The hubbie and I were fortunate to have stayed at the Now Jade Riviera Cancun, from June 5-12, 2010. As a couple, it was our 4th stay in the Mayan Riviera region. The hubbie has far more travel miles to numerous destinations, in different regions of the world, than I. Likewise, as a former sous chef for Trump resorts/casinos, he is far pickier than I, especially when it comes to food. In addition, unlike me, he has never enjoyed vacationing the AMresorts way. Therefore, I was a tad nervous that we were venturing off of the latest of our favorite resorts, to try the property formerly known as NH Riviera Cancun. We were drawn to this property because it had an awesome location, right next to the marina, with an outstanding beach, and, was a short cab ride to the wonderfully quaint town of Puerto Morelos. Finally, I felt, even as NH Riviera Cancun, the property would completely match our vacation priorities for this trip. Adding the management of AMresorts, I felt we were in for a real treat. We were not disappointed. In fact, we will be returning to Now Jade in 2011. I tend to be a bit verbose. Therefore, if you would like to stop here, and shoot me a pm to answer specific questions, feel free. If you like reading, continue on.
The Property: Yes, it is true, one is not wowed by the out door entrance, unless of course, one has a profound appreciation for the abundance of wild life (variety of birds) that visit the mangrove(and we did)(Tip: Bring binoculars). Yes, it is also true, on our day of departure only, there was a slight smell of sulphur(not sewer) in the early morning hours, around the entrance of the resort. But, as our private transfer (via AGI Tours) arrived, we were “Welcomed Home”. We were immediately wowed by the direct sea view from the lobby. We were also quite pleased with the decor inside Now Jade. There is a lovely fountain in the center, and the general theme of the decor is that of the sea: coral and shells. While the furniture could use some sprucing, the decor was beautiful in its simplicity. We enjoyed our daily finds of sculptures and sea life located throughout the lobby and the PC Lounge. The architecture itself is difficult for this layman to describe, but it had lovely clean lines and many little window-like areas where one could peek into other areas of both the beach, and the resort. We enjoyed finding those windows to the soul of Now Jade.
Size of Property: From the front door, to the beach, it is approximately one and a half city blocks. If one is staying in Building 9, we felt it was not a far walk to the lobby and restaurants. I found the layout confusing, but I can get lost inside a paper bag. If walking the beach, it is about a ½ mile from the water sports center outside of building 1 to the outside of building 9.
The Beach: Our first glimpse of the beach was directly through the glass doors of the lobby. It took our breath away. I had read that the beach is not so nice in Puerto Morelos. Well, the water was a beautiful turquoise, and Windex blue in some areas. Yes, there are some “rocky areas”, but one can enjoy a rock-free entrance in front of Bldg 1 and Bldg 9. I am sure there are other areas; however, those are the areas we tried. In addition, there is some sea grass that washes up; however, there are also employees who hand raked it daily. Sea grass was not a significant issue. We loved that one could have an ocean front view in the lobby, at Pure Restaurant, and at the buffet. A sea view could be enjoyed in Senses, Olas, and Cinque Terre (with outside seating of course).
The Lack of the Towel Game: For the record, there are 74 palapas on the beach, with two loungers and a table beneath each one. They can be found in three different areas: 34 were in front of Building 9. I didn’t count the others in front of the buffet seating, and in front of Building 1. We had no towel game issues outside of Building 9. In fact, on all days, there were empty palapas outside of Building 9 as late as 3:00 p.m. I truly believe part of the problem of the towel game, is that people simply do not put their towels in a bin when they are finished with loungers, so no one knows if they are saved or not. There are signs posted and a message in all additions of the SUNDIAL telling that reserving is not acceptable, and items will be removed and put in Lost and Found.
The Landscaping: First of all, Now Jade Puerto Morelos is in Puerto Morelos. Puerto Morelos is a National Park and protected reef. The resort is built over a mangrove. No rooms are directly on the ground. The first floor begins where the second floor would normally be. Therefore, even a first floor room provides a good view, and protects you from any unwanted guests, of the critter variety. Beneath the first floor, there were lovely plants. In a few spots, at the activity pool area, one could find hammocks. In addition, we could tell that AMresorts has recently planted new shrubbery, plants, and flowering plants. Right now, the palms and new plants are immature. With time, the plant life will grow and become much lusher.
Checking-In: As an anniversary surprise, the hubbie had arranged to upgrade from a junior suite ocean view, to a Preferred Club Ocean View. Therefore, we went directly to the PC Lounge for check-in. We were greeted in the PC Lounge by an outstanding employee named, Dalel. She was always professional; speaks English, as a second language, flawlessly; and followed through on any request or question we had. We landed at CUN at 10:15 a.m. and lucked out, as we were in our room by 11:30 a.m.
The Room - PC Ocean View Rm. 7303: First of all, after we choose a destination based on beach, the room (location, decor, storage, etc) is the next priority for us. We enjoy our balcony, and enjoy having things as nicely organized on vacation, as they are at home. We can’t function in chaos. Therefore, with extensive research prior to booking, I was completely satisfied with what I saw in photos of a regular junior suite, ocean view. That is why I booked it. Because we upgraded, I cannot comment on that room category. However, the PC OV room is beautiful, and absolutely awesome in the storage and layout category. We both had more than ample room for our things. We were located on the third floor, and were the first room after the ocean fronts. It was an excellent location, and afforded us an easterly view, where we enjoyed watching the sun rise over the marina. It was simply a stunning view. We actually felt this view was better than an ocean front, as it provided balance of the quiet pool, palm foliage, the ocean and the marina. I would highly recommend this room/or an easterly view, if you are a boat lover. The fridge was the first one we have ever experienced on vacation that actually kept the contents cold. The mini bar consisted of Pepsi Products, Ginger Ale, Orange Soda, mineral water, Dos XX and E Pura brand water, which unlike Crystal, offered at other resorts we have frequented, did not contain any sodium. Being a Diet Pepsi gal, I was happy. Being on a low sodium diet, the hubbie was happy. Upon entering the room, to the left is a completely private bathroom with solid wood doors, an exhaust system, commode/bidet and a sink. Bathroom privacy is not an issue at Now Jade. The living area and bedroom both have their own climate control, ceiling fan, and flat screen TV. If traveling with a family, the doors to the bedroom and dressing area can be completely closed, providing privacy. There is a round table with two chairs (and lighting overhead) in front of the outlet to plug in your pc. The sofa was comfy, and the ottoman beneath the flat screen was a lovely place to put any towel friends one may receive. Last but not least, in the living area, there is an opening for the balcony. WARNING: There is no handle to help you open it once outside on the balcony. One must use ones hand, on the glass, to slide it open. Some improvement could be made in this area. The balcony......we are truly balcony people. There were two faux rattan chairs and a round table, and last but not least, there was the Jacuzzi. The hubbie and I are not thin people, and it easily fit both of us. Privacy issues on the balcony....there is a solid wall all the way up until approx 2 feet from the ceiling. This layout afforded total privacy. One of the things I liked the most about this room, and all the rooms at Now Jade....the balconies are tempered glass, so even shorties like me can see everything. It was simply beautiful. Room storage.....There were two huge closets that even this over packer could not fill. Ladies, a tip, pick the closet on the right (vanity facing), as it did not have the safe or ironing board, and offered more room. There was a double vanity, with a large shelf beneath for all of your traveling essentials. The Sunbeam 1200 watt hair dryer and magnifying mirror was to the left, so ladies, you may want to set up shop on that side. The shower was a rain shower. We never had hot water or water pressure issues. There was an expandable drying cord in the shower, and shelving for shower products. The sheets were not Egyptian cotton, but we did not pay for the Ritz. However, the bedding was quite nice, and the bed was the most comfortable we have enjoyed in our travels anywhere.
The Jacuzzi on the balcony: We absolutely loved the Jacuzzi on the balcony and used it pretty much every night. It was spotless when we arrived, and it was kept that way each day by our wonderful housekeeper. We had no issues with mosquitoes.
