As sex and relationship therapists we’re on a mission to seek out the most romantic, the most sexually charged, and the most unique erotic vacations for adult couples who we describe as “Ethical Hedonists”. Tough job, staying away from all those calorie- rich pina coladas and preventing sunburn on your naked parts, but it’s a mission we take seriously. No hurricanes this year to worry about, but if there are hardships to lying naked at a five star, all inclusive resort in the Caribbean, we just can’t think of them at the moment. As part of our nude and romance havens worldwide tour, we have just returned from a week this fall at the upscale Desire Rivera Maya resort 40 minutes outside Cancun Mexico. All in the name of science of course, (grin) our interest was to determine where on the sexual continuum of Ethical Hedonism, the couples staying at Desire found themselves.
Described as an “elegant and exclusive, clothing-optional, couples-only resort” Desire is an adult-only, 114 room, secluded resort somewhat off the beaten path. It’s situated between acres of mangrove swamps – take the “beware of crocodile signs seriously – (we had five, 2 meter crocs swim towards us a few feet from the edge of the road outside the resort when we got out of the car) along with an interesting array of jungle birds and animals including a baby coatimundi (wild jungle raccoons that are social, curious and let you pet them on your way to dinner). The resort is located on the wayward side of the road, and is situated on a strip of Mexico’s typically breathtaking Caribbean beaches, complete with white sands and warm, turquoise water. The beach includes 40 canopied beach beds (complete with drink-providing waitresses and cabana boys) situated along the edge of the water. These beds are the ultimate in decadence beach relaxation. Apparently couples frolicking romantically on the beach beds were a common sight in the past. Desire Rivera Maya had previously been sequestered from any other resorts, but as development has hit this area of the coast (with a new resort a little down the beach) the sexual adventure has had to be curtailed by the security guards asking you to take the sex inside your rooms, or upstairs to the hot tub. A few couples grumbled about the “evil bed police”, stopping their “from Here to Eternity” wave crashing. It deterred those who really enjoyed rolling in the surf and had loved the freedom to be intimate in the Sea, but overall the tone on the beach tended to be more romantic than sexual.
Desire Resorts claim it is for couples over 25, but the average age of couples we observed would probably be in their mid 40’s. We met one couple who were a remarkably active and well preserved 80, (if only we could all be at a nude resort at 80), most of the couples had been together for ten years or longer and were what we call the “empty nesters gone wild” group, or anniversary couples looking for something different. According to the staff (which has some variation depending on the time of year), guests were 20% Mexican/Latin, 20% European, 20% Canadian, and 40% American in nationality, all in varying stages of undress. Clothing optional, as opposed to nude means that bathing suits are seen, but the majority of the couples were either nude or topless throughout the day. They had typical resort games such as water polo and beach volleyball taking place, (nude volleyball is always an interesting eyeful) along with far more sexual ones such as the chocolate eating contest (where two couples compete to see who can drizzle and eat the most chocolate and whipped cream off their partners). Nobody was pressured to participate. The tone was entertaining and playful during the day, rather than sexual, and the evening theme was more erotic, rather than smacking of blatant sex. There is no “getting jumped in the lobby” fear that some people perceive happens at lifestyle friendly resorts. The activity staff was relaxed, but enthusiastic and did their best to be inclusive of everyone interested in participating, and respectful of those who wanted to read quietly, or simply lounge on the beach.
The large elevated hot tub (which is off limits to management and only manned by a bartender and one cleaning staff for the mountain of towels being used) gets going about 4 pm, and is the place to socialize until couples start getting ready for dinner at 7. The hot tub is surrounded by a bar and six beds (all in view of the hot tub) which are either draped or open depending on the level of exhibitionist tendencies of the couple in question. A few couples were seen playing on the beds, (mostly with their own partners, but with some group massages going on). However for the most part, people were simply flirty and friendly in and around the hot tub, and exceptionally respectful of couples who were only into each other. Provided you don’t stare, it’s quite acceptable to watch. And everyone is understandably curious, and wanted to see if the participants are having longer, or more interesting sex than they are. It can get wilder depending on the flavor of groups staying any particular week, but the concern that one young man had before coming to Desire of “being afraid to leave his wife alone while he went to the bathroom for fear she would be mauled” was completely unfounded. A couple of people approached us asking if we were lifestylers, but like most lifestyle aficionados we’ve ever met, they graciously understood the etiquette and body language of disinterest.
