Sept 2010: Mexico/Yucatan/Akumal: A visit to the Riviera Maya Beach Villas….This was not a business trip, au contraire, but any travel provides another perspective on consumers and spending. Wearing MODA’s hat (and a hat was required at all daylight hours) as licensing agency it was clear that “experience” is trumping product purchases.

One flies to Cancun airport to get to Akumal. Considering the economic times, or perhaps because of it, the airport seemed quite busy during a time that is considered ‘off season’. Ages ranged from college age to seniors…and all chose to spend their money on the travel experience.

The town of Akumal, originally a sleepy fishing village known only to scuba divers, now nestled between hotel resorts manages to keep its small town flavor. It also offers a great example of the best mobile and remote working can offer. I had great internet connection throughout my stay.

Despite the media news, I found the locations safe, with much to see and do; interacting with the Mayan people who are deservedly proud of their culinary and cultural heritage and eager to share it with visitors to this region that is now called Riviera Maya.

I have to admit I didn’t spend much time in stores (though I did purchase a most amazing handbag from Hacienda Monte Cristo’s designer). Instead I did what most others were doing and that was having “experiences” visiting Mayan ruins, snorkeling in caves called Cenotes and tasting local food at different restaurants.

The REAL experience however was the luxurious time spent at the Riviera Maya Beach Villas. Each Villa was meticulously designed and built by Udi Saly to take full advantage of the ocean views; his requisite exquisitely placed lap pools for each villa adds to the seamless integration of indoor and outdoor spaces; a perfect flow from floor to floor including a signature roof space that serves a myriad of functions from pure escape to after dinner drinks and star gazing. Each Villa offers privacy and is executed to a scale that is both generous and intimate.

The villas are decorated by Liz Conover in an elegant style that marries luxury with humor and pragmatism but make no mistake…a perfectionist’s attention to detail from colorful silk throws, exquisite use and choice of tiles, marble and wood, unexpected chandeliers setting the stage for a long soak in a Jacuzzi, comfortable furniture to the elegant bed linens and towels.

To get a glimpse of this wonderfully appointed, located, relaxing place and the luxurious time I had at Villa Zen del Mar on private Jade Beach (swimming everyday in a gorgeous lap pool, yoga every morning, one hour massages in the spa palapa adjacent to the pool and delicious nouveau Mexican cuisine prepared each evening) please go to

In addition to “experience” being a consumer driver, another observation during my short stay was meeting a growing international group of innovative, adventurous, creative types investing in real estate and living in places like Akumal, Vallodolid and Merida in the Yucatan.

Observations from this trip: consumers are seeking experiences such as travel and I strongly believe they will also gravitate towards products and retailers that are “experiential”; luxury spending is linked to travel, real estate and home décor. Mobile working is ‘working’!

Next On the Road: Interbike in Las Vegas; Brand Licensing Europe – London.

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