We just returned from out stay at Secrets Excellence Riviera from Feb. 16th – 23rd. There are 4 of us that travel together – my wife & I and my sister & brother-in-law (we are all in our early/mid 30’s). This was our 2nd consecutive year going to Riviera Maya (we stayed at Aventura Spa Palace last year). (--).
We are from Detroit & flew out on an Apple Vacations charter – direct flight, just a little over 3 hours. After a short 20 minute bus ride, we arrived at the resort around 11:30am and were immediately greeted with cool, moist towels (with a hint of some type of aromatherapy oil) to wipe our faces and hands with as well as a glass of champagne. The concierge took our luggage and showed us to the Main Desk. We were immediately waited on and given 2 rooms in building #6 overlooking the Spa & Pool (great view). I cannot say enough about the staff at Secrets Excellence – they really go out of their way to always look up, smile and say hello. The standard of service we received throughout the week from every facet of the resort was top-notch.
The concierge took the luggage and showed us to the rooms, pointing out little things along the way. The rooms are great – very nice 4-poster bed with an in-room Jacuzzi, a small loveseat, 2 chairs and table in the sitting area, his & hers sinks, separate toilet room, a GREAT shower large enough for 8 people, plenty of closet/drawer space, in-room fridge (re-filled daily w/ sodas, beer & bottled water), an electronic safe that you program w/ your own code and a decent-sized balcony with a few chairs, a table and a built-in love seat. There’s also a large armoire that holds both the TV and DVD player (not sure if you can borrow DVD’s from the resort – we never had a need to check). I’ve read a few people complain that they have a free “porn channel” – it’s true, but it doesn’t come on automatically – turn it off if you don’t like it. This is an adults-only resort, so you don’t have to be concerned about children watching too much of the “Gold” channel.
The resort grounds are great – they will be amazing in a few years when all the trees, bushes and ground cover grow in. All of the pools are great – I’ve read that they don’t heat the pools and that some people say they’re “freezing”. I’m not sure what time of the year they went, but last week we were in the “unheated” pools all week and they were great – nice and refreshing. We were all in the pool throughout the entire week. The resort provides you with floating mats which are really nice – we used them every day. You do not have to fight for chairs or worry about towels – they are plenty of both. Fresh towels are laid on each chair every morning. Also, take advantage of the little open air “napping huts” they have every 50 ft. or so by the pool – queen sized, thatch roofed structures that you can lay down and take a nap, read a book, etc. if you need to get out of the sun but don’t want to go back to the room. The beach was nice – it does have a little sea grass that washes up, but big deal – they rake it up and it’s fine. Some people like to complain about everything. There’s a great breeze on the beach, too. MOST IMPORTANTLY – we NEVER had anyone come up and try to sell us anything while we walked on the Beach. There aren’t many places you can go where you can say that.
We had great experiences at the restaurants – never a wait more than 5 minutes. Our favorite was the French restaurant, as we ate their twice. The service was always very good (with the exception of the Mexican restaurant one night when we had a rookie waiter). The FOOD is VERY GOOD. They do a great job with “presentation” – they don’t just slap it on your plate and bring it out. They go the extra mile in everything that they do. One hint – if you want to eat in one of the Teppenyaki rooms in the Japanese restaurant, go down a little while before they open and get your name on the list – they fill up quickly. You can always be seated in the Japanese restaurant and order off the menu, but we enjoyed the Teppenyaki room and meeting other couples. The drinks are made well, with good liquor (they don’t use no-name brands). We drank the red wine at most dinners that was provided at no charge and found it to be adequate. They had some other wine selections that you could choose from, but we didn’t feel that paying $50.00 for a bottle of Penfold’s Shiraz was really worth it (we get it for $12.00 here in the States). Of the 3 “house” reds, we liked the French Merlot the best, followed by the Santa Carolina Cabernet/Merlot blend from Argentina.
We have a great deal with our wives – any time we go Scuba Diving, they go to the Spa (a real Win-Win for all of us). They reported back to us that the Spa was extremely nice, although a little pricier than what you’ll find here in the States. They decided to buy a package – a massage, a milk mousse bath, a sea salt scrub & a facial was approx. $215.00. They split their package into 2-days, which the resort had no problem doing. They also have a “16-station circuit” in the hydrotherapy pools that you can use free of charge when you purchase any spa treatment (both of them really enjoyed these).
As for SCUBA DIVING, we dove with Dive Puerto Morelos in the small little town of Puerto Morelos (5-minute taxi ride from the resort). I cannot say enough about this Dive Shop – I’ve logged close to 100 dives and never had as much fun as I did with these guys. My brother-in-law finished his certification dives with them and then we booked a 2-tank dive - the “656 Wreck” in 90ft. of water and a 40 ft. reef dive. Excellent dives – a great wreck that you can safely & easily swim through and a nice reef with a lot of marine life.
The shop owner’s name is Cat, from Australia, and she genuinely knows how to make you feel welcome. Our Dive Master was Brett, originally from Salt Lake City and now livin’ the dream in Mexico. They run a great shop, have wonderfully maintained and modern equipment and know the areas well. If you’re going to do some diving, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND giving Cat a call to set it up. We can’t wait to get back next year to do some cenote dives with them.
With regards to tipping – I don’t know what the problem is with this – I read a lot of reviews bashing the thought of tipping. We KNOW it’s not expected (or even encouraged), but it’s our choice to hand the waitress a few dollars every afternoon because she’s been running drinks to us at the pool all day. I’ll be honest – I’m not going to miss the $10.00 I gave her during the week. If you don’t want to tip – don’t. It will NOT affect your service at this resort – we just thought it was a nice thing to do.
We are definitely planning on coming back to Secrets Excellence next year. For what we spent, we felt like we got more value than what we paid for, which is certainly the exception when you’re talking about all-inclusives.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This all-suite, all-adult Resort is set along Mexico's renowned Mayan Riviera, between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, on an immaculate white sand beach. Six meandering pools wind through their grounds. You have unlimited access to eight international restaurants and ten bars, plus such amenities as an expansive swim-in spa, a full-scale fitness and cardio-conditioning center and an unparalleled range of activities on land and sea. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Excellence Riviera Maya
- Excellence Riviera Cancun Hotel
- Excellence Riviera Cancun Puerto Morelos
- Excellence Cancun
- Secrets Excellence Riviera Cancun
- Cancun Excellence Riviera
- Excellence Resort Cancun
- Excellence Riviera Cancun Riviera Maya, Mexico - Puerto Morelos