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Cancun, Mexico - Excellence Playa Mujeres - Now with photos 
PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 11:15 am Reply with quote
AliandRich
Joined: 24 Apr 2008
Posts: 138
Location: Chelmsford, Essex
Hubby and I have recently returned from 2 weeks at the ‘Excellence Playa Mujeres’ resort in Cancun, Mexico. We stayed there from the 17th April to the 1st May. Our previous 2 long-haul holidays were to Meeru (Feb 09 and May 10). This is our trip report from Mexico – I have included some comparisons with Meeru as I couldn’t help but compare the 2, although I know they are completely different kinds of holidays. The prices were similar, depending on the type of accommodation chosen. The hotel is an adult-only 24 hour all-inclusive resort.

We flew First Choice/Thomson from Gatwick and the 11 hour flight was fine, nothing really to comment on there. Once we arrived in Cancun, we collected our luggage and went through the standard immigration/security checks. It was all fairly slow but well organised. We’d had to fill in an immigration form on the plane and these were taken from us. I was amazed at the number of people that hadn’t bothered to fill them in, which held everyone else up.

Once through all of that, we were out into the airport and were hassled immediately by people trying to help us with our cases. We knew to just politely decline and before long we saw our rep who directed us to our taxi. We had private taxi transfers included with the holiday as it was from the ‘luxury’ brochure (we also had an extra 3kg luggage allowance each and free access to the Servisair lounge at Gatwick). We were handed an information sheet about the resort and this included details of our rep and the welcome meeting to be held the next morning.

The transfer to the hotel was about 40 minutes. The hotel is outside the main hotel zone and not really near anything else other than another small hotel, which I think may have been private residences, and was reached via 3 sets of security gates. We knew to expect this as I’d read a lot of reviews before choosing the holiday. We were met from the taxi by a bellboy who took our cases and were given a cool towel and glass of champagne (or their equivalent) and were then shown to reception. Everyone we met was very welcoming and their phrase was ‘Welcome Home’ which was quite sweet. Reception staff were multi-lingual and very efficient and we were given the key card to suite 7001. I’d e-mailed in advance to request a suite in the 7000s so was pleased to see that this had been noted.

The bellboy proceeded to take us to our room, and on the way gave us a quick tour of the hotel and grounds. It was all a bit much to take in at the time but it gave us an idea of what to expect and helped us to get our bearings. We had booked a junior swim-up suite and that’s exactly what we got. It was a lovely spacious room with a huge (and very high!) bed, lounge area with sofas, coffee table, flat screen TV, large bathroom with double walk-in shower (normal shower and rain shower) and his and hers sinks, plus Jacuzzi, mini bar and massive cupboard with safe. We were on the ground floor and on our terrace were a day bed, table and chairs and 2 sun beds. As we had a swim-up room, we had the lazy river in front of us which we had direct access to from our terrace. More about that later. The ‘standard’ accommodation was the same as ours, but on higher floors so with no direct access to the lazy river.

The hotel is made up of about 9 buildings, each 4 stories high. They are all located beside swimming pools or the lazy river and some have sea views. There is an excellence club which you can join before you go and I think that these members had the sea view suites and the 2 story top floor suites, which had private plunge pools. There were also other perks but the price to upgrade was substantial and we didn’t feel that the benefits were worth it to us.

Our view was of the lazy river, and across from that was a bar and sunbathing terrace. We quite enjoyed the location as we could sit on our terrace but still see others around the pool. Some of the swim-up rooms had views of the spa so were probably a bit quieter but I had requested a 7000 room as I like to be near the action! I like people watching, basically I am nosey!

Because of the 6 hour time difference, by the time we got to our room is was 5pm Cancun time, but our body clocks were on UK time, so 11pm. We were quite tired but excited to have arrived so decided to have a few drinks at one of the bars, the Reveil. This turned out to be our favourite bar and David, the main barman there, was a star. There were several bars and all the drinks were all AI at all of them. You can only stay at the resort on a fully AI basis so no need for wristbands or anything, and you never had to sign for anything. All of the drinks were included, cocktails, premium branded spirits and liqueurs, wines, champagne (their version) beers etc. If they didn’t have it on the list they would make it up for you.

