Shannon Etherton is the founder of R&R Travel Company, which is a member of The Journey Group. She recently visited Atelier Playa Mujeres to explore Mexico’s new health protocols.
As the world is slowly beginning to open its doors to travelers, we decided it was time to experience new travel protocols and how they are affecting leisure travel. With the ease of travel and safety restrictions in getting to and from Cancun, we chose this as our maiden trip of 2020. As seasoned travel advisors we often have a bit of trouble taking a true vacation. We are always throwing in a site visit here and there, even on trips we have deemed personal. This time, we vowed to travel like our clients and focus on one resort and truly immerse ourselves in our destination. As a mother/daughter team, we often have different goals for a resort visit so we wanted a property we would both enjoy. We chose Atelier Playa Mujeres as our Mexican home for the week. We have had several successful client visits here in the short time since it has opened and were excited to explore this stunning property.
At this time, we are advising all our clients to take advantage of private transfers and we did the same with transportation through Royal Transfers. We were very impressed with their safety measures and also the cleanliness of the vehicles that take guests to the property. No details were missed and we felt extremely safe and comfortable. Upon arrival at the resort, we were greeted by staff in masks who offered a lovely cocktail and a cool towel. While the greetings are different, they are just as warm and welcoming as they have always been in Mexico.
We spent the next five nights exploring the offerings of this unique hotel. While this is an all-inclusive property, it feels more like a luxury boutique resort. This seems to stem quite a bit from the resort’s thoughtful design and use of artistic elements throughout the property. All of the senses are addressed the moment guests arrive on site and are immersed in the brand’s signature aromatherapy scent wafting through the lobby. It puts guests in an instant state of relaxation. Original works of art are creatively used throughout the 431-suite property. From striking murals to simple sculptures, the focus here is on art and design and it creates a space that encourages the visitor to take the time to actually stop and enjoy the art and the joy it brings to the environment.
After settling into our space, we decided to go find lunch and explore a bit; so, we grabbed our in-room pool bag and took off for a refreshing dip in the pool. An element we expect in a luxury all-inclusive property is over-the-top service from the staff. We were not disappointed. This resort features pool concierge, as well as pool and beach waitstaff. There is literally no reason to leave your chair unless you want to swim to the bar. We were instantly greeted and served our favorite beverages and snacks at our chairs, which were set up with towels and umbrellas. This is a lovely way to start a vacation and simply relax rather than feel the need to explore a million properties.
Some activities, which were normally held indoors, were moved to areas around the pools or in one of the outdoor restaurants. We were happy to see that creativity was used in this area rather than limiting the activity schedules. The well-equipped gym was open and quite active through the day. The nighttime offerings of a resort in the current era are a bit affected and have had to face some modifications. During our visit, resorts were not yet allowed to open indoor bars and entertainment venues. However, we were happily surprised to see alternative offerings and unique uses of space for evening entertainment.
The all-inclusive resort has nine restaurants and eight bars.
One of the top questions we are seeing from clients is how dining is being handled right now. I feel this is a resort-by-resort question and is a bit different even by restaurant. We were asked to wear masks as we entered dining venues and were escorted to our tables; once there, we could remove our masks. All tables are appropriately distanced and many of the outdoor spaces are being utilized. Menus are all stored with QR codes on tables and waitstaff are masked. We did experience the morning buffet several times and found it interesting to note different serving styles based on hotel occupancy. It was glaringly obvious that safety and comfort of guests is the number-one concern. It was quite reassuring to see that the food quality and service have not suffered one bit and are delightful, plentiful and a step above many all-inclusive properties. This was a pleasant surprise and a welcome treat after such a stressful past eight months!
As our clients begin to travel again, we want to stress that all the measures are being followed by the airlines, the resort and Mexico itself in order to keep visitors safe. The most refreshing element of our trip was actually how normal it felt in an abnormal time. This assured us that our clients will still get the same level of enjoyment that we always expect in our custom-planned vacations.