On a snowy Tuesday eve, the kitchen at One King West Hotel in Toronto was heated up as the Royal Hideaway Playacar hosted select media for an evening with Chef Eugenio. Over cocktails, guests heard about why no Mexican vacation tastes quite as good as one at the Royal Hideaway.
“It’s elegant, it’s timeless and there are no buffet restaurants,” said Susan Webb, president, VoX International.
Set against the white sand beaches of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Royal Hideaway Playacar is the evolution of the all-inclusive. Situated on 13 oceanfront acres just 45 minutes south of Cancun International Airport and ﬁve minutes from the town of Playa del Carmen, Royal Hideaway Playacar is an upscale boutique resort boasting 200 spacious guestrooms including six Duplex Suites, 184 Luxury Rooms, eight Royal View rooms and two Presidential Suites with private Jacuzzis. Recreational amenities include water sports, ﬁtness center, biking, PADI scuba dive center, tennis courts, cooking classes, live entertainment and more. Oversized cascading inﬁnity pools and relaxation pools dot the property, with bi-level oceanfront solarium decks and a full service spa on site that includes the most advanced indigenous and international treatments.
“Ladies, when you get there your bathtub is filled with bubbles and rose petals,” Webb said.
But the focus was on food for this evening. At the Royal Hideaway, six gourmet a la carte restaurants serve a range of international cuisine. Born and raised in Guadalajara, Chef Eugenio Villafaña’s passion for food is evident in his role as Executive Chef.
“I am a chef who cares about the ingredients -- every ingredient,” Villafaña said. “And the people behind every ingredient in the food chain.”
As Villafaña prepared and served a three-course meal, explaining his choices and techniques as he did, guests also heard about the Chef’s Table Experience at the Royal Hideaway, a culinary event of gourmet food tasting created by Villafaña. As he prepares a gourmet 12 course meal with exquisite wine pairings in the kitchen’s private dining room, guests can watch each dish as it is created through a live video feed from the kitchen. The Chef’s Table Experience is not part of the all-inclusive package --- guests up to 10 can take part in this unique interactive experience by booking with their private concierge.
Villafaña, as is the policy of the Royal Hideaway, treats guests as if they were old friends and creates menus based on individual tastes.
“Everytime we serve the Chef’s Table, the menu changes. Our guests are unique so our menu is unique.”
Villafaña’ is also conscious of the dietary needs of guests, offering raw and vegan food, molecular cuisine and organic and healthy eating trends. Villafaña’ also strives to implement a system of 95 per cent locally grown, sustainable and high-quality organic products on his menus.
“I think it is important when you come back to the hotel that we know your tastes -- what you like and don’t like. That is what creates loyalty,” said Villafaña.
The Royal Hideaway features a multitude of full-service bars and restaurants featuring an array of gourmet dining options. Las Ventanas is the property’s signature restaurant serving original creations and a premium wine cellar selection. Spices, which overlooks the Caribbean, combines ﬂavors of the islands with authentic Mexican cuisine. Palazzo serves traditional Italian favorites in innovative European cuisine. Azia offers a menu designed and executed by chefs from Japan, featuring delicacies from the region as well as other Asian cuisines. The Grill offers a romantic al fresco setting complementing a chef ’s selection of grilled fare. Club Royale serves custom four-course dinners accompanied by live entertainment in a state-of-the-art dinner theater. Beach Club features an array of traditional ﬁnger foods, sandwiches and local favorites just steps from the pool and beach. Bar Allegria is a place where casual elegance and a relaxed atmosphere provide a place to enjoy great conversation and the Piano Bar offers live piano music.
Transat Holidays co-hosted the evening and provided the prize draw for a getaway for two to the Royal Hideaway.
For more information on Occidental Hotels & Resorts visit www.occidentalhotels.com
Photo: Chef Eugenio Villafana; Susan Webb, president, VoX International; Brian Joseph, key accounts, Transat.