The food, the drinks and the gossip were flowing freely this weekend!
My Brazilian amiga Nadia suggested we do a girls’ weekend at an All Inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya. Saturday afternoon, we drove down toward Puerto Morelos to the beautiful Now Sapphire resort. I actually used to intern at this hotel in the reception area 3 years ago, back when it belonged to another resort chain. (Yes, I interned at many, many resorts during my university days.) Visually, it has always been my favorite resort in the area, with an immense pool and wood walkways winding through soothing ponds. All this is combined with breezy palapa roofs and a combination of Mexican and Asian-inspired style. Gorgeous.
After a quick check-in, we were taken to our room via golf cart. The resort is divided into small, 3-story villas named after Mayan ruins. Our building was set right by the beach, with a jungle view room set on the 2nd floor. I was very impressed with the guestrooms! Each has a small sitting area and a large balcony, not to mention a great bathroom.
Nadia and I spent our evening bouncing from one restaurant to another, taking full advantage of the resort’s All Inclusive plan. We sampled sushi, caipirinhas, martinis, baba ganoush, spinach ravioli and I can’t even remember what else!
We turned in at midnight and woke up early the next morning with the breakfast we had pre-ordered the night before. After a quick workout, we put on our swimsuits and headed out to do some damage at the breakfast buffet.
Nadia then went to check out the spa specials while I decided to hang out at the pool. There were no loungers available (experienced resort-goers will be familiar with the infamous Towel Game), but I saw a beautiful bali bed right next to the pool with nobody on it. “This is too good to be true,” I thought to myself. So I waited a few minutes, and nobody showed up. I slowly and cautiously arranged my things on the bali bed, looking around in case anyone came up to tell me it wasn’t allowed. Thrilled with my success, I made myself comfortable and snapped a few photos.
After the most glamorous 15 minutes of my life, a young uniformed gentleman approached me with a clipboard.
“Excuse me, miss. What is your room number?”
(long pause while he flips through a few pages)
“Is your last name Palmer?”
“No…” (Stay cool, Laura, stay cool!)
“I’m sorry, miss, but these bali beds are reserved for our Preferred Club guests. There’s actually quite a long waiting list to use them.”
“Well I’ve already made myself comfortable! You should really put up a sign or something,” I exclaimed in righteous indignation as I got my things together.
“The sign is right here on the post, miss.”
“Oh. Ummm… sorry then. Thanks.”
Fabulousness transformed into humilliation within 30 seconds. Could only happen to me.
Feeling unimportant and defeated at the prospect of finding a chair, I made my way to the beach and settled in under a palapa while I waited for Nadia.
We ordered some bottled waters from the beach waiter, spent an hour or so talking about life, took some pictures and watched the boats go by. Now this is a vacation!
Nadia suggested we try our luck back at the pool. There were still no loungers available, as expected, but we set our stuff by the pool’s jet tub and hopped right in. I loved the pool. Lots of activities were going on by the swim-up bar, but the pool was big enough that it was easy to find quiet areas for relaxation. Submerged loungers, one of my favorite things, were also in abundance.
We had programmed a late check-out for 1:30, so we eventually headed back to the room, packed up and changed into some dry clothes. Check-out was quick and easy, and we made our way to the Bluewater Grill for some more All Inclusive action in the form of ceviches and burgers.
The Now Sapphire was a great experience. I dare to say it was even better than most All Inclusives! Here’s why:
- No bracelets
- No waiting in line to make dinner reservations every morning (first come, first served)
- 24-hour room service included
- No worrying about towel cards… just walk up, get your beach towel, then bring it back when you’re done. Easy.
- Bring bugspray! Mosquitos weren’t a problem during daylight hours, but let’s just say that we weren’t the only ones feasting during our outdoor dinner at the beachfront grill.
- Upgrade to the Preferred Club. Preferred guests have a private lounge, a beautiful separate pool, access to spa facilities and reservations for the poolside bali beds. (I only spent 15 minutes on the bali bed, but it was amazing!) This is one instance where I’d say the extra amenities are worth the higher pricetag.
- Sit at the teppanyaki tables at Lemongrass restaurant. What a show!
- Get to the pool early if you want to grab a lounger. Just don’t leave your stuff there for 4 hours without using it. Be cool, people. (Waking up at 5 am, putting your flip flops on a lounger, then going back to sleep until noon is not acceptable resort behavior.)