Soon after landing at Cancun Airport, I began the 30-minute journey to Grand Residences Riviera Cancun via the Puerto Morelos property's private shuttle. My driver gave me an iPad to check into my room from the car, and as he wound his way through the Yucatan jungle, I watched as we passed throngs of crocodiles in placid creeks lining the roads.
Finally, we turned onto a dirt road, and out of nowhere, a fortress-like building emerged from the natural matrix of the Riviera Maya jungle.
As we pulled up, I felt like royalty. Well-dressed attendants ran up to my car and extended two arms: one to help me out of the vehicle and the other to hand me a strawberry margarita. I got out of the car, took a sip, looked around and by then, I already knew this wasn't going to be an average weekend in Mexico.
Margarita in hand, I followed my butler — yes, I had a butler — to my room and stood there in awe. It took 30 minutes just for him to show me everything my 1,798-square-foot Master Suite could do.
The doors opened with a flick of my wristband, and once inside, there was a full-service kitchen, a laundry room and a living room that was twice the size of my apartment in Miami. My fridge was fully stocked with everything I could ask for, and there were three coffee machines — one espresso, one K-cup and one old-school coffee pot — depending on how I liked my daily dose of caffeine.
An aerial view of the 103-suite Puerto Morelos property, a member of Leading Hotels of the World.
There was a half-bathroom in the front, and in the bedroom, a full bathroom with a shower, Jacuzzi tub, a scale and a full set of Bulgari perfumes and soaps that I could take home. And there was so much more I was able to take home with me: The room came with gifts like a stylish sun hat, a handmade scarf, a beaded purse carefully stitched by Mayan craftsmen and a large bottle of Clase Azul Reposado tequila, the latter of which is valued at about $100.
The room could sleep five. There was a large king bed and a foldout sofa in the bedroom, two twin Murphy beds hidden in the side cabinets of the entertainment center and a large, L-shaped couch in the living room.
One whole wall was floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors, which led out to a balcony with dining for six, a Jacuzzi and majestic views of the entire hotel and Caribbean Sea. I've seen a lot of jaw-dropping properties in my day, but this is by far the nicest suite I've ever stayed in.
And while I never had a reason to leave my room, I couldn't go all the way to Cancun and not explore what was around me. Spread across the hotel, which started with the lobby and ended at the Caribbean, I found a matrix of protected mangroves, pools, tennis courts, a spot for afternoon tea, a salon and spa, a full gym, a sports desk with snorkeling and kayaking equipment and clubs for kids and teens.
The main infinity pool had a swim-up bar, and the private, white-sand beach was dotted with cabanas and the Heaven Beach Bar, a casual restaurant where you could get your fill of fish tacos and cervezas.
Executive chef Yann Cozic, a classically trained French chef who puts a unique spin on Mexican cuisine, leads cooking classes for hotel guests once a week. And when he's not in front of a crowd, he's back in the kitchen whipping up mouthwatering meals you'll crave for days.
The property’s El Faro restaurant offers globally inspired cuisine with themed menus nightly.
The globally inspired El Faro restaurant has a themed menu every night, from Italian to seafood, while Flor de Canela, Yann's newest brainchild, serves sharing plates of high-end Mexican cuisine like guacamole with Serrano chili and green apple cubes, grouper aguachile, hogfish marinated in talla sauce and jicama salad with agave syrup.
When it comes down to it, at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun, the world is your oyster — or maybe your Mexican palace.
Rates begin at $306; visit www.grandresidencesrivieracancun.com.