Posts Tagged ‘resort’

Exploring the Riviera Maya: Andaz Mayakoba, Mexico

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The Cenote-inspired lobby of the Andaz Mayakoba

I recently spent a few days at the brand new Andaz Mayakoba just north of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The chic beach resort, located within the Mayakoba Eco-Resort, opened in December 2016.

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Birds of Paradise in the Andaz Mayakoba Lobby

Located about 45 minutes from the Cancun International Airport (CUN), It’s the just the sort of spot on Mexico’s Riviera Maya that appeals to luxury travelers who want the golden sand of Caribbean beaches without the spring break vibe of a mega resort.

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One of the three pools at the Andaz Mayakoba

I was suprised to find that Cancun was only 4 1/2 hours from Los Angeles by plane, and my flight had tail winds and landed thirty minutes early. The user-friendly nature of Mayakoba makes the resort geographically desirable from both US coasts, since Miami is only 90 minutes away by plane.

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Colorful octopus mural by Senkoeat the Andaz Mayakoba

I was amazed by how well-oiled the resort Andaz Mayakoba ran after being open less than a month. The service was surprisingly seemless. We were the first guests to occupy our suite. The only “tell” I could find of the property’s newness was trying to find out how to adjust the fan in my suite’s bedroom. Matainance showed up and we figured it out together in less than a minute.

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Fun floaty toys at the Andaz Mayakoba

All the construction on the property was finished and there are a few murals that were not yet complete, but that also allowed guests to have a chance to spot Playa del Carmen-based street artist Senkoe on the property.

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Left: Pool side at the Andaz Mayakoba Right: Colorful patio furniture on the suite’s patio

Keeping with the clean, contemporary, and cool vibe of the Andaz brand, the Andaz Mayakoba also has some cool Mexican touches. There are some local snacks in the complementary mini-bar.

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The Mayakoba Resort is technically located in Playa del Carmen, but it’s a destination unto itself. Mayakoba features luxury hotels from Fairmont, Banyan Tree, and Rosewood and now the Andaz. It’s less than 15 minutes to the main drag of Playa del Carmen, but you won’t want for anything if you never leave the resort.

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Rainbow in paradise at Mayakoba 

Mayakoba also has a Greg Norman-designed golf course, El Camaleón, a tennis center, and a nature trail and bike path that connects all the individual hotel properties. This helps the resort feel big but not overwhelming. It’s not a mega-resort and it’s low profile makes it feel more connected to lush mangrove jungles and Mexican landscape.

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Ferry service at the Andaz Mayakoba Resort

There is even a ferry service connecting all the properties, making it easy for guests to stay at one property and dine at another. Complimentary bikes are available for guests to cruise from the Andaz to the any of the other Mayakoba properties. There is even a cenote, or water-filled sink hole, right on the Mayakoba property.

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Guest rooms at the Andaz Mayakoba

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In-room tequila set up at the Andaz Mayakoba

The rooms at the Andaz are contemporary Mexican chic with lots of light and colorful accents. Each building of the resort boast colorful bird murals painted by Senkoe.

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Interior of a bedroom at the Andaz Mayakoba

Our suite was spacious with a huge bedroom, walk in closet, bathroom, living room, two balconies and plunge pool.

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Mayan whimsical touches in the interior of the Andaz Mayakoba

I really like the laid back luxury of the Andaz brand. Service is top notch but not intrusive. The staff at the Andaz Mayakoba is very friendly. Jorge, who was in charge of taking care of us at the property, introduced himself to me as “your new best friend.”

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Another view of the Andaz suite living room

The Andaz has 214 guest rooms, 41 of which are suites. It is a family-friendly resort and has a kids club called Kimbo that hosts a killer movie night under the stars that adults are known to crash.

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Set up for movie night at Kimbo, the Andaz Mayakoba’s kids club

With three pools and generous stretch of white-sand beach, the resort doesn’t feel cramped. Of course there is also bright and airy spa with outdoor rooms that I did not have time to visit during my brief stay at the property.

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Margarita with lemon at OllaTaco

There are four restaurants on the Andaz property, with my favorites being the seafood-centric OllaCeviche. I was also delighted to lear that OllaTaco serves tacos for breakfast on extremely cute Mexican wrestler plates.

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Patron tequila at OllaCeviche

OllaCeviche also has a nice cocktail menu featuring Mezcal and tequila-based cocktails. It’s patio boasts a nice view of the beach.

