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.

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!