Just like Heather Locklear, the Cozumel Palace can scrub up pretty well, but can also, at times, seem a little past her prime.
But spend a little time and you start to realize why she has so many passionate fans!
Just like life at Melrose Place, life here revolves around the pool. That can be a great thing, but it can also be a bit much. The pool itself is terrific, overlooking the deep turquoise of the Caribbean... with plenty of sun loungers and the usual treat of a well stocked swim up bar.
On the downside, pool activities start shortly after noon and they can go on for hours, loudly.
If big group fun is what you are looking for you will have a blast! The activities here are led with super enthusiasm and genuine warmth by a team that knows how to get everyone involved and to keep the fun times coming. The mood is hyper social, with drinks flowing.
If, like the three of us, you would prefer a quieter and more 'chilled' vibe, the hours of pool partying can become a bit irritating (and pretty impossible to ignore - I ended up abandoning my iPod when it could no longer compete with the blasting music... which, at one point, included putting 'Sweet Home Alabama' on a loop).
To give balance, I have to point out there is one great escape from the pool party just steps, actually just a dive, away... and that's the brilliant and crystal clear waters that lie in front of the resort. You literally just walk down to, or jump into, the sea and start marveling at the vibrant colours of the many tropical fish that are on your doorstep.
The only problem is that you are unlikely to spend all day in this water... the moment you are back on the loungers you better be prepared to join, or at least go along with, the pool party.
If you are in Cozumel to spend your days snorkeling or diving away from the hotel and away from the pool then the noise won't be a problem... and you can relish in what the Cozumel Palace serves up best, and that's five star service... seriously five star.
I cannot stress enough that this is a truly outstanding team, possibly the best I have ever encountered at any hotel or resort. They, alone, could make the visit worthwhile and whoever recruits and holds together this team deserve credit that would make the Four Seasons group envious.
People in all manner of jobs not only remember your name, but also your favorite drink. After a short while and many wide smiles, your drinks just keep flowing, without even being called for... they are always there, asking if you'd like a snack, or if there is anything they can do to please... the attention is sincere and exceedingly gracious ... I definitely understand why many tripadvisor reviewers write about being "treated like royalty".
This team is something to behold... so much so I feel compelled to mention a few names: Wilma, Wendy, Brenda and Caesar, Sylvia, Juan, Gabriel, Angel, Rubi, Francesco and Heri... and, frankly, it's a bit embarrassing since this is a tiny list.. just a few, of the many, who made it a memorable visit... all of them sure to greet any words of thanks with a simple "my pleasure".
Now, in the hope of being helpful.. specifically to help you assess if this is the place for you, here are some other details I personally would have found useful:
The room, we had one of the loft suites... It was spacious with a nice terrace overlooking the kiddie pool (thankfully never used) and the Caribbean blue.
it's over two floors, but open plan (so separate levels, but not separate bedrooms as such ... to get to the front door, you walk right by the 'master' bed, typical in a hotel room, but not what you might expect in a room billed as a "two bedroom suite").
There were two bathrooms, the one downstairs was fine, the one upstairs was a little cramped.. and, be warned, if you are tall like me (6'6) the upstairs ceiling is VERY low (my head basically touched it, kinda like being in a basement).
The location.. the great diving off the front is wonderful, and feels like you are on the ocean on an island (which, of course, you are!)... the 'town' around the main entrance, not so much. the resort lies directly on a busy street, opposite a construction site and there is little of fun (or visual) appeal just steps away. Ten minutes walk and you are in what passes for the main shopping area. But be warned this is no 'Playa Del Carmen', it's a combination of pretty ramshackle restaurants and bars, as well as countless 'tourist tacky' stores and an endless lineup of diamond and jewelry stores, all targeted at Cozumel's apparent main source of income: cruise ships (there were at least three or four in port every day of our visit). For my part, you don't come to Cozumel expecting much from the town. If you go back a few streets from the coast it's pretty downbeat... we were fairly horrified during our cab ride in from the airport... expecting at any point to see chickens wandering the street, tumbleweeds and the odd bedraggled mule! Tell your cab driver to take the the coastal route into town, there's no difference in price, but a huge difference in 'first impressions'.
The food and restaurants... consistently pretty good, and also pretty much a'la carte (buffet breakfasts, and partially buffet lunches).
The best feature (and this is not to be underestimated) you need NO RESERVATIONS! Just wander into any restaurant at any time... Again, service rules here... not 'resort rules', you can even ask them for a dish you liked in a different restaurant from the one in which you are eating ... pretty impressive! Our pick was the outdoor grill, followed by the Italian restaurant.
The evening entertainment... was pretty good, usually some kind of show, followed by an audience participation element ... The entertainment usually started around eight and was over by nine-thirty.. After that, the resort was pretty much quiet... if you want a bit of later nightlife, best to head into town.
The 'resort credit'... it's pretty legitimate, but the choice of how you can use it is somewhat limited (especially the $300 cap on how much you can use in the spa). There are a few tours and activities that make sense, as does the wine upgrade option (although the quoted prices for the wines upgraded are pretty overblown, by my calculation close to twice what you would be paying for the same wine in a US restaurant ... but remember you are only paying 11% of that quoted price, so it's not a bad deal and definitely a much better option than the house wines). One word of warning, to get details about the resort credit you have to meet with a person who explains the 'advantages' of joining one of their special breakfasts to hear about the Palace 'Resort Club'... "It's not a Timeshare" is the reassurance ... but the offers of more spa credits, or use of a jeep for the day suggest the sales tactics are the same and I was a little disappointed to be subjected to this.
In their defense, when we made it clear that we weren't interested in it, that was the last we heard of it.
In summary, I'd say the Cozumel Palace is great for family groups (plenty of kids and quite a number of multi-generational family groups taking advantage of the many activities being offered and encouraged). It's great too for groups of friends, especially if you are looking for a '30s and up' party atmosphere. I'd also say it works for divers who are going to take advantage of the direct access to the reef (via boats leaving from the resorts own pier out front). I am not convinced its the best choice for couples wanting peace and quiet and privacy (unless you are staying in your room) or others who are looking for a but more of a relaxed escape.
Through this review I have been full and frank and honest... My intention is to help you decide if it's what you are looking for in a holiday... but I can't end without giving at least one more plug to the staff... they are truly exceptional and if you want to experience outstanding customer service first hand, then let me encourage you to overlook some of my warnings about 'the pool party afternoons' and take the plunge... Even if its not perfect in every way, I am pretty confident the smiles and warmth and attention of this team will make your holiday here quite wonderful.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Not too long ago, Cozumel Island was revealed to the world with all its charm. Now adventure travelers, divers and nature lovers are discovering the all-inclusive, luxurious Cozumel Palace, the stunning resort bathed by the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Experience the true meaning of luxury and fun. Enjoy the amenities and attention to detail from the moment you arrive. Our Cozumel Palace will take your breath away! Ideal for families, couples and adventure travelers who love diving and snorkeling. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Cozumel Palace Hotel Cozumel
- Palace Hotel Cozumel
- Plaza Las Glorias Cozumel
- Palace Cozumel
- Cozumel Palace Resort