Interview with Alma Lopez, Managing Director of Sensira Resort & Spa

Interview with Alma Lopez, Managing Director of Sensira Resort & Spa

Alma Lopez is the Managing Director of Sensira Resort & Spa, an all-inclusive luxury hotel located on the private beach of Petempitch Bay in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Under Alma Lopez's leadership, she oversees the operations of the hotel, which is Arriva Hospitality Group’s first luxury resort and a member of Leading Hotels of the World. Sensira Resort & Spa opened in April of 2021 and has positioned itself as a premier destination for luxury travel in the Mexican Caribbean. Alma Lopez was the first woman to ever hold the position of General Manager in Cancun during Mexico's late 1980s tourism boom. Since then, she has worked on the executive teams for various hotel brands, like Palace Resorts, Marquis Reforma Hotel, and most recently been a part of the C-Suite team at Arriva Hospitality Group, which has over 50 years of experience operating resorts and business hotels in Mexico.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what pushed you to work in the hotel industry?

I like to say that I was born into the hotel business, since my father worked as the Corporate Director of Rooms Division at Grupo Presidente, one of the leading hotel brands in Mexico. Growing up our dinner table conversations were filled with stories from his day working at the hotel and commenting on the happenings of the hotel industry. It was a no brainer for me when I chose to start my career in the hospitality industry. After my studies I started working in the Sales Department of Camino Real Hotels and later relocated to Cancun with Sheraton, who was the leading hotel in the area at the time. Funny enough, my husband is also in the hotelier business – so dinner conversations haven’t changed much. Now I hold the position of Managing Director  for Sensira Resort & Spa, the first luxury all-inclusive resort for Arriva that opened in 2021.

What makes Sensira Resort & Spa stand out among other luxury all-inclusive hotels in the area?

There is something for everyone at Sensira. We are very proud of our vast array of offerings for guests of all ages. We have spaces designed specifically for various age-groups from toddlers, children, and teens to adults-only lounges and pools. One of our standout amenities is the waterpark for kids located in the pool area, which has a rock-climbing wall and a zip-line course that runs across the hotel. We also have a fully equipped movie theater, a tennis court, and a mini golf course.

While we are a family-friendly resort that is very well suited to multigenerational travel, we have also made it a priority to cater to adult travelers, whose plans are usually quite different. Our Amber section is open only to guests over 18 years old, be it couples who are celebrating their honeymoon, groups of adult-friends who are seeking relaxation, or more. Guests in the Amber Lounge can unwind, enjoy a drink in the Bar Lounge, and enjoy butler service, among other amenities. Our on-site luxury spa also has specific treatments for adults and children to enjoy separate relaxation time.

Tell us a little about the origin story of Sensira Resort & Spa. How did the concept for the hotel come about?

The idea of Sensira started when we conducted market research and discovered that there was a demand for the Mexican tourism and hospitality industry to enhance their offerings of luxury accommodations. The main concept for the hotel was to open a resort where luxury was personalized. We wanted to showcase that warm and attentive Mexican hospitality spirit at a grandeur and top-quality level for our guests. This project was a challenging and exciting one for us, as, prior to its opening in 2021, Arriva had mainly operated city hotels that did not have an all-inclusive package. However, our vast knowledge of the hospitality industry helped us tremendously when embarking on this new chapter.

Sensira Resort & Spa

Can you tell us about the Galerie Des Sens Restaurant? What inspired the concept of author’s cuisine and how does this elevate the luxury of the resort?

Galerie Des Sens’ look is inspired by the Louvre Museum in Paris. This was a high bar to begin with, but we worked very hard to make sure that the food surpassed every one of our guests’ expectations. We believe we have achieved this, thanks to John Bertrand, who is Sensira’s Head Chef of Author’s Cuisine. The restaurant has a rotating menu that accompanies seasonal vegetables and local ingredients as well as a vast selection of wines. The look of the food is also important – guests have repeatedly told us how receiving each dish is like admiring a new piece of art.

How has the luxury travel landscape changed since you started in the industry? What changes or trends do you see on the horizon?

The word “luxury” often suggests the idea of exclusive things and experiences, but the concept is much broader and includes simpler things, including knowing that your kids are being well taken care of while you are taking a moment to relax by yourself or with your partner. It also means having personalized services that cater to your needs and expectations at any moment. One of the things that guests have highlighted is the fact that whenever they need something, there is always someone available at any moment’s notice who is more than happy to help.

In terms of recent changes, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly accelerated certain trends, such as remote work, which we adapted for by opening on-site REMO workspaces at the hotel with spectacular views of the beach, coffee and tea, and food on demand. We always strive to be ahead of the curve in terms of fulfilling our guests’ expectations.

You have held some lovely-looking weddings. Could you tell us a bit about that?

We offer a series of wedding packages that can be tailored to host from small intimate ceremonies to larger ones with a capacity for up to 600 guests. Our Pearl Package, for example, is for newlyweds who only want the smallest possible group to accompany them: just up to 10 guests in total! In terms of venues, our weddings look spectacular because we have worked on making the most of our privileged location. A particular favorite of guests is when we place a floorboard on the swimming pool, so their “walk down the aisle” is unlike any other, with an unparalleled view of the beach. Of course, couples usually want to have their special day to have their own special touch and so mostly every detail of these experiences is customizable.

What about the experiences you offer at the spa?

Our spa’s look is inspired by the works of some of history’s greatest artists like Miró, Picasso, and Van Gogh – so we definitely set the bar high for ourselves! But we think we pulled it off with our treatment options and quality of service. As you can see on our website, the resort offers a wide array of sensorial and therapeutic experiences, some especially tailored towards couples or brides-to-be. However, we are aware that many of our young guests are children and that they want to be pampered just as well as adults. Therefore, we have created a menu of suitable experiences, some of which are available for kids as young as five. These treatments include special aromas such as chocolates, vanilla, or red fruits. At least one parent has to be present during the treatment and they have repeatedly told us how much they enjoy their kids being taken such good care of. Many children have said it was what they enjoyed most during their stay.

Looking ahead, what do you have planned for Sensira for the near future?

We have a few projects underway to enhance our events and incentives offerings and restaurant offerings at the hotel. We can’t quite provide any specific details but rest assured that we are always working on further enhancing our amenities. So, stay tuned and we hope to see you soon at our resort!