Puerto Morelos Travel Guide
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View from oceanfront master suite at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun
The Grand Residences Riviera Cancun in Puerto Morelos, Mexico has one of those lobbies that have you at hello. Its wow factor includes a historic bar from the United Kingdom circa 1860, vibrant Mexican accent pieces, an airy feel and stained glass structures representing the mangrove prevalent throughout the Yucatan. Those features coupled with views of the ocean in the distance make for a grand entrance:
The nose knows. So say the science textbooks, and the latest group to catch on is...hotels. Hence the popularity of signature hotel scents at places like the forthcoming Chatwal New York and the Montage Laguna Beach spa.
Some clever innovators are going even further to inspire memorable scent-sations: for example the Azul Sensatori Resort in Riviera Maya allows guests to select the scent of their bath soap, linens and even the very air they breathe (in-room, at least.) At check-in, our clerk surprised us by busting out a magical little kit full of swatches and oils, and taking us through a fun—if allergy-threatening—aroma customization session.
We’ve messed around with aromatherapy before (Nor Cal hippies have been into it since the dawn of time) and this isn’t the bells-and-finger-cymbals New Age version. No meditation or medicinal-smelling exotics.
These dogs may have gotten a little too much sun.
When you're busy sipping your frothy drink along the Riviera Maya, isn't your first thought always -- I wonder how Fido is digging his thalasso-therapy?
The Paraiso de la Bonita just rolled their "Haute Dog Package," a Leona Helmsley-esque treatment just for your four-legged friend.
In the event you brought your doggie with you to the sprawling Mexican shore, be rest assured -- Chicken liver puree, dog walks and massage, as well as thalasso-therapy and "daily afternoon tea in the Bird's Lounge" are but a few of the pooch perks here.
Out of destruction comes construction, which in some cases can mean the aftermath is better than the pre-disaster days. This has certainly been the case with many Cancun-area hotels in Mexico, including Ceiba del Mar in Puerto Morelos.
Low-key hideaway Ceiba del Mar rebuilt like everyone else after Hurricane Wilma, but it decided to use the downtime and construction needs to expand the size of its rooms, adding more suites. The room count went down by more than 20 percent--to 88--so the resort could make 37 of them suites and another 7 of them swank penthouses with huge terraces and a whirlpool tub (pictured here). The spa is more than an afterthought and was expanded to almost 9,000 square feet.
We like the fact that Cieba del Mar is separated from Cancun both figuratively and literally. There's no annoying activity director by the pretty pool, which flows in front of all the villa buildings, and you can walk out the front door to a town with real locals--people that don't just serve tourists all day. This is an upscale place to unwind and relax without the aid of artificial merriment.
This doesn't mean the hotel is rustic, however. The suites all have wide plasma TVs and everybody gets a CD player and free wi-fi access: the latter a real rarity in these parts.
Those with an early flight can catch a few extra winks here too: it's one of the closest area hotels to the airport.
We flew into Cancun and after customs, turned right just outside the arrival area. Dozens of touts were all yelling at us to get into their taxi or bus, but we managed to find the Maya Riviera buses. A cheap ride of less than an hour carried us south to sleepy Puerto Morelos, far from the maddening crowds of Cancun. At the bus stop there, they'll call you a taxi ($2)for the short ride into town.
We'd reserved on line and stayed at quaint Rancho Libertad ($50-60) where your bed hangs from the ceiling by ropes and the bathrooms have colorful tile. It's run by Americans and includes a generous down home breakfast in a huge thatched common room, plus kitchen priveleges any time. They'll lend you a decent bicycle or book you tour if you like.
Located on the beach about a mile south of the town plaza, it's a bit out of the way but a sweet retreat. Our best decision was to stay three nightsthere, just cooling out, before we set out to explore the region.
Puerto Morelos has one ATM, two cybercafes, a bookstore, market, working fishing fleet, a dozen little places to eat in town and a fine botanical garden on the highway. Just our speed.