The all-inclusive-dotted beaches of Cancun and Cabo are drawing as many revelers as ever, but Mexico is simultaneously shedding its spring-break reputation with a bevy of ultra-luxurious hotels in its cosmopolitan capital and on both coasts — and two of those resorts snagged Mexico’s first-ever Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards. These glamorous properties are welcoming luxury seekers with a constant stream of new perks (think outdoor cooking classes using produce from an onsite garden at Five-Star Rosewood Mayakoba, or swinging beachfront daybeds at Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, Mexico) and world-class hospitality.
Crystalline waters and private villas aside, the one thing you’ll find at every Star-Rated hotel in Mexico is a palpable sense of south-of-the-border place. Our top properties continue to raise the bar on locally inspired luxury; Rosewood Mayakoba and Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita weave uniquely Mexican designs and activities into their Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit paradises.
“Rosewood Mayakoba provides a complete experience,” says the resort’s managing director Daniel Scott. “Guests have opportunities to experience the indigenous culture while simultaneously indulging in a luxurious getaway. The resort offers programs for guests to immerse themselves in local traditions, without compromising comfort.”
Scott cites Rosewood’s recently introduced Sense of Taste program and outdoor dining concept, La Ceiba Garden & Kitchen, as prime examples. With A Sense of Taste, guests learn traditional Maya cooking techniques from La Ceiba’s executive chef and then enjoy a family-style meal under the stars. Expect to prepare such entrées as pork-shoulder cochinita pibil cooked in the restaurant’s underground oven. “These two additions bring sustainability and authenticity to the forefront of our guests’ experience at Rosewood Mayakoba,” Scott says.
On the opposite coast, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita also recognizes the lure of only-in-Mexico experiences. “Our resort brings to life the region’s history, land and traditions, with unique experiences led by our dedicated cultural concierge,” says general manager John O’Sullivan. In-house cultural concierge Enrique Alejos is available for Spanish lessons, stargazing, art walks and other immersive activities for guests interested in learning about the area. For a quintessential taste of Mexico, Four Seasons’ Ultimate Tequila Tour will take you from Punta Mita to the Jose Cuervo distillery in Tequila, via helicopter, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour and private tasting with live music, a gourmet meal and two custom-blended bottles to take home.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba, a Four-Star hotel nestled in the same Playa-del-Carmen-area development as Rosewood, also marries local history with modern luxury, while incorporating the brand’s Thai origins with its signature restaurant, Saffron. For a meal that draws from the Yucatan, the resort offers private breakfast or dinner service on its trajinera, or traditional Mexican dining boat, as it sails through Mayakoba’s canals and mangroves.
St. Regis, which opened its first Mexico hotels in 2008 and 2009 (with a Riviera Maya location to follow in 2016), also imbues its Punta Mita and Mexico City locations with local flair. At Four-Star The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, guest rooms are tiled with handcrafted squares from the town of Saltillo, and natural materials include Mexican Galarza stone, marble, onyx, wood and clay. The St. Regis Mexico City, a Four-Star skyscraper designed by Cesar Pelli of Petronas Towers fame, fills guest rooms with bold pops of green and purple, as well as onyx mosaics, as a nod to Mexico’s rich history of artistry.
Rounding out Forbes Travel Guide’s Mexico City award winners are Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F., which earned a Four-Star distinction, and Las Alcobas, a 35-room Recommended boutique property. The former celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014 by embarking on a yearlong renovation of its 240 rooms and suites, lobby, bar and meeting rooms, and will introduce a bakeshop, a men’s barbershop and two new restaurants in 2015. Las Alcobas’ intimate size and attention to detail — when you arrive in your room, you’ll see a lineup of local soaps, each crafted from Mexican plants, flowers and seeds thought to heal — signal a stellar boutique hotel, while its two restaurants and Aurora Spa offer the amenities of a larger property. It joined Starwood’s Luxury Collection on March 1, 2015.
Spas are another area where Star-Rated hotels are turning to Mexico’s indigenous culture to provide a unique experience. At Las Alcobas’ Aurora Spa, therapists hand-mix oils using traditional ingredients such as coffee and tepezchouite, a tree bark long attributed with medicinal properties. Mexico’s two Four-Star spas impress us with their use of native bounty: Banyan Tree Spa Mayakoba added a locally sourced melipona honey treatment to the brand’s typical array of Asian-inspired services, while Sense, A Rosewood Spa at Mayakoba recently introduced Mayan Healing Hands options to its menu, harnessing customary wellness elements (including a shaman consultation) of the ancient civilization. At Four Seasons’ Mexico City and Punta Mita hotels, treatments unique to the properties include a signature Mexican massage using a rebozo shawl and a Punta Mita massage featuring tequila and sage oil.
Mexico’s slate of authentically luxurious properties is only expected to grow — The Ritz-Carlton is planning a Reserve-branded opening in Los Cabos, where a JW Marriott will also debut in 2015; One&Only Resorts just announced plans for two new Pacific Coast resorts near Puerto Vallarta. Forbes Travel Guide’s introduction of rated properties around the country only enhances the buzz.
“Rosewood Mayakoba is honored and humbled to be recognized by Forbes Travel Guide with a Five-Star award,” Scott says. “This prestigious accolade affirms the hard work our dedicated team devotes to making the experience an unforgettable one for all our guests.” Or as O’Sullivan puts it, Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita is “honored to be recognized among the elite resorts of the world.”