Booking this stay
I booked this stay less than 2 weeks out from arrival because our safari trip to Southern Africa was canceled due to the Omicron variant of COVID. Fortunately, we were able to get most of the safari trip refunded. Unfortunately, we don’t have a ton of points right now which makes planning a last-minute backup trip very tricky. And very expensive.
I stumbled upon Etéreo when browsing the Auberge website since we have enjoyed staying at their wine country properties. Since Etéreo was opening December 15th they were offering some phenomenal introductory rates, a 4th night free promotion and a $1000USD property credit for staying at least 4 nights. That’s an amazing deal any time of year but unheard of during the festive season.
We booked using American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, which gave us early check-in (12pm/noon), guaranteed late check out (4pm), room upgrade subject to availability, as well as a $100 property credit. The best part was these benefits were in addition to the benefits the resort was offering.
Getting there and location
Etéreo is located about 45 minutes south of Cancun International airport and just north of Playa del Carmen. I arranged airport transfers with the hotel ahead of time and they picked us up outside of the terminal in a Lincoln SUV. They had bottled water, local beer, hand sanitizer and 3 different kinds of phone chargers available. The car was also equipped with wifi, which was a nice touch.
The resort is located within a compound called Kanai, which is also where the new St. Regis and Edition hotels are also being built. Oddly, these 3 hotels feel right on top of each other. We could see (and hear) construction of the St. Regis from our room.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by hotel staff and given hibiscus tea as well as a local Mayan blessing. Rather than a formal check-in at the lobby, we were able to go directly to our room, which was available at 10am. That wasn’t surprising given the resort is so new and was only at 30% occupancy, but it was greatly appreciated after a red-eye flight. Even if the room wasn’t available when we arrived, we knew we’d be able to check-in by noon because of booking through American Express FH&R.
Our assigned guia or guide/butler gave us an informative tour of the property on our way to the room and a tour of the room once we arrived. We booked the base room, a mangrove studio with plunge pool, and were upgraded to an ocean studio with sky deck and plunge pool thanks to our American Express benefits.
We toured 2 other rooms before ultimately deciding to stay with the room they upgraded us to and here’s why:
One-bedroom ocean guesthouse: This room had more interior space with an additional living room, but it wasn’t located on a top floor.
Two-bedroom ocean “penthouse”: This was a bi-level suite with plenty of living space and a dining room in addition to the two bedrooms. Oddly, the penthouses at this property are not located on the top floors. This was ultimately too much space for 2 people but would have been nice for a family.
Ocean studio with sky deck and plunge pool
I loved our upgraded room type! It had a very comfortable king-size bed, sofa and coffee table at the foot of the bed, generously sized two-vanity bathroom, walk-in shower with rainfall shower head, sectioned off toilet room and two terraces… one of which had a private (unheated) plunge pool. The room felt very spacious. While the outside space was ample, I would not call it private (even on a top floor) as it was very easy to see your neighbor’s balconies/plunge pools.
The decor and furnishings felt elegant but also comfortable. They incorporated a lot of local elements, textures and art, which I thought was a nice touch.
The bathroom amenities were a homemade unisex floral scent that I absolutely loved. The clearing products had the same scent so everything smelled really good!
In the closet, there was a beach bag to borrow during your stay as well as a Steamery hand steamer. I always bring my own travel steamer, so I loved that they stocked the room with these. If only I knew that ahead time!
We were likely the first people to stay in our room and given the hotel opened just over a week before our stay, we did have some technical issues with the room. For example, the lighting control panel next to the bed worked, but the control panel in the bathroom did not. The Google Chrome cast on the TV also didn’t work. We also had to ask for something to signify “Do not disturb,” which was brought promptly when we pointed it out but wasn’t in the room initially. Nothing major and these are things that will likely work themselves out over time.
The main property has 4 distinct areas. The area where you first arrive houses a small lobby, spa, gym and some meeting rooms. The resort went all out on the spa and it showed. It was beautiful! Inside there was a men’s and women’s section which had some beautiful changing rooms (reminded me of Equinox a bit), a indoor cenote-inspired hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room, clay room and sound room. Outside there was another hydrotherapy pool as well as a jacuzzi. This is also where the treatment rooms were located.
The gym was a good size and everything was brand new. It was pretty popular in the mornings and several mornings I noticed the water fridge was not restocked, which was frustrating.
