1. Thanksgiving week was an excellent time to visit Cancun. We really lucked out. No real crowds, no mosquitoes (my son did get one bite), no high humidity, mild evenings, no rain set-backs, mostly sunshine in the 70's during the day and perfect ocean temperatures for swimming. Our last vacation to Thailand and Bali in July 2012 was a huge contrast, especially the humidity and much higher temperatures.
2. The Westin Thanksgiving buffet was worth the 420 pesos each for fresh turkey and other tasty items. Hacienda Sisal had a deal for 395 pesos but we stuck close to the resort for ease of location. Alcoholic beverages were additional. I was a bit hesistant about Thanksgiving dinner in Mexico. However, stuffing and mash potatoes was worth every peso. Turkey was freshly carved. I would recommend sitting on the outdoor patio with good weather, since the 2 man band called Mathias De Via was excellent.
3. I would recommend using private transportation where possible. We used Prestige Transfers to/from the airport. Less hassles at the airport and trying to pick out a random taxi or shuttle van. Cancun Transfers will get you to Xplor round-trip from Westin Lagunamar - $120 USD. There was a communication mix-up and I never received an e-mail confirmation to reply back. Luckily, the agent, Francisco, did discount the rate down to $100 round trip which saved lots of customer dissatisfaction and generated a repeat customer. I did have to track him down since no one showed up at the pickup time.
4. Buses are clean and efficient. They are so easy within the hotel zone or to downtown. Local R-1 or R-2 bus will get you to downtown or hotel zone for 8.5 pesos one way. . I even had a local mexican senorita play alto sax on the bus for tips. She earned her tip from me and I even play jazz sax in a local band.
5. Bring your own wireless router (I recommend TrendNet-TEW654TR Travel Router (very small 3" x 2") for ~$25 USD currently on Amazon). You can just plug into the ethernet wired port in the room. The wireless signal peaks out at full bars in your villa. Otherwise, the wireless signal is very low.
6. If you bring your AppleTV like we did, please make sure you bring your Apple remote. We forgot to bring the remote and could not set up home sharing. You can program a universal remote to mimic an Apple TV remote, but home sharing must be set-up beforehand. The iStore in the La Isla Mall was less than helpful. They did not have any remotes in stock and would not loan me one, even for my driver's license.
7. Fresh homemade pasta at Cenacola in the Kukulcan Plaza (short 10 min walk from Westin Lagunamar after exiting left). You can have an excellent photo opportunity with 2 shiny, white Rolls Royce sitting in the Live Spa resort driveway. The Lagunamar Concierge (Carlos Garcia was excellent) will provide a coupon for free champagne welcome drink upon arrival. Make sure you choose a night where pianist is performing (pretty good at requests).
8. Xplor was very fun and worth the hour drive. We previously went to Xel-Ha and enjoyed this park but wanted something a bit different. We did a zip line canopy tour through the jungle in Costa Rica. However, the 2 zip lines at Xplor were above the jungle and magnificent views. We skipped the underground swim and rafting due to other reviews, cold water and time constraints. We did enjoy the ATV (both courses) and my 17 year old son was allowed to drive without questions. He even reported his underage at check-in. Excellent lunch buffet and smoothies.
9. Free head and shoulders massage next to infinity pool in a massage chair was relaxing. You can do it multiple times. Unfortunately, the Westin spa will open in early 2013. The massage therapists will operate at a beach cabana or in your room until then.
10. La Habichuala (downtown) has very good seafood at more reasonable prices compared to the hotel zone. It can be nice to get away from the Hotel Zone. If you take the R-2 bus, get off at the Chedraui Market (across from the Office Depot) and walk 4-5 blocks. I would recommend the lobster & steak flambe. Nice photo opportunity. The Caesar's salad is also excellent and prepared tableside.
11. Please remember to always carry your 20% Westin Discount card. It is good for the breakfast buffet. Not needed once the servers know you. We had excellent service from Henry (Henrique). Since I play on a baseball team back home in San Diego, Henry also does locally in Cancun. The semi-pro team is Cancun Tigers. The towel card is also needed when you go to the pool. If you forget your towel card, they will give you a brief lecture and a thin, yellow towel (instead of the thick, brown striped one). Westin will supposedly charge you $30 per missing towel card at checkout. They did ask for our towel cards at check-out.
12. I messed up during the first day and thought Happy Hour was 4-5pm at the Lagunamar. It is from 3-4 pm for two-for-one drinks. Draft Corona qualifies but bottled Corona did not.
Savio's Bistro was an excellent choice for homemade pasta. It is located at km15 and across from the Grand Melia. Their Mayan fish filet was also excellent. I met the owner, Juan and he gave be a 15% off coupon for the next visit. Smart marketing. You get a free appetizer when booked through your resort concierge. His downtown restaurant, La Dolce Vita, is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor. He wants Savio's to move up in the restaurant rankings. The prices were reasonable and we dropped less pesos for dinner than all other restaurants that we experienced including Harry's, Fred's, La Hibichuala, Hacienda Sisal, Oceano, etc.
13. I have to put in a kudo for Andreas (tenor sax player) at Gustino's (JW Marriott). I wish Westin Lagunmar would hire him. Andreas remembered me from our last Cancun trip 6 years ago. He was playing in the JW Marriott lobby bar when they had a grand opening. He gave me a bunch of sax sheet music at the time. We did not eat at Gustino's but stopped by for dessert and great jazz sax music. Lots of great service and many romantic candles. This place is a hidden gem (4 star AAA rating) and off the beaten path.
14. My wife loved the convenience of La Isla Mall and Kukulcan Plaza (both walking distance from the Westin). The jewelry store called La Joya will negotiate Kukulcan Plaza. She bought several pairs of 14k gold earrings. Forum by the Sea and Plaza Caracol were disappointing.
The Cinemark theater at the La Isla Mall (across the street) was a nice surprise. It almost felt like in a local US theater back home. They even serve crepes in the lobby reception area. We went to see Breaking Dawn: Part II. I was reluctant if it was going to be in Spanish. However, if you pick the right show, it is in English with spanish subtitles.
15. I wanted to avoid Hooters but we ended up there and actually enjoyed it. The Ohio State vs. Michigan football game could not be received at the Duna Sports bar (Westin Lagunamar). Their satellite TV could not get ABC-TV so they lost our businesss. Note: It was shown in each villa but a lot less excitement. We ended up with a nice view of the water overlooking the lagoon and watched the Buckeyes end an undefeated season with many other Buckeye fans. It was unfortunate that they could not play Notre Dame this year for the BCS championship. Oh well, there is always 2013.
16. The PGA tour will move their only Mexican event to November 17, 2013 at the Mayakoba area. This year, it was held on November 11 and I heard it was conflicting with the Arizona PGA even. It is time to make Cancun reservations for 2013. I heard Tiger Woods likes to do deep sea fishing in the Cancun area and will draw a bigger field of golf professionals. Time to make reservations at the Westin Lagunamar for next year.
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- Also Known As:
- The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Hotel Cancun
- Westin Lagunamar Ocean Hotel
- Cancun Westin