Flashback to two weeks ago: We were on a girls-only long weekend to Mexico. Kids, work and the Polar Vortex had taken is toll on us and we needed some Vitamin D by way of the sun. Our destination? The glamorous, newly-opened Nizuc Resort & Spa in Mexico. We couldn’t run fast enough.
From Cancun airport, the resort is a mere 15 minute drive away (it’s just getting through the mayhem of the airport you have to deal with – where is TSA PreCheck when you need it?) – the first advantage Nizuc possesses over some of its Riviera Maya competitors.
Formerly a presidential retreat (a Mexican “Camp David”, if you will), the property that Nizuc currently rests on was purchased originally by the development team of the Aman Resorts and The Setai when the land was sold in 2005. The Las Brisas Hotel Collection bought the property and plans in 2006 and painstakingly developed it for seven years before it made its debut last March. It explained a lot why we felt a lot of that minimalist Aman design thing going on throughout the hotel.
Down the beach to the left of Nizuc, is it’s neighbor, Club Med (now, thankfully, a more sedate family-oriented property than its swinging days of yore) – the first hotel I stayed at in Mexico 25 years ago when I was managing that account. As two of the first beach-front properties in the Cancun area, both resorts enjoy crescent-shaped beaches in coveted, prime locations.
With over 274 suites and villas, 6 restaurants and 3 bars/lounges, Nizuc is not small. The lobby, open and spacious, was still deceptively inviting enough to lead you to believe you were at a boutique property. Not until we toured the grounds, did we get a sense of the true expanse of the 29-acre property.
After a quick check-in, we were whisked to our spacious Ocean Suite, located in the main building, with floor to ceiling direct views of the ocean (note: 80% of the rooms at the hotel face the ocean) – something we never got tired of waking up to in the mornings.
Every suite has a butler assigned to it and ours warmly introduced himself to us and showed us all the workings of our suite. Strangely, he was never to be seen again during our stay (A different person responded each time we pressed the butler button on our phone).
The interiors of the hotel, both in the public spaces and guest rooms, are quite beautiful. A neutral palette of earth tones are consistent throughout the property using an incredible use of textured materials most all locally sourced. I would have purchased the rustic farm table at Ramona’s on the spot. Not unnoticed by us was the mesmerizing design of the hotel logo (Nizuc means “nose of a dog”) displayed throughout the property.
Once we were settled, everything was easy. This was especially so as our room was in the main building where most of the restaurants were located and where it is easiest to access the beach. We were here to relax and relax we did. So much so that we never woke from our nap the first night and missed dinner entirely. As we were there on a quiet weekend, we felt like we had the resort much to ourselves (although we heard Kobe Bryant was there and were happy to share the place with him). With a generous staff-to-guest ratio, we were definitely spoiled by the service.
Our biggest decisions during our short vacation was what restaurant to try, what spa treatment to book and whether or not we wanted to paddle board or swim (which usually resulted in us just opting to stay horizontal in our beach lounge chairs).
With six diverse restaurants to choose from, you don’t have to worry about lack of dinner options. There is Terra Nostra (Italian), Indochine (Mix of Asian cuisines), Ni (Peruvian seafood), La Punta Grill (specializing in steak and seafood) and Ramona (Mexican) – somehow we managed to try them all except Ramona. Our meals were consistently fresh and delicious in all the restaurants. Before and after dinner, there was the requisite cocktails at any of the three bars – we quickly got tipped off who served the best mojitos and margaritas (see our tips below for that!)
Then there is the spa: The 30,000 square foot ESPA spa, that is. The Nizuc Spa is in itself a destination with 12 masseuses on staff and a mind-boggling variety of hydrotherapy treatments. We were like kids in a playground going from jacuzzi to steam room to sauna before and after our massages. Even to a spa snob, the Nizuc Spa by any standard was pretty phenomenal.
With all Nizuc’s options and offerings, there is no real reason to leave the resort and understandedly few do when they are here for short stays. In fact, many guests from other hotels in Cancun and the Riviera Maya trek to Nizuc for its restaurants.
What about the beach, you ask? While not a particularly wide beach (which are hard to find in the Cancun area), the turquoise waters and white powdery sand were enough to lure us. Because it is a protected area, you should know only non-motorized sports are offered at the hotel – mainly paddle-boarding, snorkeling and kayaking. The adult pool pictured above (there are five pools on the property, of which two are by the main hotel) is perfect for swimming laps. If you are looking to jet ski or water ski, that can be arranged off-property.
While Nizuc has a very adult, sophisticated air about it, there is really something here for everyone. Just based on location alone, it is a quintessential place for a short romantic break or a girls long weekend. We could have spent every day happily in the the divine spa. Toting young kids with you? There’s a spacious on-site kids club (for ages 4 -12) with its own pool and special movie nights along with a host of off-site options for diversion.
Nizuc has made quite a splash since its opening and has quickly drawn the attention of the NY/LA trend-making (and seeking) crowds. Inevitably, people ask how it compares to some of the Riviera Maya hotels, notably Grand Velas and what I call “the Mayakoba sisters” – Rosewood and Banyon Tree. Well, Grand Velas is all-inclusive property that is about twice the size of Nizuc (see our Inviato review here), and has a less exclusive feel. Banyon Tree is about half the size of Nizuc and has a very distinct minimalist Asian design. My take: Blend the aesthetics of Banyon Tree, mix in the service style of Palmilla (including the hand to heart greeting from staff) and stir in a bit of the Viceroy Anguilla vibe (which coincidentally shares the same architect) and you have Nizuc!
What we loved
- The ESPA spa is blissful – Make sure to take time to experience hydrotherapy options before and after your treatment.
- The heated extra-long eternity pool in front of La Punta Grill. Great for laps and then a drink!
- The spectacular frontal views of the ocean from the terrace of our Ocean Suite
- The very atmospheric Havana Lounge (Ralph Lauren would have felt right at home!) with cigar roller to make you your own custom cigars.
- The breakfast buffet. The options are mind-blowing. Everything was fresh and delicious. Kids will love the display of doughnuts alone.
What we didn’t love
- With so many diverse restaurants and cuisines to choose from, there was a surprising lack of light, casual fare for lunch – such as salads or wraps.
- Bathrooms in the rooms are a bit dark and could use better lighting.
Rooms To Get
The suites at the Nizuc are all beautifully appointed with similar design and flow. The resort is sprawling with four different buildings where many of the Residence Suites are located (note most of the connecting suites – currently there are 16 of them – are located in these buildings)- most require transportation via golf cart as they are far from the lobby or the “hub” where most of the restaurants, pools, kids club and the sports shack resides. No worry though as the longest wait for carts are a few minutes. If you prefer to walk, just request a room closest to the lobby.
We loved being in the center of the activity in the Main building and highly recommend booking any of the 44 Ocean Suites there (there are no connecting suites in the main building) if you are not traveling with young children. If you want privacy, go for one of the 29 private villas, many with their own private pools and outdoor living rooms. What you forgo in ocean views you make up in space.
- While we didn’t venture outside the resort, friends who stayed here over the Christmas holiday recommended Distileria (authentic Mexican) and Cenocolo Mare (Italian seafood).
- Check for special offers such as Endless Indulgence, on the Nizuc website.
- Order the Nizuc or Habenero Margarita in the Bar A-Kan (the lobby bar). The mojitos at the Havana Lounge are superb!
|Rooms to Get||Tips|
Nizuc Resort & Spa
Blvd Kukulcan Km 21,
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