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Chilaquiles + Mexican wrestler plates = win

Two days was not enough time to stress test all three pools and the beach. I did make a point of taking the nature hike and cenote tour, which is offered daily. It’s a cool way to check out one of the natural limestone sink holes and learn about their lore without too much effort.

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Left: a spicy Mezcal cocktail at OllaCeviche Right: broiled lobster tail for lunch

After spending a few days at the property my husband told me that he could “stay here a week.” This is high praise coming from a notoriously fical guest who usually gets sick of every property’s food after three days.

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Portrait of Jorge, my new best friend at the Andaz Mayakoba

One thing I especially liked about the Andaz Mayakoba experience was that while it had all the bells and whistles one needs in a Mexican luxury beach resort, it wasn’t isolated. You can easily head to a different hotel for lunch or dinner without requiring a taxi.

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The chapel interior in El Pueblito

The resort has El Pueblito, a small traditionally inspired Mexican village, complete with a cooking school, a church, art gallery, and a coffee shop that Jorge told me had the best coffee in the area. He was right!
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Left: exterior of the Chapel Right: a statue in the Chapel

The chapel hosts a Catholic mass on Sundays that is attended by guests as well as employees.

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Dappled light in the Mayakoba cenote

Two days wasn’t enough to fully explore all the Andaz has to offer and I’m certain I’ll be back soon to check out that spa. Room rates start at about $450.

ANDAZ MAYAKOBA RESORT RIVIERA MAYA

Carretera Federal Cancun-Playa Del Carmen Km. 298

Playa del Carmen-Solidaridad, Quintana Roo, Mexico, 77710

Tel: +52 984 1491234

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A Stay at Las Alamandas in Jalisco, Mexico

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My favorite hammock at Las Alamandas

I recently visited Mexico’s Costalgre for the first time, spending a few nights at Las Alamandas resort. Located about About 120 km south of Puerto Vallarta, getting to the resort takes more than 2 1/2 hours along a long, winding, and frequently bumpy road from the PVR airport. It’s clear from the moment you arrive that the best and worst thing about Las Alamandas is it’s remote location.

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The bougainvillea-filled courtyard

Located on 1,500 acres and with only 16 suites (which can accommodate up to 42 guests), Las Alamandas is incredibly private and the type of property that gets bought out for weddings and celebrations. Old press clippings in the hotel’s library feature images of Hollywood celebrities spending New Year’s Eve here. The hotel has also served as a backdrop for a bunch of catalog and photo shoots. Las Alamandas is also a favorite of honeymooners, again because of it’s privacy and tropical romantic charm.

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Left: colorful stairs Right: welcome drinks served in coconuts

Las Alamandas offers activities from horseback riding to kayaking to fishing. But it’s also a great place to do absolutely nothing. Wifi only works in the common areas, so it’s a great place to unplug and recharge.

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the gorgeous swimming pool

The resort is extremely private, which makes it clear why celebrities might like it so much. There is no way a paparazzi is going to be able to photograph you in an unflattering swimsuit on one of the property’s private beaches. The main stretch of beach, which my Domo Master suite was situated directly above, was experiencing unusually strong wave and current activity due to seismic activity in the Pacific. This was a bummer since it made the beach unusable, but the owner told my husband she had never seen the waves that large before.

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A cozy banquette at Las Alamandas

I stayed in the Domo Master Suite which was large, with a king sized bed, a living and dining area, an outdoor jacuzzi, and seating area. Only the bedroom had adequate air conditioning and fan coverage, so the rest of the indoor space was not all that usable. The patio was nice and used often, with a great hammock and comfy sitting area. The staff would deliver my morning coffee here and it was a very pleasant spot to gaze the Pacific ocean and wake up.

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The living room of our Ocean front master suite

The living room of the Domo Suite was large, but lack of good air-conditioning and a fan made it mostly wasted space.

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flower petals on the bed at Las Alamandas

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One of the daily gorgeous touches at Las Alamandas

The welcome greeting on the King-sized bed. The bed was not the most comfortable, but it was adequate. The bedroom had a fan and small air conditioning unit for when the breezes weren’t enough.

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The master bathroom featured dual sinks

The master bathroom had dual sinks and a fantastic shower which was large enough for two people and had ample water. It was hot during my stay so the outdoor jacuzzi never got used.

