Review: Secrets the Vine, Cancun, Mexico

Friday April 11, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 15 Comments

champagne, "Secrets The Vine"

Guests receive champagne upon arrival at Secrets The Vine Cancun

Wine tasting in Mexico? Yes, ma’am. While most people associate Tequila, Corona and guacamole with Mexico, I’m going to let you in on a secret – Mexico makes some good wines. Mexico is staking a claim in the vineyards of Baja California. I learned about the wines of Mexico will staying at Secrets the Vine Cancun, an adults-only resort with a wine theme woven throughout the luxury property.
 
 

 
Secrets the Vine – honeymooners to baby boomers

"Secrets the Vine" pool

Fan coral designed by Artist Jan Hendrix blends into the hotel facade at Secrets The Vine Cancun, Mexico.

From jet-setters to baby boomers, Secrets the Vine Cancun caters to a wide range of travelers. I couldn’t help notice the honeymoon and birthday banners draped across the doors of a select few hotel rooms. This 495 room all-suite property appeals not only to special occasion celebrations, it’s also for the art and wine lover.

 
Secrets the Vine wine theme

Secrets the Vine Cancun features contemporary design elements from the fan coral by Artist Jan Hendrix in the hotel’s exterior facade, to murals painted by Marta Ramirez and wine art on display throughout the hotel.

A bottle of Mexico’s tinto vino (red wine) was waiting for me when I checked into my Junior Suite in Cancun. Don’t miss Secrets The Vine Bar. Outside the 4,500 bottle wine cellar is where Master Sommeliers lead daily complimentary wine tastings at 1:00 & 3:00 p.m. If you wait until 5:00 p.m. the price moved from free to $20.

 

"Secrets the Vine Cancun" Vine bar

4,500 bottle Vine Bar at Secrets The Vine Cancun

 

Secrets the Vine Preferred Club status

For a luxury vacation, it’s a good idea to upgrade to Preferred Club status.  It’s not much more expensive and offers a good return on investment including access to Concierge service, daily continental breakfast, cold and hot hors d’oeuvres and private bar in the private lounge level and your own butler.

All rooms are ocean view, offering Caribbean Sea or Nichupte lagoon vistas. Sunsets are best viewed from the Hard Rock Hotel side, while more shade is available on the balcony next to Sandals resort. My Preferred Junior Suite #2618 looked out to the ocean and lagoon and rented for $700 per night during March. Check the website for current hotel rates.

While I’m not a big drinker, I do love the fact that I have access to the mini bar and won’t be charged for a small tin of Pringles chips or small bag of peanut M&M’s. The mini fridge is loaded with beer, juice, soda and water. Of course, your butler will stock it with all your favorite goodies if you ask.

More perks, free phone calls to the United States and Canada when placed from your hotel room. Insider tip – make sure to call to a land line, as calls to mobile phones are charged at higher rates. All rooms offer free WiFi and preferred guests receive two complimentary items ironed, unpacking and packing service and complimentary shoe shine is available.

 

"Secrets the Vine" junior suite

Secrets The Vine Cancun Preferred Junior Suite

 

Secrets Spa by Pevonia

What beach vacation is complete without a trip to the spa? A day pass to Secrets Spa by Pevonia is $75 if you feel tired and jet-lagged from travel. If money is no object, indulge in a wine therapy treatment. Arrive early to your spa appointment and soak in the hydrotheraphy pool after steaming in the sauna. Follow this with a Pinot Noir Escape exfoliation ($105) d’vine wine massage ($175) and d’vine wine facial ($99) Heaven!

"Secrets Spa by Pevonia" spa

Relax at Secrets Spa by Pevonia

Secrets the Vine dining

If beach and pool time trump spa time, there are several pools and hot tubs to keep you happy, as well as seven restaurants at Secrets The Vine. I sampled crab rangoon, spring rolls and shrimp pad Thai at Dragons Oriental Dining, an Asian fusion restaurant. Bluewater Grill is popular with steak lovers (try the shortbread cookie with caramel filling and ice cream for dessert.) Olio features Mediterranean cuisine and is open to all resort guests for lunch, while dinner is reserved for preferred club level guests. For the seafood lovers and those wanting a bite poolside, Sea Salt Grill offers a tasty shrimp cocktail with a view of the ocean.

"Sea Salt Grill" shrimp cocktail

Shrimp cocktail at Sea Salt Grill Secrets The Vine

Check in: 3:00 p.m.

Check out: 12:00 p.m.