The Pools: We usually like to participate in things arranged by the activities team. However, on day 1, we went to the activity pool, and frankly, it was just too noisy for us. Perhaps, we are just getting old and boring. More importantly, there were too many children at the swim-up bar. However, this is not an issue AMresorts is responsible for, rather, it is an issue of parents who find it cute. Since we are accustomed to traveling in May, when children are rare, it is not an issue we have ever had to deal with. After also seeing groups of 18 year olds, who just graduated high school, and were obviously traveling with their parents, doing shots at the swim-up bar, we knew we would spend our time at the Quiet Pool. The Quiet Pool is open to everyone. There were many other adults staying on the non-PC side, who felt the activity side was too noisy, and walked over to enjoy the Quiet Pool. No, it was not boring. We enjoyed making new friends at the Quiet Pool. The Quiet Pool was a combo of a swim up bar, and a gorgeous infinity pool. It was clean, and refreshing. If you are in the pool, shade can be found beneath the swim up bar, and hammocks that sway in the breeze, over the water. Francesco is an outstanding bartender, and Tomas and Antonio worked tirelessly on beach/pool wait service. There is plenty of shade at the Quiet Pool. There are 12 canopied Bali Beds, at least 13 umbrellas, and 5 shaded hammocks over the pool. The hardest working man at Now Jade is Felipe. He always had the towels on the loungers, cleaned up after those who left trash behind, set up the umbrellas, and tidied the canopies for the Bali Beds. If you wanted shade, Felipe would find an umbrella and move it for you. We saw him carry the base (filled with cement), on his head. If you see Felipe, give him a great big, “Hola!”, and a nice tip. He works diligently. Our only issue with the Quiet Pool was the music. I nearly puked hearing an “Enya Like” band covering the Rolling Stones. “Paint it Black” should not be covered by elevator music. But....it is a Quiet Pool! lolol
The Food: Yes, as in every other resort I have been to, depending on occupancy, there were at least two restaurants closed each night. The info on closing was available in the SUNDIAL. It was no big deal. The buffets had nightly themes for dinner.....Asian, Italian, and Spanish. We never dined at the buffet for dinner, but we did hit it for dessert. Desserts are awesome at Now Jade, especially if you are a dark chocolate lover. In addition, on Saturday, there was a Mexican fiesta with mechanical bull rides. We missed it. There was also a Caribbean festival on Wednesday. We chose not to dine outdoors, but the band was playing awesome Latin music. The actual food....Where do I begin? Well, we both gained about 5 lbs. When we dined at around 7:30 p.m., we were seated right away. If we arrived around 8:00 p.m. or later, there was a 15 or 30 minute wait time. It was no biggie, and we consider it to be a standard(if not a shorter) wait time when dining in any restaurant in the US. We simply took the pager, and enjoyed a cocktail. The restaurants: I will rate the restaurants according to our preference: Pure for dinner (2X), Cinque Terre(Italian)(2X), Senses(2X), Mexican. We only had poor service once, on our first visit at Cinque Terre. It just wasn’t cohesive. They were not a team. We also enjoyed the Olas for a la carte lunch on two different occasions. The food was outstanding at Olas, but we often had to ask for something twice. In their defense, they were setting up for a big wedding rehearsal dinner. It really was not much of an issue for us, as we were on vacation. Room Service: Each day, I ordered a pot of tea and coffee from room service at 6:00 a.m., and each day, it arrived at 6:30 a.m. We also enjoyed room service for a full breakfast twice, including the day we checked out, at 6:30 a.m. We called it in at 6:00 a.m., and it arrived at 6:30 a.m. We just told them we were checking out, and they had it in the room, hot and fresh. We made it in more than enough time to check-out at 7:00 a.m. It was a typical room service breakfast. It came quickly, and was hot, but something was lost in translation. If you order pancakes, ask for syrup. On another occasion, we ordered pepperoni pizza, and it was surprisingly good. However, french fries do not transport well. Our favorite lunch place was at the grill at the Quiet Pool. Chicken, Flank Steak, Grouper, Burgers, Hotdogs, Chips, Pico Quac, and my fave.....grilled burritos. The hubbie even had them make him a grouper burrito. Last, but not least, the breakfast buffet was out of this world. It appears small; however, it packs a huge punch. It is cool inside, and there is seating outside. There were two cooked to order egg station, with quite a large selection of ingredients for omelets; there was a fabulous fresh juice selection which included the usual breakfast juice fare, and I was surprised to find both beet and celery juice. However, I wasn’t brave enough to try them. There was a Mimosa/Bloody Mary station; a freshly blended smoothie station; a yogurt bar and Yoplait (Regular and Light); a cereal bar; and a toaster with bagels, white and wheat bread, and slice your own bread. All breads were fresh. There was a huge Mexican selection; french toast and pancakes with many toppings; and the usual breakfast fare, i.e. hash browns, sausage and bacon. Finally, the buffet included my breakfast favorite, croissants and these little chocolate pastries. The chocolate pastries were just one of the freshly made pastries offered at Now Jade. The tea is a free trade brand. Yes, they have Splenda. Service was outstanding each day.
