We are planning another trip to the area this fall and would appreciate some others opinions. We will be traveling with at least one more couple. We are all in our late 30’s, very well traveled, are accustomed to nicer hotels, restaurants, etc and therefore need the top level resorts - especially in Mexico. I absolutely understand that 5* in Mexico is nowhere near a true 5* resort in the US or elsewhere but we enjoy these trips very much for what they are. We like to have fun and are lively but not obnoxious. When traveling as just a couple we enjoy the more quiet, chilled out vibe, but with friends it is good to have a mix of both.
We have been to the area many, many times and always stay adults only. These trips are without our young kids and as such I am not interested in squealing children or cannonballs by the pool. There will be a time for that when we travel with our children but this is a chance to peel away and leave the kids with grandparents.
I am open to Cancun, South of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, etc and also Playa Mujeres (never been there but I am sure it is similar). We are going with at least one more couple - could be others as well - and as such are looking for something upper end, top shelf liquor, quality food and fun. An on-site night club type place is good so that we can party in the evenings if desired – although this is not necessarily a must have as long as we can entertain ourselves. We are not crazy party people but do like to have fun and could take or leave the theatre type shows.
We have stayed both AI and not and like both. While maybe not the most economical, I do appreciate not having to deal with checks especially when traveling with other friends so we will likely be looking at Adults Only AI again. We have stayed at quite a few over the years including these - I know I am missing some:
Excellence Riviera Cancun - we were there with a large group and overall enjoyed ourselves. The service and quality was quite good for an AI (we don’t expect The Four Seasons while in Mexico) and we liked that it had lots of choices and a nightclub for something to day late night when desired.
LIVE AQUA - We really enjoyed it here although I worry that they may be lowering the standard as the rates are quite low now. It was very chill but definitely classy and the food was quite good for an AI. My concern here this time is that this is great when traveling alone as a couple but there is not much action if you want to have fun with your friends. The upside is that it is in Cancun and you can always go out if desired I suppose. Curious if anyone has been recently and can compare it to a couple of years back.
Secrets Maroma - Just did this last year with the same couple so not likely to repeat this year but we did like it. Probably not the best one I've ever been to but we were happy as I recall. Food was ok and it had a lively vibe and even a nightclub when desired. Looking back it may have been less bang for the buck when compared to others we have been too. Probably similar to the Excellence but I believe it is a little more expensive.
Aventura Spa Palace - This was a while back and I can't say much. I recall it being fine though. Nothing outstanding but we had fun and it was nice to take the shuttle to other properties for variety. I think this may be closed now anyway.
El Dorado Seaside Suites - This was fantastic but probably 10 years ago at least. I hear it has changed dramatically and is not the quaint piece of paradise it used to be. That is too bad as it used to be great - although pretty laid back so maybe best for just a single couple instead of a small group of friends.
Elsewhere we have stayed at a RIU Palace (whatever their nicer one is called - in Nuevo Vallarta) and did not care for it relative to others. Too "fake Vegas" like and seemed sort of cheap even though highly polished. More surface glitz than actual quality if you know what I mean. The room was very nice but the common areas, food, drinks, service, etc all lacked something even though they tried to fluff them up and make them appear better than it was.
So that is a long story of background but look forward to hearing from others about thoughts and ideas.
Here are some we are thinking of but please feel free to add others!
Excellence Playa Mujeres
The Royal Playa Del Carmen
Ibersotar Grand Paraiso