When I was invited by the Villa del Palmar Resort in Cancun to visit, I kind of expected a standard sort of beach resort. My experience though was much different and this is what surprised me the most.
1. Experiences – For me personally, the most important part of any experience is what I do; the experiences. More than a fancy bed or nice food, my adventures are what define a trip for me. The best hotels in the world aren’t the best because they give me fancy soap (although that doesn’t hurt) it’s because they understand the importance of the experience and help their guests enjoy an amazing visit based on these once in a lifetime moments. The Villa del Palmar is just such a property. Every year thousands of whale sharks pass through the warm Caribbean waters off of the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, providing thrill seekers a unique opportunity to swim alongside these beautiful and massive creatures. The Villa del Palmar wanted me to visit them not just to see the resort, but the number one reason was to invite me to swim with the whale sharks. That’s rare and it says a lot. It says that they understand what drives people to travel and impressed me right away. During my stay they facilitated the adventure and provided me memories that will last a lifetime. Memories both of the whale sharks and the hotel.
2. Location – I’ve been to Cancun and the Riviera Maya a few times and thought I knew what to expect by a typical resort there. Of course, I quickly learned that the Villa del Palmar is anything but typical. Located about twenty minutes from downtown Cancun, the resort is situated in an area called Isla Mujeres. It’s still close enough to Cancun to be convenient, but that distance makes it secluded and private. That’s one thing I look for when I travel, the ability to be left alone. That’s usually hard to achieve in Cancun where millions visit every year for the beaches as well as the hundreds of stores, restaurants and bars. I’m not 21 though and being surrounded by establishments like Senor Frogs does not appeal to me in the slightest. The Villa del Palmar’s location though guarantees a certain level of privacy and peace and quiet, the perfect ingredients for a remarkable stay.
3. Service – In my opinion, what separates luxury hotels from hotels that are just ‘nice’ is the service. I’ve said this before, but anyone can buy fancy sheets and give guests nice smelling lotions. At the end of the day that doesn’t matter if the service is lousy. Attention to detail and a fine attention to the needs of the guest is what truly makes a luxury property luxurious, in my opinion. After three days spent as a guest, I can happily report that the Villa del Palmar understands this. Not once was I in need of anything, and once when I wondered about where to find Diet Coke, they magically appeared in my fridge almost right away. Afraid I was being treated differently, I decided to randomly ask other guests about their experiences. Almost to a person, they recounted stories that matched my experiences. From the woman who loved the fact the bartender remembered her drink to the dad who appreciated the extra help with the kids at breakfast. Service matters and in an increasingly rude world, we travelers crave it now more than ever.
4. The Intangible – What drives me to continue traveling is that special feeling that is hard to describe. It can happen anywhere and at anytime, but it’s a perfect confluence of happiness and wonder that makes travel a treasure. One evening, I wandered down to the pier adjacent to the Villa del Palmar, the pools and restaurants behind me, all alone with my thoughts and the setting sun. Boaters raced through the waters offshore and kids were playing in the sand nearby. I didn’t feel as if I was in Cancun, I felt as if I were a million miles away, lost in my own thoughts and experiences and I loved it. That one moment, that singular experience came to define the trip for me and because of it I know I’m destined to return to this wonderful property.
These are just a few reasons why I fell in love with the Villa del Palmar. What makes a hotel special for you?
Here’s a video I put together to show you all what it’s like to stay at the Villa del Palmar: