This review has been requested by SO many of you, so my apologies for being a little delayed! I like to write these reviews when I’m just off my trip, but with our new house closing just DAYS after we returned, we’ve been in full renovation mode the last month! I had so many of you reach out and say you’ve either already booked a trip to UNICO 20°87° or were now thinking about it, so I’m here to share my full (non-sponsored) review of the resort! As I mentioned in my Baha Mar review last spring, Raj and I always take a big tropical trip around February/March of each year — and Raj is in charge of planning! We decided to do our trip a little early this year (just knowing we would be insanely busy with the new house in the spring), so we jetted off with some of our friends for New Year’s Eve to sunny Mexico! We stayed at Valentin Imperial for half the week and when our friends left to return to work, we stayed behind, moved resorts, and waited on pins and needles to hear if our house was closing! Raj ended up choosing UNICO 20°87° after seeing it as a “deal of the day” on Hotel Tonight and booked an additional 4 nights there… BEST MOVE EVER!
UNICO 20°87° is located in Riviera Maya (located between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum) on the eastern side of Mexico, about an hour drive from the Cancun International Airport. It’s located directly on the beach, all-inclusive and adults only! It features about 450 rooms (some with a swim-up or ocean view option) and the resort is part of the Leading Hotels of the World program — so that should tell you a lot! It’s a really nice blend of traditional and modern Mexico and I love the resort’s focus on wellness, sustainability and local culture while also maintaining a feel of luxury.
Rooms — We upgraded to the Ocean View room and asked for the building closest to the ocean (that overlooked the wedding gazebo). It included a gorgeous canopy king sized bed, a terrace with lounging area (and a spa tub that overlooked the ocean), high speed wifi, a beautiful double sink bathroom (with standing shower) with sliding shutters so you could open them and see the ocean from your bathroom! I totally took advantage and opened the shutters when I was getting ready — nothing like that gorgeous turquoise ocean water as a background for some vacation makeup tutorials! I loved the neutral decor — lots of driftwood touches, local artwork, and lots of natural light. It was hands down, one of our favorite rooms to stay in EVER.
Pools — There are 3 pools in total on the property: the main pool (which gets a little lively during the day with music and activities), a quiet pool, and the spa pool. The first two pools include food and drink service so it’s the perfect spot to park and chill for the entire day!
Beach — It’s a beach front property so you can walk along two gorgeous bamboo bridges to get to the sand, however, the beach is pretty small and when high-tide comes in, there isn’t much room. There was also a ton of seaweed when we were there — something not exclusive to just this property, it was everywhere! While I’m typically more of a beach girl than a pool girl, we opted for the pool for the entire trip (at both resorts) to avoid the crowds and seaweed smell. I’m still craving some salt water!
Food/Drinks — This is what made UNICO 20°87° shine in my opinion. This was BY FAR the best food I’ve ever had at an all-inclusive resort. Not only taste-wise, but selection-wise as well. I’m normally a healthy eater, so living on chips and salsa and fried food on vacation takes a major toll on me after a few days. Don’t get me wrong, I love to splurge and indulge on vacation — but after a day or two, I crave GREENS and freshness. Plus, since I’m not a huge meat eater and try to avoid dairy at all costs, my options are usually very limited. My husband and I also LOVE eating local cuisine and trying new flavors and dishes. The food service and menus are managed by some really incredible chefs (including one from Top Chef Mexico). The food was so fresh and unique and there was such a wide variety including Mexican, Italian and Japanese. There are 4 main restaurants for dinner (we got to try all 4) as well as 24-hour room service with an extended menu. For breakfast, there is a buffet option with indoor/outdoor seating, and a smaller grab-and-go café for specialty coffees and teas and quick dishes like avocado toast. We actually ended up ordering room service each morning for coffee, green juice and fruit and were able to eat outside on our balcony. For lunch, we would share a few plates from the food stands around the pool (made to order tacos and brick oven pizzas), or eat outside on the deck of the buffet restaurant where you could order fresh sushi as well. I was in HEAVEN. My husband on the other hand is the drink snob. He loves a good margarita (who doesn’t in Mexico) and loves them made with fresh ingredients (and not the sugary mixes). They made some of the best drinks EVER and had an amazing wine selection for nighttime — no wine upgrades needed! Just for the food alone… I would go back!