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Well-placed hammocks are abundant at Las Alamandas

My favorite amenity, a well-place hammock, is where Las Alamandas truly excels. I was happy spending the afternoon here with a book and a quick call to room service for a round of freshly made margaritas.

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Foosball in the gallery at Las Alamandas

The public spaces in the property are beautiful. There is a gallery complete with a foosball game. The only time I saw other guest was during meal times, hen eating breakfast and lunch at La Palapa restaurant or dinner at Oasis. For more about dining at Las Alamandas, check out my previous post, Mexican Food in GIFs: Dining at Las Alamandas here.

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The view from La Palapa restaurant at Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas was relaxing, rustic, and stylish. The staff was very nice and accommodating. It’s also for those who don’t mind privacy and a bit of a hassle to get there. If you want a bar scene, you’re better off staying in Puerto Vallarta. Las Alamandas’ remote location isn’t close to much of anything, so you should expect to stay on site for your visit (unless you’ve booked excursions through the hotel).

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Margarita with a view

My trip was booked through Suzy Xiu at Smartflyer. You can book directly through the hotel’s website and check out Las Alamandas special offers section here.

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Succulents near the beach

Las Alamandas is great choice for couples and families looking to get away from it all who don’t mind getting to the resort’s location. If you’re not a fan of bumpy roads, the hotel can book you a transfer to and from the Puerto Vallarta airport in a small Piper airplane.

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Left: Current warning sign during my stay Right: unusually strong waves 

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Lookout Point at Las Alamandas

Lookout point on the Las Alamandas property is great place to take in the sunset. The staff can also provide a picnic or cocktails to enjoy while you watch the sunset.

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The beach at Las Alamandas at dusk

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Killer sunset views along the Pacific

Las Alamandas could not be any prettier. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular property to buy out for weddings and other private events.

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If bumpy roads aren’t your thing, book the Piper!

Room rates at Las Alamandas start at about $260 per night.

Las Alamandas Resort
Carretera Federal 200 km 83.5
Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico

Toll Free US: 1888 882 9616
Toll Free Mexico: 1800 8366640
Tel 52 322 285 5500

​General Information: info@alamandas.com

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Mexican Food in GIFs: Dining at Las Alamandas Jalisco, Mexico

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The shrimp tacos became a daily must have at Las Alamandas

My recent trip to Mexico involved my first visit to Jalisco’s Costalegre, where my husband and I stayed at Las Alamandas. We’re both fans of good Mexican food and arrived hungry and ready to eat a late lunch at La Palapa Beach Club.

Shrimp Tacos

 Shrimp tacos GIF

We were quickly served our first round of excellent (and inexpensive) margaritas and were very surprised when we saw the menu and found very little Mexican food on it. Instead selections included dishes like Asian shrimp and pasta. Who comes to Mexico to eat Asian shrimp? We asked our waiter to speak to the chef and Head Chef Alejandro Morales quickly arrived to chat with us.

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Gazpacho GIF 

Chef Alex (as he’s called) was very friendly and had no problem letting us order off the menu. He prepared chicken enchiladas, shrimp tacos, and guacamole for us. He even honored my request for no raw onions and the dishes were all muy delicioso. We continued to order off the menu for the rest of the trip, and Chef Alex had no problem serving whatever we asked for.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros with green tomato salsa GIF

The breakfast menu featured many more Mexican specialities– eggs a la Mexicana, Eggs Machacha with dried beef, onion and poblano chile. Chilaquiles were on the menu as well as what became our go-to favorite, the Huevos Rancheros, served with either red salsa or green. The green salsa was outstanding and Chef Alex remembered our preferences.

Fresh Fruit

Tropical fruit platter with Mexican lime GIF

The breakfast menu also had a host of other non-Mexican options, including organic oatmeal, muesli with coconut milk, French toast, pancakes and waffles.

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Coffee con leche with a hammock at La Palapa Beach club

The coffee was tasty and the views of the pacific from La Palapa were a great way to start the day. The space is beautiful and also includes a lovely hammock should you wish to hang out while you’re digesting.

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Top notch margaritas for $6 US at Las Alamandas

I don’t think the menu at Las Alamandas would work for serious foodies who are looking to explore the vibrant and happening Mexican food scene. Chef Alex had no problem accommodating all our requests, which is great since the resort is so private and isolated that there are not a lot of other options for dining nearby.

