First, I will state without reservation that a stay at Villa Las Brisas (or "Casa Amarillo") on Isla Mujeres is something to do before you move on to the next life. The best part about our overall stay in my view was the privacy, the location and the no children policy. There are cute signs about "No Kids" all around the bar area and appropriately so.
My family decided to stay there over Christmas this past December. We had the upper level suite and the three bungalows paid for in advance by deposit and final payment of check. This is very common - the only places that took credit cards on the island were the nicer restaurants and DON'T bother to bring travelers' checks. The guys on the Villa bar staff were wonderful people. Kudos to the staff of Villa Las Brisas. They kept the outdoor, bar and sitting areas very clean and were very kind. My "knowledge" <ahem> of Spanish came in handy all around and about Isla Mujeres including the Villa.
Isla Mujeres is a 14th century Mexican fishing village about 8 miles off the coast of Cancun and is about a half-mile wide and 7 miles long. There are a few interesting relics and ruins but not as in other parts of Mexico...when you go to Isla Mujeres you are going to RELAX.
Villa Las Brisas is on the windward side of the island, centrally located and in the midst of a true Mexican township. It was rarely too windy; more breezy than anything, hence "Villa Las Brisas".
A ferry runs about every 30 minutes directly from the main port directly to Isla Mujeres. Taxi's are about 30 or 40 pesos to get from the Isla ferry to the Villa. People come over from Cancun to Isla during the day via the ferry, realize there are no major distractions on the island as in Cancun, and leave by early nightfall generally. So it is a very peaceful island on the whole.
The native folk are very friendly, as are the island-patrolling Federales who give a feeling of security though one would not really find this necessary on this lovely island. Expect to see wealth and poverty on the island. This is not the hotel zone of Cancun, though it is a very tourist friendly island. Before tourism, about 4000 people lived on the island. Now the island has about 9,000 to assist with Isla's tourism.
The shopping district downtown is filled with the usual stall-type hucksters but they needed the money more than I did for trinkets and gifts so I was more than happy to haggle only slightly while shopping. Great fun downtown - and great restaurants - but better to chill out at the Villa or other non-touristy places on the Island (the sculpture garden on Playa Sur was very interesting).
The palapas were rented pretty much throughout by friendly people who came and went. We did not see the inside of a palapa but I am most definitely an air conditioning sort of gal (as are my aunt, sister and mother) so this was not on the list of possibilities.
Curtis and Ashley - who are the owners of the Villa and the hosts - are both American and easy going and helpful. Ashley is a very perky people-pleaser and Curt is more of a California/Newport surfer guy. Both of them were charming but I did overhear a patron of the Villa comment that Curtis could be somewhat blunt and/or defensive. I found Curt to have a very dry wit, especially when I asked about dry cleaners on the island (my bad!) but then for them to deal with all types of people, well....I know I couldn't do it and they do it well. You need a taxi? No problem. You need something delivered? No problem.
I particularly liked that they let us be us and did not interfere with our relaxing to ensure we were constantly entertained. Note: We were shushed once before 10 am one morning at breakfast but it is formally posted as quiet time from 11 pm 'til 10 am. Perhaps we broke the "No Yahoos" rule that day. (There is a sign posted to that effect also and rightfully so). Outsiders do stop in for a beer or two but are not allowed in the areas where the patrons of the Villa are allowed. The pool is only for the patrons. The hot tub is open on Friday and Saturday nights - otherwise you pay $25 USD to access the hot tub on other days. To do a load of laundry at the Villa is $10 USD or thereabouts.
Aesthetically, you couldn't ask for more regarding Villa Las Brisas as far as the myriad sitting areas, lounging areas, beachcombing, architectural details, and location, and I looked hard at a lot of other locations for this trip before choosing Villa Las Brisas.
The interiors of the bungalows were a bit too loudly Caribbean-colorful for my taste, but a pleasant stay nonetheless. I slept like a baby. The bungalows had limited drawer space so we pretty much lived out of our suitcases. Since it is a t-shirt and swimsuit sort of life, no big deal there. There are safes provided in every room and mini-fridges and plenty of good quality towels. Day time breezes with only the door and bathroom screens closed were perfect for a siesta in your room.
