For some, vacations are family time, where the parents take pleasure in keeping a watchful eye, as their kids paddle and splash in a pool. Others enjoy the 24/7 togetherness of car trips, or camping. However, there are plenty of people who would rather enjoy vacation time without their kids, and without the company of other people’s children. For them, luckily, a new generation of adults-only resorts are proliferating.
The decision to go to an adults only resort doesn’t necessarily signify a dislike of children, but children definitely do affect a vacation experience. “Adults only” usually means that anyone attending must be a minimum age of 18, and therefor the environment, activities, amenities, and even the food, appeal to adult tastes. While adults only couples resorts have been popular for a long time, adults only resorts also appeal to groups of family and friends and also single men and women who prefer a more sophisticated and tranquil atmosphere.
In Cancun’s famed Mexican Hotel Zone, there is an adults-only gem called Live Aqua. This upscale resort is also all-inclusive, and a true haven for those seeking a luxurious, tranquil, pampering atmosphere. Live Aqua’s demographic is an upscale executive, age 35 and above. The busiest times are Easter and Christmas weeks, but it is less crowded in the Fall when corporations book the resort (their guests are mostly in meetings during the day) and the first three weeks of December, before the holidays. On our visit, however, Live Aqua had a special promotion that attracted a more international and younger crowd.
“All inclusive” can mean many things. I once visited an all inclusive in Mexico where all the meals were unappetizingly self-served out of metal bins on steam tables, with limited beverages and anything else was “extra.” But at Live Aqua, “all inclusive” means everything, other than personalized spa treatments and cabanas, and premium bottles of wine. Every room has the type of amenities you’d normally expect, plus a mini bar stocked with soda, snacks and beer, complimentary aromatherapy, iPod sound dock, and even beach shoes and beach bag. Also included is high speed Internet, 24-7 room service, unlimited bar and restaurant service, and much more.
Live Aqua Cancun is a “lifestyle resort” where your senses are tempted by earth, sea and sky. You’ll know you are someplace where the focus is on relaxation (and on you), the moment you enter the lobby. You’re greeted by a beautiful reflecting pool, and you can breathe in the signature aromatherapy scent of Live Aqua. It’s a place without announcements, although someone blows a seashell with a haunting sound, to signify lunch and dinner are available.
Once you’ve checked in and unpacked in your suite or ocean view room (all with balconies), the main attraction is the pool area and the beach. The grounds are beautiful, with nicely landscaped paths, well lit at night, featuring tropical plants and palm trees, and three colorful, resident parrots that guests can interact with at various times of the day.
The pool area is huge, nicely designed with 8 different areas including beautiful (unheated) infiniti pools (one with a swim up bar), and large hot tubs. There are plenty of chairs, and cabanas can be had for an extra charge. The pool with a swim up bar is a favorite of the more party-oriented crowd. Wait staff circle constantly, offering drinks both alcoholic and non, and comfort food from the menu at Azur (the romantic beach restaurant) to hot dogs, tacos, guacamole, and even paella.
While I prefer the sound of the waves, as with many resorts, music is piped into each pool area. We noticed that the crowd of younger people and singles naturally gravitated to the pool bar where the music was more Beyonce than Beatles. In the other pool areas, the music was a quieter mixture of Spanish and English songs.
Cancun’s beaches are legendary. If you want to put your toes in the sand and take a dip in the ocean, Live Aqua’s beach front is wide, long, and well groomed. The staff puts out plenty of chairs every day, although during our visit the beach and pool very very busy, and there weren’t enough umbrellas for everyone. In the hot sun of Mexico, especially for those with skin that hasn’t seen the light of day for a while, this is a potential problem. If I have one single complaint about Live Aqua, it was the handling of the pool and beach chairs. Every day, around 8:00 in the morning, as I sipped coffee on my balcony, I noticed people going to the pool area to “claim” chairs by leaving towels and small personal items on nearly all of the chairs situated under the available umbrellas or in the prime areas around the pools. For the rest of the guests, that meant scrounging for a place to sit while most of the chairs in prime locations remained apparently occupied, but unused. It would be an easy fix for staff to monitor the pool area and free up chairs that obviously weren’t being used for a substantial period of time.
If you’ve had enough sun, there are other things to do. Enjoy the beautiful view of the grounds, pool and beach from your balcony while you read a book or listen to music, or work out in the modest but well equipped fitness center. Relax at one of the bars. Enjoy a snack or a meal in one of four restaurants serving gourmet, Mexican, surf & turf or seafood and international specialties. Nibble sushi or seviche, or savor a coffee and pastry.
But for the ultimate in relaxation and pampering, the Aqua Spa is the place to be. My husband enjoyed our couples massage so much, he booked another massage just for himself, the next day! Spa treatments begin with a cool drink in a tranquil sitting area, and you are returned to this lovely area after your treatment. Then, you can opt to continue your spa experience with a supervised circuit of sauna, steam room, whirlpool, and even a whirlpool foot massage. The locker rooms were immaculate, and the attendants, actually attentive. You could spend an entire day at the spa, between treatments and the other, included facilities. The spa treatments are not included and they run about the same as you’d expect in any upscale resort. Treatments offered include a variety of different massages, facials and body scrubs, plus some for-the-guys treatments. There is also a full service salon with mani-pedis, hair styling and more.
