I have a thing or three for Mexico. I love the food, the people and let’s face it: God was pretty inspired when it created it as it really is quite pleasant to the eye. Very pleasant indeed. We have ventured further inland before and fell madly in love with Campeche and its collection of luxury boutique hotels but this time around, I wanted to see the sea – and enjoy a fabulous girls ‘very very long weekend’ (read 6 days) with my BFF Trudi.
What you don’t know (or could know) is that Trudi now lives in New Zealand – and that we found that the stunning Nizuc Resort & Spa, located very close to Cancun, but a world away from its crowds, can technically be located between London and Auckland. Technically.
To get to Nizuc, I flew American Airlines from London to Cancun, with a stopover in Miami (and you can read the review here). Trudi flew from Auckland to Cancun, via Houston with United (it is a relatively new flight) and we landed within 30 mins of each other. My journey was around 13 hours whilst hers was around 17, but the flight Gods really had our backs and it really was meant to be. Worth noting that our return flight times also coincided brilliantly.
I am not using the word Cancun ‘a lot’ – because if I close my eyes, Cancun is not the place I would like to go to. And Nizuc is located probably 15 minutes from the edge of Cancun – and it is wonderful. So getting there is very easy as it has great air connections and the transfer to the hotel is very quick. I promise I will not disappoint you.
To say the hotel wowed us from the first minute, it would be an understatement. The hotel was absolutely gorgeous – beautifully designed with the most amazing decor. My love for beautiful hotels is well documented, but I have to say, this was something else.
In terms of layout, there is a central area, where you will find the reception, beach and pool and the main restaurants. Next to it, you will find the villas and suites, also as low-rise buildings. And further away, you will find 4 larger blocks with a mix of room types, and with a butler on call. You can walk there or be driven by buggy (a service that worked very well throughout our stay).
Impeccably designed – and with service to match. We were really impressed since the moment we walked in.
The hotel is geared towards couples and families and most bedrooms have king-sized beds. Despite how close Trudi and I are, we do not share beds, so we forewent the offer of a beautiful suite with a pool, and settled for a standard deluxe room with 2 queen beds with ocean views.
The room was located at the Tsalam tower and at the end of the resort – closer to the mangroves and the Italian restaurant, where we had dinner on the first and last nights.
The room was super spacious and very well-appointed – absolutely no complaints. In terms of sharing, I loved the fact that the wardrobes were located inside the bathroom, so if someone had a shower, they could also get ready – and the other could have the room without having to move. Obviously in a couple scenario this wouldn’t matter so much, but it was excellent to have this.
I loved the bathroom and the whole set up. What I loved even more were the new L’Occitane Mer & Mistral toiletries (I love L’Occitane but couldn’t help think sometimes that the ‘French Provence’ toiletries were not ideal in some locations from a positioning and placement point of view. Well, this range did not only smell amazing, but it also had new bottle tops which means you do not have to unscrew the top every time you use a bottle. A small thing – but oh so clever.
Also worth noting that the hotel offered an all-natural insect repellant (which made its way back to the UK, I will confess). Smelled amazing and, most importantly, did what it was supposed to do.
During our 6 days at Nizuc, we had 1 day of rain, but we also had 4 gorgeous days (we visited in February 2016). And what did we do? We went to the beach as much as we could.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words and I will let the photos do all the talking. Worth noting that some beach and pool areas are adults only or suitable for families and it worked very well. You have a multitude of options – I counted 3 pools (but you could also have your own private one in your room or villa) and 2 different beach areas.
The hotel also has various activities organised for guest and having re-started to do yoga, and not being so bad on a SUP board, I was very intrigued by the SUP Yoga class, which is free of charge and limited in numbers (you have to reserve a spot).
I have to say, I surprised myself – I wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t easy, and I did fall a lot (but there was a guy in the class who fell a LOT more so I didn’t look so bad). The teacher was fantastic and I honestly wished this class was offered every day. It was amazing.
Breakfast was absolutely fantastic at the hotel – and offered a perfect mix of Mexican, Continental and American. And we were always the last ones at 10.45am… except that we weren’t. Everyone was relaxing and really enjoying there time there. And waking up late (the bars may have had something do to with it – more on that later).
The breakfast was full every day and we were pleasantly surprised with how well they coped with the service.
For lunch, there was always poolside and beach side dining, but our favourite was the Peruvian restaurant. Ceviche and the like really works as beach food and we may have even indulged in a Pisco Sour. Lunch was around $50 per person, including a cocktail.
For dinner, in all honesty, I had planned to have 1 dinner at the hotel and go outside and explore – but after our first night experience, we cancelled any plans and spent each night exploring a different restaurant. From a modern Mexican fine dining experience, to a steakhouse and seafood grill, to a fabulous Asian and a more casual Italian, I cannot fault the food. It was fantastic – and for some reason I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t know why.
Dinner prices varied, of course, but it would be on the $75-150 range per person including wine and a pre-dinner cocktail for us. I also discovered a fantastic wine (an Alvarino from Spain called Paco & Lola, which is now everywhere in Spain and in very select places in the UK – and every time I have it, I think of Nizuc. If you haven’t tried it, do!)
Well well well. We kind of adored the drinks at Nizuc. We loved the main bar, not only in terms of design, but also the wonderful setting. The hotel seriously is one of the best designed I have ever seen and we really felt at home.
The gin selection was very very limited and basic – so instead we decided to try quite a few of the different margaritas – from the classic, to something spicier. It was quite fun.
We also had a lovely shoot with Flytographer, as you can see over the next photos. But let’s get back to the drinks.
We really went out of our way to blend in and embrace the culture – and after some good recommendations from the bar team, we found out we really liked tequila. Good sipping tequila. I still don’t know anything about this spirit, but after this experience, I am actually very keen to learn more. We did particularly like the one with the ceramic bottle (which retailed at $150 a bottle at the airport) – oops. Cocktails started at $15 each.
On only one occasion were we able to enjoy a spa treatment. Why? Because it was always fully booked. I did find it pricey (a 50-minute massage would be around $250/300 – more in line with USA prices, which I understand is one of the target audiences of the hotel, but we were not in the USA, so I felt it was a bit too much).
Worth noting that the spa is ESPA’s first spa in Central America and you did get more than the normal spa experience. You had your own spa attendant who guided you through a circuit which included giving you some body scrub and then some time in the steam room (for maximum results!), a very cold water shower, thalassotherapy pools and then, at the end of the massage, a relaxing warm bed, with some lotions and potions in your face. That is easily worth $50, which obviously is reflected in the treatment cost.
On a rainy day, we did get out to Cancun to do some shopping (the Fashion Island mall isn’t bad at all, with a mix of quirky boutiques and international luxury brands), and yes, we saw Cancun in daylight and well, it really isn’t my cup of tea.
We also asked the hotel to organise a proper day out for us, so we could see some of the sights. Our driver and our guide picked us up in a big mamma SUV and off we went to the ancient ruins of Tulum. We went in the morning before it got crowded and it really made for a pleasant experience.
Tulum is located around 90 minutes to 2 hours away from the hotel, down the Riviera Maya coast. I had not visited the area in over 18 years.
But our favourite part of the day was, without a doubt, our visit to Tankah, which is a private reserve which you can visit if you pre-book. This part of Mexico is known for its cenotes, or natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock, which has revealed a secret subterranean world of groundwater pools. We knew we wanted to see one – but the problem is that everyone else does, and these have become over-commercialised in places. But at Tankah, private groups can pre-book and you will not see a soul.
There is a circuit, so to speak, which includes, zip lining for example (which I found myself doing and when I realised, it was too late), canoeing, swimming and then a visit to the village and lunch. By coordinating each arrival, everyone is moved (but not rushed) to the next step and we truly never saw anyone (and knew they were at capacity).
And to immortalise the trip, we booked a session with Flytographer and it was the best thing we ever did. This was one of our favourite shoots – it really captured our moods (we were so happy to be together) AND the stunning hotel scenery.
I have to be honest. I LOVED this hotel – and everything about it. The staff were so friendly, the hotel was stunning, the food was delicious and we may have enjoyed the bar a little bit too much. I can’t fault it. I would go back in a heartbeat and Mr. O would be my next companion. As for a girls trip, we could have not picked a better place. Who knew Nizuc could be the halfway point between the UK and New Zealand?
Disclaimer and Fact Box: We were guests of Nizuc Resort & Spa, and you may really guess that I really loved it. I really really did. Rooms start at $450 per night, including breakfast for two.
I flew to Cancun via Miami with American Airlines at a cost of £2,200 return. A 30-minute Flytographer costs $250 and worth every penny. Our 1-day private tour to Tulum and Tankah was organised by the hotel’s in-house DMC, Maritur, and costs $200 per person, including lunch.