When it comes to hotels, if the words ‘all’ and ‘inclusive’ put together brings you out in hives, you can put the anti-histamines away. And if you think that you can’t have ‘authentic Mexico’ and ‘super-luxury’ in the same sentence, then put those preconceptions to one side as well.
At Unico 20° 87° on the scenic Riviera Maya near Cancun, it seems like you can have it all, up to and including an entirely child-free environment. Hooray, right?
Built just a couple of years ago, Unico 20° 87° has been hell-bent on immersing their guests in modern Mexican culture while also giving them the luxury resort experience. And that can be some tricky plate-spinning. The name, which comes from its co-ordinates on a map, proves that dedication to its local area while the vast programme of authentic regional experiences (while keeping everything super upscale) bangs that message home.
Now for the science bit: 450 rooms, give or take a suite, private pools, bars stocked with stuff you have told them you like and a pillow menu, art by local artists, décor using local materials… even the soap comes from down the road.
The rooms are modern but relaxed (no austere modernism here) and manage to corral the light, opening out onto beautiful Mexican views, either tropical or oceanfront. And if you want to supersize, they have suites that go up to nearly 2,000 square feet with outdoor terraces and Jacuzzis, the works.
And to underline that whole ‘local’ thing, Unico 20° 87° offer Local Hosts, who will act as guides to the local scene, sort out your restaurant reservations and tours… they can even aromatherapies you, if that’s where you want to go.
Stepping out of our room – and it was a tough one to pull off: we’d have been happy kicking around there for our whole stay – there are three pools to choose between, that’s if you don’t want to take the rickety wooden walkway through the greenery down to the beach.
There’s also a holistic spa (of course there is!), a barber shop for keeping that beard sharp and a slick fitness centre if you want to work off the extra pounds you’re bound to put on when the beer and the Bourbon flow freely (in both senses of that word!) and the food is as good as it is here. Or take a beachfront fitness class, floating yoga, maybe, or pilates. You can even treat yourself to a personal trainer even if this is supposed to be a holiday!
As for dinner, we almost went into a panic attack at the amount of choice there is across five different restaurants, from Italian to Japanese with plenty of local goodies in between, many of them inspired by Mayan recipes. The bars are almost as plentiful with live shows going on at the Palmera Lounge on Thursdays and Saturdays, where there’s a definite post-Prohibition Cuban vibe.
And if you ever manage to drag yourself away from the simple pleasures of Margaritas by the pool, there’s everything from jungle zip-lining through sailing to guided tours of Chichen Itza, not an item from the Nando’s menu but the classic Mayan city, the one with the pyramid with what like slides on the side. You’d know it if you saw it. We saw it, we knew it, we went back for more Margaritas.