Crème de Riviera Maya: The Top Five (or so) Resorts

No less a literary lion than Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds . . .”  My detractors (may a pox be upon all your houses) would probably say I am a rare double qualifier under both the “foolish” and “little mind” categories.

In each of the first two posts of my now “wildly popular” (my term)  Crème de Mexico series, there were five resorts listed.  See Los Cabos and Cancun.  So, in the interest of being consistent if not imaginative (See Oscar Wilde quote . . .  what is it with these people and consistency anyway?), I have tried every way possible to shoehorn only five resorts into the Riviera Maya edition of this series.  Is it my fault that luxuriant crème seemingly flows through the Mayan Riviera like butter off a stack of blueberry pancakes?

So, without further ado, here is my personal list of the top five (roughly, give or take, more or less) resorts in the Riviera Maya.

El Dorado Casitas Royale

El Dorado Casitas Royale Exterior 2Those familiar with Condé Nast Traveler know that they have some very exacting standards.  El Dorado Casitas Royale by Karisma was voted one of their top 100 hotels in the world.  Those who know me, and even those who only catch a fleeting glance of my profile, know that I place a high premium on eating with a shared emphasis given to quantity and El Dorado Casitas Royale Saladquality.  This property had me for life when I discovered they offered a Gourmet Inclusive Experience.

You need to book at least a one week stay in order to sample all seven, count ‘em, seven all-inclusive, à la carte restaurants ranging from International, to contemporary Italian, to Pacific Rim to . . .  you get the idea.

Casita is the diminutive form of house in Spanish, thus little house, which is exactly what you get with this property.  You need to spend a little time on this page to discover all that this term means.  For example, I discovered I have some hitherto unknown and apparently long suppressed exhibitionist tendencies because I loved the roofless outdoor showers.  Having said that, the paparazzi trying to scale the walls for a photo were annoying.  I was especially insulted that they all felt compelled to bring telescopic lenses!

El Dorado Casitas Royale Swim Up SuitesTrust me when I tell you, you need to book early (with yours truly, of course) and secure a swim up casita.  From your water-mirror balcony you can step directly into your pool which is connected to a lazy river leading directly to the swim-up bar.   I know, it sounds just awful, doesn’t it, especially to you folks in the northern parts of the US who have endured such a brutal winter.  I have two pieces of sage advice for you:  book your stay at El Dorado Casitas Royale and move to Texas right after you return!  Check out this video.

Secrets Maroma Beach

Secrets - Swim Up RoomRegular drinkers of my unique blend of kool-aid will know that I am a monster fan of Secrets Resorts.  In fact, I have written so many posts about the chain that they have earned their own category on my blog, quite astutely called Secrets Resorts.  One of the things I like best about Secrets is that while the service, cuisine and surroundings unfailingly adhere to the same high standard, they couldn’t be more unique in personality.

This particular property is blessed by being on the most pristine and famous beach in Mexico, Maroma Beach.  While all the spas in the Secrets chain are by Pevonia, I think this property has one of the most amazing facilities I have every seen.  You simply must take a moment and view the gorgeous pictures on the spa section of their site here.

Pevonia Spa at Secrets MaromaThis resort is the epitome  of romance.  Are you looking for the perfect place for your wedding, honeymoon or anniversary?  Consider you quest over.   Whether your story is just beginning or you are writing anotherSecrets Maroma - Weddings 3 chapter, it would be difficult to find a better setting for your personal romance novel.  As an added bonus, If your story line requires a jilted former lover,  a goofy yet loveable best friend, an annoying hanger-on or even a deranged stalker, I can fulfill any of those roles with equal aplomb for the most modest of fees.  Just have your people contact my people.

 Grand Velas Rivera Maya

Grand Velas Riviera Maya exterior flowersAs a marketer, I  am a sucker for a great tag line but only if the product or service rises to the level of the implicit promise.  Beyond All Inclusive, Beyond All Compare.  Now that has a nice lilt to it.  Do you like a nice ocean view room?  This property has 300 ocean view suites.  Do you prefer to languor in a well-appointed spa?   Grand Velas Riviera Maya has the most highly awarded spa in Mexico.  Does the term all-inclusive seem incongruous with the finest cuisine.  This resort can claim Cocina de Autor, the first restaurant of any all-inclusive resort to receive the AAA Five Diamond Award for restaurants.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya suiteAre you beginning the get the picture?  This resort really does have features that are beyond compare.  This property brings the term regal to mind.   Maybe it is the Butler Concierge that is provided for every guest.  Also, Chef Xavi Perez’s Cocina de Autor, mentioned above is only one of five gourmet restaurants, among them Chef Karl Gulotta’s Piaf Restaurant and Chef Ricardo De La Vega’s Frida Restaurant.

Grand Velas Riviera Maya is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.  I was once named one of the Leading Sycophants of the World but at the time I was trying to finagle a free stay a deluxe resort so that hardly counts.

Royal Hideaway Playacar

Royal Hideaway Restaurant EveningThis resort is another Leading Hotel of the World property.  It is relatively small with only 200 rooms and is situated on 13 lush acres with one of the most stunning beaches in the Mayan Riviera.  If you appreciate classic Mexican colonial style, you will love every minute you spend here.

If you are up to the challenge of taking dining to another level (speaking personally, I was born ready), check out the Chef’s Table Experience, a gourmet tasting of more than 12 courses suitably paired with the best wines, naturally.

Royal Hideaway PlayacarIf your last limbo contest and beach volleyball game are but a distant and faint memory, I suspect you are going to fit right in.  This resort is all-inclusive but also all adults.  You won’t find any adorable (to their parents at least) little rug rats running to and fro disturbing  your carefully cultivated state of absolute zen.  You will be left alone to ponder life’s deep existential mysteries.  If a mutually acceptable solution to the Israeli / Palestine dispute is ever found, my bet is it will be by somebody sitting poolside at the Royal Hideaway sipping mindlessly on a Piña Colada.

Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso

Iberostar Grand hallwayIf ever there was a resort that was aptly named, it is the Iberostar Grand.  I have been privileged to stay there on several occasions and I have never ceased to marvel at the grand scheme of this palatial resort.  All you have to do is gaze at this hallway.  It looks like the entrance to a palace of the Sultan of Brunei, for goodness sakes.

If you are looking for romantic accommodations, check out the picture below.  All the rooms are spectacular with bathrooms larger than most starter homes.  Just beware of “hydration hesitation” where you find yourself mentally frozen in the middle of the bathroom wearing nothing but a perplexed look trying to decide between a soothing jacuzzi bath and a bracing rain shower.  It can happen.

Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso honeymoon gardenBeing an avid golfer, I love the fact that you can be whisked away from the front entrance by a chariot . . . OK, it may have been a golf cart . . . and 60 seconds later you are checking in at the pro shop at the Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club.  Ask us about packages that include golf!

My goodness how time flies when you are daydreaming about your next perfect vacation.  Rather than risk having your eyes glaze over or worse, having you slip into an irretrievable catatonic state, in the case of my last two resorts I am simply going to refer you to previously written literary gems found on this inimitable blog.

Blue Diamond

Blue Diamond ResortA Blue Diamond In A Silver Setting

Rosewood Mayakoba

One of the canals of Rosewood MayakobaSide Trip To The Sensational: A Remarkable Resort

The more punctilious among you may feel compelled to point out that there are seven resorts mentioned in this top five list.  You clearly were not paying attention to the clues strewn around this post like popcorn kernels after a Superbowl party.  I did try to give you a heads up.

Look on the positive side.  You are just going to have to live a little longer than you previously planned in order to experience every one of these gems.  Once you have, let me know which one is your favorite . . . if I am still around!

Crème de Cancun: The Top Five Resorts

A while back I wrote a blog post called Crème de Los Cabos:  The Top Five Resorts  which has proven to be one of my most popular posts ever.   Having been decidedly unpopular among the snootier cliques during my high school days (I’m not bitter, honest I’m not),  I now warmly embrace popularity wherever I stumble into it.

Seeing a golden opportunity to make those uppity, out-of-ballast cheerleaders eat their black little hearts out, I have decided to ride this “crème”  train all the way to the station, so to speak.  Thus, you can expect  in the days ahead, even more gangly siblings in this growing family of “crème” posts.

Some may wonder how I have arrived at my personal list of Cancun’s top five resorts.  Let’s just say that the polling was even less democratic than the recent election in Crimea where the populace voted with Russian boots firmly planted on their necks.  As was famously said by Putin’s diabolical predecessor, “In elections it doesn’t matter so much who votes as who counts the votes.”  In my case, I readily admit, I did both.

