From the minute you step into the stylish lobby at Aqua Cancun, you're transported to a world both chic and welcoming, airy and intimate, soothing and energizing. Forget about queuing up in a check-in line and instead head over to one of the comfy lobby sofas. While you're waiting for a hotel associate to bring your check-in materials, you'll become aware of a lovely scent, with hints of spearmint and eucalyptus, wafting through the air.

Aromatherapy is a subtle yet powerful component of the Aqua experience in both public spaces and — at the guest's discretion — in the guest rooms. It's part of an overall Zen-like, contemporary vibe that expresses this new brand of hotels from Mexican-owned Grupo Posadas, also owners of the Fiesta Americana brand.

Opened in February 2008, Aqua Cancun is well-equipped for small to medium-sized meetings and incentive programs. I visited with a group of planners in November, after attending the FICP 2008 Annual Conference at the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun. During our stay, we not only learned what the hotel has to offer, but also experienced a few of the newest activities and venues in the area, thanks to IVI Destination Management.

One of the things I loved about Aqua Cancun was the way the environment changes from day to night. By day, sunlight streams into the interior spaces, where curved architectural lines soften the sleek, modern ambience, and the staff dresses in white. By night, artful lighting adds sparkle and drama to a nightclub-like milieu, and the staff wears black.

The hotel's unique personality extends to its 371 guest rooms, with contemporary design reminiscent of a stylish SoHo loft in New York City, and balconies overlooking the impossibly blue sea and eight infinity swimming pools. Nightly turndown comes with aromatherapy candles, mini-Japanese gardens, or meditation bells.

Among the property's amenities are three restaurants; two bars; and Spa Aqua, with a full menu of treatments including Mayan massages. The 16,500 square feet of customizable meeting space includes 17 meeting rooms and a ballroom that accommodates 800 people. There are also outdoor venues for more than 1,000.

For groups that are looking for new activities in the area, IVI showed us two great possibilities. We dined under the stars and enjoyed exceptionally tasty, local gourmet cuisine on a tiled patio at the Hacienda Esperanza, a vast estate with exotic horses, beautiful gardens, and the feel of old Mexico in a newly built compound. We also traveled about an hour from the hotel to explore Rio Secreto, an underground river with crystal-clear water dramatically framed by stalactites and stalagmites. Go to IVI's Web site at for more information.