Riviera Maya

With a great diversity of leisure options and a unique climate, Riviera Maya is the tourist jewel of the Caribbean.

Image credit: Shutterstock / Jess Kraft

Riviera Maya has reclaimed its coveted status as the Caribbean’s unrivaled gem in the tourism landscape, following a pandemic-induced lull in activity.

In response to the global restrictions that gripped the travel industry, destinations around the world witnessed a severe downturn, and Riviera Maya was no exception.

However, the region has not merely weathered this storm; it has evolved into a symbol of recovery, once again basking in the international spotlight. Some 46.4% of all international tourists entering Mexico between January and September 2023 chose Cancún International Airport as their gateway to the country, underscoring the region’s enduring allure and popularity.

Stretching luxuriously along a 40-km corridor from Puerto Morelos to Punta Allen, Riviera Maya has metamorphosed into a diverse and dynamic playground for sun and beach enthusiasts. The landscape is adorned with a myriad of hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and theme parks, offering a cornucopia of choices for discerning visitors.

Renowned international brands such as Fairmont, Hyatt, Barceló, Meliá, Iberostar, and Hilton have established a presence on the sandy shores through opulent all-inclusive resorts. Simultaneously, the region also boasts a collection of exclusive boutique hotels providing a more personalized and intimate experience for those seeking a unique escape.

Variety is the defining characteristic of Riviera Maya, offering a mosaic of experiences. From the vibrant shopping and dining scene along Playa del Carmen’s Quinta Avenida to the serene beauty of Cenotes, and the historic richness of Coba, Chichen Itza, and Tulum, the region is a treasure trove of diverse attractions. This kaleidoscope of experiences has positioned Riviera Maya, nestled within the state of Quintana Roo, as one of the most captivating and multifaceted destinations in the Caribbean.

The extraordinary allure of Riviera Maya has played a pivotal role in the region’s swift rebound from the pandemic’s grip. Statistics from Mexico’s national institute, INEGI, reveal that between January and September 2023, the country welcomed a staggering 16.1 million international tourists—a notable 7% increase from the previous year. Perhaps even more striking is that this figure surpasses pre-pandemic levels by 13.4%, with 7.5 million tourists entering through Cancún International Airport, reflecting a robust 5.7% growth compared to the first nine months of 2022.

This impressive recovery has catalyzed a wave of investments from both local and international players in Riviera Maya’s hospitality and real estate sectors. A prominent example is TM Grupo Inmobiliario, a Spanish company that has strategically acquired a hotel in Xcalacoco (Playa del Carmen), with ambitious plans to transform it into a luxurious accommodation set to open its doors in spring 2024.

The tourism landscape is undergoing a transformation, with innovative projects like Paramount flagship hotel in Riviera Maya, masterfully crafted by Grupo Lomas Travel. Serving as a model for Nickelodeon-themed ventures, the company’s Karisma Hotel has introduced a groundbreaking concept featuring a popular amusement park adorned with Nickelodeon characters.

This visionary development has effectively transformed into an amusement park akin to Universal and Disneyland in the US, exemplifying the region’s capacity to deliver groundbreaking and unparalleled experiences.

The convergence of pristine beaches, top-tier leisure facilities, and the robust purchasing power of predominantly North American tourists has triggered a notable upswing in real estate prices.

Further fueled by the surge in short-stay rental platforms, the region’s real estate market is witnessing a revaluation, turning it into an increasingly attractive proposition for investors. Dimitris Hoffmann, CEO of Maya Ocean Real Estate, is optimistic about Riviera Maya’s market potential, suggesting that it is vastly untapped and may even surpass the combined markets of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Several factors are poised to propel Riviera Maya’s tourism potential to unprecedented heights, with significant infrastructure developments taking center stage. Tren Maya, a transformative railroad project currently under construction, is expected to connect various points across the Yucatán Peninsula, forming a vital link between Cancún and Tulum.

Simultaneously, the new Tulum Airport, which started operations in December 2023 with an investment of MXN3.2 billion, is projected to handle a substantial 5.5 million passengers annually. This strategic addition is expected to significantly boost air traffic in the region, further bolstering its appeal.

Dimitris Hoffmann, buoyed by the thriving Mexican economy, which surpassed Spain’s GDP in 2022, expresses unwavering optimism about the future. With expectations of continued growth in 2024 and the imminent addition of the new airport, he envisions Riviera Maya ascending to the pinnacle, becoming the world’s most-visited destination in 2024.