Iberostar celebrates 20 years of operations in Mexico
(Puerto Morelos, Mexico) – Iberostar, a leader in the international hospitality industry, is a family-run hotel business that originated in Spain over 60 years ago. With more than 100 properties in 35 countries, Iberostar has focused on providing first-class service that guarantees the best possible experience for their guests. For the last 20 years, that focus has concentrated on Mexico. Today, with more than three quarters of a billion dollars invested, and after creating 4500 jobs, Iberostar warmly welcomes a half million visitors a year to Mexico with the greeting “Welcome Home”. This year I was one of those visitors.
I like beginnings that leave plenty of room for improvement, so I’ll tell you the truth. I started this journey in a bad mood. The 20th Anniversary celebrations were planned as a big party, one that I wasn’t invited to. But at the last minute a colleague couldn’t make it and asked if I’d do him a favor. I could barely squeeze in a few beach days between other things, but I went in his place, figuring he’d owe me big-time.
To catch the plane I had to get up shortly after I went to bed, race to make connections in unknown airports, and generally stress out about not really having enough time for this trip. I can’t sleep on planes, so I was tired when the plane landed in Mexico. I’d left a chilly wet spring in the Northeast, so the heat and humidity was a blow. Then, the driver meeting me neglected to hold his sign up during my first pass through the pushing and shoving crowd outside the airport. I finally spotted him on my second sweaty circuit. The good news – my name was spelled correctly. That and the air-conditioning in the limo for the 30 minute drive to Play del Carmen and the Iberostar Grand Paraiso really saved the day. I felt civilized, but exhausted when I arrived.
All Iberostar Grand hotels specialize in luxurious hospitality and perfect, almost intuitive, service. Every effort is made to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. The friendly “Welcome Home” greeting made me smile, especially as it came with a cold towel and a frosty drink. Check-in was effortless. My bag was whisked away as I chatted with Lander Gonzalez, the General Manager who magically turned up as I sipped my drink. We both share a love of Spain, he being from Bilbao, one of my favorite cities there, so restaurants and city sites were the main topics. The warm welcome was secured. I hope you get to meet this charming fellow when you visit.
When I got to my suite, luxury awaited. So did my butler. Did I forget to mention the personal butler service at the Iberostar Grand Paraiso? Believe me, the day brightened considerably! The intricacies of the suite were carefully explained, my mini-bar was checked for proper contents, and I was warmly welcomed yet another time. He left with the promise of a bottle of gin on his return. I was really starting to like this place. My bed was huge. And the balcony – which was big enough to sleep on – overlooked a garden filled with chirping birds. A well-deserved nap was in order.
Unfortunately, here were a few small problems to prevent that. My phone plan does not work outside the US. The What’s App group “Iberostar Mexico” my companions (whom I was soon to meet) and I joined wouldn’t work for me either. It seems the wifi was spotty in my room. Also, it was one of those smart-technology and environmentally conscious hotels that turned off the power when you weren’t in the room, so I couldn’t leave any batteries to charge.
Instead of a nap, I “had to” hang out in the plush, expansive, full-service lobby/bar charging my phone and getting my messages while my butler got the hotel’s IT guys to punch up the wifi and hot-wire the power in my room. It is amazing what a personal butler can do! When I returned, fully charged, refueled and messaged, there was a big bottle of Beefeaters Gin, with ice and tonic, to compliment the enhanced technology. Some stories have a happy ending. This one doesn’t end there – it only gets better.
Rested and refreshed after finally getting my nap, I connected with an international group of professional party goers – um . . . journalists – here to cover Iberostar’s 20th Anniversary events. There was little to do each day but eat and drink, and rest up for an evening of eating, drinking, and dancing. The longer I stayed the more I appreciated the assignment, and the more I thanked my friend for asking me to take his place.
I’ve stayed in 5-star all-inclusives before. Never have I seen the incredible selection of top quality food Iberostar offered in its buffets. The breakfast buffet had four chefs. There was one at each of the two omlette stations, one at the crepe station and one at the smoothie/juice bar. Then there were self-service areas for pastries, bread, fruit, cheese, sliced meats, breakfast tapas, dried and cooked cereals, and a whole selection of flavored and unflavored yogurts and parfaits.
Naturally I tried things I didn’t recognize, and then things I did recognize but I couldn’t easily get at home. My favorite find was lychee nuts. They looked like tiny sea urchins in their thorny skin, but the grape-sized fruit I pried out was delicious in a green melon kind of way, with a huge pit. Also, there was a green celery/apple juice blend billed as an antioxidant, or hangover cure. With the amount of partying going on, I had a big glass of that insurance every morning.
For lunch there was even a bigger buffet in a different building that also offered a la carte dining. This one had five chefs and, besides the usual bread, cheese, fruit, sliced meat and dessert stations, added seafood, both chilled and cooked to order.
I counted five kinds of shrimp, a cook-to-order meat section, and specialty food sections, one each for tacos, pizza, quesadillas, and salads. The selection was staggering, as was I when carrying my loaded plate to the table too many times!
For those between-meal-munchies, there was a barbeque grill set up near the pool with two chefs cooking everything from hamburgers to steaks, and a lite sandwich and dessert display in the lobby bar for snacks.
The opportunity to overeat was huge. I just wanted to taste everything! For dinner, both the buffet restaurants served a la carte dinners. In addition, if there was any room left in my stomach for anther bite, there were three other restaurants: an Italian, an Asian, and a Gourmet. I made room and tried them all!
To burn off those calories (food is fuel) there was a large, two-story fitness center staffed by certified, licensed physical trainers, a smaller gym loaded with equipment, tennis, golf, volleyball, indoor and outdoor pools, and the beachfront Caribbean to swim in. But simply walking between the many bars and restaurants could build an appetite. (At least that is what I told myself.)
So the happy ending is that I met fabulous people, was pampered by gracious, highly trained staff, and surrounded by luxury for four days at the Iberostar Grand Paraiso. They honed their 5-star service over their 20 years in Mexico by bringing it every day. And they are committed to only making it better. Happy 20th Anniversary, Iberostar! (I want to go back . . . I miss my personal butler!)
Iberostar Grand Paraiso (official site) off-season rates are $225 per person, in season $300 per person, per night. Resort Vacations To Go sometimes has exclusive offers for additional savings. In addition to seven classes of suites, the Iberostar Grand Paraiso has 10 totally private, luxurious villas, each with private pool, outdoor shower, and walled garden.
Chef on Tour events, where Michelin-starred chefs prepare special four- to six-course signature meals will take place at Iberostar Grand Paraiso on August 25 and December 5. See other Iberostar Grand websites for other dates. (Additional charges apply)