My husband and I love the Riviera Maya, (the area south of Cancun). We go any chance we can. There are lots of towns south of Cancun, sometimes referred to as Playa or Playa del Carmen as well. Our most recent trip was to the Valentin Imperial Maya. It’s an all inclusive resort so basically everything is included with the exception of a few things like the spa, excursions, lobster at dinner and bottles of wine.
Our day started with a very early flight
We flew on Sun Country again this trip. We really like them, have had no trouble at all. The service is really good. They have started charging for bags and seat assignments, so you definitely want to look into that ahead of time.
We have upgraded to first class on the last two trips to Cancun with them. If you check 24 hours in advance on their website, if it’s available it’s offered for about $149.00 per person one-way from DFW. It includes the bag fees as well as drinks and a meal. I did find out that if you pay in advance for your seats and bags and then upgrade to first class, they credit the amount you pay toward the upgrade so you don’t lose any money.
We arrived in Cancun about 9:45AM, made it through customs and immigration fairly quickly, got our bags and headed out to find our hotel transfer. I prefer to use Lomas Travel in Cancun and recommend it to my clients whenever I can. We paid for the private luxury transfer, so there was a Lincoln Navigator waiting for us! Wish I had gotten a picture. We love Lomas, the service is great, the drivers are friendly and they offer lots of tours in that area as well as the airport transfer service.
Mexico Immigration forms
Recently, we have been able to fill out and print the immigration forms online. This is amazing, trust me! I’ll include the link here for you as well. Just make sure you have access to a printer and your passports in hand. You get what looks like 2 forms per person, cut the forms apart. One is for your arrival and the other is for your departure from Mexico. You will need to have them both available to the immigration officer when you land in Mexico.
Back to the fun stuff! We arrived at the Valentin about 11:30AM, got checked in, our room was ready so we headed there first. The lobby at the Valentin is large and air conditioned, that’s always nice.
We decided to upgrade to the privilege amenities this trip, mainly so I could experience it and offer it to my clients with first hand knowledge. It’s a great service. You get several things included in this: reservations at all the restaurants in advance, concierge service, several bottles of alcohol and wine delivered to your room (you get to choose from a menu), reserved Bali bed cabana at the pool or beach. That was probably our favorite! It was nice not having to go to the pool early to try to find chairs together.
Here is the full list of the amenities.
There is a pool and beach concierge as well. They will bring water and towels. There is also bar service at both locations, and they come around often! The main pool is large and there are lots of chairs and cabanas that you can’t reserve in advance, they are first come, first serve. And they were always full early.
The Valentin also has floats in the pool for all guests to use. You aren’t supposed to pull them out of the pool and save them, but of course people did.
The main pool
There are two swim up bars in that main pool, plus a volleyball net and plenty of activities at one end. The privilege section was far enough away to hear the music but it wasn’t loud at that end. It was a nice area. They offered two water exercise options in the morning, the aqua force and the bikes in the water. I tried aqua force which is basically pilates on a surf board. It was HARD, but so fun. I also fell in several times. There will be no photos shared of that.
They do serve lunch by the pool as well. It changes almost daily, usually hamburgers, hot dogs or tacos. We missed the tacos, because we didn’t realize they were serving them until it was too late. But everyone was talking about how good they were, so don’t miss taco day!
The beach was beautiful! Long stretches of sand with plenty of palm trees. There is however still lots of seaweed in this area. The hotels do all they can to clean up the beach, using tractors but they just can’t keep up with it all. It’s in the water as well. It was also in Grand Turk in 2015 when we were there, so it’s just something you might encounter anywhere. We changed our cabana to the beach for one day, it was so peaceful.
The waves were very rough, mostly red flags while we were there. It was August and that’s hurricane season. We didn’t see a drop of rain until our last day there and it was brief!
Food was plentiful and good! We do not have much to complain about. The French restaurant (L’Alsace) was our favorite, by far! We ate there twice. Our least favorite was the Mexican restaurant (La Hacienda). We tried the Hibachi (Ginger), this is the only place you have to make reservations for, if you want to eat the hibachi. You can walk up and request a table to order off the menu though. The hibachi reservations fill up usually by 9:30AM each day.
The Italian (L’Olivo) was very good as well. Some of our favorite appetizers were here. The service was excellent, everywhere.
Breakfast had two restaurants to choose from, both are buffet style. Plenty of choices such as omelettes, cooked to order eggs, meat, breads, fruit, I can’t even name it all. One is located by the beach and one is at the main lobby. We opted for the beach location since it was close to our room. Lunch had the same options as well as the pool side location. The wait staff was phenomenal, I honestly never encountered any bad service.
The ice cream cart at the buffet lunch by the beach.
Dinner was sit down restaurant only and they all have a strict dress code. You will get turned away if you are not dressed appropriately. There is no buffet so your only other option is room service where you can eat in your robe if you want. Here are some of our favorite foods.
Here we are in the French Restaurant our first night.
The Valentin offers quite a few room categories in different price ranges. We booked the Golden junior swim-up suite. We fell in love with the swim-up at the El Dorado Casitas so it’s hard to not get a swim-up room now. (spoiled) The convenience is worth it to us. This room is large, it’s very pretty. My main complaint, if you will, is lack of storage in the bathroom. There’s not enough counter space or space under it to store anything. Most everything got stored around the tub in our room. Other than that, no complaints.
The closet space was plentiful, the safe was a good size, there’s an iron and ironing board and shelves and drawers in the closet.
There’s a bar area with a coffee maker and ice bucket. There’s a full length mirror with a small ledge to store things as well.
Our lawn area in front of the pool has two nice chaise lounges. We were in building 7, got full sun out there in the morning but it was shaded nicely by afternoon/early evening.
The Golden Section
The Golden section does have bar service and food service, in addition to room service. There is a small snack menu available until early evening and the waiters will walk around to take orders and deliver it pool side or on your patio if you are in a swim up room.
Here’s a photo of part of the Golden pool. Each building has a pool that is connected by the lazy river. There are lots of chaise lounges around and some are covered by cabanas. All are available for the Golden guests except the chairs on the lawns, as those are for swim up guests. (it’s on their patio).
The hotel is large, be prepared to walk or wait on a golf cart. You can call when you are leaving your room to go to dinner or anywhere else you need a lift and they will usually come really quick to pick you up!
We discovered this wedding chapel when we walked to breakfast the first morning.
Privilege lounge near the front lobby.
Coffee and Martini bar near the main lobby.
The French Restaurant.
The main plaza (La Plaza Espana) near the front lobby is outdoor, it does have a bar. At night there’s music, dancing and a DJ. They also have a market set up several nights a week. You can wait there for a table for dinner, as it’s close enough to most of the restaurants.
The Valentin has several options for nightly entertainment including shows and a sports bar. The Don Miguel bar was our favorite hang-out after dinner. The drinks were good and usually a good crowd in there. We did not make it to any of the shows. We wanted to see the fire show, but that night it did rain. No fire.
Overall, we loved this hotel. We really have no complaints at all. It’s good for groups, couples, single adults, young adults, older adults. There were some parent traveling with their 18-20 year olds as well. There are some adult only hotels that I think are geared more for couples, the Valentin was a good mix.
If you are interested in the Valentin, or any other options, I’d love to earn your business. You can reach me at Lake Pointe Travel at email@example.com or 469-698-4071. This is my personal lifestyle blog but I’m a travel agent by day.