Mexico done right.
Taking a trip to Mexico is almost a right of passage for us New Yorkers. Many have been, remembering little – because either the time was spent enjoying the local Tequila or sitting on a beach.
Visiting Mexico in 2014 is far different than what you may have experienced in the past, and even if it was a positive experience, it is worth taking another look at the country beyond it’s sun and sand.
This past month, I had the opportunity to join a dozen or so fellow luxury travel consultants, a handful of the amazing team at Travel & Leisure Magazine (which you should all be reading!) and some of the fantastic folks at the Mexico Tourism Board on an adventure to Mexico.
To share some of the highlights, we kicked off our week with a “tough day of work” spent at sea. Chartering a sleek brand new speed boat from Van Dutch (no, not the hats) to Isla Mujeres, a tiny island about 35 minutes by boat from Cancun. The island is easily navigated by golf cart or for the active traveler, by bike. Most of us opted to hop off the boat and onto a lounge at the beach club and stop right there. Zuma Beach Club, is the “spot” with plush beach beds, massage chairs (because every beach should have massage chairs), and of course one of the 20 top chefs of Mexico serving up only the best in local flavors.
I will skip the detail on the day of meetings and presentations (although they were secretly a little highlight of mine), and jump to the visit to Ek Balam. Take a 2 hour drive north of Cancun (en route to Merida) and stop at Ek Balam, Mayan Ruins only discovered 14 years ago (it’s huge, but completely missed until recently).
After your refreshing walk up to the top of the ruins (about 15 minutes up tiny steep steps) for your photo op, and interesting walk down, take a mountain bike to one of the incredible Cenotes well known to the area for a swim. Your choice to dive, tarzan swing, zipline, or just plain old tip toe until you are “ready” to jump into the Cenote.
Next stop, we drove through the small town of Temozon, known for their meats and stop in Vallodalid, which is actually the 3rd largest town in the Yucatan. Vallodalid is rich with culture and color (literally, the houses are painted in bright colors). Children performing local music on the street, couples strolling and shopping, and the smell of fresh vegetables and delicious sauces. We ate at a local spot which was fantastic and it wasn’t only because they had wifi. The food was so good! My dish, the Papatules with eggs and a pumpkin seed sauce is something I have not had, and coming from New York City, we all have the attitude of “oh well I have that at home”. Well, we don’t and if we do, it is just better here. After lunch, we sampled Xtabentun (pronounced ishtabentoon), which is a local liquor (made from Anise Seed and fermented honey), and were on our way.
After sadly leaving the group, I not so sadly checked into one of my favorite new “hot” hotels, Nizuc. Another reason to visit Mexico, Nizuc is sleek, sexy, and has the wow factor quality. I can write pages about the hotel, but I will just keep it simple. Nizuc is a 29 acre property just 15 minutes from the Cancun Airport. Rooms are spacious, and most offer sea views and private plunge pools. The food is fantastic, and people are wonderful. Nizuc, among some of the other amazing luxury properties in the area such as Rosewood and Banyan Tree are reason enough to visit the area.
My eyes are now open to the real Mexico, where you can enjoy the sun and sand, but really “feel” the destination.