Mexico Travel Guide
Last month we attended the grand opening of the new Iberostar Playa Mita on Mexico's Riviera Nayarit. The 452-room all-inclusive resort is the Spanish brand's first property on Mexico's Pacific coast and features 120 oceanfront junior suites, 18 adult-only Spa Rooms, two Presidential Suites, two pools and a spa. Guests also have preferred access to the nearby Greg Norman-designed course at the Litibu Golf Club
What really caught our eye, though, was the pieces of Huichol art displayed throughout the hotel, in rooms and public space. Huichol art is a traditional folk art form by the native Huichol people who live in Nayarit and Jalisco made with intricate designs, vibrant colors and sacred symbols to express deeply held spiritual beliefs.
Like this jaguar head in the lobby (pictured above), which has three million beads in it and it was made by one family -- grandparents, parents and children -- and took about three months to make. For Huichol Shamans, the jaguar is a power animal, considered messengers of the god of fire, Tatewari.
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While we showed you a quiet alternative in Cabo San Lucas earlier this week, today we're looking at a more lively hotel spot--The ME Cabo. This is where pool, beach and party all come together in a neat little package, ready for you to rip open with life-affirming gusto. But before you go buckwild, we have some important tips to share.
1) Bring your best bathing suit—This is no time to shrink down into your beautiful white Bali bed. The ME experience focuses on the senses and this includes sight, so show what ya got even if you think what ya got ain’t good. Here, attitude counts. With Bali beds for two to eight, sharing and showing a little skin is what it’s all about.
2) Wear your party hat—Nikki Beach Club, known worldwide as party central for house music revellers, can be found right at ME Cabo. We’re talking bikini dancing here, folks. There’s a DJ spinning tracks in an open-air booth while the Nikki Girls (that’s right) try to get the crowd moving to the beat of the electronic drum. Make sure to try the Nikki Mojito, the signature drink Bacardi approached Nikki Beach to create and is found at all Nikki Beach Clubs.
ME Cabo also knows how to throw a good party at Passion, their indoor/outdoor club and lounge. When the music dies down at Nikki Beach, Passion gleefully takes the baton. We were there during the annual Halloween party (if you can, we recommend you try to go during a celebration of some sort as well) and it was packed with both guests and locals. To best describe the vibe that night and the well-dressed or well-costumed patrons, imagine a big-city nightclub owned by Salvador Dali. (We’re digging what you’re thinking right now.)
Capella Pedegral may change any of your previous conceptions about Cabo San Lucas, which probably involve thoughts of LA/OC folks partying or celebrities paying top dollar for a romantic rendezvous.
True, Capella Pedregal, situated on a stony hillside above The Marina (home to Senor Frog's and a quick boat ride out to El Arco), is often referred to as the "Beverly Hills of Cabo" and room rates are similar to those at the top places in Beverly Hills, at around $650 a night.
But it's also where you will find touches of the real Mexico, making Capella far more interesting than being just some resort on the beach. And when you're paying that much a night, the last thing you want is some same-old, same-old, luxury resort. So here are 7 Authentic Mexican Touches at Capella Pedregal that we found during a recent visit.
1. Mexican Cooking Classes: Capella Pedregal's Don Manuel's restaurant features Su Cocina, a dual-kitchen where guests can learn traditional Mexican cooking techniques and recipes, including a variety of ceviches and salsas. Cooking lessons are also offered here to kids who learn to make tortillas à mano, quesadillas, flautas, and churros.
2. Daily Delivery of Coronitas, Tortilla Chips and Guacamole. Every afternoon, this selection arrives at your door. It's included in the room rate and if you're not there to accept it, room service will leave a note telling you to call down when you would like it delivered.
Sure enough, just as we compile a list of our favorite killer hotel views comes another view that nearly tops them all.
This is the view outside room 336 at the luxury resort, Capella Pedregral, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. What more can you ask for? The ocean, the beach, a couple of palm tree, a boat happily sailing by and in case you can't see it, your own private plunge pool on the terrace. Muy bonita!
Rates for this Ocean View King Room, the starting room category at the hotel, are currently going for about $650 a night. That rate includes complimentary WiFi, complimentary minibar refreshments (non-alcoholic) and a daily delivery of Coronitas, tortilla chips and guacamole. We'll have more on that and other authentic Mexican touches at Capella Pedegral next week.
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Now that we've actually seen one of the properties in person, we're even more ready to give the all-inclusive experience a whirl.
We peeped at the former Barcelo Cabo in Mexico as it was undergoing some last-minute touch-ups to turn into the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, a family-friendly resort. (Hyatt Zilara in Cancún will be adults-only.)
The good news is that the Barcelo property is rather new (it opened in 2009) and so the rooms, public spaces, restaurants, meeting rooms, pools and even the kids' club area are all in excellent condition. (We especially loved the giant flat-screen TVs which also accessed the internet as well.) All Hyatt really had to do was make some cosmetic adjustments, change up the signs and tweak the all-inclusive plans.
You can read more about the plans here but the basic all-inclusive plan includes not just food and alcohol from the eight restaurants on-site (most are a la carte and only two are buffets) but also entertainment options, daily and nightly activities, fitness center, kids club and WiFi. The Club Premium Plan gets you a few more perks like private check-in, access to the Exclusive Premium Level Lounge, 20 percent off spa and salon services, welcome amenities and other goodies.
The famous "Arch" in Cabo
Yesterday as we cruised the beachfront "tourist corridor" in Los Cabos, Mexico where all the hotels are located, we learned that both Montage Hotels and Four Seasons would soon be setting up shop in Cabo.
We had heard about the Montage back in August but Four Seasons? That was new to us. So we did a little research and found that indeed Four Seasons is joining the party.
