Riviera Maya X2
These properties are very close to each other, about a 10-minute cab ride. Enjoyed both places very much, and would not hesitate to recommend either one, or both!
There's an informative review of Hacienda Tres Rios from kyshel already, and I think a few things have changed in the past few months. Although the property has been open for a year, it's still new and partially under construction. Those familiar with the area will recall that this site had been an eco park. Apparently the plan to develop the site (in an eco-sensitive way) has been in the works for a number of years. The resort area is the first phase. This is a fractional ownership property, and one of their major goals is to attract buyers. We were offered a tour, which we declined, but new friends (who are members) showed us a couple of the condo-type units and a model of the grand plan. The units are lovely, similar to the hotel suites, but with kitchens, larger living spaces and multiple bedrooms. So, what's so "eco" about Hacienda Tres Rios? They bill the property as the only 5-star eco-resort in Mexico. Starting with the design and the plan for sustainable tourism, they are attempting to be sensitive to the natural surroundings. The materials in the room explain how they are going about this, from recapturing energy used for A/C to heat the pool, to recycling and growing some of their own food. They also plan to leave about half of the 360 or so acres undeveloped. The master plan calls for fractional ownership units (some of which are now complete), a marina, an equestrian center and private homes.
But back to our vacation.... The property is spread out, with some natural areas populated by herons, egrets and a few iguanas. Nature activities are included, so we opted for an activity including a walk around the nature paths, swimming in a cenote and kayaking down one of the rivers. We brought snorkel gear, but it wasn't really needed as the cenote was a bit murky with only a few fish. The beach beds really make it tempting to spend all day lounging there. There's a shelf behind the bed for your drinks and a waiter to replenish them. As kyshel mentioned, the Luna Maya special dinner was included with the package. We were given a choice of 3 locations, and chose a spot beyond the pool area - on the last bit of concrete before the beach. There was no one else around, aside from the 2 waiters who served us and then hung back. There was a breeze and a nearly-full moon. I opted for no guitarists, so it was quiet aside from the breeze and conversation. The food was excellent - it was really perfect. We also enjoyed the Mexican restaurant. We asked if there were any vegetarian choices (since none were on the regular menu), and were handed an entire vegetarian menu! The dishes were wonderful, the tamarind margaritas delicious, and I must mention an amazing chipolte creme brulee. There are now a number of bar areas, in addition to the bar in the lobby, there is one outside at the grill restaurant, and another temporary bar set-up near the pool and close to the beach. Overall, the feel was very laid-back, still not many guests for the size of the property. There were a few families with children and they did have a kids club with special activities. Service was very good, very enjoyable overall.
And now for something completely different: Secrets Capri. This property had been on my list for a while, since it consistently gets raving reviews. I felt as though I had landed at an upscale Club Med. This place was full, adults-only, mainly couples. There was a lot of activity, mainly centered around the pool areas. There was an abundance of venues for food and drink. The breakfast buffet was almost overwhelming: one station had waffles, pancakes, crepes and french toast, with 15 toppings. Lots of choices for everything. For lunch there are a couple of choices right in the beach/pool area, very handy. Overall, the food and service was all excellent.
It was hard not to compare the two properties. Although both are excellent, the beds on the beach at Tres Rios were really special. I liked that room a bit better also, not that there was anything wrong with the room at Secrets. Food and service at both was outstanding, although Secrets had more variety.
This was my third visit to this part of Mexico, and I'm sure I'll return. We walked the beach and spotted the new Grand Velas. It's a large property, looks brand new and is located in a prime spot on the beach. I also have my eye on Secrets Maroma. The whole area is exploding with tourism, which the locals seem to appreciate rather than resent. Playa del Carmen itself has seen some changes in the past few years, cleaned up and more upscale. My husband commented that fifth avenue was reminiscent of Lincoln Road in South Beach. Well, not quite, but there is a Starbucks and a Ben & Jerry's if you tire of the churros and tequila.