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Where to spend the night after traveling all day can be the most difficult itinerary decision of all. I'm always looking for the perfect place to begin my frequent trips to Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan Peninsula. After traveling a full day and renting a car, I need to be close to the airport yet far enough away to ensure a sense of place.
A recent wide-ranging expedition began with delayed flights that forced me to drive in the dark — never the best start when you don't know where you're going. I had heard good things about Ocean Coral & Turquesa, an H10 Hotels property just 15 miles south of Cancun International Airport, and decided to check it out for that critical first night.
I took a few wrong turns as I searched for the right property amid the various resorts that have popped up between the airport and Puerto Morelos, the first major town on the Caribbean coast. But I reached the lobby in less than an hour after my plane landed — a major accomplishment. Within minutes, my worry lines disappeared under a cool cloth, and the salt air blew away frustration. After a quick VIP check-in, a butler led the way to an enormous suite and pointed out the wraparound balcony's ocean and pool views. He offered to unpack my luggage, but I consider my suitcase a special private space. I did let him open the complimentary bottle of red wine on the dining table.
Those extra touches make the resort's Privilege level a worthwhile splurge. Personalized, private check-in and preferred dining reservations come in handy at a 591-room resort, especially when you're short on time and need pampering. I was thrilled to have access to Fusion restaurant, open only to Privilege guests, where excellent service enhanced a great seafood dinner in a private club ambiance.
Sufficiently sated, I wandered around the entire resort compound after dinner, checking out the artisans' stands at a popular Mexican fiesta and noting the guests' smiles and chatter as they wandered between four pools, several restaurants and the beach. Guests I spoke with were all staying at Ocean Coral & Turquesa for at least a week, content with the on-site entertainment and activities.
A few were taking advantage of the resort's stellar location, which is a major plus. It's close enough to sample Cancun’s dining and nightlife scene without spending a fortune on cabs, yet has the feel of coastal seclusion. Highway 307 is practically outside the front door, with a direct route to the Riviera Maya's many attractions and the roads leading inland to Chichen Itza and Merida.
All that means nothing if the room isn't up to par. Mine met all my rather picky expectations. Balcony hot tub? Check. Well-stocked mini-bar and coffeemaker? Got it. Dreamy bed, pillow menu, speedy Wi-Fi access and absolutely no external noise? All good. I didn't have time to enjoy the private beach sunbeds and concierge services, but I did check out the classically crystalline blue sea, soft sand and perfect tropical fruits and Mexican pastries in the Privilege Lounge.
Next time, I'll definitely stay more than one night.