“I could not think of a better place to get married than in Mexico!” Barrett Hollo, a travel advisor with SmartFlyer and one of this year’s class of 30Under30, tells Travel Agent. We asked Hollo and the rest of the 30Under30 for their top picks for destination weddings and honeymoons in Mexico – here’s what they had to say.
Hollo says that Imanta Resorts just outside of Punta de Mita offers the perfect setting for a romantic jungle wedding. “Set on 250 acres of lush greenery with accommodations built into the side of an epic cliff, you’ll have the perfect location for a wedding with views overlooking the Pacific Ocean,” she says.
Taylor Allen of Bruvion Travel also recommends Imanta, although she warns that the resort’s steep stairs can be an issue for guests with limited mobility.
“We base our recommendations off of ideal location, budget, needing family-friendly, and, for wedding couples, the specific venue they wish to get married,” says Megan Doncsecz of VIP Vacations. She recommends the Karisma, Hard Rock, Playa, Palace and AMResorts brands.
Ovation Travel Group’s Fallon Hirschhorn can personally recommend Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun – she just got married there! “It was the perfect destination for our guests as it was close to the airport (a 15 minute drive), offered a variety of accommodations at varying price points and had many dining outlets and relaxation areas so guests could escape and do their own thing, if they wanted to!” she says.
Fellow Ovation advisor Lilly Sutton agrees: “The service is fabulous and it’s modern and luxurious,” she says.
Josh King of Largay Travel recommends Cuixmala, which is three hours south of Puerto Vallarta’s airport on 30,000 acres of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, as an out-of-the-box option. “Once you find it, you’ll never want to leave,” he says. “They even suggest you rent a Jeep to get around the property!”
New Trend: Elope!
CIRE Travel’s Esther Klijn says that, increasingly, younger couples are forgoing a traditional wedding and instead opting for a ceremonial elopement while on their honeymoon.
“When you factor in the cost for both wedding and honeymoon, some couples would rather combine the funds for one, spectacular, but still meaningful, milestone trip,” Klijn says.
Klijn recommends the Banyan Tree Mayakoba for an intimate ceremony: “There’s a broad range of different symbolic ceremonies, from joining two lives together with a single stream of sand, to a hand-binding union representing oneness of two souls, or a canvas ceremony meant to represent the blank new beginning following the everyday splash of color,” she says.
Location, Location, Location
For many 30Under30 advisors, location can be just as deciding a factor as the resort itself. London O’Regan of San Simeon Travel highly recommends the Yucatan Peninsula due to the easy air access into Cancun. “I would recommend a wedding at the Grand Velas Resort & Spa where you can either do a beach or garden wedding and everyone can relax and enjoy the 5-star property's food, drink, and spa options,” she says. “Then after the wedding I would recommend for the couple to head a little further down the coast to Tulum for their private Honeymoon. I would recommend staying at a boutique hotel over a resort, such as The Beach Tulum.”
Paige Lewis of MAD Travel also loves the Grand Velas property in the Riviera Maya. “Its location is perfect!” she says. “It will get everyone out of the hustle and bustle of Cancun, those wanting to experience nightlife can go out in Playa del Carmen (just a 20 minute drive from the resort) and the older couples have only an hour to get to the ruins.”
TravelStore’s Patrick Hinds is also a fan of the Riviera Maya. “Many people associate it with the party center of Cancun, but there are tons of amazing romantic resorts down the coast with white-sand beaches catered to couples,” he says. He recommends the Mayakoba area, particularly the Banyan Tree property, because of its standalone villas with private pools.
For another relaxed option near Cancun, Katrina Marie Hegge of Harmon Travel recommends the Secrets Playa Mujeres just to the north, which she describes as much more relaxed. “The ferry over to Isla Mujeres is just a short distance away as well!” she says.
Ariel Weinshanker of Vosant Meetings & Travel (an affiliate of Magma Global) says that she considers whether her clients are departing from the East or West Coast, as well as their budget. “For West Coast visitors, I would consider the Imanta Punta de Mita or Las Alamandas,” she says. “For travelers originating on the East Coast, I would consider Jashita Tulum boutique hotel.”
Top Brands and Unique Options
Other 30Under30 advisors have a brand that they have found to be especially easy to work with. “Karisma hotels are always my go-to for destination weddings, specifically El Dorado Casitas for an adults-only wedding, and Azul Fives for an all-ages wedding,” says Brittany Bridgewater of TravelSmiths Inc. “The properties are stunning, the staff is so accommodating, they offer their ‘gourmet inclusive’ experience, and they are also very aware of food allergies…We have strong relationships with these hotels and they make us look like rock stars, getting rave reviews from the bride and groom.”
Nickolas Cunningham of Exceptional Journeys by CTS likes the new Unico Riviera Maya resort for younger guests, particularly those who don’t want to break the bank. “It’s noteworthy that this new concept of all-inclusive even offers included tours and excursions,” he says.
Jaime Guillen of First in Service Travel recommends Hotel Esencia. “This property is oozing with charm and romantic vibes all around,” she says. “It is very tastefully done where you can take in the culture and the serene calm atmosphere,” she says.
“Esperanza in Los Cabos is one of my favorite options for a destination wedding!” says Kate Lawless of River Oaks Travel. “I also love Los Cabos as a travel destination. It's an easy flight from pretty much anywhere in the U.S. and it has this great romanticism to it that adds to the gaiety of any trip.”