Located a few miles north of Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, the Hacienda Tres Rios is not your standard all-inclusive luxury hotel. Opened in November 2008, the hotel was built on 326 acres full of natural resources in a way that actually protects the environment more than harms it. But this does not mean that families will be roughing it, by any means. Instead, they will discover great service, amazing culinary opportunities, and tons of fun activities, all while enjoying the natural beauty of the Yucatán.
Simply, the goal of the Hacienda Tres Rios was to build the hotel in a sustainable way. Research and studies indicated that certain locations on the grounds were more damaged than others and thus had a lower environmental value for the thriving eco-system. Since these plots were already destroyed by natural disasters, it serves the environment better to build on them. The main building of the hotel was purposely built 2.8 meters above the ground. This allows the natural water flow and animal migration patterns to continue uninterrupted.
Daily functions at the Hacienda Tres Rios are very "green." To conserve energy, cold water is extracted from the earth and used to pre-chill the air conditioners. Then the heat that comes from the air conditioners is captured and reused to heat the water. Showerheads that aerate the water reduce the amount of water wasted. Additionally, all guestrooms are equipped with motion-sensors that turn off lights and air conditioners if the guest is not in the room. To conserve resources, the hotel also uses recycled water that is treated on-site to irrigate plants.
Even though 250-plus environmental protection programs are being run on-site, there is no skimping on luxury. Stay in one of the hotel's 273 suites; each is spacious and even the standard room (645 square-feet) is big enough for a family of five, with two queen-size beds and a pull-out sofabed. Each room has a view of the ocean or the fresh water canals and also has a private balcony or terrace, plus free WiFi. Larger suites with a full kitchen and connecting rooms are also available.
The kitchen might not be necessary as guests are welcomed to eat at any of the hotel's seven eateries, each of which offers families a unique assortment of flavors and choices. Breakfast and lunch buffets are served daily at the casual international buffet at the Casa Las Islas. Outside by the pool, families can enjoy deli food at the Hacienda Grill or munch on the brick-oven flavorings at the il Forno Pizzeria. Plus, formal dining options include Asian-fusion, Italian, and local Mexican cuisine.
If your family is interested in learning about the inner workings of the hotel's kitchen, inquire about the cooking lesson and demonstration presented by Chef Oscar. Guests can also treat themselves to the 24-hour room service menu that, along with all other food and drink, is included in the hotel's all-inclusive Endless Luxury package.
Also included are unlimited excursions in the resort's Nature Park. Of the property's 326-acres, 150 are untouched, so that the natural eco-systems flourish. It is the only resort on the Yucatán that contains three distinct eco-systems: jungle, mangrove forest, and coastal dunes. Featuring 90 animal species, 120 plant species, and three rivers (tres rios), there are many ways to experience the park. Snorkel and swim down the Rio Selva, kayak on the Rio Pajaros, bike through the grounds, or take a guided walking tour with a botanist. Kids will love to replant mangrove that have been damaged by hurricanes or snorkel the reef just off the one-mile stretch of seacoast. Check out the Botanical Garden and Nursery to learn more about all of the protected species of life found on the grounds.
The most sacred way to experience the nature is to swim in the Cenote Águila, one of the 10 on the property. Led by a guide in a kayak, groups are given a floatation device to wrap about their waists and then they simply float down the cold, fresh-water stream. In ancient Mayan legend, cenotes, spring-water-filled sinkholes formed by collapsed limestone bedrock, were thought to nurture human life. They are a connection to the underworld, and immersing in one cleanses the soul. The float down the cenote ends where the fresh water meets the ocean; afterwards, dip in the warm seawaters and head back to the pool.
The Nature Park is still developing. Coming soon will be a Mayan Cultural Center, an educational museum that will celebrate the cultural aspects of Maya. Here families will find a typical Mayan pueblo, a garden of fruit and vegetables, as well as a milpa or cornfield. Other future additions will include a canopy tour and a bird sanctuary.
Although there are a ton of activities in the Nature Park, there are plenty more back at the hotel. Included in the Endless Luxury Package is a supervised club for kids and teens as well as other daily activities for the entire family. Open from 10am-2pm and then 3pm-5pm, the kids club offers a wide variety of fun-filled programs. Kids can create masks, watch movies, play in the Mini Olympics, color or paint, participate in a treasure hunt, or complete eco-puzzles.
Upon check-in, make sure you receive the weekly family activities calendar that runs everyday from 7:30am-7pm. Head out for a morning jog down the beach, do yoga and meditation, play bocci ball and beach volleyball, or take a Spanish class. There are also educational opportunities to learn about the history of Mexican and Mayan culture, as well as the importance of environmental conservation. While the kids play games and do arts 'n' crafts, adults can participate in wine tasting and cocktail-making lessons.
If a lazy day in the sun sounds more appealing, head to the beach or one of the two swimming pools. With a wait staff taking orders, food and drinks can be brought to your poolside chaise longue. Before you pick your spot around one of the organic-shaped pools, make sure you scout out the nearest restroom. Since the area is so large and was purposely constructed around the river as to not interrupt its flow, a family might find themselves with quite a walk to the nearest facility since there are no direct paths.