Arriving at Cancun International Airport on a cloudy Monday afternoon, it didn’t take long for someone to ask if I’ve been to Cancun before. It is a fairly standard and harmless question, but also one that I feared would expose me as a former spring breaker who only sees the popular Mexican destination for its nightlife. So, with a slight smile I replied vaguely, “It’s been a while.”
I was excited to visit Cancun after all these years and with a clean slate of expectations. Long ago, I was content with a pillow and space on the floor. Now, though, I expect a lot more from a vacation (and certainly myself) and I was eager to experience the new VIP program at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, known simply as Ú.
More specifically, Ú is for a unique experience that will redefine your expectations for Cancun. Here are five aspects of Grand Fiesta Americana’s Ú that delivered a vacation I won’t soon forget.
The Program is Extremely Personal
Something that sets Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach apart from other Cancun resorts is that it isn’t all-inclusive, and that’s also what makes the added perks of Ú advantageous for guests. From the moment you enter the lobby, Ú is all about you, from a private reception with a glass of champagne to a ten-minute reflexology massage in the award-winning Gem Spa. The concierge provides a tour of the facilities, including everything that comes with the Ú program.
The oceanfront suites feature large seating areas, long terraces and bathrooms as big as most regular hotel rooms. The personal touches continue throughout the stay with extensive attention from the entire hotel staff, including the robe and slippers waiting by your king-size bed.
A Sensational Spa Experience
Walking into the resort’s Gem Spa felt like entering a science fiction movie’s spaceship. It is serene beyond expectations, with the running waters of the Pool of Sensations serving as a soothing soundtrack. Treatments begin with the 10-step hydrotherapy ritual, which must be experienced even if you prefer to find your peace and quiet on the beach. Moving from hot to cold rooms in 10-minute intervals was a little shocking, but in a good way. I felt invigorated and refreshed, positively prepared for the Mayan God ritual I’d scheduled.
My goal for my Gem Spa treatment was to experience the impossible — complete relaxation in a high-anxiety body — and so I chose a package that included a full-body scrub and wrap, in addition to a massage, and lasted approximately two hours. Needless to say, the treatment was exceptional and removed every last thought from my brain. (Unfortunately, I do not think that it turned me into a Mayan god, but I suppose time will tell.)
Creativity and authenticity are on full display throughout this resort’s dining establishments.
Le Basilic, one of only four AAA five-diamond restaurants in Cancun, raises the bar. The combination of the romantic setting and Chef Henri Charvet’s French Mediterranean cuisine are enough to deliver on the hype of this restaurant, but watching local artist León Alva create a painting as you dine takes the experience to another level.
The Table at La Joya blends art and food with a history lesson on a giant interactive table (hence the name), and I’m not sure I’ve ever had an eight-course meal, let alone finished one. Learning the basic history of the Yucatan Peninsula — from the prehistoric era to the rise and fall of the Mayan civilization and beyond — through local food and drinks was a delight, even if it left me a bit sluggish. And the best aperitif I’ve ever had was the pre-meal tequila tasting, at which the resident expert reaffirmed my longstanding belief that no one should ever put reposado in a margarita.
Usually a resort’s buffet wouldn’t bear mentioning, but Viña Del Mar’s champagne breakfast was phenomenal. From the fresh green juice to the Chichén Itzá-sized plate of chilequiles, I may plan my return trip solely for this daily spread.
Almost everything about the Ú experience is catered to adults, but do not mistake this as an adults-only experience. One of the most impressive aspects of this entire resort is the Coral KidZ Club, which will keep your children happy and busy whenever they aren’t enjoying the beach or the resort’s massive pools. In fact, upon seeing this area, I uttered a familiar phrase of astonishment: “Where was this when I was a kid?”
Kids of all ages will find myriad entertainment possibilities here, from a classic supermarket play set to video game stations equipped with Xbox consoles and educational games (the staff took great care in picking PG titles). Head further into the KidZ Club and you’ll find a dressing room, packed with costumes and wigs, that leads out to a stage where your children can be stars for a day. The next room looks like the set of Top Chef, as young guests can take cooking classes where they’ll learn how to make delicious baked goods.
Stepping back outside, you’ll find the pièce de résistance — a playground and water park, highlighted by a huge brontosaurus skeleton. And should your child grow tired of all of these activities, the KidZ Club staff will take them right back to the beach through the club’s exclusive gate. They’ve truly thought of everything.
Beyond food and relaxation, the Ú package is loaded with amenities for active guests. Work off those incredible meals at the resort’s fitness center, or schedule your appointment for the sunrise yoga classes on Wednesdays and Sundays (they’re suitable for any skill level). Take to the water on paddleboards or wave-runners in the morning and enjoy 50 percent off a yacht rental during the afternoon. All of this is included with Ú.
Additionally, each guest receives a round-trip ferry ticket to Isla Mujeres for a day of shopping, exploring and even more dining. Although that would mean leaving the resort, which is truly difficult considering all that Ú offers.