It was late into the season (the dog days of summer, as they say) and we were overloaded and overwhelmed with work demands. On a whim, we took advantage of a long weekend, and decided to book a secret luxurious escape to a secluded beach. Though we weren’t too preoccupied with the location, we needed it to be quiet, beautiful, luxurious and ultra relaxing.
After some research, we secretly flew to a secluded beach in Cancun, Mexico to unwind for a few luxurious days. Little did we know, this luxurious getaway would also include one of the most unique travel experiences we've ever had.
We decided on Beloved Playa Mujeres, a luxurious, secluded adults-only resort in Cancun, Mexico that catered to couples looking for a little romance and a lot of privacy. Though located in the heart of Cancun, Beloved Playa Mujeres Resort is far from what you’d expect of a typical resort in Cancun, Mexico. It was lush, quiet and ultra luxe, the ultimate in secret luxurious escapes.
Upon arrival at the entrance to the resort, our airport transfer was stopped so he could present the names of the passengers (and they could be cross checked) prior to security lifting the red velvet rope and letting the car drive to the front entrance. Waiting for us to emerge from the vehicle, the welcome staff of the Beloved Playa Mujeres stood with champagne glasses and big smiles. They handled our bags for us, escorted us to the soft couches inside the reception area to wait while they checked us in.
Once the staff handled all the preliminaries of our check in for us, we were asked to join them at the "front desk". It wasn't a typical front desk, and there was line up of guests waiting to check in, the reception area resembled a luxurious living room. We sat in big comfy chairs across a small booth to receive our key cards, have our picture taken, and were then quickly escorted to our room. This eliminated any stress at check in normally associated with typical resorts, a wonderful feature of Beloved Playa Mujeres. Along the way, the friendly concierge informed us all of the fabulous amenities available to us during our stay.
Beloved Playa Mujeres is a pristine resort is tastefully decorated in a minimalist design, with a soft white palate and clean lines. It is luxurious elegance of white stone and natural colours, beautifully designed for maximum privacy. Nestled on a white sandy beach between neighbouring resorts, Beloved Playa Mujeres felt secluded and peaceful. The private suites were scattered on the property between clusters of muted vegetation, resembling more that of a neighbourhood layout rather than a typical resort.
Our oversized suite was equipped with not only a large bed and huge bathroom, but a walk-in closet, a separate living area with a fully stocked separate bar and a huge balcony with indoor/outdoor round jacuzzi tub. Tucked behind the bar, adjacent to the balcony, the jacuzzi was set inside, but with windows that opened to enjoy the sun and breeze (if you so chose).
An extensive Beloved Playa Mujeres room service menu was also available, and once you devoured your meal, the tray and dirty dishes could be set inside a cabinet near the entrance, accessible for pick-up by staff on the other side of the door.
This was a clever feature and one of our favourites. No dirty dishes in the room or in the hallways waiting to be picked up. Each and every night, Beloved Playa Mujeres offered a turn down service, prepping your room for sleep by dimming the lights, providing water and leaving little sweets and notes on the bed. These little luxurious details were what made all the difference and what made Beloved Playa Mujeres a luxurious escape.
After quickly unpacking and settling in, we changed into our swimwear and headed down to the beach, stopping first for a quick detour at the poolside restaurant for lunch. Each restaurant and bar at Beloved Playa Mujeres felt separate and unique, again more a neighbourhood feel than resort. There was no need for bracelets or identification, the one photo taken at check-in (and your room number) was all each restaurant required to seat you for your meal. Again, another simple and clever idea that made everything feel more exclusive and truly like a luxurious escape.
After a delicious lunch, seated facing the ocean in a second level restaurant located over the main pool and swim up bar, we decided to cool off by taking a quick dip in the pool and enjoying a frozen drink in the shade. The beach and pools were quiet, with subdued music, and excellent service.
The water, however, was warm. With the afternoon sun beating down on us, we expected cool (even cold) pool water, but it was like stepping into a warm bath. It was quite hot when we arrived, and thus the pools had warmed up more than usual.
Though it felt unusual, we found a shady spot at the swim-up bar and cooled off with a frozen daiquiri before making our way to the white sand beach. If you'd like to read an extensive review of our stay at Beloved Playa Mujeres, click here to read: Beloved Playa Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico: An Honest Review of A Luxurious Couples Resort Getaway.
We are, most definitely, beach people, which is one of the main reasons we selected Beloved Playa Mujeres.
When given the choice, we would prefer to sit with our feet in the cool sand and soak in the views of the ocean. The space that Beloved Playa Mujeres occupied on the beach was small, but the lounge chairs were plentiful and readily available, each with a palm umbrella for shade and a beach-side menu of food and drinks.
LUXURY TRAVEL TIP: Reserve the private beach cabanas at reception, for as many days as possible (in advance). The fee in approximately $45 USD per day, but the benefits outweigh the costs. The privacy, the shade, the service and the freebies make this the ultimate secret luxurious escape.
What was particularly luxurious and unique, were the rentable private beach tents (or cabanas). Guests could reserve one of the few private cabanas on the beach (something we opted for every day possible) where you were provided a large canvas cabana with two oversized beds to lounge on in the cool shade, sipping champagne and nibbling on snacks. With each days rental, Beloved Playa Mujeres also provided a complimentary gift pack of sunscreen, bug repellent and a cooling misting spray. Absolute luxury at it's finest, talk about a luxurious (and secret) escape.
