Bestselling author Rebecca Chance waxes lyrical about El Dorado Casitas Royale in Riviera Maya, and we give away 4 signed copies of her latest novel, Killer Queens…
It’s called Royale for a reason. As soon as you step into the hotel reception, you’re treated like… well, the visiting royalty who honeymoon there in my book Killer Queens. From the guava bellinis in El Dorado’s reception, to the cinnamon aromatherapy heated neck wrap a concierge places over your shoulders, to the first sight of the sparkling private pool of your swim-up suite, it’s a paradisiacal world away from the cold, British winter. Here are the 10 things I loved the most about this Mexican gem…
Just amazing. Karisma calls it ‘Gourmet Inclusive’, and that’s the perfect way to describe it. The resort has its own huge eco-greenhouses which the chefs visit every morning to pick the freshest, tastiest produce. The cuisine is light, delicious, and exactly what you want to eat in hot weather. From the Pan-Asian cuisine of Kampai to the superb Mexican at Rincon Mexicano, and the European sophistication of D’Italia to the fresh fish at Jojo’s, it was foodie heaven. The chocolate and petit-fours plates in the suite were such works of art it seemed a shame to eat them. But I struggled through.
They spoil you rotten, make dinner reservations, drive you there and back in your own little golf cart if you want to wear heels and are too lazy to walk, and generally fulfil your every need. Mine – Pablo, Elisaveta and Liliana – were so charming and efficient I wanted to take them all home with me.
Your own little private heaven, from which you can slip into the ‘lazy river’ and wade under little bridges to the central pool, to grab yourself a drink at the swim-up bar, whether you’re in the mood for a soft drink, a coffee or a Miami Vice (as drunk by the bodyguard, Vassily, in Killer Queens). In practice, the barman will always be hovering to bring you another cocktail, of course, but it’s even nicer to walk through cool waters to get there. You feel a sense of achievement.
Endless opportunities for lounging. By your private pool, in your private pool, on hammocks, in beachside cabanas watching the clear blue shallows curl over the sand, seagulls cawing happily overhead… I wrote 2,000 words of Killer Queens a day in the resort, but when I look back I don’t remember working that hard. It feels in retrospect as if I pretty much lounged around constantly, because there were so many beautiful places to relax. Jose Carlos, the manager of El Dorado, told me they generously allowed at least 4 empty lounging areas for each guest, and it was bliss never having to dash for a hammock as soon as it came vacant. That’s the epitome of luxury.
They’re easy day trips, and you can combine the former with a lunch and afternoon at Xel-Ha Lagoon. My honeymooning queen visits them all and loves zip-lining, rafting and snorkelling at Xel-Ha, where you also get a cracking lunch. I remember the corn, cream and black achiote dish with extreme fondness. Swimming in the sea below the Tulum ruins is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that combines sightseeing with relaxing in the aquamarine Caribbean water.
Anyone who’s already read Killer Queens will know the spa treatments – the Sky Massage in particular – are simply extraordinary. After my own Sky Massage I wrote a whole, pivotal scene in the book around the ‘romantic honeymoon’ ritual that Felipe, the shaman, created for Queen Lori and King Joachim. The experience was so mind-blowingly good I had to describe it in detail, and it was very beautiful and moving to hear Felipe’s explanation of the ritual he designed. Also, you get Champagne afterwards. Me, very impressed: “In the UK they just give you water after a massage.” Felipe: “Welcome to Mexico!”
This is an extraordinary, avant garde, molecular gastronomy restaurant at the sister hotel, Sensatori Resort Mexico. I had a 14-course tasting menu, and they threw in a couple of extra courses as well – I advise wearing loose-fitting clothing. Oh, and avoid white. I was completely taken in by the Campari ‘cherries’ – chocolate filled with Campari, served in a bowl of maraschino cherries – I didn’t realise the filling was liquid and accidentally dribbled a bit down my front. Oops.
They’re as free-flowing as the Caribbean Sea. Midori mojitos at Kampai, Patron margaritas at El Rincon, after-dinner Coco Tropicals at Jojo’s, Bellinis at, err, Bellini’s Bar, and martinis at, err, Martinis. Thank goodness the Flamingos swim-up bar closes at 5pm, at which point everyone goes to lie down for 2 hours and sleep things off, before starting again with the pre-dinner aperitifs.
Tequila-tasting, towel-folding, Pilates, aquarobics, horse-riding… there’s never a dull moment at the resort. If you want to indulge in a spot of people-watching, you stroll down the sea path to the main hotel, which is always buzzing with fun by day and shows by night. And if you’re feeling more peaceful, read books from the beach butler’s cart, or play giant chess, backgammon or Jenga. I can confidently report there’s nothing as relaxing after a hard morning’s knocking out 2,000 words of a novel than playing a round of giant Jenga.
They were so sweet, obliging and lovely. Did I mention the beach butlers? The brilliantly-named Jesus offered newspapers in the morning and different kinds of ice-creams in the afternoon, culminating in strawberry popsicles. Alejandro, a waiter at Jojo’s, brought Coco Tropicals coffee drinks after dinner and made me a grasshopper from a palm leaf and a toothpick – it was so cute I put him and the grasshopper in the book. Even the crocodiles in the swamp, Pancho and Maria, seemed delightful – though observed from behind a sturdy fence, of course…
If Rebecca’s taster of El Dorado Casitas Royale and her flamboyant characters have got you itching to find out what the royal protagonists get up to in her steamy bestselling novel Killer Queens, we’ve got some good news for you – how about winning one of 4 signed copies to keep you company on a sunlounger, or snuggled up in bed now the nights are drawing in? All you need to do is answer the following simple question:
Which hotel in Mexico is Rebecca’s new book Killer Queens set in?
Pop your answers into an email and send them to SocialMediaCompetition@thomson.co.uk before midday on Friday 20th September.
Good luck, everyone!
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Author: El Berwick
Published: September 6, 2013
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