I flew into Cancun for one reason and one reason only: to test out the new HyperX Gaming Lounge in Hard Rock Hotel’s Riviera Maya in Cancun.
I didn’t know what to expect, and I actually preferred it that way. Taking gaming seriously since my father brought home Super Mario Brothers in the ‘80s, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
As my cab sped past the beautiful Cancun landscape, I talked on the phone with my teenage son, onto whom I have successfully passed the gamer bug. We talked about Apex, Fortnite and all the other games that we would compete in online once I arrived at the HyperX Lounge. “Just give me a few minutes to get settled in,” I assured him. “Then, we can play!”
As we arrived onto the hotel grounds at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, I was immediately struck by the beauty of the resort. From the fountains to the lush greenery to the many pools and saunas, paradise feels tangible.
But I was a man on a mission: “Focus, Terance!”
While checking into my room in one of the hotel’s two massive lobbies, I was instantly drawn to the smells of delicious Mexican cuisine. A number of restaurants and bars are hidden amongst the classic Rock n’ Roll memorabilia, including a jacket actually worn by Elvis, one of Elton John’s many gaudy head pieces and a custom guitar designed and used by Carlos Santana.
I didn’t even make it to my room before I was sipping a cappuccino and chatting it up with fellow music lovers admiring a classic guitar amp near a vest Jimi Hendrix once wore.
After about an hour, I hurried to my room to put my bags down, fighting to ignore the spacious balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the complimentary wine and hot tub in the room (because what’s more Rock n’ Roll than that!?). I skimmed it all and headed to the HyperX Lounge. A man on a mission!
En route, I passed three different pools and two beaches with numerous canopies and each with its own bar and music playing. I stopped to grab a drink and take in the majestic view. It would have been rude not to, right? The tropical climate makes even the ocean water warm. Warm enough to sit and put your feet in. You see where I’m going with this?
After about three drinks, four sing-alongs and toes shriveled to raisins, I finally check the time. At this moment, I remember I have a dinner reservation at Frida, the Mexican restaurant I smelled earlier. This is OK. My reservation is at 7:30 p.m., and the HyperX Lounge should still be open after. No sweat.
After indulging in wines and tequilas native to the region, I enjoyed chicken flautas that rival any I’ve ever tasted. For the main course, I had barbacoa de res, Hidalgo-style shredded beef cooked slowly with avocado leaves. I capped these flavors off with a sweet house wine. “Perfecto!”
After a few photos with the staff, more tequila and a delicious chocolate dessert, I glanced at my watch to discover that the HyperX lounge would close in one hour — definitely not enough time to take in the true gaming experience. I instead retired to my room for the night — tanned, stuffed and absolutely disappointed with myself…but the free drinks (found at numerous locations around the resort) help.
Day 2: A Man on a mission (again)
The next morning, alarm set, clothes set aside, breakfast ordered for the room, I was, again, a man on a mission. HyperX Lounge opened at 10 a.m. Coffee in hand, I arrived at 10:01 a.m., alert and ready.
The HyperX gaming Lounge is part of a larger entertainment experience known as Vibe City, which includes not only the gaming lounge, but also laser tag, a bowling alley, an area for small children known as Hard Rock Roxity Kids Club and a giant acrobatic foam pit (which was still under construction when I was there in October). The building housing Vibe City is squarely pressed against a self-contained water park, Rockaway Bay Water Park. As a parent, I thought, “Oh, this is where you can drop your children off for a while!” We love them, but squeezing in a little child-free vacation time is always a bonus.
A staffer named Charl greeted me at the gaming lounge. We joked about me trying to stop by the previous day but getting distracted by so many amazing amenities. He was, in fact, surprised that I arrived so early on day two. He figured I would have spent all night at one of the resort’s nightclubs. The resort is split into two sides — Heaven, which has night clubs and bars and an aesthetic designed with adults in mind, and The Hacienda, the side design with families in mind.
The first thing noticed in the gaming lounge are the high-performance gaming PCs (personal computers). Nine of them to be exact. PCs are the future of gaming, and HyperX’s are top of the line!
The lounge also includes:
- Three Xbox Series X.
- Two Nintendo Switches
- A VR station with the latest HyperX peripherals (Here is where I spent most of my time!)
This latest VR (Virtual Reality) addition offers an enhanced experience for any type of gamer. For example: After playing a game called Propagation, a first-person Zombie shooter, I, dripping sweat, retired only to sit for the next hour watching children ranging from the ages of 9 to 13 play more age-appropriate VR games such as Gorilla Tag and ROBLOX (ask your kids about these titles). I spent the rest of the afternoon playing Fortnite with my 16 year old son, still in Los Angeles, and challenging other hotel guests to Mario Kart races.
Another fun activity put on by the lounge are weekly video game tournaments held on a giant screen in the main lobby of the hotel. That same night, I participated in a Mario Kart tournament. Trophies and prizes are handed out to the winners and even onlookers are met with an incredible gaming experience. I was beaten by a 10-year-old girl and her father who were visiting from England in the semi-finals.
There really is something for all gamers, casual and pro. Hyper X’s motto is “We’re all gamers and HyperX is always ready to game. See you in the queue.”
Day 3: The return
Coffee in hand, I returned to Vibe City the following morning, 10 a.m. sharp. I played a few rounds of Halo on the Xbox X series and chatted more with HyperX staff. What started off as me inquiring more about the layout of the lounge evolved into us geeking out over all of the available games in the lounge. We eventually exchanged gamer tags for battles in Fortnite and Mario Kart. I spent the rest of the morning taking in the amenities of Vibe City, including laser tag, bowling with my new banner buddies and a slipping in a few slides down the water slide at the water park.
That evening, I made reservations at Toro, the hotel’s steakhouse. I enjoyed a rare steak with vegetables and red wine before heading back to my hotel room to change clothes and head over to the adults-only side of the resort. I spent my last night at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya dancing the night away.
After taking the tram that runs back and forth between both sides of the hotel, I retired to my room for one more night in the hot tub and a good night’s rest.
I awoke the next morning to room service and messages from all of my new friends, including the family from England that kicked my butt in Mario art.
As I headed to the airport, I sent text messages and pictures to my partner and kids exclaiming how we had to take a family trip to the resort, which, in my opinion, is the best review any getaway can garner.