Breakfast on the Mayan Riviera, the Omni Hotel, Puerto Aventuras
I mentioned that I write travel reviews on Trip Advisor. I have written about a number of hotels on the Mayan Riviera in a series about Luxury Breakfast on the Mayan Riviera and this posting about Puerto Aventuras was submission #7. The Trip Advisor articles have generated so far more that 21,000 readers so I assume people find them helpful. You can find all the submissions in the Travel section in this blog, left column under Resources, Travel or click here.
Breakfast on the Mayan Riviera – The Omni Hotel Puerto Aventuras
As promised, this is my next installment in the Breakfast on the Mayan Riviera “series”. I have been busy launching my food and travel blog, hence the delay in submitting this review.
If you are visiting the area, don’t miss a visit to Puerto Aventuras. Puerto Aventuras is a hidden gem on the Mayan Riviera. Dreamed into reality by Architect R. Rivera more than 20 years ago, the sleepy fishing village developed into a small resort village of condominiums, villas, golf course and now a few hotels. It is built along Chac Hal Al bay and around a system of canals, dolphin pools and a lovely, quaint commercial centre. The commercial centre is home to a few outdoor restaurants, shops and even a museum featuring Architect Rivera finds from his scuba diving expeditions.
Puerto Aventuras, lovingly known as PA to us “locals”, is situated about 15 minute drive south of Playa del Carmen and just north of the Barcello resort hotel. Driving down Hwy 307 from Playa del Carmen, watch for signs and get into the narrow right-hand lane taking you under the new overpass and immediately, still under the overpass, make a U-turn back north a few meters past the gas station to the PA entrance gate. If you miss the turn continue down the highway another kilometer or so and make a U-Turn at the next sign and go back north to the PA gate. Traffic into PA is monitored but visitors are welcome so just let the guard at the gate know you are here for a visit.
There are a number of restaurants serving breakfast (lunch and dinner) around the village. You can have coffee and croissants on the canal at Bamboo, coffee and pastries at Cafe Cafe near the dolphin pools, the Italian Bakery in the back is lovely as well. You can go for full breakfast at Tirami…Su, Cafe Ole, Massimo, Richards and a couple other places in the commercial centre around the dolphin pools and at the back of the commercial centre on the main road. These are all fun places to go to. Our breakfast ritual however, tends to end up at the same place: on the veranda of the Omni Hotel on the Cha Hal Al bay. The high end hotels with their overstatement have their place, but it’s not here. You just can’t beat the quaint and authentic beach setting at PA. It’s real.
The Omni Hotel is only a 30 room hotel but was built to serve as a clubhouse for PA’s ever increasing number of residents so it feels much larger. It is the only public facility on the beach and the now familiar beautiful Omni setting refreshes our soul every time we go there.
Breakfast is served at La Veranda, a few steps up from the white sand beach. A few tables are set along the veranda under a roof so you can enjoy breakfast in the shade. The view is beautiful, overlooking the small, quiet, almost private bay. No motor boats or motorized water sports permitted here so nothing disturbs the quaint, special atmosphere. You may see a couple of local divers or snorkelers swimming around but that’s it. Further back in the deep water you can see the sport fishing boats anchored for a few hours. You can practically set your watch by the boats leaving the marina and returning at specific times.
The Omni restaurant staff has remained more or less constant over the past 10 years, which says something about the place. Sometimes, as is the case with our friend Jorge, restaurant staff is promoted into reception duties on their way up the management ladder. Everyone is so friendly and they go out of their way to accommodate your needs and special requests. My only complaint is that they allow smoking on the veranda. Hopefully (for me anyway) they will change this rule and make the veranda a non-smoking area.
Breakfast consists of the traditional Mexican specialties and North American fare. Their fruit platter is always good, half a melon with yogurt and granola is lovely and you can have eggs any way you like. For me however the hands down winner is their oatmeal, cooked with cinnamon and milk and served generously in large, deep bowls. A bowl of oatmeal, a basket of local pastries and a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is my standard Omni breakfast and it’s always lovely. If you are having a savory breakfast ask for their fire roasted habanero pepper salsa. I am a true foodie and in my judgment it’s exceptional. I often buy some of it to take to our villa and serve it with foods we cook at home (they put it in a styrofoam cup for takeout).
The Omni offers a day pass and I believe the price of the pass is applied towards food and drink that you buy at the hotel (check with the reception). If you buy a day pass then after breakfast sit on the beach under a palapa, walk around the village for a while and come back for lunch on the beach. The beach has a full service bar and lunch can be brought to your chair, feet in the water. You will not be disturbed by beach vendors because there are none on that beach. If you have kids they can paint local pottery on the beach under a palapa in front of the hotel or swim with dolphins in the pools in the center of the village. If you like art you can visit the studio of Belgian artist Peter Terrin who paints and lives in PA.
The beach is not long so this is not the place for a long beach walk but it is interesting to walk to the end and look at the gorgeous homes and condominiums built along the beach and dream a little. The beach is also narrow as much of the sand was washed away in the last couple of hurricanes that descended on PA in the last few years. They are trying to preserve the remaining sand by piling the beach with sand bags and building barriers into the water, both of which detract from the natural beauty, but I sympathize with their dilemma and intentions and see beyond the detractions. Hopefully they can resolve the issue of the encroaching sea soon.
If you come to PA for breakfast and want a long beach walk afterwards just drive five minutes south to Xpuha and there you can have your long beach walk on the gorgeous Xpuha bay and stop for lunch or cool drinks at one of the hotels or restaurants along that beach.
Architect Rivera, the developer of PA is keeping the place family friendly and this is not the place to come looking for wild nightlife. He is somewhat of a renaissance man, being an architect, artist, author, diver, amateur marine archeologist, businessman and a developer. When you visit PA it’s his vision that you experience. If you come at night and in season, the restaurants are full with guests enjoying dinner, and live music from the “Pub” restaurant is floating in the warm night’s air, but the evening ends relatively early. A couple of the places provide live entertainment and stay open later.
Breakfast in PA is a wonderful way to start a day of touring on the Mayan Riviera. I hope you enjoy.