Cancún is not just for spring breakers and tequila shots. Experience some of the best beaches in Mexico in a more refined setting at Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach. Don’t worry, you can still have your shots of tequila, but as part of an extensive tequila tasting at La Joya, the traditional Mexican restaurant on property.
Where to Stay
The “zona hotelera” in Cancún is lined with a cornucopia of hotels, like the Strip in Las Vegas or South Beach Miami. For the most secluded beach in Cancún, expansive suites and gracious service, stay at Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach. Every one of the 602 suites has a balcony with an oceanfront view. Upgrade to the top two Grand Club floors for VIP treatment and access to the Grand Fiesta Lounge Club, which serves continental breakfast, snacks throughout the day, and hors d’oeuvres every evening. You’ll also have a special space on the beach with extra comforts and amenities.
Where to Spa
The 40,000 square-foot Gem Spa will take your breath away with its magnificent Italian mosaics, sand marble, and black granite. Before your treatment, detoxify your body with varying temperatures and water pressures in a ten-step hydrotherapy ritual. You begin with a soothing eucalyptus aromatherapy steam room, followed by a cold shower, clay steam room, relaxing rain shower, invigorating polar pool, pebble water walkway and more. The alternating hot and cold therapies help improve your skin tone and circulation, but towards the end I felt a little like I was in army boot camp. After the Jacuzzi, I was dreading the freezing plunge pool, but a friendly spa attendant gently coaxed me in. My favorite step was the clay steam room, where I rubbed a detoxifying herbal clay all over my body.
The hydrotherapy is complimentary when booking any other treatment, which is a great value. After you are all warmed up, meet your therapist for a full-body massage, customized precisely to your pressure specifications. When you awake from your blissful treatment, the reverie doesn’t end. You’ll be guided to the relaxation lounge with a warm neck pillow and blanket to keep you company.
Where to Dine
Le Basilic, the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach’s premier fine dining experience, is a hidden gem of traditional French gastronomy. The grand dining room with black and white marble checkerboard floor is matched by formal yet friendly service punctuated by elegant piano chords, lyrical arrangements of familiar pop music, from Alicia Keys to OneRepublic by a talented piano player. There’s a reason this is one of just seven restaurants in all of Mexico to receive the AAA five diamond award; the food, service, and ambiance live up to the accolades. If you’ve worked up an appetite and prefer to leave the menu in the chef’s hands, opt for the extravagant degustation menu that begins with an unforgettable foie gras chocolate bonbon spiked with a shot of tequila and rolled in crushed cashews – an entirely original melding of French and Mexican ingredients. Stand out dishes on the a la carte menu include piquillo peppers stuffed with king crab and herb-crusted lamb with white bean ragout. As might be expected with haute French cuisine, sauces are perfection. Each entrée has its own sauce, prepared à la minute and poured tableside precisely to your liking.
Just across the lobby, La Joya offers a louder, more convivial and authentically Mexican dining experience, with a tequila tasting bar and restaurant rolled into one and live mariachi music each evening. Try local delicacies like cactus salad, Caribbean lobster pozole and grouper marinated with Guajillo chili, sour orange, and annatto seed. Coffee drinkers will enjoy the subtly sweet Mexican coffee, mixed with cinnamon and steeped in dried oranges and peaches.
Venture out of the hotel strip into town one evening for a contemporary Mexican meal with Chef Cristian Morales. The Argentinean chef has made Mexico home and invites you into his house (literally, he lives upstairs) where there are just four tables on his main floor dining room. Chef Morales greets you at the door and his passion for cooking is obvious in each dish, from a divine corn and cacao soup and octopus carpaccio to huitlacoche ravioli and sweet and spicy moles. End your meal with a macaron – Morales also has a macaron shop in Playa del Carmen.
What to Do
The swim-up bars and shady cabanas make it all too easy to spend an entire day lounging by the pool. You can enjoy a languid day between beach and pool since the ocean is just steps away. For more sportive types, head to the marina to take a WaveRunner for a wild ride or try your hand at kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.
When you start to get restless, discover the tiny island you can see on in the distance – Isla Mujeres. Take a 30-minute ferry there and explore the entire island in just one day by golf cart. The ferry stops right next door to the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach (you can see the pier from your terrace) so it couldn’t be more convenient.
For such a small island, Isla Mujeres has tons to do. Get in the water by swimming with dolphins or visiting the underwater museum. You can also zip-line or play with sea turtles at the turtle farm and conservation. Hydrate yourself with cold, fresh coconut water and search for fun street food options of which there are plenty. I had some of the best guacamole I’ve ever tasted at a roadside taco stand and purchased elote-flavored ice cream for just 10 pesos from an abuelita selling housemade ice cream right out of her living room!
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