Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
All-inclusive, oceanfront resort with relaxed vibe -- though no real beach
The entrance to the Cozumel Palace is marked with a row of potted, baby palm trees, and friendly doormen greet guests on arrival and usher them through a set of sliding glass doors. Stepping in from the Cozumel heat, the expansive lobby provides a cool and welcoming space where polished marble floors combine with wicker furnishings and a wood-paneled reception desk to create a colonial-chic aesthetic. Cool towels and drinks on arrival are a nice touch, the time-share marketing less so. The vibe however is generally is buzzy with a laid-back atmosphere that continues to the spacious rear pool terrace, which extends along a lengthy stretch of seafront and overlooks the sparkling blue waters of the Caribbean and the occasional enormous passing cruise ship.
Although this is an oceanfront property, the beach is man-made and small, which is a little bit of a let-down. It’s nice enough, however, with white sand, straw umbrellas, and snorkeling just offshore -- but it lacks the sandy, zero-entry shores of the beaches in eastern Cozumel. While the Palace is family-friendly resort, clientele is mostly made up of couples, who spend their days sipping all-inclusive-plan cocktails on loungers around the pool or slipping off to spend their resort credits on island excursions or scuba diving trips.
Oceanfront resort within walking distance of San Miguel's ferry port and nightlife
The hotel is located on the main drag in a not especially attractive part of San Miguel -- Cozumel's only real town situated on the west coast of the island -- and within walking distance of its supermarkets, bars, and restaurants. Most guests arrive on the regular ferry crossing from Playa del Carmen -- around every hour and about a 45-minute trip -- which docks at the terminal just under a mile from the hotel. Nearly all of Cozumel's picturesque, white powder-sand beaches are on the opposite side of the island, though the hotel's location provides easy access by road or sea -- it's about a 20-minute drive from one side to the other via the Carretera Transversal. Cozumel is known for some of the best diving spots in Mexico, if not the world, especially around its Palancar Reef located about a mile off-shore. The Chankanaab National Park is also situated a 15-minute drive from the hotel and provides some great snorkeling and the chance to swim with dolphins.
Spacious, colonial-style rooms with free liquor, furnished balconies, and sea views
The Cozumel Palace has 175 rooms, all of which are spacious and long with polished marble floors, colonial-style interiors and furnishings, and soft neutral color palette. Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors open to large furnished terraces, some with hammocks; most directly overlook the sea while others look onto a patio with sea views beyond. Some real high-end touches include huge jetted spa tubs and four bottles of brand-label spirits -- rum, tequila, whiskey, and vodka -- integrated into sliding shelves either side of the flat-screen TV. Standard amenities also include free and fully stocked minibars, free Wi-Fi, and coffeemakers, while spacious marble-clad bathrooms have walk-in showers, quality CHI bath products, fluffy bathrobes, and slippers. Upgraded Concierge level rooms include luxury extras such as premium-brand spirits, aromatherapy options, pillow menus, and L'Occidental bath products.
While there's little external noise in the rooms, polished stone corridors tend to amplify sound which can make even passing footsteps disruptive. With the tub in the room, guests also need to be careful as marble floors can get very slippery. Overall, however, rooms are very nicely laid out with separate lounge areas and large soft beds; items such as as bottles of wine, fresh fruit, and sweet treats may be left out for guests.
Good selection of dining options with free 24-hour room service -- though food quality can vary
The Turquesa restaurant serves an extensive breakfast buffet which includes a cooked-to-order breakfast station making fresh waffles, pancakes, and a range of Mexican-style and regular egg dishes. The Italian restaurant also provides a lunchtime buffet and an above-par a la carte dinner menu with a smart evening dress code. Other evening dining options include the Bugambilias restaurant (Mexican favorites served in surroundings with little ambience); Momo No Hana (offering an average menu of pan-Asian cooking); and Flamingos restaurant, which provides snacks throughout the day (including pizzas from an outdoor log-fired oven) and an alfresco dinner buffet on the seafront terrace.
Although all meals are included, portion sizes can feel on the small side and while the hotel offers unlimited house wine to guests, most of the extensive wine list costs extra (resort credits can also be used). A full room service menu of snacks, meals, and drinks is available 24 hours a day and free of extra charge -- although delivery tends to be speedy, general quality isn't always on par with restaurants' offerings.
Comprehensive all-inclusive plan with upgradeable option and free resort credits for extras
The Palace Cozumel has a particularly comprehensive all-inclusive plan that incorporates everything but the most premium drinks -- though it does include plenty of top-shelf brands. All meals and snacks are included throughout the day and there is round-the-clock room service.
For guests hankering for a little more indulgence, the Concierge level plan provides premium in-room spirits as well as an aromatherapy service, free beach bags, and two 25-minute massages.
As part of the all-inclusive plan, guests are given resort credit (typically $1,500 for a five- to eight-night stay) that can be used to buy various services and amenities -- these include scuba diving (for certified divers and beginners), fishing trips, and island excursions as well as spa treatments and upgraded wine options. Resort credit is in USD and, although free, the options it can be used toward are more expensive than they would normally be and incur 16 percent tax that is added to your final bill. Also, beware that many of the trips, especially scuba dives, sometimes need to be booked well in advance and can get crowded.
Ocean-view infinity pool and swim-up bar -- though little early-morning sun
There are two main pools to choose from: one with an infinity edge and the other with a swim-up bar and (often) a volleyball net; both have ocean views. There is also a small separate pool for kids and a pool for learning to scuba dive. While there's a good number of sunbeds and parasols around the pools, due to swathes of the pool terraces being in the shade until later in the morning, the odious early-morning towel "reservation" of loungers is common with little or no policing of this activity by the hotel.
Poolside service, however, is superb with extremely attentive and friendly servers offering a constant stream of food and drink. Entertainment activities are also frequent, though not too invasive for those who aren't interested in taking part. A small man-made beach also provides a patch of sand and some loungers, while snorkelers can explore a reef just offshore -- though its far from the most impressive coral on the island and some of it includes fire coral that can sting.
Fitness center with sea views and on-site spa -- though no spa facilities
As well as ample dining opportunities and pleasant pool terrace, the resort's other amenities include a modern fitness center overlooking the sea and a tiny spa offering massage and beauty treatments (but no spa facilities). There's a modest play area for kids and a separate pool for the little ones, though not a great deal else for children.
Entertainment is put on during the day, including dance lessons and shows, and while there is karaoke or other guest participation activities in the evening, nights are generally quiet. There are also plenty of excursions and activities, from visiting Mayan villages to swimming with dolphins, that can be organized and paid for with free resort credits.
The Cozumel Palace is a largely upscale though relatively small oceanfront resort situated on the west coast of Cozumel island. Its location means super-easy access from the ferry port and it is close to local amenities -- though the immediate area isn't particularly attractive. Rooms are impressively spacious with large spa tubs, sea-view balconies, and plenty of free liquor. Service is a real highlight with friendly staff providing excellent poolside attention and round-the-clock room service, while dining options are adequate. Although the resort caters to kids, the focus is far more on couples, and the beach is small and man-made, so families looking to spend some time on a postcard-perfect stretch of sand might want to look elsewhere.