Insider tip

While all-inclusive resorts are not necessarily known for fine dining, Secrets the Vine is an exception to the rule. If you find yourself in Cancun in March don’t miss the Wine & Food Festival Cancun – Riviera Maya.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow SecretsTheVine on Twitter.
If You Go:

Secrets The Vine Cancun +52 (998) 848-9400

Cancun, Qintana Ro

Mexico 77500

Article written by and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Secrets the Vine Cancun. All opinions are my own.

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The Liberty Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts

Wednesday April 9, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

The luxurious Liberty Hotel in Boston is the former Charles Street Jail.

The luxurious Liberty Hotel in Boston is the former Charles Street Jail.

This name of this gorgeous hotel that opened in 2007 at the foot of Boston’s posh Beacon Hill neighborhood, is ironic. You see, the Liberty Hotel is the former Charles Street jail. Among the guests that checked into the jail  (against their wills)  were some well-known inmates including James Michael Curley, Malcolm X, Sacco and Vanzetti, suffragists imprisoned for protesting when President Woodrow Wilson visited Boston in 1919, and World War II prisoners of war from the German submarines.

If you’re wondering how a former jail could end up a luxury hotel, the answer is: good bones. The jail was designed by prison reformer Rev. Louis Dwight according to a 1790s humanitarian scheme. Granite walls form of a cross with four wings that from a central octagonal rotunda, 90-ft above a spacious atrium. Thirty huge, arched were added to provide natural light and ventilation.

Much of the jail’s beautiful structure was incorporated into the Liberty Hotel. Today, beneath the atrium are five dining and drinking establishments, CLINK, Alibi, Scampo, the Liberty Bar, and Catwalk. Above, cell blocks have been replaced with 300  luxurious guestrooms. A landscaped courtyard is the former exercise yard and what was once the “drunk tank” is now a bar called Alibi. Irony or no?

The Liberty Hotel made Conde Nast’ Traveler’s 2014 Gold List of the World’s Best Hotels.

The light-filled atrium of Boston's Liberty Hotel.

The light-filled atrium of Boston’s Liberty Hotel.

The Liberty Hotel
Tel. 617.224.4000
215 Charles Street, Boston MA 02114

Photos and post contributed by Lisa Dion of Friscomama.

Book Review: The Hiltons

Friday April 4, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

"The Hiltons", book review

Book Review: The Hiltons

Anyone who has traveled and slept in a hotel is familiar with the Hilton hotel brand. Known as “the Innkeeper to the World” Conrad Hilton opened his first hotel in Cisco, Texas with $5,000 to his name, assistance from friends and a small bank loan. The book The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty, is an interesting look into the lives of the Hilton family and the powerful empire Conrad Hilton created, one hotel at a time.

Pioneer in hotel industry

A new breed of businessman, Conrad firmly believed in the travel industry and had the vision to expand his hotel chain to Europe. A religious man, he referred to his hotels as his women; the more conquests the better. Starting in Texas, he worked his way to San Francisco, purchasing the Sir Francis Drake hotel, moving on to New York and the purchase of The Plaza, his ultimate business achievement.

European hotel expansion

In 1952, Conrad acquired the Castellana Hilton in Madrid, his first European hotel, followed by Hilton Istanbul in 1955, increasing tourism in Turkey by 60 percent. Soon Continental Hilton was opened in Mexico City and the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, California. Always the visionary, Conrad pioneered the concept of a central telephone reservation system, introduced air conditioning in every hotel room and was the first chain in the country to offer television sets in every hotel room.

Hilton press trips

With his Los Angeles-based hotel empire, Conrad Hilton was a powerful businessman with plenty of Hollywood connections. All of the A-list celebrities and movie stars wanted to be seen at the Hilton hotel opening parties. According to reporter Hedda Hopper, there was “never a dull moment at a Hilton press junket.” Chartered jets to exotic hotel locations with overflowing food and wine were the norm.

Airport hotels

As more people began to travel by air, Conrad saw the need for short hotel stays. With a strong dislike for the word “motel” Conrad adopted the word “inn” and purchased hotel chains near airports.

While author J. Randy Taraborrelli includes plenty of stories about the Hilton children throughout the book – including the entrepreneurial Paris Hilton, as well as sister Nicky’s unsuccessful foray into the hotel world with Nicky O Hotels, I chose to focus my book review on Conrad Hilton’s impact on the hotel and travel industry. The Hiltons is an engaging saga of the failures and successes of a powerful American family in the highly competitive hotel business.

Where to buy:

The Hiltons The True Story of an American Dynasty

Suggested retail: $21.99-$30. Check website for details.

Book review by Nancy D. Brown. Grand Central Publishing provided me with The Hiltons book for review purposes, as well as jacket cover photo.

 
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