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Unico 20 87 Riviera Maya Review

Feb 18, 2019

Unico 20 87 Riviera Maya Review

OKAY GUYS!

It’s here! I did it! Finally! ?(You know how bad I am with travel guides. They take so long and I just always put them off ?) I’ve never received more travel post requests than I did after our recent stay at Unico though–so here it is! ??

To give you some background–We booked it kind of on a whim because we were dying to get out of the cold, and Neal had just taken a new job–thus, he had a couple weeks off AND we had a big occasion to celebrate!

We had our heart set on Tulum, but because it was so last minute, all of the Tulum hotels were booked (Tulum is full of little boutique hotels, so they book up fast–the big resorts are outside of town!) so thanks to a few of you who recommended we look into Unico, that’s where we ended up! (This wasn’t a sponsorship or anything like that–we paid for everything ourselves.) 

Long story short–WE LOVED IT. 

If you don’t want to read this whole intricate post–Unico was absolutely amazing, and we cannot wait to go back. I would highly recommend it to anyone. It’s not cheap, but it’s not terribly expensive, and it was hands down the best food we’ve had at an all-inclusive. 

Want more details? Here you go! (Note: I took most of these photos on our last day, which happened to be rainy, haha–thus why it looks rainy in all the photos! It was actually beautiful weather the whole time we were there ?) 

Our favorite parts of Unico: 

It felt like a boutique hotel:  The decor at Unico was unlike anywhere I've ever stayed.

It felt like a boutique hotel: 

The decor at Unico was unlike anywhere I’ve ever stayed. I’ve never seen a resort with such an incredible eye for detail. It really did feel like you were staying at a trendy boutique hotel–but with three giant pools, an amazing spa and a ton of restaurants. ?I’m kind of a pretty hotel snob, and I’ve never been more pleasantly surprised/impressed. Every room even has a jacuzzi tub on every balcony! 

The food could compete with any trendy Chicago restaurant: 

Most people don’t hear “all inclusive resort” and think of high-end food, but that’s exactly what you get here. I was also impressed at the options they have to accommodate food allergies/diets, and how many healthy options you could take advantage of. They have smoothies and juices at the juice bar, they have chia seed pudding for breakfast, a really awesome salad bar for lunch–you can order anything fresh from the grill, and made to order omelettes for breakfast. 

Truly top-shelf liquor: 

We drank Don Julio, Grey Goose, and Aperol spritzes all week! One tip: There are different liquors/beers/etc at every bar, so do some investigating on what they stock and where! 

The service was unlike any other: 

Everyone we came into contact with at the resort was incredibly helpful, and you could tell they really truly took pride in the resort and genuinely wanted everyone to have the best possible experience.

Every guest is also paired up with a “local host” upon checkin, who will help with anything you need. You can text them through Whatsapp and they will make dinner reservations for you, help you book any excursions or activities that you’d like––you can even text them to have a bath in your jacuzzi drawn when you get home from the pool! Our local host was Zulda and we can’t say enough wonderful things!! 

The beds were really comfortable: 

I’m such a bed snob––I almost always think the beds are uncomfortable matter where we stay–but they weren’t at Unico! They even have a pillow menu with a ton of different pillows to make sure you are EXTRA comfy! 

All-inclusive includes the spa: 

There are certain services that are included in the all inclusive, but even on the ones that aren’t included, you only have to pay I think 20% of the total or something along those lines?  It was SUPER affordable. Admittedly I’m not really a spa kind of girl but Neal got a massage and he said it was great and SUCH a steal! 

Fun clientele: 

We genuinely made so many friends there––I’m sure this really varies from week to week and can be kind of a toss-up, but there were a lot of young, fun couples there during our stay, which made it even more fun! They also have fun events/social things every night (salsa lessons, cooking classes, movie nights, live music, etc) that are fun ways to meet other people too! 

Unico 20 87 Riviera Maya Review

Downsides/what we wish they’d had: 

Okay, let me just say–these three things are very small and insignificant compared to how amazing the resort experience was. BUT. If we’re getting nit picky here, these are the three main knocks we’d give: 

Lack of mini bar in the room: 

You can order any kind of liquor and any kind of mixings you’d like up to the room, but they don’t have the little mini bottles so you can help yourself to anything you’d like. This isn’t a big deal, at all. It’s only a big deal for impatient lazy people like us. ? That means it does require some planning ahead OR waiting for room service. 