Excellence Playa Mujeres

Excellence ResortsYou have to admire the chutzpah of any hotel chain daring to call itself “Excellence”.  It is a lot less risky when you actually are excellent, or so I’m told. One of the things I like best about this property is its location.  As they describe it on their website “an all-inclusive Playa Mujeres Golf Courseoasis situated on an untouched peninsula between the Caribbean and a wetlands preserve”.  Even though it is a little out from Cancun proper, I have included it this grouping because it is the opposite direction from the Rivera Maya. Instead of south it is north and a little west.

Another great feature of this resort is both the quality and variety of dining options.  Suppose your busy schedule only permits a three night stay.  (The first order of business is to re-priortize your schedule!  Do you want to die young?)  In any case, imagine being able to savor the tangy herbs and spices of India’s North-West frontier your first night at Basmati,  sauntering (by the second night you have slowed your pace signficantly) over to Barcelona Mediterranean Restaurant for a variety of tapas followed by paella, veal or perhaps seafood.  By the third night the romantic juices are in full flow (remember those?) and nowhere else will do but Chez Isabelle, their signature French restaurant.  The resort claims you will forget for a moment that you are in Cancun and begin to imagine you have been transported to the Left Bank.  My guess is that by this time you will have been transported to an amorous place where geography is the last thing on your mind.

Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach

Fiesta Americana Grand Coral BeachIf “Excellence” was apropos of the previous resort, “Grand” certainly fits this hotel every bit as much. It begins with the location on what is arguably the nicest stretch of beach in Cancun.  If you are familiar with Cancun’s resemblance to the number seven, this property sits at the top of the seven just before it bends southward.  If you like to be in the heart of things, you can’t find a better location.

The entire hotel exudes an old-world charm that from the moment you enter delivers careful attention to detail.  If you are the sort who Le Basilicappreciates refined taste and gentile surroundings, you will immediately fall in love with this hotel.  You will not want to miss the incomparable dining experience afforded at the five diamond Le Basilic.

One of the lingering memories I carried away from my stay was how incredibly fresh and delicious were the breakfast pastries.  Every hotel, including Motel 6, offers pastries and in spite of the fact I have a sweet tooth that would shame a sabre tooth tiger, most of them are frankly not all that tasty.  It is a testament to the class of this resort that it maintains exacting standards even in a relatively small matter.

Hyatt Zilara (formally Royal Cancun)

Room at Hyatt Zilara CancunIn case you didn’t know (keep reading this blog and eventually you will know almost as much as the master), Hyatt Resorts has entered the all-inclusive market.  When a player the size of Hyatt makes a move, they don’t do anything by half-measures!  When they entered the Los Cabos market, they just went out and bought the Barcelo Los Cabos Palace Deluxe with one of the most stunning settings in that destination (see Hyatt Ziva).  In Cancun, they merely ponied up a few mil from their rainy day account and acquired the storied Royal Cancun and rebranded it the Hyatt Zilara.  (The Hyatt Zebra and Hyatt Zephyr can’t be far behind, can they?)

I want you to picture yourself coming home from work one evening, flashing the picture above to your life partner and saying this is the room where we will be staying next weekend.  If that Hyatt Zilara Cancundoesn’t get you around third and all the way home you have bigger problems than I have a clue how to solve.   I suppose if your beloved has an aversion to the color blue as in sky, ocean and pool, that could present a problem.

This stunning resort property is all adults, all -suite, all-inclusive and all your greedy little heart could covet.  There are seven specialty restaurants including Pelicanos which offers international cuisine in an oceanfront setting.  Catering to your refined palate will hardly be a problem here.  Check out this impressive new video!

Nizuc Resort And Spa

Nizuc Resort and SpaBy way of full disclosure, I have never been to Nizuc Resort and Spa.  This picture above is of the reflecting pond.  I find it has put me in a very reflective mood.  Right now I am reflecting on the question of why I have never stayed there.  Two reasons come to mind.  One, it only opened in March of 2013.  The second, and more important reason, I have never been invited.  Note to whom it may concern in Nizuc’s upper management.  My passport is up to date, my bags are perennially packed and my dance card is wide open!  (I know, not exactly subtle.)

By virtue of research, reputation and recommendation, I have definitely determined that it is a place I want to visit.   If you visit their website, take a little time to drool all over your Nizuc Resort and Spa. Cancunkeyboard in the “Gallery” section.

Once you get to Nizuc, you don’t even have to leave your room to enjoy spectacular views.  Not a bad place to enjoy your morning coffee, I would say.  The resort is located in the secluded enclave of Punta Nizuc.  I suspect you have to flash your American Express platinum card just to get past the gate which could potentially constitute a problem for me since my most exclusive credit card is made of balsa wood.  Since I am sure you don’t share that problem, should my pathetic hint above falls on deaf ears, promise me you will send me pictures!

All four of the properties I have mentioned so far deserve a much richer treatment than space permits here.  Should the Lord tarry and my body parts not collectively implode, I promise to write about each one of these gems separately.  That, however, is not a problem for my final selection below as you will shortly see.

Secrets the Vine

Secrets The Vine The Wine GlassOf these five properties, this is the only one I have already treated in detail.  Knock yourself out and read all three.  It’s not like you have anything else going on in your life, right?

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine (1)

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine (2)

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine (3)

I know that many of you will have your own thoughts about which resorts should and should not be on this short list.  I invite you to use the comment section to weigh in.  I would love to hear your list.  All I ask is please don’t tell any of the other worthy candidates I didn’t select!

If you would like to visit one of these incredible resorts, reach out to us here.

Why Secrets Resorts Aren’t Such A Big Secret Anymore

If you need to get the word out quickly regarding some important matter throughout a club, organization or business, I know one foolproof method.  Just take two or three people aside individually and relay the information to them in whispered tones.  Then tell them to be sure and keep it under wraps because you are not ready to make the announcement public just yet.  At least one, and more likely all three of those people, will tell a handful of others and long before the sun sets it will be common knowledge.  Let’s face it, most of us suffer from the verbal version of a common urinary tract problem I like to call “lack of blather control”. Secrets Puerto Los CabosI suspect most folks returning from a stay at one of the Secrets Resorts have every intention of smugly keeping their little discovery all to themselves.  Notwithstanding their best efforts, they find themselves effusing all over the people sitting on either side of them . . . it is not quite as disgusting as it sounds . . . before their flight home even leaves the runway. I myself have written posts about several of the Secrets Resorts. Should you cast your eyes to the right rail, you will see I even have a category by that name where you can see all my Secrets postings.  I just recently returned from one of the brand’s newest offerings so, fair warning, grab a towel.  I am about to effuse all over you!

SECRETS PUERTO LOS CABOS

Puerto Los Cabos is an exciting new development in the eastern area of Los Cabos, Mexico.  You can get all those juicy details by clicking on this link to a post I wrote a few weeks back, Puerto Los Cabos And The Quest For the Best.  Situated in the heart of that new development on a very choice bit of real estate is Secrets Puerto Los Cabos.

Secrets Puerto Los CabosYou can have a beautiful setting and attractive facilities (which this property has in spades) but from vast experience I can tell you that unless they are blessed with outstanding personnel, it is all in vain.  The entire staff, from reception to restaurant, exude the kind of warmth and helpfulness that is the envy of many of their competitors.  A special shout out to Salvador Gutierrez who, as the resident manager, deserves a great deal of credit for selecting and training such a marvelous staff and Karla Ponce, the front desk manager, who oversees those employees who represent the all-important first impression to the guests.  Karla’s infectious smile seems to have spread to the entire reception staff.  It must be a case of staff infection!

When stopping by Rendezvous for a little pre-dinner libation, it is never a bad thing to Martini Cart at Secrets Puerto Los Cabosencounter a well-stocked martini cart as you walk in. Before you can say “¡Si Señor, por favor!” you might well find one of these sitting before you.  Rendezvous Secrets Resorts

 

Dining in general, I have always believed, is one part cuisine, one part ambiance and one part great companions.   Picture yourself with a small circle of friends dining out under the stars at El Patio Restaurant savoring your favorite ceviche, sipping a fine glass of Cabernet and conversing late into the night.

El Patio Secrets Puerto Los Cabos

At some point in the evening, no matter how convivial the company or smooth the after-dinner port, you are going to want to stumble back to your home away from home for a sound night’s sleep.  When that happens, if you are staying at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos, this welcoming sight is waiting to greet you when you enter the room.

Room at Secrets Puerto Los CabosThere is never enough time in one of these posts to tell you one-tenth of the wonderful features of such a stunning resort.  I haven’t even mentioned all the gourmet restaurants, the 24-hour room service, the 12,000 sq. ft. world-class Secrets spa by Pevonia,  the 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, access to three miles of pristine beach and so much more.

Not to worry!  That is what great travel agents are for.  Our folks would be more than glad to drill down to the most minute detail to guarantee that your stay will exceed your expectations.

This concludes five posts under the category “Puerto Los Cabos”.  Let me know if you enjoyed this little glimpse into Los Cabos’ exciting new development.

Crème de Los Cabos: The Top Five Resorts

In a previous post, I wrote, quite eloquently might I suggest, about various things to do once you arrive in Cabo San Lucas.  Working backwards (my normal orientation), it might be worthwhile to give some serious thought as to where you are going to reside during your upcoming holiday in Cabo San Lucas.

I should warn you at the outset that even with my vaunted (or is it taunted?) descriptive powers, after reading this post it will not be an easy selection.  That is because I intend to lay before you the five most luminous objects in the entire Cabo San Lucas panoply.

Five Gold Stars

Whether your intent is to impress a partner,  indulge a passion, or ingest a prawn the size of a West Indian manatee, you can’t possibly go wrong booking your stay at any one of these little gems.  OK, there is one way to go terribly wrong – booking with another travel company – but let’s not even go there!

Here are my recommendations in no particular order.  I am already destined to offend all those resorts who failed to make this short list so inflaming the passions of hotel partners who were selected by ranking them seems both provocative and ill advised.

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso

Las Ventanas al Paraiso

As fate would have it, I have already written a captivating little treatise about the first of our five resorts which you can read here.  Another aspiring blogger, Larry Olmsted, who writes for such obscure publications as Forbes, USA Today and Golf Travel also contributes his modest insights.  By some miracle, should you find your thirst for knowledge still unslaked after reading my mesmerizing piece, I suppose you could trundle over here and read Larry’s workmanlike article.   Don’t blame me if it pales in comparison to mine.  Just lower your expectations and you should be fine.

Capella Pedregal

Capella PedregalYou will search long and hard to find any resort in the world with a more impressive setting.  The picture you see above is your first view after exiting a long tunnel cut through the heart of a mountain.  The infinity view framed by the dancing tongues of fire elicits an audible gasp from most first time guests.

I was a guest there a couple of years ago and several fond memories still float like dainty lily pads on the tranquil surface of my memory.  The Auriga Spa was a spectacular setting to relax and rejuvenate.  One of my favorite recollections is taking a cooking class from the well-known chef Marco Bustamante on ways to prepare three unique varieties of ceviche, one of my favorite delights.

One&Only Palmilla

One And Only Palmilla, Cabo San LucasIf you go to this resort’s website, which I strongly suggest you do, you will find this rather immodest description, “One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos Resort, a retreat of gracious splendour, where exhilaration and serenity thrive in blissful harmony.”  Bear Bryant, longtime head football coach at Texas A&M and the University of Alabama famously said, “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.”   This property has every right to extol its virtues however loudly it cares to.

Every stay includes complimentary welcome Tequila, golf, a bottle of wine, spa and more.  As for accolades honors and awards, if these were medals and ribbons, the entire resort would be draped like the chest of a tin horn Generalissimo from some third world military junta.  Let’s just say if Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure are singing your praises, there must not be too many flys buzzing about!

Secrets Marquis Los Cabos

Secrets Marquis Los CabosLet me share a little insider secret I have learned from extensive personal experience.  There are no bad Secrets Resorts.  I have stayed at Secrets the Vine, Secrets Vallarta Bay, Secrets Silversands, Secrets Wild Orchid and Secrets Maroma Beach and visited a couple of others.

Each and every one of them exhibited the same exemplary personal service and luxurious accommodations.  AMResorts, the parent company and a division of Apple Vacations, has every reason to be proud of what they are quietly crafting from the Caribbean to the sun-drenched shores of western Mexico.  As a bit of a wordsmith myself, a personal tip of the hat to whoever creates these incredibly alluring names:  St. James, Wild Orchid, Aura, the Vine, etc. Their very names are siren calls to serene settings.

Esperanza, an Auberge Resort

Esperanza, an Auberge ResortAuberge is truly more than just an incredible string of resort pearls.  It is not an exaggeration to say it is a lifestyle.  If you question that assertion, just spend a little time dawdling over the pages of their iconic blog, The Art Of Living.  The blog itself is a destination! The resort in Cabo, as do all their resorts, reflects the worldly charm of the CEO Mark Harmon.  You might enjoy this interview with him in the May issue of Robb Report

One of the nicer features of the dining experience is the fact they showcase ingredients from local farmers and fishermen.  As followers of this blog well know, I am a great aficionado of spas.  You should know that The Spa At Esperanza has been named the number one spa in Latin America by Travel & Leisure magazine.

OK, the table has been set.  Five glorious, unique, stunning slices of paradise.  For most of my readers, devouring all five courses is impractical due to lack of time or financial resources.  As a quick aside, if you don’t possess those two limitations, we really should get to know one another better!

Given those limitations for us mere mortals, which resort will you choose? 

Two (click), Two (click), Two Resorts In One

Secrets Vallarta Bay & Now Amber

For those people who remember the 1950’s (not me, of course, other than what my grandparents have told me), one of the distinguishing features was the inordinate number of abrasive and annoying  commercials on television.  Who can forget, even with therapy, the Wisk laundry soap ad with its “ring around the collar” jingle that can still bring zombies out of their graves on moonless nights.

The commercial that inspired the title of this post is the Certs commercial that always involved a spirited argument between two dweebs as to whether Certs is a breath mint or a candy mint.  Mercifully, the announcer eventually intervenes to declare the both are right because Certs is “two (click), two (click), two mints in one”.  If you need some enamel removed from your teeth, just click on the video link above and revisit yesteryear.

Secrets Vallarta Bay - City View  Secrets Vallarta Bay - Ocean View

For some reason that not even my therapist can seem to fathom, my recent visit to Secrets Vallarta Bay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico brought back memories of those Certs commercials.  Certainly not because the resort  was abrasive or annoying.  Quite the contrary, it was wonderfully soothing and relaxing.  I think it was because on several levels, the property is really two resorts in one.

Take the two pictures above.  When you drive into the property from the airport, you would never guess the property sat on a mammoth, picturesque bay.  The picture on the left is the view of Puerto Vallara from one side of the property.  The picture on the right shows the view from the lobby with the bay stretching out across the horizon.

Granted the proximity to town produces some early morning rooster crowing and the occasional dog barking, not something you will hear at most resorts.  On the other hand, it is within ten minutes walking distance of the Malecón.  To quote my friend Suzanne Barbezat, “This wide waterfront promenade is lined with palm trees and dotted with bronze sculptures and other art.”  I encourage you to read her excellent article here.

Secrets Vallarta Bay Pevonia SpaSecrets Resorts are famous for their Pevonia Spas.  On this occasion I spent two very idyllic hours there.  The first hour, I was guided through various stations (steam bath, sauna, ice bucket shower) which was not unlike being transported from Hell to Sweden to the polar caps over a fifteen minute span. This session culminated with a hydro therapy session consisting of jet-propulsed streams of water pummeling me with such force I found myself desperately clinging to my swimsuit with both hands. This area of the spa is co-ed and I had no interest in sparking an international incident over accusations of gringo exhibitionism.

The entire second hour I was stoned.  Whoa, Nellie.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  I had a fifty minute spa treatment that included being pummeled by hot stones.  I know, it sounds like an antiquated form of capital punishment but somehow it was quite soothing . . . in a barbaric sort of way.

Dreams Villamagna Riviera Nayarit

The other aspect of the resort’s duality is quite literal.  When you gaze at the picture at the very top of this post, you are actually looking at two separate resorts:  Secrets Vallarta Bay and Now Amber Puerto Vallarta.  The Now brand within AMResorts (the parent company of both properties) permits families and is a little more trendy / hip / chic than Secrets which probably explains me being discretely escorted back to my hotel where I was told I would “feel more comfortable”.  (And here I thought my plaid shorts, stripped shirt and sandals with white socks were quite dapper.)  I will save a more detailed description for another post.

To further confuse matters, the picture above was not taken at either property but at an offsite event at the Dreams Villamagna (another AMResorts brand) located a little further north in Riviera Nayarit.  AMResorts has more brands that a Texas cattle ranch although I have yet to find one called  JR Brand , an actual Fort Worth cattle brand having nothing to do with the TV show Dallas.  I have included the picture because it captures perfectly, for me at least, the exuberant hospitality that is Mexico.  If you are looking for a stellar resort in a magnificent destination, Secrets Vallarta Bay is a great choice!

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine (3)

I hate to begin this post on a negative note but I must admit my faith in your wisdom and judgment, beloved reader, is a little shaken.  At the end of my last post, I gave each of you a perfectly good opportunity to cry uncle (or any other relative of your choosing, for that matter).   Yet, in overwhelming numbers, relatively speaking of course, you actually begged me for more.

Voters

Either 1) I am a much better writer than I thought I was, 2) you are all closet, or in this case poll booth, masochists or much more likely, 3) some of you who voted have a vested interest in the pecuniary success of said property.  In which case, the margin of error for my little poll is probably plus or minus 100%.  But hey, if politicians can claim a mandate after every election, so can I.  Thus, here is the third and final installment (please hold your applause until the end) of this particular series.

However, to add another little quirk to the proceedings, in order to read the final installment of this scintillating series on Secrets The Vine, you are going to have to join me on a little jaunt through cyberspace.  (I know it is a little scary out there but just stay close to me and you will be fine.)  Here is the reason.  If you think your judgement is suspect, a popular website called IgoUgo, which has like a kazillion unique visitors per month (give or take a zillion), has invited me . . . OK, more like relented under duress . . . to write a guest post on their site.  I know what you are thinking.  You’re thinking, “What the heck were they thinking!”

So if you are ready to travel to another galaxy where I am told blog posts actually get read, all you have to do is click here.

OK, if you are still reading this you did not click.  What part of click here do you find confusing?  Go ahead, I promise it won’t give your computer the internet equivalent of the bubonic plague.  Since you are still here, however, when you do arrive over there, don’t even think about booking travel there!!  I would have to consider such infidelity grounds for digital divorce.  I hope we have established by now that all your travel should be booked at Travel Leaders / Main Street Travel.  Otherwise, I might have to go get a real job, God forbid!

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine (2)

I promised in my last post that, unlike last time, I would actually relate my comments to the subject suggested by my title. How very novel!  You will recall, unless you were very naughty and did not read my previous post (need I remind you Santa takes note of such grievous transgressions this time of year), I mentioned there are now, or to be precise will be two days from now, an even dozen Secrets resorts.  Having personally sampled a few, I can only say, “May their tribe increase!”

They range in location from various beach destinations around Mexico, to Jamaica, to the Dominican Republic.  Each has a unique name and a flavor to match.  Someone at AMResorts, the parent company, has my admiration for conjuring up such names as Silversands, St. James, Wild Orchid, Marquis, Aura and our subject today, The Vine.   To be blunt, there are quite enough hotels in Mexico in the Grand Royal Imperial Sun Palace Beach Oasis Resorts & Spas genre, thank you very much.

So what do you suppose is the unique theme of  Secrets The Vine?  Need a hint?  It rhymesSecrets The Vine with vine and can be divine.  Need a little more time to call your lifeline?  I hope I have not been casting my pearls before swine.  Still don’t have it?  OK, OK, it’s wine. Come on folks, try to keep up now!

Just remember, at Secrets The Vine it’s all about the wine.  How so?  Let me count the ways:

1)  The Enoteca 

The Wire Repository at Secrets The VineBe honest, you don’t have a clue what I am talking about, do you?  Don’t worry, even a Kung Fu black belt master of the English language like your humble servant had to look that one up.  An “enoteca” is a wine repository.  The lobby features a wine wall with 3000 bottles of wine callously sealed beyond reach behind thick glass.  (You pack a few beach towels and a couple of dozen toiletry items in your suitcase and suddenly your reputation is in tatters.  So unfair.)

