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When Valentin Hotels decided to break ground in Mexico, it chose the fastest-growing region of the country. Following a trend that attracted many other hotel chains from Spain, it planted its flag along the Riviera Maya. Located 25 minutes from the Cancun International Airport and within easy reach of Maya ruins and small beach towns, it’s one of the newest resort companies from the Iberian Peninsula to claim a piece of Mexico’s lush coast.
An adults-only, all-inclusive property, the all-suites Valentin Imperial Maya has been quietly building a loyal following — with 70 percent of bookings from the U.S. — for the past two years with its cuisine, personalized service and extra spacious suites.
The exterior of the Valentin Imperial Maya // © 2010 Valentin Imperial Maya
Surely, one reason for its quick success is that no reservations are needed at either of the specialty restaurants. Guests can drop in for Italian, Indonesian-Peruvian, Japanese, French or Mexican cuisine, or they can create their own personal dining tour by stopping by for an appetizer in one restaurant, a main dish in another and dessert in a third, as I did during a recent stay at the hotel.
Whether it was the Spanish flair of the architecture — with its long, cool marble colonnades, reflecting pools and old-fashioned chandeliers — or the suites winding around jungle walkways cut through dense tangles of trees, I felt like I was on a luxurious private estate with enough privacy for that sensation of getting away from it all.
The 524 suites at the Valentin Imperial Maya Resort are housed in two- and three-level buildings spread well away from each other with either a pool, lagoon or ocean view. Broken down into five categories, they range in size from 515 square feet to 1,500 square feet for the superior Diamond Suite, which has two rooms, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, three balconies and butler service. There are also a few swim-up suites that feature steps that lead directly from the pool to the suite patio.
All suites come with flat-screen televisions, organic bathroom amenities, a small fridge filled with soft drinks and complimentary Internet access. My Emerald Junior Suite had hardwood floors, a cathedral dome over the bed, a mosaic stone Jacuzzi for two and a rain shower overlooking a garden of palm trees.
Building nine, where I lodged, was the farthest from the restaurants, which entailed a 10-minute walk or phoning for a golf cart. But then again, my room was next to the half-mile-long beach — a convenience which more than made up for its location. The beach is also a protected area for sea turtles where, last year, guests helped release 1,000 hatchlings into the sea.
With a ratio of 1.4 staff for every guest, there’s no lack of service, especially at the eight bars — which includes a sport’s bar with a billiards table, a cigar lounge and a piano bar with live music. There wasn’t enough time to explore them all. I took in a few nightly shows around the corner from the congenial, open-air Mexican Plaza, where trios played into the night. Staged by professional troupes, entertainment included a rendition of the Broadway musical, “Mamma Mia,” and gravity-defying acrobatic acts. Although there’s no disco, some guests hopped a shuttle to spend the night clubbing at the new Coco Bongo in Playa del Carmen, which has nonstop variety shows as well as a dance floor.
With a spa, a nearby golf course, deep-sea fishing, water polo, yoga, kayaking and even a back-of-the-house kitchen tour, guests will be kept busy for days. A trip to the Maya ruins at Tulum was the highlight of an excursion offered by the hotel. For anyone thinking of tying the knot, there’s a chapel plus discount packages for the convenience of the wedding party. Other packages are designed for meeting planners utilizing the 13,900-square-foot meetings area.
Agents can also expect to see a convention center for 1,000 attendees in the future as well as an upscale property for families.
Urban invites agents to take advantage of fam opportunities offered by the hotel in order to see the property for themselves. He is sure that once agents experience the resort, they will be proud to sell it to clients.
Valentin Imperial Maya www.valentinmaya.comRates: From $150-$500 per person, per room, per night. Commission: 10 percent
Click here to view a photo tour of AMResort’s Now Jade Riviera Cancun resort.