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Riviera Maya - Mexico

Today sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guests Lubo Krstajic of Karisma Hotels and Julio Trujillo of the Riviera Maya Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thank you both for accepting our invitation and share your knowledge about Riviera Maya.

NORM:

Where is Riviera Maya and could you give our readers a brief description of the area?

Julio:

Easily accessible from many cities throughout the U.S., the eighty-one mile stretch, known as the Riviera Maya is situated in the Mexican Caribbean on the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Beginning eleven miles south of the Cancun International Airport in Puerto Morelos, the Riviera Maya extends to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, a small town near the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.

The region features the tranquility of uncrowded beaches, a vast network of underground rivers, over 100 cenotes or sinkholes, the action of eco-adventure sports including kayaking, mountain biking, scuba diving, snorkelling, trekking, bird watching and deep sea fishing, proximity to many of Mexico's most significant Mayan archaeological sites, the varied activities of the eco-archaeological parks, plus golf courses, shopping, gourmet dining and a range of accommodations to suit every lifestyle and budget.

Lubo:

I agree. Mexico has something to offer for everyone and it is so accessible for U.S. travelers. From Miami, where the Karisma Resorts management offices are based, the flight is barely an hour. The Riviera Maya is really such a spectacular destination, and you'll find that it gets better each time you go.

NORM:

Could you tell our readers something about your expertise pertaining to the area?

Julio:

The Riviera Maya Tourism Board has been the official board since 1996, with the original mission to promote a 71 stretch mile area, beginning with Playa Paraiso and extending to the small fishing village of Punta Allen, located in the biggest ecologically protected Biosphere in Mexico, Sian Ka'an (which literally means in Maya: where the sky was born or the door of the sky).

Lubo:

With almost twenty years experience in hotel management in destinations around the world, I think I've seen just about every scenario pertaining to the hotel business. I started in the 80's, as a property development manager with the Allegro Resorts Corporation and over the years became the company's executive vice president in charge of worldwide sales & marketing.

NORM:

Why would you consider Riviera Maya a good choice for a romantic getaway or wedding and honeymoon destination? What is so unique about this area of Mexico?

Julio:

The white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and lush tropical surroundings of the Riviera Maya all set the stage for the ideal wedding or honeymoon, the kind that couples dream about. Pristine, un-crowded beaches caressed by calm, turquoise waters and bathed by gentle breezes. Stretches of white sand fringed with palm trees and protected by a chain of coral reefs. Miles of untouched powdery white sand as far as the eye can see beckons vacationers in search of quiet and relaxation & These are the unspoiled beaches of the Riviera Maya.

Lubo:

Let's not forget about the spectacular services and amenities. I think travelers that visit the Riviera Maya again and again realize that it is a destination with consistently top services and amenities. At Karisma hotels for example, we are constantly working to providing our clientele with the best experience possible, whether it means further enhancing our menus, our amenities, or even the property. In fact, we just opened a resort called Azul, which gives a very special focus to its cuisine. Our menus were developed to feature over seventy-five unique dishes per day, meaning a guest staying at Azul for an entire week will never encounter the same dish twice.

NORM:

What is the best time to visit the Riviera Maya from the point of view of weather, costs, and crowds?

Julio:

We are so fortunate in this area. The weather is great almost year-round with warm temperatures. It is less crowded and costly during the fall season and is most crowded and costly from the last week in December through March.

Lubo:

I agree, people looking to visit the Riviera Maya should try and book far in advance if they want to come during the weeks of December through March. There are specials that run on occasion for those looking to book last-minute travel but more often than not it pays to book in advance.

NORM:

If you had to choose 5 unequalled areas in Riviera Maya for a romantic getaway and honeymoon, where would they be and why?

Julio:

Tulum - As a unique place bounded by wild nature and beautiful beaches, it is quiet, natural and private as well, with small cabanas and hotels including some with Caribbean spas. Close to the archaeological site, you can feel the energy and mysticism of this historical region.

Playa Paradise - Wide white beaches, comfortable facilities and the marvellous Caribbean Sea

Punta Maroma. - Features small luxury resorts and spas with unexpected personal service and impeccable privacy

Playa del Carmen. - Beautiful beaches, fun nightlife, close to everything. This is the Corazon "the heart" - of the Riviera Maya, where the beaches are spectacular and romance floats along with the Caribbean breezes. Coming to life at night, gourmet restaurants abound along with Cuban nightclubs, fun beach clubs, live music and more

Playa car. - Just minutes from the town of Playa del Carmen, the perfect combination between the leisure and romance of a private hotel zone with twelve different hotel options to enjoy a wedding and honeymoon on the beach. Each resort has its own unique tropical style and amenities. Golf and water sports are always only a few minutes from you touch.

Lubo:

Some people choose to never even leave their hotel & (laughter). But really, there are so many undiscovered regions of the Riviera Maya yet to be explored and enjoyed. All the areas he mentions are spectacular, but then again, with the amazing waters and beaches you can enjoy almost any part of the region.

NORM:

Are there any unique or exotic venues in Riviera Maya where couples celebrate their marriages and why are these unique? As a follow up, how popular are destination weddings in Riviera Maya and where do the couples come from?

