If you were to take a clean slate and design a top end state of the art all inclusive resort hotel it would probably look a lot like Secrets the Vine Cancun. The hotel incorporates some of the most modern design features I have seen and everything just seems to work really well. The lighting was a particular favourite, with a good balance of ambience coupled with colour. Nowhere else is this more apparent than at the entrance to the room where the room number is backlight to glow as a hole in the side panel. A nice touch.
The lighting theme continues inside the room, with multiple settings for separate zones and moods. This took some getting used to but worked well. In fact the room was a technological showpiece which included a quality iPod dock and an oversized 40 international channel plasma to play with. But my favourite part must have been the wet room housing two separate showers, complete with complimentary Gilchrist and Soames tolietries, to be followed by the softest towels and bathrobes imaginable. Make no mistake that top end accommodation extends to all aspects of life at Secrets.
Nowhere is this more evident than with the food and drink offerings. Breakfast for me was comparable with just about every other buffet out there. But to be given the same great table seven out of ten times was a new experience, although I'm not sure if this was luck or good management.
But the food fun really gets going at 1pm with the daily parade of the chefs around the pool area who deliver a very wide selection of canapés directly to your sunbed. Great canapés too. Think sushi, beef burrito, taco, shrimp etc etc. It's really a chance to tempt you into a restaurant later that evening. But before you do, lunch can be taken from a buffet or cooked to order burgers and hot dogs at the pool, or a sandwich or bagel from the coffee bar inside. Some days there were even specials on the beach which included incredibly authentic fajitas. Absolutely sensational.
Great food was always available whenever we wanted it. And the offering just got better at night with half a dozen memorable restaurants to choose from. Our favourite had to be the blue water grill steakhouse which served up the tastiest T-bone I can remember. The steak filled the plate and was cooked to perfection in the way that might shame many so called premium steak houses. On the last night I just couldn't decide between this and the rib-eye so ordered both. Out of sheer greed I finished them both and didn't regret it for a second!
So lets think about the drinks. Again, these were plentiful and always served with a cheerful smile whenever and wherever you wanted them, be that around the pool, at one of the many bars, or with dinner. The wine cellar was impressive and you can even take part in tasting, although the prices seemed ambitious particularly when the house red - either a Chilean or Mexican Cabernet Sauvignon - proved the perfect accompaniment for the steaks. I'll be stocking up with this at home.
The hotel has some other great features too. Admittedly not a deal breaker, but the taps in the communal toilet facilities were a favourite. A quick wave of your hand in front of them and water cascades down before you use a tightly rolled real towel. I like that.
The entrance area has a good amount of chairs and sofas for relaxing on with a selection of board games to play, which struck me as a good rainy day (or sunburn day) activity. One feature of the lobby is a huge real fireplace. It was fun to look at, but hardly a requirement in the heat, so it's always great to know the architect had a sense of humour.
But a hotel is just a building without the staff and thankfully the team at Secrets are easily up to the job and seem to go out of their way to make sure you are having a great time. Of particular note was the entertainment team who tirelessly and seamlessly take you from Spanish lessons, through water aerobics, dance lessons, beach volleyball, Mexican bingo, guessing games, horseshoes, and then on to karaoke before going to a club. A special thank you to Victor (who could easily be mistaken for Obama), Winnie Pooh (yes, that really is his name), Alan (he dances at any opportunity), Beth and Sandy. This team want you to have fun, and they succeeded with us and then some. But if you want to be left alone that's ok too.
Entertainment is generally first rate at Secrets. Several times during our stay there were live performances at the pool, and once there was even a stage set up on the beach. It's such a nice touch to have a really good show during the day. The night time shows were good too, and whilst the Cirque de Soleil inspired acts are not really my thing, comedy Elvis and the ten piece Mariarchi band more than made up for it.
If you have enough energy you can continue at the sports bar or piano bar, or take the club option. We tended to prefer to the sports bar which showed mainly American sports to a mainly American audience and in so doing generated quite an atmosphere.
Some complained that music round the pool was too loud and intrusive. I disagree. I loved it, and the selection was perfect. I even used an app to identify the tunes for downloading later on. The pools themselves were good with plenty of beds for all those that needed them most days. There was only one day when it was a bit of a struggle, but that coincided with the hotel being full, so to be expected I suppose. Beach towels were always available.
The hotel formula must have worked as I have never known any resort where the other guests were so approachable and easy going. It really was a case of holidaying with a few hundred friends you had not met yet. In fact, my favourite photo was not one of us on the beach with the white sand and crystal blue water in the background, but it was a photo of us with three other couples over dinner on our last night. The eight of us were all from different parts of the world, we all had different lives, and we only met around the pool within the past few days, but for that one evening it was the best most relaxed overseas dinner ever. They say that life is a collection of moments and that was certainly one of them.
Nowhere is without its annoyances and there were a few "niggles" during our visit. Upon arrival we were given a $200 resort credit. Drilling down to the terms this wasn't a credit at all but the total value of coupons for use against wine in the restaurants and for spa treatments. I'm sure the spa was great, but it seemed expensive compared to others I have seen, which probably explains why the spa man had to work so hard to get you to use it. He was extremely persistent and he would turn up with his massage chair to greet you out of the lift in the morning and around the pool pretty much all day. Quite why he needed a CIA style curly cable earpiece tucked into his shirt I will never know. Perhaps he was a secret operative but he never gave up. I began to wish he would just take a break and stay in the spa but to no avail. Pity.
This is a seriously impressive place to take a holiday and my wife and I have just enjoyed ten incredible days there. We loved the overall experience and are even talking about returning some day soon. As a new resort we can only hope that its current efforts to ensure guest satisfaction stand the test of time, but for now I have no hesitation in recommending it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Escape to the heart of Cancun at Secrets The Vine Cancun. This adults-only, ultra-chic, contemporary resort offers all the indulgences of Unlimited-Luxury(R), starting with 497 modern, elegant guest rooms and suites, 24-hour room service and pool and beach wait service. The 497 graciously appointed guest rooms and suites comes complete with Italian porcelain and teak wood furnishings and sleek, private terraces overlooking the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea and Laguna Nichupte. All guest rooms and suites are equipped with luxurious amenities including 24-hour room and concierge services,daily refreshed mini-bar, smart TVs and much more. Plus, stay connected with Unlimited Connectivity -offering free WiFi and free calling to the U.S. and Canada and more. The experience continues with limitless access to six gourmet restaurants and top-shelf spirits served at the six modern bars and lounges throughout the resort plus 24-hour dining options allow guests to devour late night bites at The Vine Café or stay in and order room service. Sommelier-led wine tastings with some of the world's finest wine collections with wine pairings and wine education are available for all guests to partake in. The Vine Bazaar, a contemporary and unique centralized venue adorned cozy café, relaxing terrace and more indulgent gourmet fare and beverages. All topped off by an array of exciting live entertainment and the added option to visit nearby participating resorts for a night out with the Sip, Savor & See Dining Experience. Relax by one of three sparkling swimming pools, partake in many of the daily activities that are offered, or enjoy a spa treatment at the exquisite Secrets Spa by Pevonia(R), boldly inspired by cave-like structures and natural cenotes of the area. Hit the links with complimentary greens fees at a nearby championship course, or partake in Sommelier-led wine tastings. Whether you're doing it all or doing nothing at all Secrets The Vine Cancun is the ultra-chic destination to indulge in pure luxury. Secrets The Vine Cancun - Sparkling. Elegant. Bold. ... more less
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