Not very close to town: 

Just like most big resorts in the area, it’s not super close to Tulum. The resort is about 30 minutes from Tulum and 20 minutes to Playa Del Carmen. If you’re wanting a cultural experience, this isn’t it. The best part of this place is that you don’t have to leave the resort, so definitely stay here if you just want to relax, but if you want to check out Tulum, local restaurants, attractions, have a cultural experience etc, you’ll probably want to stay in town! 

Not a good beach setup: 

This wasn’t a deal breaker for me because I hate sand. ?BUT I felt it was worth pointing out here because I know some people LIVE for the beach. I was really hoping for some beautiful cabanas like they had at Secrets Playa Mujeres, but there is little more than uncomfortable beach chairs and umbrellas. The reason for this is because the Mexican government owns the beach, so they aren’t really able to do what they want to with it. Understandable–but still. Thought it was worth pointing out. 

(However, they do have a couple of bars and full food service down on the beach, which is great!)

Wine is meh. 

I mean, I know you weren’t expecting great wine at an all inclusive, but it just seems like a huge miss because the rest of the liquor and food is top-notch. I’m not a wine snob by any stretch of the imagination, but we typically spend about $15-$20 on average on a bottle of wine, and this wine tastes like $5 wine.

They have a Merlot (WHY!?) and a Cab. Honestly I think the merlot was less bad which should tell you how bad the cab is. ?They do, however, have a wine shop where you can purchase nicer bottles of wine, but the all-inclusive options are not ideal. Everyone else we talked to during our stay also agreed with us about the wine. 

Update: My friend Lee (you should follow her if you don’t already!) is there right now and she says the wine is fine. And she’s a regular wine lover. So maybe they updated it. Or maybe I’m just a bigger wine diva than I thought I was. ?

Every balcony of the resort has a jacuzzi tub! HOWEVER some balconies face the pool and some face the jungle.

Every balcony of the resort has a jacuzzi tub! HOWEVER some balconies face the pool and some face the jungle. So just like, you know, don’t be running around naked on your balcony if it faces the pool if you know what I mean. 

This was the view from our balcony! We had a jungle view. It was beautiful! 

This was the view from our balcony! We had a jungle view. It was beautiful! 

The dining room at Mi Carisa The dining room at Mi Carisa 

Before dinner at Mi Carisa 

Before dinner at Mi Carisa 

Unico 2087 Restaurant Reviews: 

Okay, I will start out with this disclaimer: I think everyone has very individual feelings/experiences at each restaurant. Overall, everything I have heard from you guys is very positive across the board, but it seems like opinions on which restaurants are best/least favorites greatly vary––so I would highly encourage you to try them all! (FYI: Apologies in advance that I don’t have photos of all the restaurants/food because this was not a “working vacation” so I really didn’t document that much ?) 

Should you make reservations? 

I think it’s always a safe bet, but you can also ask what the hotel’s occupancy is at when you check in. We don’t eat dinner at peak times anyway (we always like to eat at 9 or 10 when we’re on vacation) so we never made reservations because those times are never popular. However, if the resort was busy and you wanted to eat at 7, for example, you’d definitely want to make reservations. 

Here were our thoughts on the restaurants: 

Cueva Siete: (Mexican) 

This was our favorite restaurant and the only one we went back to twice. (We were there for 7 nights!) Raul was our server and he was THE BEST! We sat on the back patio both times and had the best experience. First of all, the chips and salsas were to die for–maybe the best salsas I’ve ever had. Definitely get the ceviches (I ordered the vegetarian ceviche and Neal always got the ceviche of the day.) I was excited that their green salad sounded fancy and healthy but that’s probably the only thing I would skip.

For dinner, I would highly recommend the Cochinita tacos! Neal really liked the fish entrees he ordered.  You must also get their flaming coffees at dessert. So fun to watch!! The Mayan coffee is made with a Mayan liquor that is very sweet but a fun experience to try! 

Mura House: (Japanese) 

Our second favorite experience. There are two sides to Mura house–the Hibachi side and the Japanese side. You’ll want to make reservations for Hibachi, because they only seat you if you have enough people, or if the numbers work out, if that makes sense. We went with friends we met at the resort (there were 6 of us and the Hibachi rooms fit 8, so they sat one other couple with us.) The hibachi was REALLY good! If you do make friends and want to go to dinner, this is a great place to do that. 

