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If this story was a podcast, you would likely hear the following sounds: waves crashing gently, birds chirping, adults giggling and a blender in the throes of cocktail creation. I would then reveal that I was in the Riviera Maya, just a half-hour from Cancun, and had sent my partner to the bar adjacent to our suite at El Dorado Casitas Royale, a Karisma Hotels & Resorts property. I would mention that he had sweetly agreed to pick up pina coladas to complement our pre-dinner room service order of tacos, chips and guacamole.
But since I wasn’t broadcasting live, I laid back on my daybed, nursing a chronic back issue with the most basic medicine there is: the feeling of sunlight and warm wind on my face; the sounds of nature; the protection of swaying palm trees and my palapa; and the sight of sand-side cabanas steps away from multicolored waters.
Everything I could want was on that terrace, within earshot or inside our spacious, colonial-style casita. Indeed, our “small home” was a place for whiling away the time together, thanks to attractive features — such as wood paneling, white walls and beautiful archways — and all the fixings, including a flat-screen television, complimentary drinks, snacks, a couch, a table for meals and an oversize Jacuzzi tub. The partitioned bathroom area features his-and-hers sinks; an indoor shower with natural wood flooring and a rain shower; and “Aguas del Amor,” an enclosed outdoor shower large enough for a yoga session for two.
“Once you stay in the casitas, it’s hard to go back,” one casita devotee told me, referring to the fact that El Dorado Casitas Royale is the 205-room hotel within El Dorado Royale, a Spa Resort, which offers 478 suites.
While guests at the larger property might enjoy paying less and engaging in a festive atmosphere, casita guests get it all: the solid infrastructure and variety of food and activities that come with a big property, along with the space, peace and privacy that characterize boutique hotels.
Though I could have stayed on my terrace for hours, I enjoyed wandering around the property, too. With 24-hour room service, seven “Gourmet Inclusive” a la carte restaurants and four smaller Gourmet Corners all included in the cost of the stay, I never had to eat the same thing twice. Highlights included the "chile relleno asado" (a seasoned, stuffed poblano pepper) at Rincon Mexicano; fresh smoothies at the Health Bar; stir-fried tofu and vegetables at Kampai – Pacific Rim; and my vegetable and cheese burrito with a side of an oceanfront view at Jo Jo’s Caribbean Seaside Grill. While I sometimes steer clear of raw vegetables in Mexico, salads at El Dorado Casitas Royale are a must due to the fact that most spices and vegetables are grown in the property’s 70,000-square-foot greenhouse.
The number of dining establishments is matched only by the number of watering holes — of which there are 15. Fans of sipping while floating will love that 10 of those bars are of the swim-up variety. Some bars attract larger crowds, but with so many located so close to one another, it’s always easy to find a secluded spot to nurse a drink. I particularly loved chomping on tacos while swaying on a swing at Las Guacamayas bar following an evening variety show.
There are 11 swimming pools, and eight of them are in the casitas area, including a natural saltwater pool along the beach. Although I enjoyed the aerial view of the sun rising over the palms from my light-filled terrace, water babies might prefer having a lower-level Swim Up Casita Suite, which is connected to the lazy river that slithers in and around the casitas. Some suites also feature their own private pools.
Many activities battled for my free time — from gyms and tennis courts to greenhouse tours and archery lessons — but the sea proved irresistible.
After kayaking, my partner and I agreed to take it up a notch. And that’s how I ended up riding a Jet Ski for the first time.
The podcast would surely end here, with my partner and me laughing hysterically as we sped through water and wind, screaming out professions of love for each other and for Mexico.