Why Vidanta Riviera Maya in Mexico might just be the most exhilarating family paradise on the planet
Leave your heart at the top of the aqua Paradise Free Fall, hold your breath at Cirque du Soleil. The Vidanta Riviera Maya resort in Mexico is an extremely rare family destination, matching exclusive escape with adrenalin-fuelled entertainment to thrill the kids.
Guests staying in the top accommodation, Grand Luxe, are allocated their dedicated concierge to arrange dinner reservations, excursions to Mayan ruins and to transport you anywhere around the 1,000-acre resort. Our concierge, Lilya, greeted us on arrival and we set off by buggy through the softly lit paths that wind between five different hotels (each supersedes the next in luxury) and numerous pools. The air was warm and velvety, the evening alive with the sound of cicadas. Kids will coo as fluffy coyotes skip by, but when the door swings open to the Loft Suite, the adults go wow!
The Loft Suite is a magnificent double height space. At the press of a remote, the astonishing 23 feet-tall curtain glides open to reveal a deck you could sprint along, with three seating areas – soft, dining and reclining – and a plunge pool. Vidanta’s adage has to be “luxury is in the detail.” Each light fixture is a work of art, the lotions beyond lavish (including a factor 50 Clarins suncream), and there were no less than 15 flower arrangements in our stylish nest. It’s very well equipped too, with washing machine and ultra sleek kitchen, an extra convenience for families.
Vidanta keeps you in touch with nature, landscaped seamlessly with the lush jungle where the colourful birds are a constant chorus. The resort stretches along a rugged beach where you can lounge on stylish day beds. At the exclusive Grand Luxe Beach Club, you’re secluded in private cabanas by a series of pools, lulled by a cool playlist. Meanwhile, the Joy Squad provides family entertainment with Texas Hold’em on the sand and plenty for the kids.
You need to stay for at least a week to try all the dining options at Vidanta. At the Mexican restaurant, Il Cantina, an authentic menu includes guacamole mixed with crickets bought direct from Oaxaca, while the waiter was illuminating on Mexican wine. As a country of beer and tequila drinkers, production is limited, but unsurprisingly the Baja California, north Mexico, is an excellent terroir.
Vidanta’s Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course is challenging, with 18 holes set around long water features which need a good stroke to clear. You’re guaranteed an amazing wildlife encounter as two foot long vivid green iguanas sun themselves at leisure on the course.
Children have their own paradise here. Jungala is Vidanta’s Luxury Aqua Park. There are extreme Thrill Rides and a water fortress that appears to have been designed by a small kid with a big budget. There’s a pool with waves lapping the faux beach. Meanwhile, parents will love the peaceful private cabanas with slow fans and Evian face spritz on ice. And the Vidanta speciality “hammock massage” with tequila foot scrub.
The Lazy River is genius. A ribbon of blue water wends gently around Jungala, and you float with the current, brushing past fern fronds, sun glinting through the lush canape. It’s a delight.
Vidanta offers the ultimate family entertainment at Joya, their resident Cirque de Soleil, whose performances seem to defy human physique. Exceptionally you can dine in the theatre, an experience that combines Mexican flavours and magic, beginning with an edible menu. Fish comes in a pirate treasure box, meat in a prehistoric rock, and an intermezzo spoon of dragon’s breath makes your mouth puff liquid nitrogen.
Vidanta is an exhilarating family paradise. High season for Riviera Maya is December to April, but Vidanta made August absolutely beautiful.