Why the Ritz-Carlton in these times?
It’s still simply the best deal when you think about what a vacation should mean. I really want to make an argument for this since some people have voted for the Marriott, or an all-inclusive hotel in these reviews. Please scroll to the bottom for some tips. I was so relaxed here that I felt it was worth every penny. Obviously it isn’t for someone with the strictest budget, but for those of you who are borderline and thinking about similar hotels with cheaper prices, I will try to list why I think this is a better deal. I would also like to point out that I went on spring break as my fiancé is in law school, and his friends stayed at various hotels such as all-inclusive hotels. I feel like this is a good comparison because some of his friends are single “broke” students, while others are middle aged and/or have families already.
After extended research and advice from family and friends, I decided to stay at the Ritz-Carlton. This was my first time in Cancun, so I will try not to be redundant since there are so many detailed reviews, but will point out personal experiences that I think might be helpful. Sorry for the long review ahead of time, but I prefer anecdotes since it was hard for me to qualify “good service” etc. from some reviews.
As everyone has attested to below, the service is impeccable. None of my requests were ever rejected, and only met with “it’s my pleasure.” Everyone on staff is genuinely nice and go out of their way to make you feel at home. They know your name, your preferences, and they anticipate your every need. If I requested to use the phone at the pool, for example, the lifeguard would ask why and make an appointment as he passed by even though it was not his job. I was flustered and on the run because I was going on a day trip and my ride picked me up early. By the time I got back, everything was taken care of. So much of vacation depends on planning and timing, and at the Ritz, everything ran smoothly as the staff sometimes even anticipated your needs. The first reason why you should choose the Ritz is because I think a vacation is summed up by all the little things. And for me, it’s the details that are really important. I usually vacation in Europe or the Caribbean. I have stayed in really down-to-earth places, and the highest rated hotels. I can honestly tell you that while the staff can be nice because they are told to smile, they do not have to be genuine. The Ritz staff members are great and caring people. They are very accommodating to international guests and they love children. Not all hotels have the forethought to target all audiences. I noticed that Japanese guests, for example, received amenities that they usually can’t get outside of Japan, and a menu catered to their needs. (Why was this important for me to mention? Have you ever gone to Japan and couldn’t fit under the showerhead or had that huge craving for food that reminds you of home? Etc. Well the Ritz accommodates all types of people, and I think that’s an important detail). Not all hotels are family-oriented and kid friendly, and the staff here certainly go out of their way to make sure that the kids are always smiling. A truly great hotel is one that understands its clientele. Are you handicapped or traveling with someone with a disability? This hotel, unlike a lot of other Cancun hotels, has great accessibility. It is truly for anyone, at any age. If you forget a prescription or get sick, there is a doctor on call 24/7. This is very important for obvious reasons, but I noticed that a mother I befriended at the pool was happy about this because her young infant constantly got sick from ear infections. You really don’t have to worry about anything here.
The great thing about the Ritz-Carlton Cancun is that every room, no matter what price, has an ocean view. Without asking, they will upgrade you if they have open rooms. You do not need a platinum AMEX with free upgrades to be treated like royalty. I personally booked an oceanfront room because I did not want to take the chance, but after I got there, several guests were upgraded, and I realized that all the rooms had great views. Some people talk about the outdated TVs and the love-it-or-hate-it European décor. If you are really going to constantly watch TV during vacation, they offer rooms with flat screens. I personally don’t care for portraits of random European nobility in a Mexico hotel, but something about the fresh flowers, the beautiful views, and the great staff, that makes this place beautiful and warm, not tacky. The maids are extra attentive and housekeeping is twice a day. If you remember only one thing, please tip the maids. Men, complimentary shoe shine so no excuses! I would recommend bringing your own hair dryer if you have lots of hair and don’t want to spend 15 minutes in the bathroom with a very small machine. Forget everything else; their Bvlgari products are great. Extra pillow, extra towels? Ask and any request is possible. Other hotels sometimes limit towels and random services. Poolside amenities include eucalyptus towels and fresh fruit. If you work out, they bring you towels, free water, etc. No matter where you go, someone had the forethought to think of all the necessary amenities. If I didn’t see something I wanted, they always had it when I asked. Newspapers at your door everyday, and a gourmet Nespresso machine should you love espresso or coffee. I have their cappuccino machine at home and was pleasantly surprised to see it at the hotel.
The restaurant food was always fresh, and all allergies and special requests were always taken into consideration. If you have an anniversary, birthday, any kind of celebration, you are in for a surprise! I was celebrating my anniversary and we received chocolate covered strawberries and delicious cocktails. I always got a rose at the end of my dinner, which smelled especially sweet in the room with the ocean breeze. During one night, a group of professional Mexican singers serenaded a 7-year-old birthday girl. Don’t worry I’m not ruining anything because these are just some examples that I saw. Now to specifics. The Club Grill is fantastic and very inventive. I really enjoy high and low food, and this is definitely on par with some of my favorite restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised by the food. It is not $$$$$$ like everyone suggests. Some were ~$230 pesos. There are plenty of reasonable entrees that you can also get in room service. I say skip the limited room service menu and experience the real thing even if you are on a budget, because I spent more money on sushi at the casual Café Mexicano. For those who are not worried about a budget, I still dream about the tasting menu, which is what I had. Sometimes you want foie gras, and sometimes you just want a burger. Café Mexicano and the Caribe Grill are the more casual restaurants. I had breakfast, lunch at the beach, and sometimes dinner here. These places have great values. The portion sizes are big. Yes, a burger costs around $12, but can you finish the entire burger and fries? I never did. If you can, it’s perfectly cooked. If you are a romantic, book a night in a Casita. It was simply one of my favorite dining experiences at the Ritz. Before and after dinner, I walked on the beach with my fiancé. The food was extremely fresh and featured seasonal and high quality ingredients. I can still taste the enormous seafood platter and steak. Dessert is not to be missed and the champagne and wine selection is plentiful. It’s from 7-12PM and you can come/leave any time. Book ahead because it’s popular. The menu for kids is extremely popular, and they have snacks anytime.
Everyone knows that the beaches have suffered from the hurricane, but here is what sets the Ritz apart. They are constantly rebuilding and finding solutions for the beach. All hotels have been affected, but I noticed that not all of them did a lot to remedy the situation. When I first arrived, part the beach stripped away the added sand and I could see sandbags and feel hard stone at the beach. This was not just at the Ritz. It was an especially high-tide week before we arrived, and I saw this at every hotel I visited when I went to see my friends. During the night, this was completely redone, but not at other places. Most repeat reviewers who book casitas will need to book earlier. At one time they had up to 17 of these but now they were down to 5 again. These are constantly gone due to the heavy tides. They build a fifth one while I was staying there. The lifeguards have eagle eyes and are attentive to the climate. They warn you if there is a heavy undertow, or big waves, which is one less thing you have to figure out if you have children. When I was swimming to other hotels, this was not always addressed and sometimes I felt the undertow. You have to remember that the tide changes constantly even though the weather appears to be perfect. But you don’t have to worry about this if you have children. I am in my twenties, have a lifeguard certificate, and even I got pulled into the undertow when I veered off track once. At the Ritz, children and adults of all ages were constantly in the water because they were always informed about what part of the beach is dangerous.
The only critical part of my review would have to be the salon. First of all, if you are walking into the salon with casual clothes, as I was coming from straight from the beach, the front desk woman will not treat you as nicely as someone who is already dressed for dinner and blow drying her hair. By the way, they are not technically Ritz staff. I came in for a French manicure and pedicure. It took almost two hours for the entire procedure. I usually go to a place in NYC close to my house so I can’t fairly compare times (it never took more than an hour). Also, the quality of my nails was not great. I had a feeling that the woman was either poorly trained or lacked sufficient experience. The reason it took so long was because she kept messing up. She redid my toes twice and when I got a better look at my hands, the result was uneven. My appointment was at 5:30 and they close at 7. After 7, they started rushing the manicurist and my nails could not dry properly and smudged. Perhaps my experience, and that of the woman in the next seat, were aberrations. I have no way to judge from trying it once. Either way, I was disappointed and I would not spend another $108 (not including tip) on a manicure and pedicure there. If you are just getting your nails painted with color, or getting a haircut or any other service, however, they seem fairly competent.
Transportation/Outings and Activities
If you don’t take a taxi, which is available to you 24/7 at the Ritz, you might want to consider arranging it with the Ritz to/from airport. I made the mistake of booking everything with my travel agent before I found out about this. I got my transportation and outings through Grey Line. They pack you like sardines with more people than seats or seatbelts. This is not the best way to travel if you have children. There is no wait with the Ritz’s roundtrip transportation. You do not have to worry about the chaos of the airport as someone will instantly greet you and take you comfortable to the hotel. If you have the desire to book a trip (I went to Chitzen Itza and Tulum and Xel-Ha just because I wanted to see the ruins and go snorkeling) the Ritz offers all kinds of water sports and site seeing. You should really book through them because my experience through Grey Line was horrible. They were always late even though they told you to get up early. We spent 2 hours to pick up people, then another 2 to drop people off at their respective hotels. If someone is late, which is likely since 80 people fit on a bus, you have to wait, even if it is another hour. You don’t need to book ahead of time because you just might want more time at the beach, and these things are never booked up. Our trip back home was stressful because the driver refused to pick us up according to our flight plans, and wanted to pick us up 5 hours early. This is not what they advertise. In the end, they were late and we wasted our last day of the Ritz waiting in the lobby instead of swimming in the beach. Just get a taxi to/from the Ritz at the official airport stand or book it through the Ritz. You won’t regret the difference in pesos. If you are planning any kind of adventure, book it through the Ritz. Other visitors told us their experience was much better. Also consider parasailing with the representative on the Ritz beach. You get to jet sky there and back. On our experience, we were greeted by dolphins who followed us in the ocean. When you parasail, it is an absolutely incredible experience and you will get to see the entire hotel zone and beyond. It’s a breathtaking view so bring cameras. My fiancé, who is afraid of heights, even agreed that it was a very calm and agreeable journey.
People protest about the expense of water, but there is a market next door that sells all drinks and snacks for a significantly lower rate. Also, the maid would provide two small bottles of water everyday in the room (depends on guest number). I never felt thirsty because I ordered it on the beach (cheaper than room rate) or it was complimentary at the nicer restaurants, but if this is a real concern for you, go to the market. It’s also good to point out that the Ritz has its own personal filtration system so no one gets sick from the ice. The maid always got ice for the room, and if you arrive back late at night you essentially get ice cold water. Since everyone at the Ritz had iced water or drinks with ice in some form, I can assure you it’s a safe bet. Most days, however, I just paid the $9-10 for the sake of convenience since I went on so many day trips.
Book the reconnect package and stick to the $130 credit a day. Yes, this promotion encourages you to spend at their hotel, but they are a business and you can easily keep track of this. I can tell you that the included buffet at the Café Mexicano is delicious and does not suffer in quality, as you might think of a buffet. This gives you the flexibility to splurge occasionally, such as a light meal at the Club Grill or Seafood Buffet night (must try!).
Order less at the beach. You can always order more. Some of the more casual restaurants have huge portions depending on the item. You might think you can eat it. But after a day of doing nothing, and drinking water/margaritas all day, you might not be as hungry. Some friends I made at the Ritz were dismayed at some of the casual menu’s prices, until they saw the portions or attempted to finish them. Some people say nothing at the Ritz is cheap, but the Ritz can be generous with portions. Almost every restaurant I went to gave you complimentary water, chips and salsa, amuse buche, etc.
Reviewers complain that umbrellas are $10/day, but pool umbrellas are free and are made with slightly heavier material. Want to stay at the beach? Why not compromise and get a pool bench that overlooks the beach? I am talking about the benches on the left side of the pool that is just a stairway away from the beach, but is also next to the pool. You have the best of both worlds because poolside service includes eucalyptus towels and chilled fruit, complimentary of course. This was a great option for me on the last few days when the water was too choppy. I stayed in the pool until the water calmed down, and walked a few steps into the ocean. You can also find shade in plenty of areas in the hotel. The palapas (at the new club side, which is quiet and exclusively for any Ritz guest) are completely free. They offer more shade than the holey beach umbrellas. I made the mistake of not putting on sunscreen at the beach, and within half an hour on the beach under an umbrella, I was a red lobster. Just be careful-still plenty of coverage but you can tell the pool umbrella is slightly thicker.
Get up early. Seriously. The best spots at the pools and beach are taken by 8-9. When you check in ask about the % occupancy and that should give you an idea. Not a morning person? Book a day casita, always ahead of time because they are popular. Introduce yourself to the lifeguard or a pool boy and ask them to set it up for you for the rest of the week. Finally, you can always go there first, set up, go back upstairs or inside to have breakfast. In the end, there’s really no “bad” spot at the hotel. The right side pool has shade for half of the day because of the sun’s pattern, but it’s also quieter because less people use it.
Bring sunblock or prepare to pay for it. If you are going for more than a few days, plan accordingly. I can’t tell you how many adults and children burned (in a painful way) at the beach. It happens so quickly that by the time you realize you’re red, it’s too late. My fiancé was red, then he was in pain (this is where the handy doctor comes in) and then peeled for the rest of the trip. He’s been all over the world and to many tropical places, but I can’t tell you how quickly you forget to reapply once you are in that perfect ocean or fall asleep under an umbrella. Yes, even under the umbrella, light reflects in the sand/cement to your body at the same level. Bring a big bottle of water when you go on excursions/any type of trip where you are horded to tourist destinations. It’s better to drink Gatorade or Smart Water when you are out all day and eating nothing.
Take probiotics with you. This will ensure that you never even get a stomach cramp. It’s perfectly safe.
Finally, take as much pesos with you as possible if you care about saving money. You can order it from most banks for free and get the best exchange rate. You can pay for all bills with pesos, which saves you up to hundreds when you consider that the dollar fluctuates now between 15-17 pesos/dollar, but the Ritz estimates a conservative 12-14 pesos/dollar. Even at other vendors, parasailing was 700 pesos a person, but $50 USD. You do the math-it quickly adds up! It’s also more considerate when you are tipping someone under $20 USD.
Are you considering the Club Level?
Club vs. regular package: In terms of pure price, the regular option is cheaper in most circumstances. However, if you like your cocktails and beverages, this quickly adds up since it’s complimentary on the club level. I chose not to stay at the club even though I have a few cocktails a day because I like to stay on the beach and do nothing. The club is great because you get small meals five times a day, a healthy regime but one that I chose not to do because I really wanted to try lots of the restaurants and eat poolside/by the beach. Don’t worry about fussy eaters such as your children because they really accommodate you. Just be aware of these differences, and the fact that the club beach level (the new addition) is open to all. Extra benefits include no check-in, and it’s basically like an oasis within an oasis, as described by my uncle and aunt. If money isn’t an issue, just know that I already felt like royalty with the service at the rest of the hotel, but I wouldn’t mind trying this next time now that I have sampled all the restaurants. If you like to try different things everyday and want to stick to a bill, or even try 1-2 restaurants, this might be the best option.
In the end I felt the most satisfied. Friends from home who stayed at other hotels didn’t necessarily pay less because of their own resort-priced food and miscellaneous costs. If you follow the saving tips above, you’d be surprised to learn that you could save more, especially considering that there are such great deals on room prices right now. Cancun hotels of good to great quality are surprisingly not that much different in price depending on the season. In low season, the Ritz is $200/night. If you come back after the first time, they will give you loyalty service and deals the next time. If you go back to the Marriott, you are still paying for Marriott service at the same Cancun resort price the second time. As I said before, it’s a culmination of all my experiences. There were several times when the hotel resolved problems that I know would have been a great source of trouble at others. When my fiancé was in so much pain that they called the doctor, (at 3 AM mind you, and they OPENED the store just to get some pain meds for us). At most restaurants there was a 2:1 ratio of servers. It’s easy to have a perfect time when everyone remembers your name and most importantly, your preferences. I know I’ve said it so many times before, but the Ritz staff anticipates your needs. This quality sets them a world apart from neighboring hotels. It’s the reason why it’s the only five star diamond hotel by the beach. Please contact me if you have any questions and I'd be happy to help.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Considered one of the most elegant resorts in the world, The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, reflects Mexico's rich architectural heritage in an atmosphere of magnificent sophistication. Minutes from many lively and leisurely attractions, the resort features 363 guestrooms overlooking the sea, a 1,200-foot beach, sculpted outdoor swimming pools, a full service Spa, an impressive Culinary Center and award winning restaurants. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Ritz-Carlton Cancun Hotel Cancun
- Cancun Ritz Carlton
- Ritz Cancun