Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya – Do It or Ditch It – Travel With a Bond Girl December 3, 2015 – Posted in: Blog
When it came time to plan a getaway, an escape from emails, laptops, conference calls, and handcrafted production timelines, we decided that Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya was an amazing option.
As a group which included scientists, a jewelry designer, and a client management director (yes, we’re a diverse group), our mutual goal was to relax, enjoy cocktails, siesta under palapas, and check out the Mayan ruins of Tulum. Check, check, check, and check.
We all have diverse travel backgrounds and my husband and I have experienced some pretty amazing locations around the globe. We’ve stayed in boutique hotels in Playa del Carmen, were married at a resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, have taken multiple cruises around the Mediterranean and North Africa, pretended we were locals in Lisbon and Paris while staying in Airbnb’s and recently traveled for a family wedding to Tel Aviv. In addition, as a jewelry designer primarily selling in luxury spas in gorgeous hotels, I have my bar set a bit high when it comes to accommodations (even when it’s just my jewelry enjoying the lifestyle on a regular basis).
Check out my review of Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya and see if this property is a fit for your next escape.
Arrival to Cancun
There are daily flights to Cancun from most international airports. We pre-arranged our transfer from the airport to the hotel. There are a variety of transfer companies which offer both private and shared transfers. Simply exit the airport towards ground transportation and look for your last name or transfer company on a sign. It took about one hour and 45 minutes having to make one stop in Playacar to get to the hotel. The return transfer without any stops at 5:40am took one hour and 10 minutes…if you feel like getting up before the sea turtles are awake.
Arrival to Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya
Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of champagne and cool towel, a much needed refresher after the long drive. The check-in process was seamless at the lobby and we were taken by a bellman along with our luggage to our room. We did book a swim up suite and were instead given a preferred oceanfront suite. Although this was technically an upgrade, we were very much looking forward to the swim-up room (more on this to come).
The lobby itself is incredibly beautiful with its open air design and infinity pool looking out to the property. Oversized circular seating and throw pillows remind me of travels to Morocco and Thailand with its natural, exotic aesthetic.
Preferred Ocean View Room
The beautifully designed room featured a similar aesthetic to the lobby with a blend of Mexico meets Morocco. The room featured an in-room jacuzzi, dual vanity, rain shower, king size bed and sitting area. It also featured an outdoor balcony jacuzzi. It unfortunately shares a semi-see through partition wall with a neighbor, so not the most private experience. Gorgeous lighting supplied by Moroccan lanterns on either side of the bed had a dimming capability. The kaleidoscope of light added an immediate zen feeling to the room in the evening.
NOTE: There’s also 24 hour room service and a flat screen TV if there’s a point that you feel like just staying in and enjoying the room.
The mini bar in preferred rooms is stocked with bottled water, non-alcoholic drinks, mini premium liquor bottles, as well as beer and snacks on a daily basis. Mini bar service in a preferred room is supposed to be stocked every day, but we called a few different times to stock waters and other items.
CBJ Travel Gem: The mini bar is stocked separately from housekeeping so if anything is missing, they will send someone up to replace any items.
- Hair Dryer
- Laundry Bag
- Shower Gel
- Bar Soap
- Vanity Kit
- Sewing Kit
- Mini Bar
Swim Up Suite
After contacting Anabel, one of the resort’s fabulous concierges, we were moved to our previously booked swim-up suite. Unfortunately due to the rain and the area having such extensive mosquito issues, we couldn’t stay in the room even after they sprayed. It was a shame since that was the room category which we would have loved, but it simply wasn’t an option. Sergio, the concierge for the preferred suites did everything he could to find us an available upgrade, but we ultimately moved back into our preferred oceanfront suite after checking out a new swim up suite (which unfortunately had the same mosquito issue).
I did hear that some guests were OK after the rooms had been sprayed, but not being a fan of sprays and pesticides to begin with, much less the mosquitos, we decided we would be better off scrapping it for this trip.
I understand this is out of the hotel’s control due to the weather and mosquito issues in the area, but I’d recommend checking with the concierge ahead of time to explore another room option just in case. The concierges truly did go above and beyond to accommodate us. As an additional bonus, we were given a complimentary couple’s massage at the temporary spa.
Since it was only week 3 and the spa had not yet been opened, a temporary treatment room was set up in Building 6. We took the offer of a complimentary 50 min couples massage based on the issues with moving rooms…and we were so glad that we did. We both thought the massages were amazing and the setup of the room was completely conducive to the experience. Low lighting with the Moroccan style hanging lights, massage tables and aromatherapy had us feeling like we were at a full fledged spa. I’m excited to see the finished product of the spa by Pevonia based on the beauty of the rest of the resort and quality of the massage therapists.
The three main pools offer great options for a relaxing environment. The largest pool is located near the non-preferred rooms, the pool in the middle offers pool waiter service while still in a very relaxed environment, and the third option is the infinity pool looking out to the ocean and the horizon. This pool also includes the swim-up bar. It also happened to be much warmer than the other two pools and felt more like a thermal pool (something none of us appreciated until the weather became significantly cooler from rain). There are also a few hot tubs throughout the pool areas (which I only tend to enjoy when it’s people I know in them…otherwise it feels more like boiling in a human soup with strangers). I also happen to be a germophobe but that’s a whole different story.
