Blvd Kukulkan km 14.5, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico
A sleek adult–only retreat with a wine focus on a prime stretch of beach in the heart of Cancun's hotel zone.
What's the true test of a luxury hotel in Cancun? Time your visit for Spring Break and see if your hotel reverberates with raucous partying or if you can find peaceful seclusion when you want it. Cancun is Mexico's party central for college–age revelers and Secrets The Vine passes the Spring Break litmus test with flying colors. Opened in late 2012, it offers sophisticated all–adult luxury in the heart of Cancun's lively hotel zone.
Designed by The Rockwell Group (the same architectural group that designed Nobu Hotel in Las Vegas and Gordon Ramsay's new restaurants at the St. Regis Dohs in Qatar), this addition to the Secrets deluxe all–inclusive chain makes the most of its beachfront setting. The sleek glass and white metal 18–story facade is positioned at an east–west angle rather than fronting the ocean. This means that unlike some other Cancun hotel zone properties, the swimming pools receive more sunshine by day and the guest rooms enjoy optimum views.
While the grounds at Secrets The Vine don't yet have as much tropical vegetation as older, more established properties in the hotel zone, there's plenty of eye candy in its architectural drama, such as a giant rain shower and a suspended boardwalk that seems to float above the Caribbean.
Indoors, the hotel's minimalist design manages to be modern without feeling stark thanks to layers of texture and color. The undulating walls, polished marble, and etched glass accents reflect the ocean landscape so you never feel disconnected from nature.
Secrets The Vine is part of AMResorts, operating 32 different beach properties under multiple brands in Mexico and the Caribbean, including Zoetry, Secrets, and Now. For the higher–end brands they use their coined term "Unlimited Luxury" to describe their all–inclusive package of twice–daily maid service, 24–hour room service, and concierge attention. They deliver as promised — staffers are attentive without being intrusive plus you'll appreciate not having to keep track of towel cards or wear a pesky all–inclusive wristband.
At this resort, balconies overlook both the Caribbean Sea and Nichupte Lagoon. They're spacious enough to enjoy morning coffee, a sunset cocktail or even room service without feeling cramped. The predominant room category, the Deluxe Ocean View Suite, offers a room of 475 square feet, plus another 110 on the balcony. The Preferred Club Presidential Suites are the property's largest with close to 3,000 square feet divided between a spacious 2–bedroom interior and an ocean view balcony.
© Secrets The Vine
Guest rooms have stylish yet minimalist décor with a chaise lounge or sofa, Italian porcelain floors, ample closet space, coffee makers, his and hers sinks, dual showerheads, and a glass–enclosed washroom with separate lavatory. Linens are high quality and bathrobes generously sized. Extra touches include an incense burner with incense, extensive room amenities such as SPF 15 sunscreen, and chocolates with evening turn–down service. The well–stocked minibar is replenished regularly and can be customized with your choice of liquor, additional bottled water, or snacks.
If you're looking for an enhanced level of luxury, you might want to consider upgrading to Preferred Club status. Although the guest rooms have the same square footage, you'll get access to the Preferred Club Lounge on the 11th level offering enhanced concierge service, continental breakfast, afternoon hot and cold tapas, desserts, and premium liquors. But the best reason to upgrade is for access to the private swimming pool, a breezy spot offering expansive views of the blue Caribbean waters.
Unlike many resorts where the spa is relegated to a basement or back room with few windows, at Secrets The Vine Cancun, the 12,580 square foot Pevonia spa is located on the hotel's 12th floor (third level) offering a steam room, whirlpool, and expansive ocean views. The design of the spa's hydrotherapy pools evokes the Yucatan's natural cenotes with limestone pathways and reflecting pools, helping you feel connected to the region's natural beauty.
The adjacent fitness center offers state–of–the–art LifeFitness equipment. With floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beach, this gym may just offer the best view of any hotel fitness facility in the Caribbean. If there is room for improvement, it's in the outdoor area. Yoga classes take place on the deck near the main swimming pool, which, while pretty, offers little shade. It's wise to wear sunscreen.
In a nice contrast to nickel–and–diming chain hotels and resorts, Secrets The Vine Cancun provides free in–room Wi–Fi and is one of five AMResorts offering "Unlimited Connectivity" through a free app for Apple devices, Android, and Blackberry. Download it to your mobile device or tablet and you can make free international phone calls to Canada, the US and within Mexico without incurring roaming charges. You can also use it to book spa appointments and excursions. An in–room iPod docking station lets you recharge, listen to your own music and set your own wake–up calls. The in-room safe is generous enough to fit a laptop, camera and personal items.
© Secrets The Vine
When it comes to dining, this Secrets resort offers seven restaurants (six a la carte and one buffet), a café, and six bar/lounges in addition to 24–hour room service. The cuisine lives up to its gourmet hype. For Italian cuisine, try?Nebbiolo Ristorante (open only in the evening)?or the Sea Salt Grill for daytime dining (don't miss the Peruvian ceviche). Unlike most all–inclusive resorts where reservations are needed for a la carte dining, Secrets the Vine features a no–reservations policy. This means you don't need to rush to a concierge desk to book a table and can be flexible with your dining schedule. By and large, the no–reservations policy works well. The only wait you'll likely experience will be at the Market Café during peak breakfast hours.
Although you're welcome to indulge in virtually any cocktail you can dream up, Secrets The Vine is especially appealing for wine fans. Enjoy quality wine at no extra charge or order from a 4,500 bottle wine cellar. If you're not in the market to explore their roster of rare wines — the cellar's most expensive offering is a $3,000 bottle of Chateau Lafitte — the hotel sommelier will introduce you to a nicely curated selection of wines from Mexico's Guadalupe, San Vincente and Santo Tom?s Valleys. Or, you can join a sommelier–led group tasting at The Vine Bar, a hacienda–style wood table with seating for 14 guests, located in the lobby overlooking the wine cellar.
This well–run resort offers peaceful seclusion from Cancun's famous party scene yet is close enough you won't feel cut off from the resort town's vibrant energy — you're a short ride from the airport, nightlife and the new Museo Maya de Cancun. Designed to appeal to active adults, it's sophisticated without being stuffy and has a touch of sensuality befitting its location on one of Mexico's most beautiful white sand beaches.
Web Address: www.secretsresorts.com/vine-cancun
Total Number of Rooms: 495
Published rates: $464 – $4,950 double all–inclusive, with taxes
Review by Michele Peterson, photos by the writer except where indicated.