"First, off, my wife's family is from Mérida, Yucatán, so going to the Riviera Maya is not really an adventure, any more than is visiting our Colorado Rockies from Denver. What we were looking for was a relaxing getaway. However, we had seven members of our family in our group, covering three generations, which can make relaxing difficult. We found Villa Italiano to be a delightful no-hassles alternative to the all-inclusive scene, at 1/3 the cost. It is large enough that the seven of us weren't falling all over each other, and were able to relax and enjoy. The location put us close enough to Tulum and Puerto Aventuras that visiting attractions and making grocery runs was no big deal. Akumal is withing hiking distance for those who want to enjoy the restaurants and attractions (wear shoes, there is some rock scrambling involved). We spent most of our time taking in the sun and the surf. Swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking were daily activities (well, relaxing with a cold one and a good book was up there, too). The beautiful property is clean and well maintained. The kitchen is well stocked with all of the necessities for cooking and serving.
As to attractions, I visited the Tulum ruins when Playa del Carmen was a fishing village and the Mayan Riviera was virgin beach. Otherwise, that's a must-do--but in the morning before the heat and tourists arrive. Xel-Ha has been Disneyfied and priced to the point of ridiculousness. Yal-Ku Lagoon in Akumal is a much better choice. Also the Xel-Ha archaeological site is very close by. It is not a major site like Chichen-Itza or even Tulum, but it is interesting (if you are into Mayan culture), and rarely visited (we were the only party on site). The site boasts two cenotes for those who are inclined to take a swim and cool off--no extra charfe.
So, if you want a frenetic vacation activity with all the food and drink you can possibly stomach, and all the activities you can cram into the time available, go somewhere else. If your idea of a vacation is kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying the ambiance of one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the planet, this is a good place to do it. Highly recommended, and we will likely return."
Guest: Almost a Local
Date of Stay: July 2014
Review Submitted: August 25, 2014