As we say in the About Luxury Latin America page, this site is “is for readers looking to get filtered, authoritative recommendations on where amenities and service go well beyond the norm.” So we check out a lot of hotels that are quite good, but not good enough to be included here.
Hotel Secreto on Isla Mujeres near Cancun is one example. This was the first stylish hotel to open on the island, so it got a flurry of press and accolades when it launched in the middle of the past decade. It’s still got 12 big rooms, comfy beds, and the feel of an intimate villa. But one of our regular correspondents, who is also a guidebook writer for the region, says it feels like “more of an upper-midrange place than a luxury boutique hotel.” A lot of services high-end travelers expect (like 24-hour room service) aren’t available and the property is not looking so fresh and new anymore. It’s a nice hotel overall and some investment in refurbishment and a larger staff might bring it to the next level, but for now picky upscale travelers are better off at Villa Rolandi.
Three of our correspondents have checked out Le Rêve in the Riviera Maya, including me, and it too falls into that “close, but no cigar” category. I would gladly spend a long, leisurely weekend with the one I love at this small and romantic beachfront hotel north of Playa del Carmen (pictured at the top), and I’m sure I’d enjoy it—if I didn’t have to pay the sky-high listed room rates, anyway. But it just doesn’t have the level of pampering guest rooms and attentive service you’ll find at the other luxury Riviera Maya hotels we have included. (I wandered around for five minutes before finding someone who worked there when I visited.) The suites facing the beach, with their own plunge pool, are heavenly. Some of the other rooms, though, are pretty minimalist.
It is possible for a small hotel to compete favorably with the big luxury beach resorts—Casa de Mita on the west coast of Mexico is a great example—but it means being dramatically better than everything else around that’s the same size, not just more expensive.
If you are researching luxury resorts in Latin America and don’t find the one you’re interested in listed on our site, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with it. But we only include reviews of the “best of the best” in the region, so sometimes we have to pass.