Review: Heaven at The Hard Rock Hotel, Riviera Maya

Set in the lush scenery of the Riviera Maya, Heaven at Hard Rock Hotel offers an unmatched adult-only all-inclusive experience. As a recent guest, I was privileged to relish in the resort’s rock star delights and enjoy its many delicious restaurants. Weeks later, I still think about the dishes at UMO, a place that truly elevates Mexican Yucatan gastronomy. And did I mention the resort is all-inclusive?

Image credit: Hard Rock Hotel

Upon arrival at the Hard Rock Hotel, you’re immediately whisked into an oasis of luxury, with a welcome worthy of this global brand. Heaven is a separate part of the large Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya resort, with its own private pools, buildings, and restaurants. (The other, more family-friendly part of the resort is known as Hacienda.) My travel-weariness started to melt away as I was handed a welcome cocktail at check-in. When I was then asked if I’d like an iconic Fender guitar for the duration of my stay, I really perked up. What better way to make your guests feel like rockstars than with the appropriate accessories!

Image credit: Hard Rock Hotel

Now I have very little songwriting talents, but if I did, I would have written a balad to my dedicated concierge David. Not only was he efficient and thoughtful, but he seemed to be everywhere at once. As a guest of Heaven, priority access to some of the resort’s premier dining establishments is a significant perk. But what good is that if you can’t decide which of the many restaurants to try? David took all the stress out of this, arranging tables at the most popular restaurants and even ensuring I have pool loungers in my favourite areas waiting for me. He exemplified what I noticed throughout the resort – not just excellent client service but wanting the guests to have a truly fabulous time.

Image Credit: Hard Rock Hotel

David recommended I try the hotel’s famous Rock spa, and of course, I was more than willing. Who can say no to the Carribean’s largest spa? The steam rooms and deep-tissue massage were a heaven-send (pun intended) after one too many drinks at the hotel’s own club the night before. Another option would be to work off the all-inclusive drinks at the gym, and for those with balance on their mind, there’s a yoga club with daily morning sessions.

Image credit: Hard Rock Hotel

This wouldn’t be a 7*Life article without our favourite thing to review – the food! Staying at Heaven isn’t complete without a dinner at WAI, a paradisiacal spot by the Eden pool. The restaurant offers a unique take on Thai cuisine, experimenting with traditional spices like mint and curry. The heart of the experience lies in the handmade noodles, prepared right before your eyes at the wok show station. The variety of flavours, from salty and sweet to acidic and spicy, served up a veritable feast for the senses. Here, the Pad Thai and green curry particularly stood out, each dish displaying an innovative blend of traditional Thai flavours and modern culinary techniques.

Image Credit: Martin Wicks

And then there is WAI’s neighbour restaurant and my personal favourite, UMO. It encapsulates the essence of Mexican Yucatan cuisine. Paying homage to cultural traditions and authentic cooking methods, the restaurant uses local and seasonal ingredients to create a menu that is as sustainable as it is delicious. At the heart of UMO’s kitchen is a Mayan PIB oven, an underground earth oven used to smoke, bake, or steam dishes. I’m currently scheming on how to get one into my London kitchen! The highlight of my dining experience here was definitely the succulent pork, slow-cooked in the PIB oven to perfection. Served with handmade artisanal tortillas and guacamole, it was a masterclass in Mexican gastronomy, simple but addictive.

Image credit: Martin Wicks

Beyond these two spectacular dining experiences, the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya offers a range of culinary delights. The resort’s commitment to using locally farmed produce, prime USDA meats, and fresh premium seafood ensures that every dish is of the highest quality. I was particularly impressed by the 24-hour service, which allowed me to enjoy the resort’s culinary offerings, whether by the pool, on the beach, or in the privacy of my balcony. Fancy a Margarita at midnight overlooking the Mexican sea? No problem. After all, you’re on holiday.

Hard Rock Hotel offers a plethora of other eateries that deserve to be highlighted. Let’s start with the Faro Gastro Market also in Heaven, a culinary buffet haven that serves a variety of dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With a range of options like succulent meats grilled to perfection, the fresh catch of the day, sushi and pasta, crisp salads and soups, Faro’s buffet caters to all tastes.

Makes a nice change from a bowl of Heinz tomato soup and cheesy toast. Image credit: Martin Wicks

Of course, you can also visit the restaurants in the wider resort. If you prefer a more casual dining experience, Pizzeto makes crispy brick-oven pizza in a wood-burning stove, along with salads, soups, and pasta à la carte. For a broad taste of Mexico, Frida provides an atmospheric setting with Mexican cuisine and regional specialities à la carte. At Zen, lovers of Asian cuisine can indulge in an extensive menu of traditional Asian dishes, including sushi and stir fry, served in a serene Asiatic-themed environment.

For the steak lovers among us, Toro offers premium cuts of the finest steak and a menu of lavish dishes served à la carte. And if you’re looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can have delicious ice cream and cakes at any of the cafes dotted around the resort.

Image credit: Hard Rock Hotel

Heaven at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya isn’t just a hotel; it’s an experience. Live music every day, fun water slides, several pools and sandy beaches galore. Not to mention a pleasing plethora of food and drinks on an exciting all inclusive basis and warm welcoming staff that will fulfil your every wish – no wonder it’s called Heaven…