Spa — We decided to treat ourselves to the spa one afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to learn that a lot of the services are extremely discounted. We both ended up booking the ‘Esencia Signature Massage’ — one of their speciality services where you have TWO massage therapists working on you at the same time. It was so relaxing and they seriously worked all of the tension and toxins out of my body — I felt like a new person leaving. The spa is also gorgeous — moroccan tile lined pool, fun wicker swing chairs, and a really nice hydrotherapy station. We ended up spending the entire afternoon hanging and were in no rush to leave. The resort gym is also in the spa and was state of the art! They offer fitness classes throughout the day.
Activities — I would definitely categorize this hotel on the quiet side… absolutely not a bad thing. There was plenty to do, but they kept it low key. No noisy music and people yelling into the microphones by the pool, no craziness. There were some water sports in the main pool and a few activities around the main pool including painting and a caricature artist — we of course got one! There were also classes you could sign up for including cooking, mixology and some art/wine classes! We ended up doing a quick ceviche cooking class one afternoon before dinner and it was DELICIOUS!
Service — Again, another place where UNICO shined. The staff was absolutely incredible, everyone from check-in, to bartenders and waiters, to our host, went above and beyond to make our stay enjoyable! Everyone was so friendly, so helpful and made us feel so welcome! No request seemed annoying and they all seemed so happy to be working there!
A FEW THOUGHTS + TRAVEL TIPS/TRICKS
Upgrade to the Ocean View room type. If it’s in your budget, UPGRADE. It puts you in the back of the property. All of the rooms throughout the property have a balcony or swim out, but most are right in the action and offer ZERO privacy. We booked the normal room type and upgraded once we were there for a small fee each day. Totally worth it to be in a more private section with unobstructed views of the ocean. We also had a tub on our balcony and it would NOT have been in use if it was next to the walkway where other people could walk by!
Download the UNICO 20°87° app. I’ve never been to a resort where you could do EVERYTHING on an app before, it was so cool, so efficient, and made everything easy! Although our room type came with a “host” (or personal butler), we ended up booking most activities and restaurant reservations right through the app. It was also so nice to be able to look at the app for a schedule, see restaurant menus, see a map of the property, order room service, request housekeeping or turndown service, and even put your room on do not disturb! ALL THROUGH THE APP!
Book dinner reservations ahead of time. If you’re pretty set in your ways on when you like to eat dinner, I’d suggest downloading the app and booking your dinner reservations ahead of time. We’re usually pretty flexible and tend to eat on the later side, so eating at 8:30/9pm isn’t that late for us. If you like prime time dining — you’ll be in a little hot water! Since you can book ahead on the app, you’ll be in much better shape with plenty of time options and can get ahead of the crowds!
Head down to dinner early. We were surprised to see a lot of live music happening each night and always started off our nights listening to the bands with a glass of wine!
Make friends with the locals. Being away from animals is a huge problem for me when I’m on vacation. Luckily, there were a few resident cats that would come out at night for a visit. We made friends with one cutie pie the first night and he came looking for us every single night after like clockwork! We at first felt bad for him (DOES HE NOT HAVE A FAMILY) but quickly realized this cat is LIVING THE LIFE. He would hop couple to couple, acting like a stand-in, begging for belly rubs — and people were eating up every second while silently missing their pets at home!
Take advantage of the off-resort tours. We weren’t able to do this in our limited time we were there, but if we had an extra day or two, we totally would have! We were still in the process of closing on our house so we needed to be by wifi and a laptop for all those extra things the mortgage lenders request before closing (and we didn’t want to cause any further delays). The resort offers tours for area attractions at a fraction of what you would normally pay that they can book directly for you — transportation and all. We would have loved to explore Tulum (about 20 mins away) and go swimming in the famous Cenote located nearby! The prices on these tours were almost too good to pass up!
I hope this answered a lot of your questions! If you missed my outfit roundup where I list out everything I wore on our trip to Mexico, make sure to check it out HERE! You can also find some recent tropical reviews for Baha Mar in The Bahamas and Royalton in Negril, Jamaica — all from the last year!