Las Alamandas Resort
Carretera Federal 200 km 83.5
Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico

Toll Free US: 1888 882 9616
Toll Free Mexico: 1800 8366640
Tel 52 322 285 5500

info@alamandas.com

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Bula from Fiji!

The view flying to Savusavu in Fiji

I’m thrilled to be on assignment for Glamping.com here at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort.

I haven’t been in Fiji since my honeymoon many years ago so It’s a pleasure returning to this South Pacific island country of which I have fond memories.

My daily posts will be running on the Glamping.com blog so be sure to check it out if you want to learn what it’s like staying in thatched roof hut at one of the world’s first eco-luxury resorts.

— Jen

The musical greeting by the staff at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji

Poolside at the resort

The interior of Garden Bure 18

Jean-Michele Cousteau Resort – Fiji Day 1st

Day 2 at Jean-Michele Cousteau Resort in Fiji

Day 3 at Jean-Michele Cousteau Resort in Fiji

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A Stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea

The adults-only pool at the Andaz Maui lit up at night

I recently visited the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort in Hawaii for the first time. The Andaz definitely caters to a younger/hipper crowd than some of the other high end hotels in the area. If you’re looking for in-your-face Hawaiiana, look elsewhere. The Andaz Maui has warm, zen minimalist vibe.

The Modern Facade of the Andaz Maui

My husband and I arrived before check in time, and our room (we booked a suite) was not yet ready. The Andaz host suggested we head the Bumbye Beach Bar to wait until she came to escort us to the room. The bar had wifi access (no password required), great views of the lagoon pool and Mokapu Beach, and particularly delicious Mai Tais. After two rounds, our host showed us to our suite, room 640.

The resort’s open and airy entry

The staff at the Andaz was friendly and top notch. I was particularly impressed with the concierge. She remembered my food allergies and made sure they were passed on to restaurants, even when we changed restaurant picks or re-scheduled reservations.

The seating area in living room of suite 640

Suite 640 was spacious, well laid out, and technology friendly– great for a modern day couple who both work remotely. 

Left: the work desk in room 640 Right: The dining room table in 640

There were several pools, including an adult/no kids one and several cabanas for hire, which was nice. Loved the wifi access (even at the beach) and I always appreciate the no password required. Every hotel should be this tech friendly.

The welcome amenity and lei

If I had to nitpick, I thought the ukelele player in the Lehua Lounge could have bothered to wear an aloha shirt. I also noticed a few room service trays lingered in the hallways a bit longer than the should have. Minor complaints for an otherwise fabulous stay.

The patio was filled with modern furniture and comfortable

One of the Andaz’s most amazing features is Morimoto Maui restaurant, which is FANTASTIC. My husband and I almost always get tired of every hotel’s restaurants after three days. Not so with Morimoto. We dined there four times during our stay and I’ve been missing it since I got back. Even if you choose to stay somewhere else in Wailea, don’t miss heading to the Andaz Maui for dinner at Morimoto Maui.

Left: the window seat in room 640 Right: a reading nook in the bedroom

The room’s king sized bed has sliding doors that can open to the shower windows

The walk-thru shower and soaker tub in Suite 640

My husband thought the furniture in our suite could have been more comfortable, however I had no issues with it. I LOVED the bathroom’s huge shower and soaker tub. The room was quiet and I slept well in the king bed.

The hanging chair on the patio was a great place to watch the Wailea sunset

The Lagoon Pool at the Andaz Maui

How fun is this indoor sandbox in the reception area of the Andaz Maui?

Yogurt with granola on the breakfast buffet at Ka’ana Kitchen

The breakfast spread served at Ka’ana Kitchen was amazing. Since my husband is a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond Member member, our breakfast was included. The staff went out of there way to clarify which menu items were not included so there were no surprises on the bill. (Note: The Breakfast Amenity for Diamond Gold Passport members was recently downgraded.) The mimosa made with passionfruit and guava is not to be missed.

Delicious Mai Tai served at Lehua Lounge

The view from Bumbye Beach Bar

Obligatory selfie in sunglasses of the Andaz Beach Crew

The Andaz Beach Crew was very helpful and also has a great instagram account @andazbeachcrew.

Gorgeous sunset as seen from room 640 at Andaz Maui

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

3550 Wailea Alanui Drive

Wailea, Hawaii, USA, 96753

Tel: +1 808 573 1234

Rates start at $423.00

Andaz Maui on Twitter

Andaz Maui on Instagram

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