After a few drinks we decided to freshen up, get changed and head out for some dinner. There were 9 restaurants which were all included in the AI and no bookings were necessary at any of them, though sometimes you’d be given a ‘buzzer’ and then asked to wait in the bar until your table was ready. This only happened to us twice and the wait each time was around 15 minutes. We decided to go to the Grill Restaurant on the first night as it was one of the more ‘casual’ ones. It was set over the main pool and overlooking the beach and sea. A lovely location, it was undercover but has no sides if you get my drift. We didn’t have starters as we were really feeling tired by then. I had fillet steak with baked potato for main and hubby had Rib eye steak with dauphinoise potatoes – they both came out medium as requested and were delicious, some of the best we’ve had. And we’ve had lots! My baked potato was topped with sour cream, chives and a little bacon and was delicious. A great first day and we were really looking forward to the rest of the holiday.

I won’t bore you with a day by day account, even if I could remember, but I’ll just give you a summary of the rest of our holiday. I hope you’re still awake by now, apologies that it is turning into a bit of an epic!

Breakfast could be taken buffet-style from one of the restaurants from 7am until 11am and A La Carte from another, from 9am until midday. This was quite a good coverage and most days we’d eat between 8 and 10, depending on how late we’d been out the night before. The breakfast buffet was a similar set-up to Meeru, although the choice was slightly greater here. As well as all the usual, and the cooking station for omelettes etc., there was also a smoothie bar where you could select your own ingredients and have them made into a smoothie. There were also Bloody Marys and Mimosas (champagne and orange juice) on offer every day which was a nice touch. The A La Carte breakfast was served in the Lobster House restaurant overlooking the main pool and sea, and contained various cooked and continental options. Most days we opted for the buffet option, it was quick and offered us everything we needed. You could also order breakfast from room service as part of the all inclusive, but we didn’t try that.

After breakfast we’d head out to the pool area opposite our suite. We could walk round to it, or swim across! Like Meeru, towels are provided, there are piles of them all over the resort. Although there were several pool areas, we liked the one nearest to us, it was fairly quiet without being dead, and nice and near to a bar. The only downside was that on busier days, you’d have to ‘reserve’ your sun bed before 8am or you wouldn’t get one. I hated doing it but if everyone else is you just have to join in. Most people just stayed a few hours anyway and once you left, you left your wet towels in a big bin so the beds were free for others to use. Our terrace got the sun from midday until sunset so if we didn’t get a bed opposite then it wasn’t an issue. We’d spend the mornings sunbathing, reading and drifting around the lazy river. There were floating mattresses provided in all the pools for laying on or just drifting along on. The bars were open from about 9am but it was water only for us until lunchtime, though lots of people started on cocktails as soon as they could.

