As long as winter in the United States — at least in northern parts of the country — means freezing temperatures, snow, and wearing layers upon layers, Americans will flock to warmer climates.
It’s not surprising therefore that the high tourist season in Mexico (one of the fastest-growing vacations spots in the world) and the Caribbean, which are a relatively short flight away for most Americans, is between December and April. More Americans traveled south of the border in 2018 than to all overseas regions, which include the Caribbean, combined. After Europe, the Caribbeans are the most popular destinations outside United States and North America.
After deciding which country to visit, booking a hotel is often the next step. Everyone wants to get the most bang for their buck, but when money is not the deciding factor, some hotels are better than others.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed Diamond ratings for hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean provided by the American Automobile Association (AAA). To be considered for our list, hotels needed to have a 5-Diamond rating. The insurance and travel firm awards 1 through 5 Diamond ratings only to hotels that upon inspection meet AAA’s criteria for comfort, hospitality, service, and amenities. Top-rated hotels offer highly personalized services and an “impeccable standard of excellence.”
AAA reviews thousands of establishments, and 5-Diamond hotels represent just 0.4% of the nearly 27,000 hotels across North America AAA inspected and approved.
Comparing regions, Playa del Carmen in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo has the most 5 Diamond-rated hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean. Overall, five of the 31 properties on the list the AAA added in 2018.
Hotels aim to achieve the coveted 5 Diamond rating, and each year new hotels make the ranks of the most luxurious hotels and some are demoted. Some have been included for decades. The Ritz-Carlton in Cancún is currently the hotel with the longest tenure on the list – on since 1996. It’s also the only one to have been awarded the status before the turn of the century.
To identify the best hotels in Mexico and Caribbean, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 5 Diamond ratings provided by AAA. The estimated price for two people in one room for one night — during the high season — was obtained from booking sites such as Hotels.com and Kayak.