What’s most striking about the Mahekal Beach Resort, located smack-dab between Cancun and Tulum, at Playa de Carmen along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula?
Some are behavior-related, like concierge Boli, who greets guests at the Cancun airport in an SUV, first handing over a bottle of water. Then comes the sly smile and a frosted margarita. It’s said that he’ll remember each guest by name when they return.
That goes too for Cedric, bartender extraordinaire at the Fuego restaurant, perched on a soft green Caribbean Ocean that turns sapphire blue a few hundred feet out, Cozumel lingering in the distance. Cedric remembers his returning flock by first name, day after day. Better yet, he’s the epitome of good cheer.
Guests wander patterned paths that wind through the resort, sprinkled with spas, bars, shops, pools, fountains, restaurants – and a lighthouse. Along the way are variations in masonry walls – some in rough-hewn limestone, others mortared with stone chips and still more smoothed in stucco.
Vegetation patterns in leafy plant life surround it all, old and new landscape plantings dominating this resort established three decades ago. It was renovated recently, and named in 2016 as one of Travel & Leisure’s Top 10 Mexican Resorts.
Then there are the accommodations – like the second-story, two-suite-with-gallery-and-hammock space overlooking the ocean. A personalized ceramic tile hangs outside the sliding teak doors. And there’s the partition of thin vertical mesquite, inspired by the Mayans and stained a warm brown, on the deck. Elsewhere, it’s weathered to gray.
Inside are concrete floors, with dark pebbles – worn smooth in the surf – inserted in spiraling patterns. And a pair of showers, one indoors and one out, their lighter stones set in plaster beneath your feet.
“You gotta look for the patterns,” my favorite art director, Gene Rudy, once instructed me.
Mahekal Beach Resort in Mexico got that memo long ago.