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Destination Mexico

Interested in a restorative getaway with your small dog? Look no further than the Viceroy Riviera Maya

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Private plunge pool, mezcal, moon shower… if these words conjure delight, start looking into Yucatan-bound flights (closest airports: Cancun or Cozumel) that allow small dogs to travel in-cabin, because do we have a destination for you…

The Viceroy Riviera Maya, Mexico

Getting there:
A 40 minute taxi ride from the Cancun International Airport deposits you at the resort’s Zen open-air reception area. A gracious welcome, including a cool eucalyptus-scented towel and a glass of xcalacoco, a refreshing coconut and lemongrass drink, ensures you immediately feel a world away

The details:
Dogs up to 20-ish pounds welcomed for a per-night pet fee of $50. Room rates start at $393

Not to be missed: the resort offers a traditional Temazcal ceremony, an ancient ritual for spiritual and physical cleansing that’s becoming a top tourist draw. Inquire about booking a Temazcal at the spa.

Good to know: the resort is located just 35 minutes from Cancun International Airport, and three miles from popular Playa del Carmen, known for its restaurants, boutiques, and nightlife.

Imagine this: You walk a gorgeous jungle-y path to your private villa. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of a spider monkey swinging overhead as you take in the sights and sounds of this breathtaking oasis just outside Playa del Carmen. Beside you is your little dog, busily sniffing the pathway as you follow one of the hotel staff members towards the spa, where a shaman from a local Mayan village is ready to welcome you both with a Mayan blessing. They’ve even made your canine companion a beach shell necklace.

Then it’s on to your villa, surrounded by lush jungle foliage, where you toast your arrival with a sip of the Siete Misterios mezcal (tequila’s smoky cousin) they’ve set out for you. The resort’s mayordomo stops in to offer you a personalized selection of handmade soaps, hand-cutting you a slice in your desired fragrance.

Your quarters are impossibly lovely with a huge bed, pristine white Egyptian cotton sheets, private plunge pool, and outdoor moon shower. There is even a tiny palapa hut designed to shade your dog when you’re relaxing beachside in the commons or on your private terrace, dipping your toes in your kidney-shaped pool or laid out on the hammock or daybed. You wonder how you’ll ever drag yourself from your villa—and then you get a glimpse of the glorious beachfront pool.

Breakfast is taken in the breezy open-air restaurant at the edge of the beach, ringed by white hanging beds begging for a post-repast nap. When you finally rouse yourself, you debate whether to take a dip in the palm-ringed lagoon pool, rent Stand Up Paddle Boards from the stand mere paces from where you’re sitting (bring a life jacket for your dog if you want him to accompany you) or grab a taxi for the 10 minute drive into Playa Del Carmen. (Plenty of people walk their dogs along the bustling main strip in town and pretty much every restaurant has a patio so feel free to bring along your pup.) Then it’s back to the Viceroy for dinner at La Marea, the more formal dining room, a beautiful second-floor space with delightful ocean breezes, ceiling fans, colonial club house vibes, and an internationally-inflected Mexican menu. Our advice: Order lots—you’re on vacation, everything is delicious, and the setting is impossible to beat. Your dog won’t go hungry either—in-room dining for pets is à la carte and personalized by the chefs.

Our canine companion, former Mexican street dog Ares, went from eking out an existence on the mean calles to a five star welcome as our guest at the hotel—just the sort of rags to riches story we love. Making it possible was the irrepressible Jan Northenscold, a retired American who now calls Playa Del Carmen home—not that she remained at her leisure for long. Spurred to action by the number of streets dogs in and around Playa Del Carmen and their more-often-than-not sad fate, Jan founded her own non-profit, Playa Animal Rescue, petitioning officials for the space to make it happen. To date, Jan has saved in the neighbourhood of 250 dogs, on average re-homing a dog every three to four days. Many of her rescues are now living in the US and Canada. If you’re interested in adopting a Mexican street dog, check out Jan will arrange everything to make the cross-border voyage seamless. If you’re in Playa del Carmen for a stretch, stop by the entirely donation-funded shelter to say hi and inquire about volunteer opportunities like walking the dogs. They also have super tanks and tees for sale that make great souvenirs. Buen viaje!


Lead Photo: Lori Lemieux

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