by Annika Harris
Traveling in order to sample a particular cuisine is nothing new, but an all-inclusive resort offering an exclusive gastronomic experience that not only tickles the taste buds, but also engages the four other senses is new.
With its The Pyramid at Grand Oasis, Grand Oasis Cancun, and Grand Oasis Sens, Oasis Hotels & Resorts is changing impressions of Cancun, Mexico and all-inclusive resorts, in general. Gone are the all-night binges of cheap well liquor we tortured ourselves with in our youth, and the cheeseburgers and fries that soaked up the liquor while we recovered on the beach. Instead, the aforementioned all-inclusive resorts offer unrivaled culinary and mixology experiences at many of the dozens of restaurants and bars on the properties.
Since 2013 when it made its debut, Benazuza Restaurant at the Grand Oasis Sens has been elevating Cancun’s culinary scene, thanks to Executive Chef Ignacio del Rio and his team. Recently, Benazuza became the first restaurant in Cancun to receive a AAA Four Diamond Rating since 2014. The mission of this restaurant is to take diners on a sensory experience in which “science meets haute cuisine.” This once-in-a-lifetime food journey begins with a series of inventive cocktails at the bar. It’s truly a good surprise to be presented with foam mezcal, a mojito “shot” that consists of tiny gelatin squares atop a lime half, and a piña colada frozen with dry ice into the perfect-sized “shot.” It’s a wonder how the mixologists at Benazuza are able to keep the cocktails potent and inventive while also adding in showmanship — but then again, science.
A diner’s got to eat though, right? Benazuza’s unique menu features modern cuisine with Mexican influences. Each of the more than 20 courses is on the “molecular level,” meaning small bites. Guests are encouraged and given the time to truly degust each and every pure and refined flavor. Benazuza’s delicious culinary hits, surprisingly, include grasshopper toast and ant eggs mixed with avocado. Diners will have no trouble abandoning the habit of making mundane small talk while dining, and will instead let the evening’s protagonist — the food — take center stage.
Speaking of center stage, The Pyramid at Grand Oasis and Grand Oasis Cancun’s Red Circus dinner theater is truly a visual orgasm. Housed within the center of The Pyramid building, Red Circus takes advantage of the open-air atrium featuring rainforest flora to create an otherworldly vibe during the show. Plus, the dancers, contortionists, clowns, and mimes in brightly-colored costumes periodically break the fourth wall to engage with the diners.
Although all three resorts are located in Cancun, it’s best to book The Pyramid at Grand Oasis. For one, Grand Oasis Sens is 21 and over and focuses on romance, which might not be the best atmosphere for an all-girls or -guys trip. Second, guests of The Pyramid, which is located on the Grand Oasis Cancun resort complex, have access to six exclusive restaurants and five exclusive bars, like the Sian Ka’An beach club, that aren’t included in the Grand Oasis Cancun program. Since The Pyramid is located within Grand Oasis Cancun, guests have complete access to the best this entertainment hub has to offer, like Red Casino and Kinky Night Club, which offers a nightly burlesque display. Plus, the spa is a welcomed retreat when the partying lasts too long.
Tip: If you enjoy quiet while in your room but want access to all the resort complex’s features, book The Pyramid at Grand Oasis as your all-inclusive tier, but ask for a room in the Grand Plus beachfront building, so the Caribbean Sea can lull you to sleep at night and greet you in the morning.
From the gastronomy and mixology of Benazuza to the high-energy dinner theater of Red Circus to the elegant Mexican-minimalistic rooms, Grand Oasis Sens, The Pyramid at Grand Oasis, and Grand Oasis Cancun have changed the all-inclusive game in the Mexican vacation hotspot and have elevated expectations past cheap liquor and warm-weather antics.