My Top 5 Firsts In Riviera Maya, Mexico
America Mexico Food Hotel

My Top 5 Firsts In Riviera Maya, Mexico

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A family-owned hotel chain offering exclusive and all-inclusive resort experiences in 21 countries around the world.

https://www.barcelo.com/en-us/
I’ve always been a writer, but the travel writer path has really just started to take off for me this year. When the Barceló Maya Grand Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico asked me to come and write about them, I had my sunhat and bikini packed before I even responded, “Yes”!

 

Giant Riviera Maya sign at Barcelo Caribe.
Giant Riviera Maya sign at Barcelo Caribe.

 

This was a trip of several firsts for me. I had never been to Mexico before and I had never been to an all-inclusive resort either. After leaving JFK three hours late, with no clear explanation, I was seriously ready to touch down in Cancun and run for the beach. When I arrived at the newly renovated, modern Barceló Maya Caribe Hotel, I was blown away by the giant ceilings, local artwork and gorgeous fountain that greeted me. Then came the welcome drink, a favorite hotel custom of mine, in the Premium Guest Check-in area.

 

Incredible local art at the Barcelo Maya Caribe
Incredible local art at the Barcelo Maya Caribe

 

Swim-Up Room

Swim-up pool leading to my room
Swim-up pool leading to my room

 

Once my room was ready the lovely staff led me through the maze of pathways towards my area. The resort is gigantic with five hotels to choose from and even the Barceló Maya Caribe Hotel has sprawling grounds. Once I got to my room and saw the swim up pool, the long trip south was instantly worth it. The only resort with a swim up room in all of Mexico and the first time I’d had one to myself. Not going to lie, I felt like a badass. I quickly got my suit on, grabbed my camera and got to the beach (basically in front of my room) just before the sunset. I had enough time to get some Instagram shots and take a dip before dinner.

 

Gourmet Festival

Roasted beet yogurt from Barcelo Gourmet Festival
Roasted beet yogurt from Barcelo Gourmet Festival

 

Another reason I couldn’t wait to go to Mexico was for the Barceló Gourmet Festival. My first real sit-down food festival and I was so ready. It is an annual nine-day feast where 11 of the countries top chefs take up residency for a night and serve some insanely delicious 5-7 courses paired with local wines.

 

Dessert from Xavier Perez Stone at the Barcelo Gourmet Festival
Dessert from Xavier Perez Stone at the Barcelo Gourmet Festival

 

Each chef had something different to offer. The first night was more of a traditional, cohesive Mexican meal from Chef Xavier Perez Stone. The next night was something totally different and equally as tasty from a local daring and creative chef named Pedro Abascal. I will say his Alaskan king crab with bone marrow with spicy greens was one of the best dishes I’ve had in a very long time.

 

Bone Marrow Stuffed with King Crab
Bone Marrow Stuffed with King Crab

 

Solo-Beach Trip

My favorite palm tree at the Barcelo Maya Caribe beach
My favorite palm tree at the Barcelo Maya Caribe beach

 

If I wasn’t spending my time stuffing my face at the buffet, I was on the beach as much as possible. This was my first solo-beach vacation so I’m counting that as another first for the list. The sand was of the fine, white variety, you know, the kind you see on your screensaver. The water from the Caribbean Sea was so warm I never wanted to get out. Although I am definitely more of a beach girl that a pool dweller; I had to check out one of the several gigantic swim-up bars around the resort. If you’re wondering, yes, I sampled pretty much all the drinks and the strawberry daiquiris wins!

 

Hydrotherapy Spa

Hydrotherapy Circuit at the Barcelo Maya Grand spa
Hydrotherapy Circuit at the Barcelo Maya Grand spa                             Photo by: Alex Temblador

 

Another highlight from my time at Barceló was the U-Spa. I’ve had some shoulder issues lately and the massage I got was much needed. I also tried out the new hydrotherapy circuit. I’d never done it before (yet another first) but once I had spent about 45 minutes going through each stage (steam room, show, sauna, hot pool, cold pool etc.) I felt like I lost 10 pounds. Now I just have to figure out how to build one in my apartment…

 

Mexican Fiesta

Mexican Independence Day At Barcelo Maya Grand Resort
Mexican Independence Day At Barcelo Maya Grand Resort

 

I was lucky enough to be at the resort during Mexican Independence Day. My first Mexican holiday and hopefully not my last. The festivities were seemingly endless. There was a parade, horses, countless mariachi bands, incredible cocktails, cakes, and snacks to celebrate with. By the next morning when my hangover had worn off it was time to leave and I was not ready.

 

Frozen Margherita at Barcelo Maya Grand Resort
Frozen Margherita at Barcelo Maya Grand Resort

 

I went for one last swim in the stunningly clear ocean and a dip in the swim up pool before I got in the car to the airport. I feel kind of bad that it took me 25 years to discover how naturally beautiful Mexico is. As I drove past the palm trees and the fruit stands I decided I would definitely be back again.

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Find Your Happy Plate

My name is Katie Lockhart and I launched Find Your Happy Plate in 2015 to offer adventurous wanderers the best advice for food and travel around the world. Find Your Happy Plate is a place for travel inspiration, food porn and tips on where to find the best of both. Whether you’re looking for luxury of budget, I write and photograph it all. Follow along!

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