Paradisus La Esmeralda offers 512 rooms and two kids-only pools.// © 2012 Paradisus Resorts
Paradisus Resorts is looking to bring the “cool kids” back to Playa Del Carmen. The trendy brand operated by Sol Melia opened two all-inclusive properties — Paradisus La Esmeralda and Paradisus La Perla — sharing the same complex that spans 7,200 acres, so it feels like its own self-contained oasis in the Riviera Maya. The complex features 14 restaurants and 11 bars, a total of 906 rooms and eight swimming pools. Additionally, guests have access to a diving/watersports center, an extensive kids’ club, a wedding gazebo, a 20,000-square-foot YHI Spa and more than 50 outdoor palapas and Bali beds, all at the foot of a sprawling white beach. While the official grand opening isn’t slated until May, the soft opening in November has already lured jetsetting, affluent families, brand-loyal followers and those who want something different in the Riviera Maya.
Unlike resorts that infuse local traditions and design in their decor and architecture, Paradisus has a standard, modern look and feel to its resorts that operate more like a lifestyle destination. At Paradisus Playa Del Carmen, guests won’t find typical Mexican decor or furnishings but a contemporary approach to design with avant-garde artwork and sculptures. Most rooms have flashing neon strobe lights underneath the bathtubs and glass headboards that resemble an aquarium. You may not immediately feel like you’re in Mexico — should you need the reassurance, the main town of Playa del Carmen is only a five-minute drive away — but the resort caters to those who want a unique experience.
Throughout both properties, there are bridges over ponds, pathways flanked by tall palm trees, hanging Japanese lanterns in public spaces and plenty of comfortable outdoor seating. The outdoor pool areas have thatch-roof palapas, cozy lounge beds, blue-tinted, glass-enclosed outdoor showers and a raised platform walkway to the beach through lush gardens. Each property has its dedicated welcome lounge, equipped with six computers, snack and drinks, a hospitality room (should your flight arrive early and you want to change if your room is not ready) and a plasma television with plenty of sofas.
La Perla, the adults-only resort, is sleek and modern with all the bells and whistles of a boutique hotel. There are 394 rooms, 120 of which are Royal Service, where guests are appointed with a private butler, a private restaurant (La Palapa with a la carte dining), priority restaurant reservations, a private pool and a private section of the beach. There are 60 swim-up suites with direct access to the pool, and all of guest-rooms have a queen-size bed with a separate sit-in area, plasma televisions, iPod docks, premium liquor, a large bathtub and a separate dual-rainshower and outdoor balcony with a Jacuzzi.
La Esmeralda, the family-friendly property, has 512 rooms, 120 of which offer Family Concierge (same concept as Royal Service). More laidback, Esmeralda is a special adventure for children. Not only does each room come equipped with children’s toothpaste and chocolate milk in minibars, but turndown service includes chocolate chip cookies and milk. Kids also receive child-size Paradisus backpacks upon check in.
Two pools are designated for kids only, and the Kid’s Zone has air hockey, a snack center and a number of supervised activities. There’s a separate game room equipped with Wii, Xbox and Playstation 3, most of which guests can “rent” and take back to their rooms. Kids can also delight in the mini lounge chairs provided at the pools, cotton candy trees and caramel popcorn dispensers.
While all on-site restaurants are part of the all-inclusive concept, there is only venue that isn’t included: Passion by Martin Berasategui, presented by the famous Spanish, Seven-Star Michelin chef himself, and his first restaurant in the Americas. Guests staying in Royal Service or Family Concierge are offered one complimentary dinner with minimum four-night stay. Passion is also the only restaurant that is open to outside guests.
All rooms in both La Esmeralda and La Perla have same room layouts and come equipped with fashion designer Thierry Mugler bathroom toiletries and 24-hour room service. Both Royal Service and Family Concierge guests have access to a smaller gym in their respective building units.
While the nightclub, Gabi Club, is only open to guests at present, this could change in the future due to popular demand. Here, live DJs, fire performances and special acts can keep crowds entertained until the early hours.
And don’t expect to ever go hungry. Food is served at any time of the day.
Rooms at La Esmeralda start at $550 per person ($60 more for Royal Service); Rooms at La Perla start at $590 ($60 extra for Family Concierge).