The Viceroy Riviera Maya Review – Mexico

By Abi King | South America

Apr 10

Highlights of Mexico > My first trip to Mexico left quite an impression when it came to Mayan culture and the rituals that took place on those steep-stepped ruins. - Via @insidetravellab

A Dramatic Welcome to the Viceroy Riviera Maya

A priest. A still-beating heart. Blood flowing down sacrificial steps until it flooded the ground 30 metres below.

My first trip to Mexico left quite an impression when it came to Mayan culture and the rituals that took place on those steep-stepped ruins.

So when asked to close my eyes and prepare for the Mayan experience… It unsettled me.

Mayan Traditions at the Viceroy Riviera Maya

The Mayan Experience at the Viceroy Riviera Maya

The air clung hot and humid, a waterfall mixed with the buzzing in my ears from dehydration and a dose of jet lag.

I cheated a little and looked down instead.

This, I realised through squinted palm leaves, was the official welcome to the Viceroy Riviera Maya hotel. Perfumed smoke draped across our clothes.

And there wasn’t a knife in sight.

Viceroy Riviera Maya Beach

The Knife

In fact, I had just begun to relax as I reached my room when a member of staff pulled a blade from her side the moment she closed the door.

“Soap?” she said and I swayed on my heels.

I had, it appeared, failed in the quest to cling on to sanity.

She wouldn’t give in. “Lemongrass. Oatmeal. Rich deep chocolate?”

I stared, mind blank, eyelids heavy.

It turned out to be another ritual: soap served slippery fresh and sliced on the threshold of your room. It also smelled better than the smoke.

Viceroy Riviera Maya Soap

Soap: A Particular Viceroy Riviera Maya Experience

Starting to Relax at the Viceroy Riviera Maya

I chose lemongrass.


Felt soothing clarity return. I also remembered that those the Mayans used to sacrifice were, as a point of principle, extremely young and beautiful.

I needn’t have worried at all.

Viceroy Riviera Maya Wayak Spa


Signature Treatment at the Viceroy Riviera Maya Wayak Spa

Unease returned as staff led me from the steam room and jacuzzi to track along leaf-lined pathways and a dug-out canoe. The chatter of the waterfall intensified.

This time I am not clothed. And this time I am lying down. I’m no younger nor (let’s face it) more beautiful but a sense of vulnerability returns.

This time, curiosity arrives too.

Scented smoke leads to brush down with a brisk broom of herbs and a rub down with an egg. It’s part spa, part cooking class, my body served up as meat.

But condiments aside, once the massage gets going it’s one of the best ones around. Kneaded, stretched, smoothed and released, my muscles settle happily, the long journey long forgotten.

There’s still one Mayan trick up the sleeve, though. The towel rub section of the signature dish: the manteada. This involves wrapping me up like a tortilla and rocking me from side to side in a peculiarly loosening experience.

And then it is over – herbs, eggs and smoke all gone – and I’m lying by a waterfall wondering how to make sense of it all. Except, I realise, as the sunshine filters through the palms into the space the smoke has left, that doesn’t really matter.

My muscles feel softer, my body relaxed.

And though my heart’s still beating, it’s definitely still in my chest.

Beach Paradise - Viceroy Riviera Maya (1)

Hotel Viceroy Riviera Maya Review– the Traditional Version

This beautiful, eco-conscious beach and jungle retreat is a real treat for the senses. It has 41 villas yet gives the impression that only ten guests ever stay here at once. There’s an atmospheric open-air bar and library area, an outdoor restaurant called the Coral Bar & Grill and an upstairs restaurant called La Marea.

You’ll find a lagoon shaped pool but you can easily walk onto the beach or stride along the walkway to dive off at the end. The hotel has a great range of activities – from yoga classes to cooking classes, trips to Tulum and various cenotes, picnics on Playa Maya, and a deep heat Mayan temazcal treatment in some kind of igloo closer to home.

The food is fiery and local, drawing on the passions of head chef Jetzabel Rojas (although staple options of fruit, cereal and plain toast are also available if the spicy jalapeno peppers are not to your taste.) You’ll need a car or some other transport to leave the resort, which is only an hour or so from key sites Tulum and Coba and a fascinating turquoise cenote I’ve yet to write about.

Relaxation at the Viceroy Rivera Maya

What I Loved

The juice collection at breakfast. Check out the coral smoothies – yoghurt, honey, guava and strawberry.

The handmade, hand-sliced soap

The hammock in my secluded jungle garden

The tequila tasting session – there’s more to this drink than you might imagine

The cooking lesson

The private nature of the jungle “Royal villa”

The ceviche. And the enfrijoladas. Oh, I just love, love, love this kind of food…

Things To Know

The ocean view rooms also allow other guests to see into your villa

Amazing food at the Viceroy Riviera Maya


  • Swimming pool – outdoor
  • Spa services on site
  • Concierge services
  • Complimentary newspapers in lobby
  • Room service
  • Valet parking (surcharge)
  • Safe-deposit box
  • Security guard
  • Currency exchange
  • Dry cleaning service
  • Patio
  • Video library
  • Poolside bar
  • Spa tub
  • Bar/lounge
  • Restaurant(s) in hotel
  • Limo or Town Car service available
  • Multilingual staff
  • Gift shop
  • Tour assistance
  • Library
  • Gym
  • Wi fi
  • Airport transportation (surcharge)

Viceroy Riviera Maya

Disclosure. I visited the Hotel Riviera Maya on a complimentary basis for review purposes. I was free, as ever, to write whatever I thought about the experience, broom of herbs and all. Because there’s just no point in me pretending to like things I didn’t, now, is there?

Read more here: Heaven has a stake in Mexico – at the Hotel Riviera Maya.

nsidetravellab at Riviera Maya

Yoga at the Viceroy Riviera Maya

What do you think? Would you give the Mayan massage a try?


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • Lorenzo says:

    Ok, this is what i call luxury. The photos are awesome, Abi.

  • Sofie says:

    I’d certainly give this a try… If I was making 10 times the amount of money i’m making now:)

  • Virgil S. says:

    What a great trip! You bet I would go for the Mayan massage, I am always ready for new experiences.

    • Abi King says:

      Then you should try the heated ‘igloo’ treatment too. Three hours inside a steamy hot ceramic pot, chanting & burning herbs…

  • Arianwen says:

    I might save this for my honeymoon! That soap looks edible. Very swish!

  • ces says:

    The massage seems interesting. I would love to try that if given the opportunity.

  • Sounds like heaven. My wife likes the spas while i am more drawn to the Miami steak houses and golf courses. Florida is where we vacation most but I’m not adverse to Mexico or any other warm destination. I know my wife would love it too.

    • Abi says:

      Oh yes, if she likes spas I feel confident she’d be happy here!

  • You gave me some … ideas for my honeymoon! Thanks !

  • Patty says:

    Awesome photos and description. I have no choice but to be jealous. Great blog.

  • Julien from Hotel Boscolo says:

    The rooms ocean view, is really amazing… Nice article and photos

  • Kelli says:

    Did guards line the beach? Concerned about safety in Mexico

    • Abi King says:

      No, not at all. It was peaceful and idyllic and a little further along you could see local children playing on the beach too. I always check the FCO advice before I travel – you may find it helpful to work out which parts of the world to avoid and which to enjoy. Here’s the link:

  • Gorgeous photos, Abi, and descriptions. The manteada sounds sooo relaxing.

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