Southern Region: Beaches- Huatulco, Cancun, Riviera Maya, & Cozumel

written by | Posted on March 13th, 2013

Cancun: Passion, fun and romance in the Mexican Caribbean at Hotel Presidente

What to Expect: The beaches in the southern region of the country are some of the finest in the world; they range from the deep-blue, aquarium-like bays of Huatulco to the shimmering Caribbean clear waters of Cozumel, Cancun and the stretch of coastline down south known as the Riviera Maya.

Wedding Bells: Spilling down the hillside of Tangolunda Bay, the 28-suite Quinta Real Huatulco (quintarealhotels.com) is a boutique hotel reminiscent of a seaside Moroccan palace that combines superb service, natural beauty and a variety of terraces and outdoor venues with a view that would make a chic background for any bride. The onsite wedding planner has prepared a basic and a luxury package to choose from, both with options for a civil ceremony or a religious wedding at the charming Capilla de la Santa Cruz. Either can be customized to include fun touches like a marimba player or even karaoke. Room rates start at $215.

On the Caribbean side, the always-classic The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun (ritz-carlton.com) mixes its particular brand of service and elegance with the best of Mexico in its selection of wedding packages. From the Intimate Wedding for Two set in a private Beach Casita starting at $2,300, to the grand Simply Elegant Wedding package. Starting at $1,925 per person (minimum 50 guests), The Ritz-Carlton handles every detail from arrival and departure services by limousine for the bride, groom and the parents to excursions and activities for the bridal party, the ceremony on the beach and more—all the way to specialty boxed lunches for the trip home.

Opening this month on Punta Nizuc at the southernmost tip of the Cancun peninsula, NIZUC Resort & Spa (nizuc.com) offers 274 ultra-luxurious suites with private pools, a world-class golf course, two private beaches, six onsite restaurants and a 30,000-sq.-ft. ESPA spa. Wedding packages are made-to-order—think “I do” on a beach with no foot traffic, on a private rustic pier, in a private villa or in the sprawling ballroom. The hotel is offering a special promotion for groups: rates start at $345 per room, per night in a Deluxe Ocean View. Valid for groups of 10 persons or more.

“The Riviera Maya offers many advantages for couples looking for the ideal spot for their wedding and honeymoon,” says Lizzie Cole, marketing director for the Riviera Maya’s Destination Marketing Office (rivieramaya.com). “Unique options like ceremonies held around a sacred cenote or weddings with dolphins are part of its allure, along with spectacular hotels, stunning natural attributes and the many innovative professionals that are on hand to create the perfect backdrop for that special occasion.” Beginning south of Puerto Morelos, the Riviera Maya continues through Playa del Carmen, Coba and Tulum, ending in Punta Allen in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

“Mexico’s destination weddings business continues to grow on this coastline,” says Ilse Diamant, Riviera Maya destination wedding expert and owner of Diamant Events (secretjewel.com.mx). “More and more couples are coming to have a private, intimate wedding ceremony. Plus, we’re constantly developing new skills. Hotels and planners, for example, are adopting green wedding certifications in keeping with the growing worldwide trend.”

Described as both “sexy and eco-conscious,” the award-winning, 41-villa Viceroy Riviera Maya (viceroymaya.com) specializes in creating custom-tailored wedding events. The resort embraces the traditional culture of the region, from a welcome ritual of a Mayan blessing to Mayan dishes at the restaurant to the Good Wish Mayan Ceremony. Their wedding packages start at $235 per person, but the highlight is the Extreme Takeover: The Ultimate Wedding Vacay, a 3-day, all-inclusive event that literally takes over the hotel’s 41 villas, starting at $125,000. “We want the couple and all their friends and family to go home thinking not only was it the most beautiful wedding ever but also the best vacation of their lives,” says Pedro Lara, general manager. “By focusing on the group experience, which works best with a buyout of the resort, everyone is part of a dream vacation filled with joy, bonding and unforgettable memories.”

