As the temperatures continue to drop and snow accumulates north of the equator, there’s no better time to begin scheming a tropical getaway to kick off the new year. And the all-inclusive Royal Hideaway Playacar is giving us every reason to look south toward the Yucatán Peninsula.
Nestled in the exclusive Playacar neighborhood of Playa del Carmen, the adults-only beachfront property offers idyllic white sand while remaining just a stone’s throw from downtown. Here’s why we’re checking into this secluded stay right now.
Royal Hideaway Playacar brought on talented Spanish toque Alejandro Sanchez as executive chef last winter, and the changes he’s made to the food and beverage program alone warrant a trip.
After helming acclaimed restaurants in Almería, Spain; Hong Kong; and Mexico City, Sanchez brings his gastronomic ingenuity to the table in five different restaurants at this luxurious resort.
At Las Ventanas, the property’s fine-dining concept, he’s introduced an exclusive Chef’s Table Experience that allows you to observe the action in the kitchen and follow along as he explains each course. Using the plate as his palette, Sanchez draws on the flavors and dishes of southern Spain interpreted through the bounty of the Yucatán, resulting in variations on classic ajoblanco (a creamy almond gazpacho) and calamar tapao (a regional squid confit from Sanchez’s native Almeria).
Equally as enticing, the resort’s four other culinary options also feature Sanchez’s touch. Once a week, he creates a new themed menu to complement the show at the Royal Club Theater, while local produce and seafood are put on display at Spices, the resort’s ocean-facing Mexican restaurant.
Those craving Italian will not be disappointed by Palazzo’s rustic dishes (like lamb ragú pappardelle) while the dinner at Azia is not to be missed. Here, Sanchez’s expertise with Thai cuisine shines in dishes like braised short rib massaman and jorel hang lay, made with organic coconut sugar in lieu of palm sugar and Mexican chiles standing in for their Thai counterparts.
No matter how high-end they may be, all-inclusive resorts aren’t typically known for having stellar cocktails, but Royal Hideaway Playacar is the exception.
The bar program foregoes syrupy frozen daiquiris and saccharine piña coladas in favor of more elegant libations, like the refreshing Green Juniper (Tanqueray gin, Cointreau, cucumber juice, Perrier, basil-rosemary syrup, basil leaves and cucumber slices) or the complex Smoky Mexican Pepper (Don Julio Blanco tequila, mezcal, Agavero blue agave tequila, pineapple, coriander leaves and lime).
During the day, take your tipples at the ocean-facing Deck bar or while lounging on a Balinese bed in between swims. When the sun goes down, toast friends at Allegria, which provides outdoor lounge seating, billiards, TVs, couches and bar seating inside.
Sign up for tequila and mezcal tastings to learn more about the spirits and how to use them to build balanced, delicious cocktails at home.
Channeling breezy Caribbean vibes, Royal Hideaway Playacar’s 201 rooms are set inside colorful, British colonial-style homes spread across the property and surrounded by tropical gardens. Inside each villa, a concierge is present daily to make meal reservations, arrange for private transportation or recommend activities.
Appointed with mahogany furniture, luxe white linens and seafoam-hued accents, each accommodation comes with an oversized marble bathroom stocked with L’Occitane amenities, jetted hydro-massage tubs and either balconies or terraces.
But for the true royal treatment, opt for one of the two-story stays: the Honeymoon Suite features a private lower-level balcony and an upper-level terrace with hammocks and garden views, while the 1,625-square-foot Royal Casita holds three bedrooms, two bathrooms, living and dining areas and a Jacuzzi-clad terrace.
With six on-site pools (including a picture-perfect infinity pool cascading into a waterfall) and sparkling sands, you’ll have no trouble relaxing here.
Private beach access is just steps from your villa, so the hardest decision you’ll need to make during your stay is whether to plunge into a pristine pool or the turquoise waves — or rotate between the two.
If you prefer even more active pursuits, try your hand at sailing or hop on a catamaran — one free daily rental is included for each guest. Basketball, ping pong and bocce ball are also on offer, as are bikes to borrow and two floodlit tennis courts for a post-sunset match.
But the fun doesn’t have to end once it gets dark. Ease into nighttime with a massage at the spa before enjoying an entertaining evening at the Royal Club Theater. Forget your preconceptions of what dinner theater might entail; here, the theater is spacious and comfortable, and the food is as exceptional as the performance. Snag seats to the Mexico show and you’ll learn about the spectrum of dance styles found across the country’s many states.
After dinner, different nights bring various forms of entertainment at Allegria, from Spanish guitar concerts and karaoke to salsa lessons and silent disco dance parties. Or simply steal away to the beach for a romantic walk by the light of the moon.
Many all-inclusive resorts are tucked so far away from everything else that it makes sense to remain on property for the entirety of your stay. Luckily, Royal Hideaway Playacar is within walking distance to downtown Playa del Carmen, and the picturesque stroll through the gated Playacar community is entirely safe. Make time to explore La Quinta Avenida, a vibrant pedestrian street filled with hundreds of shops and vendors. Be sure to buy a fresh young coconut and a marquesita, a local dessert much like a crunchy crepe.
From Playa del Carmen’s main dock, you can catch a 45-minute ferry to Cozumel for world-class diving and snorkeling. And just south of the resort is Rio Secreto, a network of five caves filled with underground springs.
Royal Hideaway Playacar is also well-situated for day trips to many of the area’s most desirable destinations. Renting a car (or arranging a driver) through the resort makes getting around easy. The Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá are two and a half hours west, and less than 45 minutes south is where you’ll find some of the area’s most stunning cenotes (natural freshwater caves ideal for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving).