Hotels & restaurants across Mexico tempt your clients with unique offerings, both
on the culinary front and via new immersive experiences.
F&B Offerings at New & Revamped Hotels
Let’s start with a newly refreshed hotel—the 201-room Playacar Palace has reopened after a $14 million complete transformation. There were upgrades to all guestrooms—think new decor, modern furnishings and other top-of-the-line amenities—front desk, lounges and restaurants. With a focus on the latter, Frank Corzo, v.p. of U.S. field sales for Palace Resorts, says, “They say do not judge a book by its cover, so we’ve upgraded our culinary standards at Playacar Palace—from new restaurants and menus, which have been completely revamped featuring delicious pastries from Antonio Bachour, there’s something for even the pickiest eater.”
The Playa del Carmen resort’s main restaurant, Cafe del Mar, now features a cold show cooking area that allows guests to see the artistic plating-style of each dish as it receives its final touch before making it to the table. At the newly opened Bocelli, guests can opt for certified Angus beef accompanied by pasta created by in-house chefs; and at the popular Momo, there’s a new menu featuring such items as maki sushi, special sushi cakes and temaki. Dinner in fab venues is accompanied by stays in the Walk Out suites, which now feature a private terrace, and entry is keyless via a wave of guest wristbands.
At the new, 480-room Krystal Grand Nuevo Vallarta, guests can indulge in Mexican specialties at El Mortero, dine on traditional Italian cuisine at Risotto, and take a detour to the East, if only figuratively, while dining at Ayami, serving Oriental-style dishes. There’s also a rooftop sky lounge, three pool areas, and an array of room categories, including the Deluxe Suites with swim-up pools, for them to enjoy.
Culinary getaways are eating a big part of the tourism pie, so hotels from Los Cabos to San Luis are putting the spotlight on gastronomy with new excursions and enhanced menus. Take the new Argentinian steak house, La Bodega, which just opened its doors at Fiesta Americana Villas Cancun; it offers top-of-the-line cuts and a magnificent wine selection. On the other side of Mexico, the Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive & Spa has a chef’s table experience with the Pacific Ocean as its backdrop that your clients can reserve for private occasions; here, they can enjoy culinary demonstrations and have their pick between T-bone steaks and fresh lobster.
Playa Hotels & Resorts properties across Mexico are implementing the ever-popular street food—whether it be at a station, a buffet, or even a stand by the pool, guests can choose from ramen, BeaverTails snacks, and tacos. The food stands rotate and change what they are serving and where they are every day.
At bohemian Hotel El Ganzo, San Jose del Cabo’s hip artistic haven, there’s a new chef in the house who’s revamped the menus and is creating a gastronomy that mixes the flavors of Spanish and French cooking with Mexican cuisine. They are said to be as “eye-catching as they are flavorful.” The menus were developed to give each restaurant a distinctive personality: The Downstairs is a bistro-style restaurant and the Rooftop only serves seafood, sushi and ceviche since it is an ode to the sea, which surrounds the rooftop in all angles. The Container serves Mexican specialty and an insider told us that the fish tacos are a must.
Your clients can top off all of that delicious cuisine with mescal, which guests of Conrad San Luis Potosi can experience on the hotel’s trip to a local mescal distillery. There, guests can learn all about the agave, and buy exclusive bottles that can’t be purchased anywhere else. Ok, the smoky spirit isn’t for everyone, but it’s a good bet your clients will love the hotel’s excursion to El Atrio, where the menu is curated around recipes so authentic that cooking times are measured by reciting Hail Mary’s.
Or, if they really want to keep their strict food regimen while on vacation, at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya the biggest culinary push is the Fresh Fix menu, which is a healthier culinary experience that puts the highlight on unique flavors and natural ingredients—think a refreshing soup or not-so-sinful desserts.
Then there are those clients who want to try it all, and then some. Tell those headed to Los Cabos that Hacienda Encantada, located along Millionaire’s Row and overlooking the Sea of Cortez, offers a Hacienda Dine Out Privileges Plan that includes an a la carte fine dining and beverage experience at any of the onsite restaurants and bars; a dine-out all-inclusive plan at select restaurants in the Golden Zone at the Cabo San Lucas Marina; free shuttle to the Golden Zone and downtown; full bar service at resort pools; 24-hour concierge service and exclusive access and discounts at the resort’s Holistic Spa with a temazcal and meditation area, among other offerings. There are also onsite cooking classes with local chefs and tequila tastings, during which guests can make their own mescal.
Hang Out Like a Local
As more and more of your clients wander throughout the world, the more they grow curious of how locals live, eat and breathe. UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya has taken this “live like a local” concept to new heights with offsite excursions that tap into the surrounding culture. The new excursions include the Mayan Village & Tankeh Cenote, which has guests swimming, canoeing, taking in the sights and getting a taste of the local culinary offerings. The 5.5-hour Muyil Archeological Ruins excursion takes visitors to one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Maya sites, Muyil; there are visits to lagoons, a hike in the jungle and a relaxing float down an old Mayan channel river.
