A Very Luxury Voyage to Mexico

Disclaimer: the only reason I get to go on these five-million-star trips is because I write about them for MailOnline. Unfortunately, this is not my normal life.

When I booked myself in for a four-day Mexican mini-break last month, it was in search of sunshine, silence and a great many siestas.

Little did I know that over the course of one long-weekend, not only would I tick those boxes, but also find myself some unlikely peace and quiet at the bottom of the sea, the treetops of a rainforest and in the company of a cast of reptilian beasts.

Welcome to the Cancun peninsula, a long-standing tourist hub with more than a few surprises still up its sleeve.

Cancun's Nizuc Resort & Spa, once a base station for Mayan astronomers and now a 29-acre private beachfront compound overlooking the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef

My home for the next few days was Nizuc Resort & Spa, once a base station for Mayan astronomers and, as of 2013; a sprawling 29-acre private beachfront compound nestled in a mangrove-studded landscape overlooking the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

Nizuc is a palace of vaulted ceilings, winding vistas, vast flaming basins and watery optical illusions. I was lost almost all the time, but in the nicest possible way.

I was treated to a garden villa – one of the resort’s 247 accommodations – complete with an elegant freestanding bath, a shaded outdoor shower and a heated plunge pool; all bodies of water in which I could happily have spent the entirety of my stay.

Annabel, pictured at Selvatica rainforest, whizzing along the fastest zip-line in North America

But I had bigger adventures in store for me. Nizuc’s marketing chief Lanny Grossman politely suggested over dinner on my first night that I stop being boring and explore a little.

We were seated outside at Bar A-Kan overlooking the beach. Lanny pointed to a slab of ocean shimmering under the sinking sun, not far from the resort’s private pier. The location of the world’s first underwater art museum, I’m told.

The next day, clad in snorkeling gear, I had the pleasure of seeing it through my own eye googles. More than 500 life-sized sculptures stood fixed to the seabed, all crafted from specialized clay to promote coral life.

Cancun's Undwater Art Museum, consisting of more than 500 life-sized sculptures stood fixed to the seabed, all crafted from specialized clay to promote coral life

The sculptures were conceived by artist Jason deCaires Taylor in 2009 and designed to form artificial reefs.

Over time, their appearance will continue to change as the coral grows and marine life colonize the structures.

Gliding over this assembly of ghostly figures – a line-up of statues at a depth of four-six meters dubbed The Silent Evolution – along with a tropical school of fish, was definitely an experience to write home about.

Over time, their appearance will continue to change as the coral grows and marine life colonize the structures

I spent the next day flopping around Nizuc’s isolated adults-only pool region, the sort of place I know I will one day look back on with glassy eyes as I round up my as-of-yet-non-existant-children for another trip to the family friendly area.

The only mildly-stressful part of this lazy Saturday, as I bobbed around in the vast infinity pool sipping Rose from a plastic glass, was when the ornate cat-sized iguana sculptures got up and started wandering around.

Not sculptures at all, as it turned out, but beautiful nonetheless.

Initially mistaken for sculptures, these are indeed real iguanas sunbathing on one of Nizuc's decks 
One of Nizuc's luxury cabanas ,overlooking the ocean 

I burnt myself to a fetching shade of magenta that day, so Lanny (again politely) suggested I stay out of the sun for my next adventure: a seven-hour venture into the Selvatica rainforest to experience the fastest zip-line in North America.

The foliage is so lush and dense, at least you can’t make out the forest floor, so it’s never quite clear how dizzyingly high-up you are

There is nothing non-terrifying about sailing through the jungle along a course of whistling cables, but it is a fantastic viewpoint from which to witness the centuries-old trees.

There is nothing non-terrifying about sailing through Selvatica's jungle along a course of whistling cables and rope ladders, but it is a fantastic viewpoint from which to witness the centuries-old trees

The foliage is so lush and dense, at least you can’t make out the forest floor, so it’s never quite clear how dizzyingly high-up you are.

Other highlights from my day at Selvetica came in pairs of good and bad.

Good: swinging into the crystal clear waters of a natural centoe cave on a rope.

Bad: releasing the rope at the wrong moment and hitting the surface bottom-first with a painful slap.

Annabel swinging into the crystal clear waters of a natural cenote cave on a (recently released) rope

Bad: being chased through the undergrowth with a snake wielded by our prankster tour guide.

Good: the snake being revealed as plastic, and me laughing harder than I probably have in a year.

I wrapped up my stay at Nizuc with dinner at Tera Nostra – food and service surprisingly poor – and at its infamous Espa spa – which can only be described as the most magical, luxurious indoor waterpark for grown-ups I have ever experienced.

Nizuc is a palace of vaulted ceilings, winding vistas, vast flaming basins and watery optical illusions

I don’t usually feel the need to write about spas, let alone sing their praises from the rooftops. Spas are pretty much always amazing. You pretty much always emerge feeling bathed in warmth and serenity.

This spa was in another league.

After my predictably wonderful swiss massage, I was invited to embark on an exploration of Espa’s sprawling network of dimly-lit pools and water jets.

Swimming between the various aquatic Aladdin caves, I crossed under waterfalls which thundered down on my knotted shoulders, enjoyed tiny shoots of bubbles which massaged my feet and floated under twinkling lights in the ceiling – all completely alone.

In short, Nizuc is a special and impressive place, swamped in luxury and completely free from that unmistakable atmosphere all tourists strive to get away from – tourism – but only a stone’s throw from the sorts of activities that can lure you out of your comfort zone, and into the realms of unforgettable adventure.

With private beaches like this, it was hard to see the point of ever leaving the sprawling resort 
The trees were filled with bird-life, as this stunning macaw parrot demonstrates 
I was treated to a garden villa - one of the resort’s 247 accommodations - complete with a shaded outdoor shower and a heated plunge pool
Sadly, Annabel was not on her honeymoon, but it would certainly make a good spot for one
One of Nizuc's many cosy lounging spots, set in a maze of shimmering water
... but only a stone’s throw from the sorts of activities that can lure you out of your comfort zone, and into the realms of unforgettable adventure

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