Yes, for about four years there was a Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya, on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Their second foray into Mexico went out with a whimper a year ago after struggling to get traction amidst a recession and stiff competition. So for now the brand is gone from Latin America.
Fortunately a new company is giving the property a new lease on life, reopening the resort as Blue Diamond Riviera Maya.
I’d hate to be their search engine optimization guy since Blue Diamond is best known as a brand of almonds, but I’m just happy the mystery property sitting there empty and lonesome has a new master.
The new owners are Blue Bay Resorts, a company with plenty of experience in running vacation playgrounds in Mexico. None of them have been on this level of luxury, but they were smart enough to leave well enough alone when it comes to the well-reviewed Mandarin Oriental decor and facilities. They put $7 million into renovations before reopening, but most of those improvements were on the back end: in upgrading all the air conditioners so the rooms would get colder, faster, and making some plumbing improvements.
Some of the improvements to Blue Diamond are in the plans they offer as well, all-inclusive here being all a-la-carte and minibars in the room stocked with full bottles of liquor, plus replenished beers. Phone calls to anywhere are included in the rates, so you can leave your cell phone off. Some packages include a snorkeling tour or other activities.
As with the other Mayakoba development resorts (Banyan Tree, Fairmont, and Rosewood), most guests stay inland in private casitas, then take a golf course out to the pristine beach and pool. Also as with the other resorts, guests have access to one of the most unusual championship golf courses they’ll ever play. You need to be accurate here as much of the natural plants remain, with topless cenotes flowing in between. It’s easy to get distracted by all the wildlife around.
So Mandarin Oriental is no more, but the replacement is even better, with a lot of upgrades behind the scenes and now it’s a luxury all-inclusive. We got to experience the newly revamped property in person and have entirely rewritten our review. See it here: Blue Diamond Riviera Maya Resort and Spa.
(P.S. – Even earlier there was once a Mandarin Oriental in Mexico City too, but it became the JW Marriott in Polanco.)