If you’ve been dreaming of a luxurious vacation that’s full of breathtaking views, culture, excitement, and some of the most incredible gastronomic experiences of your life, look no further than Hotel Xcaret Mexico.
Recently opened in December 2017, Hotel Xcaret Mexico is reminiscent of a mystical resort in Avatar’s Pandora, thanks to its coves and rivers, lush foliage, and ethereal jade waters. Inspired by Mayan Culture, the five-star, all-inclusive, 900+ suite complex is situated on Mexico’s Riviera Maya between Cancún and Tulum, and offers both family-friendly and adults-only experiences.
Fun fact: It’s also the first hotel in the American Continent to receive an EarthCheck certification in Planning and Design due to its ingenious architecture and commitment to preserving the natural resources of the property.
However, don’t let the massive number of rooms and the words “all-inclusive” scare you into thinking this is is a typical resort with swarms of loud vacationers day-drunk on bottomless margaritas. Despite covering many, many acres, the resort has an incredibly upscale boutique feel, thanks to the 5-star service, magnificent atmosphere, ten unique restaurants, and titanic property where you never feel over-crowded.
When it comes to gastronomy, Restaurante HA’ is the pièce de résistance of Hotel Xcaret for any and all gourmands, with a refreshing water theme and specially curated multi-course menu that changes depending on the season, and on the mood of celebrity and Michelin star head chef, Carlos Gaytan.
Even if the premeditated menu calls for Chile Rellenos or a classic Tamal, Gaytan will confidently change the dish three hours before dinner if his culinary intuition tells him to do so.
That said, Gaytan prides himself on not following any set recipes, and uses his extensive culinary training and creativity to serve his guests delicious and truly memorable dishes. Each course combines gastronomy, science, and technology, incorporating elements such as dry ice, herbal infusions, and special two-tiered plates to infuse flavor into the food before your eyes, and having guests crumble their own nitrogen-frozen roses over their dessert for an unforgettable dining experience.
“Ha means water in Mayan, and to me, water gives you life,” Gaytan says. “My food is something that isn’t set in stone, it’s creatively made with love — I give it life. And my food gives you excitement…it gives you life.
“I cook what I like,” he adds. “It comes from my heart.”
Aside from HA’, Hotel Xcaret offers Asian cuisine at Xingao, a fabulous Sunday brunch overlooking the ocean, La Trajinera, which is a a colorful and lively buffet inspired by the boats in the Xochimilco Lake region in the original Mexico City, or my personal favorite, a delicious and aesthetically beautiful market-style buffet called El Mercado.
At El Mercado, you’ll come face-to-face with so many food options that you won’t exactly know what to do with yourself. With each representing a different region of Mexico, ten stations of non-stop dishes takes you on a gastronomic trip around the nation, with every kind of salsa you can imagine, a deli case, fresh bread baked in front of you in coal-fired ovens, literal walls of hot sauce, and the most delicious tacos I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting.
To make room for all of the food, romp around one of the nearby theme parks — Xcaret, Xenses, Xel-Ha, Xplor, and Xoximilco, among others — where you won’t find rollercoasters, but rather indigenous nature and Mexican and Mayan culture that you can explore by zip lining, floating in one of the underground rivers, or hanging out in an ancient Mayan village.
And at the hotel, take some time for yourself and soak up the sun at the beach, check out one of the hotel’s seven pools, or pay a little visit to the Muluk Spa where you can get holistic massage therapy in a natural rock cabin, or sweat it out in the temazcal, which is a traditional sweat lodge of pre-Hispanic Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica.
For those scouting wedding or honeymoon destinations, be sure to keep Hotel Xcaret on your radar, because the hotel offers fabulous wedding packages, including a large bridal suite at the spa where you can get a massage, hair, nails, and makeup done in tranquility, and an unforgettable reception in Xpiral Hall overlooking the water.
And for after the wedding, book your room in the adults-only division, called Casa Fuego, where your private rooftop bar, pool, lobby, and dining options await, away from the bustle of the rest of the resort. Regarded as the building with the best views, Casa Fuego is the closest of the five “houses” to the water, and the private infinity pool is located on the rooftop, letting you bask in the stunning view as you swim for a romantic vacation that you’ll absolutely love.
Zeynep Yenisey is a relationship, grooming, and travel journalist based in New York. Her work has been featured both online and in print for publications including Maxim, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, and Dr. Oz The Good Life.