Imagine stepping off of the plane at Cancun International Airport and about 20 minutes later sipping premium mezcal in a newly-minted infinity pool just steps from the aquamarine-colored Caribbean Sea. This can be your reality soon with the arrival of Waldorf Astoria Cancun.
Debuting in early November, the Cancun getaway elevates the destination’s appeal to tastemakers and jet setters as the first Waldorf Astoria — Hilton’s premium hotel brand — to open in Mexico’s Quintana Roo region and the second in the country (the first is Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal).
“As a brand, we’re coming back strong in Mexico,” says George Stanfield, managing director at Waldorf Astoria Cancun and the adjacent Hilton Cancun, an All-Inclusive Resort. Within a two-year span, Hilton will have five new hotels in Mexico, including Conrad Punta de Mita, Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya and this crown jewel opening next month. “And we’ve recruited some of the best in hospitality to open Waldorf Astoria Cancun.”
After walking through the immense wooden doors of the hotel, you’re greeted with a statuesque art deco clock — a Waldorf Astoria lobby signature. Interiors in public spaces and rooms reflect the calming hues of the sand and sea. Natural materials, like fiber and wood, frame ocean-themed light fixtures, like jellyfish chandeliers, and pieces sourced mainly from Mexican craftspeople and artists. The lobby opens up to the outdoor lounge, dotted with fire pits, overlooking the water.
In case you want to simply plunk down, unplug and unwind, the 173-room luxury hotel provides all the touchpoints necessary across its 100 acres for a blissful vacation, including three restaurants, a full-service spa with a pool, two infinity pools (and two pool bars) and a private beach.
We got a sneak peek at the new Waldorf Astoria Cancun, and here’s everything you need to know:
“We are a full-on beach experience,” Stanfield says. “All rooms face the Caribbean Sea.” Not only will you have a guaranteed ocean view, but all rooms include an outdoor water feature. First-floor rooms have plunge pools, and accommodations on floors two to six come with a soaking pool on the balcony — one of our favorite amenities at the Cancun hotel.
The sleek, functional and modern décor feels like something out of Architectural Digest. There’s a focus on bringing the outdoors in with floor-to-ceiling windows and expansive balconies. Amenities include a Nespresso machine and products from Vervan — an all-natural Mexican skincare line — in the shower and bathroom.
The category of adjacent rooms with one secure entrance will appeal to families or groups. For the best vistas, book a westward-facing corner room. “It feels like you’re literally on top of the water,” Stanfield says.
The dazzling raw bar that greets you upon entering the hotel’s Malpeque restaurant makes it clear that you’re in for an unforgettable meal. The fine-dining outfit celebrates locally sourced seafood, such as Caribbean lobster or baked Baja sea scallops prepared in a chipotle vermouth sauce.
“As chefs, it’s our job to preserve the planet,” says Waldorf Astoria Cancun’s executive chef Stuart Roger, formerly of One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos Resort. “That’s why our goal in the kitchen is sustainability, sourcing from right here.”
Head to the laid-back JA’O — inspired by Mexican cantina cooking — for local favorites. Plus, its agave spirit selection impresses; it goes beyond tequila and includes sotol and raicilla. Opt for all-day brasserie Chaya, where the black truffle croque monsieur will blow your mind. Peacock Alley channels the energy of New York City’s Waldorf Astoria bar and feels like a scene in a James Bond flick — Cancun style. Don’t miss the sunflower seed hummus topped with caviar for an excellent cocktail-hour nosh. “I could eat a kilo of it,” says chef Roger about his favorite bar menu item.
Incorporating both innovation and Mayan cultural traditions, Waldorf Astoria Cancun Spa offers ancient knowledge in a modern setting for the restoration of mind, body and soul. Mayan-influenced treatments by a local shaman include the Yaxche (“Tree of Life”) Journey, the Sacred Ceiba Ritual and energetic healing with stones and crystals, such as the Obsidian Mirror or Amethyst Ritual.
Of course, standard massages and facials are available, too; the Haute Custom Beauty skincare line is utilized for facials and Knesko during ritual treatments. To fully enjoy that balmy, tropical breeze, opt for one of the outdoor treatment rooms.
Waldorf Astoria Cancun guests can receive all-inclusive day passes to enjoy the unlimited fun next door at sister property Hilton Cancun, just a five-minute walk away. For an additional fee, depending on your party size and what you’d like to access, passes can grant you all the amenities of a Hilton Cancun guest, such as complimentary childcare at the fantastic kids club; a water playground for little ones — complete with a giant bucket that dumps water from the sky every few minutes; food and beverages at any bar, restaurant or ice cream parlor; and even entertainment, such as themed musical theater at night and poolside games during the day. All passes include golf cart transport to and from Hilton Cancun.