Hacienda Tres Rios

Not one, but three rivers run through Hacienda Tres Rios. Mostly underground, they spill out from time to time in the 326-acre park of green tucked away quietly in the Riviera Maya. The abundance of fresh water is the life force behind the resort, though also flowing freely are tamarind margaritas and grilled lobster tails, environmental consciousness and enough luxurious touches to make this property one of the most indulgent resort choices in Mexico today.

Originally an eco-park, Tres Rios is home to no less than 10 cenotes, each with its own name and some more swimmable than others. These are the focal point of the resort, an all-natural, exciting form of endless entertainment for guests of all ages. These sinkholes, found throughout the Yucatan peninsula and surrounded by mangroves here, are great for a quick dip, kayak adventure or snorkeling excursion (there are plenty of fish swimming alongside guests). Adventurers can even float right out to the ocean from a couple of them.

allure al natural The 273-suite Hacienda Tres Rios adheres to strict eco-friendly practices, including its design and construction, under the watchful eye of CEO Orlando Arroyo, honored in 2006 by Mexico’s Environmental and Natural Resources Agency (SEMARNAT) for his commitment to sustainable tourism. Even with the hotel, separate vacation ownership structure and decadent pool, less than a third of the park is “occupied” by man-made construction. Most of the property is made up of mangroves and hundreds of plant and animal species (this is also an ideal getaway for birdwatchers). Electric carts are used to take visitors around, or they may walk around or bike ride while discovering the wealth of natural treasures throughout. Tres Rios’ roads are made of indigenous pounded limestone, which reflects the moonlight and allows strollers and bikers to easily find their way around.

It’s this attention and attraction to its surroundings that makes Tres Rios so enticing—visitors are immersed in a variety of ecosystems that are well cared for and monitored continuously. (In fact, the resort has its own environmental officer, Gabriel Santoyo, who is responsible for enforcing sustainable tourism practices and ensuring the protection and quality of the property.) The result is a place that is entertaining and highly educational for young and old, where guided tours uncover exotic flora and mangrove replanting can become a guest activity. There are above-ground stretches of river that allow guests to swim or float about for hours, and a mile-long strip of typically gorgeous Mexican Caribbean shoreline. (A zipline and climbing wall opens next month.) Tres Rios also has a Mini Club for children with a roster filled with daily activities, including swimming lessons, cooking classes, piñata making, treasure hunts, and sandcastle-building.

Despite the fresh water throughout, Tres Rios desalinates ocean water and utilizes this source in the property. Construction materials are mostly indigenous—the wood and marble in all rooms and common areas are of Mexican origin, and even the staff’s uniforms are made locally. These native influences, combined with Tres Rios’ sound environmental mission, have sprinkled an added touch of magic everywhere, especially in its guest suites—visions of orange and wood with powerful showerheads that are nevertheless 40 percent more efficient than regular ones, motion-sensored lighting systems and pull-out sofas and two queen beds to accommodate families of all sizes. The largest suite is a 2-bedroom beauty with a winding staircase that leads up to an open-air jacuzzi and both ocean and jungle views, an ideal option for couples’ getaways.

Although up and running and plenty attractive, the whole of Tres Rios has more in store. When the master plan is completed, it will include more than 1,700 suites as well as full- and part-time residences, a Mayan cultural center, bird sanctuary, marina, and convention center—all while maintaining the nature park, estuary and gardens visitors now enjoy.

a mix of indulgences The cuisine at Tres Rios is another big seduction. Under the expert eye of executive chef Oscar Orbe, meals at Hacienda Tres Rios are both inspired and delicious. Everything is made fresh daily in-house and even the kitchen is an uber-organized marvel of separate preparation and refrigeration areas for different types of food and color-coded kitchen knives and cutting boards. Dining options are a gourmand’s fantasy, with nine bars and restaurants serving the likes of Teppanyaki dishes and sushi, brick-oven pizzas, Parisian-inspired pastries, and Mexican dishes. Buffet dining is outstanding—everything is tended to constantly so all options are fresh and the choices are as gratifying as anything you might pick from any menu: innovative, tasty and pleasing to the palate.