Entertainment: We did not participate in day time activities, so I cannot comment. However, I was completely impressed with the variety of the nightly entertainment. There were so many different things to do at night, at the same time. So, if you didn’t want to do “A” at 7:30 p.m., you could do “B” offered at the same time. Current DVD releases were shown at 7:30 p.m. in the plaza area. Around the same time, there was outstanding live music in the lobby in the early evening: a trio consisting of a violinist, flautist, and keyboard; a Latin band; an acoustic trio; a ventriloquist/musician (We skipped that one) There was so much variety, but so very little time to enjoy everything. We may just have to increase our usual stay from 7 to 10 days. The Stanley Cup finals were shown on the big screen at the Blue Beach Bar. Yes, this Philly girl had to watch the Flyers lose on their home turf, while I was in Mexico, with many people from Chicago. : ( In addition, at the Blue Beach Bar, there was often a band. The breeze is awesome here. Each night, there was also a show or activity. They included: Mexican Fiesta Night with a mechanical bull; Caribbean Beach Party with a wonderful Latin band; the Circus Show (The a/c in the theater is outstanding.); the Fire Show (Tip: Dine at Pure that night and ask for outside seating, you have a front row seat!); Casino Night (with Spa prize)a Challenge Game at the Arenas Sports Bar; Karaoke Night(didn’t participate) and American Idol Night(The hubbie chickened out.) At 11:00 p.m. each evening, there was a D.J. in the Arenas Sports Bar. The a/c was awesome there, but we never made it for the D.J. Right outside of the entrance to the Sports Bar, beginning at 11:00 p.m., there was a small buffet, which consisted of hamburgers, hotdogs, fries, chips and cheese. As I stated, I was very impressed with the entertainment. It was the best we have experienced in all of our travels, for sheer variety alone. There was something for everyone, and there were definitely no “Michael Jackson Shows.”
What We Loved The Most: Everything we loved about Now Jade Riviera Cancun is everything one finds at an AMresorts managed property, basically freedom to enjoy a vacation, or as I like to call it, a “rule free” vacation. We loved not needing towel cards; unlimited a la carte dining, and no reservations required for that dining; an a la carte lunch option, an a la carte breakfast option (if staying Preferred Club), a wide variety of night time entertainment options, 24 hour room service, without a per plate fee; drinks served in appropriate glass ware; drinks blended, rather than dispensed from a slushy machine; and a staff dedicated to exceptional service. What we loved the most about this resort in particular was the tempered glass balconies, the lovely scent that came from burning oil that pretty much could be found everywhere but where one was dining, and in your own room(where we were offered Jasmine incense to burn); the location in the town of Puerto Moelos, and the beach.
Why Upgrade to Preferred Club: I can’t really comment on a stay in the non-PC area, however, it was good enough for me to book initially, so it would have met our needs nicely, and we would have had an enjoyable stay with simply unlimited luxury. However, for a more over the top experience, I highly recommend upgrading to the Preferred Club, especially at Now Jade Riviera Cancun, for the following reasons: room size and close proximity to the Quiet Pool and the Marina; extra luxury amenities like Gilchrist and Soames toiletries, robes, slippers, premium alcohol (They had an outstanding champagne.), an a la carte breakfast option at Pure; and use of the Preferred Club Lounge. At other resorts in which we upgraded to their premium level, we rarely took advantage of the Premium Lounge. At Now Jade, we were there several times a day, not only for the little extras like a Nespresso machine; a continental breakfast; outstanding sandwiches, pastries and chocolates(at night); the option of using a computer; a large flat screen TV.; an assorted variety of board games; and an outstanding staff, but also because of its location. You cannot go to your room or go to dinner, without passing it. The a/c in there is awesome, and it provided a lovely stop off in the heat of June. Last, but not least, the staff (Thank you Dalel) is also outstanding, and more than willing to help in any way. If there is anything you need, it is always their “pleasure” to take care of it for you.
In Sum: We feel that Now Jade Riviera Cancun, especially under the management of AMresorts, is a true gem. If you do not want to pay $5K for garish Vegas glitz, butler service, a Zen like ambiance(a.k.a. empty room)and private cabanas on a beach with sand whales, and would prefer unlimited luxury, done the AMresorts way, at a moderately priced resort, Now Jade Riviera Cancun is the perfect resort for you. If you want additional luxury, a bigger room, a more romantic and couple oriented atmosphere, pay the extra and upgrade to Preferred Club. We can’t wait to watch this new NOW brand evolve. It is great at the moment, and will only get better. We also can’t wait to return in 2011. However, we won’t return in June. The heat is much greater in June, than in our usual month of May. Many thanks to the following staff members who went above and beyond to make our stay an excellent experience: Alex; Dalel; Daniel; Manuel; Diana; Samantha; our housekeeping staff, in particular, Conception, who did nightly turn down; the bar staff at the Quiet Pool: Francesco, Tomas and Antonio; and last but not least, Felipe in the quiet pool area. If you have any specific questions, fell free to shoot me a pm. If you would like a link to my public pictures, also shoot me a pm.