Mexico and Caribbean Getaways: New and Renovated Hotels

The Ocean Club, a Luxury Collection Resort, Costa Norte has just opened on the Dominican Republic’s north coast with 64 suites ranging from one bedroom to the five multitiered four-bedroom penthouses. We hear the top accommodation is the resort’s three-floor Presidential Penthouse Suite; there’s a fitness center, jacuzzi and multiple terraces offering views of the surrounding tropical landscape.

Couples, however, might be more interested in the Duplex accommodation. Although it comes with two en-suite bedrooms, the rooms are located on the second and third floors and have views of the pool and ocean. The bathrooms are complete with walk-in showers, double sinks, a freestanding bathtub and walk-in-cedar closets. Families should consider the Three Bedroom Suite, which is oceanfront and has its own plunge pool.

What’s to do on property? Guests have the choice of three pools, two of which are adults-only, and beachfront whirlpools with fire pits. Good to know: The resort has its own stretch of secluded beach with private wooden cabanas, several lounges and beach service. Tip: The North Coast of the Dominican Republic is popular for surfing and kiting. The concierge team can arrange a private kiting lesson with World Cup winner and world championship participant Paula Novotná, currently ranked as the fourth best kite surfer globally.

The Ocean Club has three dining experiences, in addition to The Cellar, a Caribbean speakeasy. Baia, the hotel’s signature restaurant, offers regional staples. There’s also Aguazul, which serves Asian-Peruvian fusion cuisine, and Rock Bar & Grill, a casual outdoor restaurant.

L’OCCITANE Spa offers a range of holistic and wellness therapies inspired by local rituals in a contemporary setting. Facilities include four treatment rooms, an open-air relaxation area, two sauna rooms and a café. We hear the “Shea Fabulous Face & Body Massage” is a must. There’s also a 24/7 fitness center with cardio equipment and free weights. 

Good to know: For an impressive arrival, the resort, which is a 15-minute drive from Puerto Plata Airport, has a dedicated marina and helipad. Contact Cristina Moncien ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing.

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
The Oceanfront Guestroom at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman overlooks the Seven Mile Beach and the Caribbean Sea. (The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman)

Late last year, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman reopened in time for its 16th anniversary following an update by Champalimaud Design. The resort is sporting a “modern coastal” look, having received a new color palette and completely renovated spaces, including the guestrooms, lobby and Silver Palm Lounge. At the latter, guests can make use of a custom-built hardwood cabinet, which holds a collection of rare rums, hand-rolled cigars and local chocolates. Throughout the property, guests will also find a collection of local artwork commissioned by The Ritz-Carlton. In addition to the art found in the public spaces, The Gallery, located between the Resort Tower and the Ocean Tower, is an art exhibition space highlighting local visual arts.

Located on the entire top-floor wing of the Ocean Tower, the 8,000-square-foot, three-bedroom Grand Cayman Penthouse and three adjoining two-bedroom suites, offer a total of nearly 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor living space and sleeping accommodations for 18 guests—should you need it. With the best views of the Caribbean from its wraparound terrace, the Grand Cayman Penthouse Suite on its own can accommodate up to eight guests and is decked out with its own private theater, an Italian marble master bathroom (with oceanfront views, of course), a fully furnished outdoor terrace and more. In addition, it has a butler’s guestroom with a full bathroom. All Seven South suites come with a personal assistant to assist prior to your arrival and during your stay to plan activities, make dining reservations or to curate experiences.

Tip: For families, the resort is home to Starfish Cay, an interactive water park. There are also classes and activities available through Jean-Michel Cousteau’s “Ambassadors of the Environment,” which has programs for kids, starting at age four, like underwater photography courses, guided snorkeling and more. Parents are even allowed to join in on the fun. Should they need their own time, however, La Prairie Spa might offer a nice respite. There’s a couple’s treatment room, a sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. Couples may also wine and dine at any of the six dining outlets at the resort, lounge by the pool and beach or have some fun outdoors at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Grand Cayman or The Courts Tennis Centre.

