"Remember to Live"
secluded | romantic | lush | rivera maya
September 2015 | We do not intentionally seek out 5-Star properties. More than likely, we can't tell you the difference from an exceptional 3 star - "Michelin Star" rating and a Trip Advisor rating, although we do know the ones which take our breath away and treat us to the extraordinary. However, we will leave those well-deserved labels to those who have traveled, eaten and slept more than we have.
As a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, we eagerly participate in their annual auction of breath-taking destinations that we have only dreamed of visiting. Last year, we grabbed the Viceroy Rivera Maya package - at a steal, we might add. It was only two nights and the kicker - we had to get to Mexico. Conde Nast Traveler proclaimed it the 2014 #1 resort in the Caribbean, and after visiting their website and reviewing the property, we decided YES: we would - by any means necessary - get to Mexico.
Although the rain was more plentiful than the sunshine during our September weekend, Mexico brought a long-overdue respite from deadlines and demands. Here's what you can expect:
*A Mayan blessing upon arrival, ensuring that the outside world stays outside. Ambassadors swing the burning resin from its container, while cascading plumes of smoke envelop your senses. I can't say much more because eyes were closed, and I literally became lost in peace.
* Even if it rains - pours - on your private grass-topped villa (one of only 41 on the property), rain intensifies the jungle-like setting of palms and ferns, prompting spider monkeys to swing from palm to palm. The sound that you hear in the treetops? That's your own private show. Raindrops serenade loudly and rhythmically, and surprisingly, you miss the soundtrack when it is silenced. Privacy is golden.
* A plunge pool of your very own, tempting you to discard the needless cultural necessity of a bathing suit. Then there's the outdoor rain shower - surrounded by lush greenery and jungle melodies - , strategically placed within sight of the indoor shower that will remain unused during your stay.
* Butlers and servers that know your name even before you introduce yourself. Remembering everything from our choices in dining to making sure transportation is available. We made no effort to think ahead. We made no effort to think at all.
* A private beach, cabana rich, for strolling and dining, with an amazing view of Cozumel just beyond the turquoise waters.
* Dining at its two signature restaurants or enjoying room service provides options for those who want to stay on the property. But if you want to travel into the city, they can arrange transportation at your request.
*From Luxury Villas to Beach Front Villas (we were in the Luxury Villa), each sits along a constructed pathway designed to resemble a jungle path with lush vegetation, bridges, and waterfalls. Even the lighting, which gives a magical fell to the paths, is blended into the landscaping. If you happen to forget your umbrella and need one quickly, you'll find stands located along the way. Just take one.
*Linen bathrobes. Not grandma's plush robe, but linen ones that allow sun-drenched skin to breathe. Absolutely delicious.
*Lemongrass and coconut milk for refreshment after the hour-long drive from the airport. Local tequila and fruit wedge waiting in your villa. Local coffee for morning pick-me-up.
*The central pathway twists, offering no real straight lines, leads you to the ocean, to the restaurant, to a world like you've never experienced before.
It was a weekend of escape. After all, isn't that the definition of travel. Escape filled with contentment and enrichment. Now, in 2015, Conde Nast has announced Viceroy Rivera Maya as one of the top 100 hotels in the world. We've been there. We can confirm it to be everything . . . and more.
You may feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, but dining at the La Marea Restaurant and the Coral Grill & Bar is nothing short of culinary excellence.
“Our menus at Viceroy Riviera Maya are a rich blend of locally sourced ingredients, the latest culinary techniques, traditional concepts and creative juices,” said Executive Chef Jorge Ildefonso. “We take advantage of the wide range of fresh, high-quality foods available, adapt time-honored cooking principles that in some cases date as far back as prehispanic times and apply avant garde ideas of today. Our goal is to appeal to the full range of guests who stay with us by offering a diverse selection of innovative dishes with bold flavors and cutting-edge presentations.”
From their kitchen to yours, a gift of the Lima Soup, which is an unexpected burst of citrus goodness. Enjoy!
** Lima Soup **
1 whole chicken, cut up or 2 whole chicken breasts
10 cups water
2 sprigs of fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 medium white onion, quartered,
salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves garlic peeled and chopped
2 plum tomatoes chopped
4 limes, 1 sliced, the other 3 squeezed (for using the juice)
6 corn tortillas, cut into Frito-sized striped, fried and drained on paper towels
1 avocado, diced
shredded chicken breast
1 cup of fresh cheese
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 epazote leaves
Make the broth by placing the chicken in a large stockpot or saucepan with the water, oregano, garlic, onion and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, skim, and simmer,covered, 45 minutes. Cool, strain and set aside. Shred the chicken meat and set aside.
In a medium-size saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro and epazote.
Add the strained broth and half the lime slices and juice simmer for 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper.Serve immediately, accompanied by fried
tortilla strips, avocado, fresh cheese, and shredded chicken breast. Enjoy!