The first thing you should know is that I have never stayed at an Iberostar resort before. I had heard of the brand (as it is very well-known in Europe), and is one of the few that has a cruise ship, the Grand Amazon, that journeys down the Brazil side (in contrast to the Peru side) of the Amazon.
The Iberostar founder Miguel Fluxa is Spanish, and comes from a family of multi-faceted, multi-talented entrepreneurs. They founded and own many businesses, all created from the ground up. The Ibersostar brand is a hotel chain founded in Palma, Majorca, in the Balearic Islands, Spain by the Fluxá family in 1986. It is an integral part of GRUPO IBEROSTAR, one of the leading tourism companies in Spain, over 50 years old. Iberostar Hotels & Resorts currently has around 100 hotels and 36,000 rooms spread across 16 countries worldwide. But not yet in the United States.
I interviewed Rafael Carmona, the General Manager of the Iberostar Grand Paraiso and asked him about the possibility of the brand heading to the United States. He said that the Iberostar chooses places where the Spanish/Hispanic culture is understood, as the Iberostar brand’s roots and identity are Spanish. But he did not rule out Iberostar going to the United States, and soon.
Like any hotel and resort brand, an important part of its ongoing appeal comes from the creation and maintenance of its highest luxury resort tier. In this case, it is the Iberostar Grand Collection. This portfolio was launched in March of 2007, with its inaugural property the Grand Hotel Paraiso on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, about 33 miles or 20-25 minutes from the Cancun International Airport.
We stayed at the Iberostar Grand Paraiso, and I came to understand their level of luxury that defined, not only their amenities, and great service, but also a type of international opulence that’s tinged with a kind of breathtaking (literally) extravagance. Sometimes, due to the architecture, I felt I was staying in a Moorish palace, with turrets, arches, and ornate pillars with a butler at my beck and call. I could get used to this!
The Iberostar Grand Paraiso is, first of all, a large property with 120 oceanfront Grand suites, 45 junior suites, 135 standard juniors and ten secluded honeymoon villas with private pools, two spas and a shopping center. But no matter where you go, it seems, well, quiet. This is because it is a luxury adult all-inclusive.
In the four fine dining restaurants, the wine, spirits and food is part of the all-inclusive fee, and so most everything is included in the price of the reservation (even the Champagne at dinner or lunch!). And when available, lunch can consist of fresh grilled lobster because what is better, in terms of elegant cuisine, than fresh lobster and Champagne?
During my visit, I explored the spa and the true meaning of this resort on the Rivera Maya. These are related, in terms of Mayan culture. There are two spas, both called Spa Sensations, on the property, with one being closer to the main resort than the other. The former, the Grand Hotel Paraiso Spa, is a 10,000-square-foot facility that features a fresh juice bar, heated pool fittingly called the Tranquility Pool, and a fully-equipped fitness center. It also provides many treatments, and mine was a wonderful citrus facial, that combined citrus essence, collagen and bamboo.
At the Playa Paraiso Spa Sensations, part of the Grand Paraiso shopping center, a little farther away from the main resort but still on property, is a 32,000-square-foot space that offers Turkish and Roman baths, Jacuzzis, Thalasso therapy pools and the classic Temazcal Mayan treatment, also known as the Breath of Life. I experienced the Mayan Sensations massage which used an ancestral musical instrument called an Ocarina to soothe, as well as a shawl called a Rebozo to stretch arms and legs. With the use of warm volcanic stones, my chakras felt aligned. The light incense used is from Mayan herbs. The sense of wildness and of luxury combined, not for the first time.
As elegant and often as extravagant as this resort is, I was always aware of the Mayan influence, the wildness of it, that was never that far away. And it was a fascinating contrast between elegant marble, grand cuisine and wildlife such as coatimundi, peacocks, iguanas (we were strongly cautioned not to feed them).
Carmona explained the soul of this hotel experience so well, as it relates to artifice versus authenticity saying, “With other resorts, and especially here on the Rivera Maya, luxury is often shown to you. At the Iberostar Grand Paraiso, it is an authentic part of our lives and as a guest, yours to discover.”