we made a "must" list:
Requirements for a Romantic Getaway1. Our romantic getaway had to be a direct flight of under four hours from our home, New York City. So tiny Caribbean islands were out. Ditto Hawaii.
2. We wanted a relaxed beach far away from jello shooters and car alarms. Goodbye, Florida.
3. It couldn’t be expensive. Ciao, Bermuda and Barbados.
4. Our romantic getaway required great food. Richard and I looked at each other. "Mexico," we both said. We looked on a map and saw how close to the East Coast the Yucatan Pensinsula is, with Cancun at its tip.
5. Cancun didn't satisfy our 5th condition: no spring breakers.
Then I remembered that friends had told us about a wonderful romantic getaway south of Cancun. Online I discovered that this region is called the Riviera Maya, and its 100-mile Caribbean coastline from Cancun to Tulum is dotted with resorts. Photos showed palm-tree-shaded, white sand beaches…no casinos, glitz or honky-tonk.
But Riviera Maya resorts all seemed to be all-inclusives. Uh-oh. We'd both been to all-inclusives before we met. Richard hadn't liked the singles-bar atmosphere, and the one I'd gone to had lousy food. But since the Riviera Maya satisfied everything on our romantic getaway "must" list, I decided to find out more about its all-inclusives.
Iberostar Hotel Catches Our EyeThe search narrowed down.
One Riviera Maya all-inclusive absolutely stood out on all the message boards, chat rooms and hotel-rating websites. Almost everyone who wrote about this place--the Iberostar Playa Paraiso--totally raved about it. And whenever someone posted a lukewarm report, ten people wrote in to say that that reviewer was crazy.
The Iberostar isn't your garden-variety all-inclusive, everyone said. The consensus was that the Iberostar is a fabulous resort where everything, including booze, tips and transfers, happens to be covered in one price. And everyone said that unlike most all-inclusives, the Iberostar's restaurants are awesome. Among the "ravers" were numerous newlyweds, who wrote in to say that their Mexico wedding and/or honeymoon at the Iberostar exceeded their and their guests' expectations.
Now, I've been around some perfectionistic, control-freak, "my perfect wedding" brides. I may have been one myself. And if Iberostar hotels were good enough for these Internet Bridezillas, it was certainly good enough for my wood anniversary. You could say that the idea of an easy, delicious, all-inclusive 5th anniversary romantic getaway in Mexico had me at "hola."
I did a little more homework on Iberostar's Web site. I learned that Iberostar Hotels & Resorts is a growing Spanish company with close to a hundred all-inclusive properties. It started out on the Spanish islands, expanded to Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Croatia and North Africa, and recently launched in the New World, especially the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
Side-by-Side Iberostar ResortsIberostar's seven Mexican resorts are concentrated in the Riviera Maya, with the newest being four side-by-side resorts on a beach called Playa Paraiso. Hmm, I thought: This four-in-one Iberostar hotel deal is only a half hour from the Cancun airport, and it gives you a lot of choices, as guests have four resorts' facilities to enjoy.
Amongst the four hotels in the complex, the new Paraiso Maya, opened in December 2004, boasts slightly larger rooms and private pools for each of its residential buildings. Nice. I also noted that Paraiso Maya guests have the option to dine in any of the many restaurants in the Iberostar Playa Paraiso complex. Iberostar hotel going, going gone…Sold! to the hungry couple with the 5th anniversary romantic getaway plans.
We selected our vacation week—in late May, before Memorial Day, before kids get out of school and before the Yucatan gets summer-steamy. A slew of competitive Iberostar Paraiso Maya deals started cropping up online.
The Iberostar is serviced by many packagers including American Airlines Vacations, Liberty Travel,, and Apple Vacations. In fact, Apple Vacations, one of America's largest tour operators, awarded Iberostar its "Best Hotel Chain Award."