If your career as a travel advisor predates the pandemic, you might remember a spectacular event called Best of the Best – an in-destination multi-day gala hosted by Travel Impressions for our top travel partners.
Working for what was then only Travel Impressions, now part of the greater family (in every way) of ALG Vacations®, I know I do! These events are absolutely unforgettable, not only because of what a phenomenal job our in-house events pros did with the on-resort events teams, but because the settings themselves, the resorts, were also the Best of the Best.
Among the most memorable for me was one of the last venues we chose: Inclusive Collections’ Secrets® Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort.
Nearly brand new at the time, freshly opened in November 2015, this beautifully romantic, adults-only, all-suites Unlimited-Luxury® property featured design elements that were unique then … and remain so now. And I was delighted (and relieved!) to find that everything I remembered as standout features of the property during that exclusive special event still holds true today, years later, as I visited only weeks ago with close friends and family.
Here are some of my favorite details of this resort that make it special even beyond the wonderful memories made there.
I know that sounds generic, but this soft-sanded shoreline is anything but. Erase all images of big resort buildings on a bare white beachfront from your mind, because what makes it wonderful and unique is that nature is artfully managed and well preserved here. Wooden boardwalks lead a direct path through low-lying tropical native foliage and baby palms, or you can meander into the greenery on bare feet on sugary sand for a peaceful walk in natural nooks.
Some people dive right into a pool and call it refreshing. Others, like me, will stand for minutes at a time on each step, fists clenched and sucking on their teeth as they adjust to a pre-prescribed per-step immersion into the cool water. But Secrets Playa Mujeres’s enormous lagoon pool has a much more natural, organic way to get submerged at your own leisurely pace: a zero-entry wade-in point that mimics how you get into the ocean at a beach. Smooth with a gradual gradient, this is a unique and thoughtful way to accommodate vacationers who are averse to submersion and those with mobility challenges. I’m the former and I’ve been the latter, so this is a design feature I doubly appreciate.
Turf and Palm-Treed Pool Spaces
Many resort pool spaces follow a format of textured, nonslip hard flooring and rows upon rows of beach chairs under that bright, beautiful Caribbean sun. Secrets Playa Mujeres is no exception to the rule, but they embellish on it. As mentioned, because their pool is a more loose free-form shape, the patterns of the placement of the palm trees around the central pool area feel more like the pool was built around these shady trees – not like an afterthought or token design element.
And the turf areas by the infinity edge pool make it feel like a pool built into the lawn of a luxurious oceanfront private estate and a soft surface for casual relaxing and gathering. Plus, what makes this pool extra special is that even though it’s on the ground floor of the resort, it’s elevated just enough to offer unobstructed views of the Caribbean, beyond the suites disguised into the lower floor hidden beneath the main level.
Outdoor Hydrotherapy Circuit
Hydrotherapy circuits are always fun when on vacation; these guided, meditative experiences are relaxing physically and mentally, and good for you spiritually due to a generally calm environment and inevitable laughter as high pressure water and bubbles surprise you. However, they’re usually indoors, which means you have to choose between precious hours basking in the sun’s glow or in the resort spa’s aura. But at Secrets Playa Mujeres, you get to have both at once – they’re the only resort I’ve been to whose hydrotherapy circuit is completely outdoors, nestled in well-manicured greenery and wrapped in the sounds of rushing water and soothing songbirds.
Wild “Garden” Pathways and Wildlife
One of the greatest characteristics of Secrets Playa Mujeres is its organic-feeling integration with nature. And this feeling extends beyond the main resort areas, as the golf cart paths that connect the main resort to the cluster of buildings that offer dining, additional bars, the theater, shopping, the gym, and the spa is built through well-manicured, lovingly maintained native plantlife and wildlife. There are signs posted throughout the lanes to let guests know what endemic flowers and foliage to look for, as well as what types of animals continue to call this protected area home. Climb up to the lookout towers, where you’ll find binoculars thoughtfully stored for guest use, to spot little grey foxes, local birds, fat iguanas, and more.
“Floating” Amenities Complex
That separate section of amenities we just mentioned, accessible by foot or golf cart limo, is a great space, even if you’re just wandering. The water features all around the wooden boardwalk make it feel like you’re gliding along a suspended walkway over series of shallow ponds, draped across it like a lily pad. Plus, these paths are fully covered in case of inclement weather. And while they serve a function to guide you to the Asian restaurant and bar, the luxurious spa, and the well-equipped fitness center, a boutique, and the Italian and French restaurants in the other direction, they also lead you past lovely lounge spaces and conversation areas in which to gather in a quiet, serene, and peaceful environment.
Villa-Style Private Pool Swimouts
Swim-out suites have become one of the most coveted room categories at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean … and for good reason! They not only look posh and photogenic in theory, they’re also opulent, convenient, and a treat in practice. What’s interesting about the swim-up suites at Secrets Playa Mujeres is that this category of rooms don’t share a communal pool between blocks of suites. Rather, the pools are private and personal to each unit, the patios and water both shielded from neighbors with walls of light-colored stone, and covered with a pergola that hides these inset, hidden-below-grade outdoor spaces. For the ones that are on the ground floor of their building, they’re built in a staggered design, once again protecting guests from all curious eyes but that of the birds nearby.