Hola! First, I must emphasize how friendly and gracious the staff was at the Palace. I speak spanish un poquito, and it helped in many cases, but it wasn't necessary. The staff was patient and accommodating. I'm sure it becomes a chore in some cases after weeks of foreign tourists, but no sign of impatience or frustration was demonstrated. Our visit was during the first week of April. This all-inclusive resort had all the amenities that one could want. The room was large and clean, with modern design fixtures and lots of tile. The view from our room was a "garden" view, meaning it faced away from the beach. At first it seemed unfortunate, but the small salt water lagoon that we looked down on yielded a daily influx of bird life that I thoroughly enjoyed. A view of the building tops of the neighborhood across from the hotel provided landmarks on our walks that was interesting, as well, so the garden view is perfectly acceptable, especially when we asked for an ocean view room and the charge was $160 a night extra. Our stay also included all the booze one can drink. They made money on us because I quit drinking years ago and my companion drank wine in small quantities throughout the visit. However, this helped us avoid the crowds at some of the most beautiful sites on the island because we arose early and explored before the multitudes of hangovers were sufficiently cured.
The food was acceptable with a buffet style for breakfast and lunch that included a wide array of fruits, veggies, and local dishes. A grill chef provided individual requests for omelets or other desired dishes. Dinner was a sitdown affair with individual wait staff serving each table and a menu of well prepared dishes. Again, the staff was helpful, friendly and assisted me with my Spanish, which was fun and educational at the same time.
The hotel is located on the south end of the island about a mile or so from Punta Sur which is a beautiful spot and an interesting walk. It's impossible to walk more than several hundred feet on either side of the property limits of the hotel's beach, so no strolling for miles on the beach. However, we are great walkers and so we walked for miles on the roads, jumping out of the way of the ubiquitous red taxis, golf carts, bicycles and motorcycles that careen down the roads constantly, slowing only for the frequent huge speed bumps, and found some beautiful parts of the beach on the windward side of the island. The Palace is on the leeward side, facing Cancun. The surf is gentle while on the windward side the swells are much larger and more dramatic.
We also took taxis to town on the north side of the small island, a 50 peso trip. The exchange rate was right at 12 pesos to the dollar, so $5 give or take. We decided against renting a golf cart since we could take about 10 cab rides for what it cost to rent a cart and we would much rather walk and explore different sections of the island than help clog the busy roads with a cart. The north end of the island included the great tourist beaches and many hotels along with restaurants and vendors of everything from jewelry to Havana cigars, local art, gag gifts, and the usual assortment of souvenirs and booze.
Even the local working people who we encountered were friendly and helpful. The policia were a constant presence but not threatening and the island is home to a Naval station with a military presence. Never did we feel unsafe or uncomfortable and we explored downtown both day and night, walking up and down every street and taking in the culture of the island. And, if we tired we could always hail a cab whose drivers patrolled the streets constantly asking if we needed a ride.
After the evening ferry left for Cancun, the beaches and bars on the beach emptied. It was quite pleasant to sit at one of the bars with a (in my case non-alcoholic) drink and watch the sunset, then stroll through the restaurant area deciding what we might like to eat instead of going back to the resort. Restaurant prices were not inexpensive. Being from San Antonio we were accustomed to tourist pricing at places on the Riverwalk, so we just shrugged and paid the tourist prices in the places where we drank coffee during our morning excursions and ate in the evening. The food was excellent, though, and the service great, so it was a wash. Tipping is encouraged and the service we received everywhere on the island lends itself to a monetary expression of gratitude for a job well done.
In sum, the Palace is a great, quiet place for couples. They have organized activities but they're not intrusive and you can choose to plot your own course if you want. It was a memorable and thoroughly enjoyable stay and I recommend it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- What better location for this small haven than at a small island once a sanctuary to Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of childbirth and medicine? Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) with its scenic views, tranquil beaches, marine parks, and sculptured cliffs, is nature at its best. Small and luxurious, this all-inclusive couples only resort is sure to guarantee a private and relaxed stay. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Isla Mujeres Palace Hotel Isla Mujeres
- Hotel Isla Mujeres
- Palace Hotel Isla Mujeres