The Paradisus Playa del Carmen (member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts; paradisus.com) is offering a special-edition wedding package that’s also all about celebrating with family and friends, and each facet of the experience is customized. “The resort is also exploring a new trend in cultural weddings,” says Lauren Harder, wedding sales, Paradisus Resorts. “Recently we have satisfied many requests for Kosher, Indian, and Persian celebrations, personalizing the experiences to fit couples’ beliefs and traditions.” The bride has the full support of the complete Paradisus “Romance Team” and the in-house “Decor Company,” plus complimentary access to the “Romance Planner.” They might also want to take advantage of the unique Love at First Site package, where they can visit a Paradisus Resort and enjoy a hosted site inspection, menu tasting and a special room rate of $210 per person, per night. Best of all, the cost of is then applied as a credit towards final payment of the wedding (restrictions apply).

Cozumel

Previously Sabor Cozumel Exclusive Resort & Spa and Aura Cozumel Grand, the new adults-only Secrets Aura Cozumel (secretsresorts.com/aura) received extensive renovations including redecorated rooms, restaurant upgrades and a new shopping area. The 168-room hotel offers Secrets Resorts & Spas’ signature Unlimited-Luxury concept, with limitless access to gourmet a la carte dining and premium beverage brands, 24-hour room and concierge services, countless daytime activities, live evening entertainment and more. Guests of the resort also have close access to the Chankanaab National Marine Park, the Punta Sur National Ecological Park and golf at the nearby Cozumel Country Club. Wedding packages in paradise start at $999, but can be complimentary depending on the stay.

Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa (intercontinentalcozumel.com or cozumelwedding.com) is an intimate, elegant property that is home to a Mandara Spa (ideal for getting ready on the big day), three restaurants, an array of guestroom options, all with breathtakiing views, and a collection of wedding packages. Couples can opt for the Underwater I Do choice, or if they prefer to go more locally traditional, recommend the Mayan Ceremony, led by a Mayan shaman. For wedding guests, the resort offers various activities to keep them busy, including scuba diving, golf and the Chuiqui Club for the kids.

Sightseeing: With just five of its nine bays developed, Huatulco boasts a slew of beautiful beaches—many accessible only by boat. Some have calm waters for swimming and snorkeling, while others are best for sunbathing and relaxing. Tour operators like Amstar DMC (amstardmc.com) and Huatulco Tours (huatulcotours.net) can take couples and their wedding party on land and sea activities including sea kayaking, cruising, deep-sea fishing, rock climbing, or visits to coffee plantations and the photogenic waterfalls in the nearby Sierra Madre mountains.

Modern Cancun offers plenty of nightlife and entertainment, as does the Quinta Avenida in the Riviera Maya’s Playa del Carmen, but the ancient past and the beauty of nature are the biggest draws. DMCs like the Epic Group (epic.com.mx) put together tours to visit breathtaking ruins like Tulum, the Mayan fortress perched on cliffs above the Caribbean Sea, or the stunning Chichen Itza.

Kayaking in Cozumel.

Eco parks like Xcaret (xcaret.com) and Xel-Ha in the Riviera Maya offer visitors the opportunity to indulge in the bounty of nature. Guests can go snorkeling, diving and swimming within the ecosystems themselves in their underground rivers, caves and fascinating bay areas where freshwater rivers meet the salt waters of the sea. Don’t miss the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (Mayan for “birth of the sky”; visitsiankaan.com), encompassing over one million acres of tropical forest, mangrove swamps, a coral barrier reef, archaeological ruins, salt marshes and Caribbean beaches.

The snorkeling and diving in the area are world-class, particularly around Isla Mujeres off of Cancun, and in Cozumel, there’s the famous Palancar Reef, providing divers with access to an incredible diversity of species, stunning sites and visibility of at least 150 ft.

Mayan Ceremony in Riviera Maya cenote.

Weather: The area has a subtropical climate with warm and sunny weather year-round. The average daily temperature is 85°F with higher peaks in the summer months when temperatures can reach 90°F. The climate is predominated by a rainy season from June until November.