When temps are far into the negatives and cuddling up by the fire with your hot chocolate isn’t doing it for you, it’s time to go somewhere warm. Winter in Chicago can be magical, it also can be downright treacherous! Saying I hate the cold is an understatement. Wearing a ton of layers, shoveling snow, runny noses and feeling like your fingers and toes are going to fall off are all enough to make me go crazy. Gimme the sun, the sand and the cocktails!

Booking a big vacation can be stressful. Especially when planning a trip to Cancun or Riviera Maya where there are hundreds of resorts and options to pick from. I was in complete charge of our trip to Riviera Maya for New Years and I didn’t want to screw anything up so I chose to call my AAA travel agent (shout out to Mary from the Naperville, IL location!). I’ve used AAA in the past to book a trip and remembered it being stress free. If I was planning a trip to anywhere within the U.S. I would just do the work myself but planning a trip in another country can be confusing. Not to mention all the resorts to choose from! I had no idea which one to pick. I had a couple criteria it had to meet. There had to be at least one swim up bar, we wanted an ocean view and it had to be adults only. I gave that criteria to Mary (my AAA travel agent) along with either Cancun or Riviera Maya and she quickly came back with a handful of options to pick from. It was much easier to narrow it down to where we wanted to go from a handful of choices rather than hundreds. We made a decision based on its 5 star rating and rave customer reviews. There are a lot of scams when dealing with transportation from international airports. I’ve seen too many times that drivers will charge you more just because you don’t speak their language. Mary made sure to include private transportation from and to the airport. You definitely don’t want to get caught in that so make sure to prearrange transportation before arriving.

El Dorado Seaside Suites by Karisma was what I picked – and boy am I glad! The upscale resort is relatively new, recently opening in 2015. The Karisma Hotels are Gourmet Inclusive resorts which basically means the food is out of this world! It’s all-inclusive so all food, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages are included with your stay. This includes the 24 hour room service and daily restock of the mini-fridge. El Dorado Seaside Suites is a five-star beachfront property with 192 swim-up and infinity suites – each with its own pool on a private terrace or balcony. The resort is lush and elegant and perfect for couples!

We visited the spa for a 50 minute couples massage. The N’aay Spa is the largest in all of Riviera Maya. You can choose to enjoy your massage indoors in their luxurious spa or at their Beachfront Sky Massage, where you are surrounded by nothing but ocean and air. I picked indoors because I was worried that it would be too hot outside. It was very relaxing and a definite must for unwinding.

There’s a large array of fine dining options for each meal. The El Dorado Seaside Suite is connected to two other resorts – Sensimar and Hidden Beach. Hidden Beach is an au natural resort where only nudest are allowed, but we were able to dine at the restaurants at Sensimar as well as the four at El Dorado. All of the restaurants are walking distance but they do have golf cart shuttles running all the time. They said every 10 minutes but we never waited more than a couple minutes for a shuttle. If you are looking to try new things this is the place for you! All of the restaurants offer a large variety and high end dishes. Some would consider the portions small, they are not “Americanized,” but you are encouraged to order off of each section of the menu. We ordered one or two appetizers, a main dish, a side dish and dessert. You were not walking out of the restaurants feeling like you overate. It’s clear that they cater to their guests who prefer quality over quantity.

The only negative I found was the beach. It’s a very narrow beach and there was construction going on while we were there. The sand was also very coarse and hard to walk on. It was not a deal breaker though. The pool area offered a large sundeck which was elevated above one of the four restaurants. It was just steps away from the pool and Francisco at the swim-up bar. Francisco took care of us each day! He remembered our favorite drink, the Bahama Mama, and would make them for us without us even having to ask.

We chose not to do any excursions while on this trip. It was all about unwinding, relaxing and spending quality time with each other. Oh and getting a killer tan! In the past I’ve swam with dolphins, zip-lined, drove ATV’s in a Mayan jungle and partied at Coco Bongo, so if you are looking for recommendations on where to go for those types of excursions please feel free to email me!

Overall, I would absolutely recommend this resort! Five stars all around! Romantic getaway, honeymoon, wedding, big birthday celebration, this resort is perfect for all!


{View from our room – Second floor, infinity pool on our balcony.}

{Sunrise and Sunset}

{Sensimar Bar – Cotorros}

{Large sundeck elevated above Driftwood BBQ restaurant}

{Sensimar Beach}

{Gourmet Pub}

{El Dorado Seaside Suites Beach}

{A little cloudy on the last day but the weather was still amazing!}

xoxo, Katie

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