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Reviewed December 24, 2006

Just returned from a wonderful five night stay before Christmas. We were a bit concerned about a few of the negative reviews we had read, but are glad to say how happy we were with the Westin. We also realized that this hotel would not appeal to all types of travelers, especially some types that may have chosen to visit Cancun for its well-known party atmosphere. If you want to drink and dance and stay out late at night with loud music, you will not enjoy being here. If you want a top-notch, classic Mexican hotel with the best beach on the island, and enjoy the beach and good food, there might not be a better place anywhere to stay.

We chose a room in the Royal Beach Club (the pink tower in the hotel pictures, although they have repainted it white recently to match the minimalist decor of the rest of the building), which I can't recommend highly enough. During our stay the additional cost was only about $70. The difference in the rooms, as far as I can tell, is an ocean front view to die for, HUGE balcony, marble floor instead of ceramic tile, flat screen tv mounted on the wall instead of older tv with entertainment armoire, and most importantly, a breakfast and evening happy hour buffet. Our money was made up for simply by the breakfast buffet, as this costs $25/pp in the restaurant, and there were 4 of us traveling. At 5:30 every night, they open up an extensive happy hour buffet with unlimited house drinks and enough substantial food (four different meat dishes each night) to keep us from needing to eat dinner for four of the five nights.

But the room view is worth the extra cost all by itself. For the earlier posters who claim this place is not as nice as other Westins are, and that the rooms are cold and sterile, they are designed to be very minimalist - stark white walls, little artwork on the walls, but exceptionally clean and luxurious. We have stayed at Westins in Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos along with the former Westins in Ixtapa and Acapulco, and this one stands up with all of them.

We also never had to deal with the time share people (that is, after leaving the free for all at the airport). We did however, hear of some people being called on the phone in their rooms for solicitations (Uggh!)

The staff was also very friendly and always remembered our name.

Cancun is also getting very expensive. Although we've always experienced relative bargains traveling throughout Mexico, we hadn't been to Cancun in 20 years. It's hard to find dinner entrees under $15-$20 in the hotel zone, and most hotel breakfast buffets run $25. An apple juice for our 3-year old at the pool ran $5 - we weren't very happy about that - but the Kid's Club was fantastic.

Overall, if you're looking for a peaceful, relaxing, luxurious beach vacation and don't need the ostentatious Vegas-style hotels up near the point, you might not find a better, more enjoyable place to stay.

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled with family
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15  Thank saxorob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2006

My sister and I just returned from a week at this hotel. Overall, it was a great experience. The rate was cheap @ $169/night - the hotel is really discounted right now to attract guests following the hurricane renovations. Not all of the work is finished yet. The spa only offers limited services, for example (go to the Ritz for spa services). However, the staff really went out of their way to make us feel at home. We had a lot of staff referring to us by name.

The rooms are cozy, esp. the Westin Heavenly Bed. The bathrooms aren't exactly up to date, but who cares when you're only paying $169/night? The room had a beautiful view of the ocean and was very clean.

The restaurant offerings are limited, but the food is very good. The room service menu was more extensive then the actual restaurant. Our room rate included a huge breakfast buffet w/an omelete station.

The pool area is really nice. We sat on the lagoon side which is less breezy and a bit more secluded. We actually thought the pool area was nicer than the Ritz in terms of the set up.

I would definitely consider staying here again.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled with friends
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5  Thank ANP
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 21, 2006

We have just returned from Cancun Mexico where we had a great time. I jotted down some tips that will likely help others to make the trip enjoyable and cheaper!

This is our experience and so it might not be representative of other people’s experiences. Nevertheless, I think these points below will help an average Canadian family of four with their trip.

Arriving at the airport:

After arriving at the Cancun international airport use the public transit if you don’t have many luggage, otherwise you will need to use a cab which will cost you between 20 and 40 U.S. dollars. Don’t be intimidated by the crowd and by all the people who are trying to make a deal with you. The public transit bus is fast and convenient and will cost about 8 U.S. dollars per person. But you will have to be persistent not to deal with anyone before you get to the bus ( it will be difficult).