The average guest at Live Aqua is there to unwind. Other than yoga and some other exercise classes, and a fire show and buffet barbeque on the beach once a week, there isn’t a lot of organized entertainment offered. None is necessary. For those who want to be more active and venture out of the resort, some of Mexico’s most popular attractions are close enough for day trips, including the Mayan historical sites of Tulum and Chichen Itza, . The resort’s concierge will help guests arrange for activities such as snorkeling and trips to Xhel Ha, day sailing, swimming with dolphins, and para sailing. Shopaholics can venture just across the street to the La Isla Shopping Mall, and shop for everything from Mexican handicrafts and souvenirs, to beachwear and brand name clothing. There’s another mall selling high-end luxury goods, just a few blocks away.
When the sun goes down, guests can dance and drink at Egos, Live Aquas own nightclub, or arrange for transportation to the area clubs. While Egos isn’t raccous, if you’re an early to bed type or a light sleeper, ask for a room on a high floor. Most people retire early after a full day of sun, but the bar areas are busy, people like to stroll around the attractively lit grounds or take a romantic stroll on the beach, or hang out in and make new
friends at the bar areas.
Food is an essential pleasure in any resort vacation, and Live Aqua’s restaurants, don’t disappoint. Siete, the buffet restaurant serves an incredible breakfast and lunch buffet with Mexican, American other specialties catering to an International audience. At night, one half of the buffet restaurant becomes a lovely Mexican restaurant (one night it featured a violinist), while the other side offers an Italian buffet. Azur, near the pool, is a romantic venue overlooking the sea on three sides, with both indoor and outdoor seating. At lunch, Azur offers both a regular menu of salads, sandwiches and light fare, along with a lunch buffet. At night, it is a romantic venue serving elegant seafood and international cuisine, surrounded by the sand, sea and stars. MBs serves up contemporary cuisine in a chic, modern setting. The Inlaa’kech Lobster & Grill is an outdoor dining venue open only for dinner, nestled into the resort grounds surrounding by palm trees. It is the place for a more intimate dinner, featuring surf and turf.
During the day, waiters circulate on the beach and throughout the pool area, offering food and drink service (all included). The pool and beach are so lovely, you’ll never want to get up for a meal, and you won’t have to as food can be brought directly to your beach chair. But if you want to have eat elsewhere, there are several to choose from. My favorite places was the Sea Corner Ceviche bar overlooking the beach, where you can order up guacamole and chips, and different types of tacos and seviche, washed down with a cold beer or drink. All of the food was well presented and unusually good, especially for an all-inclusive. Another plus is that reservations are not needed or available. In the past, Live Aqua’s restaurants were once open to the public and reservations, even for guests, were difficult to obtain. Now its’ first come, first served, and just for those staying at the resort.
Rooms, and the staff, can make or break a vacation. There are 600 employees at Live Aqua, at about two staff per room, and they are extremely well trained. Every staff member of the staff, including the cleaning staff, greeted us with a smile and “hola!” even if it was only in passing in a hallway. The front desk and restaurant staff greets you by name, as you would expect in a high end resort. Requests were accommodated as much as possible. It was clear that the goal was to make each guest, happy.
While you might not get a greeting of your company logo in colored rice on your bed when you enter your suite as we did, the staff bends over backwards to accommodate reasonable requests. One the one occasion when an obviously intoxicated group came back from a club early in the morning, and tried to continue their loud party on a balcony, the front desk handled it quickly and efficiently.
There are 371 guest rooms at Live Aqua Cancun featuring one king or two double beds. There are a number of room categories, a club floor, a some suites. Where you choose to hang your hat, is important. Live Aqua isn’t a noisy place, but for some, silence is truly golden. For more quiet, no matter what category of room you choose, it is best to be on the higher floors. Rooms closest to the elevators may pick up some outside conversations. Choose from a number of suites, with sitting areas, whirlpool tubs featuring “chromatherapy,” and upgraded toiletries, robes and fancy shower stall. We found our sunny ocean view room to be perfectly nice, but the suites are good for those who spend more time in their room, or who like to get together in private with friends or family. The suites also have larger balconies. The club rooms offer access to the exclusive Aqua Club Lounge, where you can enjoy a beautiful view and have continental breakfast, premium liquor, appetizers, and services of a VIP Concierge. Most of the rooms have nice views of the beach. If you are going to spend time on your balcony and like a sunnier space, ask for a room on the North side of the building. The rooms on the other side are mostly in the shade.
Live Aqua was so lovely, I saw some grim faces waiting for rides back to the airport, a little less than 9 miles away. It is a nearly perfect piece of heaven on earth for adults wishing an adults only vacation. You don’t have to just take my word for it, because Live Aqua Cancun was #1 in the Mexico categpru in Travel & Leisure’s 2012 Top 100 Hotels feature. (August 2012 issue).
Cancun has many family oriented hotels with water slides, pool games and wet tee shirt contests, but if you are the type that just want to re-connect with your partner or friends, in a beautiful, luxurious and spa-style setting, Live Aqua is the perfect choice. For more information visit your favorite travel agent or web site, or go directly to: http://www.feel-aqua.com/en/hotel-live-aqua-all-inclusive to learn more.