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Riviera Maya, Mexico: Five Days of Peace and Plenty, Part 2

By now we'd been at Blue Diamond almost 24 hours, and the combination of sunshine, salt air, good food, and frozen drinks had left us pleasantly sedated. Combined with the utter lack of urgency -- no place to drive to, no restaurants to research, no reservations to make, no sights to see -- and we were a little unsure of what to do next.

So we suited up for a workout at the gym.

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Just kidding! I said "sedated," not stupid. We just needed appropriate footwear for exploring the Temazcal area and the surrounding cenotes.

For the uninitiated, a traditional Temazcal ceremony is where they squish you into this little stone oven and then try to bake your insides. Last one out is a fried egg! Or something like that.

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Actually, the Temazcal hut is supposed to be symbolic of Mother Nature's womb, and the ceremony uses steam and healing herbs to purify the body and the spirit. All I know is, it's going to take a lot more than steam and some herbs to purify my body after this vacation.

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While exploring the Temazcal area, we came upon a small outdoor spa, which -- like everything at Blue Diamond -- blended seamlessly with the natural surroundings.

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Then we checked out a few of the cenotes, which are natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, revealing the green-blue groundwater beneath. The cenotes at Blue Diamond are unfortunately not suitable for swimming (though some in the Riviera Maya are), but they are beautiful just the same.

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The rest of the day was easy: Pre-lunch snack, lunch, post-lunch snack, later afternoon snack, and dinner, interspersed with cocktails, frozen drinks, and weighty decisions about whether to sun ourselves at the poolside day beds, on the pier, at the spa pool, or at the beach.

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After the fried cheese, pizza, and pina coladas, we made the only sensible choice: The deserted spa, where no one could see us waddle or hear us burp.

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There, we spent the afternoon alternating between the pool and the enormous hot tub.

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Eventually, the sun began to set, and the spa looked even more inviting in the waning light.

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That evening we decided on dinner at Aguamarina, just in time for a lovely sunset.

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The evening's menu featured dishes from the Côte d'Azur, so we started with a Champagne toast, then moved on to a chilled cucumber gazpacho with yogurt, mint, and ginger for me, and a pizzette topped with melted Brie and fresh figs for Angel.

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In between courses, I excused myself to take a few photos of the pool area and somehow stumbled upon a specialty drink stand set up next to the bar. I was the evening's first customer, so naturally I had to try the drink, a muddled lime and orange rum punch.

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Eventually I wandered back to the table, where I was greeted by the creamy lobster pasta finished with white wine and Grana Padano that I'd ordered, along with a perfectly cooked filet in red wine sauce with carrot puree and a potato gratin that I did not order, but would help myself to anyway.

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Then -- surprise! -- it was back to the Cigar Lounge, where we'd figured out that we were the only people at the resort who ever visit this place, which suited us just fine. So we snuggled up on "our" sofa and sipped our whiskeys to a playlist of super-slowed-down, oddly groovy versions of 80s classics from the Cure and Nirvana.

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If you can stop yourself from lip-synching to a whispery, so-slow-it's-almost-playing-backwards version of "Hungry Like the Wolf" using your drink stirrer as a microphone, you are a better woman than I.

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The next day we decided to try something different: The sexy day beds at the oceanfront lap pool. I was surprised that Angel agreed to this since he does not like pools, mostly because he does not like people and that is where they can often be found.

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He loved the day beds.

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We chose the one closest to the water, which was the most private and also afforded a light ocean breeze. We lowered the shades, fluffed up the pillows, buried ourselves in our books, and only looked up long enough to order more drinks. It was like having our own private pool . . . with waiter service and free everything.

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Soon it was time for lunch? pre-lunch? post-lunch? I lost track? but by now we had so embraced our inner sloths that we could not be bothered to walk the 200 yards to the restaurant. So we had the lunch brought to us.

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Then we disobeyed mothers everywhere and went swimming right after lunch.

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It didn't take us long to notice what turned out to be one of our favorite things about Blue Diamond: Everywhere we went, everyone we encountered -- from the cleaning staff and groundskeepers to the lifeguards and waiters -- greeted us not with "Hola," but with a nod and a hand over the heart. We quickly began returning the sweet gesture, which translates roughly as, "Welcome, truly, from the heart."

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Soon it was time for dinner, so we headed back to the villa to get ready.

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Before dinner, we decided to stop by the gorgeous lobby lit for evening.

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We'd visited Aguamarina the night before, so tonight it was back to Ambar.

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Although we thought we might get bored with only two restaurant choices for dinner, there were always tempting specials (and the menu at Aguamarina changes nightly); plus, we could walk from our villa, show up whenever we felt like it, and still get whatever table we chose. Best of all, we could hitch a ride back on one of the ubiquitous golf carts, on the off-chance that someone would keep us bringing drinks, and someone else would keep having to drink them.

