Looking at numerous websites, Trip Advisor reviews, and tips from friends, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a travel destination and resort. My husband and I wanted to visit the Riviera Maya this month, in a location away from the thumping of Cancun or Playa del Carmen. What we found was Puerto Morelos, a smaller town smack in between the two, yet close enough to get to the Mayan ruins while enjoying the warm, tropical breezes of the Caribbean.
After much research, we booked a week at Secrets Silversands Resort, one of the newest in the Secrets resort chain. Owned by AMResorts, Secrets (together with Breathless) is the adults all-inclusive collection of luxury destinations, with Sunscape, Now, Dreams, and Zoëtry all falling under its umbrella organization.
We were ready to unwind at the beach, and this stunning resort was just what we needed. Upon arrival at Silversands, we were immediately checked into their Preferred Club, giving us extra perks such as use of the lounge (where appetizers and desserts were served throughout the day), upgraded mini-bar and bath amenities, concierge services, and larger oceanfront rooms.
The AAA Four Diamond resort aims to keep things green by asking you to reuse towels and to place a sign on the bed only if sheets need to be changed during your stay. We would have also liked a recycle bin in our room for newspaper and empty bottles, but we can only assume that both were tossed properly by housekeeping.
A bottle of bubbly was popped in the lobby, glasses poured to welcome us. And from that moment on, just about everything we needed was taken care of. We showered off and changed into nicer clothes for dinner (the only meal of the day here with a dress code equating to no shorts or t-shirts).
Our room faced both the infinity pool and the sea, up on the third floor. Balconies all have outdoor seating (couches and comfy pillows), a great spot to enjoy the action with a cocktail or meal (the resort has 24-hour room service). Modern fixtures, lots of space, and a huge soaker jacuzzi tub are all standard here, as is high-speed wifi.
Seven restaurants offer everything from Italian to Japanese cuisine. We visited them all, finding a favourite in Ratatouille (Mediterranean). Oddly enough, the Italian restaurant Portofino was the only one of the bunch to ask whether we had any food allergies.
The food is beautifully presented, the service very attentive, and the portions are on the smallish side, allowing the chance to sample several courses at each restaurant. As the majority of restaurants are all located in the same building with a large kitchen connecting them all, it was easy to order our favourite crème brûlée from Ratatouille one night and have it brought over to Portofino.
Breakfast is served in the World Café, and we’ve never seen such a variety of food in the morning! Lunch is also offered here, as well as at three outdoor restaurants: Barefoot Grill, Oceana, and Seaside Grill. Both Oceana and Seaside Grill are surrounded by the main pool with ocean views.
Afternoon entertainment adds live music or culinary events to the scene. The swim-up bar is here too, so this pool sees the most action in the resort.
We found pools in the back nearly deserted, an excellent opportunity for some solitude when needed. Drinks are brought to the beach cabanas, hammocks, and pools, so there’s never need to worry about missing cocktail hour. Our room’s mini-bar was stocked daily with bottled water, Coronas, and fresh bottled juices.
At turndown service, we were at times treated to a plate of gorgeous sweets, or cheese and crackers. The TV’s spa channel (with African scenery, animals, and serene music) would be set to low volume, and the lights dimmed.
When we’d return from dinner, this was a hugely welcoming atmosphere, one that we looked forward to nightly.
Secrets takes pride in their entertainment team, and there’s something on offer from morning to night. Our room was just within earshot of the music at night, so on nights that we were happier staying in, we just packed the earplugs in tight.
We would have liked to have been able to escape from the music a bit more, but we had to balance out the fact that there’s only 433 rooms at this resort and we weren’t looking for a massive hotel to begin with.
Music does quiet down after 11:30 as DJ Banano takes things inside at Desires Club at that hour. There’s Spanish lessons, yoga, beach and water volleyball, water aerobics, dance lessons, ping pong tournaments, and more, depending on whether you want to chill by the pool or be part of the action.
On the lobby level are all the tour operators; we used one to book a day tour to Cobá and Tulum during our stay.
The soft, white sandy beach and eight pools are what kept us on the resort most of the time. We’d read that the beach at the resort isn’t the best (rocky), and yes, the beach was damaged during a storm, but the hotel is busy rebuilding the beach and we noticed some sandbags in place to help reclaim their space.
The snorkeling is OK – and we did find the “Coral Garden” mentioned in some of the Trip Advisor reviews. Make sure to head out on a calm day!
A 10-minute walk down the beach will bring you to a tour operator that runs one and two-hour snorkeling tours of the reef just out front (two miles out).
We found a lovely array of healthy coral and colourful fish (I’ve heard that there’s better spots for snorkeling such as Tulum and Cozumel). Still, the area is located right at the second longest barrier reef in the world (Mesoamerican Barrier Reef), stretching from close to Cancun down the Riviera Maya to Guatemala.
One aspect of the modern luxury that is Secrets Silversands is also one of its negative factors, particularly for light sleepers. The marble floor and concrete construction of the resort creates acoustics that resonate whenever someone walks across the floor either above or to the side of the room. Keep this in mind and consider requesting a top-floor room.
This is a marvelous resort to get away from it all, including a full-service spa (read our fish therapy experience here). One week here with the sun and tropical breezes will slow your pace down, especially with a colourful cocktail in hand!
Disclaimer: We paid for our flight and hotel via Transat Vacations. The hotel arranged to upgrade us to Preferred Club upon hearing that I wished to experience the resort for an article. I truly believe that we received the same service regardless of the media angle.
I will be happy if i will travel.I hope I will en joy
Wow! This is certainly a lot more stylish than the grubby hostels I stayed in when I was there!
Michael Zullo says
Very good article and information regarding Puerto Morelos, Ariane. My wife and I have been to Cancun 3 times. Our last visit was enough for us. It was like being in Ft. Lauderdale on spring break. It wasn’t the same anymore as it was in the late 1990’s when a converted school bus was the public transportation for 25-cents from the hotel zone to downtown.. Maybe, Puerto Morelos is the place for a return trip. We’ll put it on our list.
M and G
New York City, NY
Arianwen – yea, Cancun has really changed in like 40-50 years. When my father rode his motorbike through there some 45 years ago he described it as a sleepy fishing village – and he camped on the beach! I was there about 10 years ago and walked through some of the resorts – its big tourism now. Have you been to Xcalak? Its some distance south of Cancun close to the Belize border – really awesome spot to get away from it all 🙂
Ariane Colenbrander says