For lunch there were 5 options – the buffet restaurant (Toscana), the Grill restaurant, the Lobster House, the bbq on the beach or room service. We went to the buffet most days as it had a fantastic choice of food, way better than Meeru, although the setting in Meeru was nicer, especially in the Malaan overlooking the ocean. You could have been anywhere here really! There were always 2 soups available, plus a massive salad bar with everything you could possibly want, and some that you probably wouldn’t want (cactus?). There was always cold chicken, tuna, ham etc. and a large selection of fresh breads. There was a cooking station which offered different options each day – the stir fried fresh seafood was a particular favourite and included mussels, prawns, scallops etc. with whatever flavourings you liked. There was another cooking station which grilled fresh burgers, hot dogs to order and a choice of at least 3 or 4 meat dishes and 1 or 2 fish dishes ready prepared. There were always spicy Mexican options and nachos were available with all of the accompaniments every day. There were 3 types of rice, at least one type of potato (usually more) and a pasta dish, as well as 4 or 5 different flavours of pizza. There was a sushi station too offering several varieties of fresh sushi, delicious! For dessert there was a similar range of cakes/pastries to that offered on Meeru, with the addition of a selection of mousses and trifles, a choice of 2 old-fashioned hot puddings and an ice cream section. There was always a choice of 4 different homemade ice creams, with different sauces, toppings and biscuits available so you could create your own sundae. I’m not usually a dessert person but I think I had ice cream most days, lovely! The Lobster and Grill house were the A La Carte lunch options, offering choices of wraps, sandwiches, salads, burgers etc, plus appetizers and desserts. Ideal if you wanted a more leisurely lunch with lovely views of the sea. The room service day time menu (from 11am until 11pm I think) included lots of options perfect for lunch if you fancied a lazy day – pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, salads, fajitas, burritos etc. as well as main meals. There was also ice cream available for a few hours in the afternoon in the centre of the resort, there were cups and cones provided and you just helped yourself from the machine. There was a bit of an art to perfecting this and we had fun watching people try!

After lunch we’d either take a stroll around the grounds, head to a bar for a few drinks or go back to the room to chill out on the day bed, then later on we’d go back out into the sun. Mostly we’d just use the sun beds on our terrace, but a few times we headed down to the main pool area instead. This was the pool which was overlooking the beach and sea and was by far the liveliest. There was a bar beside it which did poolside service for drinks and a swim-up bar in the pool itself. Not the place to go if you wanted a relaxing afternoon but good fun otherwise. The daytime activities were based around this area, there was always lots of things to do, but we didn’t try any of them. Each night as part of the turndown service, you got a newsletter and this would list all of the activities planned for the following day – there were water sports (some of which had an extra charge I believe) as well as Spanish lessons, dance classes, aerobics, yoga, bingo, cycling tours, water polo, volleyball, poker.....the list goes on. There was something for everybody really but it was up to you to join in, there was no pressure to do so, and if you just wanted peace and quiet then there were always quieter pools and gardens to chill out in. We found the main pool really noisy – it was mostly full of Americans and Canadians who had been drinking the all-inclusive drinks all day and would tend to shout to each other rather than talk! Fine for a while but it does tend to get on your nerves. I know they were just having fun and there’s nothing wrong with that. As I said before, it’s easy to find somewhere quieter if you prefer. The swim-up bar was quite fun, it was loud but after a few drinks yourself you tended not to notice so much!

The beach was another option, and although there was some sea grass, it was cleared away often. It was quite windy most days so not always easy to swim in the sea, and there was nowhere near as much sea life as you’d see off Meeru. Again, we knew to expect this so it wasn’t an issue for us. There was bar service to the beach and a bbq every day if you fancied that instead of going in to lunch. There always seemed plenty of sun beds and towels available, and you could walk for miles along the beach in either direction.

We’d then go back to the room and chill out a bit, before getting ready for dinner. Pre-dinner drinks were normally at the martini bar, which offered a large choice of martinis as well as cocktails and other drinks. The main bar in the square was nice too, but sometimes quite busy and depending on the entertainment, could be noisy.

As I mentioned earlier, there were 9 restaurants to choose from. Dress codes here were much more formal than Meeru, in 5 of the restaurants men had to wear long trousers, shoes (or smart/non-beach sandals) and shirts with collars. In the other 4, they still needed shirts with collars and shoes/non-beach sandals but could wear tailored shorts or three quarter length trousers. For women it was the same in all restaurants really, I think we can tend to get away with a lot more, although on holiday I like to dress up in the evenings anyway. They were strict with the dress code and we saw people turned away, but the dress codes were fully explained in the room information so there wasn’t really any excuse for not adhering to them. They were also mentioned on the hotel’s website. It’s definitely not a ‘no news, no shoes’ kind of place! For lunch, vest tops were allowed for women but not for men, and no wet swimwear was allowed, a bit like Meeru. You could however go to the bars during the day in swimwear.