There are many different dining options on the property which range from French, Italian, Japanese and beyond. We had a group of 3 couples so there were times when we waiting a bit for a table in order to be seated together. If you’re going as a couple, I wouldn’t anticipate too much of a wait. The staff takes your name down and you can easily grab a cocktail while you’re waiting at the lobby bar…which is gorgeous. One thing I was very impressed with was the amount of gluten-free options which were available. This is something that was just recommended to me recently by my doctor, so I’m very excited for other guests who may have the dietary restriction as well. A wide variety of seafood, steaks and vegetarian dishes are available.
Desires nightclub is definitely a must when it comes to entertainment. Whether you’re seated on one of the couches to witness what happens when people let loose on vacation or if you, yourself are the entertainment…it’s a must-do. It gives the illusion of a place that may have bottle service, but those Grey Goose cocktails are still included.
From the moment we arrived to the moment we departed, the bellmen, concierges, bartenders, servers and even the groundskeepers were smiling and friendly. I will say this is something that I notice particularly in the Riviera Maya. This area of Mexico is so dependent on tourism and many workers thanked us with responses like, “Thank you for choosing to stay here. Because you’re here, I’m here.” Aside of some overzealous entertainment staff, everyone was sweet and accommodating.
While we were there we were lucky to witness an actual wedding taking place on the beach as well as a setup for a corporate photo shoot. The chuppah was absolutely breathtaking. Draped flowers intertwined within the wooden structure with the backdrop of the emerald and turquoise Akumal Bay is a destination wedding dream. We’re looking forward to designing jewelry for many brides heading to paradise for their wedding at Secrets Resorts & Spas.
There are plenty of options when it comes to excursions, but for this trip we decided to venture to Tulum on our own by cab. It was a short 20 min cab ride and although it was down pouring for almost all of it, the ruins were still beautiful with amazing vistas. The roundtrip ride was only $40 and our driver waited for us for about 2 hours. The entrance ticket was about $5 person an we opted to walk to the entrance instead of taking the trolley (about a 10 min walk). There are plenty of tour guides available, but we decided to do it on our own and simply read the signs. It was an easy trip when we became a little stir crazy at the resort with all of the rain. We went to Cobá a few years ago which was a smaller site of the ruins but much less touristy.
If you’re there for more than a few days, I would highly recommend planning some day trips to add to your experience.
This was one of the biggest features as to why we chose this resort. It sits directly on Akumal Bay, a famous location for swimming with giant sea turtles in the open water-no tour necessary. Since we heard that snorkel equipment could be easily rented from the hotel, we didn’t bring our own snorkel gear (big mistake). I anticipated that I’d be underwater with sea turtles every day, but every day proved to be a huge challenge to sign up for the gear. Day after day we went up to the rental shack on the beach and were told, “10 more minutes. 15 more minutes. 10 more minutes” as they waited for people to return the gear from the allotted 30 minute window given for rentals.
We finally were able to get the equipment on two different days. While many people said to just go and buy more gear at a local surf shop, our luggage was already full and we didn’t need two additional sets of snorkel gear. The fact is, either more gear needs to be stocked by the hotel or it should be told to guests ahead of time that they should bring or purchase their own to avoid waiting extensive amounts of time and frustration.
My Most Worn Jewelry + Luxury Leather Jewelry Travel Roll
1. Caladesi Escape Earrings - $128 // 2. Corsica Gold Lariat Necklace - $60 // 3. Mykonos druzy Tassel Necklace - $86 // 4. Manta Ray Jade Gemstone Bracelet - $85 // 5. Mykonos Blue Quartz & Druzy Bracelet - $61 // 6. Thailand Moon Party Stretch Bracelet - $39 // 7. Cabo Gold Knot Necklace - $102 // 8. Road to Hana Druzy Earrings - $57. Click here for a list of retailers or email your order to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Most Worn Accessories (outside of jewelry)
$36 – brazilianbikinishop.com
$56 – nordstrom.com
$255 – forzieri.com
$28 – thehut.com
$19 – thehut.com
Additional Items To Pack (the most common, Oh Sh&t, I forgot….list)
- Snorkel gear (mask and fins)
- Garlic Pills – I took Kyolic Garlic Extract pills
- Probiotics – I was prescribed Orthobiotics by a holistic Dr. but your body type may benefit from a variety of probiotics
- Bug spray
DO IT OR DITCH IT?
In summary, we had a wonderful experience at Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya. I will say that in the third week of opening a property, there are some things that need to be ironed out, but overall, I think this is going to be a very successful resort. The staff are clearly dedicated to making sure that guests have an unforgettable experience and once those mosquitos pack their bags…guests who book swim-up suites will surely be in for a treat. This area of Mexico will be an inspiration for many more of my jewelry designs to come!
Leave a comment and let me know if you plan on visiting Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya!