A jewel amid the fray of Mexico’s popular tourism destination, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancún is more than a luxury hotel: It is an opportunity to step into a a bygone era of refinement and graciousness. And when the innate hospitality of Mexico is added to the equation, the experience becomes truly memorable.
Seaside dining in a private cabana at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancún.
One of the resort’s calling cards is its invitation to culinary enthusiasts, beginning with the various dining venues supervised by Executive Sous Chef Michael Grau.
Dining on the beach en plein air is an experience not to be missed. Guests are seated in a private, thatched-roof casita with gossamer curtains and candlelight. In this romantic setting, it seems natural to indulge in fresh seafood, such as a presentation of chilled steamed lobster, jumbo shrimp and fresh oysters with king crab legs “sprouting” vertically from a coconut shell in the middle of a large platter.
|From the left: Shrimp and pineapple cannelloni from Fantino; Roasted duck from The Club Grill; Mesclun greens with pear praliné and Gorgonzola dressing.|
For a laid-back experience, the Caribe Bar & Grill offers alfresco dining overlooking the water. On the menu: brick-oven “Mexican pizzas” on crisp flour tortillas, hamburgers, specialty margaritas and more. Meals can be enjoyed at the restaurant, poolside, on the beach or, best of all, in private cabanas. These beach villas are the same structures that at night are transformed into the dining casitas.
The pride of this Ritz-Carlton property is the Culinary Center (left), where guests enjoy the dishes they prepare themselves in a kitchen fully equipped with Viking appliances. Everyone has to sign a release form, but the chef always checks out students’ knife skills and offers proper instruction.
During a class attended by five guests, Chef Rory Dunaway (who recently transferred from Cancún to the new Ritz-Carlton in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico) proffered his own version of a margarita everyone helped make. Later, the group dined on the finished plates of fish and shrimp ceviche, chicken enchiladas and churros for dipping in chocolate sauce. “This offers guests a chance to experience something they—not the chef—created,” Dunaway says.
For guests seeking the ultimate in fine dining, Fantino provides the ne plus ultra. Designed as an art nouveau dining emporium, the restaurant transports visitors back to the age of refinement. Chef Gregorio Oy presents Mediterranean cuisine, like a five-course sampling menu that starts with quail and foie gras followed by a superb rack of lamb. The wine list, impressive enough to excite any oenophile, offers an appropriate selection for each course.
A tequila tasting is a must for any trip to Mexico, and The Ritz-Carlton provides its own experts to guide those wishing to learn about the process of making tequila while sampling numerous varieties.
Resort guests can get a taste of Yucatán culture by signing up to visit a local market with one of the chefs, who relate their expertise about local products during the excursion.
Destination Services, located on the Ritz property, provides touring services. Must-see locales include the Mayan archaeological sites, like Chichén Itzá and Tulum, and Xcaret, an eco-park where visitors experience via music, dance and elaborate costumes the history of Mexico in Xcaret Espectacular. The spectacle is truly breathtaking, rounding out an experience that is nourishment for both body and soul.
An oceanfront suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancún.