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Bringin’ Mexy back — new hotels lure cabin-fevered Yanks

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TRAVELHotel Xcaret Arte Credit: Hotel Xcaret Arte

Not sure if you got the memo or not, but modern-day shamans are smoke shows — both literally and figuratively.

After arriving at the new 324-room Conrad Punta de Mita on Mexico’s far-out Riviera Nayarit Pacific coast my crew and I were swept away by a drop-dead duo — Jessica Alba and Rambo lookalikes — for a 90-minute temazcal sweat lodge ritual — where molten-hot rocks are doused with water and herbs to create a thick steam cloud. (Good luck detoxing our group, but “A” for effort.)

The Conrad, the sole flag-flyer of Hilton’s up-market brand in Latin America, opened last September inside the gated community of Litibu (access to its private golf course included). Vibe-wise, the concept was simple: OD on nature … and indoor/outdoor spa excess.

The massive fun-tress is arranged in a semi-circular ring — opening to the beach — of nine, four-storied “casa” complexes, housing guest rooms and suites (from $379.).

They’re all connected by a well-marked labyrinth of narrow pathways surrounded by near-jungles of bushes and palm trees, slyly hiding a come-for-the-pizza, stay-for-the-nachos outdoor restaurant, three pools (one waterslide-equipped) and a Jacuzzi within its inner core.

For those looking to hop the walls, the hotel powwows with a local horse operator, Vista Paraiso, for a sunset (and saddled cocktail hour-on-the-go) ride down the beach. Or they’ll arrange for a taxi to hitch you out to the little souvenir-infested surf village that could, Sayulita, just 20 minutes away. It’s where messes (that’s a taxonomy thing) of iguanas hang out in a single tree in the center of town.

But the Conrad isn’t the country’s only new luxury offering. Mexico, which has remained open to American travelers, tested or untested (natch, you’ll need one to return), has seen a bevy of new must-stay hotel openings — all offering on-site rapid COVID tests (some free, some a smidge extra).  

The pool area at Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
Thrill of the chaise: There’s a reserve here at Zadún somewhere — you’ll find it soon enough.
Zadún Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Heading northwest, across the Gulf of California, toward the bottom of the Baja California Peninsula, Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in San José del Cabo has reopened.

Ok, so it’s not new new.

The 20-acre 115-room/suite/villa eco-luxe resort originally welcomed guests in November, 2019, but it immediately closed due to COVID. But like many other resorts they used to down time to spruce things up.

Now the 30,000-square-foot spa-sporting Ritz-Carlton boasts 27 breathtaking single-family West Enclave Residences that surround the reserve — as in homes to buy. But it you have commitment issues, nightly rates back at the good ol’ new-ish zesty Zadún resort still start at $975 a night.

A woman about to bathe at Paradero Todos Santos.
Bathe in the fact that Paradero Todos Santos prioritizes nature over development.
Aleph Alighieri

An hour north of the other Cabo twin — San Lucas — the 35-suite Paradero Todos Santos has big luxury-soft-adventure energy; the first in Mexico to fit such a genre. It debuted in the surfer/adventurer town back in February.

Developed by two entrepreneurs and “overseen” by the same landscapers who handled Mexico’s Google and Twitter offices, the place is a bit of an odd duck in a glorious sort of way.

Set in a family farming community, it’s 80 percent landscape, 20 percent construction. Perk quirks include a 100,000-square-foot botanical garden, artisanally made local furniture, suspended illuminating “star nets” and a subterranean spa (from $550).

Switching shores to the (famed, or infamous, YMMV) East Coaster favorite of Cancun, you might spy “grand opening” signage for the Planet this or the Residence that. Go ahead and skrrrt right on past ’em and hit the brakes at the newborn 45-room SLS, where if you thought “Cancun luxury” was an oxymoron, you’ve got another thing coming.

Opened in February, the fanciest pants in town has interiors by Piero Lissoni, a Vegas-style beach club scene, Japanese-Argentinian fusion bites under a wavy canopy (and we don’t mean corrugated metal) and its world-famous Ciel Spa, where sighs matter. Oh, and not one of its walls faces the sea (from $370).

OK, enough, you’ve hit your Cancun quota. Now quick, make your getaway south to the Riviera Maya before you befriend any more drunken FSU students.

It’s easy to come home from vacation with a bigger belly, but a bigger right brain? Opening in July, Hotel Xcaret Arte — operative word being arte — will allow for just that, offering five different onsite artistic workshops: weaving, pottery, painting, dance and vegan cuisine.

Should your brush strike brilliance, your work could end up on the walls of Hotel Xcaret Arte.

Hotel Xcaret Arte

TRAVELHotel Xcaret Arte Credit: Hotel Xcaret Arte

Impromptu destination wedding bug bite? There’s an ecumenical church on site for that.

Hotel Xcaret Arte

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A tad on the gordo side at 900 suites, the all-inclusive resort fittingly has nine restaurants. You can darn well swim 12 miles from its pretty beach due east to Cozumel — just don’t, especially if you’re fresh off one of these “gastronomic experiences” (from $533).

Also in the nabe, we have two suggestions for staying at Karisma’s Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya, opening in June. No. 1: Bring kids, it might be misinterpreted if you don’t. And second: actually enjoy hanging out with them. Or creatures like them. Because this, for all intents and purposes, will be a live-in amusement park with 280 suites (some of which are swim-up) in all their fluorescent orange-and-green lunacy.

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed room.
Find teenage mutants of both cosplaying turtles and guests alike at Nickelodeon Riviera Maya.
Karisma Hotels & Resorts

Enjoy a 6-acre water park with 2,000 square feet of slides and a staff of several cosplaying Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Sponge Bob characters running about. However, the grown-ups aren’t forgotten in the fray: An army of mixologists and sommeliers command three bars onsite (Bikini Bottom, e.g.) for you fellow sots. Not sure if the Mayan gods play by the same rules at Nickelodeon, but maybe avoid saying “I don’t know”/”no sé” to avoid being slimed (from $453).  

The rooftop lounge at Aloft Tulum.
Mex to the max: Even in Tulum, it wouldn’t be an Aloft hotel without a rooftop lounge.
Luxhunters

From riviera to ruins — and so less depressing than it sounds — we go to Tulum. Leave it to those clever, design hipsters at Aloft Hotels to up-style the place with a stylish new 140-room offering, just opened in February. The “boho-chic” Aloft Tulum squats on a nature preserve and boasts a rooftop lounge, an infinity pool overlooking the site’s famed Mayan ruins and cutesy teepees for kids. Views are as sublimely beachy as they are historic (from $102). 

But back at the cozy Conrad, after I — sleep devoid, mezcal enjoyed — accidentally fell into a plunge pool right outside its open-air lobby, both injury and care free, I finally fully grasped the meaning of bringin’ Mexy back.


The author was a guest of the Conrad Punta de Mita.

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Millennials can now afford homeownership, causing a shortage

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Millennials can now afford homeownership, causing a shortage

So close, and yet so far. 

As various factors finally make homeownership attainable for frequently maligned millennials, a new hurdle has appeared: Not enough houses to go around. 

According to recent findings by investment bank Jefferies, younger millennials between ages 25 and 29 are increasingly buying their first pads, and 30- to 34-year-olds are doing so at even higher rates, Insider reported. 

The only problem is there aren’t enough starter homes available, an issue that’s existed since before the coronavirus pandemic and is a result of profit-seeking real-estate investors buying the pads, increasingly expensive construction costs and more restrictive zoning rules. 

Despite being much less economically well-off than previous generations were at their age, millennials in fact led home-buying in 2020, significantly motivated by the pandemic. According to an Apartment List’s Homeownership report, 40 percent of the age group now own homes, while a Clever Real Estate survey notes that 30 percent started house-hunting earlier than planned due to COVID-19. 

But unless contractors can somehow quickly construct 2.5 million homes — the amount America is short on, according to Jefferies — in the next year, millennials may be left holding yet another form of unfortunate financial cards. 

