CANCUN'S ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS AND HOTELS may be known for their raucous college students, known as "terroristas" to some in the trade, but increasingly resorts are saying "No más" to the spring break crowd by transforming themselves into adults-only destinations. One example is Grand Oasis Playa Cancun (www.oasishotels.com), the first property owned by Oasis Hotels & Resorts to establish a minimum guest age of 23.
Before Hurricane Wilma, the resort (then a four-star property) attracted its share of rowdy, and sometimes unmanageable, younger guests. After the hurricane, company executives astutely upgraded the 388-room property to five-star quality through a multimillion-dollar renovation that refurbished guest rooms, restaurants and public areas. The resort now attracts mostly honeymooners and thirtysomething singles looking for an all-inclusive experience without the drinking games.
The principal charm of Grand Oasis Playa is its well-preserved stretch of white-sand beach, which is noticeable upon entering the hotel's spacious, light-filled lobby featuring floor-to-ceiling windows facing the ocean. The lobby, redesigned by Atlanta-based designer Knox Clayton, features minimalist decor in hues of chocolate brown and red and a giant red coral sculpture that has become the defining symbol of Oasis' Grand Oasis brand.
A walk from the lobby down the stairs and past the stylish terrace bar leads to the expansive V-shaped pool occupying three levels of the main public area. The entire space opens to the ocean and is the central lounging spot for hotel guests. Sun chairs surround the pool and a large sundeck faces the ocean. An infinity pool sprawls on the lagoon side of the resort, but goes largely unused during the day.
During the day, most guests pass the time lounging poolside while sipping tropical cocktails and listening to chill-out music playing over the loudspeakers. Others are off on an excursion to one of the nearby ecological parks, trips that can be booked through the resort's onsite tour operators. In the evenings, guests are entertained by a rotating schedule of diversions, including live music, movie screenings and an in-house disco.
The resort's varied dining options include a recently created Brazilian steakhouse, a gourmet Mexican restaurant, a sushi bar and an international buffet. Grand Oasis has eight bars, a couple of which remain open past midnight. Each night, the more adventurous guests venture to Cancun's nightclubs. The hotel concierge can provide recommendations and information. The property is located on the edge of Cancun's hotel zone, about 13 miles from the tourist center.
The Mexican-inspired standard rooms face either the ocean or lagoon/garden (travel agents can request ocean views for no extra charge, on a first-come, first-served basis), and come equipped with either one king-size bed or two doubles, with a maximum of three people to a room. The rooms are not extravagantly furnished, but they are clean and well maintained. Some standard rooms also have balconies.
For about $35 more per night, guests can upgrade to one of 68 superior rooms, each boasting a more impressive ocean view, an outdoor terrace with soaking tub and lounge chairs, king-size bed, plasma TV and Bulgari toiletries. Because of the resort's stacked architectural design, the rooms on the lower levels enjoy close proximity to the ocean, an alluring feature for guests yearning to fall sleep to the sounds of waves crashing. Guests in these rooms also may enjoy relaxing on the terrace and viewing ocean and sky.
All rooms can be booked over the GDS, or through general manager Ruben Martinez ([email protected], 011-52-998-891-5000, ext. 111), who can also attend to special requests. For stays during the high season, reservations should be made at least three to four months in advance.
For some extra pampering, the new Kin Ha Spa offers seven treatment rooms and features Pevonia products. Signature treatments include all things chocolate—massages, scrubs and wraps. Additionally, guests can receive spa treatments outdoors, by the pool or on the beach.
Recreational activities include non-motorized watersports, tennis, a fitness center and classes such as yoga and salsa dancing. Golfers may wish to take advantage of the complimentary green fees at the executive nine-hole, par-3 golf course at the Grand Oasis Playa's sister resort, the Grand Oasis Cancun.
The presence of other Oasis resorts in the vicinity provides other benefits as well. The Oasis Runaway Program permits guests to use the facilities of any of the group's properties free of charge. They should check out the Grand Oasis Riviera Maya, about an hour's drive from Grand Oasis Playa. There, guests can snorkel or scuba dive in the coral reefs in front of the resort or relax in the beachside temazcal (a Mayan sauna), before stopping in for a drink at the stunning rooftop bar.