An Alcoba Swim-Up Pool room // © 2017 UNICO 20°87° Hotels
Feature image (above): The property has three pools, including the central 20°87° pool. // © 2017 UNICO 20°87° Hotels
One of the ways I relax while on vacation is by disconnecting from my phone so that I can be present in the moment. But during my stay at Unico 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya, which opened in early 2017 in the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, I couldn’t put my phone down; I wanted to document every single second of my unique trip.
With stunning exteriors designed by Mexican architecture firm Artigas and interiors conceptualized by design firm AvroKo, Unico 20°87° is basically made for Instagram. The property utilizes materials from the surrounding region with natural finishes, featuring slabs of stone and wood, sisal rope, handcrafted pieces and art by local artisans.
Unico 20°87° is the first location launched by RCD Hotels’ collection of adults-only, all-inclusive properties that are designed to reflect a locale’s destination and native culture.
For example, Unico 20°87°’s name represents its latitude and longitude coordinates, which are representative of the hotel’s devotion to its location and complete immersion in the region’s beauty and culture.
“Unico 20°87° was born out of a desire to fill a void in the market and create an entirely new category of all-inclusive defined by relaxed luxury and cultural immersion,” said Frank Maduro, vice president of marketing for AIC Hotel Group, which is contracted by RCD Hotels to lead sales and marketing efforts for properties that include Unico 20°87°. “Guests can meet modern Mexico face to face through experiences that echo the voice and tradition of the Yucatan Peninsula and the vibrant local culture as it exists today, all in an upscale setting.”
The property’s 448 rooms are outfitted with either outdoor hydro spa tubs or exterior swim-up pools. Both make for the perfect start or end to one’s day, no matter which room category you choose. My fiance and I stayed in an Alcoba Ocean View room, which featured an expansive exterior lounging area where I caught many a Cancun sunset from the comfort of our tub. In lieu of traditional butler service, an "anfitrion" (personal local host) is available to all guests around the clock. In addition to providing assistance with check-in and reservations, the anfitrion also offers insider tips on the local scene.
Serving everything from contemporary Mexican cuisine to Cuban cocktails, the five restaurants, two lounges and six bars at Unico 20°87° pair locally sourced ingredients with a diverse mix of international flavors to create a multisensory culinary adventure. My favorite spot was Mi Carisa, where we indulged in coastal Italian fare while sitting on the outdoor terrace under lanterns. My fiance most enjoyed sampling the sushi and sake at Mura House, which draws flavors and techniques from Japan.
“From a rotating chef restaurant concept in which chef Christian Bravo from ‘Top Chef Mexico’ pays homage to regional Yucatan dishes to the local flavors and ingredients that the executive mixologist uses to craft specialty cocktails, Unico 20°87° provides guests with a colorful dining experience,” Maduro said.
For those seeking adventure beyond the hotel walls, the property offers an assortment of excursions that range from swimming with dolphins to tours of nearby Tulum. Plenty of on-property, culturally inspired experiences are available for guests to participate in as well, including mezcal tastings, mixology classes, live artistic demonstrations and acoustic sunset jams.
No hotel stay is complete without a trip to the spa, and the 17,700-square-foot Esencia Spa includes hydrotherapy facilities with a plunge pool, a hammam and a steam and sauna room. It also holds the
Esencia Beauty Bar, where I got to make personalized body products such as scrubs and lotions. Just like the tour packages, select spa treatments are also available to guests at a fraction of the cost for only a 20 percent service fee — and once you experience the 50-minute Esencia Signature massage, which features two therapists at the same time, you’ll want to book more than one session.
But that’s the beauty of staying at Unico 20°87°: There are no limits to luxury and enjoyment. Often when a vacation is over, I’ll think about certain activities or things I didn’t get to see or do. But when we left the property, we were completely satisfied, knowing that we had enjoyed Unico 20°87° to the fullest degree.