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Again, our meal was fantastic: Grilled garlic bread, asparagus flan, and two orders of the delicious filet in red wine sauce.

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I guess you could say we liked it. Or licked it. Whatever.

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The next day we packed up our books and sunscreen and headed back to the poolside day beds. Not wanting to be repetitive, this time we chose the bed closest to the hot tub.

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Which, just coincidentally, was also closest to the bar.

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Before we knew it, our last night in Riviera Maya had arrived. And so we headed back to Aguamarina, for what turned out to be yet another perfect evening.

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The weather was glorious, so we lingered by the pool over cocktails first.

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As the sun began to sink below the horizon, we settled in for dinner.

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We were thrilled to see that the evening's menu featured a number of Mexican dishes which, if the breakfastsesss were any indication, would be delicious. And so we feasted on shrimp ceviche, a spicy chicken mole, succulent braised ribs, and churros with cinnamon ice cream and a tart berry sauce for dessert.

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Oh, and Mexican-spiced shrimp chowder, served in a bowl with a cute little divot just for the lime.

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After dinner, we enjoyed a poolside nightcap before heading back to the villa to pack.

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On our last day, we had time for one last meal before heading to the airport, so we opted for a late breakfast at Aguamarina.

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But not before a couple of Bailey's Banana Coladas. You know, as an appetizer.

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Then it was on to breakfast. As usual, we went a bit overboard, but I knew I couldn't leave without having the grilled grapefruit with brown sugar and honey one last time. Or the zucchini blossom crepes, eggs Benedict with chipotle hollandaise, "green eggs and ham," crispy bacon, a buttery croissant . . . did I mention it was all free? If only it had been calorie-free, too.

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Our time at Blue Diamond had finally come to an end, and even the check-out managed to impress us: When is the last time your limo driver asked you if you remembered to clean out the room safe, checked all the drawers, had your boarding passes, and remembered your passports? Of course, by then we realized it was just par for the course at Blue Diamond, and we both admitted that our preconceptions about all-inclusive resorts meant that we'd almost missed out on what turned out to be one of the best vacations we've ever taken.

And this time, it wasn't just those unlimited cocktails talking again.
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Where to next? Just a bunch of boring places like Paris, East Hampton, Key West, and Anguilla. Check back soon or, if you're feeling lazier than a couple of overfed sloths on a daybed, click here to subscribe and you'll be automatically notified when a new post goes up.

Posted by TraceyG 05:11 Archived in Mexico

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Comments

Absolutely beautiful. Maybe one day. If not, then I'll just enjoy your writing and pictures!!

by Francisco J Ortiz

Last New Years we stayed at a place very close to Blue Diamond, the Rosewood Mayakoba which is a short bike ride away. We went to the Riviera Maya because we love Mexico and the place in Cabo San Lucas where we normally stay had not reopened after the hurricane that blew thru there in September of last year. We enjoyed Mayakoba and in fact ran into a number of folks who had transferred there on a temp. basis while they were waiting for "their" hotel and "ours" to reopen in Los Cabos.

By the way, there is a really good Italian restaurant downtown on 5th street that makes their own great pastas in house on a daily basis. If you go back and become bored eating at the same places every night, it is a good choice for off property dining. In Playa Del Carmen.

by Leon Midgett

Oh my!! Was there anything you didn't like? - seems as if this resort has thought of everything! Seriously considering this place for April - I too can coordinate my swimwear with my book a la Tracey! Thanks for a superb report

by Jan Clydesdale

Tracey-Again your pictures and write-ups are fabulous. You eat and drink like a truck driver but still stay in shape. What is your secret?

by Judy Owens

Perfect! You have made me reconsider my thoughts about all inclusives. Thank you for sharing- looking forward to your next adventure.

by Noreen

Great write-up Tracey! Man you make me laugh! My husband and I have been to Riviera Maya six times in the last ten years - we just keep going back because you can't beat it. Even after going to Tortola, which was great - I couldn't wait to go back to Riviera Maya once again. It feels like "home" now. If you go back again, let me know ... I know a ton of fantastic spots, including some cenotes you will have all to yourself. :- )

by Ann

This has definitely made me want to look into this resort a little bit more!

Another one that I bet you'd like is Grand Velas Riviera Maya. It's known for its food. I think you should go, just so you can blog it!

by Suzanne

Tracey, great installment! Love your hair up in a bun and with that outfit...adorable! And speaking of adorable...you and Angel. Aww. So sweet.

Of course I have to comment on food consumption..how come you can eat like that and still rock the bikini!?!

by Paula

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