Our first impressions of the island were not good. We arrived late Friday, in the rain and very tired after a 12 hour trip. We walked to the hotel from the Ferry dock, in the rain. Half of the main street was torn up under construction and the area looked run down. However, the following is true: The street will likely be very nice when they finish the construction (I would guess in a few weeks), most Mexican towns look run down by American standards, and, it's no fault of the hotel that it was raining !
Unfortunately, the next day (Saturday) was also a total rainout. We were beginning to think about going back home! However, that concludes the bad part of this review. On Sunday morning, the sun came up, and we had an absolutely gorgeous week. On to the review of the hotel and island.
We got a great deal on the hotel, including an all-inclusive package. In the all-inclusive debate, I fall securely on the "do it" side considering the price. I would rate the food as good to very good - similar in quality to the cruse we took last year. One MAJOR difference from cruises is that all alcohol and drinks are included. We don't drink much but it was still a major plus, knowing we could order anything at any time. There are three basic options - Cafe Del Mar (on the beach), Satay (Thai/oriental in a formal setting) and Sabor (mainly buffet for breakfast and dinner, order off the menu for lunch). All three have their high points. The beach Cafe was, of course, in a beautiful setting, Satay was elegant and serene, and Sabor was casual with lots of windows to see out. Contrary to some opinions, we had a great dinner at Satay (I had the tuna). The buffets are generally good (especially if you arrive early, as with any buffet), and the beach Cafe was pretty good. One slight downer on the drinks, we did not find the mixed drinks at the beach Cafe to be very good (or potent), but it's easy to ask for something different (it's free after all). Keep trying until you find one you like. The wine is "house wine" and the beer is Corona only (although you might try Corona dark for a change).
As mentioned by others, the restaurants in town are excellent, but I didn't think they were super cheap (although very reasonable). We spent about $35 at El Patio, and $60 at Olivia's (both great places).
The Island itself is great - the people are Very friendly, and we felt safe at all times, even walking down a dark alley at night. Definitely rent a golf cart and explore ($50/day). We found a great beach on the south end of the island. $5 to get in but it was well worth it because you could rent snorkeling gear and experience some great fish right off shore. Since we didn't feel like devoting a lot of time and money to a snorkeling trip, this little beach was the perfect answer for us. It was between the Turtle Farm and Punta Sur. The marking for it was hard to see but the there is a small sign by the road.
As far as the hotel, considering the price (Expedia) we paid, it was a great value. Our first room was huge, but the view wasn't great (1st floor, view of a Palapa). We asked for an upgrade and boy were we upgraded. We shot up to the top (6th) floor with a gigantic rooftop patio and our own spashpool. Views of the ocean all around and spectacular sunsets (and sunrises). Other than a few nits, the only issue we had with the rooms was an intermittent odor that we're not sure exactly where it came from. Opening the doors for ventilation helped (no bugs !) and incense were provided in the room. This sounds bad, but it really wasn't that much of an issue. Overall, the rooms are stark, in keeping with the modern look. The beds were on the firm side, but we tend to like them that way, so no problem for us.
Overall, the hotel staff was genuinely friendly and accommodating. For me, that goes a long way to balance any issues that we encountered. Since issues happen on most vacations, the key to me is what they do about them, and this hotel gets a "A" on that in my book. Toward the end of our stay, they gave us a survey to fill out and actually called our room to discuss it further.
Although there is live music on the beach at this hotel, the Island doesn't have a whole lot of "events" or entertainment, so you need to be in the mood for a laid back vacation - which is what we were looking for. Having said that, on the main street (Hidalgo), there are usually 2 or 3 small bands or guitarists playing at restaurants and it was common to see Mayan dancers in the street (with or without fire batons) doing wild dances to a drum beat (fun to watch).
One final thing - there is a small school on the island called the "Little Yellow Schoolhouse" which is a non-profit that supports children with special needs. We discovered it on the Isla Mujeres website and were determined to visit it and bring some supplies. It seemed nobody knew about it until we found three local police who, after some explanation in Spanish (thanks to my wife), one of them thought she knew. So she jumped on the back of our golf cart and directed us through several twists and turns through the neighborhoods and we finally found it. She was very kind to spend so much time with us and was fun to have along as a rider!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Privilege Aluxes: Truly a privileged experience ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Booking.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Expedia, Orbitz, HotelsClick, Cancelon, Priceline, Jetsetter, TripOnline SA, getaroom.com and HotelQuickly so you can book your Privilege Aluxes reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Privilege Aluxes Isla Mujeres
- Privilege Aluxes Hotel Isla Mujeres