Telling friends that I’m going to Cancun for a long weekend takes courage. Flashbacks of Señor Frogs, cheap tequila, hammered high-school students Snapchatting God-knows-what, and barebones all-inclusive hotels seep into the mind. And my friends judge. So when I told them I was heading to Cancun for a long weekend in August, I could see those flashbacks running across their retinas like a silent movie. Joe is a world traveler, they think. Why the heck would he be going to Cancun?
Everyone needs a good go-to escape, a place that requires no more than five hours to get to—if by airplane, non-stop—and a complete transformation from your current environment. In my case, it’s escaping the chaos of home, New York City. And ten minutes from Cancun’s airport, tucked away by itself on Punta Nizuc, a 29-acre natural reserve is this escape, NIZUC Resort & Spa.
I’m not lying when I say NIZUC has the most valuable real estate on Mexico’s stretch of Caribbean Sea. There is no other resort that is so close to the airport yet so far away from the craziness of Cancun. It’s also situated inside a natural reserve and has two secluded beaches—one which is south facing and protected by a reef, and one which is a natural bay—so swimming is always a possibility.
NIZUC, which means “nose of the dog” in Mayan, works hard to embrace its local roots. And although it calls itself a resort, it does a solid job incorporating the local, cultural, and natural elements of its surroundings. NIZUC is nothing like the Cancun resort experience you thought you knew. Here are four reasons why.
1. The rooms. Located on the 5th floor of one of the residence towers (they’re only five stories tall), my Penthouse suite with floor-to-ceiling windows provided blood-pressure reducing views of the beautiful Caribbean. We had more space than we knew what to do with and my private terrace with infinity plunge pool and outdoor shower were luxurious touches.
2. The food. No mediocre buffet dinners here. With six world-class restaurants, each with their own kitchen, NIZUC invests heavily in the quality of its cuisine. My two favorites were Ni, a nod to Peruvian cuisine—which has some of the best ceviche I’ve ever had—and La Punta. Both are extremely laid back and casual.
3. The tranquil ambience. The words “Spring Break” have probably never been uttered on the property. Before becoming NIZUC, the property was slated to become an Aman, until some financial trouble. NIZUC took advantage of the opportunity. They inherited the serenity, simplicity, and modernism that Aman is well known for: reflection pools, clean lines, and generous space convert chaos into tranquility. My favorite example is NIZUC’s spa. When spa therapists tell you to arrive an hour before your treatment to enjoy the facilities, I usually ignore them. Doing that at NIZUC is a major faux pas. Their state-of-the-art hydrotherapy facilities including beautiful steam room, plunge pools, and high-pressure water faucets (be careful where you aim) are some of the best in the world. I came away from the experience wanting more.
4. The staff. Everyone is so gracious and willing to help. But they’re not overbearing—a quality 5-star luxury is sometimes notorious for. The team literally greets you with hand on heart. I had the opportunity to spend the most time with NIZUC’s tennis pro, Karl Vukobrat. NIZUC has two tennis courts and Karl’s enthusiasm got me out on the court three early mornings in a row for a private lesson.
Spending three nights at NIZUC provided a much-needed escape. It takes 3 hours and a couple of Xanax to get to the Hamptons, and five hours door-to-door to get to NIZUC. So when you tell your friends you’re going to Cancun, they can judge away—I’m sure you’ll be the one with the smile on your face when drinking that delicious mezcal margarita from the perch of your private infinity pool, taking in those tranquil turquoise hues of the Caribbean.
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