Westin hotel:

The hotel is located at the south end of the hotel zone closest to the airport. Prepare yourself to pay quite a bit of money for food and services if you don’t have an all inclusive package. For example, the El Palmar restaurant which is located in the hotel and it is the only restaurant open inside the hotel will set you back by about 100 U. S. dollars for a dinner for a family of four. Other rather high prices include 8 U.S. dollars a minute phone call to Canada so make sure that you bring a calling card or use collect call by dialing 2021 (no fee). One time use of Internet access will cost you 5 U.S. dollars for half an hour. When you arrive at the hotel they might try to upgrade you to a better room or other packages. Don’t take them!

If you want to play tennis bring your own rackets otherwise you will have to pay about $15 U.S. during the daytime and additional $22 U.S. during the evening (this latter charge is for the lighting).

A glass of beer will cost you $5 U.S. and the Margarita about $7 U.S. You’re way better off going to the Mexican version of Seven-Eleven called OXXOS (open 24 hours a day) where the very same beer will cost you about 1 dollar U.S.

As usual, don’t take anything from the mini bar at the hotel. A small bottle of water will cost you about $3.00 U.S. A large bottle (1.5 liter) will set you back by about $8.00 U.S. if you use the mini bar. The very same large bottle of water will cost you about fifteen pesos ($1.50 US) at OXXOS.

The hotel provides you with cards for beach towels. If you lose the card or the towel you will have to pay $50 U.S. however this really works only on paper because generally no one cares.

The fitness center is free and it is open until 10:00 PM.

Expect to give tips to almost everyone you will be dealing with in Mexico. You will have to tip people who carry your luggage (2-3 dollars will do) at the airport, the bellboy and a concierge at the hotel, the waiters and the restaurants, the maids who clean your room, the guides on the various trips you attend etc.

The best thing to do is to carry $1 bills. You will need about 10 U.S. dollars a day. This might sound too much but it’s a great investment. By some very cheap cosmetics, hair clips, soaps, shower gels etc. and leave a small gift and a $1 bill in your room for the maid every day and you will not regret it. You will get extra towels, slippers, clean sheets and a very clean room every day. You will never have any problems with missing towels and such.

The Westin hotel provides you with heavenly bed and shower. Heavenly bed means very fluffy and heavy covers and lots of pillows. I personally hated them. Who needs heavy and thick covers when it’s stinking hot? I used only one sheet and got rid of most of the pillows. The heavenly bath on the other hand was great. It basically includes two heavy duty shower heads.

In Cancun:

All American chain restaurants and stores will cost you the same amount you expect to pay at home. For example, a grande coffee at Starbucks will cost you $2 U.S. The same applies to other chains like McDonald’s and Subway.

Use public transit to travel anywhere from the hotel. It will cost you six pesos (60 cents) per person. Public transit is fast and convenient. They will pretty much pick you up anywhere if you wave them off. There’s no transfer so you have to pay the same price every time you get on the bus. The bus runs every five minutes or so during the day and every fifteen minutes or so during the night until about 1:00 AM.

Bargaining is expected in every shopping place outside of large malls. Generally, if the price is not shown it means you have to bargain. If you pay more than half of the suggested price you paid too much. As a general rule the further you get away from the hotel zone the less you will have to pay. This is because the more tourists visit the shopping place the higher the chance that some of those tourists are willing to pay the higher price. Visit the smaller flea markets in downtown Cancun (Northern end, farthest from the hotel zone). A good place to visit is the Plaza Las Americas in downtown or the La Isla mall in the middle of the hotel zone. The Plaza Las Americas also has a SuperStore that is likely the cheapest to buy food or anything else.

Hurricane Wilma devastated large parts of the Cancun during October in the 2005. Most buildings have been rebuilt but there’s still some construction going on. Because of the hurricane everything is new. There are brand new shopping malls all over the place, new hotels and new buildings everywhere.