In another recent real estate boom significantly inspired by the pandemic, sales of homes built more than 100 years ago rose by 16 percent in 2020 in the tri-state area compared to last year, with a median sale price of $236,000, The Post reported earlier this month. 

Not booming during that same period, however, were New York City pads, which saw a 6 percent overall sales decline. That trend has a few notable exceptions, however, including Brooklyn townhouses — for which demand is relatively sky-high.

“I have seen more demand for brownstones, too, especially in Brooklyn, where the market seems to be on fire. There is more demand for properties with outdoor space, and bigger apartments where buyers can carve out home office space as well,” Melissa Cohn, an executive mortgage banker at William Raveis Mortgage, told The Post this month.

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Scientific American joins trend, will call climate change ‘climate emergency’

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Scientific American joins trend, will call climate change ‘climate emergency’

Scientific American has joined the growing list of news outlets who are upgrading the term climate change to a “climate emergency.” In its warning, SA compares climate change to someone losing their breath and being rushed to the hospital in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The planet is heating up way too fast. It’s time for journalism to recognize that the climate emergency is here,” SA writes in their statement on Tuesday.

The statement, co-authored by Columbia Journalism Review, the Nation, the Guardian, Noticias Telemundo, Al Jazeera, Asahi Shimbun and La Repubblica, insists that the word “emergency” best describes the current predicament.

“Why ’emergency’? Because words matter. To preserve a livable planet, humanity must take action immediately. Failure to slash the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will make the extraordinary heat, storms, wildfires and ice melt of 2020 routine and could ‘render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable,’” warned the January Scientific American article.

The groups insist their take is based on science, not politics. But skeptics observe that the climate terms just appear to be changing with the wind.

Climate change is also being blamed by outlets like MSNBC for the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to anchor Ayman Mohyeldin, climate change is urging migrants to make their way into the U.S. because natural disasters are “making the farmland and agricultural base … that much harder to sustain the economic needs of a country that has 17 million people.” 

President Biden has signed several climate change executive orders and promised aggressive spending on that front during his campaign. Conservative concerns over Biden’s approach were compounded with his nomination of Deb Baaland for interior secretary, due to her sponsorship of the far-left Green New Deal and endorsement of a fracking ban.

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Fireball captured passing ‘exceptionally close’ to Earth

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Fireball captured passing ‘exceptionally close’ to Earth

Well, that was too close for comfort. 

A fireball that streaked across the sky Monday was so close to Earth that the American Meteor Society received 259 reports and nine videos of its celestial sprint. In Grand Bahama, residents didn’t only see it, but heard a sonic boom, the Guardian reported. 

CBS12 reporter Jay O’Brien was recording a Facebook live story for the local news outlet when he saw it race through the heavens and seemingly disappear into a blaze of blue.

“WOAH! Big flash and streak across sky in West Palm Beach. Happened moments ago while we were on Facebook Live,” he tweeted. “Working to figure out what it was.” 

NASA astronomer Bill Cooke told the Palm Beach Post, it was a nearly 900-pound asteroid fragment entering Earth’s atmosphere at 38,000 mph and disintegrating 23 miles above the Atlantic. In the process of breaking apart, Cooke said, the meteor generated the energy equivalent of 14 tons of TNT. 

“These things just come at random,” Cooke added. “The atmosphere will break apart anything smaller than a football field.” 

Meteor experts refer to Monday’s fireball — which was documented by countless dashcams and doorbell cameras — as a “bolide,” referring to the fact that it explodes upon entry to Earth’s atmosphere. Gianluca Masi, of VirtualTelescope.eu, told the publication it passed 12,430 miles from Earth’s surface, which is considered “exceptionally close.” 

“This is a special type of fireball that ends with a large burst of light and often a boom sound,” Mike Hankey, American Meteor Society operations manager, told the Palm Beach Post.  

This particular one was actually quite small — about 2 feet in diameter — meaning it technically does not qualify as an asteroid, but rather only an asteroid fragment, or meteoroid.

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