There are those quintessential Cancun resorts where you hear Marty Robbins warbling Blue Spanish Eyes in the lobby, with backup singers rattling sticks over armadillo shells. Nothing wrong with that. We’ve spent more than a little time south of the border searching for the perfect barefoot cantina.
It’s somewhat of a different scene at Aqua Cancun however, where two gleaming white Rolls Royces welcome you into the lobby. Marty Robbins never slept here—nor a batch of other highly evolved spa resorts presently reconfiguring the hotel strip.
After walking through Aqua’s glass lobby that frames Cancun’s spectacular new $71 million beach restoration, you’re presented with Mayan eucalyptus ice tea, cool scented towels and a hand massage during check-in. The soft mood music is mixed by the in-house DJ. And all the staff are dressed in the same freeflowing uniform, who greet you with the phrase: in lak’ech.
“It means, ‘I am you and you are me and I am here to serve you,’” translates Mark Benson, CMP, vp of sales for Posada Resorts. “There are a lot of special touchpoints, something you don’t buy off the shelf, designed to create a whole sensory experience that really has a personal impact, an intangible effect that no other hotel can offer.”
The 371-room resort overlooks eight pools with different ambient music, and a thick mini-forest filled with spa beds under palapas around a temazcal—a Mayan sweat lodge/clay igloo. Next to that, resident Tai Chi master Professor Victor leads guests and staff through the popular, twice-daily Eastern stretching rituals.
Benson says private Tai Chi lessons are something planners like to create exclusively for their groups.
“There’s just this great sense of being. It’s cool how it brings people together and they become balanced and more focused on the subject at hand—there’s a real synergy for teambuilding.”
Inside, treatments in the 11 spa rooms run the global gamut inspired by Tahitian, Australian, Thai, Indonesian, Moroccan and Mayan therapies. So anything goes from an Aboriginal macadamia oil massage to a local avocado yogurt body wrap.
In the guestrooms, the aromatherapy menu ranges from “romance” to “relax.” Love the big eggshell tubs, open bathrooms and little white straw beach bags hanging in the closet.
Also part of Posada Resorts, the 602-room Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun has long been a staple of the Mexican luxury meetings scene, with a AAA 5-diamond ranking 14 consecutive years and counting. It’s about to get better.
This month, the 40,000-sf Coral Beach Gem Spa opens with 19 treatment rooms wrapping around one floor that looks down into a coed spa lap pool and spa restaurant below. The various non-coed communal treatment spaces include a wet clay steam room and dry ice room.
“The clay is full of overall moisturizing nutrients that are the lifeblood for younger, healthier skin,” says Benson. “Just think, you’re in there slathering this clay all over you in the hot steam. That just leaves your skin baby soft.”
For groups, the big draw is the whole spa village concept, where you come for a swim, have lunch, swim some more, network a while by the juice bar, and then spend however many luxurious hours attacking the vicissitudes of vigorous living.
“Often you’ll have CEOs and presidents who are very social in their nature, and they want to experience things together in a healthy environment,” says Benson. “Gem Spa is very personal and service-oriented. You’re not going there just to have a treatment, there’s no reason to just go in and out.”
The 260-room Le Blanc Spa Resort helped set the trend for luxurious serenity in Cancun with its muted colors and peaceful interiors reflecting a less-is-more attitude. Drapes float from the tall ceilings to the floor in both the lobby and spa, creating a wispy, free-flowing ambience carried out onto the sprawling pool deck perched over the beach.
Le Blanc is all-inclusive, erasing once and for all any illusions of all-inclusive being in any way sub-standard to EP.
“The level of service for groups is outstanding from every level,” says Ginny Davito, vp of groups/incentive sales. “But what’s most important from the participant standpoint, it’s a true incentive experience. They keep their wallet in their pocket. It doesn’t cost them to be a winner.”
The 28,000-sf spa is a small village of candle-lit harmony with 19 suites with private bamboo gardens, including one Golden VIP suite, two double suites, one shiatsu suite, two Vichy suites, three master suites with hydrotherapy tubs and 10 individual suites all with showers.
The water journey facility consists of saunas, color therapy steam rooms, hydro-reflexology, temperature contrast lagoons, whirlpools and a sensory relation room.
“This is one of the most awesome spas I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been to some of the best spas in the US,” says Davito. “For groups, too. At check in, everyone is greeted at a private desk with champagne and cold towels.”
TALK TO ME
The 9,700-sf SuiteME penthouse playground at ME Cancun where MTV’s Real World Cancun was filmed was not designed for the puritan-at-heart. Two big glass showers with a judiciously placed band of frosted glass anchor the center of the 2-story, 4-bedroom, 6-bath unit suitable for receptions up to 100. A cozy jet tub and large hot tub for 10 are also located in the living room, next to the full kitchen and fully stocked bar. Three decks offer eye-popping ocean views, perfect for post-spa treatment repose.
The equally sexy YHI Spa feels a little like a Ralph Lauren fashion shoot meets Hamptons YMCA club circa 1950, with all-white décor and slanting light streaming through the white shutters, rice paper and thin gauzy curtains.
The experience is highly interactive with a warm riverstone and water foot massage trail to walk over and three different shower experiences indoors. Then you slip into the pool which flows from indoors out to a promontory perched over the resort.
There’s another variety of shower experiences in the pool, with thatch daybeds on the pool terrace.