I recently had the chance to spend a weekend at the all-inclusive IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso in Riviera Maya, Mexico and I’ll put it simply: This 5-star resort is not for the faint-hearted. It takes an abiding appetite to circumnavigate IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso's buffet and the will of a damn inquisitive explorer to roll oneself off the grandiose beach beds and around the near 30 acres of amenities. But I did it for the people because couples everywhere are in dire need of vacations. Mexico welcomed a record-breaking 35 million visitors last year— experiencing growth more than twice the industry average—so it felt like an obvious place to do some tough research for you. Here’s what I’ve discovered can help you turn up the heat on your next romantic getaway.
1. Choose your hotel wisely. IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso, for example, is one hotel in a massive complex. It neighbors four of IBEROSTAR’s other Riviera Maya properties, all of which cater to diverse clienteles—families, business travelers, spring breakers. You want be sure you opt for a luxury, adult resort like IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso, and steer clear of children (unless, of course, you're bringing them along, then head to the kids' water park on site) and spring breakers. The only partiers you’ll find here: those people assuming control over the karaoke stage… Those people are you.
2. Secure a room with a view. I stayed in an oceanfront suite and I recommend you don’t choose anything less. Aside from standard suite stuff—you know, a customizable mini bar stocked daily, 24-hour gourmet room service, a personal butler who’ll bring you flowers and fruit and leave you notes with sweet nothings and run you a rose petal bath at your beck and call—having a private balcony on which you can kick off your slippers and sit virtually in the nude (well, robed), listening to the lulling sounds of the ocean is very romantic indeed.
3. Actually call in that bath. There may come the time after a long, arduous day of sunbathing with free booze brought to you before you can even ask, when you might be ready for wine and a Jacuzzi. And your partner might be ready for you. So, dial up your butler service and ask them to make sure that tub is ready, too. That’s right, have it casually prepared for your arrival.
4. Scope out the subtle extras. Follow these instructions very carefully: Slide key in door. Enter suite. Locate coffee table. Identify room service booklet—probably leather. Flip through. Find “Pillow Menu.” I trust you can take it from there.
5. Ensure you wake up to a gourmet breakfast. This is your chance to redeem yourself for the innumerable times you’ve failed at bringing your partner breakfast in bed. There’s very little effort required, here. Make the likely difficult decision and then simply hang said decision on your doorknob. Be confident in your choosing. Wake up to the smell of bacon, because there’s nothing sexier.
6. Dine at as many restaurants as you can. You’re at an all-inclusive so, yes, take advantage of the buffet, but don’t just stop there. Go the extra mile by booking dinner reservations during your stay. IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso, for example, boasts six restaurants, four of which I tested for you. You cannot fail, gentlemen—only if you fail to go.
7. Explore together. Maybe you’ve had enough pampering and need to get down and dirty—in other ways than what you’ve been doing all week. Consult your concierge desk about daily excursions and go for something outside your comfort zones. I was blessed by the Mayan gods to explore speleothems half a mile into Río Secreto 32 feet below a Mexican jungle. But you do you.
8. Unwind with a spa day. Honestly, eating, drinking and “sleeping” are exhausting. It’s unclear how some people spend weeks at places like IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso, and come back year after year. Unwind during the last leg of your vacation with a couple’s massage and a dip in a thalassotherapy seawater pool.