Mexico's Riviera Maya Has Incredible Vacation Homes, Here's How to Find the Perfect Rental for the Right Price
Steph Farr of luxury rental company Maya Luxe gave us the lowdown on how to find the best vacation rentals on Mexico's Riviera Maya.
The Riviera Maya — the tropical paradise that stretches nearly 100 miles along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula — is seeing a major surge in hotels this year. Easily accessible and with picture-perfect Caribbean landscapes, plenty of entertainment options, great food, and experiences inspired by the Mayan culture, the area draws an ever-growing number of travelers. And while booking a room in one of the thousands of hotels and resorts along the Riviera Maya coast and neighboring Cancun is always an option, many visitors opt for the area's stunning vacation rentals.
Steph Farr — an industry veteran whose previous venture, the Montreal-based company Luxury Retreats, was acquired in 2017 by Airbnb for more than $300 million — started Mexico vacation rental company Maya Luxe in 2009. It started with a single villa and the company now manages close to 150 luxurious residences in the Cancun and Riviera Maya area. Ranging from three all the way up to 15 bedrooms, the villas, often located in gated communities along the Riviera Maya coast all the way to Sian Ka'an, come with a full range of high-end amenities, including a pool, concierge, private chef, daily housekeeping services, large outdoor and communal areas for gatherings, and fully stocked kitchens.
"The purpose of why Maya Luxe was founded was really to be able to offer a standard and offer a luxury experience for our guests. So it's not just about a high-end home. It's about catering to every single aspect of the guests' needs," she explained.
We chatted with Farr, who is based in Mexico, about the hottest spots to rent on the Riviera Maya and how to choose the best villa for a memorable getaway. Here, an expert's best tips for finding a vacation home rental on the Riviera Maya.
Rent From a Local Company
Many vacation rental platforms offer properties in the Riviera Maya, but the most significant advantage of renting from a local company is that they know the destination inside and out. If you're still determining where you'd like to rent, they can make location and property recommendations based on your preferences. You could also ask for help planning your trip, including suggesting reliable transportation, tour companies, and food options.
At Luxe Maya, as soon as travelers get in touch with the company, they are connected with a local concierge who helps them curate an itinerary.
"Sometimes guests that are arriving don't even know what to expect or what the area has to offer, so it's our job to really inquire and get to know our guests to understand what they're looking for," Farr explained. "We take care of everything from the moment they inquire to the moment they leave."
Scout Rentals With the Amenities You Need
Just because you're not in a big-name luxe resort doesn't mean you can't have all those high-end amenities hotel guests enjoy. At Luxe Maya, all villas have private pools, air conditioning in every room, smart TVs, high-end toiletries, beautiful jungle or waterfront views, expansive sun decks, and outdoor patios.
Farr also said that high-speed internet and dedicated workspaces have become some of the most sought-after amenities.
"There's a gray line between vacation and 'I'm just here to travel and stay in a beautiful home and work remotely,'" she added.
Know That You Can Find All-inclusive Rentals, Too
All-inclusive resorts are becoming increasingly popular because they allow travelers, especially families, to enjoy their time without thinking about meals, drinks, and kid-friendly entertainment. You could easily mirror that experience in a villa, too.
"It's really important that a kitchen is fully equipped so that a chef can come in and prepare a gourmet meal for the guests," Farr said. In the past, she's helped clients design custom plans that included everything from meals and drinks to butlers and babysitters.
Consider a Villa in the Jungle
While the turquoise waters of the Caribbean may be the main draw of the Riviera Maya, the region is covered in a lush jungle that's just as picturesque. The area is famously dotted by thousands of whimsical cenotes or underground natural freshwater pools that the Mayans once used as water supply sources and for sacred ceremonies.
"So that is one of the reasons why we're so fortunate with this destination — you don't have to be on the beach to actually be able to experience the water," Farr said.
Avoid Booking During Certain Months
"Be aware of the season that you're booking," Farr said. "Some guests will be completely disappointed because it was raining four days out of their seven-day vacation." Rainy season on the Riviera Maya typically starts in July and continues until hurricane season at the end of October.
"We always encourage our guests to get travel insurance in the event that they can't travel because the weather's not permitting," Farr added.
Another seasonal issue the region has been dealing with is sargassum, a brownish seaweed that, due to rising sea temperatures, reproduces quickly and then washes ashore carried by the ocean currents. The most considerable amounts of sargassum typically arrive in the hottest months of the year — from May until August.
Work With Your Rental Company to Find the Best Location
To some, Cancun may evoke images of rowdy spring breakers, but Farr said that's not the case.
"We're bringing Cancun back as an option for our guests just because of the level of the experience that they could receive, which is, for example, a yacht picking them up from their house and dropping them off at one of the [area's] most high-end restaurants that have their own docks," she explained, noting that North Cancun and Playa Mujeres are excellent options for those seeking a more elevated experience.
Isla Holbox, an island off the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula, is an up-and-coming destination that Farr describes as " what Tulum used to be 10 years ago."
"It's still very rustic, barefoot living. Everyone gets around on golf carts or bicycles. Throughout the spring or leading into the summer months, it's whale shark season, so you could swim with the largest fish in the world," she added.
And if you're looking for the quintessential jungle experience, consider the Francisco Uh May area, west of Tulum.
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