Hotel: Hotel Cacao

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Hotel Cacao’s guests are being immersed in a kicked-back, relaxed “Hippie Chic” lifestyle of sophisticated accommodations and cutting-edge dining and mixology experiences. Located on Playa del Carmen’s famous 5th Avenue, the 60-room property is located in the heart of the destination’s chic scene of restaurants, clubs and boutiques.

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The team that created the internationally heralded ‘Matilda lifestyle’ guest experience at Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende founded Cornerstone in 2013. The hotel management and development company is building a ‘Hotel Matilda Lifestyle Collection’ of boutique properties in strategic locations throughout Mexico. The second hotel will open in 2015 in the San Angel district of Mexico City.

The LUXE Passport - Hotel Cacao

The spacious, modern rooms and suites offer every contemporary amenity, including bathroom amenities by Italian fashion designer Missoni. 

Architect Rodrigo de la Peña has imbued the property with dramatic architectural elements such as huge canvas accents in geometric shapes and a central court with a hyacinth lily pond. The interior design is clean and contemporary with bold color accents. The roof-top bar features innovative “coctelería” (mixology) experiences blended with spectacular views of the Caribbean and Cozumel Island.

Hotel Cacao’s restaurant, Nibs, is a serene, mouthwatering escape from the bustling dining scene on 5th Avenue. Nibs has a strong connection with Hotel Matilda:  At the helm is Chef Alejandro Cuatepotzo, a protégé of Enrique Olvera who was chef de cuisine at Hotel Matilda’s Moxi restaurant. Olvera, who is Mexico’s most famous chef, operates Moxi.

Nibs’ exciting and innovative menu taps the fresh, indigenous ingredients of the region and reinvents favorite Mexican seafood and meat dishes, such as ceviches with coconut and lime, scallops with lime pearls, lobster with green mango, shrimp burritos, tuna and beef tartare, salt-baked red snapper, conch fritters, and prime flat-iron carne asada. The area’s tropical ambience is re-imagined indoors with guests dining amid an original jungle mural by international street artist Eduardo Kobra, a flowing water wall, and banana and passion fruit plants. In stark contrast to the colorful tropical atmosphere, Namuh-designed walnut tables and chairs with Italian carrera marbletops are accented by simple white linens and china. The restaurant’s name reinforces the chocolate theme of Hotel Cacao: Nibs are unsweetened chocolate chips, created when cacao beans are crushed in the chocolate-making process.

The LUXE Passport - Hotel Cacao

Quirky, fun art in strategic interior locations, including brightly painted VW Bugs, are by Tommy Hilfiger. An after-hours-style bar downstairs has a sexy bordello look. The shops and restaurants on the street level of the building include Maíz de Mar, a marisquería (seafood restaurant) by Chef Olvera.

Rates range from $208 to $500, including Continental breakfast. Taxes are additional.