Wednesday, May 15, 2024
HomeLuxury TravelReview: The St Regis Kanai Resort (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

Review: The St Regis Kanai Resort (Riviera Maya, Mexico)


st regis kanai riveira maya book

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed a relaxing holiday in the Riviera Maya, Mexico, where I stayed at the area’s top three luxury resorts. You can read my trip reports here:


Today: Review of  The St Regis Kanai Resort (Riviera Maya, Mexico)

Securing its spot on countless “best” lists, the all-new St. Regis Kanai Resort boasts an an exceptional circular exterior, signature butler service, and prime beachfront location within a 680-acre gated community. But those aren’t the only reasons you’ll love it. All 124 guest rooms and suites offer ocean views (some also have private plunge pools). And with eight distinct bars and restaurants, you can satisfy your craving for elevated Mexican cuisine one night and Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or Asian Fusion the next.

The St Regis Kanai features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury resorts on the Riviera Maya and my favorite St Regis Hotels & Resorts in the world.

Have you ever stayed at The St Regis Kanai, Riviera Maya? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

I made a YouTube video with full tour of The St Regis Kanai, which you can watch here:

In this review (more info and photos below my YouTube video):


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The St Regis Kanai Resort, Riviera Maya is set within the tranquil, private resort area of KanaiKanai is known as the celestial mythological birthplace of the Mayans, who first named the land Kanai, meaning “where the sky is born.” Located in the heart of the Riviera Maya, within a 30 minutes drive from Cancun Airport and 10 minutes from Playa del Carmen’s Downtown, Kanai is a 680 acre secured gated community which is home to 3 luxury resorts: The St Regis, The Edition, and Etereo (700 rooms and residences in total). The resort sits among a jungle and mangrove reserve and features 2 miles (3 km) of pristine white sand beaches. Kanai is also less than half a mile away from an undisturbed coral reef, offering a dazzling arrays of different types of coral and providing food to hundreds of fish species, marine turtles, and other marine creatures.
  • Designed by Mexican firm Edmonds International, The St Regis Kanai Resort features an exceptional circular architecture, resulting in open views from nearly every vantage point. The impressive design comes forth as two small intersected circles that contain the public areas and three large semicircles which house the rooms & suites. The circular buildings float above a seemingly endless sea of lush green mangroves, which – when viewed from above – almost look like an ultra-modern white spaceship that landed in bright-green vegetation. In fact, the resort’s layout reflects the constellation Pleiades, which the Mayans considered to be the birthplace of their ancient ancestors. The circular design motif also alludes to the sun-shaped Mayan calendar comprising 13 moons lasting 28 days. 
  • Upon arrival, guests of The St Regis Kanai are immediately immersed in the resort’s stunning architecture with a multi-story open air water installation and lush greenery leading into the resort’s majestic, double-story lobby. Within the enormous, semi-open air lobby space, biophilic features like skylights and living walls merge indoor and outdoor environments, allowing guests to physically experience Riviera Maya from within. The reception and concierge area is tucked away in an intimate corner of the lobby, while several tranquil nooks and lounge areas are perfect for relaxation, meditation and observation of sunsets and starry nights. The lobby’s far end offers floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of the mangroves and the Caribbean Sea beyond.
  • Drawing inspiration from ancient Mayan culture, The St Regis Kanai’s sophisticated aesthetics and contemporary interiors were created by Chapi Chapo Design. The elegant decor is accented with bespoke elements including custom furniture and artwork from local artisans. The Mayan Calendar is recreated through textiles within the public areas and guestrooms, with elements inspired by ceremonial Mayan garments. The resort’s interior design also evokes the surrounding elements from the mangrove trees to the nearby cenotes – natural sinkholes commonly used for water supplies by the Maya. Rich materials imitating this natural ecosystem include marbles with hues of blue, grey and green that mimic the surrounding elements and travertine to resemble local limestone, while walnut wood brings rich warmth and grounding to each area of the resort where design imitates life. 
  • The St Regis Kanai Resort, Riviera Maya boasts 124 lavishly appointed guestrooms and 19 suites. Guestrooms feature custom hanging mirrors, bedside tables, ceramic light pendants, and intricate walnut wood-carved headboards, while ensuites bathrooms are equipped with double vanities, bathtubs and walk-in showers. The guestrooms on the first and second floor all have balconies with uninterrupted sea views, while the ground-level rooms enjoy views over the mangrove and also have a private plunge pool. The best suites are located at the end of each semi-circle since they come with a large outdoor space, with an outdoor shower, hammock and/or pool. Guests of all room categories have access to the St Regis Signature Butler Service.
  • The St Regis Kanai Resort features two massive beach-front pool areas, one dedicated to families and the other one only available to adults. The family pool area is comprised of two large swimming pools, which are lined by dozens of sunbeds (some of them set inside the pool). One of these pools also features several luxurious cabanas – with lounge areas and a large TV screen – which can be rented for the day for a fee. The family pool area also has an indoor games rooms, which comes with its own TV lounge, bar and small outdoor pool. Located next to the family pool is the adults only beach club, which features a large swimming pool, a separate Jacuzzi, and a bar serving cocktails and light fare. Both the family pool and adults only beach club open to a beautiful white sand beach, lapped by the turquoise Caribbean Sea.
  • The St Regis Kanai Resort’s wellness center is a tranquil enclave located at the end of the enormous lobby. Featuring eight treatment suites and a standalone relaxation salon, the spa offers treatments inspired by ancient practices and featuring local ingredients. Signature treatments include the Secret Garden ritual, allowing guests to hand select ingredients from the hotel’s garden to personalize a body scrub and mask. Another great treatment is the Celestial Energy treatment, which is inspired by Mayan cosmology and uses hot stones energized under the moon & stars and aromatherapy based on the phase of the moon. Next to the spa is the exclusive Athletic Club, featuring a range of cardio and strength equipment as well as an outdoor yoga platform.
  • The St Regis Kanai, Riviera Maya offers gastronomic journeys in eight culinary venues.
    • The hotel’s signature restaurant TORO by Chef Richard Sandoval is a bar and restaurant with a Latin-inspired menu led by the esteemed chef.
    • Located next to the lobby, Chaya Restaurant features a menu that combines local ingredients and regional touches of Riviera Maya with culinary elements rooted in Eastern Mediterranean history. Each morning, a breakfast buffet with some local Mexican touches is also offered at Chaya.
    • Located along the family pool, Riviera is a smart casual restaurant, open for lunch only, which seamlessly blends the South of France with the Mayan Riviera. The venue serves fresh seafood and other dishes prepared from local ingredients.
    • A tea and chocolate salon located next to the lobby, The Library serves St Regis’s signature ritual of afternoon tea and it’s a great backdrop to enjoy a tasting of Mexican chocolate.
    • Located on the second floor, the intimate St Regis Bar offers the Kanai Mary, a local take on the brand’s signature Bloody Mary cocktail, which incorporates ingredients from the ancient Maya diet including corn, peppers and cucumber. Designed to feature views of the sunset, the bar marks the transition from day to night with a celebratory champagne sabering each evening.
    • Additional dining venues include Jack’s Club (a hidden speakeasy), Pik Nik (a grab-and-go deli), and The Beach Club for light bites while relaxing seaside.
  • Designed with a minimal construction footprint aimed at protecting the Sian Ka’an Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site adjacent to the resort) , The St Regis Kanai Resort, Riviera Maya is ingeniously suspended above a mangrove forest on stilts, minimizing the effects on the fragile habitats underneath. To further minimize ecological impact, the different parts of the hotel connected by elevated walkways. To preserve as much of the reserve and native flora as possible, the developers of the Kanai community built on only 9% of their entire property. They left the remainder – largely dense jungle and mangrove forest – untouched, building along a single road through the reserve and putting all buildings and pavilions on stilts where necessary.
  • Combining classic sophistication with a modern sensibility, St Regis Hotels & Resorts – which currently manages Kanai property – is one of my favorite luxury hotel brands in the world. Combining timeless glamour with a vanguard spirit, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts is committed to delivering exquisite experiences at nearly 50 luxury hotels and resorts in some of the best addresses around the world. Beginning with the debut of The St. Regis hotel in New York by John Jacob Astor IV at the dawn of the twentieth century, the brand has remained committed to an uncompromising level of bespoke and anticipatory service for all of its guests, delivered flawlessly by the signature St Regis Butler Service. Part of the Marriott Hotel Group, St Regis participates in Marriott Bonvoy, the global loyalty program from Marriott (allowing to collect points and spend them for free nights).