The plumbing is delicate (being on a tiny island this is a given) but we had no problems. Some ran out of hot water and found this an inconvenience. We did not have this problem. Big rule: You put your toilet paper in the waste basket after "doing your business" and no paper goes in the toilet whatsoever (though I inadvertently broke this rule twice or more even as I was not used to this). There are no bathtubs but showers in each room.
The kind housekeeper takes care of the cleaning every day and was very efficient. Bathrooms are spacious and very clean. The suite and bungalow A/C rooms are recommended as it gets very humid/sticky and windy at night during the winter unless you go for that sort of weather while sleeping. One of the palapa guests commented it got too warm for him at the off-side palapa (farthest from the ocean - little breeze).
Breakfasts are beautifully presented and varied from day to day. The egg dishes were my favorite as I am not one for sweets (except the fresh fruit) or breads. The coffee was promptly put out at 8:30 am by one of the staff. Hot tea, sodas and bottled water were readily available. The breakfasts were such that it was not necessary to eat lunch until later in the day as they were filling.
Drinks were roughly $4.00 and beer $2.00 and were added to your running tab every day, which you paid at the end. Bottled water was also extra $. However, filtered water (not chilled) was yours for the taking to put in your pitcher in your room's mini-fridge.
There was no food available at Villa Las Brisas other than breakfast but there are several little markets around this area of Isla Mujeres so chips, dips, baked goods, etc were easy to get. Curtis and Ashley's recommendations for lunch and dinner were excellent. We went to Casa O's for my Aunt's birthday dinner and had a GREAT time. Very open and lovely location with great food and service.
As you will see from the photos, there is a tiny "beach" directly behind the property. Personally, I prefered to work my way down the craggy rocks and sit on a patch of sand and watch the waves roll in or sit on the edge and be smacked by the waves for fun.
On other days we went to Playa Norte, which is the "hotel area" of Isla Mujeres. (By the way, my massage at Na Balam on Playa Norte was fantastic but I would not have stayed there...too many kids). Playa Norte is where you go if you want to get umbrellas, chairs and to be waited on for food and drinks or go to the many, many swing bars. Very tourista and too many boats too close to shore and fumes on the particular side of Playa Norte where we rented umbrellas and chairs one day. Bathrooms on Playa Norte are generally icky.
We preferred Garraffon Park per Ashley and Curtis' recommendation. It is worth the $50 per person admission with all you can drink, eat (excellent buffet and snack food), snorkel, plenty of room to stretch out and read, relax, swim, etc.
We rented two golf carts to accomodate our party of seven to get around. The mopeds were not ideal in my opinion and I noticed they kept breaking down for others along the paved roadways - mopeds were not an ideal mode of transportation especially if you carry diving gear or shopping bags.
The Villa Las Brisas facialist was wonderful for my mother, my aunt and myself. Well worth the $35 USD per person we paid plus tip for an hour or so facial done in my mother's suite. Her suite had a private outdoor sunning balcony with lounge chairs and another balcony with wooden table and chairs that was shady. The suite is very spacious and had a great view. The entire place has a great view of the Caribbean for that matter.
On the whole, I would highly recommend a nice long stay at Villa Las Brisas on Isla. Don't get it confused with the Villa Las Brisas at Akumal, which is nearby on the mainland of Mexico.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Oceanfront bed and breakfast with only 6 guest rooms for single or double adult occupancy in a peaceful environment overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Enjoy relaxing in the outdoor fresh-water pool or in the circular lounging pool, read a book or take a siesta in a hammock, fall asleep on one of the pool side beds or cushioned lounge chairs. Enjoy made-from-scratch drinks or "beer so cold it'll make your teeth hurt" at the swing bar open daily until "last call" at 9:30 PM. Free wifi in our unique open-air living room and a library with a great selection of books, games, cards and DVDs. Ocean and pool views from every room. A king sized bed with quality linens ensure a relaxing night's sleep and a private bathroom in each room with real conch shell shower head provides an amazing tropical feel. For comfort and convenience, each room has a ceiling fan, mini fridge, personal safe and daily housekeeping. Bungalows and Honeymoon Suite have AC. Each of the 2 second floor palapa suites have a hanging bed and are cooled naturally by the Caribbean breeze. Delicious complimentary breakfast served oceanside daily from 8:30- 10 AM. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Villa La Bella Hotel Isla Mujeres