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Dear Mexico, With Love, Gina

February 17, 2020

It’s no secret that I adore Mexico, the Caribbean coast in particular. Maybe I’m partial to the eastern side because of the Caribbean sea and, well, direct flights into Cancun via JFK and Newark don’t hurt either. While, I’m hoping the direct flights return to Cabo and to Puerto Vallarta from JFK, I can’t deny the Pacific side is also very attractive. Both ends are shaking up the hotel scene. Mexico is where it’s happening. It does have a bad rep, but being from New York, I can tell you, you have to be careful pretty much anywhere you go. Be a smart traveler and don’t scratch Mexico off of your list. If you do a google search for the hottest, new beach resorts, you’ll land yourself staring at countless pictures and websites of properties in Mexico. From resorts adding complimentary spa treatments and hotels with gourmet restaurants, up to par with the best of the best in New York and Paris, to cutting edge technology and architecture that will zap you into the future, Mexico has a wide range of options and it’s continuing to push the boundaries. 

I traveled to Cabo with my husband, then boyfriend, several years ago. We found $1 tacos being made by a little old lady in town. They were so good that we made a trip back two more times that week. That brings me to good food! Mexico will tempt and spoil your taste buds. More recently, we were lucky enough to eat at the first Michelin Star restaurant in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Every bit of the 9 course tasting menu created by famed chef Carlos Gaytán, was not only delicious but a piece of art on a plate. When you hear Nobu, you probably will think of the renowned Asian-fusion restaurant located in some of the hottest cities all over the world, attracting celebrity names, trendy crowds in a sleek, sexy atmosphere. The new Nobu Los Cabos is bringing all this and more to the tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. It is sure to satisfy the toughest of critics with its famous dishes. The hotel chain is also opening a farm-to-table concept from a popular spot in Malibu. The on-site garden provides a number of fresh ingredients for the hotel’s restaurants and bars. Can you say “fresh to death”!? Grand Velas Riviera Maya will change your mind about the all-inclusive experience. An all-inclusive, 5-star resort with gourmet food, YES, they really do exist! The Chaka menu features a variety of international delights, specialty coffees, international wines, mouthwatering desserts and entrees, that are natural and healthy. 

Mexico is also one of the destinations to celebrate the LGBTQ community. This vibrant, gorgeous country definitely shouldn’t be off-limits for gay travelers, especially with the upswing in LGBTQ rights in Mexico. The Almar Resort located in Puerto Vallarta in specific, offers an upscale, adult-only experience for everyone in the community to gather without any labels or stereotypes. Mexico also recognizes and celebrates marriage between a man and a man, and between two women. A great spot for those seeking a destination wedding. The Hard Rock hotels openly invite gay travelers and host beautiful, same sex weddings. For some serenity during your stay, the sister property, Heaven is an adults-only hotel right next door. Playa Del Carmen is a vibrant destination and hot spot for the LGBTQ community. The  friendly destination host many gay bars, hotels and clubs.

We all like to look at pretty things and, well, design and architecture in Mexico is not lacking in that department. The Chileno Bay Resort uses indoor-outdoor living to create a California vibe in the Baja California. Each luxurious room accommodation features amenities like outdoor showers, private terraces and deep soaking tubs with custom hand-made tile accent walls and marble flooring. You’ll never want to leave your room! A few months back, I visited Unico 20°87°. The exteriors, designed by Mexican architecture firm Artigas and interiors by design firm AvroKo basically had Instagram in mind when creating this masterpiece with it’s beautiful backdrops. The property utilizes materials from the surrounding region with natural finishes, think, stone, wood, sisal rope, handcrafted pieces and art by local artisans. It was one of my favorite hotel stays and it is always on my list of recommendations for the area. The Andaz Mayakoba’s structures were also designed by an acclaimed architect. Ronald Zürcher created a contemporary, timeless resort with the wow-factor. It seems like he took a page out of 50-Shades of Grey with its sexy, masculine vibe. I couldn’t possibly end off without mentioning The Viceroy Los Cabos. The brand new resort is something you would picture in a sci-fi movie. The designer in me, is having an OMG MOMENT. The hotel screams drama, loud and clear! The aesthetic for the resort created by one of Mexico’s preeminent architects, Miguel Angel Aragonés and designer Al Arquitectura de Interiores, is sleek, cutting edge and minimalistic. That’s saying nothing of the chic rooftop club that opened last year.

