¡Olé! I replaced my sun-deprived winter blues with Caribbean blues at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, Cancun.
This decidedly upscale resort ticked all my requisite boxes: beachfront, full-service spa, a nice range of dining options, and easy access.
Sited fewer than 30 minutes from Cancun’s international airport, the 602-suite hotel fronts on Cancun’s most secluded strand. Exit the beach side of the atrium-style lobby, and find the prize: clear, inviting, turquoise waters lapping white sands. The hotel’s lagoon-style (think elongated Rorschach-blot) pool ebbs and flows along nearly the full length of the hotel’s waterfront, offering swim-up bars, islands, water features, and waterfalls. Sun-soaked and palm-tree-shaded lounging areas frame the pool, and there’s a restaurant sandwiched between the pool and the beach.
The resort is within steps of a supermarket, a Mexican crafts and chocolate store, and other diversions, but I didn’t venture out the front door. Nor did I take the ferry to Isla Mujeres, although the dock was within sight from the beach. During my all-too-brief stay, I barely ventured off the premises, letting the Grand Fiesta’s Super S Trio— sun, sand, and spa—work its magic.
How suite it is
Every room in the 12-story, all-suite Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, Cancun, faces the sea. Even the smallest, at 560 square feet, is generously sized and kitted out. Each has marble floors, spacious vanity areas with separate toilet and bath, bedroom (two doubles or one king) area with desk and TV, and a few steps down, a comfy living area. A wall of glass opens to a private balcony or terrace.
Splurge on a master suite, and luxuriate in 860 square feet of space, with double vanities, a Jacuzzi, and separate shower in the bathroom area, and a large terrace.
Join the club
I checked into one of the Grand Club junior suites, sited on the hotel’s top two floors. Club amenities include exclusive access to a VIP lounge (adults only) and family-friendly sundeck and beach areas. Also included are check-in/out service with a dedicated concierge, spa and waterfront perks, daily special activities, and light fare offered both beachside and in the lounge, from 7am to 9pm.
Each morning upon rising, I padded out to the balcony to sigh over those Caribbean views. Each evening before calling it a night, I’d return to my balcony for the calming vista over the illuminated pool to the inky sea beyond. In between, I whiled away the day nibbling and sipping, moving between beach and pool, and indulging in the spa’s hydrotherapy circuit.
For those who prefer to explore the area, the club concierge team makes it easy. I visited a traditional Mayan community for its Day of the Dead celebration with Alternatour. This outfitter offers eco-archaeological small-group expeditions that help encourage economic and social development in Mayan communities, while preserving the traditions and environment.
Immerse in the Gem Spa in the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, Cancun
Water water everywhere, or so it seems at the Gem Spa. I took full advantage of the two hydrotherapy rituals, included for Grand Club guests. Like Nordic spas, the Gem’s hydro ritual alternates hot and cold to relax and invigorate and open and close pores.
The best part: A spa attendant guides guests through the 10-part hydrotherapy circuit
The ritual progresses from aromatherapy steam room to cold multi-jetted shower; from clay steam room to ice room; dry sauna to cool rain shower; hot whirlpool to warm pool; polar plunge to a pebble walk through jetted water. The best part: A spa attendant guides guests through the 10-part hydrotherapy circuit, showing up when it’s time to move from one experience to the next, offering dry towels and cold or warm drinks.
All but the final experience, the sensation pool, take place within the respective men’s and women’s spa areas. The sexes converge in the truly grand sensation pool, where waterfall massages offer varying strengths of flow, and whirlpools and other water features work their wonders. By the end, I was well beyond al denté, wanting nothing more than to sleep on the beach, sheltered by an umbrella, and serenaded by waves.
