Banyan Tree Mayakoba Rating: 5.0 Pearls
The Banyan Tree Mayakoba has 164 casually elegant villas featuring high-end furniture, walk-in showers, private plunge pools, walled-in grass lawns, patios with hammocks, huge outdoor bathtubs, and fully stocked bars. When you consider the high-end spa, plethora of outdoor activities -- such as golf, snorkeling, and eco tours -- and the fantastic dining, it's very hard to find anything wrong with this property. Its rooms are arguably very slightly more luxurious than those at Rosewood, which makes this our number one luxury pick.
Rosewood Mayakoba Rating: 5.0 Pearls
This Rosewood property attracts well-heeled couples with its mile-long beach, serene atmosphere, gorgeous spa, and large suites with private plunge pools and high-tech conveniences. Top-notch amenities include a Greg Norman-designed golf course, three gourmet restaurants, several pools -- including a gorgeous infinity pool -- and an excellent kids' club. Wonderful freebies, such as Wi-Fi, fruit and bottled water, don't hurt either. Though we've ranked the Banyan's rooms a tad higher than the Rosewood's, the Rosewood has the nicer spa.
Esencia Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The former estate of an Italian duchess, the ultra-luxurious Esencia oozes Mediterranean elegance and style. With just 29 rooms spread over 50 acres, the property feels intimate and exclusive, and shows a thorough attention to detail in everything from the services to the decor. Upscale, contemporary rooms are housed in two-story buildings set amid lush tropical grounds, and feature lots of high-end amenities, including pre-loaded iPods, Molton Brown toiletries, and in some, even private plunge pools. But not all have bathtubs, and in those that do, the tubs can be small. The gorgeous spa, excellent restaurant, and relaxing pools with ocean views are highlights. Though it may lack some of the features of properties lower on this list, its butler service, numerous freebies (free yoga classes, free breakfast, free use of snorkeling gear), intimate size, personalized service, and gorgeous beach put it a cut above.
Maroma Resort and Spa by Orient-Express Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The Maroma is one of the few upscale boutique resorts in the area. It offers amenities found in larger resorts -- including three outdoor pools, daily activities, a beautiful spa, and several dining options -- plus great extras, such as free snorkeling trips (one per guest), free a la carte breakfast served in the restaurant or delivered to the room, and yoga and Reiki classes. Its 65 rooms are decorated with original artwork and furniture from the hotel's own workshop, and feature marble or Mexican tile bathrooms, three different types of handmade soap, balconies or terraces with hammocks, and aromatherapy sets. The bathrooms in lower-level rooms aren't quite as luxurious as at many of the other resorts on this list, but the resort's level of service earns it a higher ranking than it would receive otherwise.
Viceroy Riviera Maya Rating: 4.5 Pearls
For a relaxed upscale getaway, the Viceroy delivers. It offers 41 rustic-luxe villas with thatched roofs, partially canopied beds topped by 500-thread-count Egyptian cotton linens, private plunge pools, and outdoor showers. The casual but top-notch restaurants; serene spa with outdoor treatment rooms, and pleasant pool with views of a seven-mile, white-sand beach round out the experience. It ranks higher than the El Dorado Casitas and Fairmont for its gorgeous rooms with plunge pools, but it should be noted that not all rooms have soaking tubs.
El Dorado Casitas Royale Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This peaceful adults-only resort, located along a white, sandy beach in the Riviera Maya, is geared toward romantic getaways (think honeymoons, anniversaries, and vow renewals). Each group of casitas has its own pool area that connects to a lazy river, and there are 13 public pools in total -- which is nice, because the ocean bottom is too rocky for most guests to enjoy. This all-inclusive resort offers a dizzying array of restaurants, bars, nightlife, spa treatments, and on-site activities to keep guests busy. When in need of an escape, the tour desk arranges off-site excursions, or guests can take a shuttle service to visit Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Casitas have romantic touches such as wood-beamed ceilings, canopy beds, and outdoor showers, and the private patios can be curtained off for afternoon siestas on the day beds. Its intimate size, impressive array of features, and level of privacy earn it a spot on our list.
Fairmont Mayakoba Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The Fairmont is a gorgeous beachfront property located a few minutes north of Playa del Carmen. It offers 401 contemporary rooms with upscale bathrooms featuring Le Labo toiletries, glass-enclosed showers and separate jetted tubs. The high-end spa, acclaimed dining options, five pools, and beautiful surroundings make this one of the most luxurious properties in Riviera Maya. It's a sprawling property, but guests can borrow BMW bikes or golf carts to move around the grounds.
Excellence Riviera Cancun Rating: 4.5 Pearls
This adults-only resort lives up to the Excellence name, offering the standard amenities of the luxury chain: multiple attractive pools, numerous dining options, dozens of activities, and a solid spa with beachside treatment huts. The abundance of marble and columns throughout the property might be a bit too ostentatious for some, but it's definitely impressive -- as are the rooms. The rooms feature Jacuzzis and open bathrooms, which shouldn't be a problem for most visitors choosing an adults-only resort. All have terraces or balconies, and a gorgeous stretch of beach is right outside the door.
Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya Rating: 4.5 Pearls
With only 90 suites, the Zoetry Paraiso offers a romantic, wellness-centric boutique experience in the Mayan Riviera. The unique layouts of the suites offers different experiences to guests, including Terrace Suites with small bath-side indoor gardens, and Plunge Pool Suites with small personal outdoor pools. Even though warm, Mediterranean style is a bit different in each room type, all are spacious with comfortable furnishings and Bulgari toiletries. Some tube TVs are begging for an update, however. The pool area and beach are relaxed with double-wide lounge chairs (perfect for couples), and the on-site dining keeps the resort's wellness theme alive with delicious, healthy meals. Included amenities not standard at most all-inclusive resorts, such as a "welcome" bottle of tequila, daily bottle of champagne, a one-hour Catamaran sunset sail, three-times-daily maid service, and private chauffeured airport transfers, make this resort a standout among Cancun's finest properties (though expect the price to reflect that).
Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The Secrets is an adults-only property located on a secluded white-sand beach north of Puerto Morelos. Its bright, spacious rooms have a soothing white and silver décor, and come equipped with platform beds, deep Jacuzzi tubs that open onto the room, minibars restocked daily, and furnished balconies or terraces. The strict dress code, beautiful pools that sprawl the grounds, and remote location give this property an exclusive feel.