It's official: Alex de Cordoba and I tied the knot on June 5, 2011, in Los Angeles. Our wedding was absolutely blissful. The planning efforts paid off, and we were able to sit back, relax, and enjoy all of the love we experienced on the big night. After the wedding, we shacked up at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood until departing for Mexico the next morning, where I learned that taking a honeymoon immediately following the wedding is crucial. We needed the time to rehash the amazing (and hilarious) moments from our wedding and decompress from the intensity of the weeks leading up to it. In other words, we earned it.
Alex and Heather after the wedding. (Photo by Nancy Neil)
For our destination, we selected Tulum, a beautiful strip of white sand on the Yucatan Peninsula. Alex and I wanted to explore a part of Mexico we had never visited, and from what we read, it seemed like we could indulge in both relaxation and adventure. From the first moment we stepped onto the powdery sand, we knew we had made the right choice. Tulum might just be the ultimate honeymoon spot. Why? Look down.
Following a wedding, there is nothing more welcome than a few days of doing absolutely nothing. In between dips in the warm waters of the crystal clear Caribbean, we ordered margaritas, started great books, and took our first burden-free breaths in weeks. Most hotels are on the water with oceanside service; we stayed at Ana Y Jose, one of the more luxurious spots in this beach community.
Tulum is a hippie town with spa treatments and yoga classes at every turn. To get into the spirit of the place, we signed up for a Mayan clay treatment at Amansala, a popular beachside hotel. We covered each other in a soothing concoction of clay, honey, and olive oil and were led to the beach for a guided meditation. Once the clay had dried on our skin, we opened our eyes and ran into the ocean to wash it all off. In some ways, this felt like the official launch of the next chapter of our lives together.
The next day, we spent the afternoon swimming in the Grand Cenote, an underground network of caves connected by pure freshwater rivers. Visitors can snorkel or scuba dive, but we just splashed around in this romantic and mysterious natural wonder.
After days of relaxation, we woke up with the urge to explore. Upon the recommendation of the hotel concierge, we rented a car and drove about 30 minutes to Coba, where we spent the morning awestruck by the city ruins of this pre-Columbian Mayan culture. I abandoned all fear when I decided to climbed a very steep pyramid but was greeted at the top by the most amazing view of endless jungle.
Following Coba, we drove for an hour and landed in the colonial town of Valladolid. We shopped (I bought a gorgeous yellow embroidered textile) and stopped by Hotel El Meson del Marques to sample the local specialty, cochinita pibil (highly flavored slow-roasted pork). After a morning of sightseeing in 90-degree heat, an ice-cold beer was absolute perfection.
One morning, we walked to a yoga class in an open-air palapa (a thatched hut) at Uno, an eco-resort on the beach. Between the sounds of waves crashing and the hum of our inner "om," we reached a heightened state of relaxation. Post-yoga, we took a seat at the restaurant, where we happily gobbled down a wholesome breakfast of homemade bread, cheese, and preserves.
Before we left town, we made sure to visit the Perfumerie at Coqui Coqui, an intimate hotel. Feeling inspired by the tropical scents of orange blossom and coconut, I picked up two eau de parfums for myself and candles for some friends. Now that we're back in L.A., burning the coconut candle transports me to honeymoon bliss with the flick of a match.
Check back next week for more on the honeymoon (hint: it's all about the food).