Small-Town Charm in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen pool

From new small town experiences at the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort to new resort developments, there’s plenty of new experiences Cancun, Mexico, has to offer travelers. 

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort is celebrating its second anniversary this summer. The first Grand Hyatt in Mexico — one of three in Latin America — didn’t take long to hit its stride. Its Cenote Spa quickly landed some prestigious design awards.

The 314-room property lies between Mamitas Beach and the shopping, dining and nightlife hub of La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue).

Travel Agent spoke with The Grand Hyatt’s director of sales and marketing, Veronica Sarmiento, about the hotel’s appeal.

“We really filled a niche when we opened here. For years, Playa del Carmen was known for its small bed and breakfast properties. The community was lacking a beautiful, international hotel that wasn’t an all-inclusive. We have an award-winning, modern design that incorporates all the natural elements around us. Mangroves, the ocean front, you see everything blended together perfectly,” said Sarmiento.

Part of the hotel’s appeal is its proximity to major area attractions. 

“Our philosophy is to encourage guests to explore all the highlights of the area. We’re a lot closer than Cancun to places such as Xcaret, Xplore, the cenotes and Tulum. And of course, we are next to one of the most famous pedestrian areas in the region. We want guests to enjoy the shopping, restaurants and nightlife they can find on Fifth Avenue,” said Sarmiento.

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen beach dining - editorial only

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen beach dining

New culinary options ensure guests don’t wander too far, though.

Six months ago, the Grand Hyatt introduced Full Moon Dinners. Guests dine by moonlight in front of the sea, enjoying a specially-selected menu.

“It’s one of our most-anticipated events for guests as well as locals,” said Sarmiento.

A new Chef’s Table concept will launch soon. It will feature a changing menu of fresh, seasonal ingredients tailored to guest preferences. The cost for the dinner has not been determined yet. But it will include a six-course meal plus a welcome cocktail, wine pairings and non-alcoholic beverages. The minimum group reservation is for four people.

With Easter Week on approach, The Grand Hyatt is expecting its share of family visitors, couples and international guests.

“We have a traditional Semana Santa (Holy Week) procession here in town. It’s different from the Cancun spring break experience,” said Sarmiento.

The Grand Hyatt’s clientele hails primarily from the U.S. But, "there’s a fair share of guests from Canada, the U.K., Germany, Argentina, even Asia,” said Sarmiento. That’s not surprising, according to Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau director and chief executive Lizzie Cole.

“The entire Riviera Maya started out as a destination that would offer something more attractive to the European traveler. It’s a matter of taste and preference,” said Cole.

Playa del Carmen’s appeal is heightened by its small-town allure.

“Cancun has beautiful beaches. Playa del Carmen also has the beautiful beaches. But it still has the essence of a local town. The fishermen come in every day. I think that’s something that guests really love about our particular location,” said Sarmiento.

Cancun street art by Gonzalo Areuz 

Cancun, of course, isn’t holding back on its own improvements. There’s a major new development nearly completed at Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun All Inclusive.

The all inclusive launched a multi-million dollar renovation project in the spring of 2016. Both the Torre Mar and Torre Sol towers have been updated. Work on the third tower, Torre Luna, will be complete by April of this year.

“In order to further enhance the experience of each and every one of our guests, the resort recently underwent a full renovation and unveiled 507 upgraded rooms and suites, ” Pilar Tapia, the property’s general manager, tells Travel Agent.

The remodel has also upgraded technology offerings and other amenities.

“Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun All Inclusive Resort has always been a very inclusive hotel, catering to families, singles and couples looking to experience our authentic Mexican hospitality and traditions. With upgraded infrastructure and amenities, guests will now be able to do just that,” said Tapia.

All Cancun visitors will now have a more colorful experience, thanks to new street art. Brightly-colored murals are popping up throughout the city. They’re part of a public works project designed to highlight local culture, traditions, ecotourism and conservation.

The project’s initial stage involves two buildings in downtown and two in the hotel zone. Participating artists come from as far away as New Zealand and the Ukraine. And, plans call for an additional eight buildings to showcase the murals during the summer.