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Riviera Maya Hotels Nearly Full As New Year Approaches

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With the high season at its peak in the Mexican Caribbean, several destinations are welcoming unprecedented numbers of visitors, potentially breaking historical records soon.

Currently, the highly popular Riviera Maya is at 90% occupancy across the approximately 57,000 hotel rooms available in the region.

Sandy beach in Playa del Carmen on a windy day

Furthermore, Andrea Lotito, Vice President of the Association of Hotels of the Riviera Maya, anticipates a further increase in occupancy in the coming hours as the New Year approaches, potentially reaching 95-100%.

If you’ve been keeping up with the latest Mexican Caribbean news, you’re probably aware of recent developments like the inauguration of the Maya Train and the Tulum International Airport.

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Yes, these gargantuan projects have certainly contributed to this impressive surge in visitors in the area – yet there’s much more behind the phenomenon that’s worth exploring.

Playa Del Carmen Stands Out

While many people believe the terms ‘Cancun’ and ‘Riviera Maya’ can be used interchangeably or that Cancun is in the Riviera Maya, the truth is that there is a distinction to be made between the two – and it goes beyond just geography.

The Riviera Maya is a coastal stretch located to the south of Cancun, encompassing destinations such as Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, and Akumal. 

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This region provides a distinct array of experiences compared to the bustling Cancun, plus a more authentic and laid-back feel.

That said, the region has exploded in popularity after the end of the pandemic, with both Akumal and Playacar (essentially Playa del Carmen’s hotel zone) topping hotel occupancy levels not only in the Mexican Caribbean but nationwide during the first 10 months of 2023.

Despite rising costs due to the strengthening of the peso against the dollar, the trend shows no signs of slowing down, as evidenced by the extraordinary hotel occupancy rates in the region during the last few days of the year. 

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Playa del Carmen, the heart of the Riviera Maya, remains a tourist magnet, with large crowds currently gathering at the iconic Quinta Avenida and the town’s spectacular beaches.

“Markets that had abandoned us in the past have now been reactivated. I’m specifically talking about Playa del Carmen, where numerous Europeans are returning, and new source markets such as Asians are making their presence felt during this year-end season”, highlights Lotito.

And while Playa del Carmen stands out as the main hub of the Riviera Maya, other destinations in the region are not exactly lagging behind.

Inside The Riviera Maya’s Endless Allure

After the pandemic, travel trends have shifted towards a preference for luxury, as well as a growing interest in cultural, nature, and wellness experiences.

And with a large number of eco-parks, archeological zones, and upscale accommodation options, the Riviera Maya fits the bill like no other tourist hotspot.

a green sea turtle in akumal with swimmes

Take, for instance, the aforementioned Akumal.

Beyond its spectacular beaches, this slice of paradise is not only a snorkeling and diving hotspot, famous for its abundance of sea turtles, but also features an array of luxurious eco-boutiques and full-fledged 5-star all-inclusives.

Or Tulum, one of the trendiest Mexican Caribbean destinations right now, boasting impressive archaeological ruins, a vibrant art scene, and a selection of eco-friendly boutique resorts.

Tulum eco resort with sun loungers and palm trees

More importantly, this former fishing town has evolved into one of the world’s most important wellness destinations, with numerous spas and wellness centers, retreats, and healing treatments based on ancient Mayan medicine to be found all around the town.

Cozumel, an idyllic island off the shores of Playa del Carmen, has transcended its reputation as a cruise ship port and diving spot to become a completely developed destination, offering a variety of tourist attractions which include stunning beaches and world-class resorts.

Even Puerto Morelos, a once forgotten little beach town near Cancun, has also witnessed its own resurgence in tourism in recent times, emerging as a community tourism and adventure hotspot.

fishing boats anchored in Playa Morelos, with a very cloudy sky

You don’t even need to visit any of these destinations, in particular, to experience the splendor of the Riviera Maya, as the whole stretch is lined with countless cenotes, adventure parks like Xcaret and Xplor, plus some of the most exclusive resorts in the whole Mexican Caribbean.

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