All hotels have roofs. Some have epic overhead artworks.
Sheltering guests across the sprawling resort property is a network of thatched palm palapas, an enormous construction of wood and palm leaves. Little changed in design from ancient times, the palm thatch absorbs tropical heat on its surface while keeping the interior cool. The open-air design permits the flow of cooling breezes.
The grassy thatch is nearly a foot thick and bundles are overlapped to make the roof impervious to rain. The palapa design has proven sufficiently sturdy to withstand hurricane-force winds.
The zapote tree has been prized for construction by the Maya since ancient times and zapote beams have been found intact in Mayan ruins. Chico zapote produces pole beams of tremendous strength and a wood that contains triterpenoids which make it resistance to termites and rot. The zapote beams in the soaring Now Sapphire ceilings were harvested and transported from the forests of Chetumal, a city which gives its name to a large bay at the border with Belize. Another tree that is used for very strong poles and braces is the chintok tree, known as ironwood in Florida. In Maya the word chintok means hard spear. It polishes to a handsome shine.
Palapas typically last for 18 years before requiring replacement and is treated annually for insects and also covered with anti-flame solution to protect against fires.
Garra Rufas nipping at your toes.
Garra Rufa fish have been flown all the way from Turkey to nibble on your feet. In streams back home, they rummage around for teeny tiny organisms, anything that will fit in their itty bitty mouths. When presented with a tasty foot, that includes flaky epidermis.
They are also called Doctor Fish because they are used in some places to treat skin disorders. At the Now Sapphire Spa (illuminated by the purple glow of sterilizing UV lights) they nip away dead skin and leave the foot smooth and almost slippery.
Some clients say they tickle. My own sensation and that of others was that it almost felt like a mild electric current. Fun!
The clever coatimundi will steal your heart and your hot dog.
If the raccoon has earned the name trash panda, then Mexico has its own monkey panda piggy puppy. It’s the coatimundi. You will meet it at Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun. The coati is a cousin to the raccoon, but is also as agile in trees as a monkey and as curious and attention-demanding as a puppy.
It uses its long flexible snout, like a pig, to move objects in search of food under forest debris or rocks. It can twist its ankles 180 degrees and run down a tree headfirst as swiftly as it can climb.
They are in perpetual motion and their action setting is stuck on fast-forward. They sniff and root and zip and zoom hunting for a bite alone or in packs. When one sees coatis in groups you can bet they’re all moms and kids. Dads take off on their lonesome after mating.
Coatis have been kept as pets by the Maya for centuries, but the wild bunch here at the resort would prefer to steal their food and dash away rather than linger for a pat on the head. It is comical to watch guests wielding smart phone cameras in vain pursuit of a zig-zagging coati, capturing little more than a series of images of blurry furry butts and tails.
Party like a hedge-fund magnate in a hidden room of treasure.
Concealed within the warren of excellent restaurants at Now Sapphire is the resort’s Wine Cellar, which is also a private dining room. Dine like a fancy-Dan in deluxe swanky ambience surrounded by hundreds of bottles of fine wines.
Quality wines of many kinds are included in the Now Unlimited Luxury experience, but for those who desire an even more enhanced experience, Now Sapphire offers special vintages of upper-crusty wines above and beyond. The classiest bottles priced upwards of a thousand dollars. An experienced sommelier will help pair the perfect wine with your menu choice.
Enjoy red-carpet camaraderie in a warmly-decorated room in which dapper waiters will quietly and efficiently come and go fetching bottles ordered by guests dining at surrounding restaurants.
As proof that Now Sapphire embraces a role as a steward of its natural environment, its green forested pathways are alive with birds. Look for the Yucatan Jay.
Tropical Kingbirds are common throughout the property.
This is a Great Kiskadee flycatcher. Seriously. He’s a kiskadee and he’s great.
Tropical Mockingbirds are a bit more svelte and slender than their northern cousins.
Now Sapphire is a member of Amigos de Sian Ka’an, an enormous biosphere natural preserve in southern Quintana Roo past Tulum.
The mainland reserve includes 23 Mayan ruins and is one of the most biologically diverse eco-tourism destinations anywhere.
The resort is Rainforest Alliance Certified, a stamp of approval for reducing its footprint on the planet. It also a good neighbor in its community, selling local handmade products in the resort shops.
Baby sea turtles! Periodically Now Sapphire participates in the release of sea turtles hatched from eggs in nests laid on the beaches here. Check with the concierge to ask if a sea turtle release is coming up.
A 5 minute ride from the resort takes you to the quirky Crococun Zoo.
The zoo takes its name from the omnipresent crocodiles that lurk in the mangroves hereabouts.
Less than a 15-minute cab ride south of the resort is the still-sleepy and charming beach town of Puerto Morelos.
An abundance of cheery restaurants and beach bars. ¡Salud!