MEXICO FOR TWO With all the wedding festivities concluded, you’re ready to reward yourselves with a well-deserved escape. Special ideas for a lovely twosome’s timeout come from south of the border, where life naturally flows at a slower pace. Each of these Mexican destinations offers its own version of the romantic retreat, as well as whatever measures of fiesta you’d like. Choose from three beloved seaside sites where you can unwind by the waves, or go instead for a colonial city getaway, filled with art and history. — June Naylor PLAYA DEL CARMEN Tucked into a thick spread of palm trees, the low-lying, laid-back Mahekal Beach Resort claims the longest stretch of Riviera Maya sand in the area with its 800 feet of Caribbean beachfront. Roughly an hour closer to Cancun than Tulum, Playa has become a significant playground along this reach of the Yucatan Peninsula — but the chill qualities at Mahekal provide peaceful respite from the nearby party scene. Best of all picks are the seafront bungalows, sprawling suites with ample bathrooms, private patios, secluded plunge pools and outdoor showers. Thatched-roof design throughout the resort exudes that casual Mexican beach feel, but every luxury detail is in place, from beautiful upholstery in rooms, restaurants and common areas to posh bath products in rooms and superb wine lists at restaurants. The Mayan Culinary Casita provides an oldworld dining and history experience, while a new chef-engineered program lets you pick out your own catch from a haul delivered to the beach by local fishermen. Want a private dinner by candlelight on the beach? That can be arranged. Morning yoga followed by a couple of hours in the spa is heavenly (get the massage including reiki therapy), and a guided trip to the jungle to swim in one of the famous cenotes (underground cave pools) is magical. Ask about one of the Mayan spiritual blessing ceremonies, too. Fly into the Cancun airport; from there, the drive is about an hour. Visit mahekalbeachresort.com. CABO SAN LUCAS This resort town at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, a tapering spit of land, is where you go to see Mexico spill into the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other. And the Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa is where you go to stay at the very end of the road. The views from your suite (which includes bedroom, living room, dining room and huge closet) let you look at all that ocean, as well as the famous rock arch that sits where sand and sea converge. From your vantage point during the winter, it’s likely you’ll see migrating whales, too, one of the renowned Cabo attractions. Decor is elegant, with abundant glass used in exquisite art pieces and chandeliers. When you decide to leave your suite, enjoy a margarita beside the circular infinity pool that seems to fall into the sea or dine while listening to the waves crash into rock near your table at La Roca. Arrange a moonlight massage for two on a beachside deck, book a special dinner on the sand, take a cooking class or enjoy a tasting of tequilas or some of the highly respected wines made in Baja. When you feel like wandering a bit, there’s plenty to see while kayaking, deep-sea fishing or scuba diving; watch for a big school of dolphins at play. Visit grandsolmarresort.com. SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE Time spent in this colonial city deep in the heart of Mexico can remind you of visits to Europe’s storybook villages, thanks to the cobblestone streets and an old-world spirit of easy sophistication. Brightly painted stucco buildings, beautiful churches, courtyards bursting with vividly colored flowers and sidewalk cafes abound, as do art galleries, rooftop lounges made for having drinks under the stars, small music clubs and little shops selling handcrafted jewelry, clothing and bags. For an intimate stay, the very modern and swanky Hotel Matilda is the choice, noted for a stunning collection of contemporary art throughout common areas and rooms. The on-site spa is known for holistic treatments using products created specially for each guest, and the saloon is famous for drinks using local ingredients. Matilda’s restaurant, Moxi, offers dishes from chef Enrique Olvera, considered by some critics the leading culinarian in Mexico; don’t miss his black bean tamale, wild mushroom-guajillo chile risotto and New York strip with zucchini and squash blossoms. When exploring the town, be sure to visit Fabrica la Aurora, an arts center filled with small galleries, boutiques and cafes. After sightseeing, return to Matilda for an herbaceous cocktail beside the swimming pool in its modern garden. Fly into the Guanajuato airport, a 1½-hour drive to San Miguel. Visit hotelmatilda.com. TULUM Easily one of the hottest vacation spots in the world right now, this former hangout for the backpacking crowd has radically transformed itself into a chic beach hideout on the Riviera Maya. Among the small and exclusive boutique hotels sought out by lovers enjoying solitude are Mi Amor and Mezzanine, sister properties made for honeymooning, as both are for adults only. Modern and inviting, Mi Amor overlooks the Caribbean from a rocky cliff top, with rooms facing either the ocean or the garden and elongated swimming pool. An intimate spa specializes in treatments for two; be sure to indulge in the two-hour experience involving a scrub, massage and soak in a tub filled with exotic flowers. The restaurant’s memorable meals come from celebrity chef Paul Bentley, whose renditions of handmade pasta, local fish and delicate vegetables are prettier than a picture. A few doors down, the nine-room Mezzanine exudes a lounge vibe, with a hip cocktail bar, seductive DJ music and a setting over a white-sand beach. Suites include big tubs two can share, as well as room to spread out. The plunge pool, private terraces and hammocks make you want to never leave the property, and the bar’s fresh fruit margaritas and Thai cuisine keep you more than satisfied. If you feel like venturing out, the famous Mayan ruins are nearby, and there are plenty of places to eat and drink within easy reach. Find Tulum about 1 hour, 45 minutes from the Cancun airport. Visit tulumhotelmiamor.com and mezzaninetulum.com.
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