The coastline along Cancun, Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya is full of beautiful resorts with lavish pools and extensive menus. But, many are quite similar following the same format for fun in the sun. Hotel Xcaret Arte takes a different approach offering an upscale resort experience that leans heavily into Mexican design, art and culture. It is truly immersive, and in many ways feels like a museum and a resort merged into one outdoor oasis.
As a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, it participates in the I Prefer Hotel Rewards program, allowing members to earn and redeem points during their stay. For an all-inclusive resort, that’s a great offer. The audience of the resort is a balanced mix of American and Mexican guests, which is proof that the cuisine and experience truly reflects the heart of this nation. Here are five reasons why Hotel Xcaret Arte should be your go-to choice when visiting Playa del Carmen.
After your complimentary airport transfer, arriving in this hidden-away resort is such a pleasant surprise. So extensive is this resort that it hardly seems like it has 900 suites. You will rarely see more than a few dozen at any one time. It’s an all-inclusive, adults-only property welcoming guests over 16.
You’ll want to pay attention as your butler greets you upon arrival and walks you to the room. It’s a massive resort with winding pathways (including some hanging bridges), fountain-lined walks, and rows of trees and flowers recreating a jungle-like feeling. Birds and iguanas abound. The developers showed respect for nature in the construction. They kept as many trees and plants in place as possible, but those that did have to be moved were replanted elsewhere.
Every twist and turn leads you to another exotic scene from people stand-up paddle boarding in cenotes surrounded by lush greenery to the caves with soaking pools in the spa leading to a cliff overlooking a pond. You will want your camera with you everywhere you go here. Mayan influences blend in with the natural surroundings, all notable in the architecture. You’ll even notice the ancient Mayan system of numbers used around the grounds. It’s easy to learn once you crack the code.
You cannot walk far without discovering a new swimming pool. The largest has an infinity edge and swim-up bar in the center of the resort. Another is reserved for guests in Casa de las Artistas. On the rooftop of each building, additional pools are available to all guests with different amenities. In the music-themed building, music is piped in to enjoy under water.
No detail seems to have gone missing. Pool staff patrol the edges offering sunscreen, towels, chilled water and after-sun gel. Rolling carts and stands prepare popular Mexican snacks to order while roving bartenders keep cups full.
The spa here is simply epic with a roster of treatments that are customizable from massage to beauty services. They begin with a visit to the apothecary-like shop where the staff helps you pick your preferred aromatherapy oils. After a treatment, guests can lounge in the hydrotherapy pool, whirlpools, heated or chilled plunges, and relaxation areas. There are also experience showers, saunas, steam rooms and ice rooms.
Wander down to the private beaches for more places to relax. There is a bar on one of the hanging bridges that crosses the cenote. Be sure to stop there and laze in an overwater hammock before heading down to the sand.
Unlike other all-inclusive resorts, the cuisine here is far from average buffets and the standard a la carte favorites. It is truly world-class. Almost a dozen famous Mexican chefs inspired the menus here, including Michelin-starred Paco Méndez. Don’t expect your standard Mexican, Japanese, Italian and American steakhouse eateries here. In fact, it is completely different from any other all-inclusive.
Let’s start with Mercado San Juan, the main buffet restaurant designed to look like a Mexican market. It is sensory overload with bursts of color everywhere from crates piled high with fruits and vegetables, pinatas hanging from the ceiling, Mexican art everywhere and live action stations preparing food from every corner of the nation.
For three meals a day, the staff carves meats, scoops homemade ice cream, mixes smoothies, prepares tacos to order and stuffs chiles with cheese. There are probably 20 different kinds of sauces and flavors you can add to every station. Weekly brunches add mariachi bands and even more menu options. It’s top-class.
On a rooftop, there is a 100% vegan restaurant serving plant-based food, another Mexican venue and a poolside option. Other restaurants include a Lebanese-Oaxacan fusion restaurant blending flavors from both legendary cuisines into one menu and a gourmet tasting room preparing molecular cuisine similar to what you would expect in London or New York. The latter are reserved for guests staying in the premium oceanfront building, Casa de las Artistas, or carry a surcharge. Late at night, the number of bars is plentiful, and the speakeasy winding through the staff areas behind the scenes is a secret favorite.
Mexican culture surrounds you here. It starts with each of the main buildings designed around different themes like art, weaving, literature, design and dance. The décor of each building delves into that topic exposing guests to beautiful tiles and art on the walls. Sculptures, books, furniture and even in-room welcome gifts continue the storytelling of Mexican traditions and pastimes.
Each building also holds complimentary workshops allowing guests to participate in Mexican activities. There are pottery and painting classes, weaving workshops and dance lessons. Both the products and the memories you make are yours to keep.
Local artists and photographers have their works on display around the resort. Rotating exhibitions are common, but some have become so popular that they are now permanent fixtures. Even in the sun, it is common to see people wandering every nook and cranny to snap photos of these whimsical pieces.
Up on the hill is a gorgeous chapel with beautiful views of the water and resort. This is a popular spot for weddings and social functions. There is also a separate conference area where splashing fountains, colorful art and air conditioned meeting space lures groups. If you prefer to stay put, chances are you will encounter one of the entertainers that breaks into dance near the dance building or can partake in painting a watercolor canvas in the spa.
If you tire of the onsite culture, head to the resort’s numerous theme parks. They include a water park, zoo and history venue showcasing ancient Mayan culture. Entry is free for guests. You’ll discover everything from zip lining through the jungle to cave exploration and entertaining shows.
Each of the accommodation buildings is different in design and color scheme. The focus is to highlight that building’s cultural theme. For example, Casa de las Artistas (which fronts the beach and has its own private pool) has hand-painted furniture unique to each room. Mosaic tiles in the showers are painted in a neighboring village.
The views from balconies are exceptional, but vary depending on the building. Some open directly to their own pools while others seem to float amid the trees. No matter what the view, you can feel like you are floating since they have hammocks (they also have free minibars if you want to float a different way). Inside, the beds have pillowtop mattresses, incredible duvets and four pillows that are so fluffy, but don’t squish when you lean on them. They are heavenly.
Designers wanted bathrooms to be as panoramic as the guest rooms. Open-plan vanity areas permit direct views of the balcony. The showers have translucent glass panels that are just low enough so your eyes can peer off into nature without losing privacy. Even the water closets have special dimmer switches on a window that turns the toilet view opaque or transparent. From the jetted soaking tub (call your butler if you want a bubble bath prepared), you guessed it, it faces the window.
Spa-branded toiletries fill the room and spa offering another nod to Mexican ingredients. Bedside power outlets are convenient, desks have more charging ports and minibars come loaded with local snacks and candy replenished daily. During turndown service, the doting staff delivers small gifts from reusable water bottles (the property has a commendable eco-focus) to small wicker baskets filled with Mexican sweets. In the closet, a take-home tote bag has more Mexican designs.