Traveling to sunny tropical destinations, travellers have endless upon endless options as to were they would like to stay…but for those of you that would like to experience what the Garden of Eden looks like let alone what true pampering is all about, then Secrets Maroma is just what the doctor ordered.
For my second host hotel during the Wine and Food Festival in Cancun, I had the pleasure of staying at the uber exclusive Secrets Maroma. Truth be told, I’ve heard about the Secrets chain but for one reason or another I never stayed with them. Unlike Hotel Cacao my first host hotel which was situated in the heart of downtown Cancun, Secrets Maroma is tucked away on one of the most pristine beaches in all of Mexico. This AAA Five Diamond award winning resort symbolizes sheer opulence in every facet that I experienced.
Upon entry to the perfectly manicured landscape of the resort, I could see and feel that Secrets Maroma takes pride and pleasure in the smallest of detail. Details that some may not necessarily notice, but for Secrets Maroma it’s all encompassing as to how they receive and treat their guests.
Relaxation 101 at Secret’s Maroma
I have had my share of varied experiences staying at all-inclusive hotels. I have stayed at luxury resorts where they claim that ‘gourmet’ dining is their claim to fame – to which was and always will be of importance to me, after all I’m someone who loves good food. Also, let’s not forget if I’m on vacation there is a certain level of expectation to be had especially if ‘gourmet dining’ is the resorts selling feature. Unfortunately many resorts à la carte restaurants with whom you typically have to make reservations in advance (that in itself is bothersome and can lead to much frustration) have often failed to impress.
Time and time again I’ve noticed that such à la carte restaurants (typically theme and ethnically inspired – be it seafood, Italian, French or Asian influenced) typically focus their attention solely on the presentation factor. I’ll give these restaurants props in the originality department as I have been pleasantly surprised by their level of creativity when it comes to presenting their dishes. However, emphasis should always be placed at the core to every successful eatery – flavor, flavor and more flavor! The only analogy I can give you is this…You know those beautifully formed towel ‘swan’ creations that hotel staff arranges on your bed? Beautiful they are and yes they make you smile, but are you going to enjoy your bed more because of it? And more importantly, will it make you forget that you are sleeping on a piece of hard metal –under the guise that you’ll be sleeping on the most plush mattress ever?! You tell me?!
Having said that, I was admittedly reluctant to try Maroma’s à la carte restaurants for fear of being disappointed- little did I know how wrong I was going to be. That it was unfair of me to paint all gourmet à la carte restaurants with the same brush. My first culinary experience at Secrets Maroma was at their Oceana seafood restaurant. What can I say? Right from the start the service was spot on, without being too much or too in your face. Oceana staff exemplified discretion and perfectly timed service. The food was incredibly fresh and boasted crisp and mouth watering flavors. The level of detail given to the multicourse meal I later learned was and is an integral part of Executive Chef José Mena’s philosophy on food and what it means to him…I’ll expand more on that later on.
As one would imagine and expect, the accommodations in Secrets Maroma are one of romance and lavishness. It oozes richness but without going overboard. My suite spelled out serenity and tranquility. Maroma didn’t leave anything to chance in regards to making my room one of relaxation. From the deluxe four poster bed to the interior Jacuzzi that separated my insanely big open concept bathroom and bedroom – they really did want me to think I was in a spa like environment. For those of you that cringed when I said open concept bathroom – have no worries, the essential ‘parts’ remain behind close doors in a separate area of the bathroom. And if that wasn’t enough, there was still room for a beautiful marble walk-in shower with a sitting area – us ladies love the sitting area component!
To engage guests to be in a ‘spa like spirit’, Maroma literally thought of everything – from incense sticks at your disposal to leaving a meditation serenity channel on your television set on – so that when you walk in your room it is one of calmness. To add to my calmness, the complementary mini bar that was refreshed daily was an added bonus. Unlike many hotels – this mini bar had everything…from liquors to sweet treats to salty indulgences. And when I wanted a great picker upper, a Nespresso machine with all it’s fixings was at my disposal. With all this, if that wasn’t enough…a chilled bottle of Champagne with canapés waited for me in my living room – need I say more?! Well actually I can and I will because I haven’t even mentioned the fact that on my private balcony another Jacuzzi waited for my presence – seriously two Jacuzzis?! Except this one gave you the perfect view of Maroma’s property and of course it’s beautiful ocean view that we all long for. Why would one ever leave this place is beyond me…but I digress.
