(I visited this resort Nov. 28-Dec. 3, 2015; to read my review and see the photo gallery, follow this link).
If you want to swim with sea turtles while enjoying a gorgeous resort with luxury amenities, look no further than Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya. Guests can snorkel right from the beach and access one of the Riviera Maya’s biggest tourist attractions. The resort offers complimentary snorkeling gear at the non-motorized water sports hut, or guests have the option of walking north along the beach to join one of the many tour groups for a fee.
The adults-only Secrets Akumal, located 70 min. south of the Cancun airport, offers fabulous views of the resort from its circular open-air lobby. Meandering pathways connect 11 guest room buildings, eight restaurants, seven bars, three pools, a nightclub, and other communal areas giving its guests easy access to just about anywhere they would like to go on the property. Secrets Akumal boasts “Unlimited- Luxury” which includes the following services and amenities:
- a welcome drink and cool towel (the first drink offered is sparkling wine)
- luxurious and amenity-filled guest room suites or jr. suites (fully-stocked mini-bar replenished daily, robes and slippers, iHome clock radio with phone charger, digital safe, 42″ flat screen TV, circular in-room double Jacuzzi, and terrace/balcony, to name a few)
- 24-hr. food availability including complimentary room service
- availability of top-shelf alcohol
- three pools including an infinity edge pool with ocean view
- pool and beach wait service
- daytime activities
- nightly entertainment (theater shows, tournaments, and the nightclub)
- non-motorized water sports (equipment for paddle boarding, kayaking, and snorkeling)
- concierge in each guest room building
- Unlimited Connectivity app which gives guests access to restaurant closures and menus, information on daily activities, free WiFi around the resort, free calls to the USA, Canada, and local Mexican landlines, ability to book spa appointments, and information on excursions and local attractions
- onsite spa and fitness center
For those who enjoy lots of guest room choices, Secrets Akumal offers 11 types ranging from Jr. Suites with tropical views to oceanfront Romance Master Suites. All rooms are beautifully appointed with dark woods, orange and brown accents, and have exquisite pendant lighting on each side of the bed. There is sufficient lighting for bedtime reading and a large work space against the wall for those who must remain productive on vacation. The large double Jacuzzi tub present in each suite is separated from the bedroom area by a sheer curtain making it easy to watch TV or talk to your travel partner, but difficult to maintain full bathroom privacy–this may be a factor to consider when deciding upon a resort choice for your vacation.
With so many dining options, Secrets Akumal has restaurants and menu selections to match any vacationer’s preference or dietary restriction. Waiters have been trained to inquire about food allergies and suggest alternatives, while six a la cartes offer varied cuisine for dinner choices. The only reservations needed are, not surprisingly, at HImitsu’s tatami rooms and teppanyaki show tables. If you arrive for dinner at a busy time you are either given a pager or a specific return time; many guests choose to spend the interim at the Rendezvous lobby bar with its outdoor terrace complete with fire pit and swinging loveseats. If you don’t care to go out, there is always 24-hr. room service with an extensive menu from which to choose.
Pool lovers have made the right choice at Secrets Akumal. There are three major pools, all heated and with padded loungers and shade umbrellas on the sundecks. The lagoon pool is located nearer the convention facilities; this is the quietest pool which offers morning water exercise classes including aqua bicycles. The main pool and beachfront infinity edge pool are very close together and offer a more social scene–there is only one swim-up bar and it is located in the beachfront pool. Afternoon activities are also held here including water volleyball, water basketball, and poolside bingo and trivia. Although there are many swim-out suites with their own guest room building pool, none of these suites are connected to any of the main pools. All swim-out suite pools are also heated.
Despite the resort’s beauty and number of amenities, most guests come to this location for the beach and easy access to Akumal Bay in order to swim with the sea turtles. The beach offers white sand with lots of natural shade, shade palapas, loungers, a beach bar, and non-motorized water sports hut on the north side with several cabanas on the south side. Although the resort does offer the use of snorkeling gear, it is best to bring your own because this equipment is in high demand. For DIY snorkelers, the best snorkeling can be done either right in front of the resort early in the morning (water conditions are best when there have been no recent storms or prior to the snorkeling tours which diminish water visibility), or further north along the beach. Although it’s not impossible to see turtles close to shore, more frequent sightings occur closer to the roped-off boundary where sea bottom grasses tend to be thicker. The resort also conducts an introductory snorkeling class several mornings a week followed by a chance to go out in the water to practice what’s just been taught.
Type of Resort: Adults-only
Pro: Aesthetically beautiful new resort, lots of restaurants and bars, nightclub on sight, location on Akumal Bay for swimming with turtles.
