An all-inclusive deal is only as good as what it includes. Which makes the five-star Unico’s offer look positively lavish. Its assiduously attentive service and stylish, luxe facilities are of the ilk usually (over)charged as extras. Your personal host will direct you towards spa treatments, tours, golf, fitness activities and eight trend-driven restaurants and bars. The style is modern Mexican meets designer good taste, with local and artisan touches and stunning landscaping around the three pools. The white-sand beach is left pristine, and quiet – Unico is adults-only.
The 100km of shoreline running south from Cancun along Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is known as the Riviera Maya for good reason. The palm-fringed beaches, emerald seas and dusting of glamour are indeed reminiscent of the French original, with Playa del Carmen and the neighbouring Mayakoba resort cluster providing the sophistication. Sadly for fans of the ramshackle boho charm the coast could once boast, it’s increasingly being swallowed up by large all-inclusive and high-end operations, making it harder and harder to find anything budget, boho, genuinely eco or even particularly Mexican. (To support local businesses look a few blocks inland.) Our selection of the best hotels in the Riviera Maya includes a sampling of old-school hippy charm in Pamuul plus the standouts among the new wave, such as the Banyan Tree and Unico. Want Japanese bubbles, peacocks wandering the grounds, outdoor film screenings or free bottles of tequila? Read on.