Published on June 25th, 2014 | by Mark Chesnut
HOTEL REVIEW: Secrets The Vine — All-Inclusive Luxury for Adults in Cancun
During my recent visit to Cancun to cover Tianguis Turístico, Mexico‘s annual tourism convention, I was invited to stay at Secrets The Vine, an adults-only, all-inclusive Cancun beach hotel. It ended up being one of the best Cancun hotel experiences my husband and I have ever had. We liked it so much that I felt compelled to put together a list of the things that this hotel does right:
• The Design: Stylish and contemporary, but tasteful and subdued.
• The Greeting: The people in the lobby knew my name the minute I walked in the door.
• The Dining: Elegant, attractive, a-la-carte restaurants that serve fine cuisine — all included, and no reservations required.
• The Wristbands: Or rather, the lack thereof. Unlike most all-inclusive resorts, Secrets The Vine doesn’t require guests to wear wristbands, so there’s no uncomfortable plastic thing clinging to your wrist.
Now, the details:
THE STYLE: Contemporary and stylish but still welcoming and comfortable, Secrets The Vine is an adults-only, all-inclusive Mexico beach hotel that is part of the AMResorts portfolio. The tallest hotel in Cancun, its “fan coral” facade, designed by artist Jan Hendrix, makes a striking impression. In case you’re wondering about the origin of this hotel’s name, “The Vine” refers to vineyards, grapes and wine, a theme that works its way into the hotel’s well-executed design elements, as well as dining and entertaining experiences — and even some glorious spa treatments (keep reading for details).
This Cancun beach hotel is the type of place that truly pays attention to detail. As soon as we walked into the lobby, we were greeted by a staff member with glasses of champagne, and the receptionist who walked up to us already knew my name. He graciously walked us around the spacious, peaceful lobby area, where high ceilings and attractive modern furnishings — as well as an unobtrusive color scheme — just might make you feel like you’ve walked into a stylish, expansive vacation home. Another lovely thing about this hotel: there are no wrist bands, so you avoid that typical Cancun all-inclusive vacation feeling of being branded.
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THE GUEST ROOMS: We stayed on a Preferred Club floor, which includes private checkin on the 21st-floor lounge, daily continental breakfast, afternoon hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, a pillow menu, private swimming pool, free newspaper and upgraded minibar and bath amenities.
We stayed in room 2132, a spacious, 21st-story suite with two full bathrooms and two separate living/dining areas. The wrap-around balcony, which stretched across three sides, offered spectacular views of the lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. The room had nice touches like a long, handsome wood dining table, a flat-screen TV that swiveled between the two living areas, and another TV that glided futuristically out of a cabinet in front of the bed. The master bathroom was especially dreamy, with two sinks, a glass-enclosed, two-person shower with two rainforest showerheads, and a sliding door that opened from the shower onto a large bathtub, which in turn opens via sliding-glass door to the side balcony, where comfy seating offers beach and lagoon views (you could actually shower or take a bath while conversing with your traveling companion, who could be seated on the balcony).
Bathroom amenities include large-size bottles of lotion and even SPF 15 sunscreen, plus toothpaste. All rooms at Secrets The Vine have a patio or balcony, with either one king-size or two queen-size beds, as well as 42” TV screens, iPod and iPad docking stations and minibar, among other amenities.
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HOTEL FEATURES: Secrets The Vine takes its wine-inspired name seriously. The hotel’s wine cellar has some 4,500 bottles, and daily wine tastings allow guests to learn more about wine from Mexico and other countries — including Argentina, Chile, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Australia, to name just a few.
There are seven lovely restaurants on site, including casual U.S.-style dining at Half Time and Mexican and international specialties at the Market Café buffet. We enjoyed our first lunch at Sea Salt, which has indoor and outdoor seating near one of the swimming pools, and serves seafood and Peruvian cuisine.
One of the things we really liked about the a-la-carte restaurants was that no reservations are necessary at any of the a-la-carte restaurant. The one time that we did have to wait, the maître d’ issued us a beeper, so that we could go to the bar next door and have a drink. Another thing we liked was how, at dinner, the waiter always started the service with a small chef’s appetizer, before the food we ordered, making it feel like the gourmet sample had been chosen just for us.
One of our most elegant dinners at Secrets The Vine was at Bluewater Grill, where we savored expertly prepared steak; we also loved the flavors of Japan, China and Thailand that were served on the sophisticated menu at Dragons. I especially enjoyed the Thai chicken soup, made with coconut milk, lemon and cilantro, and the Mongolian pork with broccoli and water chestnuts.
At Olío, an open-air restaurant next to the 12th-floor swimming pool, we indulged in beautifully presented salmon tartare and lamb wrap, accompanied by two tasty drinks: the guacamaya azul (vodka and lemonade with blue curacao and margarita on top), and the non-alcoholic Fantasy (orange and pineapple juice, banana coconut cream and strawberry).
Also worth making time for is Secrets Spa by Pevonia, which sits on the 12th floor and offers beautiful views, a tranquil environment and excellent service (I felt especially refreshed after my wine therapy massage). There are 14 treatment cabins, including larger suites for couples. The spa facility sits adjacent to a beauty salon as well as a large fitness center that offers spectacular beach views — ideal motivation for exercising.
Another cool feature at Secrets The Fine: The hotel’s Unlimited Connectivity program includes a free app that allows guests to call the USA, Canada or Mexico directly from their cell phones (you can also make spa reservations and room service orders using the app).
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WHERE TO HANG OUT: There are three large infinity pools at Secrets The Vine, making it easy to enjoy quiet time or a more festive ambiance, depending on your mood. The beach is beautiful and well-equipped with lounge chairs and umbrellas. After dark, you can watch a game in the sports bar, or sample cocktails at the Red Vine Piano Bar, an elegant venue where dancing isn’t uncommon later at night.
BEST FOR: Singles and couples without kids, who are looking for a stylish, upscale (and quite likely romantic) all-inclusive Cancun beach experience. The property also has several spaces that work well for weddings and other private events.
RATES: About $300 and up, all-inclusive.
INFO & RESERVATIONS: www.secretsresorts.com