View from Le Blanc room in Cancun

“Muchas Gracias!” I kept repeating with a big smile, and “June Boutique,” which is what “thank you” sounds like to me in the Mayan dialect near the Coban pyramid.

My four full days based in the resort mecca of Cancun, Mexico were remarkable and relaxing, and filled with pleasures big and small — from snorkeling with giant, 40–foot-long, polka-dotted fish (called whale sharks) that won’t eat you, to soaking with little, one-inch, imported fish (called Garra rufa) that will eat you, munching on your dead skin cells for the latest in organic defoliation and spa treatments.

From climbing the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan amidst lagoons to helping release just-hatched baby sea turtles, I enjoyed the huge and tiny even more because my big-name resorts had top food and spas, and paid attention to the little details that make for true pampering.

My sweet memories were forged in two varieties of hotel suite plans: First, a world-class, luxury, all-inclusive, Le Blanc Spa Resort; then, at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach, with the largest spa in Cancun and its highly-regarded “European Plan,” with the Club Plan for extra luxury.

Kudos to each for their execution of a panoply of pampering for well being!

All-Inclusive Leaves Nothing to be Desired

Major Domo Luis Ruiz

Major Domo Luis Ruiz brings chocolates and specially selected aromatherapy bath salts as he prepares the jacuzzi, part of the “all inclusive” Le Blanc services

Le Blanc (the White) Spa Resort is the first all-inclusive, adults-only resort in Cancun. From the start, you enjoy the little details of this big-vision site that has earned a five-diamond AAA designation and inclusion on many top lists of all-inclusive beach resorts.

The sensual sojourn begins with private check-in, featuring a savory white coconut drink and white flowers. Your Major Domo (butler) greets you by name near the elevator of your suite and asks you to choose from the room’s “Comfort Menu” with options of pillow type, aromatherapy scent for the room, and special blends of bath salts for the double Jacuzzi in your room.

Lumiere, the romantic French restaurant, is part of Le Blanc’s “all inclusive”, but make reservations to secure a table.

The all-inclusive package offers great room service for every meal if you want, or swim-up pool bars with a nearby, outdoor pizza oven, or very fine dining at the romantic French Lumiere. I loved the Lumiere’s 7-course taster special meal, which changes frequently. Culinary options also include the Blanc Italia, which shares good food and la dulce vita, a superb and peaceful Asian restaurant, and a bright intercontinental restaurant with seaside views and luscious buffets.

Daily class offerings of a wellness theme include a 7am yoga session for mind, spirit, and body. The Spa also offers a range of hydrotherapy options and soothing treatments (outside the all-inclusive package).

I melted during a “Mayan-inspired massage” called the KuKulkan. Two masseuses worked synchronously for 80 minutes in one of the most relaxing treatments I have ever enjoyed on any continent.

Before they started, they asked me to think of a memory I wanted to eliminate. They burned some copal resin and fanned smoke made from burning sage, rosemary, and basil to help “purify my energies.”

Then, in an effort to “balance” my spirit, mind, and body, the four hands of this skillful duo imitated the motions of the animals that represent the Mayan kingdoms – the eagle of the upper kingdom, the snake of the middle kingdom, and the jaguar of the underworld.

Do you remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion are all coifed, groomed, primped, patched, and polished to meet the Wizard? I felt as if I had was being beautifully, lovingly prepped to meet the next morning with the wizards of the sea – the whale sharks.

Polka-Dotted Sharks


A snorkeler’s view of a whale shark filter feeding on plankton. Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet. A remora fish has suction cupped onto the polka dotted shark to hitchhike. (c) Lisa TE Sonne

Seeing eye-to-eye with a polka-dotted shark and having one come at you with its mouth wide open both rank high in great underwater memories I want to keep! These gentle behemoth beauties, which can grow to 60 feet long, are actually the largest fish in the ocean. They are filter feeders and dine seasonally on the nutrient rich plankton near the surface waters off Isla Mujeres, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea.

Yours truly snorkeling with whale sharks in Cancun. Photo by Danny Heilprin Photography. His wonderful video is at Thanks to Gabriel the guide and Gabriel the boat driver of Solo Buceo for the memorable experiences.

Some whale sharks seem to tolerate curious snorkelers, approaching with their long bodies undulating, swishing in sinewy curves through the sea, carving the liquid gracefully. From May to mid-September the whale sharks have become a major attraction for Cancun visitors. Some days, as many as 200 can be seen swimming and eating within a half-hour boat ride from Cancun. We were in one of only two boats on the scene when we arrived, but almost 20 boats had gathered by the time we left.

After nearly two hours of underwater enthrallment, whale sharks had certainly made a joyful impact on me, but I found myself wondering about the

Whale Shark, Sonne

Snorkeler’s view of Whale Shark’s eye and closed mouth (c) Lisa TE Sonne

impact so many of us humans might be having on these gentle giants. I wanted an opportunity to contribute to the conservation of the region’s magnificent underwater habitat.

That night, Le Blanc had a turtle release. One of the clutches of eggs rescued weeks earlier had hatchlings. I took a two-inch, green sea turtle baby – its limbs flapping like wings – and put him on the sand to return to the sea. Le Blanc is part of the Palace Resorts, and according to its Foundation report, “Every year, over 120,000 baby endangered sea turtles are released as part of one of the Palace Foundation [programs].”

I walked on the powdery white sand under the stars toward my Le Blanc suite, where I would immerse in a Jacuzzi bubble sea, thinking how wondrous a single day can be!

Cancun Boat dock, launch area for boat trips to the Whale Sharks

Cancun Boat dock, launch area for boat trips to the Whale Sharks

And my short trip was only half over.  It was hard to leave the nurturing tranquility and wonderful staff and services of Le Blanc, and so tempting to go out and watch whale sharks again. Yet ahead still lies the fantastic Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Resort, with its 40,000 square foot Gem Spa, including water features and “fish therapy,” the world’s largest underwater museum, the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan, a Mayan shaman, yellow frogs,  jungle zip-lining, rappelling into a cenote, a fresh water “Mayan portal to the underworld,” monkeys in trees, and blue butterflies.

Muchas Gracias and “June Boutique” for large and small delights!

Lisa TE Sonne for

© Photos by Lisa TE Sonne .




  1. Love your story, Lisa. As always, you bring us right there with you on your travel experiences- whether writing about under water diving, far away jungles or outer space. I look forward to hearing about your next adventure!

  2. I love whale sharks! What a wonderful read:) This is definitely on my list.

  3. As usual, your writing is so descriptive and enthusiastic, I feel like I am there with you – and certainly want to be. Thank you for saving a baby turtle!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>