We stayed here for a week and were overall delighted with our stay. The hotel tower is set up where every room has a view of the Caribbean from the room and the hall serving the rooms is all windows and overlooks the magnificent lagoon and the town beyond, and in the far distance Cancun itself.
What you think of this property depends on what you are expecting. It is on a private island with 24-hour security at the end of the access bridge. The adjacent lagoon where the beach is located is stunning. We spoke with several people who have traveled the Caribbean extensively and they all said the water here was second to none. The water in the entire lagoon is 1-4 feet deep, with the average depth for most of it being about 2.5 feet, ideal for small children. There are a few deeper spots, nothing over 5-6 feet. The waves of the Caribbean constantly crash over one end, sending a constant stream of new water flowing through the lagoon. There is a decent current as a result, but nothing that's going to sweep you away.
Where the waves meet the lagoon is the best snorkeling, as hundreds of fish congregate there. It was amazing. One word of warning though~this is an ocean, and as such there are real critters here. I saw a large stingray late in the day once when I was the only one in the lagoon, and there are sea urchins as well. I saw a couple of black spiky vicious looking ones hiding in the rocks. I also saw several small rays that are almost impossible to see because they blend in with the sand. All of this said, the lagoon teemed with people every day, so it is as safe as an ocean environment can be I guess. You know it's a good location when boatloads of snorkel tours get dropped off here every day to check it out. Just use common sense when you are swimming and be aware of your surroundings. I also purchased a Fujifilm Finepix XP50 underwater camera for the trip($130 on sale) which turned out to be a great purchase. The snorkeling is awesome and it's great to have pics and video of it. I also brought my own snorkel gear from home which turned out to be a stroke of genious. Get to the beach early(before 10am at least) if you want a good chair and the option of some shade. Also be sure to take a dip in King's Pool, by the villas on the NE(Caribbean) side of the island. Bring your snorkel mask.
Now, back to the hotel. As I said, what you get out of it is what you are expecting. If you expect 5-star luxury, you will be disappointed. If you want a clean, comfortable place to rest your head after a day of surf, sand and sightseeing, you will be delighted. Our room, on the 7th of the 8 floors, was nothing special,but everything we needed. Two twin beds and a desk chair. Didn't turn on the TV so can't say anything about that. There was good water pressure in the shower and plenty of hot water. The view out the window of the sea was spectacular, as was the view coming out of the room. The a/c unit was a little loud, but so was the endless crashing surf outside. No biggie.
I don't understand people like the previous poster, people who come to a remote paradise like this and then whine about the TV or lack of wifi in their room. WHO CARES???? Who in their right mind would come to a place like this and not want to get away from it all, not bawl because they aren't connected?? It's ridiculous. The hotel has free wifi in the lobby, and the seats were usually filled with people on their various devices. What they apparently didn't know was that the bar area also has free wifi, in a far better setting. Why anyone would sit in the lobby when they could be outside enjoying the views and weather is beyond me. Even more baffling is why someone would be glued to an electronic device when they have paradise at their doorstep. Try going off the grid for a few days, people. It won't kill you. Seriously.
The hotel also has a large pool, with over half of it only a foot or so deep for children, but it is also cold, so probably only decent on a hot day. There used to be a swim-up bar but it is closed probably because nobody really uses the pool.
The food in the restaurant was surprisingly good. We ate here several times, including most mornings. They have a buffet that includes yogurt, fruit, breads, juices, coffee, milk, sausage and potatoes among other things. There is also yummy french toast and made to order eggs. Contrary to a previous review, this buffet is NOT included in your hotel price, so I guess they stole quite a bit of money from the hotel. It is $160 pesos for adults and half that for kids. We did go to town for brunch a couple times and found some good places, but for about the same price, so for the money you may as well stay in house and do the buffet. The previous poster also said something about the hotel not having fish, but we had fish tacos a couple times(delicious) and there were other fish items on the menu as well. Not sure what their deal was. Maybe they felt too guilty for stealing breakfast to notice the menu! The pizza here is also fabulous. Contrary to what the previous poster said, we also charged room service to our room.
Our one complaint is that they nickel and dime you for a few items. They give you one free bottle of water, after that you are on your own. They also charge you 20 pesos for every additional coffee kit in your room after the first one, and they didn't replenish our shampoo. The gift shop in the lobby was no help. Everything there was extremely expensive($25US for a cheap kids snorkel set, $3 for a bottle of water, $18 for sunscreen). To solve these problems we went to the local supermarket and bought gallons of water for less than a liter at the hotel. We also bought sunscreen, shampoo and some coffee and filters for the room. There are numerous convenience stores on the island, but go to the actual supermarket, near the town square, for the best price and selection.
Also, when you check in they will place a hold of $1,000 pesos on your credit card(only about a hundred bucks), but it allows you to order food and drink anywhere on the property without a wallet. They also give you credit card sized towel cards which you have to turn in every time you get a beach towel, and cost you $10US if you lose. It's free to check out a key apparatus for your room safe, but there is a $100US fee if you lose it.
As far as the hotel staff goes, everyone was a delight!!! Everyone spoke good to very good English, and they were just so pleasant and fun to deal with. The best part: there were no roving vendors trying to sell you things. There are several options on the property as far as excursions go. There is a scuba/snorkel outfit on-site, and a tour/excursion booth that also rents the golf carts outside. I recommend renting a golf cart for at least one day and exploring the length of the island. Otherwise, taxis are readily available. The best thing to do going into town though is to walk. It's only 4 or so blocks to the main part of town, a bit further to the ferry dock area. We walked to town all the time. After dark there were no safety or security issues. There were always people out and about. There are several great restaurants to choose from, and Hidalgo St. is the main shopping street and is pedestrian only. While everyone took dollars, with anything other than shopping, where you can haggle for prices, it is easiest and best to use pesos as much as possible. You get shafted on the exchange rate in restaurants if you use dollars. There are several banks and ATMs on the island, as well as at least one money exchange agency where you can also get dollars back for your pesos at the end of your stay. Also, for being in such a remote place, don't expect a lot of cheap prices on food and drink. We found most prices to be around $3US for a beer, $5-6 for a blended drink, and entrees were $10-25US at most restaurants. Breakfast prices were 80 to 130 pesos per item. I'm sure there are exceptions if you look around. One place is Jax's bar and grill, which has 5 Coronas in a bucket of ice for 80 pesos.
A word of warning: when you are at a restaurant it is common to be approached by various roving singers and 3-man guitar groups. They may appear to be part of the restaurant, but they are not, and they want tips. One particular group had the nerve to walk up and play a song for us without being asked and then demanded 70 pesos. I told them we didn't ask them to play and they should have told us the cost before hand. They left without arguing. The best tactic, unless you want to pay to be serenaded, is to tell them no thanks as soon as they approach you.
So I know this got quite long, and there is so much more I could say, but the bottom line is if you want luxury don't stay here. If you want an ideal location on the island this place is for you. would stay here again without reservation.
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- Also Known As:
- Avalon Reef Club Isla Mujeres Hotel Isla Mujeres
- Avalon Reef Isla Mujeres
- Avalon Club Reef
- Isla Mujeres Avalon Reef