While the hospitality sector spent most of 2020 in survival mode as the early stages of COVID-19 battered the demand for travel, some hotel brands still pushed forward with bold ideas, bravely opening new properties even if the outlook, at the time, was grim.
Hilton Hotels and Resorts was among the gutsy ones – the pandemic, last year, didn’t stop the company from giving birth to a beautiful and boutique-y gem in Mexico’s coastal town of Playa del Carmen, where fun vibes and Insta-worthy backdrops go a long way in launching new venues.
The all-inclusive Yucatan Resort Playa del Carmen, a 60-room and suite, four-storey hotel located directly on the town’s famed Fifth Avenue, unbolted its doors in May of 2020, becoming the newest addition to Hilton’s Tapestry Collection – a set of unique hotels that reflect the personalities of iconic destinations.
Formally a Live Aqua operated by Grupo Posadas, the enhanced Yucatan Resort, which is managed by Playa Hotels & Resorts, has the vibe, the location, and then some, as PAX discovered during an exclusive stay at the property in July of last year.
The adults-only “gem,” said Playa Hotels and Resorts’ Veronica Sarmiento, regional director of sales and marketing, is for “those who want to take in the best of Playa del Carmen in a sophisticated, attention-to-detailed place, surrounded by beautiful architecture, that’s also close to attractions and culture.”
A place of richness
The lush greenery, region-inspired artwork and wooden materials utilized throughout the hotel’s modern lobby immediately evokes a place of richness.
“Place of richness” is, in fact, the meaning behind the Nahuatl word “Yokatlān,” which is the origin of the more familiar name, “Yucatan,” that is known today in reference to the peninsula of the same name where Mexico’s Riviera Maya region is found.
The Yucatan Resort Playa del Carmen exudes richness in all directions. Around the corner from the wooden front desk is an open-air restaurant, El Mural, which is named after the gigantic, hand-painted, Mayan-inspired mural by street artist Eduardo Kobra that fills an entire wall.
El Mural is a courtyard breakfast spot, offering an international buffet and artfully-presented fruits, pastries, fresh juices, cereals and sliced meats and cheeses, in addition to local eats, from French toast to classic chilaquiles. Kobra’s colourful mural, meanwhile, is dessert…for the eyes.
There are several rustic canoes placed throughout the property – a tribute to Playa del Carmen’s fishing village past – and other playful installations, from warm-wood chairs with punchy yellow cushions to Volkswagens covered in pink and cream seashells
And the Yucatan Resort is definitely close to all the action. With direct access to pedestrian-friendly Fifth Avenue, guests are a salsa step away from Playa del Carmen’s many bars, restaurants, cafes, and retail stores, the beach and local entertainment.
“The cherry on the cake”
As a guest of the hotel, the hard part is deciding on whether to stay in or go out.
With an inviting, intimate and relaxed atmosphere, the Yucatan Playa del Carmen, in many ways, feels like a multi-level, luxury home – one you’ll quickly adopt as your own – and it’s very easy to grab a cocktail and get comfortable.
The hotel, for one, has a super stylish rooftop – “The cherry on the cake,” as Sarmiento put it – featuring a gorgeous infinity pool (anchored by one of those aforementioned canoes) along with soaring views of the town, including the ocean, which is only a few blocks away.
With plenty of sun chairs and cushioned seating areas, the rooftop is a cozy place to park, from sunrise to sunset, with fresh juice or margarita in hand, and just breathe. It’s an oasis of lush flora and warm wood that can be enjoyed solo, with lovers or with best friends. Everybody fits in.
There are two outdoor restaurants on the roof: La Terraza Snack Bar (serving indulgent tacos, salads, ceviche, wings and more) and Sakura Maru Sushi Bar, which offers Nikkei cuisine (a Japanese and Peruvian fusion) consisting of sushi, ceviche and other delights.
Both eateries, being rooftop destinations, deliver high-end hotel experiences. For a moment, you’ll forget you’re at an all-inclusive. Sunset hour is particularly sexy. So is nighttime (the rooftop glows with lanterns and neon blue pool lights). And, on weekends, DJs bring the beats.
Other on-site dining options include “Coffee Corner,” a cute, help-yourself table on the main floor where you can fill your cup with java and grab pastries on the go. This is just beyond the resort’s small but suitable fitness centre and spa.
And, 24-hour in-suite dining is available, if desired.
Master Suites + beach access
The Yucatan Resort’s dramatic, stone-grey hallways lead to chic rooms and suites that come with large comfy beds, sofas and, depending on the category, balconies that overlook the neighbourhood.
The extensive Junior and Master Suites, in particular, have balconies that face Fifth Avenue, with the latter category boasting a large deck that has its own jacuzzi and relaxation area.
The Yucatan Playa del Carmen represents the second Playa-managed Hilton all-inclusive property in town (the Hilton Playa del Carmen being the first).
The Hilton-Playa pact also packs a powerful punch in terms of COVID-19 health and safety. The Yucatan Resort utilizes two programs, Playa Safe Stay and Hilton CleanStay, which deliver hygiene and sanitization protocols that travellers, today, expect.
And for those who want a full resort experience with multiple dining venues, a beach and large pools – even if just for one day – there's an option.
For a reasonable fee under the “All-Inclusive Plus Package,” Yucatan Resort guests can enjoy the amenities of the much-bigger Hilton Playa del Carmen just down the street. It’s less than a five-minute walk away.
What’s it like to stay at The Yucatan Resort Playa del Carmen? Watch PAX’s exclusive on-location video report!