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Cancún, Mexico, was recently named the top international travel destination for Labor Day 2016, according to a survey from CheapOair. The city on the Yucatan Peninsula maintains its top spot on the list from last year, though Cancún has proven to be a popular travel destination year round as well. We’ve compiled a list of some of the must-see places to visit and stay during your next trip to Cancún, whether it’s Labor Day weekend or any time of year.
Breathless Riviera Cancún
Breathless Riviera Cancún opened earlier in 2016 with a celebration in the Riviera Maya. The adults-only destination, located between the Caribbean Sea and the Lagoon of Bahia Petempich, comprises 526 all-suite accommodations, divided among three areas within the resort, each with a different modern design: the Xhale Club, for those looking for personalized service and luxury; the Energy Center for guests looking to socialize; and the Xcelerate Party Zone, for visitors looking to celebrate during their stay. The resort incorporates an “unlimited-luxury” vacation package, offering unlimited access to gourmet a la carte dining across 10 separate venues, unlimited top-shelf spirits served at 10 bars and lounges, 24-hour room and concierge services, daily-refreshed mini bars, daytime activities and nightly entertainment, free Wi-Fi and access to the X-ert Fitness Center, complete with fitness classes including Pilates, Yoga and Zumba. The resort has a weekly party calendar stocked with themed parties and events, including “Breathless Rocks,” “Neon Night Lights” and “Insomnia Pool” parties, in addition to special guest DJ performances. Each month at Breathless Riviera Cancún is given a theme, to give guests reason to celebrate all month long.
Grand Residences Riviera Cancún
Grand Residences Riviera Cancún sits in the heart of the Riviera Maya just 10 minutes from downtown Puerto Morelos. The hotel offers views of the Caribbean Sea from its 103 suites. The resort, part of Leading Hotels of the World, is located between a large barrier reef and includes amenities such as free Wi-Fi, kids under 12 staying free and complimentary airport transfers. Suites come complete with a private terrace, Jacuzzi, a kitchenette and more. Other accommodations include welcome drinks, a pillow menu, in-room fruit and coffee, personalized gifts and cookies for kids, traditional necklaces, welcome gifts like tequila, Bulgari bath amenities, handbags and more. The resort offers onsite services including tea time, a catamaran trip, yoga and Zumba classes, a kids club, bicycle tours of Puerto Morelos, cooking classes, personal concierges, a 24-hour fitness center, butler services, mixology classes and poolside massages.
Grand Oasis Cancún
Most recently the Grand Oasis Cancún opened its Havana Club Cigar Bar, which offers guests nightly entertainment along with fine cigars and spirits. Performances are reminiscent of the 1950s Havana nightclub scene, with cabaret-style shows and big band concerts. The bar has cigars for beginners up to experienced smokers, with prices starting at $6 for a single tube to $800 for a full box of fine cigars. The hotel has 18 bars and restaurants onsite, most of which are included in the all-inclusive fare for the hotel. Many of the restaurants include live music and entertainment, complete with karaoke for the adventurous performer in your group. Available to guests of Grand Oasis Cancún include a spa, beach club, multiple swimming pools, a fitness center, theater, sports equipment, a golf course, car rentals, shops, nightclubs and business and convention centers. Even poolside loungers are in for a treat as entertainers can be found strolling the grounds of the restaurant, performing all over the resort. Beach excursions include opportunities to parasail, water ski, Jet Ski and more.
Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancún
Adults looking to travel together, whether it be couples or friends, should check out the Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancún, a separate hotel within the Royalton Riviera Cancún. Suites in the Hideaway have aromatherapy, Jacuzzi tubs, 24-hour room service and premium spirits. Special amenities for Hideaway guests include afternoon hors d’oeuvres, exclusive a la carte restaurants and personalized beach bags. New at the Hideaway at Royalton is the C/X Culinary Experience, or the private chef’s table dining experience. Seven courses are prepared in an open kitchen for guests, complete with an instrumental soundtrack for added ambience. The menu offers starters like foie gras, yellow fin tuna, duck magret and king crab, while entrees include options such as sea scallops on truffle oil risotto, sea bass and more. For those seeking the ultimate luxury experience, try the Luxury Chairman’s Swim Out Suite, part of the Diamond Club Service. This suite provides guests with ivory linens, champagne, a personal butler and serenade at a private dinner. The Luxury Chairman also has a private swim-out pool and Jacuzzi. Reach out to Claudia Garcia, director of sales, at [email protected] or visit http://www.royaltonresorts.com/en/hideaway-at-royalton.
Hyatt Ziva Cancún
Dramatic ocean views set the mood right in the lobby at the Hyatt Ziva Cancún. Having opened in late 2015, the Hyatt Ziva Cancún has nine restaurants on-site. La Bastille offers adults French cuisine in a romantic atmosphere, while Chevy’s offers families the perfect spot to sip on milkshakes in a ’57 Chevy convertible, complete with all-American fare. Though much of the Hyatt Ziva Cancún is adults only, there is plenty for young ones to do too, including a Kidz waterpark, a game room, specialized teen activities, paddle boarding and more. Those without kids might want to ask about beach-side dining in the Ziva Pier. Just recently the Hyatt Ziva Cancún announced the debut of its new Turquoize adults-only area, designed as a “resort within a resort,” offering 270-degree ocean views and butler service. Turquoize guests can enjoy private airport transfers, adults-only beachfront suites, oversized balconies with hot tubs, exclusive access to a rooftop infinity pool and private Punta Vista rooftop bar as well as preferred seating in Tradewinds, the resort's fine-dining oceanfront restaurant. There’s also direct access to the Zen Spa, open to all Hyatt Ziva guests, via private elevator. For more on the Hyatt Ziva Cancún, visit www.cancun.ziva.hyatt.com.
El Rey Archeological Site
History buffs need to make a stop at El Rey Archeological Site during their next trip to Cancún. Located within the hotel strip, El Rey allows for anyone with an interest in Mayan ruins to get a glimpse of the past without the hassle of traveling outside the destination. “El Rey” translated to English means “The King,” as the site was named for a skeleton found there that was believed to be that of a king. El Rey is known to some as the playground of the ancient Mayans; its peak was during the Post classic period (A.D. 1250-1630). The site includes plazas outlined by buildings and platforms that are connected by a 220 yard path. Nearby is the highest point in mostly-flat Cancún, Yamil Lu’um. There visitors will find two small temples thought to be used as watchtowers and lighthouses sometime between 500 and 700 years ago. Another plus is that many of Cancún’s indigenous animals can also be found roaming about El Rey, particularly the iguana which have inhabited the ruins. El Rey is open to visitors between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and costs 50 pesos (roughly $3) to enter.
Plaza De Toros
Located in central Cancún is Plaza De Toros, the bull fighting arena of Cancún. For those looking for a taste of a piece of Mexican history, this is the place to see it. Every Wednesday afternoon the Plaza de Toros hosts an authentic Mexican bullfight. Spectators should be aware that this is an authentic “Corrida de Toros” and that the bull will die, so this attraction is not for the faint of heart. Prior to the fight are dances and folklore performances complete with colorful costumes and historical, upbeat music. There are also interactive games for aspiring matadors prior to the show. At the start of the fight, the matador enters the ring with various churros, sombrero-wearing matadors, and picadors, or mounted-bullfighters, before the bull enters the ring. Throughout the show the matador will control the bull with just the movement of the red cape, before killing the bull and donating the meat. For those brave enough, visitors can play matador themselves with a smaller bull. The shows run Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. and last approximately two hours, with tickets costing $44 per person, though children under 12 can enter for free.
Jungle Tour Cancún
Cancún is known for its mangrove trees and coral reefs. Jungle Tour Cancún provides adventurers the opportunity to explore those areas via a self-operated speed boat and snorkel gear. Snorkel guides will point out not-to-miss sites to swimmers and sailors along the way. The lagoon is home to wildlife including leopard frogs, iguanas, white turtles, crabs and more. Included in the tour is a bilingual instructor to go over rules and instructions with participants, a two-passenger speed boat (priced per person) operated by a member of your party, snorkel gear including masks, vests, snorkels and fins, 30 to 45 minutes of snorkeling over the Punta Nizuc coral reef and bottled water. In total, the tour runs two and a half hours and departs at 9 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily. It’s suggested that participants wear swimsuits, bring sunglasses, biodegradable sunscreen, dry clothes and a towel for the conclusion of their journey. Tours must be booked in groups of two and start at $45 per person.
A great, kid-friendly place to spend the day in Cancún is Xcaret Park. Xcaret is an eco-archaeological park filled with cultural activities, nature exhibits, water activities, culinary and cuisine events and more. The park has six places to eat and drink, one of which offers a historical look at Mexico through a dinner show. For attractions included in the admission, Xcaret suggests taking kids to the butterfly pavilion, the wild bird aviary, the coral reef aquarium, Jaguar Island and the marine turtles exhibit. For an extra cost, try the Snuba excursion or the Adventure Kids package, where the little ones will meet stingrays up close and personal. Also in the park is the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular show, a horse exhibition, a pre-Hispanic dance show, a Sacred Mayan Journey recreation, a Mexican folk art museum, the Hacienda Henequenera 19th century mansion, and, if your family is brave enough, a Mexican cemetery. Don’t worry, though -- the cemetery is more of a whimsical look at architecture than the scarier aspects of cemeteries.
Underwater Museum of Art
Founded in 2009, the Underwater Museum of Art (or in Spanish, Museo Subacuatico de Arte) is a non-profit organization based in Cancún devoted to conserving Cancún’s natural coral reefs. The museum started as an attraction to give snorkelers a place to visit other than the coral reefs that often get damaged by visitors; now, the museum is one of the most well-known, and one of a few of its kind in the world. The museum has a total of 500 sculptures within two different galleries, Salon Manchones and Salon Nizuc submerged between four and eight meters under the water. There is a gallery on land with sculptures for those staying out of the water as well. The museum can be visited in various ways, including glass bottom boat, scuba diving, jungle tours and snorkeling. Approximately 1,200 total sculptures were created for the museum by six different local artists. Many of the sculptures are made of concrete, sand and gravel mixtures and are now covered with algae and underwater plant life, making them all the more intriguing to visitors. Sites that can be seen underwater include geometric shapes, over 470 life size statues of different people, cars and more.