A true tropical paradise, Riviera Maya is well known for its exciting eco adventures, relaxing white beaches and archeological treasures. But this scenic setting serves as much more than just a backdrop for tropical getaways or family vacations. It also sets the stage for successful meetings where attendees can be inspired by the peaceful surroundings. Planners can find plenty to enjoy in this 120-kilometer-long stretch along the coast of the Caribbean Sea, from a zero percent tax on conventions to top-notch convention centers to a close proximity to the United States.
Reaching the Riviera Maya is easy thanks to Cancún International Airport. As the 2nd largest airport in Mexico in terms of volume, Cancún International offers direct or non-stop service to destinations across the globe. Visitors can also easily take advantage of the daily bus service from the airport to Playa del Carmen, just 45 minutes away, or grab a cab to other nearby cities of Puerto Morelos or Puerto Aventuras.
Throughout the Riviera Maya region, guests are met with a host of amazing hotels and resorts that keep customer service top of mind. The Paradisus Riviera Cancún in Puerto Morelos is an incentive planner's dream, offering Mayan-influenced architecture, a spa certified by the Leading Spas of the World, 496 junior suites and six restaurants, including the four-star L'Hermitage. The all-inclusive Hacienda Tres Ríos was named Central America and Mexico's Leading Green Hotel at the 2009 World Travel Awards thanks to its strict water management program, contributions to the long-term preservation of the local plants and animals and unique use of native building materials in its construction.
Many of the top resorts in the region also double as stellar meeting venues. The new 791-suites Grand Velas All Suites & SPA Resort Riviera Maya features 8,500 square meters of flexible space, including two convention areas for up to 3,000 guests. The Green Globe-certified Barceló Maya Beach Resort has several meeting venues spread across its five properties, including a convention center and several meeting rooms.
In addition to its more modern developments, Riviera Maya is also home to a host of ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization that once dominated the region such as Chichen Itza and Tulum. These awe-inspiring meetings make for great team building excursions or day-long spouse events. Or arrange a group event outdoors at one of the region's many eco-parks. Enjoy a day of snorkeling or river rafting followed by dinner at Xel-Ha, or book one of the 14 different venues at Xcaret, which offers dolphin swims, jungle walks and authentic Mayan shows.
The gorgeous Riviera Maya region has been one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Mexico over the past decade, and it's easy to see why. Stretching over 100 kilometers along the Caribbean Sea from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen, the region offers the best of the Mexican Caribbean, from pristine white sand shores to exhilarating outdoor adventures to majestic relics from the Mayan civilization. With mild temperatures and plenty of sunny days, Riviera Maya beckons newlyweds, families, business groups and more all year long.
Long before it became the developing resort area, Riviera Maya was an important part of the extensive Mayan empire, one of the most highly-developed of all the Mesoamerican civilizations. Though over the Mayans were overtaken by the Spanish in the late 17th century, the Mayans made their mark on the region, and visitors can still visit a number of the historic ruins that remain today. Journey south to Tulum, where ruins of this former port city sit atop cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Or visit Chichen Itza, the 2nd most-visited archeological site in Mexico and home to the Temple of Kukulkan, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Visitors can also immerse themselves in the wonders of this ancient civilization by visiting one of the local villages or sacred cenotes, or sinkholes filled with groundwater. Tour group Dos Palmas even offers a Mayan Ceremonial Night experience during which guests participate in temascal, a pre-Hispanic purification ritual in a steam bath. Or, visit Xcaret, an eco-park that offers unique shows at its re-created Mayan village, including a nighttime ball game like the one played over 3,500 years ago.
One of the most popular attractions in Riviera Maya, Xcaret is also a haven for outdoor recreation, offering everything from dolphin swims to jungle walks to snorkeling tours to raft rides along Paradise River. Visitors can also take in the stunning scenery at Xel-Ha, a large open-sea aquarium where guests can swim, snuba and snorkel with dolphins, turtles, sting rays and more. Or take a kayak tour through the Centro Ecologico Sian Ka'an, Mexico's largest preserve and home to more than 100 mammals and over 330 bird species.
Some of Riviera Maya's best scenic views can also be found right from a comfy seat in the dining room of one of the region's many restaurants. Enjoy Yucatán specialties such as papadzules, or warm tortillas filled with hard-boiled eggs and topped with pumpkin seed sauce, and cochinita pibil, or slow-roasted pork, all washed down with a cool cerveza. Or take advantage of Riviera Maya's coastal location and enjoy one of the fresh snapper or lobster dishes prepared with local spices and chili peppers. Casa del Agua, Cocina 38 and Playasia Restaurant and Wine Bar are among the top eateries to enjoy the best dishes the region has to offer.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Riviera Maya's semi-tropical climate brings beautiful, sunny and warm weather to the region all year long. The average annual temperature is 78°F while the average annual rainfall is 55 inches, with most rainfall occurring October to January and April to July. Summer months can bring temperatures of up to 100°F, while November, December and January are the region's coolest months, when cool, breezy evenings see highs in the 60s.
