Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Overlooking a stunning beach by the southern tip of the Hotel Zone, this adults-only property oozes tranquility. Its serene white and red decor -- with billowy curtains everywhere -- and a somewhat secluded spot far from the booming nightlife set this upper-mid-range boutique apart from the mega-resorts located just north of it. The Bel Air Collection has 155 chic, minimalist (if low-frills) rooms, trendy common areas, a wonderful spa, and a gorgeous infinity pool with ocean views. In short, it’s a great pick for a relaxed, romantic getaway, and prices are extremely fair for what you get.
Privilege Aluxes Isla Mujeres Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Privilege Aluxes is one of the most affordable all-inclusive options in Cancun (cheaper, non all-inclusive rates are also available). Close to the bustle of downtown Isla Mujeres and along the beautiful sands of Playa Norte, Privilege Aluxes provides not only comfort but also a touch of luxury. The 124 rooms are spacious, feature a modern, minimalist decor -- though at times it may seem too austere -- and come outfitted with amenities such as alarm clock radios, minibars, iPod docks, and free Wi-Fi. Many are suites and have impressive ocean views and large, private terraces with their own Jacuzzis. Outside, the grounds are well kept, dotted with tall palm trees and two glistening pools, and there are three restaurants on offer. The shoreline is just steps away and the hotel provides relaxing beach beds shaded by towering palm roofs.
The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort is located along the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. This resort in the heart of Cancun's Hotel Zone, with a lovely beach, attractive facade, and well-groomed grounds, delivers more for your money than many similarly priced properties. Rooms are either studios or villas, and both are complete with living areas, kitchens, washer/dryers, and balconies. Hints of traditional Mexican decor give the comfortable rooms -- furnished in rich brown and gold tones -- a bit of authentic flavor. Bathrooms are especially chic with tiled patterns along the walls. There are on-site restaurants serving international cuisine, and the Tierra Market provides ingredients for guests to cook in fully equipped kitchens.
Villa Del Palmar Cancun Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Villa Del Palmar is a family-friendly resort set in one of the calmer locations of Cancun. Rooms are charming, with homey decor, and feature modern amenities such as iPod docks and flat-screen TVs. All units sport kitchenettes (full kitchens in suites), which can help guests save money on food; all-inclusive rates are also available, and are very fair when compared to all-inclusive rates at comparable hotels. The outdoor pool area helps make up for the slightly seaweed-y beach, sporting a waterfall bridge and tiki bar. However, as of late 2011, construction was still ongoing on the property: Make sure to call ahead and book a room facing away from the building sites.
The Royal Cancun, an All Suites Resort Rating: 3.5 Pearls
The Royal Cancun (not to be confused with the Royal In Cancun) is a mid-level hotel with a convenient location and plentiful amenities. Although the decor is fairly generic, each of the 288 suites offers fully stocked kitchens, dining tables, updated furniture, and spacious balconies. Perks here include a kids' center for the little ones, a large outdoor pool, and a vast, clean, white-sand beach. There's decent dining on-site, but many visitors choose to stock their kitchens at the market instead. With lovely landscaping, these low-rise units are a good alternative to some of the megaresorts in the area.
Ixchel Beach Hotel Rating: 3.5 Pearls
Along the white-sand beaches of Isla Mujeres (the narrow island off the coast of Cancun) is Ixchel Beach Hotel -- a not-too-big condo complex that appeals to couples and families. The 117-room property comes in two wings: the East Wing (Phase One) with 48 rooms that opened in June 2006, and the slightly more modern West Wing (Phase Two) with 69 rooms that opened in August 2007. Standard, one- bedroom, two-bedroom, and penthouse condo options feature Mexican casual decor, marble bathrooms, and CD/DVD players. Most have fully equipped kitchens and balconies that overlook the ocean for beautiful sunsets, though standard rooms lack both. The friendly staff can arrange golf cart rentals and excursions such as scuba diving or deep-sea fishing in the Caribbean Sea. For those who just want to chill out, the small outdoor pool leads out to a small bar and restaurant. The beaches are great for strolling, and within a few blocks are a number of restaurants and shops, as well as the regular ferry to Cancun.