Tequila tastings are available on-site. // © 2015 Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun
Feature image (above): The resort’s 40,000-square-foot Gem Spa // © 2015 Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun
Arriving in Cancun’s hotel zone can feel a little like driving down the Las Vegas Strip, with rows of high-end, all-inclusive resorts as far as the eye can see.
Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa, however, has a unique appeal. It offers an idyllic beachfront location, but unlike many properties in this area, it is not all-inclusive. The resort is conveniently situated near restaurants, wild nightlife and beach bars, encouraging guests to experience Cancun’s distinct character.
When development in Cancun began in the 1970s, the appeal was the white-sand beaches and turquoise waters lapping over the world’s second largest coral reef. And Coral Beach Cancun brings that Caribbean feel to each of its 602 suites, with sand-colored marble floors leading to a sunken living room and private balcony, plus a neutral and aquamarine color scheme reflecting the ocean view below.
One way the resort distinguishes itself is with standout service. Every staff member is so attentive — from warnings of “mind the step” to catching a falling napkin or providing a stool for purses — that they seem to predict guests’ needs in advance.
Like the service, Coral Beach Cancun’s food is exceptional. On offer are 10 dining options, including Le Basilic, a AAA Five-Diamond French-Mediterranean restaurant. Modern art adorns the walls, and those lucky enough to be present when artist Leon Alva is at work can leave with their culinary experience captured on canvas. Chef Henri Charvet also creates works of art in the kitchen, such as foie gras and truffle ravioli, king crab-stuffed piquillo peppers, succulent Angus fillet, delicately presented desserts and a choice of bread rolls and butters — all made on premise.
A more traditional Mexican meal can be found at La Joya, which is frequented by locals and guests from surrounding hotels. The menu includes seafood, bubbling tortilla soup with an injection of sour cream and corn cakes with tequila sauce for dessert. Adding to the culinary experience — which is enhanced by the soundtrack of an energetic mariachi band — is an optional tequila tasting. A host explains how tequila is made, as well as regional traditions and the differences between each dangerous-looking shot.
Available through 2015 is a $1,000 resort credit applicable toward stays of five nights or more. An excellent way to cash it in is with a hydrotherapy ritual at the 40,000-square-foot Gem Spa. Guests can wash away their worries as they are guided by a spa concierge through a 10-step journey that includes time in the steam room, clay room, Jacuzzi and ice room. The treatment ends in the Sensations Pool, a full-size swimming pool with different geysers that target the neck, back and shoulders.
There are plenty of other ways to spend the credit as well, including tequila tastings, romantic beach cabana rentals, sparkling wine at the pool or a rose petal-strewn spa dinner.
Amid the fine dining and pampering are plenty of outdoor activities, such as kayaking, watersports and scuba diving and snorkeling among turtles, stingrays and schools of colorful fish.
A 45-minute ferry ride from Coral Beach Cancun is Isla Mujeres, which offers a taste of authentic Mexico away from the glitz of Cancun’s Hotel Zone (tickets are available as an option in the $1,000 credit). The island is a colorful dichotomy of narrow streets packed with little shops, art sculptures in Punta Sur and boutique beach clubs.
For those who want more amenities as part of their rate, Coral Beach Cancun offers Grand Club Lounge on the two top floors of the resort. Following a welcome walk up the marble staircase to the VIP check-in, guests can visit throughout their stay for cocktails, wine, breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres, or enjoy the same amenities at the Grand Beach Club & Sundeck above a private stretch of sand.
With its multitude of choices, Coral Beach Cancun is an ideal destination for both first-time visitors who want to stay within the comfort of the resort and the more adventurous interested in investigating the culture beyond.