LosCabosGuide.com reports the hotel will open in The Cabo Riviera development which is located on more than 900 acres in the town of La Ribera, only 38 miles east of Los Cabos. That puts it pretty far from the tourist corridor and the action of the marina but it will still front the Sea of Cortez, ensuring lots of relaxing on the beach and water activities. The Cabo Riviera development will also include a golf course and its own 280-slip marina, along with an artists village, and plenty of high-end residences. (Sorry, no Senor Frog's here!)
In our research, we also uncovered a website for the Ritz-Carlton Reserve (essentially, a super luxe Ritz-Carlton) in San Jose del Cabo that was announced the other month. This Reserve should open in 2015 but sorry, your dollars won't go any further here as the dollars to peso exchange rate is pretty much the same. But we can all hope that the Reserve will keep prices below a $1,000 a night.
In our opinion, the jury is still out on all-inclusive resorts. Sometimes we love them, and often we hate them, but one thing's for sure: we never expect a memorable gastronomical experience when we stay at one.
We are happy to report, however, that our recent stay at the all-inclusive IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraíso, on Mexico's Riviera Maya, might help sway our opinion. The hotel has four restaurants (Japanese, Italian, French, and a steakhouse -- strangely no Mexican), two buffets, and six bars. We ate well and we ate often.
We like to keep it fun but informative here at HotelChatter so our series, What is This?, is devoted to odd-looking items in hotels that upon first glance look as if they serve only a decorative purpose. But everything happens for a reason, right? And we're here to tell you what these things really do.
We saw a friend Facebook a picture of her bathroom at the trendy W Mexico City and we were all like, WHAT. IS. THIS. So we went over to the W's website and found out that yes, there is a hammock suspended over the bathtub. Here's how the folks at the Doble Ve describe it:
Zone, suspended over the bath area in the silken hammockover the warm (or cooling) bathtub in the silken hammock.
Did you get that it's a silken hammock? Anyways, we're all for adventurous design but we are just imagining all sorts of difficulties climbing into this hammock. And we'd be naked, yes? That wouldn't be pretty. That said, we'd be willing to give it a try--before we had any tequila. Alcohol and hammocks over bathtubs do not mix. At all.
Wanna give it a go? Rates at the W Mexico City start at just $189USD for a Spectacular room.
[Photo: W Mexico City/Facebook]
Warning: parents with young children may cry over this view at Viceroy Zihuatanejo
When it comes to family-friendly hotel stays, those of us who are parents at HotelChatter can’t help but to be hyper aware of what works and what doesn’t. Is there a place for the littles to burn off energy, will they really find this or that fun (or is it just another backpack with crayons), do the sleeping arrangements make sense, and, hey, what's in it for the parents?
Which is why we're anxious to tell you about what we saw recently at Viceroy Zihuatanejo. While lounging in the sun and looking out at lovely Playa La Ropa, the happening beach on which the resort sits, we spied a young family with an adorable curly-haired daughter, say two or three years old, enjoying a chill afternoon at the beach. Families on vacation with kids this age are rarely as relaxed as these folks were and while we may never know for certain why, we're banking on one reason: a great family-style cabana.
Arranged by request at Viceroy Zihuatanejo, cabanas consist of a huge floating bed with towels and pillows under a generous palapa, all right at the water's edge; ask for the family style touch and for no extra charge you also get beach toys in a basket and a table set up that includes a high chair (yes, a HIGH CHAIR!).
The Viceroy Riviera Maya has always had an impressive selection of guest rooms, or rather, villas from the luxury villas to the ocean view villas all the way up to the presidential villa. But now they've added yet another room category--Signature Villas.
Each villa will have 1,400-sq.ft. of private outdoor living space featuring a sundeck, hammock, outdoor rain shower and heated plunge pool. Inside, the villas will have high-ceilings with a thatched palapa roof, king-sized beds, his and hers closets, satellite cable TV, free WiFi, Nespresso machines, air-conditioning and the new deep-soaking, ovate-shaped bathtubs that were introduced in 11 other villas in January 2012. The tubs were quite a hit with the guests--perhaps because there's a glass wall through which you can see out to the private garden--so in they went to the new Signature Villas.
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There's something about a swim-up bar that gets hotel guests excited, but the one at Cancún's Nizuc Resort & Spa truly blows our socks off. The pool is still pretty pristine as the hotel has only been open since March, so there's no wear-and-tear as of yet.
Also, Nizuc is not an all-inclusive, so this bar isn't three-deep in 18-year olds clamoring for cloyingly sweet margaritas and cervezas. No, this is a more civilized ( and pricey) experience in an infinity pool with a sleek, dark blue hue, rather than the traditional garish turquoise coloring. The over-sized serving area is manned by a crew of talented bartenders who mix up such concoctions as the Rocket (made with reposado tequila, lime juice, and cranberry) and a green powerhouse of a drink made from local chaya leaves and vodka ( a healthy-boozy drink!).
One of the many waiters will bring your drink to your bali bed (no charge, first-come, first served) or lounger and from there it's just you and the incredible scene you see above and after the jump.
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From the photo above, it's clear that Jennifer Aniston is totally into fiancé Justin Theroux. She and her beaux returned for a second jaunt to her favorite exclusive resort, the El Dorado Golf & Beach Club in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. The couple was just there in December.
Only strange thing? This couple can't seem to travel by themselves! They're always bringing people with them. Last year it was John Krazinksi, Emily Blunt, and Jimmy Kimmel. This year Jason Bateman and wife Amanda Anka came along.
What's the matter, Jennifer, aren't you able to spend some QT solo with your betrothed, the man who's been waiting and waiting for you to make an honest man of him? Maybe trade that SmartWater you're always toting around (always the consummate spokesperson!) for something a bit stronger and get the liquid courage to be alone with Justin at that beautiful resort.