Sunday, May 11, 2014

Secrets Return to Cancun

I was excited to get an invitation by AMResorts and the Cancun-Riviera Maya Food Festival to check out the event and the luxury all-inclusive Secrets The Vine. The opportunity to return to Cancun, Mexico, after a number of years was interesting in itself, but the chance to cover the festival and stay at one of my favorite resort brands was too good to pass up.

It was still cool when I left the Midwest, though the travel went smoothly and included an American Airlines upgrade. They served a breakfast soufflé in first class that I can honestly say was delicious and I am always a fan of their accompanying biscuits.

I got through customs in Cancun Airport rather quickly and my driver was waiting to take me on the 15 minute trip to Secrets The Vine. The only thing that wasn’t going right was the weather, but the rain wasn’t going to damper my mood on this day.

My suite was in the Preferred Club, which comes with a private check-in and extra room amenities. I was given a glass of champagne and escorted to the floor for a private check-in.

I admired the view behind the desk and was delighted to hear that it was the same as the one from my balcony.

The suite was big and beautiful and I couldn’t have asked for a better view (and there were two loveseats on the balcony to enjoy it from). My only objection was that there was no bathtub. I was spoiled at Secrets Maroma with a large tub in the room and a Jacuzzi on the balcony. Secrets The Vine had only a shower, albeit a large one with multiple jets.

As for the rest of the room, it was spacious and had a large king bed, comfy robes, a sitting area, mini bar filled with alcohol, beer and snacks, and a large bathroom. The room also had complimentary WiFi and telephone calls.

I was on my own for the afternoon. I ordered a sandwich and ice tea from room service (always included at Secrets), unpacked and then changed into a comfy robe. The rest of my day was to be spent at the spa. As you can imagine, I had no objection to that.

It was a dream afternoon.  I am lucky enough to go to spas often, but I usually don’t have free time before and after treatments. On this day I was able to fully enjoy Secrets' large and well-appointed spa, using the sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy. I then even had time to take a nap in the relaxation room with my eyes covered in cucumbers and a cool towel.

My Vinotherapy treatment came next for another hour and a half of heaven.  I had an oil massage, scrub, lotion massage and then facial, all with wine-based products. I left the spa feeling rested and smooth!

I did not partake in the “Fish Spa.” I had seen this at GranVelas in Riviera Maya. Despite the fact that a few people I know have tried it and said that with a “tickle” the fish really do remove dead skin for soft skin on your feet, I’m not anxious to try it.

I changed into my evening clothes and made it down to the lobby before the rest of the group and relaxed even further with an Absolut Raspberri and soda (even premium brands are included at Secrets).

The journalists on this trip were all wonderful ladies, some I knew, and some I got to know. Among them, I finally got to catch up with Sue Campbell, whom I went on a fantastic spa trip to Arizona with a few years ago, and Donna Heiderstadt.

Donna and I had actually gone to college together many years ago. It is pretty ironic that we both ended up becoming travel writers, but Donna’s experience in this particular niche definitely trumps mine. We have kept in touch for the decades since college. This was our first trip together, though.

We had a special cocktail party and welcome dinner planned at the Blue Water Grill on the Secrets The Vine property. We walked to the restaurant past the pools and I got to see a bit of the property.

We got caught up and acquainted over one of my favorite summer drinks, a simple pineapple juice with coconut rum. We also had some hors d'oeuvres with a big dinner to come.

The wine-paired dinner was mostly fish and seafood so I missed a lot of it. Everyone raved about it and I knew there would be plenty of spectacular meals to come.

I did have some other courses, including an excellent Asparagus Soup with a cheese breadstick; a wonderful salad; and lamb, which was a bit rare for me. Desert was accompanied with some of the most delectable chocolates I’ve ever had and I had quite a few.

Everyone was pretty tired and retired right after dinner even though there was plenty of activity still going on at the resort. I was back at the room at 11:00, contently exhausted and ready to rest up for a full day at the Cancun-Riviera Maya Food Festival

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