Paraiso de la Bonita
How often have you yearned to get away from it all, only to wind up somewhere alongside everyone else? Then, Paraiso de la Bonita is your daydream realized. “Paraiso de la Bonita” means “the beautiful woman’s paradise,” and this adult-only resort has paradise down to a science.
While writing this, I’m lazing in a hammock on the second story balcony of my 1,500-square-foot suite. I’m comforted by the gentle breeze through the palm trees and the sound of the low tide coming in. It’s official, I’ve found paradise and it’s just a two-hour plane ride from Houston.
Once you land in Cancun, it’s a 20-minute drive to Paraiso. Off the main road, the drive cuts through the jungle. Then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Paraiso rises from the brush with pleasant rust color hues, beautiful fountains and lush greenery. This intimate beach resort is nestled on the secluded sugar-white beaches between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on the Mexican Caribbean.
The open-air lobby greets you with a symmetric and stunning view of the pool and pale blue ocean. This all-suite hotel is actually owned by the renowned Intercontinental chain, but it’s nothing like any of their other properties. With this location, the Intercontinental has done what everyone always thought it should do: create a boutique hotel.
The Intercontinental clan didn’t hold anything back on this venture, either. Each suite is individually decorated in an eclectic and elegant style. If you’re lucky enough to be on the first floor, you have a plunge pool. The all-marble sunken bathtub makes having a soak a must. Each room is even equipped with its own tequila and lime to help you say “hola” to your vacation and get you in the mood for a Mexican fiesta.
Looking out on the Caribbean ocean, you can see a reef, which extends all the way to Belize. A short boat ride from the resort, you are plopped into a fabulously colorful underworld of fish, stingrays and beautiful coral. You can also take a day trip to the Mayan ruins nearby. Although it takes a couple of hours to make your way around all of the rubble, the many temples and the great view of the ocean make this a worthwhile trip. The hotel can arrange for your transportation and a guide.
The restaurant at Paraiso de la Bonita is a great place for breakfast and lunch. Don’t miss the huevos rancheros and the homemade breads that change daily. The ceviche is available with Caribbean flavoring, the tortilla soup is breathtaking, and the grilled shrimp with mango sauce is the perfect mixture of sweetness and freshness. For dinner, the restaurant La Canoa specializes in fresh fish dishes. There is also a traditional Mexican menu that changes every three days. Spa cuisine is available for those who are watching their waist, as well. But for those who aren’t, the guacamole salad and fresh chips are a must.
One of the main attractions of the resort is the Thalassotherapy Center, the only one of its kind in North America. Thalassotherapy is a world-famous type of treatment that is known for its preventative qualities. The treatments use freshly heated seawater for massage to aid in body rejuvenation. Signature treatments include a Dead Sea mud wrap and saltwater massage. After, being covered with mud, a heated blanket creates a comfortable cocoon for maximum relaxation. This is followed by a salt exfoliation and rinse. A similar treatment is available with seaweed. It is recommended to follow either of these treatments with an under affusion massage. While lying face down on a table, warm salt water is poured over you. A vigorous massage follows to help push the healing elements of the water into your skin. If you are lucky enough to experience a couple of Thalassotherapy treatments a day, it’s said you can lose a couple of pounds. There is also a sauna, steam room and exercise facility, including water aerobics classes led in the outdoor, saltwater pool at the resort.
Most people come to Paraiso to do nothing – nothing but enjoy a good book and a mango margarita. It’s no wonder that more than 60 percent of the visitors here are from Texas.
Photography by Laurette Veres