Mid-December is a great time to visit because the weather is great, there are not that many tourists and you can witness all the Christmas decorations in the malls, on palm trees in front of hotels and in the hotels themselves.

If you need a swimming suit you might want to delay it until you arrive in Cancun. You can buy beautiful swimming suits for about 50 to $60 U.S.

Be very careful while crossing roads because cars travel fast and they do not stop for pedestrians. All buses travel with open doors so hold on all the time.

Trips:

Generally speaking it’s not a good idea to book anything on the Internet unless you go in the high season when an advance reservation is recommended for activities like swimming with dolphins at the XCaret or Xelha ecoparks. You will likely get reasonably good deals at various travel agencies in the hotel zone. There’s lots of competition so shop around. Definitely do not book any activities until you asked about three or four travel agencies.

All trips will include the sale of digital memories like pictures and videos for additional price, of course. You will be presented by professional photos and videos all done and edited by the end of your trip. One 8X10 picture will cost you about $12 U.S.

If you plan on snorkeling buy some underwater camera in the U.S. or Canada otherwise expect to pay about $20 U.S. for one.

Generally all organized excursions will require you to leave a small tip of the end of your trip so carry some cash.

Isla Mujeres:

If you book a trip to Isla Mujeres, make sure you understand what you’re paying for. Make sure that the agent puts down on paper what is included in the agreed upon price. Snorkeling for example is not included nor is petting the baby sharks. All of those activities are optional and you have to pay extra money. Snorkeling will cost you $12 U.S. per person. Paying $60 U.S. for a family of four to Isla Mujeres is reasonable and it includes the basic boat trip with free drinks, spending the day at the beach, visiting downtown, continental breakfast and the lunch buffet. The continental breakfast consists a bun and some fruit so make sure you either bring some food or eat something before the trip. While on the island you can easily visit downtown on foot. It will take about five to ten minutes to get there. There are no more real good deals mainly because of the concentration of tourists.

XCaret ecopark:

Before I visited the park I have read some reviews. One reviewer suggested that XCaret is a ‘glorified zoo’. After visiting the park I have to agree. The basic entrance fee is about $80 U.S. if they pick you up at the hotel. Additional activities are optional, therefore you have to pay for them extra money. Swimming with the dolphins costs an additional $80 U.S. per child, the snorkeling tour will cost $34 U.S. per person which includes the snorkeling equipment. It is a pretty good deal especially if you can book the tour for later in the afternoon and pick up the equipment early in the morning. You can then snorkel in the underground river or in the bay area without having to pay extra for the snorkeling (otherwise 12 USD/person). You cannot take oil based sun screen lotions into the park but no one really checks. There's generally a couple shows starting at 6:00 PM that are really well organized but you have to be there at 5:00 PM to have a good seat. Bring some food and drinks but plan to have lunch at one of the restaurants. Surprisingly the restaurants are reasonably priced here charging from 11 to $25 U.S. per dish and they have some amazing drinks served in a full carved out pineapple. If you book any optional activities make sure you only do one, otherwise you will not have time to check out the park. There are lockers provided for $2 U.S. and there are many lockers in the park. Try to use one in the middle so if you forget something you don’t have to run all across the park to get it. Bring some cash because your visa card might not always work. The also expect you to pay cash for tips and the locker. If you plan to snorkel you might do better off going to Conzumel which is the second largest coral reef in the world.

Pirate attack:

This activity is not really for kids although it is advertised as such. It goes from 7-11 PM and it involves free booze and lots of it, loud music and the general carnival atmosphere. It is well organized and is worth the money. The food is served as a buffet and it is OK. The live band and the show are really good.

Checking out/last day:

It’s a good idea to check out early to beat the crowd, drop-off your luggage in the hotel’s check-in room. Leave only one bag with the essentials (camera, cash, passports, tickets, sunscreen etc.). Now you are free to hang out of the beach or the pool area and have fun until you have to leave. You can use the hospitality room of the hotel free to take a shower and change then pick up the rest of the luggage and you are ready to go.

