Yucatan travel: A peninsula awash with mystery

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Yucatan travel

In her Yucatan travel piece Sorcha Glackin headed for the Mexico’s glorious peninsula.

Close your eyes and imagine the most turquoise water you have ever seen.

Chances are, you’re not even close to imagining the vividness of the Caribbean Sea in Mexico. In fact, as we made our way by taxi to the Hotel Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun, my travel companion had to remove her sunglasses to ensure what she was seeing was real.

Mexico is to Americans what Spain and the Canaries are to a lot of Europeans. A quick get-away and pretty much guaranteed year-round sun. Journey times from Europe are certainly longer, but as we found, the luxury on offer certainly makes the extra travel worthwhile.

We decided to visit the Yucatan Peninsula. Located in the South East of Mexico, it separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. Popular destinations in the region include Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Isla Holbox. The region is awash with Mayan history, making it an ideal destination for anybody who might be looking for a bit more than the traditional fly and flop.

Cancun is the perfect location to base oneself, with some of the most significant Mayan Ruins within a two-hour driving distance.  Resorts in Cancun really needn’t be left. Most offer a number of different options for dining, sunbathing and relaxation.

Our chosen hotel was the Hotel American Grand Fiesta Coral Grand.  Each of the 602 all-suite rooms are ocean facing and have balconies to enjoy the glorious views.  The pool area is surrounded by luscious gardens and serviced by bars and restaurants of such a calibre that it really makes it hard to peel yourself away from your sunlounger.

Unlike many other resorts in the area, the Grand Fiesta Americana is not all-inclusive. This can actually be beneficial as it means the food is cooked to order and not en masse. Food also veers away from American interpretations of Mexican cuisine.

There are four restaurants to choose from. On our arrival we ate at the Isla Contoy Restaurant. Located outdoors, we lapped up the sea-views after our travel. I had possibly the best dish of the holiday, a traditional soup of lentils and chorizo while my travel companion had a Ceviche Yucatteco, which is a type of fish salad, that she described as being among the best seafood she had ever eaten.

The hotel also houses the restaurant La Basilic, one of the few restaurants to hold the AAA Five Diamond distinction. Chef Henri Chervet, Maitre Cuisine De France, oversees the kitchen and the menu. The dish of sole with caviar and pumpkin flower, stuffed with shrimp mousseline, is a particular standout.

During the evenings, a band plays American lounge music unobtrusively in the foyer. The ambience is old-school Hollywood and you can easily while away hours of the evening sipping one of the various cocktails on offer.