What to Expect in Mexico This Holiday Season

Rosca de Reyes // Photo by agcuesta/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Hotels in Mexico are preparing for the upcoming festive season with special programs and enhancements. That, along with the strong dollar to peso exchange rate, provides added incentive for a winter getaway. 

Keep in mind that in Mexico, the holidays extend beyond Christmas and New Year’s. In fact, Christmas Day on December 25, with its traditions of Santa Claus, is an imported idea there. Gifts to children are traditionally given out on January 6, or Three Kings Day. It marks the arrival of the magi, who brought gifts to the Christ Child. Children in Mexico write to the three kings with their gift requests. The day itself is marked with a round Rosca de Reyes, or King Cake, with a small figurine of the baby Jesus inside. The person who finds the figurine will, in turn, host a party on February 2. That’s the Dia de la Candelaria, also known as Candlemas

Bottom line: Don’t be surprised to see holiday decorations and festivities continuing beyond the New Year.

If guests are traveling during the prime December 20 - January 2 time frame, the all-villa Viceroy Riviera Maya offers festive programming. Events include culinary offerings and holiday-themed parties. 

Viceroy Riviera Maya

General manager Pedro Lara tells Travel Agent that guests can expect “special experiences at the Coral Grill, including a street food night, Mariachi music, a multi-course Chef’s Table, a parrillada (barbecue) of grilled meats and seafood, and other holiday surprises.” 

Also in the lineup: Food and beverage classes, including a tequila and ceviche tasting, mixology lessons, Mexican wine pairings, a mezcal and taco tasting, ceviche lessons, and a Mayan cuisine cooking class. 

For New Year’s Eve, a party at Coral Grill features dinner, champagne and live music. New Year’s Day celebrations include a pool and beach party with a DJ.

The 41-villa Viceroy Riviera Maya is located in a jungle and beach setting three miles from the center of Playa del Carmen. Amenities include a lagoon pool, fitness center, day beds at the beach and a private pier, from which a boat can take guests to snorkeling and diving excursions. The Wayak Spa offers traditional Mayan treatments and a Shaman-in-residence. It’s an adults-only property. 

Also set to welcome visitors in time for the holidays is the 700-room RIU Dunamar. The new property will open on December 2 in Costa Mujeres, RIU’s Virginia Casado tells Travel Agent.

Costa Mujeres is north of Cancun, on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s about 35 miles from the Cancun airport. Commonly referred to as the “continental side of Isla Mujeres,” the description is a bit confusing. 

Isla Mujeres (“Island of Women”) is a municipality in the state of Quintana Roo. Most of Isla Mujeres is actually on the mainland, at the northeastern tip of the state. Isla Mujeres is also the name of the island eight miles north of Cancun, on the Caribbean. The island is the seat of the municipality.

RIU Dunamar’s amenities include free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel; an infinity pool and swim-up bar; 24-hour sports bar; five pools; Renova Spa; wedding gazebo; the RIUFit program; RIULand Kid’s Club; and dedicated meeting space. An exchange program allows guests to enjoy amenities of other RIU properties in the greater Cancun area.

But it’s the Costa Mujeres beach setting that provides the biggest draw. 

“This is the perfect destination, thanks to white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters,” John Diorio, regional director of sales for the west/mountain region for The Mark Travel Corporation, tells Travel Agent.  

Jacques De Paep, Palladium Hotel Group’s commercial director for North America echoes the sentiment. 

“Beaches are beyond spectacular there, white and sandy. But for some reason, this area has remained secluded,” he tells Travel Agent. 

That will change, of course, with the opening of the RIU. And Palladium Hotel Group joins RIU in Costa Mujeres soon. Two Palladium properties will open there in 2018. 

Cancun’s Hotel Zone proper continues to expand, as well. Construction has begun on the all-inclusive Gran Solaris Cancun. Plans call for 449 rooms next to the Playa Delfines beach area. There’s no announced completion date yet. But, the new construction is a continuing sign of Cancun’s vibrancy.

In fact, U.S. passenger traffic has expanded by seven percent this year. In the first nine months alone, more than 3.5 million Americans landed in Cancun. They came primarily from Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and New York.

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