I recently ran into three beauties while visiting Cancun. One was a young, carefree thing sporting a hip vibe; another had a more timeless air, embracing classic Mexican traditions; and the third, well she was certainly the grande dame of the trio, a fabulous fixture of Cancun’s society. Let me introduce you to them: Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun, Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun, and Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun, respectively.
These three properties are part of La Coleccion Resorts by Fiesta Americana, and, as Rafael Lizarraga, Posadas’ Chief Commercial Officer, mentioned to me in an interview for Recommend’s 50th Anniversary issue (May 2017), this collection was born “to show the warmth of the Mexican service; our nature; the culture we have here in Mexico.” That’s the common thread running through La Coleccion properties, but the similarities end there. Each of the aforementioned properties is completely unique from the other, and not just because Live Aqua is adults-only, or Fiesta Americana Condesa is family-friendly, or because Coral Beach has one of the best beach spots in Cancun. Each offers a world unto itself, tucked away into its own ambiance and as such each caters to a different clientele.
Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun
I walked into my oceanfront suite at this all-inclusive, 371-room and gasped when I saw the beautiful recreation of the Recommend logo that decorated my bed. I looked closely and noticed that the design was made out of dyed rice—perfectly crafted, not a grain out of place. Later that evening, while dining at one of the property’s many restaurants, MB, with the resort’s general manager Alfredo Santamaria, I got the scoop on how these designs came about and are created—no, stencils aren’t used; it’s all done meticulously by hand. I asked Santamaria what, besides these fabulous rice creations, makes this property stand out in the long list of hotels that line Cancun’s beachfront. He said, “This property awakens the senses—you walk in and your sense of smell captures the aromatherapy scent; then you hear the sound, with different music playing in different parts of the resort; then the visual, with views of the garden and the ocean. The taste buds are awakened by the resort’s gastronomy, with dishes that are unique to the hotel, including the crema de habanero soup,” which we were sipping while having this conversation. “Touch,” he said, “comes when you experience the spa.”
The accommodations capture all five senses—spacious, with a minimalist-style and an in-room menu for when guests want an aromatherapy scent to waft through the air. My Aqua Suite—there are 36 suites of different configurations—was so utterly inviting, it was hard for me to tear myself away, but I did so to experience the oceanfront cabana that comes complimentary with suite accommodations. It was then hard to tear myself away from my cabana—make sure to sample the complimentary foot massage—but the laid-back Sea Corner restaurant, with ocean views and perfect-for-lunch shrimp tacos was calling my name (the following day, I had to try the pear & gorgonzola cheese pizza at poolside Varenna). My fave restaurant, though? Hands down, Hidden Garden, offering an Asian menu. Tucked away into a fairy tale setting, with mood lighting and shrouded in greenery, it’s the ideal place for a twosome dinner.
Because of its decor, the Hidden Garden space is also used for morning yoga and stretch classes. Speaking of wellness, do recommend clients slip away to the resort’s Feel Harmony Spa, with its spa attendant-guided hydrotherapy ritual. Our 80-minute Caviar Deluxe Facial was nothing short of exquisite.
While enjoying the resort’s myriad amenities, I bumped into a guest who’s been to the resort 11 times, and I asked him why so many visits. “The biggest attraction is the staff,” he said. “The other reasons are the incredible service, the location, the spa environment. I spent 20 years in hotel management, so I know the business and am very particular.” Rates for a Deluxe Ocean View are $335 pp per night in high season.
Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun
Over at this all-inclusive, family-friendly, 576-room and 26-suite oceanfront resort, which has undergone extensive renovations, it’s a different party altogether. During our tour of the property, the resort’s sales director, Israel Ortiz, noted, “We try to go above and beyond with the Mexican folkloric touches.” There’s even a life-size traditional Mexican doll in the lobby that guests are encouraged to take a selfie with. The Mexican style can be felt throughout—from the Mexican movies being screened outside the El Mexicano restaurant (the resort has nine restaurants), to the El Cielito cantina featuring posters paying homage to the country’s famed sport, lucha libre. Dining at El Mexicano is a must, but for lunch, recommend La Panaderia, with its typical Mexican antojitos. “This property is a Mexican icon,” said Ortiz. “We offer a range of Mexican activities, too,” he noted, “including margarita-making classes, making typical handicrafts with the kids, and by the pool El Santo [one of lucha libre’s most famous wrestlers] hands out ice cream to the kids. It’s the unexpected things.” Rates for a Premium Ocean View are $235 pp per night in high season.
Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun
Speaking of the unexpected, after visiting Live Aqua and Condesa, I didn’t know what type of property I would walk into at Coral Beach. It, too, was a completely different setting from the others, with a grand lobby that welcomed me with ornate statues and extravagant flower arrangements. This oceanfront resort offers 602 all-suite accommodations, each with a private terrace facing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. “We have always been a bit of a star for our hotel company,” said the director of public relations Erika Mitzunaga while we walked the resort’s stately halls. “And it’s our location that is the main selling point.” Those properties that staked their claim on the beachfront first, she noted, “got the best spots, and we’ve been here 26 years.” The resort faces Isla Mujeres, “so the water is very calm,” she added. The hotel is also in the heart of Cancun, with easy access to its restaurants and nightlife.
Mitzunaga showed me the hotel’s beautiful French restaurant Le Basilic—one of only seven restaurants in the country to be bestowed five diamonds by AAA—but it was the new goings-on at La Joya, with its haute Mexican cuisine, that really took my breath away. The restaurant has just launched a video mapping experience that will take diners through the history of Mexico’s Yucatan region, starting from the dinosaur age, all accompanied by a singular menu. “Diners are going to be able to savor the destination’s history,” said Mitzunaga.
Something else that blew me away at Coral Beach Cancun? Its Gem Spa, one of just two spas in Cancun to be garnered four stars by Forbes. Each treatment begins with a 10-step, spa attendant-guided hydrotherapy ritual. I spent a half-day at the spa enjoying this ritual, which includes dry and wet saunas, a cold room, jacuzzis of varying degrees and a wet rock trail for massaging the feet. You think it’s over and then the attendant guides you to the Pool of Sensations for relieving muscular tensions—and then guests receive their treatment. I had a Thai spa therapist provide me with the Traditional Thai Massage, and it was one of the best massages this writer has ever experienced. EP rates for a Jr. Suite Ocean View in low season are $231, plus 19 percent tax and a $25 resort fee per night per suite. With one visit to Cancun, I had experienced a trio of delights at three very distinct properties.
La Coleccion Resorts: lacoleccionresorts.com