Luxury in Mexico | CityAM
CityAM | 6 June 2011
Luxury in Mexico
One is on the east coast, the other is in the west coast. Both are sensational hotels. Laura Ivill compared and contrasted
ONE is The Tides, Riviera Maya, a five star resort on Mexico’s east coast in the upmarket district of Riviera Maya, south of Cancun and surrounded by lush, tropical rainforests.
The other is Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Cabo San Lucas, an equally lavish resort on Mexico’s west coast, on the Pacific side of the desert of Los Cabos peninsula, in Baja California.
Both are spectacular destinations with scenic swimming pools, expansive suites, and top notch service (along with celebrity followings to boot) but offer different experiences of the country. Which is best for your holiday this summer? City A.M. compared and contrasted the two.
EAST COAST CARIBBEAN BEACH HIDEAWAY: THE TIDES, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
Your private villa is tucked away within the tall palms of the Mexican jungle, yet the resort itself opens onto a pristine beachfront, where the warm Caribbean waters lap at pure white sand. There is genuine peace and a soulful chilled-out vibe here. Swim before breakfast, take a yoga class on the beach and spend the afternoon listening to the birds from a poolside lounger.
From the informal outdoor reception under a thatched canopy, to the spa hidden within the forest, The Tides’ charming rustic chic is never overstated. Shells, petals, rope, wood, candles, textiles, hand-made soap… it’s a couples’ heaven of design simplicity, yet with five-star service.
A winding path leads to your villa, a traditional thatched casita enveloped by the jungle and hidden from the other 29. You can shower in your petal-strewn bathroom or take an outdoor shower where you might spot a monkey in the trees above. Your secluded terrace invites you to relax undisturbed. Here, you can have your breakfast delivered to your table as you awake. You can flop on the daybed or in the hammock with an absorbing read, grab a drink from the mini-bar or have a dip in your private plunge pool (set to the exact temperature you request, naturellement.) The world’s your oyster.
DRINK AND DINE:
By night, flame torches guide you to the beach BBQ for informal dining, or the traditional palapa (thatched) Marea Restaurant serves fresh ceviche and an extensive list of Mexican beer and wine. Breakfast by the pool can be healthy and hearty or light and detoxing – start with a cucumber, pineapple and mint juice. The outdoor pool bar will keep you refreshed all day.
The Mayan spa is at the heart of the resort. A shamen will welcome you with copal (the local incense) and when you step inside the spa, the thatched circular airy roof is a real wow. But it is the outdoor treatment rooms, with their natural waterfalls and tropical canopy, that are especially restful. All the herbs used are grown in the spa’s garden.
For culture lovers, the biggest city of the ancient Mayas, Coba, is nearby and includes the tallest pyramid of the Yucatan Peninsula. Take a bike ride and see the whole site. Also, an hour’s drive away, is the spectacular site of Tulum which was the most important city of the post-Classical period. Or, for a more leisurely excusrion, take a boat ride to a pristine turquoise fresh-water lagoon and swim in the warm waters of the mangrove (www.siankaantours.org).
The Tides, Riviera Maya, Mexico (www.tidesrivieramaya.com). Villas from $585US per night, plus tax and service. Thomson Airways flies direct from Heathrow to Cancun, from £499 return 0871 231 5595, www.thomson.co.uk/flights
WEST COAST PACIFIC UBER-LUXURY RESORT: LAS VENTANAS AL PARADISO
On the very tip of Los Cabos peninsula where the deep blue of the Sea of Cortez meets the golden cragginess of the Baja Pacific coast, Las Ventanas is one of the most upscale resorts in the world. Kate Winslet has swum in its infinity pools and Cindy Crawford takes her family for horse rides on the beach. With 350 days of sunshine, the swaths of bright purple bougainvillea last for half the year.
Facing towards the pristine beach and the pounding surf of the Pacific, the $24 million resort, with 71 suites, has used local materials and craftsmen, and has planted hundreds of tress, cacti and succulents in its manicured gardens of raked sand. What feels like a spacious village of low-rise white stone buildings is linked by curving paths and bathing pools, which, after an everlasting sunset, seems to glow in the lantern light.
Suites start at 960 sq ft, so throw open the huge doors to your patio or terrace and create a vast indoor-outdoor apartment – the sound of Las Ventanas is of pounding surf and birdsong. As well as patio sofas, some suites have a Jacuzzi so friends can drop in for a dip. Interiors are all fireplaces, marble showers and limestone floors, but it’s the giant pebble-inlaid headboard that gives the room its wow-factor and local charm.
DRINK AND DINE:
Innovation has made Las Ventanas so imitated across the world. On a Saturday morning, have your glass filled with Taittinger at the executive chef’s outdoor cookery school, as Fabrice Guisset shows you how to make Yucatan sea bass ceviche. Or, if you want to know about tequila, Epifanio Alvarez will give you a tasting masterclass. At night, the tequila and ceviche bar becomes the tequila and sushi bar for a Mexico-Japan fusion menu. Or, for a perfect moment of relaxation, climb into a hammock on the beach, order a cocktail, close your eyes and let the ocean sounds wash over you.
Take your time choosing from the extensive menu while you relax around a central pool. On the breeze you’ll hear the haunting sounds of Tibetan singing bowls played by an attendant. If you’ve never tried hydrotherapy, enliven your senses by alternating the icy plunge pool with the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.
To experience the desert and ocean views, you can rent one of the hotel’s Porsche Boxsters or a Mini Cooper S convertible. Or for a four-legged adrenalin rush, take a two-hour horseride in the Mexican bush, culminating in a gallop along the beach. Breathtaking.
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico (www.lasventanas.com). Suites from $655US per night, plus tax and service. American Airlines flies from London Heathrow to Dallas Fort Worth for onward connections to Los Cabos, Mexico, from £852 return (0844 4997300,www.aa.com).