Where Did The Mayan Palace Go?

It’s still in San Jose, it’s just under cover
BY: ANNA GRAHAM

The timeshare resort formerly called the Mayan Palace, (unofficially the Cryin’ Palace), is now re-branded as Vidanta. It’s still a timeshare resort, but its restaurants are open to the public and they would like our precious readers to know that.

Vidanta is a Mexican conglomerate involved in the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of hotels, resorts and associated infrastructure and was founded by Daniel Chavez. in 1974. As of 2015, the company employs 15,000 people and has an annual revenue of more than US $750 million. It’s all operated as Vida Vacations, founded in 2010 and formerly known as Grupo Mayan. Resort brands of the company include The Grand Luxxe, The Grand Bliss, The Grand Mayan, The Bliss, Mayan Palace and Sea Garden. These all denote different grades of accommodations carrying different price tags going in descending order from Luxxe down.

But now the Mayan Palace on hotel row in San Jose is called Vidanta to differentiate it from the Mayan Luxxe under construction waaaaay out on the East Cape. It’s taken them several years just to blaze a road to the location. But they’re selling them now. Which brings us to the story behind the nick name of Cryin’ Palace that refers to the Mayan Palace. The Mayan timeshare salespeople are so aggressive that if you don’t buy, you are going to come out of the all day presentation crying. Well, that’s the story. We are told that if you go to one of these restaurants on the property, you will not be approached by timeshare hucksters, double pinkie promise. But who knows? Nobody came near this reporter, but everyone knows I’m a reporter. Heck, my pretty face is so well known, I’m not even approached by the timeshare snaggers at the airport anymore. I wish you the same good fortune, and hope you take a look at this property, because it’s beautiful.

Hakkasan partners own three of the restaurants and the beach club. Hakkasan’s founder is a Brit but the financing now comes from Abu Dhabi. There are Hakkasan, (which means happiness), owned restaurants and night clubs all over the world and based on their trajectory, are projected to take in a billion dollars annually within the next two years. They are very, very high end. As are these restaurants.

The property was decimated in hurricane Odile. The grounds were destroyed, and most of the rooms were simply blown away, right down to missing toilets. (Flying toilets?) All that was left was the concrete walls. But today the grounds are amazing and the rooms are nice. What can you do with a room? Not as much as well imagined and well cared for grounds. After a certain point of lux, there is only so much you can do with a room. What seems to get nicer over the years as each resort tries to one up the next, and with so many new resorts coming on line, is the grounds. Vidanta doesn’t disappoint. The outside that faces the street is disappointing, looking with its fake front like a dated building trying to hide its age, and the lobby is pretty so-so.

But the grounds are premium. Walkways are surrounded by shallow pools, and two of the restaurants fronting them are nicely designed. It’s actually one restaurant, Herringbone’s, and one bar, the Shore bar. The Shore is kind of neat, with a kind of a Tiki theme. Inside there is a VW bus used as a taco stand, painted by someone who apparently is unfamiliar with the cool old surfer wagons. Or maybe doesn’t care about their lineage. The Shore offers drinks, snacks, and a few teenager games. Sometimes there is a cigar roller, well, rolling.

Herringbone’s is an averagely nice upscale restaurant with a nice view. No ocean view, but the shallow pool in front is very nice.

Then there is Casa Calavera, a casual Mexican restaurant on the ocean. It celebrates the Día de los Muertos, which is described as a “Mexican celebration of life” which is odd since the holiday is all about death. The décor here is modern Mexican, with an emphasis on skeleton heads. (Calaveras).

Last on our tour was the Omina day club. This is a not huge swimming pool surrounded by lounges and cabanas, some cabanas two story. It is on the ocean but it’s doubtful any of these day clubbers notice. The atmosphere is frat party up to maybe early 30’s. The DJ music is deafening to anybody over 30. (As the saying goes, if it’s too loud, you’re too old).  The cost to enter for the day starts at about $20 but for that you will be on a lounge almost out in the parking lot. Also, if a big name DJ is on hand, the price will go up. Drinks are ruinously expensive and you wonder where the young people get this money. Our bet is they save up all week and then only order one drink. Weekends it is very popular with young educated Mexican hard bodies. There is heavy duty security and a pat-down for God knows what before you can enter.

Vidanta is nice, as are their restaurants, just be aware they are very high end, and bring your platinum credit card.