Close your eyes. Imagine a white, sandy beach fringed with tall palm trees swaying in the warm evening breeze as you watch the sun go down in candyfloss colours over the calm sea. Hear the mariachi band playing softly in the background and taste the organically grown coconut as you take a long sip of your icy cold piña colada. Envision your golden tan from spending the day reading in a soft hammock under the warm Caribbean sun and think about all the turtles you are going to see snorkeling in the clear blue water of the bay tomorrow.
After all of that I won’t be surprised if you are booking you flights right now! And so you should. Mexico, specifically the Riviera Maya, has taken my breath way. With unmatched natural beauty, a rich history and some of the best hotels and resorts in the world, visiting this piece of Caribbean heaven is a must.
During our time in Mexico we got to call the 5 star Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort home. Just over an hour’s drive from Cancun Airport, the resort close to Akumal, Tulum and other popular tourist attractions around Riviera Maya. Made up of two hotels, the Grand Sirenis Mayan Beach Hotel & Spa and Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Hotel and Spa, the resort is built on a 2 mile beachfront property and was built in the traditional Mayan style as a tribute to the area’s rich culture and heritage. With modern, stylish rooms, a spa, gym, countless pools with a lazy river and a dive centre, the hotel also boasts 2 large buffet restaurants and 7 a-la-carte restaurants, each with its own theme, serving everything from French to Thai to traditional Mexican dishes. Nearly 20 different bars serve any cocktail you can think of and visiting Mexico would not be complete without attending a tequila tasting hosted by the hilarious entertainment staff.
The resort is centered around the main beach area with bars, restaurants, comfortable hammocks and a wide range of beach games and activities. Venture away from the main beach and you will be rewarded with clear turquoise cenotes and the Playa Tortugas – a beach favourited by Green and Loggerhead turtles which made my heart jump. Every year the same female turtles return to this beach to lay their eggs. Local conservation authorities are working along with the resort to mark nests and set up barriers around them, protecting the eggs from natural predators and stupid humans. Once laid, the hatchlings emerge after 45 to 70 days before making a mad dash for the waterline. Those that survive the first attack of birds, reptiles and fish will swim the seas and return to that same beach once it is their time to lay eggs.
Other than turtles, the resort is surrounded by many other amazing creatures, both under and above the water. To show off the diversity of the area, Grand Sirenis has planned and marked out 4 trails, each highlighting a different habitat within the resort grounds. The Coastal Trail takes you through coastal scrub and over rocky and sandy beaches, whereas the Path of the Jungle and Scrub starts in a low jungle where, if you are quiet and lucky, you will find raccoons, badgers and deer before it ends on a rocky beach. My favourite trail, the Path of the Jungle and Mangrove, leads you through dense mangroves and low jungle vegetation past cenotes, 122 species of plant and nearly 97 animal species. The last trail is the Path of the Nursery and goes hand in hand with the resort’s conservation efforts and environmental responsibilities. Here, native plants are grown for use in the resort’s garden and the nursery plays an important role as many plants grown here are protected by Mexican laws. Many of them at risk of extinction, the nursery emphases the resort’s commitment to the preservation of the fantastic biodiversity of the Yucatan peninsula. For the really adventurous there are also many unmarked trails. On a sunny day, walk south along the beach for a few kilometers and you will find a large lagoon, completely unspoiled and almost unknown of.
Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya has taken drastic steps in recent years to minimise the effect the resort has on the fragile ecosystems that surrounds the resort. It is refreshing to find a hotel group that understands the value the natural environment holds in terms of tourism and how important it is to be environmentally aware and sustainable. Walk through the entire resort and you cannot find one straw, not one single-use coffee cup and not one plastic bag. The resort has gone to great lengths to reduce all single-use plastic items and take the separation of recyclable waste very seriously. Rooms are fitted with temperature regulators and automated key card systems to reduce energy waste, have energy saving lighting and water economising bathroom fittings. The resort buys and serves local produce that tastes amazing and when they buy produce or products in bulk, they ensure it only comes in environmentally friendly packaging. Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya is a leader when it comes resorts that can find that perfect balance between social responsibility, environmental awareness and client satisfaction.
Touching on the subject of client satisfaction, the staff at the resort are some of the most helpful, friendly and hospitable I have ever come across. Nothing is too much trouble and the service, especially in the premier club, was just marvelous.
Whether you want to float in the pool the entire day with cocktail in hand or discover the underwater world snorkeling the resort’s own reef system, the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya really does offer something for everyone. If you would like to know for yourself what the white sandy beaches, palm trees, candyfloss sunsets and piña coladas are like, visit the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya website and just book it. You can thank me later.