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
  • The St Regis Kanai features a stunning architecture, but the entire structure – comprised of several intersecting circles – is massive and doesn’t feel very intimate. Also, the buildings are so big that you can walk through them without running into a lot of people (except at the pools). Some guests will adore this mind-blowing modern architecture while others may find it soulless and reminiscent of an airport or museum. However, no matter how you feel about the architecture, the overall design of the resort – especially the lobby – will leave you speechless.
  • The St Regis Kanai features a total of 143 rooms, but only 19 of these are suites while the rest are just regular rooms. While the rooms are spacious and luxurious, and equipped with private balconies and terraces, they do not have the same wow-factor as the villa-style accommodations offered at some of The St Regis’ direct competitors in the area, such as Rosewood Mayakoba (although the St Regis’ rooms are sold at the same rate as the villas at other properties).
  • The beaches of the Riviera Maya are affected by the presence of sargassum seaweed, which is a concern to many travelers. Historically, the seaweed season typically started at the beginning of spring (April) due to a rise in sea temperature, and peaked during the summer months. However, in the last decade and probably due to global warming, seaweed has appeared at any time throughout the year, making it challenging to predict its seasonal patterns. For example, when I visited in late January, a massive amount of seaweed washed onshore during several storms that passed over the area. That said, the beach in front of The St Regis Kanai seemed to be less affected by the seaweed problem when compared to other beaches in the area (such as Mayakoba). Also, each morning and afternoon, the beach is meticulously cleared of seawed by the resort staff.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Breakfast: 8/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 8/10
  • Wow factor: 9/10
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Overall experience: very good 8.5/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso  (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out and $100 USD hotel credit).
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Rosewood Mayakoba (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The Riviera Maya in Mexico has a subtropical climate with two seasons – a rainy season (May to October) and a dry season (November to April). The best time to visit is December to March when the temperatures are a bit more comfortable and there are fewer rain showers. During the rainy season, period temperatures remain high and although it rains every day, downpours don’t tend to be prolonged. There is a chance for hurricanes, especially from July to October.


HOW TO GET THERE

The St Regis Kanai, Riviera Maya, Mexico is located 40 minutes by car from Cancun International Airport, which is served by most North- and South American as well as some European airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Cancun International Airport for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Cancun.


PHOTOS

Here’s a selection of my photos of The St Regis Kanai, Riviera Maya in Mexico. To view more hotel photos (including breakfast and dinner), click here.

ST REGIS KANAI RESORT, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
HOTEL ENTRANCE
ST REGIS KANAI RESORT, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
HOTEL ENTRANCE
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LOBBY
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LOBBY
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GUEST ROOM FLOOR
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GUEST ROOM FLOOR
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SUITE: BEDROOM
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SUITE: BEDROOM
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SUITE: BATHROOM
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SUITE: TERRACE
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SUITE: TERRACE
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SUITE: TERRACE
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SUITE: TERRACE
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SUITE: TERRACE
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RESORT GROUNDS
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RESORT GROUNDS
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FAMILY POOL
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FAMILY POOL
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FAMILY POOL: PRIVATE CABANAS
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FAMILY POOL: PRIVATE CABANAS (LUNCH)
ST REGIS KANAI RESORT, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
FAMILY POOL: GAME ROOM
ST REGIS KANAI RESORT, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
FAMILY POOL: GAME ROOM
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ADULTS-ONLY BEACH CLUB
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ADULTS-ONLY BEACH CLUB
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ADULTS-ONLY BEACH CLUB
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ADULTS-ONLY BEACHCLUB
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ADULTS-ONLY BEACH CLUB
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ADULTS-ONLY BEACH CLUB
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ADULTS-ONLY BEACH CLUB
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BEACH
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WALKWAY TO SPA
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SPA: RECEPTION AREA
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SPA: POOL AREA
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SPA: POOL AREA
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SPA: TREATMENT ROOM
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LIBRARY
ST REGIS KANAI RESORT, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
LIBRARY
ST REGIS KANAI RESORT, RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
LIBRARY: TERRACE

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