Cozumel’s dining scene
features fresh seafood.
My husband and I vacation far too infrequently. Our latest attempt
involved a week on Cozumel off the mainland Yucatan coast. We
booked a week at two of our favorite hotels and planned to snorkel,
read, sleep and eat anything that tingled our taste buds. I
intended to ignore the laptop (yet it somehow appeared in my
carry-on bag). Cameras were to be used for candid snapshots only.
Note taking was out of the question.
Ah, the best-laid plans. You know the drill. When you work in
the travel business, true vacations are but a dream.
How dare I complain, however? We indulged in plenty of
relaxation, devoured sublime ceviche and ahi, sampled mango sorbet
at an outdoor cafe and spent hours snorkeling among dazzling coral
formations and sea creatures. Old friends shared local gossip over
fettuccini and pad thai. New acquaintances guided us through the
If only all my workdays were like this.
I manage to stop in on Mexico’s largest island at least once a
year. It has become a treasured haunt over nearly two decades. This
time, after a nine-month absence, I found Cozumel had changed
dramatically. The waterfront malecon promenade had swallows
imprinted in new pavement and a new sculpture park graced the north
side of San Miguel. Pedestrian streets were widened, stores
remodeled and the main plaza was undergoing a major renovation.
(Tell your clients to visit the plaza on Sunday evenings, when
families congregate for live concerts and dances.)
We were particularly impressed with Discover Mexico, a new
indoor/outdoor attraction that defies traditional labels. Our tour
began with a breathtaking video collage of snow-capped volcanoes,
colonial cities and folkloric dancers flashing on multiple screens.
An exhibit of collector-quality folk art displayed Mexico’s
astonishing artistry. Outdoors, we could hear macaws squawking
beneath grass umbrellas and trails wound past scale models of
colonial churches and ancient pyramids. The museum is a popular
port tour for the many cruise ships calling at the island, and also
delights locals fascinated by their country. If your clients are
serious folk-art collectors make sure they visit the excellent gift
We enjoyed a fabulous dinner at La Cocay, a gourmet restaurant
with a longtime following. Now located near the main plaza, the
sophisticated (although laid-back) restaurant was packed the night
we sampled stacked salads, seared ahi and a chocolate dessert so
rich we had to leave some behind.
The Mandara Spa at the Presidente Cozumel
is one of the best spas on the island.
We also feasted on fettuccini and grilled sea bass at Alfredo di
Roma, killer guacamole at Casa Denis (one of the island’s oldest
restaurants) and conch and shrimp ceviche at Coconut’s on the wild
windward coast. If your clients have time for only one outing while
on Cozumel, have them explore the windward coast in a rental car or
on a tour. The views are incredible, the beaches deserted and the
roadside cafes serve fish straight from the sea.
Cozumel’s hotel and spa scene has improved considerably, as I
discovered during a divine hot-stone massage at the Wyndham
Resort’s Islander Spa, after touring the new Aura Cozumel Wyndham
Grand Bay. The luxury boutique hotel, which officially opened Jan.
24, is part of Wyndham’s complex on the island’s south shore, and
it offers 96 sophisticated suites with LCD TVs, iPod docks and
direct pool access from the patios.
We spent two blissful nights at the Presidente InterContinental
Cozumel, a resort I refuse to leave for even a moment when I stay
there. In fact, I had a hard time wandering away from our oceanview
suite’s generous terrace, cloud-like bed and garden rain shower,
though I did take time for a massage and Vichy shower at the
hotel’s Mandara Spa. Even if your clients aren’t staying there,
tell them to linger over a lengthy lunch at the hotel’s El Caribeno
We also spent five nights at the Coral Princess, a real gem for
travelers of moderate means. All spiffed up with new paint and
furnishings, the hotel has radically improved its culinary
offerings, expanded the beach area and installed a spa area and
Have your clients staying here order a large jug of purified
water for their rooms. At less than $3 for several gallons it’s one
of the island’s best deals, and they’ll be helping the environment
by refilling their plastic water bottles. It always helps to do
your part to preserve paradise.
Calle 8 between Avs. 10 and 15, San Miguel
Alfredo di Roma Presidente InterContinental
Carretera Chankanaab, Km 6.5
Calle 1 Sur 132, between Avs. 5 and 10, San Miguel
coast road, no phone
Wyndham Cozumel Resort & Spa
Carretera Costera Sur, Km. 12.9
Aura Cozumel Wyndham Grand Bay
Carretera Costera Sur
Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort
(Mandara Spa, El Caribeño restaurant)
Carretera Chankanaab, Km 6.5
Carretera Costera Norte Km 2.5