If there still are people in the post-recession world who managed to get away on a luxury Valentine’s mid-week mini-break, we salute them. It’s not easy to justify that kind of romance-before-work attitude these days. For most of us, spring is the first opportunity to take that romantic getaway…but we begin dreaming about it long before. If you and your sweetheart promised each other to book a Caribbean getaway or a long weekend in the sun, let us introduce you to Le Blanc Spa Resort: an adults-only haven on the Mayan Riviera, where every day has Valentine’s potential.
Le Blanc is the signature luxury property of Palace Resorts, a trendsetting all-inclusive hotel group based in Quintana Roo. It’s set on a large, private piece of oceanfront property in the heart of Cancun. With stunning white-on-white aesthetics, fantastic service, and high-end brand names everywhere from the back bar to bathroom amenities, Le Blanc takes the all-inclusive experience to a new level. You expect to be signing a check for every meal and top-shelf drink, because the quality is on par with any à la carte restaurant, and the service is even better.
The servers at casual dining areas have twinkles in their eyes and are apt to tell jokes or perform sleight-of-hand tricks—balancing bottles and such—just to get a laugh out of you. At the fine dining restaurants, staff take their roles as seriously as though they’re in training for some 4-star Manhattan dining room. Perhaps the cuisine isn’t quite up to that standard, but wines included on the all-inclusive offering more than make up for it. Upon checkout, instead of gaping at an incidentals bill equal to your monthly mortgage, you just give back your bracelet and cruise off in your chauffeured SUV.
As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and too often, the details are what expose even the nicest “luxury inclusive” properties as being inferior to their à la carte counterparts. Le Blanc, by contrast, excels at details. From the afternoon parade of staffers bearing tropical popsicles, (coconut, mango, even tequila if you’re brave enough) to the unique slanting shape of the glassware, to the Chi brand hairstyling devices in every guest bathroom, Le Blanc uses tiny luxuries to elevate the guest experience at every turn.
Guest accommodations are spacious, clean, white and breezy, with patio doors leading out to whatever ocean view you’re lucky enough to have. Patios are so tiny, they’re almost non-existent, but the floor-to-ceiling glass doors make it easy to appreciate the view, even if you can’t really do the “sitting on the deck, feeling the ocean breeze thing.” The mini-bars are stocked with name-brand munchies and alcohol. The bedroom area is separate from the sunken living room, which also functions as an office work space. Not that anyone ever could get any work done—the view is too much of a distraction.
The Riviera Maya is known for its miles of long golden sand coastline, but depending where you are, the beach can vary from rocky and narrow to smooth, broad and beautiful. Le Blanc boasts one of the best beaches in the region: a wide, gently sloping swathe of perfect sand that fronts the entire property and leads to the turquoise, gently deepening shorebreak. Chaise lounges and beach cabanas dot the beachfront, but the majority of guests don’t choose to situate in them, because the pool areas are so nice, and offer different environments to suit various moods.
If you want peace and quiet, the second-story infinity pool overlooking the main area is ideal, and just steps away from an outdoor grill and indoor sports lounge. The main pool is huge, with countless chaise loungers surrounding it and half-submerged on the first shallow step (The submerged ones get claimed quickly on hot days). And when you want to be rowdy and sociable, the pool on the boulevard-facing side always has a few genial characters ready for a pick-up game of water volleyball or ping-pong.
The relaxed friendliness of the crowd at Le Blanc is one of the property’s distinguishing features, in the bars and the restaurants, the elevators and even from the minute you enter the lobby. People engage with each other—not in a drunken or overly forward manner, but more like their normal barriers are down and they’re ready to share a good experience with each other. A complete stranger might welcome you and tell you “You’re gonna love it here” while you’re at check-in.
Upon finishing dinner, a group of former strangers might grab their half-empty bottles of wine from the table and head outside to some comfy ocean-facing couches where they can finish the rest of the vintages with cigars and conversation. There’s no nightclub, no children, and as far as we saw, no stress. It’s the perfect ambience to enjoy the company of friends, and the romance you can’t find time for in regular life.
By Lena Katz