Written By: Geoff Millar, Owner, Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel Inc.
This month we are going to do things a little differently. Instead of focusing on a large resort chain we are going to look at two individual resorts that have opened and appear to be the start of new very successful resort chains. The resorts are the new Xcaret Hotel/Resort and the new adult only Haven Resort. These are the first resorts in these 2 soon to be resort chains. They are both located in the Riviera Maya area of Mexico. The Xcaret Hotel is located inside the Xcaret Park, a very popular nature park and the Haven is located in the Riviera Maya area just south of the Moon Palace Complex, a short drive from the airport.
We will first look at the Xcaret Hotel. This resort reflects a modern, Mayan, Mexican design both outside and inside. It is surrounded by the jungle of the fantastic Xcaret Park, incorporating local cenotes, rivers, and the ocean in its design. It is nice to see a new one of a kind resort and experience rise in a world of cookie cutter type resorts. Its acceptance by the public has been phenomenal and the resort is one of the hardest to book because it is continually sold out, especially during the high seasons. It also does something no other resort does. It includes unlimited entrance to 8 different ecological parks in the area including such well-known ones as Xcaret Park, Xel-Ha Park, and Xenotes Park. The resort has won the prestigious award, the earth check certification for sustainable architecture and building practices. Their buildings or Casas are each named after a natural element in the Mayan culture. It was very important to build a resort that was not only upscale and comfortable but also stayed true to nature and the Mayan culture. All these elements are showcased throughout the resort. I can say from personal experience that from all the clients we have booked at the resort we have never had a bad review of any of the elements of the resort. Even though it has only been open for just less than 2 years we have had numerous clients that have booked this resort more than once. I do have to say that if your clients are only going to a resort for the beach, this may not be the best one for them as the beach is nice but very small. The draw of the resort is the fact that there are so many different experiences here that the beach becomes only one of them. This resort has become so popular that there are now plans for 2 more of them.
Accommodations range from Suite, what they call their standard room. They come with a king bed or two double beds and a pull out sofa. They have a garden view, but it is a great one, an Ocean view, and Ocean front. They allow 2 adults and 2 kids or 3 adults. All Suites have a hammock on the patio. Next is the Jr. Suite level. These are 1,350 sq. ft Suites with a separate bedroom. They come with butler service and sleep 2 adults and 2 children or 3 adults. These come with garden or river view. Next is the Adult only Jr. Suite.
These are Ocean Front and can sleep up to 3 adults. These also come with Butler Service. They have a Jr. Suite Spa room. It is identical to the other Jr. Suites but comes with a 50 minute spa treatment for 2, minimum 3 night stay. These are also adult only and can sleep up to 3 adults. The next Suite level is the Swim-up Suite which is the standard room with pool entry from your patio. These rooms are the same size and layout as the standard Suites. They hold 2 adults and 2 children or 3 adults. There are swim-up garden view and Swim-up ocean front. The last category is the Master Suites They are made of the adult only Presidential Suites, the Presidential Family Suites, and the Family Master Suites. The adult only Presidential Suites are 2,476 sq. ft with 2 bedrooms and a sleeper sofa. It will hold 5 people. It has a private pool and butler service and spa treatments for 2 people. These are Ocean Front. The Presidential Family Suites are 1.356 sq. ft with 2 bedrooms, a private pool and butler service. They hold 5 adults, 2 adults and 3 children, or 1 adult and 4 children. They come with spa treatments for 2 people. The last Master Suite is the Family Master Suite. They are 2,476 sq. ft. with 2 bedrooms and a sleeper sofa. They have a pool view. They sleep 5 adults, 2 adults and 3 children, 1 adult and 4 children. They come with spa treatments for 2 people.
Dining offers 10 different choices ranging from 2 Mexican A La Carte restaurants, a French restaurant, a buffet, a tasting menu, Asian, Mediterranean, a Grill, Vegan & Vegetarian. There are 8 bars from the Lobby bar and Swim-up bar, to the Roof-top bar and the Spa bar. You can make reservations ahead of time, even when you book.