It should not cost you more than 250 pesos ($25) to get a cab to the Airport. There’s no bus service to the Airport so the taxi is your only option. Again make sure that you leave some money for tips for the bellboy, the cab driver, the person who will carry your luggage at the airport. (the cab driver will drop you off as far from your airline ticket counter as possible so you will need someone to care your luggage).

Buy some sandwiches and drinks at OXXOS the day before your departure otherwise you’ll have to pay a lot more at the airport. If you bought some alcohol or perfumes in Cancun you will have to put them into your luggage that you check in. You cannot have more than 6oz. of liquid in your carry on luggage. All bags are searched at the check-in gate before you enter the plane and all liquids are confiscated (including your perfumes and drinks). We learned this the hard way…:-(

  • Stayed: November 2006, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
27  Thank gugyuco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 20, 2006

The Westin is a beautiful hotel. It has a gorgeous beach, two large beautiful pools (I couldn't find the other 3 they claim they have), a very helpful and friendly staff and best of all, the beds have pure, white duvet covers and linens (5 pillows on the king size beds.) The place feels very, very clean. We ate only breakfast (average) and lunch (average) there, and both were quite pricey. One very good thing is that to get to all the great hotel zone and downtown Cancun restaurants, there is a bus stop less than 300 feet from the front of the hotel where for 6.5 pesos (about $0.60) per person (busses don't take US coins or dollars), you can ride anywhere in the hotel zone or all the way into the edge of downtown Cancun (about 20 miles.) A cab ride from the Westin to downtown Cancun, one way, costs approximately $20. My single complaint about the Westin is that it provides a coffeemaker but only one pack of decaf coffee and one pack of regular coffee for your first night's stay. After that, if you want coffee in your room in the morning, they will charge you $4.00 per packet--yes, I said $4.00 per packet. I found this practice to be irksome and totally out of character for a Westin. Pick up Fodor's and Frommer's travel guides at your library and follow their advice to find the very good (and not always pricey) restaurants. We did and were very pleased. We ate at Le Distilleria, LaGuna Grill, The Fisheria, Cenacola, La Habichuela. The dessert caramel flan (it costs $9.00 US) at Le Distilleria is truly unbeatable anywhere, at any price, and if you order it you may be dreaming about it the rest of your life as I suspect I may.

  • Stayed: December 2006, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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5  Thank PortiaWestlake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 5, 2006

We just returned from a 6 night stay at the Westin. We booked through the Westin website and got a great rate, which included buffet breakfast for two every morning. This was our first trip to Cancun and we really enjoyed our stay. The Westin has been newly remodeled. They have brand new fitness equipment in the fitness center and brand new carpet in the hall ways. The lobby and all the common areas are covered in marble.

Our check-in was seamless and we had a nice size room facing the ocean. The bathroom was nice sized with a double head shower and bathtub. The maid service was fine and they offered turn down service each evening. We were never harassed by the time share staff our entire visit. IMHO the beach at the Westin is one of the hotels greatest assets. It's a bit apart from the rest of the hotel zone and just a short walk to the Club Med hotel where the water is much calmer for swimming.

The staff was always very friendly and helpful. We had to use the business center one evening. It was right at closing but the attendant gave us 5 minutes free time to check e-mails at no charge. Cost for internet access is 50 pesos per half hour.

The wait staff each morning at breakfast was always cheerful and attentive. They have a wide assortment of breakfast items including cereals, fresh fruits, yoghurt, pastries and an omlette station. The waitstaff are very hard working and during the afternoon some of them shift outside to pool side and the beach. They come around and take drink orders or food orders and they were always running around serving the guests. The main pool is nice size and heated. On only one day was the water cool. They have a swim up bar that overlooks the beach.

On the lagoon side there is another pool and they have a table tennis and foosball table as well. There are 2 artificial grass tennis courts above the lagoon side pool.

We would not hesitate to stay here again.

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9  Thank Toadman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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