Continuing toward the water the next area includes the 8 buildings of rooms called guest houses. They are each 3-4 floors and have about 8 rooms in each building. I’d recommend requesting the top floor in guesthouse 2 or 7 as they are stand-alone rooms with no neighbors. All the other guest houses have 2 rooms on the top floors.
Just past the guest houses is the main area with the pools as well as the main restaurant, Itzam. There are 2 pools, one for families and one for adults. Unfortunately, no one honored the separation so both pools ended up being family pools and the staff did little to help course correct. There is also a kids camp area with their own pool nearby here.
The main restaurant is where you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
There is only one option on property for dinner, which I would classify as fine dining based on the dishes and the price. I found it odd that this was the only dinner option on property other than ordering room service. We tried it our first night and everything was fresh, but we didn’t want to eat there for dinner every night so we had to get creative. With advance notice, the chef was able to let us order from a limited menu from the kitchen at the beach one night (usually that menu is only available for lunch) and they also made us a Thai-inspired menu one night.
The last part of the property is the beach, which is beautiful. There is a very private set up of loungers and cabanas. You can choose either and they have an absolutely delicious drink and food menu (menu below).
The food at Etereo is really good. There were definitely some misses but overall the food (especially the seafood) was extremely fresh and tasty.
Breakfast was pretty good (not great) but the service was excellent. They will make any modifications or off-menu items for you. We tried the mango french toast on our first day, but wanted traditional french toast later on in our stay and they were able to accommodate the request.
The restaurant at the beach, Changarro, was our favorite menu and we ordered from that menu for dinner once even though that restaurant is only technically open for lunch. The shrimp tostada, lobster tacos and fish burrito were highlights.
While the food was delicious it was also very expensive. Dinners ran between $100-$150 for 2 people without alcohol, which is expensive even compared to the San Francisco dining scene. As a reminder, services/meals in Mexico always incur at least a 16% tax as well as typically an additional 10% property surcharge so whatever the price, you’re looking at around an additional 26% on top of that.
We ordered room service for dinner one night and they didn’t charge a delivery fee, which was nice but that could change down the line.
When we spoke to the General manager, I expressed my concern about only having one fine dining option for dinner on-property, so I hope they will work on a more casual option as well.
Service started out strong on the day we checked in, but unfortunately it went downhill from there. I would describe the service as slow, reactive and not very helpful.
The biggest flop during our stay was with the guia or guide program. Each room is assigned a guia and guests are supposed to be able to text with them throughout your stay. Unfortunately, the texting system didn’t work and it led to some mega disappointments.
Our guia never informed us about the Christmas Eve dinner, which you had to RSVP ahead of time and didn’t learn about it until we arrived at dinner and weren’t able to partake. The general manager said our guia should have been able to coordinate different menus with the chef to help switch up the menu options. We took him up on that offer but had to reach out to our guia to set it all up even after we gave that feedback.
The property had a staffed coffee and pastry cart each morning, which was a cute idea in theory. What we didn’t know until seeing our bill was that they charged your room each morning you got coffee from the cart. There was no signage and no bill to sign for morning coffee and frankly, at this level of a resort that should be a complimentary amenity. I was disappointed because this felt like nickel and diming.
Our bill took an hour and half to sort out and the guia was not very competent in correcting it. Our American Express Fine Hotel and Resorts benefits weren’t added to the bill nor were the property’s own benefits like the $1000USD property credit.
In summary, I’d say the guias only followed through about 50% of the time on any service requests.
The hotel had programming every day we were there like yoga, hat making, cosmic wine pairing, and a lot of other activities. One program we saw listed just about everything as free and then the second program we saw had charges for the different activities, which seemed pricey. (E.g. yoga class for 50 USD ++)
There were also kayaks and stand-up paddle boards available at the beach.
This is a beautiful new hotel in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The location is great if you’re looking for a warm-weather escape, although the resorts in the area are packed in and some are still being built. The food was fresh and delicious, but expensive. This hotel would work well for couples and families.
A few notes:
- The rooms were spacious and well designed.
- Service was the biggest drawback, which will hopefully be ironed out in the coming weeks since it just opened
- The spa was beautiful!
- Currently there is only one option for dinner on property and it’s expensive. I’d recommend researching off-property restaurants or waiting until the nearby St. Regis and Edition hotels open for more variety.
- The hotel was nickel-and-diming by having guests pay for morning coffee.
- There was a great area for kids – family pool, little kids pool, and kids room.
- I am definitely planning on returning.