With the Pacific on one side and the Caribbean on the other, Mexico is blessed in all things coastal. Hotels and resorts have made good use of it. There are more than 30,000 hotel rooms in Cancun alone, at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. You don’t have to look far to find a world-class all-inclusive here.
But Cancun’s just the start, with all kinds of hotels, from grand resorts to tiny boutique casas, running along the Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo, and many more in the country’s other tourist hotspots, including Baja California Sur and the increasingly popular Riviera Nayarit.
All-inclusives certainly make life easy and enjoyable, and Mexico’s got them nailed, with creatively designed hotels that offer spacious suites, stylish spas and delicious food from around the world, not forgetting authentic and spicy local flavours. The country that invented the margarita is also a dab hand at keeping cool cocktails coming at the poolside.
Main photo: W Punta de Mita (Expedia)
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1. Le Blanc Spa Resort, Cancun
Best for style (and substance)
For those with rudimentary French, the clue’s in the name: this five-star, adults-only, beachfront hotel in Cancun’s Hotel Zone has a striking white exterior, supremely comfortable white suites and a mostly white, 4,000 sq ft spa offering 25 different treatments, giving the resort a sophisticated, crisp and modern feel. The food (from Japanese to French fine dining) is exceptional and there’s plenty of space around the three swimming pools, including a deep-blue infinity pool that looks out onto the beach — a smart choice for romantic breaks.
Price One week from £3,848 (excl flights)
2. Grand Velas Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
Best for impeccable service
Great for couples or families (with both kids’ and teens’ clubs), this outstanding luxury resort on the Baja coast has dramatic ocean views everywhere, from the three swimming pools to the huge (1,100 sq ft and up) suites’ private balconies. With a staff ratio of three to one, service is impeccable, from the personal concierge to waiters across seven gourmet restaurants, where you can tuck into French, Italian and Mexican, including a ten-course tasting menu at Cocina de Autor. Se Spa also has Mexican-influenced treatments and facilities for “water ceremony” hydrotherapy.
Price One week from £6,778 (excl flights)
3. Nizuc Resort & Spa, Cancun
Best for foodies
From the Asian-influenced, open-air reception onwards, Nizuc is a place where it’s easy to take it easy, whether that’s in modern, light-filled suites looking out onto the Caribbean or relaxing with a eucalyptus-infused steam or cacao treatment in the spa. The 29-acre resort outside Cancun has two exclusive beaches (adults-only or family), and five swimming pools. There are six restaurants to explore, from outstanding pan-Asian food at Indochine, to steak and seafood with a sea view at La Punta Grill & Lounge. Each day starts with an overwhelming breakfast buffet and regularly refilled mimosas.
Price One week from £2,499 (excl flights)
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4. Casa de Mita Hotel, Playa Careyeros
Best for authentic Mexican
A pleasant alternative to massive resorts, this beachfront, whitewashed house with thatched roofs has just six rooms and two penthouse suites. Quietly tucked away on the Riviera Nayarit’s Playa Careyeros, rooms are characterful, with hand-carved, chunky wooden furniture, colourfully tiled bathrooms, Mexican paintings and private balconies. There are no set dining times, just your own laid-back schedule, with meals served in-room or on the deck with the sound of crashing waves, including gourmet Mexican cuisine and international dishes using fresh seafood and homegrown fruit and veg.
Price One week from £7,244 (excl flights)
5. Paradisus Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
Best for memorable experiences
Resting between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, this smart-looking Baja hotel has its own crescent-cove beach, four swimming pools, and seven restaurants, from Tokimeku (contemporary Asian, with a different DJ every night) to Mole (after the Mexican choc-chilli sauce, not the burrowing animal), with no shortage of atmospheric cocktail bars to drink in views of the Sea of Cortez. Guests can take part in the hotel’s turtle release programme to help increase populations, with other original activities including vineyard visits, mountain biking, and trips to hard-to-reach beaches.
Price One week from £3,075 (excl flights)
6. UNICO 20°87°, Quintana Roo
Best for youthful energy
It’s perfectly possible to unwind at the Esencia Wellness spa or lay back with a cocktail and chilled Ibiza-style music by one of three swimming pools. But this adults-only resort on the Riviera Maya also has plenty of activities for travellers after a livelier vacation, whether it’s volleyball, pool parties, floating yoga or aqua exercise bike classes, with mixology sessions, salsa lessons and astronomy in the evenings. Modern rooms have ocean-view balconies, and there’s a “street” of bars and restaurants, from Italian to Japanese, with sociable cocktails at elegant Balam Bar.
Price One week from £2,603 (excl flights)
7. Atelier Playa Mujeres, Quintana Roo
Best for golf
If holidays mean time to practice your swing, this adults-only, all-inclusive up the coast from Cancun will appeal. It’s right next to the Playa Mujeres complex’s 7,218-yard, 18-hole golf course, designed by Greg Norman, which makes for quite a stroll, with nine holes next to Chachmuchuch lagoon and nine holes set around the sand dunes. There are 431 cool, modern suites with a variety of private pools, sea-view balconies or rooftop terraces. Restaurants range from modern Mexican to a meaty grill, and you’ll find eight bars, including fifth-floor El Cielo Sky Bar, which looks out onto the Caribbean and the golf course, so you can plot your next round.
