I have travelled to 10 different all-inclusive hotels and stayed in luxury hotels (including several of the 5 stars in Vegas) all over the world and this is in the two nicest I have stayed in to date (Villa La Estancia - Puerta Vallarta). I would like to preface my comments by stating that my judgement is bias based on the fact that I came to this hotel with a very particular set of criteria, almost all of which were met. These criteria may not be the same travel motivations for all travellers, so you need to take what I say in context. Here's what my wife and I were looking for:
1) Large Luxury room with view of ocean
2) Small hotel with less than 200 rooms
3) Excellent food with unlimited room service at any hour
4) Proper high end drinks (very particular here after being burned by "top shelf" drink billings at other all-inclusives)
5) Access to a swimmable beach
6) No hassles from time share people
7) Quiet with very few teenagers
8) Hot Tub to watch the sunset from (either on property in room)
Here's how this place did on our visit from March 22-29 in room 5518:
1) The room was above average in size with a well equipped deck and a stunning view of the Ocean (I would recommend this over the lagoon view - worth the extra 20 a day) The finishings were high end with comfortable furniture, pillow menu, and the most comfortable bed we've had at an all-inclusive. The bathroom was done in marble and the rain water shower worked well.
2) While the Paradisus Hotel is not small at all, the Royal Service part of the hotel is like a small 100 room adults-only hotel to itself with a separate check-in, bar, pool area and entrances with only Royal Service key card access. The pool area, in particular, was nice to have no children at and was quiet with the butlers providing cabana bed service all day.
3) The food component is quickly becoming the number one thing we look for and was one of the reasons we chose this hotel. With the selection of 7 different al a carte choices and a buffet we had done our research on these places before we came. Tempo by Martin Berenstegui (a seven starred Michelen chef) was far and away the highlight as we expected and one of the top 5 meals we have had anywhere! An 8 course tasting menu with wine pairings is free for Royal Service Guests who stay at least one week. (Wine is separate). The meal was so good we went again and paid the 45$ per head plus the 45$ per head wine pairing. In our books a 200$ meal like this was well worth it for a special occasion - it was just that good. The other choices were not quite this elegant, but certainly the service was exceptional. Bana - the Asian themed restaurant was the next best and we had some excellent dishes (we also went back here for a second time). Hint: While it can be tough to get a reservation at Bana - you can show up a bit later, say 8:00, and ask for a walk up seat. Have a seat at the bar and have a drink while you wait and they can usually get you in. Have lunch in the window seats at Blue Agave as it is a great view and some tasty Mexican choices. The Market Grill was OK, but you must be a meat lover. Vento was in a nice setting and the food was probably the third best choice. Fuego and Naos the buffet are a bit more on the casual side. We also really enjoyed just having a burger for lunch at our cabana on many days (the quality of simple things like a cheeseburger can tell you a lot about the food of an all-inclusive and these were great.)
4) The drinks were a bit of a mixed bag. In some ways the self-serve bar in the Royal Service Lounge was above and beyond and had some great choices - Grey Goose Vodka, Captain Morgan Reserve Rum, Don Julio Anejo,. Reposado and Blanco Tequila, Johnny Walker Black. I was a bit disappointed that they did not have single malt scotch or Courvousier Cognac, but such is the nature of my pickininess in this area. They did have a nice selection of red wine from around the world eg. Australian Shiraz, Argentinian Malbec, Calfornian Merlot. They also had some international brands of beer, which was a first for an all-inclusive eg. Heineken both at the self serve and the in mini-bar. The mini-bar is equipped with 5 beer which is refilled every day. The quality of drinks drops off at the rest of the resort outside of the Royal Service area, so be aware if this is important to you.
5) The beach here is exceptional as is the swimming. I preferred this beach to the Pacific side as the sand does not get hot, but is white, soft and beautiful. The waves were not too out of control, but enough to have fun in. There are not horses or peddlers which is also an added bonus.
6) Did not have to deal with this once the entire trip. Loved it!
7) The Royal Service side of the hotel is very peaceful and they are quick to escort children or teenagers who wander into the Royal Service pool from the beach back to the other side of the resort. The restaurants are mixed, but if you go to the higher end places and later in the evening you can usually have a very peaceful/romantic dinner.
8) This would be the only recommendation that I would give to the hotel. While they have a wonderful layout of the pools and have the hot tub areas (with views of the beach and water) built, they have not filled these with hot water. No one really knew the reason why - some speculated that it might have had something to do with health concerns or something, but boy would opening those up to guests in the Royal Service with poolside service in them make a difference. Especially in the evenings as things cooled off a bit it would have a been a very popular spot!
Overall, we really enjoyed the service. We were given a cell phone to contact butlers whenever we needed them, but the service was so prompt everywhere that we only used the cell phone once. I loved the pre-meal drinks in the Royal Service Lounge and having a self serve feature really is a cool idea. We also enjoyed the complimentary hydrotherapy in the YHI spa - defiantly try it at night one time for the lighting experience. As the hotel just finished renovations - there were still minor things going on - I hope that it doesn't get out of our price range, but wouldn't be surprised if it did as they got a good thing going.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Timeless Luxury with an Avant-Garde Flair Evocative of an ancient Mayan civilization; lavish architecture that rises into the sky and slips back into the sandy Cancun shore. Gran Meliá Cancun Resort is a 5-star, AAA 4-diamond beachfront resort, voluminous as it is elegant, decadent as it is distinguished. Gran Meliá Cancun's five majestic pyramids decorate this timelessly-tropical scene, revealing a backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. Four spectacular pools, luxurious guestrooms, dining and the hotel's renowned YHI Spa, one of the most prestigious in the world, are only a taste of a bold collection of services and amenities offered at this sleek, seductive and luxurious Cancun resort paradise. Positioned, carefully, in Cancun's Hotel Zone, Gran Meliá Cancun luxury hotel is within 5 minutes from the city's premier shopping centers, 15 minutes from the International Airport, and immediate proximity to the downtown and many exciting entertainment venues. A 9-hole, par 3 executive golf course, three lavish pools, and the signature YHI Spa offer the discerning guest a definitive means to leisure. Experience a hotel that radiates the beauty of the Yucatán Peninsula, and the privilege and compassion of Gran Meliá, premiere Cancun resorts. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gran Melia Cancun Hotel Cancun
- Cancun Gran Melia
- Grand Melia Cancun
- Melia Cancun