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The kid in me was trying desperately to remain calm. It was about 9 p.m., I had just traveled some 3,000 miles, and I was dead on my feet. But as the bellhop walked me to my room at Hotel Xcaret Mexico, passing strategic viewpoints that hinted at the magnitude of what Grupo Experiencias Xcaret had accomplished with its latest venture, the 6-year-old in me — water-loving and fascinated by ruins — was now wide awake.
From my perch on the top floor of Casa Espiral, one of Hotel Xcaret’s five towers, I could hear the sound of beating drums down below from one of the nightly on-site performances. Across from me, I could see a softly lit sliver of blue snaking at the bottom of a spiral pyramid.
“That’s the river where you can kayak,” the bellhop said.
I looked at him in surprise, wondering just how big this resort was.
Quite massive, it turns out.
Before my stay, I wasn’t sure what to make of Hotel Xcaret, which opened this past December, since I had only seen a few photo renderings. However, from the moment I set foot on the property, it was clear that Grupo Experiencias Xcaret spared no expense in designing and building the ambitious hotel.
The open-air lobby, for one, is beautifully appointed and reminiscent of the forest; the ceiling is bedecked with hanging plants, and floor sofas resemble large boulders. The pools are glorious, and two of them are ocean-facing and infinity-edge. The spa, too, is top-notch.
My room, the most basic level of the four suite categories, was enormous, trimmed in purplish-pink and flourished with cutting-edge features that clients won’t typically find at an all-inclusive. There were bedside buttons to control the room’s light settings; a touchscreen phone; and a glass bathroom window that switched from clear to frosted at the push of a button.
Yet all those flourishes are inconsequential when considering the big picture: Hotel Xcaret isn’t so much a hotel as it is a destination. And it revolves around luxury, the comforts of home and the seven eco-archaeological parks that complete the Experiencias Xcaret family (included with the all-inclusive package). The hotel even has its own network of underground cenotes, carefully excavated to form the long river through which guests can kayak, paddleboard, swim and snorkel.
The day after my arrival, I spied that river again while lunching at Las Playas, the resort’s laid-back beach restaurant. It was as if the emerald water was pleading for me to set off on a quest. And so I did, hopping on a paddleboard and navigating my way through the quiet tributaries, narrow tunnels and caves.
Though I was only a stone’s throw away from civilization, drifting along that river, I felt like I had been transported to a different world.
And, really, that’s the beauty of this resort.