BY MARK KEAST

Mexico’s Riviera Maya has for years ranked as one of the world’s more popular travel destinations for Canadian sun seekers, especially areas south of Playa del Carmen, into Tulum.

One of the more secluded luxury resorts is Viceroy Riviera Maya, which is still relatively new (Viceroy Hotel and Resorts took them over in 2012). The Viceroy Riviera Maya is an all-villa resort that fluently merges sea, beach and rain forest, dense with ferns, palms and guava trees. Each of the 41 spacious villas (ranging from “luxury villas” to a 2,900 square foot “ocean view two level villa”) come with private plunge pools, deck, outdoor shower, and a high-ceiling thatched palapa roof synched with the jungle environment.

Guests find complete relaxation and rejuvenation during a nature-filled experience, finding serenity at the full-service spa, award-winning restaurant, featuring creative takes on traditional Mexican dishes, with a few Mediterranean twists to the menu – dishes like a rack of lamb with peanut mole, cauliflower and olive oil – and the Library Lounge.

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Guests arrive to the smell of “copal”, both in the lobby and outside the spa. “Copal” is a resin from a tree that looks like a mineral rock, which is then pulverized, the dust added on top of hot coals, producing a relaxing smell similar to more of an intense incense. Guests arrive to a “Mayan Blessing” performed by the Mayan shaman on staff, and are escorted to their villa.

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Mayan healing techniques and traditions are a big part of the spa experience. Down by the pool, next to the surf, there’s a seaside grill, day beds near the beach, a private pier for private dinners, and fitness centre. The more formal La Marea restaurant overlooks the pool area.

It’s not complicated. For guests, it’s more about uniquely Mexican experiences, in the privacy of the secluded, luxury resort – with a world class beach. Luxury means a lot: quality service, attention to detail, local ingredients. It is a combination of many things that make this a special place for people.

By the week’s end, when it’s time to make the 45-minute hike back to Cancun airport to fly home, you’ll more than likely think of ways to stay behind, and make this area more of a permanent home.