Hotel Review: Excellence Playa Mujeres – Cancun, Mexico
Before visiting Excellence Playa Mujeres I had a very strict rule–no all inclusive resorts. I’ve heard the horror stories of stale buffets, sub-par service, and the all inclusive cast system (“you need a wrist band for this pool”). Let me start by saying Excellence Playa Mujeres (EPM) is not one of those all inclusive resorts. The quality and level of service we experienced at EPM rivaled that of any five star resort. Moreover, because the resort is couples only (as opposed to adults only), everyone is there for the same reason. This made it easy to mingle with the other guests. Bottom line, I’d jump at the chance to go back.
If you have any questions that this review doesn’t answer, please post them in the comments and I’ll be happy to provide my point of view.
Excellence Playa Mujeres is located about 45 minutes north of Cancun on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The only thing “Cancun” about the place is the fact that you have to fly into Cancun to get there. We recommend hiring a private transfer through the resort to get there from the hotel. Doing so will help you avoid all of the crazy time-share sales people that are setup at the airport.
The resort itself is rather secluded, with only it’s two neighbor resorts and a marina close by. The beach north of the resort goes on for a few miles with nothing but coastline. Although the resort is not in a busy area, just off the coast is Isla Mujeres, which is a bustling island that is worth a visit if you’d like to “go into town.” And if you’re planning to visit around August, make sure you look into going swimming with the whale sharks near by.
The rooms at the Excellence Playa Mujeres are extremely comfortable. The video above probably does a better job explaining the room, so I’ll just focus on a few highlights:
The bed was soft, with lots of pillows. If you’re picky about your pillows they actually have a pillow menu that allows you to order a different type (soft, firm, hypoallergenic, etc..).
The mini-bar was very well stocked. Because EPM is an all-inclusive, the mini-bar gets a lot of use. It includes beers, wines, juices, and four full-sized bottles of liquor. They come around each day to restock your mini-bar, so feel free to go to town. Moreover, if you’re not a fan of the liquor in your room, just give the front desk a call. They’ll swap out whatever you’d like that they have available (see note below on Excellence Club). I ended up with some Bombay Sapphire and Johnny Walker Red.
The bathroom was very clean and had everything you could want, even medium sized bottles of shampoo! The shower itself was very large. With two shower-heads and lots of space, it was clear that it was built for two…
My only criticism on the room is that the couch, like almost all hotel couches, wasn’t very comfortable. We didn’t spend much time sitting on the couch though, so who cares.
The food at the Excellence Playa Mujeres is really where they set themselves apart from other resorts. As an all-inclusive, this is one of the most important aspects. For starters, there is good diversity. The resort has 11 restaurants in total, along with food on the beach and 24×7 room service. The ratio of rooms to food options at EPM was good (40:1 whereas most resorts are 50:1). As such, we never felt like we had to wait for a table. We also enjoyed not needing a reservation and simply picking what we wanted that evening.
All of the restaurants for dinner were a la cart, meaning not a buffet. Breakfast was the only buffet they had, and it was expansive–rivaling that what you would find at a big Vegas casino. For dinner, our favorites were Chez Isabelle (French), Basmati (Indian), and Agave (Mexican). Although those were our favorites, we didn’t have a bad meal while we were there. Options were expansive and everything was cooked to order.
They were also very sensitive to food allergies. So much so that the food and beverage manager of the resort checked in with us multiple times to make sure the food was being handled properly.
We spent a lot of time on the beach at Excellence Playa Mujeres. They kept a very clean beach with comfortable loungers and umbrellas. We opted for the Excellence Club package, which came with a separate section of the beach. In my opinion this was completely worth it. The chairs and cabanas were nicer, and the service was impeccable. This section of the beach had a beach concierge who attended to every need, and a second person to make sure you had any food or beverages you may want. Once they learn your preferences they are one step ahead of you all the time.
The beach attendants are the same every day, so you get to know them by the end of your stay. We got into a habit of getting a spot on the beach before breakfast, going to eat breakfast, and then returning to our spot. By the third day they had everything setup and waiting for us in the morning.
The pool game at Excellence Playa Mujeres is strong. Based on your pool preferences, they have something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the pool hammocks:
The main pool is large with a swim-up bar that is easy to get a drink from. There are plenty of options if you want to be in the sun or in the shade, and every afternoon they usually have some form of entertainment by the pool.
If you prefer a quieter, more relaxing atmosphere, the pool slinks throughout the resort. You can easily float along or find one of the chairs in the pool to relax in.
The Excellence Club does have it’s own private pool that we used quite a bit. This pool is shaded in the afternoon so it’s a great spot to get out of the sun. It’s also tucked away a bit, so it sees much less traffic. Although it’s only for Excellence Club guests, no one is verifying if you are one or not at this pool.
Is the Excellence Club Worth It?
Like most all-inclusive resorts EPM has a premium tier you can buy into. Their version of this is called the Excellence Club and it adds between $50 – $100 a day to your room rate. If you value service and the beach, the Excellence Club is worth it. Here are the noticeable benefits that you receive from the Excellence Club:
- Separate beach section with comfortable chairs, abundant shade, and over-the-top service.
- Separate pool that is less busy than the main one.
- Premium liquor in your room.
- Expanded 24×7 room service menu / room service priority.
- Aqua therapy at the spa <– this was a little weird, but fun none the less.
- Private lounge <– They had great appetizers and drinks in the lounge, we went there before dinner each night.
Tipping is not required at Excellence Playa Mujeres, but can go a long way if done right. For the most part, the people at the different restaurants move around, so you’re unlikely to receive service from the same person twice. The beach service, however, is consistent. It is reasonable to tip them on your first day and last if they helped enhance your stay. Keep in mind that just because they are on the beach it doesn’t mean that they can’t influence your experience elsewhere.
Tipping is acceptable in both Mexican and US dollars. The ATM at the resort dispenses US dollars, so if you want to tip in Mexican currency it’s best to have some when you arrive.
Before heading to Excellence Playa Mujeres I was skeptical. An all-inclusive resort just outside of Cancun seemed like it would nothing but a tourist trap. Excellence Playa Mujeres was nothing of the sort. The staff was friendly, happy and helpful. The service was top-notch. The food was excellent. The beach was relaxing.
I’m very glad we got to enjoy Excellence Playa Mujeres, and we will likely be going back again.