When we visit a new area, we typically research available excursions and local specialties, hoping to experience something new and unique. Since this trip was only meant to be a short secret getaway, meant mainly for relaxation, we hadn’t planned on leaving the property of Beloved Playa Mujeres for any excursions, but there was one unique ocean adventure we just could not pass up.
One of the most unique experiences available in the area, was the chance to snorkel and swim with whale sharks in the wild. Whale sharks frequented the area, gathering in the same spots to feed, and there were many group tours readily available at a reasonable cost per person. On large group tours however, the time for each individual was limited in the water due to safety regulations protecting both people and the wildlife.
UNIQUE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE: Swim in the ocean with a pod of huge, feeding whale sharks. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of sharing the same waters as these gentle giants. There are risks (mainly seasickness), but this is truly a trips of a lifetime experience you shouldn't pass up.
We wanted to be able to spend as much time as possible observing them, so although it cost much more than the average tour, we opted to hire a private boat and rather than share the time in water with other guests, spend the entire time with the whale sharks ourselves. In hindsight, it was completely worth it.
We did our due diligence and read as many reviews from those who had first had experience swimming with whale sharks, so we knew what to expect. Many reviews warned of rough seas on route to find the whale sharks, so we came prepared with anti-nausea medication (which we took plenty of before boarding our private boat in the early morning on our second day).
I perched myself on the back of the speedboat, grasping to the side while my other half sat on the second level facing forward. Having been on boats many times before, I was comfortable with waves, but this time I carried with me the memory of getting sick the year prior while cruising the Galapagos Islands. Even though that illness was more a result of heat exhaustion than seasickness, I feared it would happen again.
Keeping as calm as possible, I took deep cleansing breaths of the cool sea air and focused on the horizon in an attempt to anchor my line of sight. It worked, in the beginning, but the positive thoughts and anti-nausea medication were no match for the two hours our boat bounced on the deep-sea waves before we found the whale sharks.
Noticing that I wasn't feeling well, our captain suggested we jump into the ocean first, too cool off before swimming over to the whale sharks. It did help for a moment or two, but severe nausea overtook us both and we began vomiting uncontrollably. I thought it would be fine once we got it “out of our system” and would soon feel better, but we weren’t so lucky. Sorry whale sharks, I hope you're not bothered by seasickness.
Determined to continue, with the life vests wrapped around our waists, we swam the few meters towards the site where the whale sharks were feeding. Three other boats were stopped and a handful of people were already in the water, snorkelling. From above the surface, the occasional splash of something inhuman emerged, but they were too quick to fully comprehend. Below was an entirely different experience.
Dunking our heads underwater, a whole new world opened up. Circling us, in the large open space between the boats, was a group of whale sharks, sucking in gallons of water from the surface and feeding on the plankton. They were enormous yet so graceful.
Their distinct spotted patterns of each whale shark glistened in the reflected sunlight. It is difficult to describe (or capture in a photo) the size of a creature, seemingly small in comparison to the vastness of the ocean, but humongous when compared to a human being. Whale sharks can grow to approximately 30 feet in length, the relative size of a long school bus. To read our detailed review of Snorkelling with Whale Sharks, click here to read: A Trip of a Lifetime: Snorkelling with Whale Sharks in Mexico
We had been forewarned not to disturb the whale sharks and more importantly, not to physically touch them, we were only there to observe. They took no notice of us, or if they did, they were not bothered by our presence. The water was clear, but their movements (and ours) disturbed the plankton and other microscopic entities, clouding the water slightly.
Though their actual motions appeared slow and insignificant, due to their sheer size, they are the biggest fish in the world after all, one small flick of their muscular tail propelled them forward, often forcing us to swim quickly out of their path to avoid a collision. Watching the whale sharks swim was mesmerizing.
By the end of the whale shark experience, both of us had been accidentally “slapped” by the tail of a whale shark while, trying (and failing) to swim out of their way. For almost an hour, we battled the sea-sickness above the waves, and marveled at the gentle giants below, snapping photos between chasing them and getting out of their path. It was a truly magical, trip of a lifetime experience that we are so thankful we had the opportunity to have, especially since the whale shark populations in Mexico are on the decline and are now considered an endangered species.
Passengers on the other boats had also experienced seasickness and nausea, one of whom was particularly bad and needed to be rushed back to shore. Our boat happened to be the fastest, so they used ours to transport the sick passenger and we were escorted back via a much slower and smaller vessel.
Once we had enough and our bodies could take no more, we climbed aboard and prepared to return to Beloved Playa Mujeres. Facing forward, we pressed our backs against our seats, hoping the stillness would help. At full speed, the boat crashed against the waves, and at times, lifting off of the water and slapping back down, spraying us with cold mist. The sound was deafening, as if the wood was cracking beneath us.
Though it was an intense and long ride back to shore, whether it was the speed, the cool breeze or the movement, it eased any lingering seasickness.
Exhausted and near the beach of Beloved Playa Mujeres once again, the nausea disappeared. Floating in the calm, crystal clear waters, we relaxed and recounted our individual experiences.
Even knowing now what we would physically need to endure, we would do it all over again for a chance to observe the whale sharks in their natural habitat once more.
We spent the remaining days lounging on the beach (in our private and luxurious cabana) with bottles of champagne and good books. Having mentioned in email correspondence with Beloved Playa Mujeres prior to arriving, that we were celebrating an anniversary, we were surprised with a delicious chocolate cake and champagne in our room.
Every attempt was made by Beloved Playa Mujeres to allow privacy, encourage romance and relaxation, and make guests feel special. It may have been only a few days spent in Cancun, Mexico, but the memories of this secret luxurious escape and unique wildlife adventure will last a lifetime.