Searching for wildlife at this environmentally friendly resort in the Riviera Maya.
In the weeks leading up to our trip to Mexico my son Noah and I practiced our Spanish nightly with Duolingo. Noah was a whiz at remembering new words as I stumbled along and had to keep repeating lessons, probably because Noah speaks French and I don’t. As it was the middle of a harsh Canadian winter we couldn’t wait to swap our boots for flip-flops and escape the snow and cold. The Riviera Maya, located in the picture perfect state of Quintana Roo, occupies 120 km from Tulum to the Punta Allen Peninsula. We heard about ancient Mayan civilizations and the strong history in Mexico, and the fact that it’s also home to stunning coral reefs, cenotes, white sandy beaches, and perfect weather didn’t hurt either. So with dreams of a tropical paradise we packed our bags and headed to Mexico’s Caribbean Coast.
The Iberostar Paraiso Maya hotel is just 30 minutes from the Cancun airport and located along a gorgeous beach on the Riviera Maya. If you crave soft white sand beneath your feet and natural jungles at your doorstep this is the hotel for you. Upon arrival at this five star family friendly all-inclusive resort you will be greeted by traditional Mayan décor and large statues paying tribute to the ancient ruins. Save time to further explore the magnificent Mayan inspired artwork throughout the entire resort.
There is so much to do at this hotel it’s a vacation unto itself so if you choose to stay put for your entire trip you will never be bored.
Within minutes of entering our stunning hotel room Noah swung open our balcony door and shouted “There is a peacock outside our window!” And sure enough there was. In addition to roaming peacocks we spotted numerous bird species right from our window and woke up to adorable chirping in the morning. Our balcony also had it’s own relaxing rope hammock – the perfect spot to read in the shade. There are a total of 434 rooms at the hotel and the décor is warm and welcoming with cozy beds, fluffy pillows, and matching robes and slippers. The attention to detail by the kind staff is exceptional and on par with a five star luxurious resort. Not only were rose petals left on our bed at night, but to Noah’s excitement (Okay, mine too) our towels were always turned into adorable animal critters and waiting for us after a day at the beach.
I could happily eat tortilla chips and fresh guacamole at every meal if given the opportunity. Lucky for me in Mexico this is possible. There are five restaurants and nine snack bars and bars on site including buffets and a la carte options. You can also dine in many restaurants within the Iberostar complex of five hotels and we checked out several. As vegans we often wonder if there will be something for us to eat while traveling. (We don’t consume animals or animal products such as dairy or eggs). Of course in the Riviera Maya local fresh fruit is in abundance, but it’s nice to have other options too. Lets just say we didn’t go hungry here. We happily feasted on vegan pancakes whipped to perfection for breakfast along with fruit smoothies with soy milk at La Pagoda (in Iberostar Paraiso Lindo); endless fresh salads, breads, rice, and pasta dishes for lunch; vegan burritos packed with veggies in La Marina for dinner; and one night at the Italian restaurant (Fogon Italiano located in Paraiso Lindo) the Chef prepared tofu on our thin crust pizza and it was delicious. The healthy tropical juices were also a big hit.
Upon check in, inform the concierge at reception of food allergies or intolerances and proper arrangements will be made at each meal. We were also given a letter to take with us to restaurants that explained in Spanish that we followed a plant based diet and what we couldn’t eat. But since we had learned some Spanish before our trip (remember the app?) Noah and I were able to navigate and eat our way through the various restaurants and happily tell everyone we were Vegano. These conversations lead to a friendship with smiling and friendly Chef Gonzalo who told us about his life in Mexico.
Another great thing about dining at Iberostar had nothing to do with food – it was all about the straws, or lack of them actually. Iberostar is committed to the environment and does not supply plastic straws to guests. Scattered throughout the resorts are signs stating, “Straws kill more than 1,000,000 seabirds and mammals annually”. Considering the number of plastic straws a huge resort chain can go through in just one day this is definitely an environmental step in the right direction. We enjoyed our drinks straw free and Noah tested out a cardboard recyclable straw for a chilled beverage at the onsite coffee shop, Starcafé. Hopefully other hotels around the world will follow the Iberostar lead and ditch the plastic straws.
Iberostar Paraiso Maya is home to nine swimming pools including a wave pool, splash park, an awesome lazy river that winds past lush gardens and palm trees, tennis courts, and bike tours. Test your skill at ping-pong, play a game of volleyball in the sports pool, and laugh along with organized bingo or one of many daily events and activities taking place poolside.
Or shop till you drop at the onsite mall, just hop on one of the many golf carts and a friendly staff member will shuttle you around to where you need to need to go. There is a kids club with plenty of activities for your offspring (Star Friends has fun programs tailored to kids’ age four to six, seven to 12 and 13 to 17) while you sneak away to the nearby spa or read a book under a beach hut.
Furthermore, your kids can be the stars of the nightly entertainment on the grand stage if they are brave enough to dance in front of the crowd. Then at 9:30 stay for the live theatre and disco with Boogie Nights or On The Rock, each at different Iberostar hotels within the complex.
Since we don’t attend zoos, Noah and I are always on the lookout for animals we can see in the wild on our travels. Besides the singing exotic birds,chilled out flamingos, and friendly creeping iguanas you must go visit the wild coatis. They resemble small raccoons with monkey tails and live in the Mayan jungle at the hotel. As you walk along the boardwalk towards the beach on either side of you is natural forest and the coatis are happily climbing trees and playing with each other. Watching these adorable critters in the wild was one of the highlights of our trip to Mexico – a country we definitely want to explore more of after our visit to the Riviera Maya.
If You Go:
The Iberostar Paraiso Maya hotel is located on the Riviera Maya in Mexico.
For reservations and more information click here or call 1-888-923-2722
The writer was a guest of Iberostar Paraiso Maya, they did not review or approve this article.