CANCUN -- Cancun and the Riviera Maya will see an infusion of upscale properties open in the next few years, including some well-known luxury flags.
The lobby of the Waldorf Astoria Cancun: Old World glamour meets modern day luxury. Photo Credit: Meagan Drillinger
I recently paid a visit to one of the latest to open its doors: the 173-room Waldorf Astoria Cancun, which debuted in November. I was a guest of the property earlier this year, a welcome respite after a weekslong stretch of travel.
I was greeted with soaring ceilings, rich furnishings and an opulent chandelier in the Waldorf's elegant lobby. It's that 1920s glamour that has become synonymous with Waldorf Astoria, but with a decidedly strong beach vibe thanks to the glimpse of the Caribbean Sea through the windows.
Those who are familiar with the Waldorf Astoria Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas will recognize the same attention to detail and white glove service but with ease and comfort that is still very much fitting for a laid-back beach destination like Cancun.
Another standout experience for me was the spa. A posh playground of wellness, the sprawling, 21-cabin spa exudes tranquility, surrounded by thick tropical foliage and rimmed with groves of bamboo. I snuggled into one of the bamboo nests in the sand-colored relaxation area and awaited my treatment: the 100-minute Melipona Honey Ritual.
The experience uses honey from the Melipona beecheii, a stingless bee species specific to Yucatan. The honey of the bee is believed to have medicinal properties; it was used by the Mayan people to strengthen the immune system and heal wounds. The treatment begins with an exfoliation with honey, followed by a honey wrap, and finishes with a full body massage and a face mask with the Melipona honey.
It left my skin feeling soft and sweet-smelling, my muscles relaxed and my memory completely washed of the previous days of travel.
All of the Waldorf Astoria Cancun's 173 rooms face the Caribbean Sea. Photo Credit: Meagan Drillinger
I highly recommend that spa guests spend time at the outdoor relaxation pool area before or following their treatment. The whirlpools and massage jets are sublime, and the entire outdoor area is quiet and beautifully designed.
The long stretch of white-sand beach outside the Waldorf is the stuff Cancun dreams are made of. But if you're more of a pool person like me, the infinity pool deck is shrouded in tropical foliage, creating different areas of privacy all around. Be sure to have lunch at the pool bar -- the fish tacos in particular are worth writing home about. And glance out your windows at night to see the pool area all lit up.
The fish tacos at the hotel's Pool Bar are a must on the lunch menu. Photo Credit: Meagan Drillinger
I stayed in a Deluxe Ocean Front King Bed Guestroom, which was perfectly lovely with a stellar view, but I would recommend guests book something with a little more character. The Swim Up rooms, in particular, are something special, and the Ocean Front Swim Up Master Corner Suites are spectacular.
The restaurant, Malpeque, takes its creative direction from open fire, and all of its dishes feature some element of char, smoke or flame. It's safe to say my dinner there was one of the best meals I've had in Cancun in a very long time; an outside table overlooking the pool deck and the Caribbean and a bottle of red wine took the evening to another level. Recommendations? You can't go wrong with a nice cut of steak or some fresh seafood.
But perhaps the best part about the Waldorf Astoria Cancun for a road warrior like me? It's less than a half-hour from the Cancun airport, a real selling point these days as road construction is causing severe highway delays in the area.