Nizuc Resort & Spa
Punta Nizuc, Cancun, Mexico
The Proposition: Cancun has a not-so-great reputation as the spring break party capital of the world, but Nizuc, located on 29 acres of beachfront property on a nearby stretch of the Yucatan Peninsula, feels worlds away. The 274-suite property (starting at $400/night) offers serious luxury, warm service, fine dining, and the kind of cliché ocean views you dream about.
From the moment you arrive at Nizuc, you know you’re in Mexico. It’s not the kitschy version of Mexico that you associate with sombreros and mariachi bands, but the kind of Mexican paradise that’s steeped in ancient tradition and local flavor.
The spacious suites are light and airy with whitewashed walls, touches of warm colors, and rustic wood accents. Doors lead out to a private terrace, and in some cases, your own private pool. Leave your room, and it’s the little touches that remind you where you are (not just the beach and blue water of the Gulf). The view of nearby mangroves, bowls of edible hibiscus flowers (a local specialty) on bars and counters, and warm service that starts with a hand on the heart and a small bow (a nod to an ancient Mayan tradition) are all distinctly Mexican.
There are plenty of opportunities to be active at Nizuc (snorkeling, tennis, and local excursions), but it’s relaxation where the property really excels. The ultra-luxurious spa, located on what was once a sacred Mayan site, combines European therapies with ancient healing rituals. If spas aren’t really your style, you’ll find a different type of relaxation at the Cuban-themed Havana lounge. Settle into one of the brown leather couches with a hand-rolled Cuban cigar and a glass of aged Caribbean rum, or head outside and watch the sunset from the canopied pavilion. (www.nizuc.com)
Do: Tour Ancient Ruins
The Yucatan Peninsula was once the center of the Mayan empire. The city of Chichén Itzá, with its stepped pyramids (arguably the most famous in Mexico) is only 2.5 hours from the resort, and the concierge can arrange a tour with excellent local guides.
Peruvian food in Mexico might seem a bit unexpected, but the on-property restaurant is absolutely worth a visit. There’s a whole section of the menu dedicated to super-fresh ceviches like lobster with coriander-spiced ginger aioli or shrimp and mango. Rustic duck and rice, spiced (yet again) with coriander is a must-order indulgence.