The restaurants were:
The Agave – Mexican. This was one of our favourites, it has an outside terrace and the food was lovely and authentically Mexican.
The Grill – Steaks, chicken, fish etc. We went here twice and had steak both times, delicious. This is over the main pool with views of the sea.
The Lobster House – mainly lobster cooked in a variety of ways with different dressings/sauces. One of my favourites but hubby is more of a meat man so we only went here once. Next to the grill, overlooking the sea.
La Toscana – Italian. Again, very nice authentic Italian food.
Spice – Thai, Japanese, Chinese. This was ok, quite a limited menu but did do teppanyaki which we didn’t try. It didn’t look as fab as the teppanyaki we had on Meeru though!
Basmati – Indian. Fabulous Indian food with a twist, we went here twice and I think hubby would have been happy there every night.
Chez Isabelle – French. This was the most luxurious and decadent of the restaurants and the service was impeccable. If we’d had the same meal in a top London restaurant we would have been happy to pay top prices.
As it was AI, it felt quite odd! We treated ourselves to a bottle of wine from the wine list here, the only thing we spent in the 2 weeks that wasn’t all inclusive. They had a sommelier so it seemed rude not to make use of his superior knowledge!
The Flavour Market – Tapas. We were disappointed in this one, the service was awful and although the food wasn’t too bad, the service spoilt it for us. We didn’t feel welcome at all, we got there at 9.30pm (it was open until midnight) and it seemed that they just couldn’t be bothered to serve anyone. The menu was on a huge blackboard which they put in front of us, blocking our view of the rest of the restaurant, and left it there for about 20 minutes. We ordered our usual amount of dishes, we visit Spain often and have had tapas there lots of times before, and it was only then that the waitress decided to tell us that their portions were a lot smaller than you’d normally get. We then had to pick out some more while she was standing there looking impatient. It was a shame, the restaurant was very attractively set out and as I said, the food was fine. Maybe we should have given it another try.
Barcelona – Mediterranean. The only one we didn’t try so I can’t comment. The menu looked ok, if a little dull.

There were other specialist food nights put on as well, such as a Caribbean bbq night on the beach, and a Mexican night with dancing. We didn’t go to these but they looked fun and others we spoke to enjoyed them. These were also included on the AI.
On a few evenings where we’d had a bigger or later lunch, or were just tired, we stayed in the room and ordered from the room service menu, again all inclusive. They laid the table on the terrace for us, we could have eaten inside had we wished, and the food each time was lovely. It took around 45 minutes to arrive but that was fine, we were in no rush. Once you’d finished, there was a hatch inside the room beside the door which you put everything in. This was then accessible from the outside so the plates could be cleared away without you having to be disturbed again, a nice touch. AI drinks were also available from room service.

At around 10/10.30pm there was always a show or some sort of entertainment in the theatre. As we tended to still be eating at this time and don’t really do the entertainment ‘thing’, we only caught a couple of the shows. One was a Michael Jackson impersonator and the other a magic act, both were ok. You could see them from the main bar so we just sat there with our drinks.

There was a late night bar which sometimes had karaoke, and this was open til the early hours. It was well hidden away at the back of the resort, and sound-proofed, so unless you went looking for it you would not even realise it was there.

The mini bar was well stocked with beer and soft drinks as well as water, and a variety of biscuits, crisps, nuts and chocolate. It was refilled daily and the guy who did this was so lovely and friendly. He’d found out we were English (me) and Scottish (hubby) and had learned some things about where we were from so he could chat to us. He was very into his football too, as were the rest of the staff, so we chatted about that too. He asked if there were any different drinks that we’d like and I asked for some white wine, and every day after that he’d pop a small bottle of wine into the mini bar for me, AI of course.