Travel advisors may reach out to Sheena Kelly, travel industry sales coordinator, at [email protected].

Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Los Cabos, Mexico has debuted four new residential-style suites.  (Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve)

Around the same time, Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Los Cabos, Mexico debuted four new residential-style suites. The suites pay homage to Mexican haciendas, showcasing works from local artisans and sporting private courtyards.

These suites total 11,000 square feet and are complete with a large kitchen and grill area, making them an ideal setting to entertain a family or group of friends. Even better: A retractable window spanning the length of the main living area allows for seamless flow between indoors and outdoors, al fresco dining, and open-air lounging. 

The master suite and VIP suite each have views of the Sea of Cortes and come with walk-in closets and private outdoor showers. Two of the additional bedrooms have walk-in closets, private balconies and en-suite bathrooms, while the third is well-suited for children with its two bunk beds, a single bed and private bathroom. 

Days can be enjoyed by the private pool, and by night guests can make use of the fireplace or roast s’mores over the fire pit. Services for the new residential-style suites include a welcome cocktail, pressing for up to 10 garments each day, a private stargazing experience through the “Ambassadors of the Environment” program, preferred reservation requests across Zadún’s restaurants and Spa Alkemia, and more. 

Customized experiences that your dedicated Tosoani (private attendant) can arrange include private dinners on the beach or in the garden, one-on-one agave tastings where guests learn about the spirits of agave, a Mexican Cooking Class at El Huerto, the property’s onsite garden, and an in-depth look at the history of chocolate. 

Tip: There are both oceanfront and ocean-view residential-style villas, so be sure to request the accommodations right on the beach. 

For couples who might not need all the space, the Oceanview Room with a Private Plunge Pool (available on both the ground and upper floor) is the way to go. The crème de la crème at Zadún is the Grand Reserve Villa. Spanning more than 10,000 square feet, it has two master bedrooms, two king bedrooms and one double queen bedroom, multiple bathrooms, walk-in closets, a private gym, fire pit, pool and a full kitchen. 

Heda Chehda ([email protected]), sales and marking director for Zadún, can assist with bookings/inquiries.

Across the country, Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya opened in January, marking the brand’s debut in the Mexican Caribbean. The 349-room resort is located eight miles north of Tulum in a secluded bay surrounded by a tropical forest. Guestrooms each have a private balcony, along with a relaxation tub or plunge pool on the ground-floor rooms. Suites offer a living room and adjacent dining area for up to eight people, as well as a spa-inspired master bathroom complete with soaking tub and rainfall shower. 

The top suite is the Presidential Suite; it measures 2,153 square feet and has a tropical view on one side and an ocean view on the other. It can additionally connect with a double room for larger parties. There are only two such options at the hotel.

Good to know: Each guest, regardless of room category, receives their own personal concierge upon arrival, reachable by text or call to assist with any requests and needs.

Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya’s dining options include five restaurants and six bars and lounges. The resort’s sophisticated dining experience is Autor (“Author”), in which Chef Jersaí Miranda creates a personalized “culinary journey” for each guest. Be sure to book at least 48 hours in advance; the same goes for any private dinner, such as on the beach. Other options include a Mediterranean, sushi and Teppanyaki restaurant, in addition to a café and market. 

Located within the mangroves, Conrad Spa Tulum offers a range of services inspired by legends of the Mayan gods and traditional Mexican herbalism; signature experiences are the sensory Water Ritual, utilizing an outdoor pool and thermal facilities, and the Mayan Manteada, an ancient massage technique in which shawls are tied around the waist to relax and realign the body. Tip: The resort has an in-house Shaman to perform ancient rituals like the purifying gratitude and sacred cenote ceremonies. 

Good to know: The resort is dedicated to safeguarding Tulum’s landscape and its resources. The hotel operates a sea turtle protection program as well as an innovative waste management system and water quality monitoring projects. The sea turtle protection program reduces the impact of the hotel’s activities during the turtles’ nesting season and guarantees the conservation of the protected species.

Director of Luxury Sales Joye Lucas ([email protected]) is available to assist travel advisors.

