Pedestrian -only shopping streets are becoming a feature in most cities around the world and Playa del Carmen’s Avenida Quinta (Fifth Avenue) is one of the hottest.
‘Playa’ is the center of Mexico’s famous Mayan Riviera and where the Thompson line of hotels has opened their latest, an amphitheater-shaped building with upscale shops downstairs and a luxury, five-star hotel on the top levels. It joins the other prestigious hotels in the group that includes locations in London, Toronto, Chicago, Miami Beach, Los Cabos, Los Angeles, Seattle, Nashville and now Playa.
This new, premier location takes advantage of a sun-filled destination by taking luxury and nightlife up a notch. With 360 degree views from sea to city, the rooftop is truly the pinnacle of Playa. The infinity pool, the private lounge areas tucked into niches created to give the feeling of intimacy, as well as the extensive lounge areas around the pool, provide the exciting space between the bar and breakfast and lunch area and the nighttime area of Catch, the restaurant that is as much a feature of the hotel as any of the others, providing a dining experience that is filled with energy and a “happening” atmosphere.
Catch not only serves an amazing array of delectable, carefully chosen and prepared and the best of fresh seafood, but an experience unto itself. It, too, has an outstanding reputation originating in New York and now expanding to Los Angeles and Dubai as well as Playa del Carmen. It’s the perfect complement to the luxurious atmosphere of the Thompson Hotel, making it one of the top destinations in Playa. The open kitchen and sushi bar as well as the restaurant’s signature shareable style of dining provides the relaxed, but upscale presentation of globally influenced but locally sourced seafood.
Dinner there was the highlight of our visit. Since we left the ordering to Executive Chef, Pedro Abascal, we didn’t have to tax our brain with decisions. But, with each course, maybe seven of several plates each, they changed all the silverware and plates, just as I do at home (right). A light, white wine Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand was the perfect accompaniment. And a special chocolate creation along with coffee finished it off.
Thompson Hotel is located just a block from the beach, but fronting onto the famed Avenida Quinta, so daytime activities as well as nighttime are readily available. This bustling, buzzing walking street seems to extend another few blocks each time we visit and provides lots of opportunity not only for a comeback of walking as an activity, but walking as a form of entertainment. Both sides of the Avenida are lined with restaurants, bars and shops featuring a wide array of clothing and jewelry, from classy and expensive to fun and ethnic. Needless to say, the options for dining cover an equally expansive array of choices from ethnic to steak houses, to a variety of Italian restaurants. Café Selene feels like a little bit of Paris and Ah Cacao has a couple of locations just in case you miss one. Both serve scrumptious, flakey croissants to go with delectable coffee or chocolate drinks. And Yaxche Restaurant serves authentic Yucatecan cuisine in a lovely atmosphere.
One of the things to know about this area is the feeling of friendliness wherever you go. I was, and still am, impressed with all the taxis that stopped for the many pedestrians at street crossings, often acknowledging you with a friendly wave. But if the beach is part of your motivation for being in Playa, there may be others as beautiful, but I’m not sure than any of them could surpass the powdery white sand and the vibrant colors of the Caribbean. There are lots of water sports as well as boat tours available as well as fabulous swimming in the warm water. And, if you’re spending some time there, there are many nearby destinations for day trips and memorable adventures. Last, but certainly not least, is the proximity to the Cancun airport, making this destination not only an exciting one but one that is readably accessible from just about anywhere. Whether you’re on an extended family vacation or just getting away for an extended weekend, the new Thompson Hotel in Playa del Carmen offers it all. And, as a bonus, guests there are welcome to use the facilities of their sister hotel called the Beach House, just a block and a half away and located, but of course, directly on the beach. The locations are a little different, but the beautifully decorated and spacious accommodations offer the same feeling of luxury in a boutique setting.
Thompson Hotel and Catch, all in all, was another one of those experiences that pepper the lives of intrepid travelers such as ourselves—certainly reason to keep traveling.