There was a fabulous looking spa, which I’m ashamed to say we didn’t even try, and it had a hydro circuit included in your treatment price. We heard very good things about it and prices were similar to Meeru. The setting however could not compare to the overwater spa at Meeru, I think I’ve been spoilt forever there! There was also a gym which we didn’t use and tennis courts, table tennis courts, games room, library, internet room, giant chess and draughts, and lots more. There was free wifi around the whole complex which was great, and made it easy to keep in touch with things back home. The TVs in the rooms had lots of channels including all the major news ones, but we didn’t spend a lot of time watching TV funnily enough! The only thing we really watched was the Royal Wedding, well it had to be done. The hotel did allocate a special room with a large screen in for people to go and watch it together, but as it was a 3am start, we gave that a miss. At other times this room was used for screening football matches (including premiership games) and other live sporting events.

I can’t believe I am still typing, and I still have so much to say!

According to the hotel website and travel brochures, tipping was included, but we tipped for good service. The service here I would say is on a par with Meeru in most cases, so very good. We took dollars and pesos to tip, and tipped the bellboys, bar staff, waiters, turn-down service, mini bar man, room service, cleaners and anyone else that we saw doing a good job.

There were plenty of different trips available but having visited this part of Mexico before, we’d already done the main ones and so just chose to get a cab into central Cancun one day, costing about 20 dollars each way. The main point of this holiday was to relax, and we certainly did that.

The weather was mostly good, in the early 30s, and we had some cloudy days and a few rain showers. It was mainly sunny though and always warm. The evenings were warm too but the room and hotel buildings were all air conditioned so it wasn’t a problem.

The only wildlife we saw of any kind were geckos/ lizards and some black birds (not sure what they were), probably because this was a gated resort.

At the end of the holiday, we again had a private taxi transfer back to the airport. The trip home was fine, we had a good flight and it was on time. Cancun airport is quite fun, there are places to eat and drink and we maybe could have done with a bit longer there for shopping.

Summing up (eventually I hear you say), it was a wonderful holiday in so many ways, but it didn’t quite have the ‘magic’ about it that Meeru has. The facilities, value for money, accommodation etc. were all superior to Meeru but for location, sunsets, sea life and sheer away-from-it-all relaxation, Meeru just edges it I think.

We’ll visit both again I'm sure, they are both very different but very special places.

A link to some photos;

http://www.flickr.com/photos/63640098@N08/sets/72157626859435400/

Thanks for reading!

Alison x


Last edited by AliandRich on Wed Jun 01, 2011 1:08 pm; edited 1 time in total

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 5:58 pm Reply with quote
debandmark
Joined: 27 Dec 2010
Posts: 599
Hi,

Lovely trip report....not too long..really. It was good to hear about Mexico..sounds really nice and great value on the AI.

I laughed out loud at your comments about our American friends..we wnet to Jamaica some years ago, and still remember them whooping, shouting and cheering about just about anything really!!!

But have to agree the Maldives does spoil you for just sheer getting away from it all, location and sealife.

Thanks for a good read.
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 7:48 pm Reply with quote
Shazo1
Joined: 11 Jun 2009
Posts: 457
Location: Willenhall
Wow what an informative report............I have been tempted with this hotel for my 50th next year, and you have just sold it too me, looking forward to seeing your piccies - thanks for sharing.

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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 9:18 am Reply with quote
char1
Joined: 17 Jan 2010
Posts: 5
Brilliant trip report, thank you very much for posting. We are looking into booking mexico for next April. I wish that Meeru's AI was as good as what you get in Mexico, but i guess thats the price you pay for the sea life etc...
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:26 pm Reply with quote
TeresaF
Joined: 15 Jul 2011
Posts: 5
I've been to Cancun a few times with the family. Our favorite resort is the Dreams Cancun Resort. The kids love it because they have dolphins and a kids club. They have a nice serene lagoon and plenty of water sports. I love the food in Mexico as well as the nice Caribbean waters.

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Cancun, Mexico - Excellence Playa Mujeres - Now with photos 
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