After two and a half decades as a señorita, I'll never forget being greeted as Señora Sundquist when my husband Josh and I arrived at our honeymoon destination. We spent seven nights at Zöetry Paraiso de la Bonita, an all-inclusive boutique AAA Four Diamond Resort in Riviera Maya near Quintana Roo. It was extremely convenient to get to from Washington, D.C. and the flight was just 2.5 hours, Zöetry provided free airport transportation from Cancun and the resort was just a 20 minute drive after we got picked up. We booked the "Endless Privileges"option which means that we had an all-inclusive experience from start to finish. It was the most perfect place to spend our first week as husband and wife!
Even though I knew we were just 20 minutes from the party capital of Mexico, I felt like we were in the heart of a remote jungle. For months before our luna de miel, Josh and I salivated every time we visited their website and on those East Coast winter nights, nothing looked better than the promise of gourmet Mexican cuisine and a private hammock with an ocean view.
Starting our new life together at Zöetry was an amazing experience
The best thing about Zöetry is its kind and dedicated staff. It felt more like I was spending time at a distant relative's insanely awesome compound than staying at a resort. There are so many examples of exemplary customer service. Omar at La Canoa took amazing pictures for us to capture our unforgettable Chef's Table Tasting in the kitchen. Edgar and Jesus from La Canoa always greeted us by name and with a huge smile. Caesar greeted us every morning with a sincere and boisterous, "Sundquists in the house!" Manny always created specialty non-alcoholic cocktails for me (i.e. a blended coffee smoothie, a red berry "martini" and a "melon martini"), because he remembered that I don't drink alcohol. Armando led a spectacular cabernet sauvignon tasting in the Wine Cellar. Humberto and Horacio serenaded us at La Canoa and even worked my name into a few of their songs. Chef Daniel and his team curated an exquisite Chef's Table Tasting, which flowed over three hours and nine courses. You'll certainly catch a glimpse of Marcos, the mysteriously charming man who cares for and whistles to the grounds' birds. Luis led us in a group Temazcal Ceremony, which was deeply authentic to his culture and clearly from the heart. We still talk about those special people we met.
All of the foods were eaten by me at Zöetry Paraiso de la Bonita.
Spending seven nights at Zöetry felt like we had fallen into a Mexican wonderland. My favorite experiences were a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour, traditional Mayan sweat lodge, and a private cooking lesson with Pastry Chef Nicholas.
Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita's culture of homespun hospitality is unmatched.
We'd lounge and nap by the pool between activities and there was always something to eat. One afternoon by the pool, Chef Jose (pictured below right) asked if I wanted a platter of fresh paella with guacamole. Um, yes. And can we stay here forever?
Another fun activity was attending the daily wine, tequila and cocktail tasting events in the Library Bar. I don't even DRINK, people and I found myself behind the bar shaking up concoctions for Josh and learning about the subtle differences between Mexican mezcal and tequila. We also overheard a few other couples saying "They would never let Merlot into their house" so I guess we also learned that some people really, really don't like Merlot. More like Mer-no (hehe this is one of our favorite jokes now).
Some of the most special experiences we had were just walking hand in hand around the resort at night. After a long, delicious meal we would just walk around and feel all blissed out and grateful. Grateful for the light of the moon, the beautiful lanterns that lit our path, even The Birdman who cared for the beautiful Macaws. Lots of singing, lots of giggling. We got squishy romantic and at one point, Josh even fed me cheese.
I'm recalling these memories almost 2 years into our married life. Sharing these stories and looking through the pictures documenting the earliest days of our marriage warms my insides as much as it did when I returned to work on Monday and recapped our honeymoon for my office solemate, Chelsea.
Our honeymoon was laced with hopeful expectation, a shared sense of adventure and a deep love that continues to grow (sorry if you're grossed out, you probably won't want to read my bloggular anymore).
And guacamole. Lots of guacamole.
Love, love, nothing but love, Ashley