Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

I Found the Spirit of Mexico at Reflect Cancun

As the managing editor of The Compass, it’s no secret that I get to have my fair share of extraordinary hotel experiences. I arrived at Reflect Cancun Resort & Spa on May 19 and was looking forward to another amazing Mexican experience. But this time I was in search of something that I would describe as perhaps a bit more authentic.

Soon after my arrival at Reflect Cancun, I had the feeling that this place was different. It was special. It was authentic. It just felt like Mexico.

Making a First Impression

As a self-proclaimed foodie, I knew just where to start. The food! It was more authentically Mexican than I’d had at any other local resort. At first, it was the simple things: the tortilla chips were warm from the oven, the guacamole was fresh and bursting with flavor and my margarita was well crafted. Then as I studied the menu a bit more, I realized that every item on it was thoughtful and inspired, especially the full menu of ceviche offerings. Personally, when I’m in Mexico, I want to eat what’s fresh, and it can’t get any fresher than ceviche. Our server Alejandro, who was all smiles throughout our lunch, gave my husband and me a most invaluable tip: eat our ceviche with chips. Call me an amateur, but I had never eaten it like that before and It. Was. Incredible.

After a full lunch, I had to take an unexpected trip off of the resort and into the heart of the Hotel Zone, which was so incredibly easy – within five minutes I was right outside Coco Bongo, Coral Negro Flea Market, Mandala Beach Club and more. A quick stop at the Mexican Outlet was all I needed (my husband forgot his swim trunks – way to go!) and 20 minutes later, we were in the Altitude Club Infinity pool, soaking in the best view of Cancun. Seriously – you can’t get views any better than the ones from Reflect.

That night, we enjoyed even more of that incredible view with a relaxing dinner on the beach with our friend Alejandro again. We were so excited to see him and he was just as warm and welcoming as he was at lunch. Three courses of salad, surf and turf, and cheesecake plus champagne were the perfect way to welcome us to Cancun. However, this time it was the service that truly set this resort apart. As a part of every vacation that I experience, my memories of the people who made the experience just a bit more special are what I remember most. And at Reflect I had the chance to experience just that: genuinely caring and amazing people.

Mixology, Mezcal and Mariachi

The next day we had a mixology class at The Grill, the outdoor restaurant right by the main pool, and that’s when the vibrant colors and décor really struck me. Airy wicker chairs in bright turquoise and rich magenta plus a cool tiled wall made me feel the Mayan influence without being too obvious. It was a bright, sunny day and the lively Carlos from the entertainment team had a table full of pineapples, mangoes, strawberries, white guavas, jalapenos and more at the ready for us to learn how to mix with tequila, vodka and mezcal – my favorite. Carlos walked us through the cocktails with a generous sprinkling of lighthearted jokes and a few quick Spanish lessons. “How do you say ‘strawberry’ en Español?” he asked us. Someone shouted, “Fresa!” “How do you say ‘orange’ en Español?” he asked. “Naranja!” I shouted. “How do you say ‘tequila’ en Español?” …No one said anything. He shook his head and we all laughed at how silly it was that we didn’t realize it’s the same in English. Then he poured a generous amount in the blender and we cheered! It was cute and fun and shook us out of our comfort zone.

After mixology, we headed to the spa for a couple’s massage. The aura of the spa was nothing but relaxing. The short walkway to the treatment room was so calming, I could’ve just hung out there! The treatment room smelled amazing and the experience was quiet and tranquil. We were both so relaxed, we had to make a pact not to fall asleep when we got back to our room. But we had to fight that feeling because we had an exciting dinner to look forward to.

That night we had dinner reservations at Hacienda El Mortero, a traditional Mexican restaurant next door to Reflect. We were excited to learn that Reflect guests can dine at the restaurant and it’s included in your all-inclusive stay, just one of the culturally infused experiences Reflect is proud to offer guests, making the experience just one step more authentically Mexican.

After a two-minute walk, a thick garden of agave plants opened up to reveal the red building on our left. The restaurant was beautiful – tequila bottles lined the entry way, leading to a large dining room with a fountain in the middle and traditional Mexican art on the wall. Members of a mariachi band were scattered around the back of the restaurant, tuning their instruments with random plucks and strums – I was SO excited for this experience.

We started our meal with cheese crackling – fried cheese with green sauce that was so extraordinary, words cannot describe it. The tortilla soup had a delicious complexity about it that even my husband (a known soup aficionado) had never tasted before. My main course was the fish of the day (sea bass – yum) with shrimp, dried chili peppers and a sauce that I still think about. I also got a roasted banana on the side – intriguing, right? Somewhere between slyly eating the last bite of the banana without my husband noticing and deciding on a creamy chocolate dessert, the mariachi band made its way around the dining room, stopping at every table and playing either a happy or romantic song – diner’s choice.

We walked through the agave plants to make our way back to Reflect, fully immersed in what Cancun really is and should be.

Don’t Forget About That View

The fun continued into day three! Remember that amazing view I talked about earlier? This morning, we got to experience it in a whole new way: while doing yoga. Our instructor Erick brought us to a shady area with a full view down the coastline. The yoga flow centered me and our surroundings excited me – it felt like we were at an exclusive club where only the chosen ones were privy to this experience.

Yoga centered us both, so we then went to the Altitude Club pool for the last time during our stay. Our reserved Bali bed was waiting and so was the view – I really could not get enough of it! That day we met a young couple on vacation together for the first time, a recently retired executive and his wife, three friends on a girls’ trip and another couple on vacation just because. Everyone was low-key and relaxed – just what we wanted.

That night we met Javier, the resort’s specialties manager, for dinner at a surprise location. He brought us to a private area above the beach. About halfway through our meal of salad with goat cheese, creamy tomato soup, rich risotto and sparkling rosé, we heard a familiar voice: Carlos! He was introducing that night’s entertainment: a Mayan experience with vibrant, authentic costumes and music. Drums thumped in the background as we shared our dessert of affogato.

You can always tell a great experience when you don’t want to leave at the end of the trip, and we were certainly sad to leave Reflect Cancun the next morning. It goes without saying that we had quite a spirited experience at Reflect. But it was the people and service levels that really made the experience highly memorable. Everyone we encountered was welcoming and helpful. The resort itself had a bright yet authentic vibe. The food was exciting, and our room was crisp and well cared for. When you visit an AMResort, they say “welcome home,” and this felt like the coolest vacation spot I’d ever had the privilege to call home.

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