Cancun, MexicoDec 30, 2019 03:52PM ● By Victor Block
Few places have a longer list of something-for-everyone attractions than Cancun, Mexico, and the nearby Riviera Maya. If you’re searching for a sun-and-sand getaway from the winter cold, look no more. Cancun is a world-class beach destination.
Gateway to the Mayans
Interested in exploring the civilization of the Mayans, who left a treasure-trove of grand monuments as testament to their 1,800 years of architectural and other accomplishments? Cancun serves as gateway to more than 30 of their archaeological remnants, ranging in size from fragments of tiny temples to vast towering pyramids. Some have been completely or partially reclaimed from the jungle; others remain virtually untouched where they have slept undisturbed for centuries.
If trendy restaurants and exhilarating nightlife rank high on your list of vacation treats, there’s more than enough of both to meet any demand.
During a recent visit to Cancun, my wife, Fyllis, and I made another discovery that adds a whole new dimension to the area’s appeal—the Sunset World Resorts, a Mexican-owned group of hotels that gives new meaning to the term “destination resorts.” I always espouse getting out and about any destination to meet and mingle with its people, experience the culture and delve into history, and that’s certainly true for Cancun and its surroundings. These properties can provide a vacation by themselves.
Each hotel offers very special appeals, and guests at any of them may take advantage of the facilities and activities at the others. In fact, the welcome challenge can become which resort to spend time at each day, taking advantage of the convenient van and water taxi transportation system.
While the choice was by no means easy, Fyllis and I agreed that our favorite was the Hacienda Tres Rios Resort, Spa and Nature Park. One reason for our decision was how the hotel was built to protect and enhance the surrounding environment. As a result, the Mexican government has ranked it among the top three sustainable hotels on the Yucatan peninsula. The 340-acre setting encompasses five major ecosystems and is home to some 120 species of plants and more than 90 species of animal life. And that’s just for starters!
Among features of the resort’s eco-friendly “intelligent rooms” are sensors that turn off the air conditioning when there’s no movement for a specified time, balconies designed to cast a cooling shadow on the windows of the room below and high-pressure, low-flow showerheads that deliver hot water in three seconds, thus conserving energy.
A unique and memorable offering at the resort is the appropriately named Sense Adventure, which is like nothing we’d experienced before. The goal of the exercise is to temporarily remove the primary way we relate to the world around us—our sight—so that other senses are enhanced.
After being gently blindfolded by our Mayan guides, participants shuffled slowly along a path, guided by a hand on the shoulder of the person in front. Then began a series of sounds, feelings and other external experiences that tested our perceptions as we attempted to decipher what was taking place around us.
Was that gentle noise cymbals, chimes or some other instrument? Our sense of touch was challenged when we removed our shoes and walked barefoot over wood slats, burlap, a soft rug and other textures.
At times, several senses sprang to life together—like when our ears heard soft voices chanting while seeds cascaded gently over our heads and our noses picked up the scent of cinnamon. A small glass container felt cool to the touch until the candle inside was lit. Near the end of the adventure, a cacophony of sounds—thunder, rain, birds and wind—rose in a crescendo and, now with maracas in hand, we picked up the tempo, added to the din and swayed in time with the underlying beat.
When the adventure ended, we left with a new, enhanced way of interpreting and appreciating our surroundings. Since returning home, we cling to the belief that the experience has had a lasting influence, which will continue to heighten our sense of being at one with the world around us.
None of the attractions at the other Sunset World Resorts provides the drama of the Sense Adventure, but learning opportunities cover a long and enticing list of subjects, ranging from cooking and Spanish language classes to kayaking and sailing. They also include a number of unusual activities not available at most hotels, like bartending and learning to make Mexican handicrafts.
Each resort attracts guests who prefer to focus their time and attention on one or more particular pursuits. For example, the Sunset Marina Resort & Yacht Club, perched at the edge of a lagoon, offers a long list of water sports. People staying there can rent a private yacht and explore Caribbean waters like a millionaire—at least for a while.
The Sunset Laguna Suites, Golf & Spa is adjacent to the Pok-ta-Pok golf course, which was laid out by the legendary designer Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and occupies an area that once was a Mayan ball field. A number of small archaeological remnants from that time now serve as unique hazards for players. At the spa, some treatments are based upon time-tested techniques that were developed hundreds of years ago by Mayan healers.
In keeping with its name, rooms at the Ocean Spa Resort have features like massaging multi-jet showers, a yoga mat and meditation stool and aroma candles to help provide a relaxing atmosphere.
All-inclusive rates at the resorts for two people, including meals, beverages and activities ranging from classes to water sports, begin at $256 a night, depending upon the accommodation, hotel and season.
For more information call Sunset World Resorts at 800-494-9173 or visit www.sunsetworldresorts.com.