Incentive Travel Spotlight: Nizuc Resort & Spa, Cancun
Nizuc Resort & Spa (pronounced “knee-zook) is my new #1 favorite in Cancun. Many travelers are unfamiliar with Nizuc because its name does not include an elite brand, such as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Rosewood, or St. Regis, but meeting planners should categorize it in this 5-star grouping. Nizuc is an independent boutique hotel in the Preferred Hotels & Resorts collection that includes other 5-star independents like Montage Laguna Beach, The Lodge at Pebble Beach, The Broadmoor, and Enchantment Resort.
TripAdvisor rates Nizuc #2 behind Le Blanc, which likely gets a few more points from individual travelers preferring the all-inclusive format. Alternatively, Nizuc’s rating might be weighed down by a few guest service issues when it first opened. Nowadays, it’s getting lots of 5-star scores. Nizuc’s address in Cancun holds her back a bit too, as some meeting planners view Cancun as been-there-done-that. However, planners should take a fresh look at this high-end, private retreat for group incentive travel or executive-level corporate meetings.
Rooms and restaurants are the real attention-getters here. The sleeping rooms, common area architecture, and décor are an unusual mix of minimalism, Restoration Hardware, Mexico, and ancient Mayan features.
The restaurants were outstanding, as evidenced by the guests dining from other nearby resorts. Nizuc has six world-class restaurants, which is a lot for a hotel with 270 sleeping rooms. Their website does a nice job showcasing the food and menus, so I will share my personal highlights here. The recurring themes of their cuisine are unique dishes, artistic presentation, and fine dining in beautiful surroundings.
My favorite was Ramona. They call it contemporary, Mexican cuisine. I’d call it Mexican fine dining – with no tacos or enchiladas on the menu.
The waiter highly recommended the escamoles as an appetizer, explaining it was a local dish his mama made when he was a boy. I asked,“Ok, so, what is it?” Fried ant eggs. Really? Ramona was starting to feel like the next Michelin-starred restaurant in Cancun, so I tried it. It was delicious (as long as I didn’t think about what I was eating). Notice how the escamoles look like little bitty eggs sitting upon dirt (black bean powder) and grass (creamy avocado). Artistic and tasty!
La Punta Grill
La Punta is the steak and seafood restaurant. The dishes were as expected for prime steaks and fresh seafood, so my pictures are few. But, I wish I had captured for you the restaurant interior of pillowed benches overlooking the serenity pool and sea.
Described as resembling an Italian beach club, this restaurant was a bit more casual, serving housemade pasta and wood-oven pizzas. The fig, prosciutto, and mascarpone pizza lived up to the waiter’s recommendation. I wished I’d snapped a picture for you before devouring it!
One final note on restaurants: Unlike many of its neighbors, Nizuc is not an all-inclusive, but it offers an “Endless Indulgences” package to compete with the AIs.
Nizuc’s construction materials and common area décor give it a unique look that is hard to compare to another hotel, and honestly, the pictures don’t adequately convey quality as if you saw it in person.
While the drive up to the resort is nothing special, the main entrance immediately feels very exclusive, and the lobby gives a striking first impression to wow incentive trip qualifiers. The location is an interesting story. For many years, Punta Nizuc was a presidential retreat, a Mexican Camp David, until the Mexican government under Vincente Fox sold the location for commercial development.
Compared to the white sand and blue waters of Cancun and Riviera Maya, the beach is very calm because it sits in a small cove where the Nizuc River meets the Caribbean Sea. A coral reef protects the beach and minimizes the waves. The positive is it’s calm and good for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Negative is less white sand and less blue water.
See map here.
For incentive trips, the Nizuc Beach is an excellent venue for an opening night reception. Even though the beach is not the most amazing ever, the sand has a flat surface with no awkward, angular dunes. The flaming cauldron off the lobby is a nice backdrop too. The beach gets a little seaweed, so make sure the resort rakes before an event. For a welcome reception, the central location is a plus to allow arriving guests find it easily.
For a final night gala awards dinner, A-Kan Terrace is definitely the best space. There’s a lot to love about A-Kan. It’s the main bar. It has neat exterior and interior architecture. The large central tree balances the long limestone wall. Oh, it overlooks the beach too. I loved this spot – a lot.
The ESPA Spa is super nice too. With the long-term trend of declining interest in golf and rising popularity of spa, the ESPA will delight incentive trip attendees. As an added bonus, the spa adds a hydrotherapy experience to all 50-minutes spa treatments.
Sophisticated groups will appreciate the cuisine, rooms, architecture, and tranquility. Younger groups would enjoy Nizuc as a change of pace from all-you-can-consume AI’s.