All-inclusive resorts have upped their game

SHERYL NANCE-NASH | 6/27/2019, 12:13 p.m.
Time was, all-inclusive resorts saved you money, but maybe you sacrificed a bit when it came to amenities and in ...

Time was, all-inclusive resorts saved you money, but maybe you sacrificed a bit when it came to amenities and in many of them the food—well nobody would call it fabulous. Fast forward to today and there’s a new story when it comes to all-inclusive resorts. Many have upped their game and can hold their own with luxury competitors.

Take for example Unico 20 ̊N 87 ̊W in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. This adults-only, all-inclusive gets two thumbs up for many reasons, such as the fact that 90 percent of its rooms are ocean view, there are exclusive signature tours, unlimited golf for a 25 percent service fee, select spa treatments, three pools, five restaurants and five bars and that’s just for starters. This is not your average all-inclusive. Your local host—they think butlers are passé—will handle your spa tub preparation, packing and unpacking, tour, golf, spa and restaurant reservation, shoe shining, ironing and steaming service. All ground floor rooms have semi-private swim up pools and there are outdoor hydro spa tubs on all remaining rooms.

This summer, from July 17 through Aug. 25, foodies especially will want to make their way to Unico. Why? It’s the second annual gastronomy series, Superbia Summer, with six chef takeovers with talent from Michelin Star rated and 5 Star Diamond Award winning restaurants. How fast can you say, “Save me from myself, I’m full?” Each week a different chef will claim the culinary scene at the hotel. You can feast on these master chefs’ creations at no additional cost. Who will be in the kitchen? Culinary superstars like chef Roberto Ruiz of Punto MX in Madrid, Spain; Chef Maria Jose San Roman from Monastrell in Alicante, Spain; and chef Abel Hernandez from Eloise Restaurante in Mexico City, Mexico. There’s always something happening at the resort.

If you’re wondering what the heck is up with the name UNICO 20˚N 87˚ W, it’s all about embracing the local. It has to do with the resort’s latitude and longitude. These coordinates are representative, not only of UNICO 20˚87˚’s devotion to its location, but also its desire to immerse guests in the region’s beauty and culture.

That’s why you’ll see museum quality art throughout the hotel featuring home grown talent or an artist with a connection to Mexico. If you’re an art aficionado, you’ll be chuffed. The techniques the artists use appeal to the Mexican culture, since they incorporate elements such as mud, sands, natural pigments, among others. You’ll find features of traditional Mexico intermingled with new, imaginary worlds.

The local vibe includes entertainment as well. The Palmera Live Show at Palmera Lounge is where you can experience some of the hottest salsa music and dancing. If you thought you had moves, you might start doubting your abilities. Enjoy the energetic show.

When you’ve soaked up the sun on the beach or at the pool, keep the chill mode going at the more than 17,000 square-foot Esencia Spa. Be prepared to be pampered. Your challenge will be deciding on a treatment as you’ll surely want more than one. You can’t go wrong with choices like the Herbal PreHispanic treatment, 80 minutes of bliss. Warm herbs are applied to your skin. The natural oils and the aroma of the herbs are like salve for your stress. The relaxing massage may just put you to sleep. Do allow yourself extra time after your treatment to enjoy the hydrotherapy facilities with a plunge pool, hammam and steam and sauna room.

As much as the action is at Unico, venture beyond the resort. One of the signature excursions is the trip to Tankah. Explore the heart of the jungle. Swim, canoe, zip line, take in the sights and get a taste of the local culinary offerings. The star attraction is “The Cave and the Piranha” cenote. After a relaxing swim, walk to the Naval Cenote where you can grab a canoe paddle past the beautiful scenery. Finally, take a dip and cool off at the “Cenote Azul” before having a meal of traditional Yucatan specialties.