Desire Rivera Maya, Mexico, all-inclusive, but not accessible
Resort: Desire Rivera Maya
Location: Cancun, Mexico
Not all resorts are created equal, while most offer beautiful beaches, an all-inclusive menu, bar and nightly entertainment, there are some that break the mold. Desire Rivera Maya is one of those resorts and is certainly a unique place to spend some time. Each vacation location is unique and we here at Blind Travels pride ourselves on variety and willingness to try something different. Recently, my wife and I took a week-long stay at Desire Rivera Maya, a 114-room, all-inclusive, adults only couples-oriented resort located a short drive from Puerto Morelos, a more subdued area south of Cancun with tranquil beaches and great snorkeling. How did a clothing optional resort that promises fun ranging from mild to wild work out for us, and perhaps more importantly how was the accessibility of the resort? Let’s talk about it.
Personalized check-in with a welcome glass of sparkling wine
The check-in process was very similar to other resorts like Couples or Sandals in Jamaica. Rather than standing around at a desk with everyone else, you sit at a small desk with a cool drink while you are checked into your rooms. This is a nice personal touch and starts off your stay in relaxed fashion.
At check-in, each guest is given a bracelet, which is amazing if you have not been to a resort with this sort of access system. Not having to carry your room key around is great as entering most areas is done by holding your bracelet up to an access panel. The bracelets are colored which identifies you as a first-time guest, premium member, or return offender.
There are several options for food at the Desire Rivera Maya resort ranging from standard buffet fare to gourmet restaurants. We especially appreciated the steakhouse and Hibachi Grill. Reservations for the restaurants fill up quickly, so be sure to book your meals at the special restaurants when you arrive.
Day & late-night snacks
If you like to dine late, there are options for a quick bite at any time of the day or night. During lunchtime there was a different Bar-B-Que option by the pool just outside of the lunch buffet area.
Premium domestic & international alcoholic beverages
Whiskies included Jack Daniels, Makers Mark, Crown, and a couple of local favorites. Vodkas included Grey goose, Smirnoff and the like, Tequilas were also good with choices of Blanco and Reposado. The bartenders were all very well skilled and made the usual variety of mixed drinks and blender fare.
Room service (additional cost depending on accommodations)
Exhilarating day and night entertainment program
The entertainment ranged from mild to wild every night. Many of the guests went all out with different themed costumes for each night’s entertainment. You can check Desire’s website for a list of the current nightly themes. In case you forget, each day the staff placed large banners around reminding guests of the theme for the night’s fun. If you get there and decide you want to participate in the costume fun, there is a gift shop which sells all sorts of goodies.
Non-motorized water sports (kayaks, windsurf, hobie cats, and sailboats)
We didn’t partake in the non-motorized water sports but did see a few guests use the facilities while we were there.
Sauna & steam room, Gym, and Spa
The sauna and gym facilities were well maintained and featured top notch quality equipment. I ended up using the gym facilities each day and while the gym area is small, they were not overly crowded.
Au naturel areas
As with other adult oriented resorts, guests are allowed to go au natural in most areas except the restaurants and nightly entertainment areas. If you want to experience the au natural lifestyle and feel that warm sun on your body this is the place for it. More on that later.
Rooftop Jacuzzi & lounge
A big jacuzzi with great bar and beautiful views can be found in the rooftop lounge area. Be aware that the jacuzzi are doesn’t open until later in the day but stays open until the wee hours of the morning.
Hotel taxes and tips
We still tipped our wait staff especially the butler for our room and the bartenders.
Wireless internet service
The internet service was surprisingly good all around the resort. Do be aware there are clothing optional areas and they will frown on you hanging out with your phone like a perv.
Rooms range from garden view standard rooms all the way up to crazy oceanfront suites with a private pool and full-time butler service. We chose the oceanfront Passion suite which included:
Oceanfront balcony or terrace
We were on the ground level just a few steps from the beach and the pool.
Personalized Butler Service
The butler is around just about any time of the day and will happily bring you room service, drinks restock the mini-bar fill your in-room jacuzzi and much more. The butler service also comes with priority reservations for the upscale restaurants.