Nearby, on Isla Holbox, the 17-key Ser CasaSandra recently completed a renovation, led by Duplas Design, of its guestrooms and public spaces.

Founded by Cuban artist and art collector Sandra Perez Lozano, the hotel showcases an eclectic collection of art and design pieces from the owner’s personal collection as well as her own artwork. Art and furniture pieces found within the public areas and the guestrooms are juxtaposed with illustrations and drawings by renowned artists from Arsenal Habana Gallery and Isla Residencia. 

The Master Suite is the top accommodation; it’s located on the top floor and has a secondary entrance with an “inspiration room.” It has a partial ocean view, along with views to the garden. (If you are looking for the best ocean views, that would be the Master Luxury Beachfront room.) In the living room, you can enjoy two comfortable “chairs long,” while the bathroom has a French-style tub and separate shower. It’s the recommended room for romantic stays.

We also like that rooms come with colorful hammocks—made locally—perfect for taking in the surrounding nature and sound of the ocean. 

Ser CasaSandra Mojito
The Mojito’s Beach Club at Ser CasaSandra serves authentic local and Cuban cuisine. (Ser CasaSandra)

Ser CasaSandra is also home to a gourmet restaurant, Esencia Restaurant. The piece de resistance on the menu are tropical ceviche and shrimp tamale. Tip: Should you want, the hotel can arrange for a ceviche-making class with the chef. A more casual option is the Mojito Beach Club and Bar, which offers small bites and cocktails right on the sand. Guest favorites are the Pork Belly with pineapple, chile xcatic, avocado and coriander and the Ajillo Fish with fresh herbs, white wine, and guajillo chili. For reservations, book 24 hours in advance.

When it comes to wellness, the hotel has two facilitators from the Dharma Global platform, Juan Miguel Sánchez and Elena González, who can accompany guests during their stay with osteopathy therapies, synchrodynamics, meditative walks and sweet gymnastics.

Additionally, at the Ahal Holistic Center, there are three highly recommended treatments: Craniosacral Therapy, a technique in which the primary respiratory movement (embryo logical respiration) is worked to desensitize the emotional tensions and lack of mobility due to day-to-day stress; Deep Body Tissue with Aromatherapy, a remedy based on alcohol and herbs such as rosemary, pepper, cloves, and heat with bags of seeds and spices; and Osteopathy, a science that treats mechanical injuries that prevent you from functioning well; they treat back pain, digestive problems and chronic pain.

For inquiries, reach out to Leanet Arza Pérez ([email protected]), marketing and sales for Ser CasaSandra.

Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort reopened in late January following a $55 million renovation. New this time around is the Island Village. The resort also refreshed the East and West Bay accommodations, which range from beachfront Butler Suites, where a new infinity swim-up pool ends right where the beach begins, to Penthouse Love Nest Butler Suites sporting ocean views from a private balcony. 

The Island Villas rooms, located in the gardens are the top new accommodations. They have private plunge pools, outdoor Tranquility Soaking Tubs, living areas, bathrooms with walk-in rain showers, a fully stocked bar and more. If you’re looking for a bit more privacy and seclusion, this is where you want to be. Guests also receive personal butler service and private luxury airport transfers.

At Sandals Barefoot Cay, located just one mile from shore, guests can sail aboard the new Love Runner boat and spend the day at the pool bar with swings, an infinity-edge Jacuzzi and the new restaurant, Aralia House. This is also a great jumping-off point for water activities, as there are colorful reefs nearby. 

The Red Lane Spa has been updated with three locations—the Main Spa, the Day Spa and the Offshore Escape—Zen Garden on Sandals Barefoot Cay. Spa facilities include two saunas and two steam rooms. Treatments can be booked online when the reservation is confirmed or upon arrival.

Kitanya Mirander ([email protected]) is the sales manager for Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort. 

File this away: The Sandals team recently scouted out the Dominican Republic with local officials, visiting Punta Cana, Miches and Las Terrenas. We’ll keep our ear to the ground for more news.

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