Con: Possibility of mosquitos on ground floor room entrances, fairly isolated, escalation of security by the Mexican government in terms of monitoring and limiting escorted snorkeling groups. You may be “harassed” or addressed by so-called security personnel.
Best Suited For: This is a resort primarily for couples. The most represented age range during the soft opening is 30-40.
No. of Rooms: 434
Pool Closure: 8 p.m.
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, balcony/terrace, in-room dbl Jacuzzi tub, A/C, digital safe, mini-bar, 42″ flat screen TV, room-service box, sofa, ottoman, self-closing drawers, iHome radio alarm clock with charger, two telephones, robe and slippers, iron/ironing board, umbrella, Nespresso coffee maker, ceiling fan, full-length mirror, hair dryer, dbl vessel sinks, separate shower with rainforest showerhead/body wand and clothesline, toiletries, and 24-hr. room service. WiFi and calls to the USA, Canada, and many Mexican landlines are complimentary with the Secrets Unlimited Connectivity App. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Jr. Suite Tropical View: King or two dbl beds.
- Jr. Suite Partial Ocean View: King or two dbl beds.
- Jr. Suite Swim-Out: King bed, direct access to the swim-out suite pool off the terrace.
(Preferred Club Rooms): All Preferred Club suites are in buildings #1-#6.
- Jr. Suite Tropical View: King bed, balcony plunge pool, Preferred Club amenities (see below).
- Jr. Suite Ocean View: King or two dbl beds, balcony plunge pool, Preferred Club amenities (see below).
- Jr. Suite Swim-Out: King bed, direct access to the swim-out suite pool off the terrace, Preferred Club amenities (see below).
- Jr. Suite Oceanfront: King bed, balcony plunge pool, Preferred Club amenities (see below).
- Jr. Suite Oceanfront Swim-Out: King bed, direct access to the swim-out suite pool off the terrace, Preferred Club amenities (see below).
- Romance Master Suite Ocean View: Separate bedroom area with king bed and hidden flat screen TV, walk-in closet, large shower with multiple showerheads, half-bathroom, living room area with sofa, armchair, flat screen TV, two ceiling fans, balcony plunge pool, Preferred Club amenities (see below).
- Romance Master Suite Oceanfront: Separate bedroom area with king bed, armchair, multiple closets and hidden flat screen TV, large shower with two rainforest showerheads and seating, half-bathroom, living room area with sofa, armchairs, flat screen TV, two ceiling fans, balcony plunge pool, Preferred Club amenities (see below).
- Presidential Suite: Separate bedroom area with king bed and flat screen TV, walk-in closet, large shower with two rainforest showerheads, living room with sofa, armchairs, flat screen TV, separate dining room with table and chairs, kitchenette with sink and refrigerator, bar area, balcony with plunge pool, Preferred Club amenities (see below).
(Preferred Club Amenities):
- guest room location closer to the beach (buildings #1-#6)
- private check-in/check-out
- private concierge
- access to the Preferred Club Lounge for top-shelf drinks, hors d’oeuvres, desserts, continental breakfast, and complimentary computer use
- a la carte breakfast at Seaside Grill
- complimentary in-room WiFi
- upgraded mini-bar and toiletries
- pillow menu
- complimentary in-room newspaper delivered daily
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Three main pools (lagoon pool, main pool, and beachfront infinity pool with swim-up bar), two Jacuzzis, spa, beauty salon, fitness center, tennis courts, non-motorized water sports, open-air theater, disco, sports bar, pool and beach wait service, gift shops, concierge, tour desk, car rental, onsite doctor.
Restaurants/Bars: One buffet for breakfast and lunch (Market Café), six a la cartes including French (Bordeaux), Italian (Portofino), Mexican (El Patio), Pan-Asian (Himitsu–teppanyaki show tables), steakhouse (Seaside Grill), and seafood (Oceana). Dinner reservations are required only at Himitsu for tatami rooms and the teppanyaki show tables–see your concierge or visit the restaurant at 5:45 p.m. to make advance reservations. Seaside Grill also serves an a la carte breakfast for Preferred Club guests and is open for a la carte lunch, while Coco Café serves specialty coffees and snacks. The Barefoot Grill serves poolside lunch. Bars include the Rendezvous lobby bar, Manatees swim-up bar, Sugar Reef poolside bar, Barracuda poolside bar, Desires Disco bar, Half-Time sports bar, theater bar, while the Preferred Club Lounge serves top-shelf drinks to Preferred Club guests.
Entertainment: Open-air theater shows, live music by the infinity pool, Texas Hold ’em tournaments, disco after 11 p.m.