Speaking of clubs, Mexico is home to one-of-a-kind nightlife, pool parties and nightclubs. Whether you’re hitting up infamous COCO Bongo on the strip or chilling at the rooftop of The Cape, a Thompson hotel, there is always a good time to be had. The Cape is home to the only rooftop lounge and a separate beer garden fueled by award-winning mixologist Osvaldo Vazquez and live DJ sessions. Another lively hotel that attracts a fun crowd is Breathless Rivera Cancun. The hotel publishes a live calendar to keep guests informed of the upcoming parties and events, from DJ Pool parties to Black light pool parties! The Live Aqua in Playa del Carmen is a boutique property right above the fun on famous 5th avenue. Guests of the resort, enjoy preferential rates at two of the most popular beach clubs in the area which host some of the world’s hottest music festivals. Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas has taken their stellar production abroad and Mexico makes the list of destinations! Insomniac Events is known for throwing some truly spectacular music festivals, and their EDC edition in Mexico City is not be missed! Ultra Mexico is a 2-day event boasting the world’s top EDM DJs. Arena Festival promises an unforgettable week, with a stellar artist lineup for this world-class house music event. The dance parties are endless. Mark your calendars!

Another reason I adore Mexico, they are kings of the “suite life” as I like to say. Mexico is offering room accommodations that you won’t find anywhere else. I recently stepped out onto the balcony of my suite and dove right into a lake surrounded by waterfalls and jungle at the most out of the box hotel, Xcaret. I felt like I was in an exotic place like Bali minus the lengthy flight. Cheileno Bay Resort in Los Cabos and the Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen have celebrity style villas with multiple bedrooms, private pools, chefs, butlers and all the good things we should all have on a vacation. What do you do if you have a large family or a big group? Kick up your group travel a notch with the two and three bedroom suites at the Villa La Estancia in Nuevo Vallarta. Perched at the top of this luxury resort and over 4,316 square feet is their Presidential suite with jaw dropping ocean views, three large bedrooms, four large bathrooms, a kitchen complete with everything one could need to prepare a gourmet meal and spacious living room. Not to mention, state-of-the-art outdoor grill, jacuzzi and a tremendous terrace. If extra space is needed, the Nizuc in Cancun, offers 274 luxurious suites and private villas, the majority include private plunge pools. No need to leave your room, seriously, everything is at your fingertips! Over-water-bungalows are the epitome of a luxurious vacation. We have all fawned over pictures of those dreamy bungalows perched over the water. Once only available by 20 hours of traveling is now located right in the Caribbean Sea of Mexico. El Dorado Maroma is not only located on one of the best beaches in the area but the over-water bungalows are equipped with glass bottom floors, outdoor showers, private pools and the privacy and water views that we all imagine from these unreal accommodations. The Rosewood Mayakoba is set in an eco-complex near Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The overwater suites are what honeymoons are made of. You’ll want to spring for this room category where you have direct access to the lagoon from your terrace. Each of these overwater suites comes with a private plunge pool among many other 5-star amenities. 

While a 5-star vacation sounds absolutely perfect, our wallets may disagree. Mexico boosts some of the largest selection of all-inclusive hotels. If you’re on a budget, an all-inclusive is the best value. All you can eat, drink and play, included! Dreams Resorts are amongst some of the more affordable properties. Enjoy spacious rooms, countless pools and retsaurants and great service. The Riu properties, keep immaculate, lush grounds and have almost the most real-estate in the game. The hotels are typically 3.5 stars and offer great bang for the buck. From Cancun to Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City, you can almost find a Riu anywhere in Mexico, and they’re still expanding!  NOW Resorts are also on my go-to list for a budget-friendly trip. Great for families, couples and group travel, NOW Resorts do not disappoint. Opening soon is their second property, the NOW Natura after the great success of the NOW Jade. I traveled with my girlfriends when the NOW Jade first opened. The hotel delivered a fun stay for a girls’ getaway so I am very excited about the opening of the Now Natura. Tip: if you aren’t traveling with kids, the Preferred Club is worth the upgrade. The added services and amenities were a great touch. Plus, the peace and quiet did not hurt!

Speaking of the NOW Natura, like so many of you, I am always intrigued by something shiny and new, and Mexico is one of the fastest growing destinations. What is super exciting about the NOW Natura, is the design. The chain is going for a new vibe, rather than chic and modern, Now Natura is inspired by the surrounding Mayan jungle, bringing the outdoors inside. The much sought after Majestic Resort chain is a hot-spot in the Dominican Republic so there was no surprise that when the hotel opened in Mexico that it would draw crowds. The Nickelodeon hotel is another hotel in Punta Cana, DR making an appearance in Mexico. Opening soon this year, the family-friendly hotel will drench kids in slime and have them chasing after their favorite Nickelodeon characters. Le Blanc is an adult-only oasis in Los Cabos with unparalleled service, just like its sister property in Cancun. The hotel earns high scores in design, food and service. Atelier Playa Mujeres and The Haven Resort in Cancun, opened nearly at the same time just a few months back, pampering the adult-only guests in luxury. Big names like The Fairmont, Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons are also expanding and getting skin in the game.  I can promise you, it will not stop there.

There are so many reasons why Mexico’s tourism industry is booming and it does not look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. Enjoy amazing beach resorts, immerse yourself in the culture, take your foodie passion to the next level, find your inner wild child with an outdoor activity and dive into the country’s history. There’s much to see and experience so together let’s craft your perfect trip south of the border.

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