Says travel consultant Kim Goldstein, “For clients who want a nice mix of local immersive experiences, along with the relaxing lifestyle of an all-inclusive resort, I’m sending them to UNICO 20°87°. There are so many options with a great balance of relaxation and experiencing the destination, all included in the package price.”
Local immersion is also top of mind at Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive Adults Only, which offers a guided 7-hour Las Caletas Beach Hideaway tour aboard a catamaran cruise along the south coast of the bay. Guests can go kayaking, snorkeling and standup paddleboarding. The resort’s 6-hour Marietas Eco Discovery tour, meanwhile, allows travelers the opportunity to learn about the ecological diversity of the Marietas Islands while they go snorkeling, kayaking and swimming through the caverns and the islands’ famous arch.
Another La Coleccion Resorts by Fiesta Americana property, The Explorean Kohunlich, is offering a new roster of experiences that provides a peek into the local culture and spurs the economic development of local communities. A visit to the Rio Bec Artesanal Workshop, for example, has local artisans showing visitors their sustainable practice of working with native wood while also keeping their forest green. Visitors get a chance to sand and wax the different types of wood into final products, and to buy pieces from the local craftsmen. The second stop of the tour takes guests on an exploration into the world of Meliponas, an ancient species of stingless bees that the Mayas traditionally have used for honey and medicine. Here, visitors learn about the bees, there’s a tasting session, and guests are given a jar of the honey. And at the Neek Ich Che community, your clients will try and make their own handicrafts out of seeds from regional trees.
There’s also the opportunity to go on a 3.7-mile bike ride to a community in Calakmul, Campeche, during which guests explore the community’s reforestation efforts, have a locally sourced organic breakfast, and then head on a 1-mile walk to learn about the area’s flora and fauna, the local legends and the process of extracting gum from trees.
Conrad San Luis Potosi: conradhotels3.hilton.com/en/index.html
Hacienda Encantada: haciendaencantada.com
Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya: hrhrivieramaya.com
Hotel El Ganzo: elganzo.com
Krystal Grand Nuevo Vallarta: krystal-hotels.com
La Coleccion Resorts by Fiesta Americana: lacoleccionresorts.com
Playa Hotels & Resorts: playaresorts.com
Playacar Palace: palaceresorts.com
UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya: unicohotelrivieramaya.com
What Your Peers are Whispering in Their Clients’ Ears
Travel consultant Kim Goldstein told us that “travelers visiting Mexico want to experience the vibrant culture and see the history.” She recommends “going to the Mayan ruins to learn about the past,” and says the “eco parks are always extremely popular because not only can you experience some unique water activities, but you can learn about the culture and traditions with some of the entertainment that is provided.” She also says not to leave Riviera Maya without “visiting the town of Playa del Carmen; it’s a must do.” So we asked her where she sends clients who want to go off-the-beaten path: “If someone wants to go off the grid for the day, a great place to visit is Isla Holbox, which is just a few hours from Riviera Maya. It’s a quaint little town with unspoiled beaches and sparkling blue water. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the wild flamingoes or whale sharks.”
We’ve got the 4-1-1 on local eats in a few of Mexico’s hotspots.
• Becco Al Mare, one of the city’s finest restaurants, is a favorite of celebrities, and offers spectacular views of the Acapulco Bay.
• For Thai-Mex fusion cuisine, recommend Zibu.
• At La Perla at El Mirador Hotel, visitors can opt for a 3-course lunch or dinner and take in all the action of La Quebrada, the cliff from where the famous Acapulco divers jump.
• Sushi lovers should head to Yamamoto, Cancun’s oldest Japanese restaurant.
• Offering a European-influenced menu, the alfresco La Fonda del Zancudo is set in the ruins of an old house.
• La Habichuela, serving seafood and Mexican specialties, is one of the city’s most iconic restaurants, and its open-air garden is the place to dine.
• The intimate, family-run Restaurante Gaby’s serves authentic Mexican food and the chef is on a mission to bring back lost Vallarta dishes.
• Taco tours by Vallarta Food Tours are a must, as visitors can walk or bike to the city- center, hang out with locals and taste typical street food.
• Gaviotas at Sheraton Buganvilias is creating innovative Mexican dishes such as sopa de piedra, which is cooked using hot stones, or opt for the 5-course Chef’s Table.
• El Hongo in Playa del Carmen is so much more than a pet-friendly restaurant—it’s
full of great food, drinks, and music. There are also free workshops for kids like painting and handicrafts.
• Opened just a year ago, StrEAT Park in Playa del Carmen is a truck park with five food trucks featuring Mexican gastronomy; there are live bands and a DJ.
• In Tulum, the Argentinian steakhouse La Estancia Jujeña serves breakfast, lunch and dinner made the traditional way.