Designated beach bed
This was a bit of a contentious feature. I’ll go into this in more detail below.
Private airport transfers
We ended up opting for a 40-dollar private shuttle which had beers and tequila to get our party started early.
The living area was a couch at the foot of the bed. We looked in other rooms of the same level and this was a common feature.
In-room daily Continental Breakfast
Each night when you are ready to turn in, the butler will check with you to see what you would like in your breakfast tray. We chose coffee, croissants, and jelly, all of which were great and helped get us out of bed and ready to start the day.
Daily afternoon hors d’oeuvres with sparkling wine & fruit basket
There was only one time that this was offered for us, we were a bit disappointed.
Bathrobes and slippers
Preferential specialty restaurant reservations
This was a nice feature of the room. We checked with the butler, and he was able to get us reservations for most nights even on short notice. The meals we reserved a day or so out had a choice of seating times, but there was one that we had only a choice of early dinner. Not a big deal.
Beach towels available in-room
Beach towels were swapped out each night by the staff who turned down the room.
Welcome Fruit Basket and bottle of sparkling wine.
This was very nice. Ours included some small munchies too.
Spacious bathroom with 4-person Jacuzzi
The jacuzzi was spacious and easily held four people, but they asked that you not fill it yourself. The butler was more than willing to come in and prepare your bath.
Worked with my iPhone and had adapters for other phones.
King size bed
The bed was comfortable, and the housekeeping staff was prompt each morning servicing the room.
Air conditioning (Individual climate control)
It was late summer when we were at the resort and appreciated the good AC.
LCD screen TV with Cable TV including 2 erotic channels.
Yes, the television ranged from mild to wild just like everything else at the resort.
Good for calling room to room and getting in touch with your butler or room service.
Standard size safe, and unlike most resorts, if you walked out of your room and forgot to lock the safe the staff would lock it for you. This required a call to security to open but made me feel comfortable.
Bathroom with shower
The mini bar was stocked with beers, and a variety of small bottles of alcohol. It was a bit of a trial to get the bar refilled even with the butler.
The buffet was available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and had reliably good food. Dishes rotated, but some remained the same. Breakfast had a nice selection of fruit, eggs, and breakfast casseroles. There is an omelet station where you can get eggs any style as well as omelets made to order. Lunches featured salads and lighter fare as well as pizza and a pasta offering. Each day there was a heartier entrée available as well. Dinners were similar to the lunch fare but featured a different food theme each night. Overall, the buffet was good.
The high-end restaurants required male guests to wear pants and a shirt with a collar. The steakhouse offered a selection of salad, or soup, appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Most evenings, guests had a choice of a few options for each course. There are also options for upgraded meals which included a tomahawk ribeye that was paraded around the room with sparklers, then carved table side.
The Hibachi Grill offered either a standard table or the hibachi show, where the chef cooks the food in front of you like at Benihana. We ended up eating at the grill twice because of the nice selection and amazing food.
Desire offers experiences from mild to wild and this includes food. On certain nights, the Desire dinner is offered which includes a multi-course dinner with steak and lobster, an erotic striptease show, and dessert served off of one of the performers. Yes, you read that right. It was certainly one of the wilder options available at the resort.
The only downside to the food service at Desire Rivera Maya is that drinks were a bit tough to get at all the restaurants but especially the buffet. Water was always offered (which was safe to drink because it is filtered) but getting drink service during meals was always a challenge at the resort. We found this very different than other all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and Jamaica where there was always a drinks server wandering around and would quickly ring drinks.
The main pool has a nice swim-up bar with a good number of shaded seats to relax, drink and enjoy the warm sea breezes. The pool bar opens after breakfast and remains open until dinner time. The pool is clothing optional, and there are a ton of lounge chairs and beds which need to be reserved at the hut opposite the bar. If you don’t feel like being in the water, there is an upper area to the bar with plenty of seating. Desire Rivera Maya tends to be a party at night sort of resort, so mornings are pretty slow around the pool. Things quickly heat up after lunch because each afternoon, the resort staff known as playmakers star in a steamy afternoon activity session which ranges from mild to wild like everything else at Desire.
