For tennis aficionados with luxury tastes, the new Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre in Costa Mujeres, Mexico, and the two adjacent Palladium hotels just might be the ultimate destination.
The hotels and tennis center held a grand opening ceremony in February, with Nadal, winner of 17 Grand Slam singles titles, on hand for the festivities. After giving a press conference with Palladium Hotel Group CEO Abel Matutes Prats, Nadal took the court to rally with some event attendees, who eagerly lined up to say they'd been able to hit with the "King of Clay." As one of those fortunate enough to participate, I found it hard to believe the man across the net from me was one of the sport's all-time greats, and I concentrated on making sure I just got the ball back.
Located 20 minutes north of Cancun, the tennis center was built in conjunction with the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa and the adults-only TRS Coral Hotel. I stayed at the TRS Coral property, which is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World collection and features 469 suites in three types: junior suites, swim-up suites and two-story loft suites.
I was treated to an all-inclusive package that included butler service, top-shelf liquor in the room and at every hotel bar and access to the hydrotherapy areas of the Zentropia Spa and Wellness Center. I stayed in a junior suite, which featured a balcony overlooking the main pool area (great for people-watching), a king bed and comfy sitting area and a rainfall shower and hydromassage bath.
TRS Coral guests also have access to an array of restaurants and bars at the Grand Palladium property. While the two hotels are contiguous and both belong to the Palladium Hotel Group, they have separate check-in areas, and the TRS Coral offers special amenities, such as butlers and 24-hour room service. Both hotels have access to the village area, home to a number of a la carte restaurants as well as a 24-hour sports bar, conference center, amphitheater and a chapel.
Unique design features can be found throughout the properties, such as living walls several stories high and a canal connecting the hotels and the village. (Guests can take a water taxi from one area to another.)
In addition, guests at both hotels have access to the tennis center, where they can reserve complimentary court time or participate in classes and clinics conducted by the resident tennis pros.
The facility, which consists of eight clay tennis courts, a soccer field and a paddle tennis court, is Nadal's first tennis center outside of his native Mallorca. At the inauguration, Nadal spoke of the importance of working in conjunction with someone he trusted — fellow Spaniard Matutes Prats — in opening his first facility outside of Spain.
Taking a spa day
During my stay, I had plenty of opportunities to try a variety of restaurants and bars, catching dinner and a highly entertaining show at the Chic Cabaret & Restaurant. But perhaps the highlight of my stay (right behind hitting with Nadal) was spending a morning at the Zentropia Spa.
The two-story spa is an impressive structure in its own right, with the sheer stone walls around the hydrotherapy pool giving it a "Fortress of Solitude" feel. After a relaxing massage in one of the 20 therapy rooms, I spent several hours trying out the various options: the sauna, the steam room, the sensations showers, the hot and cold Jacuzzis and the ice room.
Covering more than 50,000 square feet, the spa never felt even remotely crowded, and it was easy to find a whirlpool or hydromassage corner of the pool all to myself. Afterward, I headed to the spa's second-story Healthy Habits bar to lounge in the infinity pool and enjoy some fresh juice and healthy snacks.
It would be easy to spend your entire vacation without ever leaving the resort, but for those looking to explore, the hotels offer a number of popular excursions, including a catamaran trip to Isla Mujeres, a snorkeling trip to Isla Contoy and daytrips to Chichen Itza or the Xcaret ecopark.
My planned snorkeling trip to Isla Mujeres was canceled due to high winds, so instead I booked a tennis lesson at the Nadal Centre, an easy 10-minute walk from the TRS Coral. Nadal wasn't around to hit that day, but the competent tennis pros led a small group of us through a series of drills, giving helpful pointers. It was easy for me to imagine spending several days working on my tennis game followed by some serious relaxation at the spa and a cocktail at the swim-up bar.
Rates at the TRS Coral start at $600 a night for a junior suite. For more information visit palladiumhotelgroup.com.