UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya opened its doors in March and PAX was invited for the official inauguration.
We were charmed, to say the very least, by this new complex and its resolutely different approach.
The new adults-only establishment, housing only 448 rooms, aims to promote Mexican culture in its every corner. The experience began for us at the airport. The team from UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya were already there, showcasing the essence of the hotel by offering typical Mexican drinks, sweets and snacks.
The concept of this new establishment is to allow travellers to fully immerse themselves in the local culture through culinary offers inspired by indigenous Mexican cuisine or exclusive private excursions.
We can attest to that; good food is indeed an integral part of the experience. Before telling you about the restaurants, however, we have to mention a slightly strange allergy suffered by our journalist: she is allergic to avocados!
In the land of guacamole, this really tested the versatility and adaptability of the UNICO staff. You can easily imagine the number of waiters who were surprised – even shocked – to read the note attached to our reporter’s file. However, having mentioned this problem in advance, many waiters were already aware of this allergy.
In total, five restaurants are accessible to guests. The Cueva Siete is certainly that which best epitomizes the philosophy put forward by UNICO. With Chef Christian Bravo at its head – a contestant in Top Chef Mexico – we discovered authentic Mexican cuisine far from the type that we all know well.
Even before we took our places, we were already offered a choice of meals – three or five – for the main courses. Everyone was impressed by the variety of dishes that we were served.
We must also mention the kindness and dedication of the chef, who came to see us regularly in order to get our impressions of the food and to explain to us his choice of ingredients. We were also treated to a little mixology course, with our bartender bringing a rolling table with several choices to concoct a personalized drink.
All around the hotel, local artists weave carpets, paint on canvases, and draw on the walls around the outdoor bars. They all come from the area and seem happy with the opportunity to showcase their art in the hotel. The decorations, then, are unique and impressive – of a kind that we had never seen before.
Central to the appeal of the UNICO 20˚87˚ Hotel Riviera Maya is the perfection of its service. Some examples include:
When we checked in, an employee came to meet us and asked us to smell different candles. His role was to make sure that our room smelled like the candle that we had chosen.
Each hotel guest has their own host, who can be reached 24 hours a day via smartphone app.
One can ask for the delivery of breakfast at a specific time. And here’s how precise it is: one person accompanying us had inadvertently entered 4 a.m. in his cell phone. The next morning, at that exact time, the host knocked on the door - with the meal ready to be served!
- The person who was assigned to take care of us was very careful to show us where the restaurants were, including suggestions on what to see and what not to miss, such as the swimming pools. In fact, she insisted that we ask her for anything that we required – even to run us a bath, if necessary!
The impeccable service in the room is also apparent in the rest of the resort. As soon as we approached the beach – which is magnificent, by the way – in search of a chair, a member of staff had already laid a towel on the seat, followed by another to form a pillow. In the blink of an eye, another waiter was already asking if we wanted to have a drink or something to eat!
Excursions offered by the hotel
Some excursions are carefully selected by the hotel and offered to guests, each faithfully following the concept of the hotel, to offer an experience that’s rich in Mexican culture. We had the opportunity to try ‘Natural Wonders,’ a guided visit around a Mayan village at Tankah Mayan Village & Cenotes.
Bookings, done directly via the hotel, allow you a more personalized service. Our own guide, Caesar, was carefully chosen. Indeed, he made sure to explain to us the history of the cenotes, encouraged us to jump, and showed us how to zipline. The view is absolutely amazing from up there!
Caesar explained how the villagers who live in the area are extremely vigilant about preserving their culture. We were treated to a traditional Mayan feast: the chicken melted in your mouth and was accompanied by homemade tortillas and a smoked Mexican coffee infused with cinnamon – slightly more similar to the tea, rather than the coffee, that we know.
To finish this excursion, we went canoeing. At one point, we heard an unusual growl. Caesar turned around and what do you think we saw? A jaguar. Yes – there are jaguars there!
Exploring the resort
Among the amenities offered by UNICO are three pools with cabanas, three standalone bars, two swim-up bars and a cigar bar, in addition to five restaurants.
Numerous accommodation options are available, from the sea view room or beachfront to the 2,357 square foot villa.
Each room on the first floor has its own swimming pool, while the upper floors have a double whirlpool bath. Flat screen displays are oversized – 55 inches – and high-speed WiFi is free. Other on-site facilities include a modular meeting and convention center of nearly 12,000 sq. ft., and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
A full-service spa with hydrotherapy facilities is also on site with two suites and six cabins for couples and 10 individual cabins. The place is certainly beautiful – and care is included in your vacation package. The only thing that guests will have to cover is the 20 per cent service charge. Why miss out?