by Allison Neves
Say the word Cancun and many a seasoned traveler conjures up images of Spring Breakers gone wild. Yes, admittedly, I thought the very same thing. But, during a recent trip to the area, I saw a completely different side to this MTVer’s Mecca.
I encountered 5-star hotels, isolated resorts and a tropical island paradise. Not once was I accosted by a whistle blowing waiter, asked to toss back a frothy tequila popper, or to suck down a, “Yep, that’s gonna hurt”-yard long margarita. I was a big kid in a place that I thought only existed in the Bahamas or the South of France. I know! I was shocked, too!
So whether you’re into rubbing elbows with the beautiful people at a new high-end hotel, indulging in a spa getaway and luxury accommodations on the outskirts of town, or watching the palm fronds sway on a quaint, tiny island off the coast, Cancun has got you covered.
The Hotel Zone: ME by Melia
Surrounded by white sand beaches and miles of turquoise sea, Cancun’s Hotel Zone serves up world-class shopping, dining and non-stop nightlife options for the traveler that is looking to be in the center of all the action.
One of the area’s newest hotel offerings is the very definition of sophisticated, urban chic, The ME by Meliá. Opened in early 2007, the hotel has been designed to resemble a Mayan pyramid and is home to 448 standard rooms and 52 deluxe accommodations.
Catering to the coolest of cool clientele, the resort offers several nightlife options, including Maxim Beach, which is located at the resort’s pool and beach area, and where guests can groove to world-renowned DJ’s and lounge on Balinese-style day beds. The hotel also offers exceptional dining selections. Salt features the customary cuisine of the Mediterranean and Silk, an Asian Bistro, “will delight those with a taste for fusion cuisine.”
Behind closed doors, pamper yourself with beds that are wrapped in 300-thread count linens. Indulge your senses with natural products by AVEDA, which can be enjoyed beneath luxurious rainfall showerheads.
Each room provides guests with a bevy of multi-media amenities, including:
• High speed internet,
• State-of-the-art DVD player,
• A 32-inch interactive plasma TV,
• Surround-sound speakers, an extensive DVD library,
• In-room laptop safe, and
• iPod adaptors and docking stations.
And, if you left your iPod behind…request one from the front desk that comes loaded with over 900 songs.
Looking for even more indulgence? The ME is home to the 11,000 sq. ft. Yhi Spa offering a number of treatment options. Room rates start at $500 for a standard room during the high season. Check current rates at www.mecancun.travel.
Off the Beaten Track: Ceiba del Mar
Nestled on the glorious Yucatan peninsula, midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, lays the sleepy seaside town of Puerto Morelos. Once just a small fishing village with little likelihood of pulling any tourism dollars away from the bustling tourist Mecca of Cancun, the town has become home to one of the most luxurious accommodations in the area, a stunning resort called Ceiba del Mar.
The property features 45 charming rooms and junior suites, 36 delightfully appointed master suites incorporating bedroom and living room areas, and 7 dazzling one bedroom penthouses with whirlpool terraces with stunning ocean views.
Balconies or terraces with a hammock grace each sanctuary. Every beautifully appointed room is graciously decorated using local woods and handcrafted, contemporary furnishings.
You need not go far to find activities. Ceiba del Mar is home to two outdoor swimming pools, outdoor Jacuzzi and tennis courts. Bicycles, snorkeling equipment and kayaks are all available for rent. The hotel can even arrange local scuba diving excursions.
You will find two very good restaurants and a bar on the property. But the most enticing thing about the resort is its luxurious spa. The interior of this 8,600 square foot sanctuary is absolutely breathtaking, impeccably decorated and dotted with simple yet elegant Asian-inspired decor.
The SPA prides itself on incorporating local ingredients in their treatments as well as Mayan rituals and traditions into your spa experience. For a true taste of something Mayan, purify your spirit by partaking in a Temazcal, an herbal steam bath that is believed to assist in cleansing your body and soul.
Room rates start at $390 for a standard room during the high season. Be sure to ask about their special SPA packages; they have several to choose from. Check current rates at www.ceibadelmar.com.
A Tropical Island Paradise: Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is located due east off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, a 30 minute ferry ride from Cancun, and the perfect place for a low-key tropical vacation. Despite the increase in tourism, Isla Mujeres still maintains its quaint and wondrous charm. Visit hotelsislamujeres.com for a complete list of exquisite boutique hotels on the island. Two of my favorites are listed below.
The Na Balam Hotel sits among tropical gardens and hammocks under beautiful palm trees. The resort has 28 rooms with Mayan-Modern decoration, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, terrace or balcony. The three suites come with a private patio and a small pool with hydro-massage with a stunning ocean view.
The main restaurant at Na Balam, Zazil Ha, offers fresh and natural ingredients for its menu of simple yet sophisticated dishes. Start your morning with a healthy and balanced breakfast set in a lush tropical garden followed by a yoga class and therapeutic massage.
The hotel’s Palapa Bar, located on the beach, is the perfect place to end the day and take in a memorable Mexican sunset. Room rates start at $150 for a pool side room and go up to $315 for a Master Suite. Check current rates at www.nabalam.com.
In search of a secluded sanctuary? Nestled on a cove in the quietest corner on the northern tip of Isla Mujeres, you’ll discover Hotel Secreto. Reminiscent of a locale where celebs seek refuge from stalkerazzi, not even an entrance sign notifies you of its existence. Designed by an award-winning architect, the hotel looks more like a private beach house. Every inch of the property oozes with style and luxury. In fact, Secreto was recently added to the 2006 World’s Sexiest Hotels list.
Secreto’s nine junior suites are understated chic. “Stone floors, four-post beds, white cotton slip-covered sofas, and enormous floor mirrors combine to provide a simple yet inviting aesthetic.” Each room offers sweeping sea views to hotel guests.
Room amenities include: Wi-Fi, cordless telephone, DVD and CD player, TV with international satellite, and fully stocked mini bar. The resort features a 20-meter heated lap pool and modern touches such as Wi-Fi and pre-loaded iPods enhance poolside service.
A junior suite with two full beds starts at $225. A junior suite with one king size bed is $250 per night. A two night minimum is required. Check current rates at www.hotelsecreto.com.
This is your friendly, neighborhood Diva wishing you beautiful secrets and indulgent luxuries on your next Mexican adventure. It’s a great time to put Cancun back on your list!
About the Author
Allison Neves has more than fifteen years of public relations experience, providing strategic and tactical PR services for a wide range of clients, from actors and musicians to non-profit organizations and high-tech companies. She currently works as the Communications Director for the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which works to prevent avoidable blindness in the U.S. and abroad through public service and education. With parents from San Salvador and Hong Kong, Allison has made a personal commitment to reconnect with her roots by traveling extensively throughout Latin America and Asia. When she’s not trying to save the world one press releases at a time, Allison travels, practices Pilates, scuba dives, and hangs out with best friend and husband, Travis. A past recipient of the Bulldog Reporter’s Award of Excellence for Media Relations and Publicity, Allison has spent the last seven years volunteering as the PR Director for Little Kids Rock, a national non-profit music education program. She currently resides in the historic Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco