Think Cancun is only for college kids? Its upscale, all-inclusive resorts can also make for a perfect boomer getaway.
It’s easy to discount Cancun as only a spring break destination for wild college students and to forget the gorgeous beach that made Cancun Mexico’s most successful resort area.
The drive from the airport is quick and easy, although passing hotel after hotel on the city’s main drag is somewhat reminiscent of driving along Miami’s Collins Avenue. The line of resorts also reminded us a bit of Las Vegas—a unique mix of neon and noise. But once we walked through the front doors of Secrets The Vine Cancun we were transported to an oasis of calm.
A Christmas break in Cancun
Fairly well-traveled boomers, my husband and I hadn’t been to an all-inclusive resort since we visited Cub Med almost 25 years ago. But after several recent family vacations with our young grandchildren, we were ready for some grown-up time.
We decided Europe would be too cold and Asia too far away for a relaxing Christmas break. The beach sounded perfect and when a friend and her husband suggested the four of us head to Secrets The Vine in easily accessible Cancun, it was a go.
While reclining in one of the lounge chairs that sits immersed in a few inches of water at the edge of one of the many pools, I realized that I had fallen in love with the resort and the way I felt pampered.
The unexpected surprises of our stay
Secrets The Vine surprises guests with its contemporary high-rise structure rather than the lush gardens and low-rise villas I’ve always associated with the Caribbean Sea. Lofty ceilings and a crisp and clean decor extend from the lobby to the guest rooms creating a feeling of space and calm.
The large airy indoor spaces are subtlety divided by different types of seating and the vast outdoor pool area overlooking the beach uses slight changes in elevation to define multiple pools and lounging areas. The resort never feels crowded: There’s always a place to be alone and plenty of common areas for meeting new friends. Everything feels fresh, clean and well thought out.
Staff (and guests) were unfailingly friendly and polite. A high staff to guest ratio—and an obvious emphasis on thorough training and supervision—ensure you are well cared for. Just the right level of staff enthusiasm encourages you to engage in games and workout activities but also allows you to say no thanks and continue reading your novel without feeling guilty. The Pevonia Spa had a range of enticing treatments available, including a fish pedicure, all housed in a spectacular facility.
Special amenities appreciated by boomers
A highly international clientele added a touch of sophistication for this baby boomer, who places a high value on being “worldly.” Yet the atmosphere is as casual as is the dress. Everyone, staff and guests, seem interested in starting up a conversation and in a mid-day water aerobics class I even met a woman who went to my elementary school! Ages were varied enough that I felt neither too old nor too young but rather delightfully age-appropriate.
The hotel offers a preferred status concierge level for a moderate additional charge (about $50 per room per night). We opted in as I’ve never lost my longing to be part of a ‘special’ group. Our room on a high floor was a mini- suite that included plenty of storage, a complementary fully stocked mini-bar, a multi-head shower, bathrobes and slippers, and a spacious balcony with views of both the sea and the bay.
The room included a butler who immediately brought us our choice of bottled wine on ice, a special concierge to help in any way possible, and a preferred class lounge with a full bar and tempting small plates from breakfast foods through post dinner desserts. Also included is a pool designated for use only for those who opt for the upgrade. Secrets would have been wonderful without our special status; in fact, we preferred the liveliness of the general pool area, but being able to opt into an exclusive club was wonderfully decadent and at a price we could afford.
There was food, food and more food but without the crowded buffets and long lines of mass-market cruises we had sworn off. This haven for food lovers allowed us to sample different restaurants each night without the pressure of needing reservations or having to make transportation arrangements.
Access to all the specialty restaurants was included in the price of our room. From Peruvian to Italian to Asian cuisine as well as American and Mexican offerings, the food was uniformly excellent as was the service. There was often live music at dinner and the saxophone player that serenaded us in the Italian restaurant melted my heart.
Despite the open seating policy, waits for a table were unusual and very brief. It hardly mattered because there was always comfortable seating nearby with drinks close at hand. Drinks are also included–and not the watered down version of Club Med days but top shelf brands as well as a wonderful selection of wines and beers. A great Starbucks-like specialty coffee bar was always open and room service was always available.
Although I had been here before, I had forgotten just how startlingly beautiful the beach in Cancun was and still is. The warm turquoise waters and wide white sand beach made for a great daily walk and change from poolside lounging.
And at Secrets The Vine, we found a place that felt like it was designed for us, one that would be easy for us to return to again. Next Christmas in Cancun, anyone?
* Our friend and colleague, Linda Rosenberg is a prominent healthcare architect and advocate who is President and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health and resides in Washington, DC.
Previously on More Time to Travel: Secrets The Vine: All-adult, all-inclusive, all-luxury fun in the Caribbean.