Partial view from my private balcony
Being a food lover I always do the same thing whenever I visit a hotel – I quickly peruse the room service menu. I’m like a kid in a candy store to get room service. I can’t explain why I’m so fascinated with this but there is something about having food brought to your room. Now for those of you not familiar with Secrets Maroma (as I was) I had heard that their room service was something to be experienced. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew it was going to be worthwhile to try.
When I was describing the room, I intentionally left out the “Secret Box” aka the “Secret Window” that is located right beside the main entrance door. The Secret window is the future of room service as far as I am concerned. Let me try to explain, typically when you order your room service, a hotel staff will knock at the door (their presence without fail always comes in the most inopportune moment) and they roll their food cart into your suit to present your food order. Afterwards as we all have seen it at one time or another – we see the uneaten food and dirty cutlery & plates in the hallway, leaving a very unattractive sight and at times unpleasant scents for other guests to experience. Now let me introduce you to the Secret window. The window or box as it’s also called, is a deep niche-like opening that is flush with the thick wall next to the front entrance door. This window has access from the hallway to your suite and of course for security reasons, it can be locked. How it works is like this: you phone in your food order like usual and then before you know it, the room service staff calls you to inform you that your food order is waiting for you in your secret window!! Like magic you open the window and everything you ordered is there waiting to be consumed and enjoyed! This GENIUS concept leaves out any embarrassing moments of fidgeting for clothes or what have you to answer the door when you hear the knocking (admit it, we have all been there at one time or another). Once you are finished eating your meal, there is no unsightly mess to be left in the room or hallway as all one has to do is place everything back in the window – like nothing ever transpired except for a smile and content appetite!
Speaking of appetite, I was fortunate enough to talk with both Executive Chef José Mena and Food & Beverage Assistant Manager Francisco Solórzano as we walked through the multitude of kitchens that chef Mena oversees. I had requested this tour to see the inner workings of chef Mena’s command while seeing his brigade work in what seemed like synchronized harmony. To be honest I had expected to be given just a simple overview of each restaurant, little did I know how generous chef Mena and Francisco were going to be given their busy schedule.
It was fascinating to see the sheer volume of staff and the high level of standards that Mena strives for in order to uphold Secrets Maroma’s stellar culinary reputation. After having spent some time with chef Mena, I could easily see that attaining excellence was at the forefront for him when feeding his guests. It was a rare opportunity for me to have a sit down with both of these men and I wanted to make full use of it.
Conversations discussed amongst the three of us made me respect all the hard work and commitment involved that the both of them have for the Secrets brand. The personal touch of the tour made me appreciate my experience even more so. But now was time for me to really experience chef Mena’s artistry – it’s one thing to see and appreciate how everything comes together but it’s a totally different ball game when you experience it first hand.
I was lucky to have dinner in one of Maroma’s à la carte restaurants, Portofino…in their private wine cellar! This private room spelled out opulence! The décor was absolutely stunning. For anyone wanting to celebrate a special occasion or if you’re like me to celebrate the ‘just because’ moments with your special someone, then this is the setting for you. How can you go wrong being caressed by vintage wine bottles, bouquet of roses and a beautiful glow being given off by surrounding candles?! I was in awe from the moment I entered the cellar and I had not even had anything to eat yet.
Without fail chef Mena didn’t disappoint, every course (and there were many) that I ate was a representation of what chef Mena and his well orchestrated brigade strived for. Like I had mentioned earlier on, my experiences at à la carte restaurants have always fallen short on flavor – until now!
For those of you reading this that may think I’m writing a favorable ‘review’ because Secrets Maroma was one of my host hotels – all I can say is: think again! It seemed as though that each delicious plate that I consumed, the very next one superseded it on one level or another. The tapestry of flavors found in each course was amplified so that you could enjoy the intricate workings that was given to each plate as it was intended to do so. The evening was one of perfection. It was a perfect marriage of stellar dishes with the best pairings of Champagne and wines.
The highlight of the evening occurred at the end of the soirée, after the dessert was served when chef Mena and some of his brigade came to enjoy a glass of bubbles to commemorate the beautiful evening. To me, that was a touch of class as I was able to give proper thanks to the amazing multicourse culinary extravaganza that will stay with me for some time.
Portofino dinner with Mexican blogger Elsie Mendez, Executive Chef Jose Mena and Food & Beverage Assistant Manager Francisco Solórzano, myself and Secrets Maroma’s sommelier (left to right)
Secrets Maroma epitomizes a new level of luxury. Their attention and eye for detail that they give to every level of service that they provide, just adds to the overall experience that one can expect when staying there. If I could change anything about my stay at Secrets Maroma – it would be that I wish I had more time to take it all in. However having said that, it gives me another (not that I need one) excuse to stay there again!