We went to the Japanese part a few nights later, also with the same friends, and we ordered a bunch of things for the table––all were very good–I remember the soup and fried rice being amazing and I would skip the Pad Thai.  I don’t eat sushi, so I am only commenting on the non seafood items–Neal says the sushi was “good for Mexico” but don’t expect it to be on par with the best sushi you’ve ever had. 

2087: (Main grill) 

This is what I would describe as the “main” restaurant–it’s where the main breakfast and lunch buffet is served. I feel like the word “buffet” makes it sound bad, but it’s actually insanely impressive. Everything is very fresh, and for breakfast there are stations where you can get fresh omelettes and for lunch there is a grill station and a freshly made taco station. Their salad bar was also really good. (I would highly recommend getting a grilled chicken breast and making a big salad. Really good!) They always have a new selection of freshly squeezed juices and fruit-infused waters. We always sat in Ricardo’s section for lunch and he was the best! 

We went here for dinner on our first night, and it was also really good. I had a steak with chimichurri. Susie was our server and she was absolutely darling and even ran across the entire resort chasing after us because I had forgotten my jacket. (Thank you Suzie!!) 

Pool dining: 

The lunch options at the pool are sneakily I think one of my favorite parts of the food at the resort ?You have two different grills to choose from–one specializes in woodfired pizzas and this amazing Al Pastor you can order for tacos, quesadillas, or even on pizza! The other one has cheeseburgers, wings, chicken sandwiches, etc. You can go sit at either one or order them to your pool chair. 

Mi Carisa: (Italian) 

This is definitely the cutest/most beautiful space in my opinion. This spot also serves breakfast, which we never took advantage of because we didn’t realize it served breakfast until our last day, but I did manage to sneak in and take some photos of it during the daytime. The breakfast menu here seems lighter/healthier as well.

We went for dinner with our friends (same ones we went to Hibachi with, haha! Shout out to our Canadian friends!) and while the food was good, it was not what I would describe as *traditional* Italian. (Again, you’re in Mexico, so let’s not expect traditional Italian ?)

I think this was probably my least favorite in terms of cuisine, but it was by no means bad or a bad experience–it was still very good. I would just stay away from the Chicken Parmesan, because it’s not Chicken Parm, it’s basically chicken in some type of cream sauce. ?Our Italian friend was outraged. Neal ordered a steak and he said it was his favorite steak he had out of all of the restaurants! I had a pasta that was very good! (I think it was fusilli?) 

Notes on cocktails and drinks: 

Like I said, I was super impressed with their selection of liquor at every single one of the bars and restaurants. The lobby bar is pretty much the main “hub” at night and where you’ll probably want to go for drinks before or after dinner! I would highly recommend trying the cocktails here and honestly at every restaurant–they all differ and are all VERY good! Cesar at the main bar will mix you up a mean cocktail if you just tell him what you like––he’ll surprise you! 

Since the wine wasn’t really drinkable in my opinion (see note above) this is the drink I ordered when I didn’t feel like another sugary cocktail: Vodka soda with mint, cucumber, and lime. It was SO good and refreshing!

Also, at the pool, our favorite drink is always an Iceberg: It’s half blended margarita, half Mexican beer. It’s basically like a less sweet, less strong margarita (but don’t be fooled, they sneak up on you very quickly!!) You have to sit in Fernando’s section–just ask where it is. He is THE best server and will always make sure your drinks are full and cold! 

If you go the quiet pool–Pancho is incredible. We asked if they had coconut water and he offered to go to the store before his shift the next day so he could buy some for us. The lengths the staff will go for you here are unreal–I can’t say enough wonderful things! 

The decor at Mi Carisa (the Italian restaurant) was stunning! They also serve breakfast!

The decor at Mi Carisa (the Italian restaurant) was stunning! They also serve breakfast!

The outdoor patio area at 2087–we ate breakfast and lunch here most days! 

The outdoor patio area at 2087–we ate breakfast and lunch here most days! 

The beach. It's pretty bare bones–no cabanas or anything, which was one of my knocks on the resort, but they have food and beverage service! 

The beach. It’s pretty bare bones–no cabanas or anything, which was one of my knocks on the resort, but they have food and beverage service! 

The decor at the main restaurant 2087. You can also buy these chairs in one of the shops in the main building!

