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Weekend Getaway: Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya

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There are few things I love more than food, alcohol, and exercise. Throw in travel and writing and that’s where I spend most of my time.  Thus, I was thrilled when the Bitches received an invite for a media trip to Mexico, where we would spend the long weekend engaging in “Booze, Barbells & Bites” at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

“Those are like your three favorite things!” a fellow Bitch exclaimed when I told her how I’d be spending my weekend—I’m easily pegged.

It was the weekend after the presidential election, which made an escape South of the Border for rest, relaxation, and decompression oh-so-necessary. Weary and beleaguered, I hopped a plane from DCA, flying through Miami to land in Cancun with a dozen other female journalists and bloggers. In addition to the complimentary vacation, the great thing about media trips is that everything is planned for you: logistics, activities, meals, and everything in between. As a workaholic dual entrepreneur with an inability to turn off, I so appreciate that I didn’t have to think—I just sat back and enjoyed.

The Hard Rock is part of the chain of Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos around the world, so the brand is music, casino, and fun focused for the all-American consumer. This particular hotel was all inclusive, and located in Riviera Maya, a part of Mexico between Cancun and Tulum.

This region of Mexico is beautiful, and loaded with posh hotels and upscale all-inclusive resorts; it’s sort of a step between the secluded beach bungalows of Tulum and the tourism and tequila-shot focused Cancun. I was excited to explore.

Riviera Maya is absolutely stunning, with beautiful coves of clear blue water, palm trees, and lush jungle. On the property at Hard Rock, monkeys are often spotted.

Chad Martel
Chad Martel

The Hard Rock Hotel is enormous, with dozens of restaurants, several pools, and all sorts of activities (for adults and children). It’s divided into an adult-zone and a child-friendly zone, with two separate buildings. The focus at Hard Rock is on fun—there are clubs, casinos, Vegas-style pool parties, and more to keep you entertained. I noticed lots of groups of people of all ages, both American and Mexican, had chosen the Hard Rock for a fun group gathering. As it’s all inclusive, there’s something for everyone, regardless of your taste.

Chad Martel
Chad Martel

I was looking to relax and exercise, so I spent the majority of my time on the beach, which was lined with charming palaces and beautiful private day beds. It was truly serene—and the cocktail service was attentive. I may have had too many mojitos and fallen asleep mid-sentence, waking up with a sun burn. The tropical cocktails in Mexico can’t be beat—and those all-inclusive resorts make it all too easy.

I also loved my room, which was a standard room. It was two levels, with a balcony overlooking the ocean where I took my breakfast. The space had an enormous bathroom and plush, comfy bed, perfect for reading, working, or catching up on sleep. Best of all, it had its own private, second-floor terrace, featuring a hot tub and a chair for sun bathing, without those pesky tan lines.

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Hard Rock Hotel has partnered with Les Mills, the international fitness company that created and owns workout classes like Body Pump, Body Flow, and Body Combat. Once upon a time, I was actually a certified Body Flow instructor, a class that combines yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi. As I love exercise, I was totally thrilled to take the variety of classes offered—many of which are done outside, in a straw-covered hut overlooking the water. It was a blissful way to start the day.

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Aiming to return tanned and refreshed, I relegated my activities to beach-side cocktails, workouts, sleep, and the spa; because it’s not a vacation without a visit to the spa. Like the hotel itself, the spa decor is over-the-top gilded and glam, in a rock star, Vegas sort of way. While it doesn’t suit my personal aesthetic, I found the service to be top notch and the ambiance serene. My masseuse did an incredible job getting the knots out of my neck, after which I spent a good hour or two relaxing in the sauna, Jacuzzi, and heated relaxation beds. It was blissful.

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As this is a blog largely related to food, I would be remiss not to discuss the topic. As you might imagine given this is an all-inclusive resort, the food was hit or miss. The poolside food and options available during the day were buffet-style all-American food (think chicken fingers and nachos) and poor quality Mexican food. I’m loathe to participate in a buffet so please take my snobbery into account. Our evening meals were top notch, as the staff pulled out all the stops to provide healthy, inventive, and fresh fare like tropical salads, ceviches, and veggie-laden dishes.

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