the sweet suite life

A morning pool swim and scrambled eggs “rancheros” with a side of chorizo: now this is what I call room service. I’m going to miss the Rosewood’s version of the sweet suite life.


guess who’s coming to dinner?


rosewood mayakoba

In case you’re wondering why I have virtually no desire to leave my suite, maybe I should share with you where it is I am exactly; Rosewood Mayakoba, about 40 minutes south of Cancun along the Riviera Maya. On arrival I was transported by a luxury boat to what amounts to my own personal sanctuary: a one-of-a-kind over-water suite of crisp, open spaces, floating graciously over the lagoon’s emerald waters. Strikingly modern in design yet crafted from such indigenous materials as to appear born of the jungle, I have an inviting lounge terrace with a plunge pool, a luxurious bathroom with an outdoor garden shower, and spectacular views of the lagoon and mangroves. Sure, the sea is calling my name – but I don’t feel compelled to move a muscle just yet.


pool 1, beach 0


mexican standoff

Taking a quick hop down to Mexico for a few days of disconnect, I find myself immediately in the middle of a Mexican stand-off: beach or pool? The salty, cerulean water of the Riviera Maya is clear and inviting. But so is the private pool in my over-water suite among the mangroves. Decisions, decisions.


tidy tidal pools

Playa del Carmen and the oceanfront that stretches up to the Riviera Maya are rightly famous for clear Caribbean water and fine, white, sandy beaches. Yet something I’d never noticed until today are the shallow tidal pools that dot the craggy bits of coastline between beaches. Aquariums in miniature, each is rich in life:  seaweed, coral, tropical fish, and colonies of spiny sea urchin.


hotels with karisma

Ten minutes north of Playa del Carmen, Azul Fives Hotel by Karisma, subverts the idea of the all-inclusive resort experience that’s become all-too common to Mexico with a concept they’ve trademarked as Gourmet Inclusive and believe me, that’s not an oxymoron.  Even more interesting, perhaps – certainly for me personally – is the fact that it caters to a niche market which in any other circumstance I would be inclined to stay clear of as though it were kryptonite:  families.

Yet it all seems to work so well.  Even to a child-hating, foodie-hotel-snob going solo like myself.  How is that?

The secret, I think, is in the suites:  the multi-bedroom units were designed to foster familial togetherness and so hold as many as eight individuals in separate sleeping quarters with shared living areas, making it an ingenious arrangement for multi-generational vacations. Fully equipped kitchens and over-sized living quarters (1,300 – 1,500 sq. ft.) mean families can stay together and play together without always being on top of each other.  Better still, lots and lots of room for uncle nanny and grandma babysitter means the kids stay engaged, attended, and out of my face.  When even the family needs a break, there’s a qualified Kid’s Club so overstocked with toys, games, and activities – a play program designed by Fisher Price and My Gym’s Children Fitness Center, for example –  that it’s practically guaranteed to wear the little buggers out. Over the course of the past three days I’ve seen my share of children, so trust me, I know what it’s like to be on red alert and ready to pounce.  Yet even my acerbic self hasn’t seen fit – or had cause! – to raise an eyebrow or shoot the parents of some obnoxious brat the death stare.

So don’t go thinking it’s all about families.  The design of the suites is such that friends traveling together can make the same arrangement yet still maintain degrees of privacy.  Couples can opt for a self-contained wing and enjoy the romantic rainforest showers, double-whirlpool tubs, and 24-hour room service.  Four stylishly-designed gourmet restaurants, supplied with organic produce from the resort’s 70,000 square-foot greenhouse – and top shelf alcohol – means nobody goes hungry.  Ever.  Which just might be my only qualm about this weekend:  too much of a good thing sometimes necessitates a vacation from one’s vacation.


morning catch: snapper


when a trio of ceviche just won´t do

room service, pelican-style

beyond the blue horizon


bucket list: 2009 edition – October



PROVIDENCE:  I’ve said it before in print and I’ll say it here again:  Providence is perhaps the coolest little city you’ve never visited.  An atmospheric and restored downtown, a robust restaurant scene, a groovy community of artists and designers, plus some of the prettiest colonial architecture this side of Williamsburg:  I don’t understand why the place is not choked with tourists.  Well…okay, I do: the 1980’s and early 90’s were not kind to the city, which saw crime skyrocket and downtown abandoned.  Despite a massive decade-long renewal, the news of its rebound seems to be traveling slowly.

One of the inventive ideas that shepherded the city’s revitalization is WaterFire, a massive public art project that’s the brainchild of sculptor Barnaby Evans.  Defying logic, over the course of almost six months WaterFire sets three conjoining rivers of downtown Providence alight each night at sunset.  It’s by far the most successful public installation of art I’ve ever seen, drawing visitors and locals down to the center of the city after dark to listen to music and interact with the fire, the river, and the community that nightly springs up along its banks.


RIVIERA MAYA:  I know in an earlier post I had waxed rhapsodic over my adventures in Mexican street food, as well as hiking the ruins of Tulum, so let’s take this moment to appreciate the unheralded art of Mexican towel origami.  I’ve not seen it practiced elsewhere, yet in Mexico the housekeeping staffs are masters of the art.  More often than not towels are rolled into swans, hearts or flowers, usually accompanied by a handful of rose petals or hibiscus blossoms.  Here however, we have a much more playful – if less technically difficult – Mayan towel god.


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