Price One week from £2566 (excl flights)
8. Cozumel Palace, Cozumel
Best for scuba divers
Located on the island of Cozumel, a short ferry ride across from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel Palace’s 169 rooms all come with sea views — expect memorable sunsets. There are two swimming pools, three bars, and restaurants ranging from Indian to Mexican. The laid-back island is fun to explore, but the key reason to stay is the hotel’s very own diving school. Situated on the massive Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, Cozumel is famous for scuba diving (Jacques Cousteau was a fan), with remarkable coral sites populated with sharks, turtles, rays and colourful fish.
Price One week from £1944 (excl flights)
9. W Punta de Mita, Riviera Nayarit
Best for colourful design
Beginning with the reception’s bright blue mosaic floor, there’s plenty of vibrant colour across this original resort. The 119 rooms step away from the bland, with bold, technicolour ‘beach chic’ decor, including wire chairs, artworks and surfboards. The elegant main pool has hanging egg chairs, brightly painted cabanas, and views of the Pacific, the beach just steps away. There are six restaurants, including thatch-roofed Chevycheria on the white sand beach and the ultra-exclusive Mesa 1, which has only one table per night for the seven-course tasting menu on a private lake island.
Price One week from £2,744 (excl flights)
10. Occidental at Xcaret Destination Resort, Quintana Roo
Best for active families
Down the Riviera Maya coast from Playa del Carmen, this all-inclusive resort has 765 rooms and suites, 11 restaurants, a wellness spa and its own private beach. There’s plenty on-site to keep young people and families busy, including mini golf, snorkelling, seven swimming pools and a kids’ club. Step next door, though, and there are more than 50 attractions at Xcaret theme park, from underground rivers to a Mexican folk art museum. Book an unlimited package for access to Xcaret and six other popular parks, including Xenses, an outdoor amusement park designed around the senses.
Price One week from £1,600 (excl flights)
11. Palmaïa, Quintana Roo
Best for vegan food
Just beyond lively Playa del Carmen, this 234-suite, beachfront wellness and spiritual retreat provides an Architects of Life programme, including beach and jungle rituals (such as cacao ceremonies), tai chi, sound-healing therapy and meditation. The Atlantis Spa, based around a natural cenote sinkhole, offers ancient temazcal sweat lodge ceremonies. There’s also a device-free programme for kids inspired by the Waldorf education philosophy. But what really sets Palmaïa apart is the plant-based menus across all the restaurants, from fine-dining Mexican LEK through to Charly’s Vegan Taco Food Truck, including healthy breakfast dishes, smoothies and baked goods each morning at Plantissa Café.
Price One week from £5,744 (excl flights)
12. Marquis Los Cabos Resort & Spa, Baja California Sur
Best for ocean views
The ocean’s rarely out of sight at this all-suite, adults-only luxury resort on the southern tip of Baja California, starting with the arched, open-air lobby and its infinity pool looking out onto the Pacific. Primed for honeymooners and other couples, the hotel has five restaurants, from Asian to Italian, with the 13,000-square-foot Spa Marquis for those looking to relax, and salsa dancing, target-shooting, tequila tastings and watersports for active couples. Three infinity pools look out to the east and west for memorable sunrises and sunsets.
Price One week from £2,340 (excl flights)
13. Excellence Playa Mujeres, Quintana Roo
Best for choice
The name may sound like a boast, but it’s hard not to agree at this adults-only all-inclusive, up the coast from Cancun, with sunloungers and thatched palapas on a powdery white sand beach, seven swimming pools, four outdoor jacuzzis and five in-pool whirlpools, lazy rivers and lush tropical gardens. Guests are also spoiled for choice with 11 restaurants, from the self-explanatory Lobster House to cured meats, cheeses and tapas at the Flavour Market, plus no fewer than 11 bars. To work it all off, there’s yoga, tennis, snorkelling and many other activities.
Price One week from £3,939 (excl flights)
14. Sunscape Akumal Beach Resort, Quintana Roo
Best for family fun
Families wanting to take holiday snaps with dinosaurs will find huge, life-like models, including T-Rex, at this four-star all-inclusive’s Rex Dino Land theme park, towering among water slides, sprinklers, a playground and a food truck. An hour from Cancun, the Akumal resort has plenty more to keep families entertained, with 11 swimming pools and an Explorer’s Club offering arts and crafts, movie nights and sandcastle competitions. Restaurants cater to all tastes, from Mexican to Mediterranean. Among the swim-up bars, there’s a thoughtful non-alcoholic version for kids.
Price One week from £1,651 (excl flights)
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