Desire Rivera Maya features a beautiful white sand beach with a swimming area protected with large floating wave breakers. We visited in August and there was a ton of seaweed, but it was that time of year when the seaweed is growing rapidly. The staff do try and mitigate the amount of seaweed in the morning, removing large wheelbarrow full loads from the beach, but it is a losing battle most times.
The beach was very safe and had no vendors which was different than most other all-inclusive resorts we have visited in Mexico and Jamaica. There were armed guards constantly wandering the beach, but they were not “in your face” about their presence. At first it was a bit shocking, but upon consideration, they are there to make sure the guests are safe.
We spent a good amount of time at the beach every day at the resort. We had a reserved beach bed each day, but it was a bit warm being in the high 90s every day. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend buying a misting fan. The one we have is rechargeable, lasts all day on one charge and has a reservoir for water, creating a cool mist. The one we have is from Amazon and is intended for a stroller. Depending on your needs there are a ton of different sizes available. I’m particularly fond of the one we have because the rechargeable battery can also charge a phone or e-book.
The only downside of hanging out on the beach is that the drink service was not spectacular. There were days when the server only came by once or twice. This is not a huge deal, as the pool bar is located just a few steps up from the beach.
Desire Rivera Maya resort offers an extensive entertainment and activities program that starts after breakfast and ends before midnight. Guests can participate in fitness classes, beach volleyball games, fashion shows, and water polo games during the day. As night falls, the atmosphere becomes steamier, with themed nights, complete with performances, sexy contests, and DJ sessions. After dinner, the entertainment is taken indoors, with crazy nights at the clothing-optional nightclub and Mélange Bar. The staff always had something going on that guests could participate in including poolside trivia and other games.
Guests of all ages
Our biggest concern was that because this is a clothing optional resort, that everyone would be young hardbodies, we found that this could not be farther from the truth. This was perhaps where the starkest difference was between adults-only resorts in Jamaica and Mexico. At Desire Rivera Maya, there were guests of all ages, and everyone there was incredibly supportive and welcoming. There were young hardbodies there, but there were more average body size and middle-aged guests. If trying out an au natural resort is on your list this is a great place to start.
Where Desire Rivera Maya falls short is for guests who need accessibility. I am visually impaired, and the restaurant menus were not available in large print or braille. This was not surprising to me, as resorts outside the U.S. rarely have accommodations for the blind. This wasn’t a huge deal, as I had my wife as sighted guide. Navigation of the resort was difficult in spots for those who are visually impaired. None of the stairs on the resort grounds are marked to make them easier to see, and stairs leading to the beach were uneven and odd-sized. The pool area was also quite treacherous to navigate, as the pool chairs lounges and beach beds were tightly packed and had spindly legs sticking out all over. Walking from our room to anywhere on the resort property was done on concrete pathways which had drop-offs on each side. This wasn’t dangerous, just worth noting that potential for tripping or hurting an ankle are high in most areas of the resort.
The pool was likely the most awkward for guests with vision problems. Since the pool is Au Natural, and usually packed, there was a high chance of someone bumping a naked body part into you while enjoying your soak. This wasn’t a big deal for me, but for those who are concerned about body distance boundaries it is worth noting.
Also worth noting is the lack of accessibility for those guests who are mobility impaired. As mentioned above, the pool area is very tight to navigate with all the beach chairs and would be nearly impossible with a wheelchair or other mobility aid. Accessibility of the beach for those in a wheelchair would be tough in most spots. Access to the beach is via stairs in all but one area by the pool. There was no winch to enter the pool. Only stairs and a couple of ladders. Access to the rooftop jacuzzi also seemed to be limited to a large number of stairs. There was no easy entry to the rooftop jacuzzi for the mobility impaired. Getting up to the rooftop jacuzzi required navigation of two flights of slippery and wet stairs.
