Sipping coconut water straight from the source while wading around an infinity pool overlooking the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea, I thought to myself, “this is the life.” From the moment I opened the sleek wooden doors to my Club Ocean View guestroom, revealing a 409-sq.-ft. oasis bathed in blue and sand hues with modern furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows, I knew I had arrived. My destination: The 314-guestroom and -suite Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort, located a breezy 45-minute drive from Cancun International Airport (CUN). Though this wasn’t my first time to the area, it was my first experience at a Grand Hyatt property, which promises locally inspired design, superior service, and top-notch accommodations set before a backdrop of dramatic architecture.
Pick Your Paradise
It’s your client’s vacation, so make sure they know there are 13 room categories to choose from suitable for families—think connecting rooms—and couples alike. By upgrading to the Grand Club level, guests receive private check-in and check-out, concierge service, and access to a private lounge where continental breakfast and hors d’oeuvres are served daily. Suite guests also receive Grand Club lounge entry.
Score brownie points for recommending the south wing of the property, which faces The Royal Playa del Carmen hotel. The north side neighbors a beach club that plays music during the day and into the evening (wrapping up at 7 p.m.). Want to earn a gold star (i.e., referral and/or repeat business), suggest lunch at the nearby Frida Kahlo Restaurante on the shop-, bar- and restaurant-lined La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue).
Viva La Vida–Live Life
A colorful mural depicting the late artist in her signature flower crown stopped me in my tracks before entering the open-air Frida Kahlo Restaurante, where the dining venue’s general manager Juan Ayllon welcomed me like a familiar friend. “[At the restaurant,] we want to take care of the flavors of Mexican food and its ingredients.” The whimsical chain, laden with recreations of Kahlo’s famous works, opened less than two years ago and features an eclectic menu of appetizers, salads, soups, main dishes and desserts. Joining our meal was chef Stephania, who says the restaurant’s refreshed menu offers a minimalist view without the small portions. Using a mortar and pestle, a waiter ground a spicy green-and-red tomato sauce with onions, garlic and chilies to accompany my chips and piña para la niña appetizer—a take on tacos al pastor served on pineapple rather than tortillas—while Juan and Stephania recommended more items for me to try, including sauteed grasshoppers.
After lunch, I headed downstairs to the recently opened Museo Frida Kahlo for a private tour chronicling Kahlo’s tumultuous life. The moving tribute features family photos, love letters from Diego Rivera, and an interactive portrayal of Kahlo’s famous accident where guests experience the ordeal as though they were passengers on the bus using headphones as well as realistic and abstract graphic displays. My tour ended in front of an enlarged photo of Frida Kahlo’s last painting “Viva La Vida,” a still life with watermelons celebrating life and all of its complexities.
A Grand Exit
With just one day left to make the most out of our time at the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort, I had a difficult time choosing what activity to participate in. A deep yoga or aquaforza fitness class ($30 each), more culinary delights at the onsite La Cocina oceanfront restaurant and bar, a stroll down El Paseo, the hotel’s “extension” of La Quinta Avenida, for sushi and ice cream, or maybe a custom tailored therapeutic treatment at the Cenote Spa, made to resemble the sacred wells the Mayas believed to be a portal to the underworld. I recommend all four, and for the kids, time at Camp Hyatt Tortuguita (ages 4-12) or the #hashtag Teen Arcade complete with ping-pong table, bowling, theater and board games.
Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen: