Ever since we first heard about the Iberostar Grand, it was on our list of resorts to try and for our 4th visit to Mexico, we finally had the opportunity to. In previous years, we stayed at Le Blanc & Excellence Playa Mujeres, which were both excellent and also recommended. In the review below, we will provide our thoughts on the Grand and at the end offer a comparison to the other 2 resorts, in case anyone is considering them as well.
The check in at the Grand was efficient and quick. The drive from the airport was about 25 minutes with Cancun Transfers, who were waiting outside the airport for us when we arrived. The Iberostar Complex is huge and like a little town in itself. Once you drive through the complex gates, the Grand is the last stop. We were greeted at the entrance with a cold towel and a welcome drink of Sparkling Wine while we were checking in. The lady checking us in was very friendly and provided a great overview of the resort, maps, information on restaurants and time table of activities. We did experience a problem with the incorrect room being provided and another lady stepped in, Priscilla, who tried to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, she was not nearly as warm or friendly and made it appear as if we were inconveniencing her; however, after providing some confirmation e-mails, it was sorted out and we were on our way to the room we booked.
A golf cart took us and our luggage to Building 71, one of two oceanfront buildings, which are located furthest from the lobby. The drive from the Lobby to the oceanfront building was around 2 minutes, or closer to 10 minutes if walking. During our drive over, the driver pointed out the different pools and other points of interest along the way. Once we arrived at building 71, we were brought up and shown our room on the second floor. The butler arrived shortly after and informed us about different services he provides. We read ahead of time that the room temperature couldn’t be lowered below 21 C, but if you ask the butler he can have it adjusted to 19 C, which we requested. The butler asked for our mini bar requests, which were fulfilled shortly after, and that was the last we saw of him for the rest of the week. The building concierge assisted us throughout the week with most of our other requests.
As you walk in to the room, you are greeted with a foyer leading to the main room, separated by a second door. The foyer contains two closets, an electronic safe, the mini bar and the bathroom. The two closets were well stocked with hangers and provided plenty of room to hang up all our clothes. The safe was large enough for an Ipad and left lots of room to spare. All our requested drinks were stocked in the mini bar and replenished daily - Water, mini Absolut Vodkas, mini Wines and multiple large 1L bottles of water with Sabrita chips sitting on the counter above the mini bar. The bathroom was relatively large (much bigger than the pictures lead you to believe) and spacious. The bathroom contains two sinks on opposite sides of the bathroom with an enclosed shower, a whirlpool tub, and a glass enclosed toilet in between. The shower, while not big, was not that small either. It featured a rainhead shower and provided average water pressure. Shampoo and Liquid Soap were provided through dispensers hanging on the shower wall. While we didn’t use the whirlpool tub, it looked like it would comfortably fit two people. A tray in the bathroom provided additional amenities such as Soap, Bug Repellant, Lotions, Sewing Kit etc. The only complaint we have about the bathroom would be the towels - they were not plush and in fact even a little rough.
The room itself was decorated with a mix of traditional and contemporary décor and was functional. The bed was comfortable and a pillow menu was available, which we took advantage of ordering two Foam pillows. The TV was an old tube TV, relatively large, and contained a majority of Spanish channels with a few English ones. The large balcony was just as it appeared in the pictures with a swing, which we used daily, a table, and a couch. We were on the second floor (or floor #3 according to the Mexican elevators) and had a great view of the ocean and beach. Some rooms, including ours, had palm trees directly in front of the balcony; however, they didn’t spoil our view.
We received housekeeping and turndown service daily. If our DND sign was up and they came around, a note was left on the door indicating they attempted to clean the room and to call when we are ready to have them return. Housekeeping did an excellent job cleaning the room and arranging loose items neatly throughout the room. Turndown service was provided while we were at dinner and included new towels, chocolates, switching pillow cases, and a lighted candle.
We used room service daily to order a bottle of Sparkling wine and Sabritas chips prior to leaving for dinner. Some nights we ordered additional liquor (vodka, tequila) and they were brought in full bottles. When you place an order, they advise you of the delivery time (approx. 40 minutes), and in most cases it would took longer (1.5 hours in 1 case), which seemed a little excessive considering the items we were ordering were packaged and didn’t require preparation. Room Service breakfast was handled through a card that was filled out the night before and left on the door. The breakfast always arrived at the time we specified.
Pool & Beach
The beach directly in front of our building 71 provided ample loungers with palapas and excellent drink service. While we didn’t go into the ocean, it did seem rocky, but if you walked down to the Iberostar next door, the entrance into the ocean was a lot smoother. The ocean was calm for the first days we were there in late April and became rougher as the week progressed. Overall, the ocean was calmer than we have seen it on the Cancun strip. The Grand offers 3 pools (Serenity, Main & Indoor), of which we frequented the latter 2. The Main pool has tons of loungers, except most of them are in the actual pool and not around the pool itself. Around the pool, the loungers, especially ones in the shade, were reserved with people’s belongings very early in the morning and hence the “towel game” was in full effect. Some reserved chairs remained vacant the entire day. The loungers themselves were just okay and the cushions could definitely use replacing. During the week, the main pool was pretty cold, with the exception of the last day where it felt like they started heating the pool. Throughout the day, the Star Friends offered different activities and were friendly, and not intrusive or annoying when asking for your participation. Water aerobics were offered twice a day, which was pretty popular, an interactive contest which changed daily always provided good entertainment and different activities around the pool (tic tac toe, bingo) were fun. Drink service was good overall, and excellent when you sat on the side of the pool where the bar is. We used the indoor pool almost daily around 5PM and it was almost always empty. The indoor pool, located in the spa, was heated and offered different hydrotherapy features and Jacuzzis.
We ventured off the Grand once to the Maya next door to check out their pools. A golf cart took us to the Maya resort, but on the way back we realized through shortcuts how close it actually was to the Grand and walked back. The wave pool at the Maya was very popular with kids, but the waves are too small for adults. The lazy river was fun and we enjoyed it twice. Double and single tubes were available in the lazy river as you enter, and we were lucky enough to snag one of only two doubles we saw.
Restaurants & Bars
The Iberostar complex is full of restaurants and Grand guests have the opportunity to enjoy all of them. The Grand itself has 4 A La Carte restaurants and 2 buffets. Reservations are mandatory for the A LA Cartes and 1 week prior to our arrival, we e-mailed the resort and received 1 reservation at each of the 4. Once we arrived, it was very easy to reserve the remaining ones and even switch them around, as we did multiple times with our building concierge. The wine lists were standard across all the restaurants and after some trial and error we did find a good red (tobia selection) and white to drink. The lists have changed relative to some we found on the internet and some bottles were not available at the time we requested them.
Breakfast was available in the main buffet or through room service. While we read about, and were even told, breakfast was available in the smaller buffet as an a la carte – it wasn’t. The main buffet had regular buffet fare, with made to order eggs, and an a la carte menu, which was only sometimes offered but always available. The a la carte menu offered the highly recommended (per Tripadvisor forums) lobster blinis, which were delicious; however, they took a while to prepare, so we opted for the buffet for the remaining days.
Lunch was offered in the main buffet, small buffet and through room service. The main buffet, offered made to order pasta and some small salads, but also had a grill setup outside every day. The grill menu changed daily and ranged from Lobsters, Hamburgers, Shrimps, Fish Tacos, different sides and a made to order salad bar. We enjoyed the grill daily but checked out the small buffet one day. It offered some okay buffet lunch choices with an a la carte menu, and a beautiful view, if you choose to sit outside.
For dinners, we dined twice at the Italian, Japanese & surf and only once at the Gourmet. We were able to find all the menus prior to our arrival through Google, although they were a little dated but fairly accurate overall. The Italian restaurant offered typical Italian dishes ranging from Pastas to Risottos, meat and fish. Both of the risottos were both delicious with the edge going to the Mushroom one. We ordered the Risotto to share as an appetizer in addition to an individual appetizer which they were happy to accommodate. On our first visit to the Japanese, we tried the A La Carte menu and second time, the Hibachi. We specified our preference at the time we booked the reservations. Service was great both times. The A La Carte menu was tasty with the red curry lobster Wok dish coming to mind. The hibachi was a fun experience, and while the chef didn’t do any tricks, we enjoyed the delicious food. We didn’t find the meat chewy at all, as some people have previously commented. Of note, the Hibachi tables at Grand are setup with each couple being divided compared to the traditional (and from the photos - The Japanese at the Maya) where everyone around the table is sitting directly next each to other. The Surf & Turf was excellent and we enjoyed the Seafood Appetizer and Regular Surf & turf, both of which were highly recommended on Tripadvisor. We found the Seafood appetizer overrated, as it was just typical cold seafood that we have always been used to; however it was delicious. The Surf and Turf dish was excellent! The steak was cooked perfectly and all the sides that we tired (almost all of them!) were great as well. And finally, on to the last, and in this case not the best, the Gourmet which was our least favorite. While it’s hard to pin point one specific wrong with this restaurant, overall we just weren’t impressed. The food was average and definitely didn’t seem “gourmet” as the restaurant name set our expectations.
The shows at the Grand were impressive. They were professional in all aspects - talent, sound, lighting and costumes. Prior to our arrival, it was hard to get an idea of what the theatre actually looked like, as most of the pictures are of the performances themselves and not of the theatre. The theatre is located next to the main lobby and was the best that we have experienced at an all-inclusive resort. It was air conditioned with elevated seating and full professional lighting and sound systems. Seats were comfortable and always available, even when we showed up 15 minutes into a show. Drink service was excellent with servers coming around frequently, drink menus on each table and a full bar available at the back. We checked out the shows every night, and would recommend the Boogie Nights show, Rock Show and Las Vegas show. While the two Mexican shows were professional with interesting costumes, they didn’t really appeal to us. The boogie nights show was the busiest and it was fun to watch people relive their youth, with some people getting really into it! After the show, the performers would come out and mingle with the crowd. A lot of people would head over to the Disco after, with Golf Carts being available at the lobby to take them there. While we didn’t go to the Disco, we did make full use of the Golf carts, asking them to take us back to Building 71, which they were always happy to do.
The employees we encountered were nice and service was pretty good overall; although we did find there was a little language barrier at times, more so then we found at other resorts on the Cancun strip. With the exception of the lady at check in, who also happened to check us out, employees were friendly and in some cases even addressing us by name.
We visited the shopping center and found it rather deserted and underwhelming. The Spa there looked okay; however, it didn’t offer any incentives for us to use over the Grand’s spa. The gym at the Grand was located inside the spa and was pretty empty most of the time. The Spa has a retractable glass roof, which made it pretty humid most of the time, but the Gym was enclosed in a separate air conditioned room. There were some exercise bikes in the spa itself and we did use them for a spinning class (which was very hard!) and made additionally harder by the humidity. We opted for a couples massage at the Grand spa which was relaxing and cost of 240USD for 60 min.
Comparison to Le Blanc & Excellence Playa Mujeres
There has been a lot of discussion regarding Le Blanc versus Iberostar Grand. Ultimately, after experiencing both, we can say they are two very different resorts, both excellent, with the choice fundamentally coming down to what you are looking for in a vacation. Le Blanc, located on the Strip, provides a very different experience and atmosphere than the Grand. Le Blanc offers more of a Hotel experience, similar to what you would get in say Miami, rather than a full Resort experience as provided by the Grand. Le blanc itself feels very serene, calm and spa-like, where the best word to describe the Grand would be just that - Grand. Food and Service were slightly better at Le Blanc, with the Spa being exceptionally better; however the Room, Shows, common areas, and the grounds were better at Iberostar Grand. The pools were great at both, although loungers were better at Le Blanc. Overall, I would give an edge to Iberostar Grand for the full resort experience.
In regards to Excellence Playa Mujeres, the best way to describe the Grand experience, relative to EPM, would be more “refined”. Excellence was good in all aspects, but it felt like the Grand was the next level up. The one place where Excellence does shine is with their rooms – they were huge, Jacuzzi that opened to the balcony and overall more luxurious than at the Grand. The Grand is more expensive, so you will have to decide if that premium is worth it.
The Iberostar Grand is an excellent resort and overall lives up to its “Grand” name. Common areas and hallways are beautiful and Grand with outdoor areas beautifully landscaped. The shows, restaurants, pools and grounds were all great and we would happily recommend the Grand to anyone looking for a nice relaxing vacation.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.