by Felicia Kamriani

AZUL Blue is the best-kept secret south of the boarder. This five star, gourmet all-inclusive boutique resort on the Mayan Riviera, is the premier Mexican getaway for celebs and VIPs alike. Newly opened in November 2006, AZUL Blue offers a secluded escape from the bustling Zona Hotelera of Cancún. Located in Tulum, an hour and a half south of the Cancún airport, this city is home to the ancient walled civilization of the Mayan kings, the breathtaking Cenotes (lagoons and underwater caves), secluded pristine white sand beaches and the teal waters of the Caribbean Sea. No wonder the Hollywood crowd seeks it’s serenity.

My experience with pampering began before I even left Beverly Hills. A few days before my departure, a pre-arrival concierge requested my preferences in pillow type, aromatherapy, bath products, cuisine and iPod music selection. Upon arrival, my butler, Noe, confirmed all of my requests and assured me that there was no mango (my one food allergy) in my fruit basket!

AZUL Blue was truly a spiritual sanctuary with majestic views of the Caribbean, a breathtaking harmony with nature, and a commitment to implementing sustainable environmental practices. And with just 6 villas of 16 suites, the resort not only offered a peaceful retreat, but personalized service that Hollywood’s elite has become accustomed to. Most recently, Gina Davis and Rose McGowan were guests who enjoyed the decadent stress-free luxury.

AZUL Blue offered week longs stays in its Presidential Suites to nominees at the 2007 and 2008 Oscars gifting lounges as well as to Emmy winners. AZUL Blue gift recipients have included: Actress Allison Janney of The West Wing, Debi Mazar of Entourage, Isaiah Washington of Grey’s Anatomy, Paula Abdul, Kathy Griffin, and Ben Kingsley, to name a few.

Certainly, I felt like a VIP throughout my stay, with 24 hour personal butler service, state of the art Spa facilities, top-shelf liquor, pool valets, and gourmet cuisine courtesy of world renowned Executive Chef, Heiner Gellenberg. In fact, I was so stunned by the presence of Chef Heiner, that I asked if by chance he was offering cooking demonstrations. Upon this request, I was magically treated to a private class with Chef Heiner himself. He prepared a delectable PescadoVeracruzana especially for me!

I was enveloped by the serenity of the hotel and only managed to venture out for a few hours on one day. I took a short 15-minute bike ride to the Mayan Ruins for a tour of the ancient walled cliff-side city overlooking a breathtaking expanse of beach.

And then I recruited Alex, the activities director, to take me to the Cenotes I had heard so much about. These crystal clear fresh water pools are found throughout Tulum and are steeped in Mayan history. I was fortunate to avoid the touristy guided ones and instead was shown 3 different hidden ones, all of which were empty except for us!

All locations were uniquely spectacular. One was hidden in a jungle off a pristine white limestone beach, (with the sand so soft, if felt like pillows!) The second was inside a bat cave (literally) and despite the bat squeaks and the mosquito bites, I had never witnessed such beauty.

The last stop was a huge private lagoon with lush vegetation in all directions. I was beyond nervous getting in since I’m more of a pool type than a camp type, but I did it and the sensation was thrilling, healing and soothing. With the combination of the silent greenery surrounding us, the cool water holding us, and the clear view of the fish swimming underneath us, it seemed that this is what the Garden of Eden must’ve felt like.

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Catch her if you can, Felicia Kamriani is a California-born, Wisconsin-bred, half-Mexican, half-Pakistani globe-trotter. Having experienced the thrill of Mach 2 on the Concorde, Felicia now finds it hard to sit still. She’s traveled to 25 different countries and keeps on going! On a break from gallivanting the globe, Felicia studied serious subjects at UC Berkeley and then Stanford University, but decided upon graduation to continue on grass hopping. When not exploring other continents, Felicia writes about Los Angeles happenings, Hollywood news, celebrity charity events, film festivals and luxe vacation spots. Where in the world is Felicia now? Hmmm?