Playa del Carmen Travel Guide
It's Monday and just the right hour for some work procrastination. Take a minute and play Witty Wordsmith with us, whydontcha? That's right, it's time to Name.This.Caption!
It was the wild scampering on our thatched roof at the Viceroy Riviera Maya that sent us running around our villa, wondering WTF was on our roof. Was it on fire? A crazy Mexican thunderstorm? Did we drink too much the night before?
But it was none of these things. Suddenly the scampering stopped and turned to jungle canopy thrashing.
We finally identified the crazy: two spider monkeys hanging out above the outdoor shower. Fumbling for the camera, we snapped this pic of this gray-bearded Papa Boo. But what is he doing there?
We’ve recently mentioned a boatload of celebrities visiting hotels near and far, from rappers and rockers at the ever-popular Andaz 5th in New York to teen sensations at the Hilton Los Cabos. Today, we get a peek into another Hollywood-escape haunt, the Viceroy Riviera Maya, just 15 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen and 40 minutes from Cancun airport. Beauties Rashida Jones of The Office, and Jamie King who stars in CW’s Hart of Dixie, recently visited the Viceroy for some cool-down time between tapings.
The 41-room resort, once called The Tides (and Ikal del Mar before that), became a Viceroy this year. Perhaps the name change is a factor, but the hotel is now getting a good share of rich and famous clientele, and with good reason. It’s ϋber-secluded thanks to its jungle surroundings, making it the perfect place to dodge prying paparazzi eyes. But we’re nicer at HotelChatter, and keep our stalking at respectable levels, so we can still get the 411 on these sightings.
When you pull up to the porte-cochère at Rosewood Mayakoba, you're welcomed by friendly staff offering cool towels and glasses of green juice. They tell you it's chaya juice and even if you don't know what that is, you throw back the drink because it's hot outside and the juice is cool and refreshing.
Later, you come across the chaya juice again in the relaxation areas of the resort's fancy SENSE Spa, since they like to begin treatments in the Mayan way, and chaya is found in the region surrounding the resort--which is of course rich in Mayan history. But what exactly is in this concoction?
The Rosewood Mayakoba peeps kindly shared their chaya ingredient list with us, so we now we know that it contains:
* Flat Leaf Parsley
* Pineapple juice
* Orange juice
* Fresh lemon juice
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Usually, when fashion designers get inspired by fancy hotels and resorts, it's bikinis they churn out. But in the case of designer Stephanie Johnson, what we get is a new range of travel accessories. And the hotel that took Johnson's fancy? The Fairmont Mayakoba, on Mexico's Riviera Maya.
We haven't stayed at this property but we've stayed at one next door that's on the same Mayakoba development of lush jungle rolling down to the ocean. Can't say we blame Johnson for getting inspired--it is indeed very pretty!
So is the new line of bags, which includes an iPad case and a few small cosmetics bags that double as cute clutches for a night out on the town—or on the beach at the resort's bar.
All of the big five-star resorts and convention-ready hotels may be off the highway between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, but if you want to experience the activity of a Mexican town and still be a short stroll from the beach, you need to stay in Playa Del Carmen.
You won't find the Fairmonts, Rosewoods and Tides of the world here, but you will find smaller, independent hotels lining the beach and streets off of Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue). The newest--although actually a longtime resident, now coming out of an expansion and renovation--is Acanto Hotel & Suites.
The new villas look like places we'd happily swap our apartments in the States for -- hell, we'd even sleep in the new gym with floor-to-ceiling views of the beach. Luckily, we didn't have to resort to that and stayed in one of the Tides' existing villas, which happily looks exactly like the big, glossy photos on the hotel's website. (No switch and bait here.)
Even though we only had a short hop over to Cancun from Miami, any lingering sense of obligations at home vanishes with the resort's welcome ritual--a Mayan blessing performed at the entrance to the spa. And then there is the Soap Concierge...
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However, after returning to the property this fall, we were introduced to a new breed of sexy hotel suite: the Lagoon Suite.
At first, we were all like, "why would we wanna stay here, where we might see a crocodile swimming below our bedroom floor?" Then we had the pleasure of bunking down in a lagoon suite for a few nights and voila! We were converted. And now we know why so many of the celebs who stay at this ritzy Riviera Maya retreat also opt for the lagoon over the ocean view suites. (Said celebs may or may not include: Meg Ryan and John Mellencamp, U2, TomKat and Suri, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.)
Scroll down for a few more reasons to love the lagoon...
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Forget your frat days and sloppy Day of the Dead celebrations: this is pure class. At Rosewood Mayakoba's tequila bar Agave Azul, a tasting is structured similarly to a wine-pairing dinner. Of course, you can slide up to the bar and order your shots straight if you know what you want--but we highly recommend opting for the pairing that comes with some snacks and little glasses of sangrita--a spicy little chaser.
Here's the thing about spa treatments: in cities like NYC, we could get the best massage ever but our zen totally evaporates when we step out onto the streets or hit the subway. In resort locations, we're often so relaxed by the warm breeze and a margarita that hitting up the hotel spa is an afterthought.
But! We have now experienced a spa treatment that has made our skin sparkle and taken away all our worries in the process--and it all took place before we even stepped inside the treatment room for our massage.
It's called the Riviera Maya Water Journey, and you'll find it at the huge, $15-million Spa at Grand Velas Riviera Maya. The concept of a water journey is not new, but what struck us about this one was how detailed the multi-process step was and how helpful it was to have a spa attendant guide us through the whole thing. (Often when we see all those pools and showers, we just hop from one to the other, willy nilly, which is fun, but doesn't always lead to the desired state of mush.)
It may feel like a jungle outside with this heat wave, but you can visit an actual tropical forest at the Tides Riviera Maya. Though if you wait until December to stay at the Playa Del Carmen resort, you'll be able to check out its newly renovated digs.
The all-villa resort has a lot of plans for its renovation, which will finish sometime in December. The biggest one is that it's adding 11 private luxury villas to the property and giving its existing villas—which all come with a private patio and plunge pool, outdoor shower and a thatched-palapa roof—a makeover.
Seven people were killed yesterday and 15 more were injured in a freak explosion at the beachfront, all-inclusive Grand Grand Riviera Princess Resort in Playa del Carmen, just outside of Cancun. Five of the dead were reported to be Canadian tourists, including a nine-year-old boy while the other two were hotel employees.
From The AP:
[Attorney General of Quintana Roo, Francisco] Alor described a horrific scene in which the floor of the building was basically hurled through the ceiling by the force of the explosion, blowing out windows and sending fragments of aluminum window and ceiling panels frame over a wide area.
"Everyone said their hotel room shook. The glass at neighboring restaurants all cracked and blew out. The tiki hut that was in the area, that was on fire," said James Gaade of St. Catharines, Ontario, who was walking on the beach when he heard a loud explosion and saw smoke coming from the resort’s premium platinum lounge.
Hoping for an economic inoculation against swine flu fears, and what it calls "negative media reports and unsubstantiated fears of the H1N1 virus," the "residential retreat" Esencia Estate is introducing a battery of deals right now. The Esencia has dubbed the promotion "Splurge on the House," and it is intended to revive the tourism industry that has been in a slump since the H1N1 scare earlier this year.
The Mayan-themed resort on Mexico’s Riviera Maya is offering guests a daily account credit equal to the amount they pay for their nightly room rate. Rates start at $459 per night, so we’re talking some big money here. The credit can be used at the hotel’s “organic” spa (treatments use indigenous fruits, plants and herbs, many of them grown in an onsite garden), at the poolside restaurant, or on other expenses like airport transfers, room service, in-room babysitting, and even beachside drinks.