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Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya: Resort Review

My honest opinion!

Confession time humans. I’ve only been on a single all-inclusive resort vacation. My experience in Mexico this past autumn was my first taste of the iconic resort getaway. And I have the distinct impression that this first resort visit has set my standards very very high.

If you’re resort shopping for a stellar getaway in Cancun, here’s my honest review of the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya.

champagne in the lobby at the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya

Check In

Ok, there’s a very real chance that everything I loved about the Valentin Imperial’s check in process is par for the course for these resorts. I wouldn’t know! But I loved being greeted at the door, handing off my luggage, and being seated on a comfortable couch while the hotel employees handled all the check in documents. We were given champagne and some truly delicious mini sandwiches while we waited. And then instead of waiting at a counter, card readers were brought out to us and we paid for our rooms while sitting comfortably and sipping champagne. 

And then we and our luggage were shuttled straight to our rooms! We saw giant iguanas on the ride over!

Five stars. No complaints.


The rooms were wonderfully comfortable and had everything we needed. Even the most basic suite that I stayed in with my friend had a couch, a table for eating at, a desk, and a bathroom with a deep, jetted tub. The beds were opulent and cozy. There was a stocked mini bar with snacks and drinks, and plenty of bottled water (since the tap water in Mexico isn’t drinkable, this is key!). There were robes and slippers in the closets, and a patio to enjoy when the weather cooperated.

Five stars. So lovely.

the pool at the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya


The star of any resort is its pool, and the pool at Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya is stunning. It’s truly massive, with beautiful water features and rows upon rows of lounge chairs. It’s a comfortable depth, even if you’re short (like me!) There are floating lounge mats that you can use to your heart’s content. And don’t forget the swim up bar! Lounging in a pool on a floating mat with a margarita in hand is the literal definition of relaxation.

The few small downsides are 1) the stunning covered cabanas are by reservation only, and have an extra cost associated with them, 2) the “whirlpool” areas aren’t hot tubs, they’re just pool temperature but with jets, and 3) you need to bring the towels from your room, because there aren’t any waiting for you there.

Overall, four stars. Truly lovely, just with a few caveats.

The Beach

Because of course the Valentin Imperial is right on the beach! You can walk from the resort straight onto a long stretch of beautiful white sand. There’s a beach bar with swings where you can relax and enjoy the view, or you can take your drink out onto the sand and rest in one of the many lounge chairs. Again, there are fancier ones for rent, but the run of the mill included ones aren’t too shabby!

There’s a designated swimming area when the surf allows it, and I found some truly stunning seashells while beachcombing!

Five stars. Doesn’t get much better.

The Restaurants

Oh the food! The resort had more food options than I was able to sample in a single visit!

For breakfast, there’s one sit down restaurant option with a huge menu of both breakfast and lunch dishes, complete with coffee and mimosas and everything in between. There’s also a breakfast buffet that is truly what dreams are made of. 

The buffet is open for lunch as well. I know a lot of people cringe at the idea of buffets, and sometimes I can be one of them. So believe me when I say the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya’s lunch buffet is truly wonderful! There’s so much to choose from, and it’s all so well prepared, that you’ll have no choice but to go back and fill a new plate multiple times.

Over the course of my stay, I was able to sample the upscale Japanese restaurant, the beachside surf and turf restaurant, and the classy Mediterranean restaurant. All were simply amazing, but the best thing I ate all weekend was the seared tuna appetizer I had at the surf and turf restaurant, Mar y Tierra!

There’s also a coffee shop for pastries, gelato, sandwiches, and of course coffee. And there’s a churro cart that floats around the resort in the evenings. And there’s a bar every three feet! And if all that isn’t enough, you can order from an extensive room service menu at any time!

The one note I have about the food is to order anything cooked to a temperature (steak, duck, certain fish…) a little less well done than you usually do. Twice on this trip I asked for something cooked “medium,” which is my standard, and ended up with a drier piece of meat than I would have wanted. Lean toward the rare side, unless you like everything very well done.

Four and a half stars. Delicious, but you have to relearn a few metrics.


This resort features nightly performances, with a different theme every night. There’s also music in the various open air spaces most evenings. 

These are truly hit or miss. Some of the live music groups were incredibly skilled and got you up and dancing immediately. Some of them were playing songs that were way too sad way too loudly.

The shows were similar. The “circus show” I saw on my trip was utterly incredible. The “urban show” I saw the following evening was properly awful. It’s up to you whether you want to roll the dice on these!

Overall, three stars. The entertainment is the one part of the resort I have any reservations about recommending.


Only being at the resort for four days, I can only speak to a few of the available activities. But here are the ones I did and enjoyed.

Beach Yoga. Make sure you check the schedule to make sure the yoga you’re attending is indeed at the beach! Sometimes it’s at the beach, and sometimes it’s at the gym. I’m sure the gym yoga is lovely, but come on! You’re in Cancun! Do yoga on the beach!

The yoga instructor will provide mats, and you’ll do a full yoga session on the sand with the sound of the waves all around you. The session I did ended with a long period of resting on our mats, listening to the waves while the instructor walked around us with a series of chimes and singing bowls. It was incredibly restorative and basically magical.

a group of snorkelers with a sea turtle

You can also book all sorts of off-site excursions right from the resort. There’s a desk near the main lobby staffed with people who know all the details about the excursion companies that partner with the resort. They’ll be able to match you or your group with exactly what you’re looking for, and may even be able to provide discounts! My group in Cancun did a tour that included snorkeling with turtles and a swim through an cenote, and we got a discounted rate by booking through the resort!

Five stars. So much variety and complete magic.

The Final Verdict on the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya?

So how to rate the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya? 4.5 stars. Stunning locale, delicious food, ok entertainment, top notch things to do. Learn how to navigate things like finding your towels when you need them and knowing how to ask your steak to be cooked, and there’s no reason you can’t have a five-stars experience at this glorious resort. 

Cin cin!

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Love and Shenanigans,


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