Planning a vacation to a new place can be extremely nerve-racking because of the uncertainty that things will not turn out as expected. My stay in Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico (the tourism district on the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula) was booked at an all-inclusive (AI) resort on account of what coastal tourism in this part of the country is famous for large-scale hotels that include food and drinks. Having never stayed at an AI before I quickly found out that the pictures of pretty, clean, waterfront rooms posted online are not always included. In my case, the room had a potent sewage smell. I would also like to point out those looking for a cultural experience will feel obligated and limited to make use of the amenities inside the resort instead of exploring the local areas.
Frustrated and disappointed that this was going to be my home for the next week I took a walk on Mamitas Beach to clear my head. As if this day couldn’t get any worse, the beach was also covered in mounds of seaweed. (Backstory – a few months ago inclement weather brought seaweed to Riviera Maya’s beaches; Mexican authorities just announced they will spend $9.1 million to hire clean-up workers. Please keep this in mind if you are planning a trip to Mexico anytime soon.) Though my frustrations escalated, I forced myself to at least appreciate the warm weather and time off.
I continued to make my way down the beach when I suddenly found myself seduced by a modern hotel mysteriously elevated by what looked like an infinity pool. Mesmerized by such a grand compound I curiously walked up the back entrance only to be stopped by a security guard that wanted to know if I was a hotel guest. I abruptly asked him with my Spanish II vocabulary, ‘¿Cuál es el nombre de este hotel?’ and the guard answered me with “The Grand Hyatt.” Realizing this as a window of opportunity to make my vacation “right,” by 12:00 PM the next day I was checking into the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort. The resort is the first branded Grand Hyatt in all of Mexico and one of the few developments here to ditch the AI concept. Having just opened this summer, the brand new resort was designed by a Mexican architecture group called Sordo Madaleno.
I have never stayed at a hotel created to be this “one with nature.” Built on the side of a hill the entire structure is divided into three building blocks of open-air architecture. The first block is a connection between the street and hotel that leads up to the elevated lobby, second block is surrounded by four-story hotel rooms and a natural wildlife sanctuary, while the third block is considered the “heart” of the hotel with access to entertainment and the ocean. Swim-up pools from first-level terraces overlook the sacred mangrove jungle that was built from a series of studies to protect the surrounding natural area. This architecture group is known to focus on environmental impact which is why this became my favorite part of the hotel’s history.
The pool area was an absolute wonder featuring comfortable contemporary lounge furniture, a full-service bar and restaurant, and magnificent views of the ocean. There is a delectable selection of food around the hotel. La Cocina, The Grill at 1-26, and El Paseo (walkway with a juice bar, coffee bar, raw seafood bar, and taco stand) are inspired by indigenous flavors and ingredients. Chef Nadine Waechter Moreno created a gastronomic experience that puts an emphasis on healthy eating throughout all the menus. The produce is also sourced seasonally from local farms. The rooms are spacious with expansive terraces overlooking the Caribbean coast. Whether guests book a suite or room they enjoy floor to ceiling windows, double sink bathrooms with dedicated vanity areas, spacious closets, free wifi, and a Nespresso machine, making the stay all the more worth it.
I believe that when you are traveling abroad you should always stay in a place that gives you a strong connection with the country’s culture. The Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort became the perfect solution for me as someone who wanted to experience the culture while being in an accommodating and relaxing establishment that takes good care of its guests. I strongly encourage you to visit this new gem before the rest of the world finds out about it.
Credits: Styling by Ana Prodanovich