As I laid on a table next to the clear water on Isla Mujeres, the masseuse kneaded and prodded the tension away from my shoulders. "Mucho tension," she told me after the waterfront massage. But for those 30 minutes, the tension disappeared.
It was my second time getting a waterfront massage on a beach — the first being on Lombok, Indonesia — and I can say the setting of Isla Mujeres was no less astounding.
I had traveled to Cancun with one of my best friends as part of a sponsored trip by the Renaissance Cancun Resort and Marina. The hotel, which opened in February, is located at the beginning of the hotel zone in Puerto Cancun, a 10-minute drive from downtown Cancun and right next to the city's largest shopping center, which has more than 480,000 square feet of surface area, featuring more than 100 shops and restaurants.
During the first day of a three-day trip, my friend and I took transportation to the nearby beach, where we sipped drinks and laid in a cabana. Later, we would return to the Beach Club and see an authentic Mayan dance performance. In fact, the property is inspired by the Mayan underworld of Xibalba, so the property features sleek, modern architecture mixed with Mayan history.
The hotel has 180 rooms and suites, which each include a smart TV, Nespresso coffeemaker, minibar, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, radio/alarm clock, safe deposit box, the ability to make national and international phone calls, soundproof windows, air conditioning and complimentary bottled water.
Navigators can help visitors plan excursions, like the one we took to Isla Mujeres for the day. On the way to the island, the group snorkeled, offering a physical fitness component before a relaxing day at the beach.
The property showcases many elements from Mayan tradition; for example, the lobby, which overlooks the Caribbean Sea, features a wooden sculpture representing the sacred Mayan tree, the ceiba. Elsewhere, the water mirror that extends all the way to the pier represents the sacred cenotes, which the Mayans believed were the doorway to the afterlife.
The property includes the Zek Bar, which takes its name from the Mayan word for skull. Artists will lead initiatives at the bar. During an opening night party, my guest and I took part in two art activities: customizing colorful skulls with jewelry and using stamps to customize small tote bags and luggage tags. The property also has the Kaajal Restaurant. In Mayan, kaajal means "beginning," and the restaurant does offer a great way to start the day: a hearty breakfast overlooking the marina. It's also open for lunch and dinner.
Rates start at $109 per night.