Three dinner restaurants (an Asian, a fine dining, and buffet style) had enough of a quality and variety to keep everyone happy, although we found the sameness of the breakfast and lunch buffets had us craving for anything beyond the typical beach food by the end of the week. This is not the place to go if you are trying to manage your weight – and we struggled to find things that weren’t deep fried, or carb loaded (although yummy). The service was outstanding. There is something about Mexican waiters that let them show their appreciation of you, without ever being schwarmy. The dress for dinner was sexy and elegant, and a second change into erotic costumes or lingerie was common for the late evening entertainment and disco, so paying attention to the days themes before you arrive meant you were up for prizes, and admired by the other guests. Disco themes include “pimp and ho night”, Latin fever, costume and mask night, and sexy pj’s, and participants were encouraged to do a strip tease or “show off” to determine who won the t-shirt for the most enthusiastic performance. A couples- only playroom off of the dance floor was popular for about an hour a night (after 11pm), and was the only other condoned, sex-friendly zone in the resort. However it took us two days to find the door leading into it, and with no windows, any active play certainly wasn’t in your face.
The highlight for us were the evening shows before the disco got shaking which were brought in activities including a classic rock band, body painting, lingerie fashion show, casino night (with an auction for Desire merchandise) and where you could find the entire cast of resort guests lounging on chairs, mingling, or just cuddling romantically after dinner on cabana chairs built for two. The late night hot tub action (we were leaving upstairs a few nights at 2 am and the action was just beginning), didn’t get going until very late, and there were a few groups who found beach beds after 3 am to continue the revelry. We marveled at their stamina.
Desire’s concept is certainly upscale, and anyone who tried the couple “Desire” massage (which included very sensuous touching, and a guided “happy ending” in a private room) raved about it. Desire seems to oscillate between the decadent “indulge yourself” mantra of “what goes on in Mexico”… while emphasizing their spa-like features of relaxation and health. To their credit, they had very little of the time-share, or excursion aggressive sales pitches that seem to be the bane of other resorts we’ve visited.
Occupancy at Desire is one of the highest in the Caribbean, with Rivera Maya being close to 80-100% filled from mid October until April. Martin Good, the charming General Manager said that they had purchased the vacant land next door, and were building another 40 units to deal with the occupancy levels, as you will struggle to get in any week during high season. He went on to say “about 40% of Desires guests were repeaters (we met one couple who had been nine times already), and that people seemed to really enjoy the concept”. Desire has no “spring break” feel to it, and with that kind of occupancy, and high end entertainment, the room rates are a bit dear. Rates vary during the high season range from $250 to $540 US a night per person, with bottles of wine, massages, and specialty foods like lobster being extra. This is not discount travel, and within an eight days time span, 90% of the guests turn over.
But it is one of the only places that tolerate what we call “upscale sexual encounters done with taste”. The clientele are affluent, professional, open minded, and have the time and money to explore the boundaries of their relationship. Like with all nude resorts we’ve encountered, the minute you take clothes off, the barriers to meeting people come down. You make friends easily, and most people are happy to tell you about themselves. There is a “no camera policy” and discretion is expected. In interviewing as many couples as possible, Desire vacationers seem to fall largely into one of three categories. They were the “honeymooning type” – couples who were into each other and their relationship, enjoyed a sexually charged environment, but stayed away from the hot tub, disco, and simply re-connected monogamously. They may or may not be nude through their stay. The next third were what we call “exploratory lifestylers or nudists”. These were the couples that were open to “something happening” if it felt right (although many weren’t sure what that something might be), liked trying relaxed nudity, and may participate in a gentle, and somewhat innocent group massage. This group were committed to their own relationships but usually went home without seeing any kind of action as they were just testing the waters. The final third were the swingers, or lifestylers who were social, and interested in meeting and hooking up with like minded people, along with the group we called “indiscriminate lifestylers”, for whom this was about how many partners they could try on their week away. This group was friendly, but were really only interested in meeting other lifestylers.
On the whole Desire really is what you make it. Elegant, upscale, quietly naked and romantic, or with late night happenings, disco dancing, and hut tubbing along with 50 new friends and sexual adventures under the stars. We heard absolutely no complaints, about the resort, rooms, food, or service, and Original Resorts who run Desire Rivera Maya and their Los Cabos location have really found their niche. Anything the resort could control, they managed very well. We really can’t rave about the service more. It is very similar to Desire Los Cabos, in theme and layout (although Los Cabos in our opinion is the nicer, newer resort), however the type of guests seemed to differ at the west coast Desire Los Cabos. They get more of their visitors from California, (think Hollywood clothes, and way more silicone), and on the whole weren’t as laid back and relaxed as the “let it all hang out” group we met at Rivera Maya.
The clientele changes by the week, but as a whole, this is the sexy honeymoon most of wish we had, and can still have. It is worthy of its reputation, and a “must-try” on the bucket list of any adventuring Ethical Hedonist.