Hurricane season starts in June and ends in November, with the height of the season in the last two months. The best time to visit Riviera Maya is in the late winter and early spring, which bring warm day temperatures and comfortable, breezy evenings.
Barcelo Maya Colonial
Located about 25 kilometers from Playa del Carmen, the four-star Barceló Maya Beach Resort is in the heart of the Mexican Caribbean. With five hotel properties, the resort offers a total of 1,027 rooms and 955 square meters of event space in its convention center and various meeting rooms.
Surrounded by 500,000-square-meters of natural parkland, the all-inclusive resort invites guests to take advantage of through a range of daytime and evening activities. In addition to two kilometers or private beach, the hotel offers two outdoor swimming pools, three Jacuzzis, a fitness center, seven tennis courts and spas, and 19 restaurants and bars.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya
One of the newest resorts in the region, Grand Velas offers the utmost of luxury along the white shores of Playa del Carmen. The property is divided into three sections: the Master section, with 206 suites; the Ambassador section, a family-friendly area with 197 suites; and the Grand Class section, an exclusive section with 89 oceanfront suites. In addition to posh accommodations, Grand Velas offers over 300 meters of private beach, a spacious spa with 40 treatment suites, and eight restaurants and several bars that feature everything from traditional Mexican specialties to fine French cuisine.
The resort's grand convention center boasts just over 8,500 square meters of flexible space. The center can be divisible into as many as 32 small meeting rooms, while two large areas can be used as one to host up to 3,000 guests. Just over 3,000 square meters of outdoor event space can also be used to treat reception or banquet guests to great views of the beach. All meeting rooms are equipped with state-of-the-art meeting technology, including LCD projectors, video conferencing services and high-speed wireless Internet access. Catering and customized theme parties can also be arranged.
Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso
The five-star, all-inclusive Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso is located on the luxurious Playa Paraiso beach, just five minutes from Playa del Carmen. The hotel is an ideal convention destination thanks to a variety of flexible meeting spaces. The largest venue is the Playa del Carmen room at 1,471 square meters, capable of seating up to 1,200 guests theater-style. For a more intimate setting, planners can use the 81-square meter Salones Maya or the 170-square-meter Cancun Room, accommodating 22 or 80 guests, respectively.
The Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso incorporates both business and pleasure into events, thanks to a number of relaxing amenities. The adults-only resort boasts five luxury restaurants, an 18-hole golf course and nightly entertainment. It also has a salt water infinity pool with swim-up bar, lake pool and heated indoor/outdoor pool with a retractable roof, as well as a private spa, nightclubs, dive center and endless water activities. With 208 junior suites, 10 villas and two presidential suites, the resort's bright, festive architecture blends Georgian, Venetian, Greco and Baroque elements to create a one-of-a-kind Neo-classical atmosphere.
Cancun International Airport (CUN)
Approximate taxi fare: 766 MXN
Located 52 kilometers north of Playa del Carmen, Cancun International Airport is Mexico's 2nd busiest airport, providing air service to over 12 million passengers annually. The airport consists of three terminals, with international flights primarily utilizing the recently completed Terminal 3. The large number of airlines operating out of Cancun International allows for service to cities throughout the Americas as well as Europe.
Cancun International Airport offers a number of diversions for travelers with excess time before or between flights. There are a number of duty free shops in the airport offering items for travelers to purchase tax free. Diners at Cancun International Airport will not be disappointed by the countless options to grab a bite before the flight home. Corona Beach Bar, Tequiliería Jose Cuervo and Margaritaville all offer food and libations to travelers who haven't quite come to terms with leaving Mexico.
Air travelers can use the ADO public bus system for direct non-stop service from Cancun International to downtown Playa del Carmen. Buses leave from the airport's Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 daily throughout the morning and afternoon. The trip takes about 65 minutes and costs $10 USD per passenger.
Airline carriers serving Cancun International Airport
Cancun International Airport features eight on-site rental car companies. Check-in counters for Alamo, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Executive, Hertz, National and Thrifty can be found in the baggage claim area.
Taxis are available in the Riviera Maya region, particularly in the most popular areas for tourists. Guests should be warned that many drivers don't speak English, so it's advisable to bring written directions and ask the concierge to confirm a price with the driver before leaving. Taxis from Cancun International to Playa del Carmen averages MXN 335.
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