Activities are the name of the game at this resort. They call it their All-Fun inclusive with unlimited entry to 8 eco parks in the area including transportation. These parks include, snorkeling, zip lining, ATV tours, Biking, swimming, underground rivers, Jet boats, A Mayan Village, Nighttime activities such as zip-lining, ATV riding along torch lit paths, and even a show and dinner along a river on a Gondola. There is swimming in a Cenote. Some of the parks require reservations which can be made ahead of time. At the resort, there is a great kid’s club for kids 4-12, a ton of pools, a river, and a beach on the ocean. You can paddleboard, kayak, there is tennis and paddleboard. There is a great Spa with a wide variety of treatments. You can get your exercise in at the fully stocked gym.
This resort is a great fit for the active family or the active couple. It is a very nice upscale resort with a price that fits that market. If someone just wants to go and lie on the beach, this may not be the best fit. It is for that client that wants luxury, great food, and all the activities they can handle.
The next resort we will look at is the new Haven Adult only Resort. This resort was opened toward the end of 2018. As with most new resorts it went through some growing pains and the reviews tended to be mixed. As they got over the learning curve, they now have their act together and the reviews are becoming overwhelmingly positive. This resort is at the luxury level and as we were told by the management they were shooting for the same ratings as the Grand Velas Resorts which have a AAA 5 diamond rating. When we visited the resort was just finishing construction and was in the soft opening mode. We were struck by the understated but luxurious look of the resort and how they really took the little details seriously. We all know how some resorts look great on the surface but when you dig down and really look at all the small details, they tend to fall short. Not here.
We have had a number of clients return from the resort recently and all have glowing reviews especially about the level and quality of the service. Two comments stood out from one particular client who is a well-seasoned traveler. He stated that while at dinner they timed the waiter on the amount if time it took him to fill their empty water glass without being asked. He said it was only seconds. He also said they were sitting by the pool drinking wine and their glasses were filled for them without even asking. They also said there were enough lounges by the pool that they did not have to get up early to reserve one. They said the food was some of the best they had ever had. You get the idea; this resort is all about luxury and service. There was one thing they mentioned, it was that if we had clients who were really into being active this may not be the best resort for them, it is more about relaxing and romance. The beach is decent but certainly not the best beach in the Riviera Maya. Their next resort is already planned, it will be an upscale Family resort in the same area. It will provide a complex where destination weddings can take place and accommodations will be available for all guests, family or adult only.
Accommodations consist of all Jr. suites with Jr. Suites with Garden View 452 sq. ft., Partial Ocean View 524 sq. ft. The next level is the Swim-out Jr. Suites with Garden View 452 sq. ft. or partial ocean view 524 sq. ft. There are also Romance Jr. Suites 524 sq. ft. with partial ocean view and swim-out with partial ocean view. Right now, all rooms only come with King beds, so it is considered a Couples only resort. They are looking to provide double beds in some of the lower categories.
The highest level rooms are the Serenity Club Jr. Suites, this is the resorts concierge level with a whole host of additional amenities including:
- Stunning ocean front location and views
- Exclusive Check-in area
- Butler service
- Luxurious King bed with a premium pillow menu and sleep-well kit
- Daily stocked personalized premium mini bar
- Access to the exclusive Serenity Club Lounge, offering premium wines, spirits and various finger food presentations throughout the day
- Premium aromatherapy menu for personal wellness and serenity and Haven signature toiletries
- Daily exclusive a la carte breakfast option served overlooking the ocean or pool
- Invitation-only weekly manager’s cocktail reception
- Special VIP treats delivered nightly from the Managing Director
- 10% discount on Spa treatments, room upgrades, early check in and late check out
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- Secluded beach area with beach butler service
- Additional complimentary green fees at El Tinto golf course nearby
- Complimentary access to the water journey experience and dynamic pool circuit
Dining at the resort offers a wide variety of choices with 6 restaurants and a snack bar. The choices are Mexican, Steakhouse, Mediterranean, an upscale buffet area, Basque, Asian, and a swim-up snack bar as well as 2 other snack bars. As far as drinking, all drinks are top shelf. There are 7 bars including a swim-up bar, as well as beach and pool service. There is 24 hour room service available.
Activities at the resort in include 3 pools including a large beach entry pool. Cooking classes, mixology classes, beach volleyball, Scuba lessons, Yoga, a fantastic spa, nightly entertainment, golf with greens fees included if guests are in the Serenity Club level, and a great wedding dept.
This resort would be great for those that want an upscale romantic or relaxing vacation or get-away with some activities. It may not be the best resort for those who want a very active vacation or getaway. Also, may not be the best for pure beach lovers.