2)  The Vine Bar

I find this particularly cool (which is what we used to call things we liked back in the day).   The resort has created an area called The Vine Bar which is a designated wine tasting area for guests.  Here you can enjoy sommelier-led wineThe Wine Bar at Secrets The Vine tastings and pairings for the most discriminating palate.  I happen to think discrimination is a terrible thing so I personally guzzle, I mean sip, pretty much any wine within my boarding house reach.  But then I am assuming you haven’t seared your tender taste buds with a lifetime of stuffed jalapenos garnished with Habanero sauce as I have and can tell the difference between a vintage wine and kerosene .  Take notice of the handcrafted wood table that seats up to 14 guests.  Very classy!

3)  The Vine Gourmet Experience

Here is where we separate the pretenders from the pretentious!  For a mere $285 per person you can have the ultimate Vine Gourmet Experience.  You can click here for a complete listing of all the inclusions but it does encompass truffles, tequila and a chef’s apron to take home to name a few items.  Let’s just say if you aren’t feeling vastly superior to the great unwashed masses back home after this experience you don’t know jack squat about “snooty”.  I’m feeling suddenly sophisticated and all I did was read over the list of inclusions.

The Lounge at Secrets The VineI was going to limit this overview to only two posts but I realize there are even more amazing features I have yet to cover.  Therefore, in the interest of promoting worldwide democracy, I will let you, the people, decide.  Just register your vote in the poll below.  I know this will feel a little strange for you folks in Chicago, New Jersey and Louisiana but please try to vote just once.

At Secrets The Vine, The Wine’s Divine

For those not familiar with the brand, Secrets Resorts & Spas is the cornerstone of AMResorts‘ memorable collection of resort properties. Other brands include Dreams, ZoëtryNow, and Sunscape Resorts & Spas.

Through a combination of hard work and shameless wheedling (truly a lost art form), I have managed over the past several years to finagle (this is simply wheedling with a whiff of chicanery) stays at several of the Secrets properties.  I will reserve another occasion to extol the virtues of some of the other dozen Secrets such as Secrets Silversands, Secrets Maroma, Secrets Capri and Victoria’s Secret.  Oops, a little too much pool side eye candy may have caused a momentary lapse in concentration.

Secrets The Vine Cancun

The view looking north from my balcony. The lagoon is on the left and the ocean on the right.

Instead I prefer to squander, I mean utilize, this two hour plus flight home to share my impressions of SecretsThe Vine, Secrets’ latest gem.  A sudden attack of free association brings to mind the homophone gym … sorry, this is how the writer’s mind works . . . so why not begin with a brief mention of the fitness center? It will of necessity be brief because the closest I came to the fitness center the past five days was an extended visit to the nearby spa.  I did learn from one of my traveling companions, who I understand upon check out was charged replacement costs for a couple of Stairmasters, that it was quite extensive. Sorry, Erin, you are a wonderful young lady but two workouts a day while on vacation qualifies as OCD in anybody’s book.  Besides, looking young, vibrant and attractive are so overrated, don’t you agree, dear reader?

Secrets The Vine Spa by Pevonia

Now should you want to know about the spa, however, I’m your man.  I got there an hour before my massage to savor all the facilities seeing that spa savoring is not exactly an everyday ritual back home.  After confiscating every stitch of my clothing and instantly begging me “For the love of God, man, please don a bathrobe!”, the staff led me to this wood paneled room that was hotter than Texas in August.  I have no idea where I was but I am not exaggerating when I say it felt like a sauna in there.  Any overly exuberant description of my fifty minute massage could not possibly come to a good end seeing my dear wife is an avid follower of this blog. With apologies to my masseuse, I think I will stick with, “It was . . fine.”

I wouldn’t want to leave the impression that I spent my entire stay in self-indulgent pampering.  I mean, there were a couple of rounds of golf wedged in there (pun intended) not to mention some serious seaside ceviche sampling.

For those of you paying attention, probably the minority, you may have noticed that, in spite of the title of this post, I have managed to ramble on without any mention of the relationship between the name of the property and the fruit of the vine. Unfortunately, my self-imposed standard that these posts should be short enough to read in one brief bathroom visit (I assume you have wifi in there) means that you will just have to stop by for a second installment where I shall give vino the full attention it deserves!

If you will come back, I think I can promise to shower you with equally fascinating insights and clever repartee.  My goal with this blog is always to set a standard so attainable that even I can meet it!