When I was asked to cover the unveiling of the Bret Michaels suite at the Hard Rock Hotel in the Riviera Maya for Dreams in Heels and Vetta Magazine, the hardest choice was deciding what swimsuit to bring. Sandy beaches, an out-of-this-world resort, exploring the Riviera Maya and an international celebrity? I was so ready to get the star treatment (rock star treatment, that is); I jumped on the plane the next day and was at the doorstep of heaven in just hours.
Greeted by a lovely staff, I quickly found myself sipping on cucumber lemonade, invigorated with a little wet towel as I waited to check in. Decked with an impressive Pinktober display in their lobby, the Hard Rock Hotel was as inviting and beautiful as I had imagined. From the Heaven lobby (Hard Rock Hotel’s adults’ section), I started my adventure… and so unfolds our Rock-On Weekend at the Riviera Maya in Mexico.
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MY ROOM IN HEAVEN
As I walked inside my room, I found a note from the hotel, a bottle of wine, a basket of fruit and some chocolate and macaroons in the shape of a guitar. The room was a deluxe platinum sky terrace suite with a private balcony and a rooftop with a jacuzzi. Every morning I enjoyed watching the sunrise in the hammock that was on the balcony. It was calm and very relaxing, a world of difference from life in the city. I love how even the sheets of my bed had guitar shapes sewn in. Simple details that reminded me of my mission: to take an intimate tour of the new suite with Mr. Bret Michaels. To make my stay warmer, I even had a personal liquor dispenser in the room. Rock-on Riviera Maya!
As Van Halen sung it “A little bit o’ heaven right here on earth”
As I escaped from my room, I looked around and found this cute Van Halen quote displayed on one of the buildings adjacent to the clear water. It was great to get away and just tune into what the Hard Rock Hotel was offering me: a comfy chair next to a “palapa” on the VIP private beach, the beautiful white sand, the crystal clear water and of course the never-ending unlimited cocktails of my choice. I was particularly fond of the piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris. There was also the tranquil beauty of a natural sea cove – perfect for kayaking, snorkeling, and just plain relaxing along the warm Caribbean Sea. I sunbathed and then ended up joining the crowd by the pool to do some aquatic aerobics. It’s a shame Bret wasn’t there yet to join me…
DINING WITH FLARE
Hard Rock Hotel offers a variety of restaurants with endless menu choices. I had the opportunity to taste a truly unique experience, with exceptional fine dining menus as well as more casual in-room eating in. The first day I was transported to Italy for Lunch at the Ciao restaurant. The paintings and atmosphere made me feel like I was walking around the beautiful and timeless Italia. The food was exceptional and it was paired with an amazing glass of wine. To keep things international, I hopped on to Mexican fare at one of the restaurants in their Hacienda Lobby, Frida. It was a wonderful dinner with some fun tequila tastings… it was very festive, to say the least. One of my highlights was a frozen tamarind margarita with some regional specialty plates. “Que viva Mexico!”
The following morning, my first stop was breakfast (don’t worry, I did lots of stuff other than eating) at The Market, located in the Hacienda Section. I enjoyed a breakfast buffet with fresh and exotic ingredients from around the world before heading out to my excursions. For dinner, I traveled back to Spain with a variety of exotic and traditional tapas at La Cava Roja (reminiscent of the wonderful time I spent studying in Asturias). Queso Cabrales, paella and wine, I was in for a treat!
EXPLORING THE SURROUNDING AREAS (TULUM ADVENTURE)
As much as I enjoyed being inside the hotel and all its amazing amenities, it was time for me to explore the off beaten paths and meet the locals. I started by arranging a visit to the Tulum Mayan ruins, the archaeological site where the Pre-Colombian Mayan walled city lays, with ruins perched on a cliff top overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Among them, El Castillo (“The Castle”) is one of the most impressive buildings. Just to give the story a little bit of a History kick, the day that I visited or “discovered” Tulum, was also the day we celebrate Columbus day, a fellow explorer of new worlds. But I digress; let me get back to the experience…
I walked around, made new friends on the excursion and walked around the beach. The best part about Tulum is learning about its history and also enjoying the incredible views. At the end of my tour I bought some souvenirs, traditional candies and pure vanilla.
OFF THE BUCKET LIST – EXPLORING THE RIVIERA MAYA
After Tulum, I took it upon myself to fulfill a lifelong dream: to swim with dolphins. The driver was gracious enough to take me to Dolphin Discovery Riviera Maya – Puerto Aventuras. Undeniably, I really had to get out of my comfort zone. Wait, that’s an understatement. I can’t swim, so I was seriously scared. However, I had my little life vest, so I was somewhat confident.
