Cozumel : Inside Cozumel

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Inside CozumelNestled up to the Eastern Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula lies the Mexican Caribbean island of Cozumel. Known for years as one of the premiere diving destinations in the world, the island now has an added a feature that is enhancing Cozumel as a destination.

Carved into the jungle near Cozumel's northern tip lies Cozumel Country Club, an 18-hole golf course designed by the Nicklaus Design Group. The Nicklaus Group has used the beautiful surroundings of the Mayan Jungle to create a challenging, yet peaceful setting. The golfer will enjoy a round where he or she most likely will see various examples of the local flora and fauna, from crocodiles to wild pigs to several varieties of iguanas, lizards and birds of many different feathers. The golf course was built under strict environmental guidelines, with the owners, ClubCorp International, being required to submit regular reports monitoring the flora and fauna.

The golf course measures only 6734 yards from the back tees, relatively short by modern standards, but offers four sets of tees to let each player choose the yardage that best suits them. Although not long, the golf course is challenging, as the golfer must be accurate to stay out of the jungle! Cozumel Country Club offers a variety of holes to test the golfer, from the 290 yard, par 4, fourth hole, which is driveable in the right wind conditions, to the 571 yard, par 5, sixteenth hole, which plays downwind but is perhaps the toughest hole on the golf course.

Mexico City ’s elite are a discerning bunch when it comes to eating out. And with the recent wave of trendy new eateries opening around the capital, competition to attract them is becoming even tougher.

Despite this, Guidos restaurant is serving increasing numbers. A clear reflection on the calibre of the cuisine. The thing is… Guidos isn’t a trendy new eatery in Mexico City. It’s an Italian restaurant. On Cozumel Island…

Guido’s owner, manager and chef, Yvonne Villiger, visits the capital regularly to keep up with the latest trends in Mexican gastronomical fashion. Having her finger on the pulse has paid off. Guidos has built a reputation for serving food to beat even the best restaurants in the big City.

That’s why the City’s rich and famous have chosen to visit Guidos. In the last decade, diners have included two Mexican Presidents, a media business billionaire and countless actors from not only Mexico City, but Hollywood as well.

The attraction is clearly the menu. If you ask Yvonne to describe her favorite selection your mouth will water at the sound of “fish cakes on a bed of curried cucumber, with a Basque white wine” or “sautéed wahoo on cream potato and leeks, followed by sticky toffee date cake.”

Guidos offers a wide choice of dishes from the tried-and-trusted regular menu or the ever-changing specials menu. The prices are affordable and not just for the well-to-do. “The specials menu, is an incredible challenge”, explains Yvonne, “it requires daily inspiration in touch with the seasonal market. So we constantly have to be creative, thinking of new things.”

Yvonne took over the restaurant from her father – its founder – in 1991. He is a Swiss Chef who worked at London’s prestigious Savoy Hotel in the 1960s, before moving to Mexico and buying the restaurant from Italian travelers in 1978.

When he took it on, it consisted of little more than a wood-fired oven and four tables, as well as some storage space for the souvenir shop in front. But this didn’t deter Yvonne’s father. He gave the restaurant a new look and built the classic garden courtyard that gives it the ambiance it has today.

Yvonne tells how Guidos has only missed one opening night since it was taken over from the Italians. It was with good reason, when Hurricane Gilbert struck the island in 1988. And even then, Guidos was relatively lucky - only the pizza oven lost its chimney and a tree in the courtyard fell over.

Through other tropical storms and the floods last June, the doors remained open and customers came in. Proving they were prepared to get their feet wet to enjoy the dishes on offer.

With such firm foundations now on both Cozumel’s Caribbean coral and El DF’s city rock, Guidos is bound to go on attracting customers rain or shine. The best advice is to give trendy eateries a miss, eat like the rich and famous and visit Guidos instead.

Getting Around | Lodging | Tours & Excursions | Diving | Bars & Restaurants | Shopping | Sightseeing | Inside Cozumel