Waterfront choices: sand, sea, sundeck
Thanks to my Grand Club status, I could do just that in two exclusive areas, the Grand Club Sundeck, just steps above the roped-off Grand Club Beach. Attendants offering towels, nibbles, and sips serviced both. A buffet area on the Grand Club Sundeck offered the same fare available in the VIP lounge, making it easy to slip away for a sunrise swim followed by breakfast, a light lunch on the beach, or a sunset cocktail. Also available: massage in a tiki hut.
The resort’s marina area, nicely separated from the Grand Club Beach and Sundeck, provides other temptations. These range from SUPS and kayaks to jet-skis and snorkeling and dive options. Grand Club guests receive complimentary use of non-motorized marina equipment throughout their stays. Also included: one half-hour use of a Wave Runner and a 30-percent discount off other motorized marine equipment.
Feasting at the Fiesta
Another plus of Grand Club status is priority dining reservations. The resort’s restaurants are perhaps the only incentive to refrain from the free nibbles offered all day.
Sure, you can order from the breakfast menu at Vina Del Mar, but first check out its huge buffet of Mexican and American fare, along with a few Asian options. It includes hot prepared and made-to-order foods, breakfast breads and pastries, a smoothie station, and Champagne; mimosas for everyone!
For lunch, I threw a wrap over my bathing suit and headed to Isla Contoy, a palapa (open-sided thatch-roofed hut) specializing in seafood sandwiched between pool and beach. At night it morphs into an internationally accented buffet.
No need to don a wrap to eat at the swim-up, poolside Bikini Bar.
The European bistro-style Coral Café serves pastries, sandwiches, pizzas, and salads for lunch and dinner. Head to the Lobby Bar for tapas, wine, and cocktails.
Of course, when in Mexico… While Mexican fare is available at many of the resort’s dining options, La Joya is dedicated to authentic and updated upscale Mexican fare: Think hibiscus flower tostadas, lobster crepes, turkey mole enchiladas, and duck magret. The only non-water facing dining venue makes up for its lack of a view with elaborate stained glass windows, musical video presentations screened on the walls, and a live mariachi band.
Exclusive and fine dining choices
For a more exclusive and fun experience, book The Table at La Joya, an eight-course, multi-sensual journey through the history, heritage, culture, and food of the Yucatan Peninsula. Guests sit around a custom-built-16-guest table, complete with volcanic mountains. Video mapping immerses guests in the lives, music, and art of eight historic periods, while they savor tasting portions representative of each and made with indigenous ingredients.
One does need to dress nicely for dinner at Le Basilic, the AAA five-diamond restaurant lead by Chef de Cuisine Mariana Alegria Garate, under the guidance of Paris-based Chef Henri Charvet. Despite tables set with white tablecloths and fine china, and a menu of classic French-Mediterranean cuisine, this venue is anything but stuffy. Note the contemporary art adorning the walls. While dining, guests can watch an artist create a work of art inspired by the evening.
Bring the family
Bring the kids and grands, the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, Cancun, welcomes all ages to the 50,000-square-foot Coral KidZ Club. It offers specialized programs and indoor and outdoor play zones for children ages 3-5 and 6-12.
Grand Club guests have unlimited free access to the club. This includes night camps, as well as one free, four-hour babysitting service for up to two children. The latter makes fine dining at La Basilic easy. In addition, Grand Club families have a private beach club area with the same amenities as the adults-only section, along with beach toys for toddlers and older kids.
What’s appealing to the over-50 luxury traveler?
- A full-service, upscale, beachfront resort
- Multiple dining venues, including an AAA Five Diamond restaurant
- A full-service spa with a water-therapy ritual
- The Grand Club hotel within a hotel with special activities and perks
- A supervised children’s program for the grands
- If planning to visit before Dec. 22, 2018, consider splurging on The Unlimited Experiences package, which includes all meals and beverages for Grand Club guests.
- A passport is required to travel to Mexico
Disclosure: The author was the guest of the Grand Fiesta American Coral Beach during her stay in Cancun, but as always, the opinions, reviews, and experiences are her own
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