I decided to go for what they called the Royal Swim, which includes the famous foot push – two dolphins, (in my case Amaya and Jupiter) lift me by the soles of my feet above the surface. After that, I grabbed their dorsal fins as they sped me through the water, giving me an exhilarating and fun ride. I have to say I had a blast conquering my fear! My new buddies, Amaya and Jupiter, were especially cute: they gave me a kiss, a hug, a handshake and then we danced together.
Lastly, I also had the opportunity to make a quick stop by the 5th Ave. Shopping District. I loved seeing the cute stores and buying handmade items from local artisans.
EXPERIENCING THE RIVIERA MAYA WITH BRET MICHAELS AT THE HARD ROCK HOTEL
BRET MICHAELS PENTHOUSE TOUR
It was time to move on to the main attraction, Mr. Bret Michaels and his amazing suite. I had the exclusive tour of the iconic Bret Michaels inspired Penthouse Suite, and the best part, with Bret Michaels in it. He was there to humor us and to give us a tour around what he called “his home”. This is the first-ever artist branded Rock Star Suite of their collection, and one of the largest suites in the world with over 9,000 square feet. Bret Michaels personally worked hand in hand with the Hard Rock Design Studio and Tandem Design Team, and was heavily involved in the design of the opulent space, which is fun yet functional. Frank Maduro, Vice President of Marketing for the all-inclusive collection added: “We wanted to partner up with someone who not only is iconic, but that will be hands on. Every single detail was considered. It is not only a name on the wall but truly someone that was involved.”
The rock star branded suite, which was unveiled in an exclusive press conference, has 2 King bedrooms with a private terrace, 2 full baths, 2 half baths, a living room, dining room, a complete kitchen, a premium bar, private screening room, raised dance floor, inspirational quotes, Camaro-converted billiard table, a cowboy hat display, and bandana-influenced ceiling décor to showcase the famed rocker’s individuality. We could appreciate all the authentic memorabilia and personal items that belonged to Bret Michaels, including a large display case showcasing the rock star’s original “Hollywood Taxi” motorcycle as well as the “Every Rose” guitar. Bret told me that his favorite element in the suite was the decked out bike. He also was very excited about his photo booth and encouraged me to take a picture in it!
Bret Michaels, who is a lifelong Type 1 diabetic, is motivated by health and fitness, which explains why there is a state of the art fitness center within the suite. The Bret Michaels Rock Star Suite is topped off with an over the top DJ booth and accompanying sound system located on the suite rooftop to entertain guests. Other great and entertaining perks include: Blue Ray player, Xbox 360 Kinect, an 80” flat screen TV, selection of in-room guitars from PICKS, aromatherapy, beach bag and hangover kit (of course). As if that weren’t enough, there is exclusive 24-hour room service and Mini Bar in each room, Nightly turndown service, private check-in, early check-in, and late checkout. Oh, and the rooftop of the suite is a full terrace area with hot tub, fire pit and plenty of places to lounge under the Mexican sun. Truly a Rock Star experience.
Michaels also told me, “Hard Rock Hotel is making sure guests have a great time, while at the same time trying to make a difference”, and they surely were, through their participation in the Pinktober breast cancer awareness fundraiser initiative, hence the pink bed sheets. True to form, Bret Michaels finished off the inauguration with a traditional guitar smash. He then signed the guitar pieces and placed them in a case in the living room area.
After the penthouse tour, we were all ready to rock on with Bret Michaels. We headed to Heaven lounge. He played an exclusive unplugged, acoustic performance to celebrate the Rock Star Suite’s official debut, including one of his hits “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”. All the girls were officially swooning. The crowd went crazy! He also sang his version of “Sweet Home Alabama” with his highly contagious energy. However, it has to be said that Bret is such a humble, down-to-earth guy, stopping to chat with the audience, taking pictures and signing autographs.
As a last treat to myself, the final day in paradise was all about relaxation and escaping to my total rockstar zen. I revisited all my adventures sitting by the water, bathing in the sun. My trip could not be over without spending some time at my personal paradise, Rock Spa. It’s the largest spa in the Caribbean, with 75 treatment rooms. I enjoyed a hydrotherapy session, which featured steam rooms, hydrotherapy current pools, lavish surroundings and even a personal spa butler to bring you straight to heaven. The highlight of this spa indulgence was experiencing the rhythm and motion rock spa massage – synchronicity. The massage therapist utilized greatest hits from yesterday and today for this treatment, which taps into memories to create an experiential journey, synchronized with a performance of techniques, pressure and rhythm. The massage is infused with a choice of natural organic essential oils to reduce stress, ease muscle tension, and detoxify. Each treatment connects the healing power of music with the artistry of massage therapy.
A testament to Hard Rock’s standing as a global institution of rock culture, we learned that Hard Rock was more than a vacation spot, but truly a piece of heaven, a lifestyle that anyone could get used to…This is Hard Rock!