The decor at the main restaurant 2087. You can also buy these chairs in one of the shops in the main building! I want to say they were only like $100!?

Tips for staying at Unico: 

Bring a Yeti: 

I’m a big stickler for cold drinks, so I highly recommend bringing a Yeti tumbler–it ensures your drinks stay icy cold! Otherwise, they melt before you can finish them! 

Bring more sunscreen than you think you need: 

Haha, we ran out of sunscreen about 3/4 of the way through our trip, and they charge literally FORTY DOLLARS for a bottle of sunscreen in the gift shop. Seriously, bring a LOT more than you think you’ll need. It gets so hot, and you don’t want to be stuck with a $40 bottle of sunscreen. ?

The gym gets REALLY BUSY: 

The gym is small so it gets really packed. They have spin classes early in the morning that I always wanted to go to but could never drag myself out of bed before 8am ?After about 9:30 though the gym cleared out–so I’d say either go really early, really late, or go to the spin class instead! 

Use the app: 

The app is REALLY awesome. You can see all the activity schedules, workout classes, make reservations, order room service, look at restaurant menus and more all through the hotels app! 

Take advantage of Cafe Inez: 

I didn’t really go into the little cafe near the lobby until about partway through the trip, but I’m so glad I discovered it. They have really good chia seed pudding, smoothies, and ICED COFFEE! ??**BUT** tip: Don’t order iced coffee, or you’ll get hot coffee poured over ice. Order an iced americano (sometimes they don’t know what you’re saying, so in that case, just say “espresso over ice with a bit of water” haha!) If you need to get some work done while you’re there, this is a nice little place to go and sit with your laptop! 

Don’t skip the quiet pool: 

We didn’t discover the quiet pool until the end of our trip–it’s really nice when you just need a detox from all the activity and music happening at the main pool. It’s located behind the main 2087 restaurant! Again, look for Pancho and sit in his section. He was fantastic!

Excursions from Unico: 

Unico has tons of cool tour packages you can book called “excursions.” We booked two of these while we were there but both agreed we wouldn’t do them again–not because they weren’t wonderful, but because we really just aren’t tour people. Overall, we really hate feeling like touristy sheep and it’s kind of hard to avoid that when you’re packed in a van with a bunch of other tourists wearing name tags, if you know what I mean. 

Mayan Ruins

Mayan Ruins:

The first one we did was to the Mayan Ruins near Tulum, which were VERY cool, situated on a cliff that overlooked a beautiful beach–since we were on a tour though, we had to sit through very dry commentary from the tour guide and then didn’t have time to go to the beach ?What our other friends we met at Unico ended up doing was catching a public bus from the resort to the drop-off for the ruins, and since they were on their own time, they got to hang out at the beach and walk around. In hindsight, we’d definitely just do that. You can ask the front desk about where to catch the bus! 

Snorkeling and Cenote tour: Okay, so this was VERY cool and absolutely worth checking out Snorkeling and Cenote tour: Okay, so this was VERY cool and absolutely worth checking out

Snorkeling and Cenote tour:

Okay, so this was VERY cool and absolutely worth checking out––but we wish we’d just done it on our own vs. a tour.  We definitely thought this was like a 3 hour tour when we signed up, but it ended up being closer to 5 hours–which was WAYY too long. It included lunch which we felt like wasted a lot of time, when we could’ve just done everything all at once and then had lunch back at the resort. 

If you haven’t heard of Cenotes, they’re essentially these beautiful natural swimming holes formed from the underground rivers that run through the area. There are a ton of them in the Riviera Maya region, so you could easily take a quick cab to one and do it on your own and have a way better time! (I’d just do a quick google search!) 

Other things about the tour:

For one, it happened to be coldest morning of the trip–so jumping from cold air into cold water isn’t super fun– but obviously since it was a tour, we couldn’t reschedule it like we could’ve had we just been going by ourselves, making a judgement call to go on a warmer day. I also felt like a little kid on a field trip packed in a van being carted around everywhere, having to listen to instructions the whole time–etc. I’ve never been a tour person so I’m not sure why I was surprised. ?All in all–Cenotes, DEFINITELY a win–I’d just recommend doing it by yourselves vs. doing a guided tour. 

The gift shop where you can buy local goods! I got the cutest pillow cover there, and I loved all these baskets!

The gift shop where you can buy local goods! I got the cutest pillow cover there, and I loved all these baskets!

Another one of the outdoor grill areas by the pool! 

