The Azul Beach Hotel is perfectly situated -- 25 minutes south of Cancun, 35 minutes north of Playa del Carmen and 10 minutes north of Puerto Morales, the next up-and-coming resort area of the Riviera Maya, Signature Vacation's Pat Rachey says.
It's an intimate, 96-room resort hotel with lush vegetation on a spectacular stretch of white sand beach and crystal blue water.
Rachey says all rooms feature contemporary décor, complete with satellite flat-screen TV, mini bar, coffee maker, DVD player, and a balcony with garden or ocean views.
The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, with unlimited dining and choice of restaurants featuring seafood, grilled meats, Mexican-, Caribbean- and Asian-inspired cuisine.
"This hotel goes beyond the norm, with vegetarian, South Beach diet, low fat/low carb menus offered daily," Rachey says. "For families, there are lots of soups, sandwiches and specialty meals catering to the kids, plus brownies, cookies and ice cream. They even have an all lobster menu... and it is included."
Here are some other features of the Azul Beach Hotel:
-- Beach butler service, where waiters not only bring drinks, but snacks and towels, or anything else you might have forgotten and don't want to walk back for 30 seconds to reach your room. (It is that close.)
-- Tequila Lounge, complete with a frozen bar (its top is made of ice).
-- There are three pools, plus hammocks. Included activities are paddle boating, kayaking, cooking lessons, tequila tasting, yoga and dancing classes.
The resort has everything for kids, said Rachey, including baby strollers, cribs, heaters, beach games, colouring books and refrigerators for milk and medicine.
Jim Jones, a computer programmer from Vancouver, just returned with his wife and five-year-old daughter.
"The resort was beautiful, the food and service outstanding, and I love those beach butlers. They couldn't do enough for you. Staying in a small hotel has its advantages."
Another great property by Karisma is the Azul Sensatori, which just opened and already is getting rave reviews from guests who are amazed by the included features and themed areas, said Rachey.
Karisma sales director Sabrina
Filatow said the Sensatori "is designed
to allow couples, groups, wedding
parties, families and friends from all
generations to connect under the sun."
The Sensatori is a Tui Travel hotel
that is managed by Karisma, and is the
second Sensatori in the world, following
the success of a similar project in
Crete, said Rachey. There are plans to
build more Sensatoris outside Mexico
in the Caribbean in the next few years,
she said. Tui Travel is one of the
largest travel companies in the world.
It's based in the United Kingdom and
is the parent company of Signature
Vacations. Sensatori is sold exclusively
in Canada by Signature Vacations.
The Sensatori is located 25 minutes
south of Cancun, adjacent to the Azul
It features an adults-only section
with an adults-only pool and restaurant.
It has a family section next to a
kids club and teen club, plus a Premium
Section close to the beach, with
added amenities and services.
Rachey said there are 438 suites in a
number of different categories, but all
feature contemporary Caribbean-style
décor, canopy beds, 32-inch plasma
TVs, DVD players, IPod docking stations,
in-suite Jacuzzi, mini bar, coffee
maker, bathrobes, rainforest showers
and oversized balconies or terrace.
Some of the room categories include
regular and luxury Jacuzzi junior
suites, swim-up junior suites, connecting
Jacuzzi ocean view suites,
family Jacuzzi suites, premium
category suites, plus honeymoon and
presidential suites. Each offers its
own unique features, and Rachey calls
the cost difference between each one
"very affordable" compared to other
quality resorts offering similar room
"Our biggest problem with the hotel
right now is that we can't get enough
rooms to fill the demand. Except for
March, we are pretty much sold for
most of the winter season."
The family suites include oversized
suites with a private sleeping area
with a queen bed, double sofa bed, and
single sofa bed. The room will hold up
to two adults and three children, or
three adults and one child.
"There is something for everyone
and with each area separated, everyone
can get what they want," Rachey
With the premium Jacuzzi swim-up
suite, guests have a private Jacuzzi
right outside their room, and can step
directly into a lazy river which crosses
in front of their terrace.
The hotel has six a la carte restaurants,
plus seven bars/lounges,
including three swim-up bars, a Mojito
lounge and roof garden lounge.
Following along the Gourmet Inclusive
theme, the Sensatori features
a choice of dining experiences, from
Caribbean bistro to le Chique, an
adults-only restaurant with multicourse
The Tapaz restaurant has oversized
tables for friends and families of all
generations to gather. Chefs not only
cook the food, but personally present it
to their guests.
The hotel offers a kids club in a
separate area for children four to 12
years, and a teen's club for 13 to 17
year olds. They have their own pool
area, spray playground, rock climbing,
air hockey, video games and much
"The hotel is ideal for weddings,
groups, family gatherings, couples or
anyone wanting to have fun along with
fine dining and upgraded accommodation,"
"The Sensatori is the latest in the
new trend of affordable, all-inclusive
hotels. Sophisticated travellers today
want all the modern conveniences like
plasma TVs and IPod docking stations.
A lot of people will pay a bit more for
the added luxury of a swim-up suite. A
few years ago, if the hotel had one or
two a la carte restaurants, plus a buffet,
it was a great offer. The new hotels
have five or six, and in the case of
Karisma, the food rivals any gourmet
restaurant. All of this without having
to pull out your wallet."
"I can't wait to see what they are going
to do next."
Let's go over the prizes one more
The winners will be staying in a
garden view Jacuzzi junior suite at
the five-star El Dorado Royale, about
half an hour south of Cancun, and will
enjoy all the amenities included in the
resort's all-inclusive package. And if
they're Winnipeggers, they'll get limo
service to and from the airport from
Crown Limosine Service.
If you are the grand prize winner of
the trip for two in the sun, and also are
a seven-day Free Press home subscriber,
Journeys Travel and Leisure Super-
Centre, Donald Street and Wardlaw Avenue,
will have a $500 gift certificate
for you to get ready for the big trip.
And this year, the contest features
weekly prizes -- $100 gift certificates
to Ten Spa, the luxury, full-service spa
in the Fort Garry Hotel, and $100 certificates
to Dacquisto Restaurant, 1715
Kenaston Blvd. (Congratulations to Luc
Roy, our Week 2 prize winner).
All you have to do is read our contest
story each week, correctly answer a
question from the story, and you could
be our next weekly winner, or next
grand prize winner.
You can mail your entries to the Free
Press, or enter the contest online at
And good luck!