I went to Cancun, stayed sober and completely rejuvenated. A true story.
When I think of Cancun I instinctually shudder. Spring Break, neon bikinis, crowded beaches and pools. Day drinking, random food, probably fried. Dirty resorts, not my style, unfortunately the connotation is not a positive one for me, along with this run on sentence.
When two of my best girlfriends suggested that we go away for a girls trip and to Cancun I snapped back: seriously? Can’t we go somewhere a little more chic?
That’s when Nizuc was sent to me, I clicked, I watched, and I was immediately transfixed by what was before me- was this a luxury wellness hotel with contemporary architecture, in a place I never thought I would go again?
If you have been lucky enough to go to an Aman resort (Amangiri bless your heart) you will have a great frame of reference when I speak about lobbies and interiors that are peaceful, simple and open, an Aman signature. Originally the Nizuc property was set to be an Aman, the ownership being changed after the lobby completion- and it shows. The open, cool and streamlined lobby with incredible sight lines remains, with the extensions of the sprawling resort using natural materials, pointing to historical Mayan culture.
Flight? A cinch with options from all of New York and New Jersey’s airports. Getting to Nizuc? A mere 15 minutes from the airport. Get the private transfer and breeze through customs into an air conditioned vehicle without breaking a sweat.
Arrival? Lemongrass scented towels and a chilled beverage before being whisked away for a Peruvian lunch al fresco at Ni. I was told that Nizuc was known for their food, with top chefs appointment at each of the restaurants. I have been delivered this line before in marketing material, and when Chef Luis Miguel Flores arrived at our table to greet us I was both surprised and delighted. I don’t go ham on meal one when arriving on a rejuvenation weekend and Peruvian cuisine is more than perfect to deliver on Clean Enough. Perfect ceviche with local fish, hamachi with avocado and fresh corn, and a plate of garden greens (yes Nizuc started a garden project earlier this year in their commitment to creating sustainable systems!) with lightly grilled Baja shrimp. A few sips of a pineapple, basil, and mint smoothie and I felt great. Sure there was the signature seafood causa with potato and crab salad and whispy + crispy platnos too, a little something for everyone’s version of a beach holiday.
Ramona is Nizuc’s fine dining restaurant. Mexican cuisine is vast and storied, with every region having a different heritage dish and come to find out; mole. Max Brenner days I would make chocolate mole with toasted pumpkin seeds, sesame, dried chilis and spices. Little did I know that was only one of the vanities. Green mole, fruity mole and XX mole are all from different regions and all with different complementing dishes. The seared XXXX with spicy watercress puree (watercress is so nutrient dense that I hope it ends up on your plate after this essay) green mole and veg. This was a dish to write home about. The chef Eduardo Torres was so commitment to his team, menu and restaurant. Oh and his smile; something to write home about. A true star of Nizuc we were well loved, and fed. In true Clean Enough style, I knew these desserts were worth ordering. So order we did: I highly recommend the tres leches and poncho de frutas, a cinnamon mousse with a tart tamarind sorbet that was both creamy and refreshing.
Fitness? Obe Fitness, my Taryn Toomey’s The Class routine, and Megan Roup’s Sculpt Society have been keeping me fit, lean and happy. Routines and consistency are everything and having these at my fingertips keeps me motivated no matter where I am. I am an absolute tennis enthusiast and always take a lesson whenever I am away near courts and great pros. Tennis at Nizuc was sweltering and an endorphin filled hour of my stay. I focused on Cardio, doing drills covering the entire court in the Mayan Riviera sun.
Spa? Obviously. I rarely meet a spa that I turn down and I was clued in on how special Espa Spa was at Nizuc. Being ritual focused, this journey was right up my alley. Pre spa soaks never really get to me, as I am lucky enough to steam to my heart’s content at the gym. Being guided however was exactly the ticket. From a custom scrub to get your skin ready in the steam room, to an expansive sauna experience I was already relaxing. A whirlpool with the best jets I have ever experienced in my life, I thought I might not need a massage after all. Followed by a cold plunge, because I will never miss a change to activate my Vedic never. Your pre treatment journey concludes with the best facial massage and mask followed by, please never stop head massage and hair mask before you go into the relaxation lounge for tea, chlorophyll water (clearly they got my memo as this is my morning ritual). Moments later I was whisked away to a private building to begin my cacao ritual. A foot soak started the second phase of my journey, a reflexology junkie, I obliged. Followed by a cacao scrub down, I was feeling virtuous. The in-room shower allows for an uninterrupted decompression session. From there a full body massage using a cacao oil released any tension or inflammation I was experiencing. Not a deep tissue and not as light as a lymphatic, I felt both loosened and drained. Next up, an oil treatment on my third eye. That is the spot between your eyes, a pulse point where warm oil was dripped for what felt like a lifetime while my scalp was massaged further and my neck was kept in alignment. I left smelling amazing, with the best post spa glow that I have had in a long time.
Daily life was low key by design.
Dining continued in between voracious book reading. 2019 has been a book marathon. After writing one and taking a sabbatical from reading other people’s prose besides my own, I have spent this year pouring over books as I cultivate new stories in my head. The Immoralists, The Air You Breathe, Normal People and Serendipity are a few that I highly recommend.
Back to the food.
I found myself at Indochine two nights in a row. No, not the beloved Indochine on Lafayette, but Nizuc’s fusion restaurant set alongside a beautiful water and fire feature. The only female chef on the property, Alicia Patankar is a vibrant talent. She seems to have a similar Clean Enough philosophy, and is as driven as she is curious about cuisines around the world. You can tell she has researched a variety of Asian cuisines thoroughly as you taste through her menu. The coconut milk soup is, well, perfect. The masala used is clearly handmade, as are all of the spices used throughout the menu. Roasted, toasted, ground and blended on site to add depth of flavor the dishes both simple and more complex. I loved the rice paper wraps and ordered them both evenings. Why I do not make these at home is still a mystery to me, a perfect vehicle for raw vegetables and herbs. Save room for dessert too, the sorbets taste like biting into a perfectly ripe strawberry enlivened with a tart yet floral yuzu. The matcha dessert? I scraped the plate clean, twice.
NIzuc was timed just ahead of my residency in wild Tuscany, making the final evening at Terra Nostra perfect. I was primed for inspiration and Chef Daniele brought out all of the stops. Porcini risotto with fine parsley, finished in the wheel of aged parmesan transported me immediately. Folding in aged cheese to a dish that is both rich and silky is an art. I have even ended up with lumps of rubberized parmesan before but not this time, the classic risotto was pure perfection. Ending with a tiramisu for the ages, my time at Nizuc came to a close. I left rested, groomed, memorably fed with a tawny glow ready to take on my next adventure thriving in the Tuscan countryside.
Espa Spa: Thermal Experience and Mayan Cacao Ceremony
Daily jumps off the dock into the sea
Workout videos at the fitness center
Lunch at Ni
Dinner at Ramona
Festive dinners at Indochine
set the Good Life pace at Terra Nostra
Breakfast? I fasted, except perfect morning coffee in the lobby