Roving Report - Capturing Cancún
Fifteen years after my first visit to Cancún, it was an exciting prospect to return here under a work guise to rediscover the destination. (After all, having been the youthful age of 9 on the previous occasion – when my most prominent memories were of pottery painting, the all-inclusive swim-up ice cream bar, and having my hair braided – I decided my knowledge of this area of Mexico probably needed a little updating!)
Generously hosted by David Marks, of MM and Company (https://www.mm-and-company.co.uk/), Bruno Di Tomazzi, from Avenue Sales and Marketing (https://www.avenuesales.co.uk/), and Kelly Witham, from the Virgin Atlantic Team (https://www.virginatlantic.com/), we knew that we were going to be very well looked after on our trip to this region of North America.
After a delightfully calm start to our outbound travel day – enjoying all that the Virgin Atlantic London Gatwick Clubhouse had to offer; including the infamous 'Red Head' cocktails, of course – we boarded for our 10-hour flight. Four films, and zero hours of sleep later (totally self-inflicted!), we landed into Cancún International Airport. Quintana Roo – the region within which Cancún is located – is 5 hours behind the UK. Arriving in at around 8pm local time, we were all looking forward to reaching the Hotel and getting some much-needed sleep. Fortunately for us, we were being looked after by the wonderful Susanne and her team at EPIC Group DMC (represented by MM and Company in the UK), who all greeted us with the most welcoming smile (and buckets full of guacamole, humous and nachos – the perfect snacks for our transfer to the Hotel Unico 20° 87° in Riviera Maya).
Hotel Unico 20° 87° only opened in April 2017 and is already ranked as the number 1 Hotel in the Akumal beach resort area. And it's easy to see why. A stunning (and very photogenic!) property, boasting 448 guest rooms, this adult-only all-inclusive resort has the capacity to be the ultimate relaxing getaway.
You can order as many cocktails as you like – from the comfort of your sun-bed, via the Hotel app! Not so keen on the type of pillow you have on your bed? Then feel free to order a different option via the app. No request is too much for the team at Unico.
During our 4-day programme, we were lucky enough to experience what the Hotel has to offer, as well as some of the local sites and excursions. Being situated half way between the bustling streets of Playa del Carmen and the tranquil vibe of Tulum, there is ample on offer.
The Hotel offers plenty of flexible event space, with 1 main ballroom (divisible in to 3 smaller rooms), which is large enough to host a car launch, for example, with outdoor space, as well as 10 smaller breakout rooms. It also has a superb spa – complete with nail bar and hair salon – as well as a fully-kitted out gym, and a full schedule of classes and activities to join in on (including yoga on the pool... I wasn't quite brave enough to give it a go however!) With a total of 10 restaurants and bars onsite at the property, there was lots of choice for the duration of our stay.
We were also lucky enough to experience some absolute musts in the region;
The ancient Mayan city of Coba
Whilst the well-known (and well-trodden) sites are now less accessible to tourist groups (such as Chichen Itza), the Coba Mayan Ruins are still open (and just as popular). Coba is situated in the jungle, with the option of exploring by foot, or – for something a little different – you can rent bikes to ride. We had a great guide, who taught us a great deal about the history, legacy and legends of the Maya people.
Lunch on the beach in Tulum
Tulum is renowned for its beaches as well as its vast array of yoga retreats – the ultimate chill out destination. We enjoyed a typical Mexican lunch at ak'iin Beach Plaza, with plenty of guacamole, ceviche and margaritas! You can't not enjoy a lunch with this kind of view...
Coco Bongo in Playa del Carmen
Coco Bongo (which also has another (even bigger) club located in central Cancún) is one of the wackiest and most spellbinding evenings of entertainment I have ever experienced. Showcased as "a Las Vegas-style show combined with a Mexican fiesta", it certainly didn't disappoint! Acrobats, impersonators, singers and dancers... Most definitely a place that you have to experience for yourself!
Exploring Rio Secreto
The Rio Secreto Nature Reserve is located only 20 minutes from the Hotel. Here you can go underground, swimming and wading through the most spectacular caves of crystal stalagmites and stalactites. This is an absolute must if you do visit the area – especially if you have our wonderful guide, Tomas – though I'm sure they are all of an equally high standard!
We certainly learnt from our time in Mexico that it is totally up to you what balance you want to strike during your visit. Whilst there are plenty of activities (many more than the taster we were able to experience), the beaches and sunshine lend themselves to absolute chill out time. There is something for everyone in this part of the world!
I would like to say a huge thank you to David, Bruno, Kelly for organising the FAM trip to Cancún, and to Susanne for looking after us, and showing us what Cancún has to offer potential MICE clients – what a truly fabulous destination, and such a wonderful group of people to experience it with.