Another one of the outdoor grill areas by the pool! 

There are always cool things going on like hat painting. When you check in, you're each given a sun hat and you can have them hand painted, too!

There are always cool things going on like hat painting. When you check in, you’re each given a sun hat and you can have them hand painted, too! ❤️

Other FAQ’s: 

Do you feel safe in Mexico? 

I get this question a lot from people who are too nervous to travel to Mexico because of safety, which is SUCH a shame. Mexico is such a beautiful country with incredible people–definitely don’t let the news deter you. 

The resorts in Mexico (at least the ones I’ve been to) are always very secure and have a lot of security measures in place. I’ve been to quite a few cities in Mexico and I’ve never felt like my safety was threatened. I would kind of compare Mexico to Chicago in that the media makes it look like everywhere you go your life will be threatened.  (My family who has never been to Chicago is always like, “How far do you live from THE CRIME?!?!” ?) 

The truth is, of course, just like any other place–there is crime, but typically it’s in isolated areas where there is a lot of gang activity. There aren’t a bunch of murderers with huge machetes on the loose roaming around looking for unsuspecting tourists to kill. Are there outlying incidents? Yes. Of course. But as a rule of thumb, I don’t think fear of crime should stop you from seeing such an amazing place. Just be smart about it. Know where you’re going, get off your phone, don’t be drunk in a strange place, don’t stay out late, be aware of your surroundings, etc. Be a smart person–you’ll be fine. 

How do you recommend getting to and from the airport? 

Unico offers transportation for $75 per person round trip–the shuttle has wifi and includes free beer, which is obviously a treat when you arrive. ?

Did you drink the water? 

Like the whole “crime” thing––I think the water thing is also overblown. If you are staying at a nice, big resort in Mexico–the water is just fine. When I would NOT drink the water is if you head into Tulum and decide to grab tacos for lunch at a taco stand, if you’re staying at a small hotel, etc. Use your best judgement. But most places that cater to tourists have safe water. (Every nice restaurant we went to in Cabo, for example, was totally fine.) Like everything in a foreign country, when in doubt, proceed with caution, but don’t WORRY about it. 

What should I pack for Unico? 

Great question! I would check out this post, this post, this post and this post to see what I brought with me to Unico! 

Do you need nice clothes for dinner? 

A lot of all inclusives have strict dress code requirements, especially for men (like no shorts allowed for dinner) but we didn’t find that to be the case here. Guys could wear shorts without issues–I never once wore heels and I didn’t feel under dressed! 

Whats the nightlife like? 

The main bar is open until like 2am, and they do have a “lounge” but it looked really clubby so we didn’t even go in ?It’s definitely not somewhere you’d go for the nightlife if you know what I mean–if that’s what you’re looking for I’d probably recommend going somewhere like Cabo! (You can click here for my Cabo girls’ trip recap!) 

Did you like Unico more than Secrets? 

I got this question a lot! We’ve been to two different Secrets and really loved our experiences at both of them! Their resorts are all different and also different levels of, um, luxury? From what I’ve heard, some are super high end and others are not. 

Secrets Playa Mujeres is the one we stayed at near Cancun and it was beautiful, new, and very nice. Definitely a similar level as Unico–you can read my Secrets Playa Mujeres review right here! My friend Kai also raves about Secrets The Vine, which is also near Cancun and very nice. She’s a caterer, so you KNOW if she says the food is good, it’s really good.)

I will say that the beach experience was way nicer at Secrets Playa Mujeres, and they also have a nice golf course if that’s a big draw for you or your partner. Secrets also felt more “resort-like” to me, and Unico felt more like a boutique experience. Honestly, it’s a toss up and a personal choice based on what’s important to you. I don’t think you can go wrong with either! 

How long would you recommend staying? 

This is totally just personal preference. We stayed a full week, and I personally think that 4-6 nights is a good amount of time. I was getting ansty around night 5, but Neal didn’t and he thought 7 nights was the perfect amount of time. I think if we go for a week next time, we’ll do 5 nights at secrets and maybe 2 nights in town. (You guys recommended La Zebra and Mi Amor for smaller Tulum hotels!) 

Cheers! I hope this was helpful and that you get a chance to check out Unico for yourself!! 

Cheers! I hope this was helpful and that you get a chance to check out Unico for yourself!! 

You might also like… My Carry-On Packing List for Mexico

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