I was disappointed by the staff’s lack of willingness to discuss accessibility for the property. When we checked in, I asked to speak to someone in charge of customer outreach and was put off for several days saying they were not on property. When I enquired again, I was told that Desire didn’t want me to monetize any information I would be given in a meeting with them and that nobody in management would be interested in speaking with me. I was surprised at this, and even though I did give them information about my reviews for blind and visually impaired travelers, and that my reviews are free to everyone. I was told they were not interested in speaking with me. This is the first property I have been to that has flat out refused to speak with me. It should be noted that this trip was on my dime and was not sponsored. It honestly took me a while to write this review because I struggled with figuring out how to report on this.
The big sell
During our weeklong stay, we were offered an opportunity to attend a presentation about how we could save on our next vacation. This turned out to be similar to a timeshare presentation, if we bought in to the program, we could get a week a year at the resort. We politely declined the offer to buy into the program and then attitudes changed toward us. Beginning the next morning, we were told that our reserved bed (which was part of our room package) would not be available any longer. Reservations were suddenly tougher to get (even though the butler and preferred reservations were part of our package). Suddenly, the fact that we didn’t buy into their program left us feeling like second-class citizens, even though we had paid to be premiere level. This attitude is something to be aware of.
Be aware that this is not a quiet resort. If you have been to Couple’s resorts, or Sandals, you know that things are pretty slow until about lunchtime. The mornings are quiet at Desire, but after lunchtime the party starts and doesn’t stop until the wee hours of the morning. We had an amazing time and love the nightlife so it was great for us, but some may find it a bit too crazy.
If you pay the price for a suite level room at Desire, you get a butler to take care of things during your stay. When something was needed in the room (except the mini bar for some reason) the butler was all over it and got it taken care of quickly. The butler will run the water and prepare the hot tub in your room for you, bring you afternoon and morning snacks and coordinate any room service needs you may have. We mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary that week and the staff went all out making the day memorable. The staff placed congratulatory signs around, and even surprised us with flower petals and a heart on our bed when we came back from the nightly entertainment. A very memorable experience.
No speakers no cameras
One thing I really appreciated about the resort was their policy of no speakers, and no cameras. There is always music playing, and often a DJ is spinning tracks while you relax at the beach or pool. Not having to have someone else’s speaker blaring and competing with the music playing was a nice change from other resorts. Not allowing cameras near the clothing optional areas was also a nice touch. People are there to enjoy themselves and not worry about photos of their naked butt going up on Instagram.
Desire Rivera Maya is a loud, sexy, fun, crazy resort that you won’t soon forget your time at. Accessibility was not great, especially for those who are mobility impaired, but from the lack of willingness to speak to me about it, I can only assume that those guests who are disabled or require accessibility do not fit the target market demographic for Desire properties. I did have a great time, but the change in attitude when we didn’t buy into their vacation timeshare deal felt a bit petty and vindictive. Overall, we will go back because we had a great time with the other guests there, and that was not diminished by the lack of accountability and interaction by the management.
Things You Should Know About Desire Riviera Maya Resort
144 Room all-inclusive resort
Jacuzzi Garden View Suite
Superior Garden View Room
Superior Ocean View Room
Address: Carretera Cancun-Puerto Morelos Km 27.5 SM 12, Mza 41, Lote 1, Fracc. 2, Puerto Morelos 77580, Mexico
“Ted’s journey into the landscape of the human body is a marvelous celebration of all that is physical, sensual and diverse
” – FSTOPPERS
About the author
Ted Tahquechi is a blind photographer, travel influencer, disability advocate and photo educator based in Denver, Colorado. You can see more of Ted’s work at www.tahquechi.com
Ted operates Blind Travels, a travel blog designed specifically to empower blind and visually impaired travelers. https://www.blindtravels.com/
Ted’s body-positive Landscapes of the Body project has been shown all over the world, learn more about this intriguing collection of photographic work at: https://www.bodyscapes.photography/
Questions or comments? Feel free to email Ted at: firstname.lastname@example.org