I’m going to have to start at the top as I doubt that I’ll get to go anywhere this indulgent for a little while and, by way of a spoiler, this really was one of my favourite holidays: I love Mexico and I love this hotel. Usually at this time of year I’m hunting snow, après and fondue in the French Alps, creating buns of steel and a tummy of cheese. However, in the spirit of 2016, we went for a change and Tony and I jetted off to the winter sun which I’ve spent my life ignoring. Unsurprisingly, though the snow finally returned to the Alps in buckets pretty much as soon as we arrived in Cancun, I didn’t regret the decision one bit. (But dammit there was no snow in December, why now!). So anyway, we arrived in Cancun airport and took a 30 minute taxi up the coast to the hotel on Playa Mujeres, an idyllic resort setting in the middle of nowhere, away from the craziness of Cancun and within a few hours of the Mexican ruins at Tulum and Chichen Itza. I would absolutely love to blog about either of these ruins, by the way, but oooopsy I forgot to go (well done Ellie, great start as a travel blogger).
Truthfully, it wasn’t the most beautiful beach in the world (sorry, my vote so far goes to the Gili Islands on that one) but it was pristine, white sand, turquoise water and came with a cracking sunrise nonetheless. On the first day we were so excited that the anticipated lie-in never happened and we raced (ok, flip-flopped / hobbled / we were on holiday, so what) to the lavender hazed beach at 7.16 to catch the sun coming up on the Caribbean Sea. A few clouds over the Isla Mujeres out to sea made it even more striking. It was so tranquil and beautiful I could have burst.
A nod to the weather too: I spent the fortnight before arriving hitting refresh on the weather report and inwardly sobbing at the horrific forecast. I had several outward strops too, where I declared that the trip should be cancelled, that Mexico was rubbish and that we had wasted our money on Rain. Now my fury is directed towards the weatherchannel.com for pointlessly stressing me out by their ruthless predictions of constant thunderstorms. I needn’t have worried. In reality, the weather was close to perfect. It was about 28 degrees everyday but with plenty of cooling breeze so it never felt too stuffy. Yeah, there was the occasional dump of tropical showers but this was mostly after bed time and only added to the atmosphere. Also, FYI, I kept checking up on the ridiculous weather channel and they couldn’t even get the current weather right! I mean, even if your predictions are way off you could at least accurately state that it is currently blazing sunshine and has been all day as opposed to thunder and lightning storms, good god.
Anyway, this hotel could have been based in Chernobyll and it still would have been incredible. First off, all inclusive gets a bad rep and a lot of people are snobby about it. Possibly, this is for the same reason that some girls turn their nose up at Chardonnay. Someone ruined it once in the 80’s and a generation of daughters still can be heard to inexplicably bray “anything but the Chard”. All inclusive still has the impression that somehow you’re getting cheated: you’ll have to wear a wristband or the only thing on the ‘all-inc’ menu is watered down sangria and a nasty buffet. I can assure you however that the Caribbean (and Turkey where I can recommend at least three amazing hotels) have long elevated above this standard. On the part of the Excellence it truly was pure indulgent luxury. And indulge we did.
Here are a few of the Flash highlights:
- There are 10 restaurants. Thus 10 nights is a perfect length for a stay where you’ll leave feeling greedier than King Henry VIII. Each is a different cuisine with a different vibe. We loved Agave (the Mexican) for its authentic atmosphere and Toscana (the Mediterranean) for its huge range. One restaurant (the only one you had to book in advance) was a wonderfully intimate 8 guests only hibachi grill all seated around an amazing personal chef performance. We were there with 6 Canadian friends who were so friendly and more quintessentially Canadian than I could imagine (the guys all played hockey – ice hockey). Note, no buffet!
- Breakfast, lunch & room service is 24/7. Every moment of potential hunger in the day is covered impeccably. This meant that I was never hungry, which meant that I was always happy, which made Tony’s life better. We generally had nothing less than four courses for each meal. When we were feeling rebellious/ fabulous we wouldn’t even leave the room and would have our feast delivered to our private garden which extended to our semi-private pool, along with a sting of mimosas. Even then, we still had a waiter come round to our little garden with margaritas before we had knew we even needed one (‘need’ being potentially too strong a word).
- The service. Each bar tender at the many bars is amazing at what they do, charming and (importantly for a non-Spanish speaker) great at English. The waiters at each restaurant were equally as impressive. Good service may be something that you expect from a good hotel, but it really made such a difference knowing they went the extra mile for each guest.
- The pools. I have already mentioned the beach but the pool was also magnificent. The main pool was luscious and tropical, with palm trees in little islands and fountains round the side. You could essentially sunbathe any way you fancied too: in a hammock, in a sun lounger on the side of the pool, in a sun lounger half in the pool, in a thatched cabana, or in a four-poster king-sized bed that swung over the pool between the foliage. We opted for the latter and, inkeeping with the royal references, felt like Prince George in his royal cot. Some rooms also had a roof top Jacuzzi which sounded epic, but we were happy with our own pool that went in a ring around our wing of the hotel.
- The entertainment. I honestly thought I was better than enjoying hotel entertainment. Turns out I absolutely am not. Especially when it is a Mexican dance troupe lip-syncing to the entire catalogue of Michael Jackson bangers and then they come back and do Madonna the next day. Su-f*ing-perb. Also, each week they do a ‘casino royale’ extravaganza and everything is even more flash than ever. One feature was a beautiful white tree where every single branch was a different pudding (hola, heaven). The casino night meant giving all the guests a wad of monopoly money and letting them play poker, blackjack etc against professional dealers and a plethora of ‘Merican gamblers who all knew what they were doing much better than we did (and took it a lot more seriously), and it was great fun!
This holiday was an extravagance worthy of the brat that I am (amongst the much more deserving honeymooners and anniversaries) but to hear about the more frugal side of Mexico, please head to my summary of Isla Mujeres here.
Booked through: http://caribbeanwarehouse.co.uk/