Julio:

Yes, it is a popular place to have a wedding and couples come from all over the world, not just the USA, to be married on our beautiful beaches in our tropical paradise. They can even have Mayan wedding with a Mayan Shaman as well. As one wedding planner says, "If it is legal, we can arrange it!"

Lubo:

Weddings and honeymoons are our business & For this reason, Karisma Resorts has introduced various properties over the past few years, which specifically cater to couples. The Riviera Maya is ideal for weddings and honeymoons. And because of its proximity, we find many couples are coming from the U.S.

To better cater to this group, we have a Karisma Wedding Planner who helps couples every step of the way. We have individuals from the U.S. who coordinate with onsite planners to ensure every single detail is taken care of. You can find more information on our Karisma Hotels & Resorts WEBSITE or via email at weddings@eldorado-resort.com.

NORM:

How far in advance should a couple prepare themselves for a honeymoon or romantic getaway in Riviera Maya?

Julio:

They can plan a few weeks in advance or months. Certain months are busier than others, as everywhere. If they wish a civil wedding, especially for the months of April and June, they truly should start planning at least 6-12 months in advance. For renewal and commitment ceremonies, only a few weeks or months are needed.

Lubo:

Of course, this also depends on how many people are attending or how elaborate the ceremony is. But again, wedding planners can be a tremendous assistance.

NORM:

What tips would you have for destination brides who plan to bring along a wedding party to Riviera Maya? It is a growing trend for destination weddings to now have a fairly sizeable wedding party sometimes about 50, so it would be great to get their tips on group airline discounts, hotel blocks.

Julio:

Most of the large resorts have wedding planners on premises and offer packages for large groups, which can be booked over the Internet or through their personal travel agents. If they wish a more personalized and private experience, there are several professional wedding coordinators in the area who can work with them to plan the weddings of their dreams.

Lubo:

Book in advance! Especially, if you have a large party. There are specials, but they are often very popular. For example, for couples that can stay a week in Mexico, Karisma offers free weddings. This is particularly popular at our flagship property, the El Dorado Royale, where couples that purchase a Casita Suite for a minimum of seven nights receive a free wedding package. Then again, the Casita Suites are very popular so I would recommend booking 6 months in advance.

NORM:

How does one go about checking on the reliability of a hotel or resort in Riviera Maya when it pertains to service, food, etc?

Julio:

Our suggestion is to research this on the Internet to find hotels and destination wedding planners web sites, such as www.weddings-in-playa.com/. There are many websites and chat rooms, which share experiences, and information and they are a wonderful source of information. Most importantly, it's really up to the couple to do their research.

Lubo:

I agree, I think the web is a great source of information.

NORM:

What should people know about planning a wedding in Riviera Maya as far as legal requirements are concerned?

Julio:

The Riviera Maya offers several options in regard to wedding arrangements, including working with a particular resort, coordinating your own affair or enlisting the assistance of a professional wedding coordinator. For couples that want to set up their wedding on their own, the cost for a wedding service at the civil register's office is $225 plus the costs of the required blood tests and doctor's certificates. There is a three- day waiting period for a civil ceremony as well. In addition, due to a favorable arrangement between Mexico and the U.S., Mexican civil marriages are considered wholly valid in the U.S.

Catholic weddings are usually organized by private wedding coordinators and require specific documentation at least one month prior to the ceremony. Catholic ceremonies here are recognized in the USA through a reciprocal agreement between the USA and Mexican church.

Following are the requirements for a Civil marriage on the Riviera Maya:
Original passport plus two copies of your passport OR

Original birth certificate with raised seal and two copies of your birth certificate;

Two copies of your tourist card, which you obtain upon arrival into Mexico;

Medical certificate issued in Mexico (including a blood test);

Completed application form;

If divorced, a certified, Apostilled copy of the divorce decree;

Four witnesses (can be provided locally);

For those who would like assistance with their wedding planning, a number of hotels, resorts and inns in the Riviera Maya offer special wedding packages and the services of a wedding coordinator as well as honeymoon packages, should the bride and groom wish to stay at the property immediately following their marriage. For more information on these packages as well as contact information for personal Wedding Coordinators, please contact the Riviera Maya Tourism Office at 011-52 (984) 85-92170, email us at info@rivieramaya.com or visit our WEBSITE

Lubo:

Again, wedding planners are a great resource and can guide couples every step of the way. They are very informed with the most up to date information on the regulations, requirements and costs involved.

NORM:

Is there anything else you would wish to add as it pertains to romantic and wedding destinations in Riviera Maya?

Romantic weddings on the beach, with the Caribbean breezes embracing the love of a man and a woman and the spirit of the Maya guiding their path into the future is the experience the Riviera Maya brings to each and every couple. For the Maya, the union of man and woman represents the union of Mother Earth with the Cosmos and they become one. This spiritual union is our gift to each and every couple that chooses to share this paradise with us all.

Lubo:

The great thing about getting married in Mexico is that you find people who really want to make sure you have the ultimate wedding experience. Catering to the every need of our guests is for us, the most important thing. And I think it's this type of attitude that keeps people coming back to this spectacular region.

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