Spanish hotel company Hipotels has owned 250 acres of Cancun beachfront for 15 years – but now the stars have aligned, the Riviera Maya “Golden Mile” is hot, and Hipotels’ Haven Rivera Cancun finally has made its debut.
It’s a “deluxe, all-exclusive, adult group and couple-centric” resort, the first in what industry insiders say will be a string of new upscale properties coming on the Golden Mile.
Just 15 minutes from the airport, the Golden Mile is attracting the biggest share of recent investments in Cancun, including a new Garza Blanca resort that recently opened, a Marriott and a Ritz Carlton in the planning stages, and theme parks from Cirque du Soleil. Disney is planning its first park in Latin America here, a DreamWorks park showcasing Shrek and Madagascar in which it is said to be investing $800 million.
Hipotels’ vision is to have two resorts (one for adults and one for families), plus an 18-hole golf course, a 30,000-square-foot convention center, and residences here; in October, it will break ground on the convention center and an additional 105 guest rooms, scheduled to open in 2020.
As Hipotels’ first deluxe resort, its first adults-only and its first outside of Spain (where it has about 30 hotels) — and with a plan to follow to other Caribbean destinations — Haven Riviera is clearly a flagship property. The care the company is taking shows in the details, from the architecture to the appointments in its 330 suites to the 17,000-square-foot spa.
The lounge at the Serenity Club.
There are no timeshares here, but there is an exclusive Serenity Club area with butlers, private swim-up infinity pools, and an exclusive lounge with snacks and drinks all day, plus special amenities including free daily entry to the amazing hydrotherapy circuit in the spa. A beautiful Presidential Suite (complete with a gym that folds down from the wall like a Murphy bed) already has hosted soccer stars and dignitaries.
The hotel is built horizontally, along the beach rather than perpendicular to it, and elevated by nine feet, so the lobby itself offers an infinity view of the Caribbean. A member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts and just named to the American Express Hotel Collection for 2020, the hotel seeks to be “unique, secluded and intimate,” says Florian Connert, the property’s senior director of sales, marketing and distribution. And with just 330 rooms on 250 acres, everything does indeed feel roomy and private.
Travel agents are a key part of the distribution channel, Connert said. About 75% of guests come from North America; about half come through travel agents, another 30% through OTAs and 10% come for meetings and incentives.
The spa has a Moroccan feel, and offers a wide variety of treatments, including tea readings and a couples’ suite with a Bali bath. There are two spa cabins and two palapas. The two pools offer 66,000 square feet of water overlooking the Caribbean beyond — 200 square feet of pool per room, Connert noted. The white-sand beach is handicapped-friendly, though sargassum did keep guests out of the water when we visited. Still, the elevation of the hotel made the seaweed invisible and the crash of the waves set a relaxing backdrop.
Onsight restaurants include Asian fusion (with tappanyaki and sushi), a Mexican steakhouse with a charcoal oven to cook the perfect Tomahawk, and Mediterranean seafood. House wines reflect the company’s Spanish roots, and a mixologist delivers up concoctions that include gin-infused orange peel.
Dry aged steaks at AguaBendita Steakhouse.
So, what’s there to do here? Beyond the pools and the sea and the spa, the swim-up bars and the food and the shows, groups and couples can arrange for mescal tastings with mixologist Alejandro. The son of a chef and grandson of a baker, his concoctions include a little sweet savory and a little sweet, like Mexican Passion, with ancho reyes chile liquor, passion fruit, Montelobos mescal and simple syrup.
As a side trip, one group visited a cooking school at Mexico Lindo Traditional Kitchen, where Chef Alejandra combines the ancient techniques with new ingredients (think Mayan salsa with roasted pumpkin seeds). Groups of up to 75 can do a six-hour excursion here, starting with breakfast and then on to an immersive cooking class designed to “change the way people see our gastronomy and show them how welcoming Mexicans are.”
In the works
The new convention center will boost the property’s ability to serve groups in their own private space, adjacent to but separate from the existing buildings, said Director of Group and Incentive Sales David Schwartz. The property’s layout lends itself to corporate incentive and management meetings, as so many rooms are oceanview and oceanfront, allowing the meeting planner to accommodate everyone.
“From family reunions to corporate events, we try to sit down and personalize our offerings to meet their goals and demographics,” Schwartz said. That’s especially true in the food and beverage offerings; the convention center will have its own kitchen, as each restaurant does. “We do not mass produce food; our corporate and wedding guests will have the same quality of food and beverage as our restaurants.
To kick off the new space, Haven Riviera Cancun is offering commission rates, up to 20%, for qualified groups and incentives, as well as deeply discounted site inspection rates and complimentary days to finalize the details.
The all-inclusive nature of the resort makes planning simple for travel agents who may be new to planning meetings and incentives, Schwartz noted, “so if it’s not your core business, please don’t worry, it’s our pleasure to assist and guide you.”
In other Cancun news, meanwhile, hotel openings are coming hot and heavy. Perhaps the most exciting will be the new partnership of Karisma Hotels & Resorts and Margaritaville, which will open the Margaritaville Island Reserve. In the works are the RoyaltonSuites, Sunscape Star Cancun Resort & Spa and the Now Natura Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa. Renaissance has opened its first hotel, Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina; Planet Hollywood will open Mar. 1; and AMResorts will open the Now Emerald Cancun Resort & Spa in June.