You could say I take my get-away-from-it-all vacations seriously. For these precious 10 days or so, I work hard to leave stress, worries, and anxieties behind and forget about everything that normally keeps me awake or glued to a screen. I do as much, or as little, as I want and live on my own schedule. Oh, and I want to be comfortably warm, well-fed and watered, and have a pulse rate nearer to 50 than 80. Here are the reasons Hidden Beach Au Naturel (as in, clothing optional) Resort is my favorite in Riviera Maya, Mexico, for achieving just that.
It’s An Easy Travel Destination
A single, non-stop flight to a warmer climate is a must to avoid the nagging worry and additional stress of missing connections. Mexico fits the bill nicely, specifically the Riviera Maya, with many airlines offering direct routes to popular destination hot spots from just about anywhere in North America — many in under 5 hours.
Need A Ride? Hassle-Free Transportation
If you have ever flown into Cancun, you will have experienced the gauntlet when leaving the airport. Hordes of humanity are waiting to “help” you — many are indeed genuinely trying to help you find where you are going; others will try to sell you everything from accommodation to tours, and it can be hard to differentiate between the two. So, how wonderful it is to see a driver holding aloft a sign with your name on it among the teeming crowds, allowing you to slice through the throng of tourists to your waiting, air-conditioned vehicle. Stressful? Not really. Within minutes my wife and I are hurtling south, air conditioning humming gently as we sip champagne. We proceed directly to the resort — no fiddling with maps or second-guessing the GPS. No arguing about which exit to take. An hour or so after leaving the airport we are standing in the reception of the all-inclusive Hidden Beach Au Naturel Resort — our everyday worries strewn along the highway behind us.
Don’t Speak Spanish? ‘No Problema’
Hidden Beach is one of a number of high-end resorts hugging Mexico’s Riviera Maya coastline, each one trying to outdo the next with impressive gated walls, dancing fountains, and luscious, manicured gardens beckoning passing travelers to leave the dusty highway and step into a piece of Eden. Owned by the Karisma group, Hidden Beach is one of three all-inclusive resorts located side by side at the end of a long, palm tree-lined drive. An understated, polished, wooden door with keypad is the entrance to the resort. Our driver jumped out and keyed in the code. The door opened and a colorful vista unfolded in front of us. Large palm trees, fronds weighed down with basketball-sized coconuts, plants with leaves larger than umbrellas, and brightly colored, delicate flowers traced a path deeper into the resort. The serenity hits you and an involuntary aaagggghhhh escapes. We meandered up the path to Reception — a welcoming, tropical glass octagon with comfy sofas and a couple of desks. If your Spanish is not up to scratch, “no problema” — English is widely spoken.
Like A Room With A View? No High Rise Blocks Here
Hidden Beach is not overlooked by its two adjacent sister properties due to the large swaths of palm trees that surround it. No building here is more than two stories high and the relatively small size of the resort (there are only 42 rooms at the resort, a number of which are swim up) makes for a very comfortable and intimate escape.
The pool is often the centerpiece of any resort, and Hidden Beach is no exception. The pool is shaped like a small lake with channels running into it and with areas of shelves where sun loungers stand in a foot of water. Large and deep enough for regular aquarobic sessions and spirited but friendly water volleyball games, the pool is also home to a thatched-roofed, moon-shaped bar — complete with underwater bar stools. The channels are no more than 3 feet deep and lead to each of the swim-up rooms — perfect for those whose workout involves wading through warm water.
Three steps down from the pool deck lead to the remains of the beach — a tiny sandy strip 20 yards wide with more sun loungers, many under the shade of palm trees or palm umbrellas. The pièce de resistance are the four-poster, king-sized beds arranged on the sand – what better place to watch the sun rise over the water each morning?
Feeling Hungry? Eat And Drink Any Time
Breakfast and dinner are taken in the outdoor restaurant — a thatch-roofed open space with white cloth dining, a gentle breeze wafting as you lazily savor the next delicious meal. Don’t fancy anything on the menu? Simply tell the staff what you’d like and chances are the chef will prepare it for you. Stressed because you have food allergies? There is no need to be — the staff cannot do enough and will take care of you. Dinner menus are rotated and shared with the other sister resorts so there is always something new.
Lunch was al fresco from an impressively laid-out buffet. The biggest chore was to get off the sun lounger and meander over to the picnic tables all of 40 yards away.
There is a danger of developing gills here from spending hours on end in the water ± chatting or floating with eyes closed or sitting at the bar making new friends. The bar is always open and serving brightly colored drinks with appealing names that make your feet disappear. If nothing else, try the “Mini Beer” — Liquor 43 with frothy milk on top. It’s a shot but looks like a beer. You will not be able to have just one.
Exercise — If You Must
There is a fully equipped gym at the resort and we did see it in use — once. Daily aquarobics sessions in the pool and sociable, anyone-can-play, co-ed, all-ages-and-skill-level water volleyball are the main sources of daily exercise. Early morning long strolls along the palm-fringed, golden beach are also popular though the beach has to be accessed via one of the adjacent properties. (It is called Hidden Beach, after all, and the lack of its own beach is the only negative with this otherwise beautiful resort.)
Another way to burn off those calories is through nightly dancing to local entertainment. Acts varied from local bands, cultural dancers, and acrobats — and no matter how late you stayed jiving away to the latest hits, the bar staff would stay longer!
Not Completely Relaxed Yet? Pamper Yourself
There is a wonderful independent spa shared by the three resorts. Try hydrotherapy: dipping into different temperature pools, slowly coming to the boil in a steam room followed by a quick freeze in a cold room. I’m sure the latter was supposed to do me good, but I confess to having spent a more comfortable 15 minutes. The luxuriating massage that followed, however, more than made up for that.
It’s Okay To Leave
While there really is no need to leave the resort, if you feel like a change from endless, horizontal relaxation, Hidden Beach is well located to provide a diversion or two. The ancient Maya ruins are only about 25 miles away in Tulum, and there are many cenotes locally where you can take a lazy dip. Private tours can be organized through Hidden Beach and once again, we were chauffeured with a glass of mimosa in our hands. If there is a better way to explore, I’d like to hear it.
Ultimate Freedom And Relaxation
There is no doubt that days consisting of lying in the sun, reading a trashy novel, dipping in and out of the pool, eating gourmet food, napping to the sound of the waves, strolling among tropical plants, and making the major decision of the day: what to choose for dinner, makes for a relaxing vacation. But to achieve a feeling of total freedom and abandon from all of life’s cares, to leave your emotional baggage behind, leave your clothes, too. At Hidden Beach (Au Naturel) resort, you do not need to bring the latest swimsuit. Here, like-minded folk — from their 20s to their 80s – enjoy life sans clothes. From rolling out of bed in the morning to rolling in off the dance floor in the evening, the last thing you need to worry about is what to wear.
It’s truly amazing how just losing your clothes and your inhibitions leads to a more peaceful, liberated, and open state of mind. Yes, it may take you a few minutes to get used to being nude on your first visit, but the sense of release and calm is something you will want to experience time and again. In today’s high-paced world, all-inclusive resorts certainly make vacationing less stressful, but for the ultimate in relaxation, leave your swimsuit behind, too.
For more clothing-optional inspiration, check out all our naturism content here.