This blog post has been a couple of weeks in the making. Not only was this our first ever attempt at making a travel video (new found respect for travel vloggers – man alive is it hard) but there were so many beautiful moments and images that it’s been impossible to distil it down to one post. That said, you can expect a ‘Part 2’ very soon. In the meantime, we really hope you enjoy our first travel movie – we’re incredibly proud of it but would love your feedback.
Mexico has always been on our travel list. Maybe somewhere more in the middle of the list, but it was there. I mean, who doesn’t love Tacos and Margaritas, right? Not this guy! So of course, when we were lucky enough to be invited to stay at UNICO 20° 87° for a couple of nights, we packed our sombreros and said adiós amigos to Cape Town – Okay, full disclosure, we didn’t pack sombreros. We just thought we would buy some there. We didn’t. I regret that decision.
The truth is, we knew there’s more to Mexico than Tacos and Margaritas, we just didn’t know exactly what that was yet. Boy were we about to be surprised.
UNICO 20° 87° is an all-inclusive adults only hotel about an hour from Cancun International Airport and somewhere between Playa del Carmen and Tulum in Quintana Roo Mexico. If that’s not specific enough for you, it can be found at exactly 20° North and 87° West – as the name suggests it is a unique destination at these exact coordinates.
We arrived at Cancun International to be welcomed by a personal transfer team with a Corona in one hand, a water in the other and a big old smile. We took the Corona (obvs) and got into the back of the wi-fi enabled luxury SUV to head for the hotel. I think this was the first time we realised something special was coming our way.
The Riviera Maya sits on the Caribbean coast and has become famous for its all-inclusive resorts. Unlike Cancun and Playa del Carmen, this piece of coastline feels relatively untouched. Sure it’s a tourist destination, but without the strip malls and burger joints surrounding the hotel. It is quite possibly some of the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen. If white sand and turquoise waters were a currency this place would be an empire. Hmmm… that’s a weird analogy.
The moment we walked in we were blown away. We knew then and there that we would never experience anything like this again. Seriously, we literally turned to each other and said “Holy shit, this is next level. We’ll never stay in a place as amazing as this again” – I may be paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. The amount of detail over such a massive property was astounding. Something that our pictures can never do justice to.
Detail for me is everything – but you know this already. I’m a visual person, so I love being surrounded by well thought out beautiful spaces. Needless to say, this hotel was packed top to bottom with all of that. Details are a weird thing to describe though. How do I describe that everything felt like it was there for a reason? Every texture came together, from rich leather to dark woods, natural fabrics paired with raw concrete; It was all just a beautiful representation of contemporary Mexico! Oh, there we go, I just described it!
Our room carried the same amount of detail and then some. Sure, you can expect all the usual in-room amenities, fluffy robes, slippers, toiletries, a massive 55inch TV, etc. etc. etc., but its things like the signature scent that makes it a little different. Our signature room scent which we chose upon check-in was Casona Blanca- I mean, what? Who lets you pick what your room smells like? Your personal butler does, that’s who. Yes, we had a personal butler (or Afitrión as he is referred to) at our beck and call for anything we may need, be those hotel activities, in-room pillow selection or restocking our mini bar with whatever we need. Not that we ever needed our Afitrión, we could simply use the hotel app to stay up to date with everything and our mini bar seemed to weirdly stock itself – One day we grabbed 2 beers to enjoy on our balcony and when we went back in the room, there were 2 more in their place. Creepy… but also, new cold beers so we didn’t over think it!
This 448 room hotel (apparently a boutique hotel by Riviera Maya standards) is serviced by 3 pools, 4 restaurants, 3 bars (not including the multiple swim-up pool bars) a Spa and of course fitness centre complete with basketball and tennis courts. Now, if like us this long list of amenities doesn’t immediately impress, it will only be because like us your expectation of all inclusive is very limited and you’ve probably only had mediocre all-inclusive experiences.
At UNICO you won’t find mass-produced food, watered down drinks nor sub-par services. When these guys say all-inclusive, they mean that everything you wish was included, is. The hotel gym is state of the art – it made our local gym seem primitive – complete with daily classes like yoga and spinning. Even some spa treatments and golf can be included for a 20% service fee. It’s incredible.
The food, (that I will touch more on in the next post) was outstanding. Whether you were at the pool bar or one of the 4 stand-alone restaurants, nothing disappointed. The drinks are the same, whether it was a poolside Margarita or a high-end cocktail at Bar Balam. Everything is made with top-shelf liquor – We’re talking Don Julio Tequila, Kettle One Vodka, Tanqueray Gin, no expense seems spared and every drink is incredible.
Not surprisingly this same high-end detailed experience is carried through to breakfast. It’s a buffet style breakfast and carries everything you would expect. You have your fresh fruit, fresh bread, multiple on-demand egg stations ( I had Huevos Rancheros e’rday, because MEXICO!!!!) and of course all your continental options. The UNICO experience though also brings with it a wealth of healthy options, gluten-free bread, sugar-free things, smoothies and everything else one would need to follow a specific diet. Luckily, we were doing none of those things, so our breakfast doughnuts were served with champagne and a Bloody Mary from the “make your own Bloody Mary station” – you know what they say, “teach a man to fish and…”
As difficult as it was we tried to never over indulge at breakfast. With so much on offer throughout the day, you don’t want to fill up first thing in the morning, but more on that in Part 2.
In the meantime, travel safe and stay fancy.