Mayan village-themed spa features outdoor treatment baths
Daily array of activities like kayaking and cooking lessons
Kids’ club and splash pool
Elite members get priority access to restaurants and an additional pool
Free public area Wi-Fi
Seaweed debris on the beach is a possibility (depending on the time of year)
Aggressive time-share presentations
Remote location means long drives to the airport and downtown Cancun
Wi-Fi in the rooms has an additional cost
Not all pools are heated
All-inclusive guests wear wristbands but must still sign receipts for food
Can be a wait at restaurants (only elite guests can make reservations)
No swim-up bar
The Villa Del Palmar is one of the area's best upscale spots for a family-friendly, all-inclusive getaway. It’s in a private resort community to the north of Cancun on a pretty white-sand beach -- although seaweed can be a problem. There are tons of features, including six restaurants, five pools, and a kids' club with its own splash pool. The 415 spacious, homey suites all have kitchenettes or kitchens, plus balconies, many with ocean views. There are a dizzying array of daily activities to partake in (face-painting or tequila tasting anyone?), and some adult-only areas set aside for relaxation. Those who would prefer a family-friendly all-inclusive in the Hotel Zone may want to compare rates with the Paradisus Cancun. Moon Palace is a pricier but even more features-packed option with a surf simulator and larger pool complex.
An upscale, family-friendly resort with plenty of activities but a quiet, laid-back vibe
For families and couples seeking to avoid the hustle and noise of the Hotel Zone, but who still want plenty to do on vacation, Villa Del Palmar is one of the area's best options. Its Playa Mujeres location means that it feels secluded and quiet, but its extensive assortment of activities help ensure guests won't get bored on-site. The activities are fun but not of the cheesy, noisy variety found at some all-inclusive resorts -- think beach volleyball and face painting. Still, adults looking for privacy will likely appreciate the adult-only pool. There's an optional all-inclusive plan, and in many ways, Villa Del Palmar compares favorably to more typical all-inclusive resorts -- the food is better, there's no scramble to find a lounge chair by the pool, and rooms are more spacious than most. But some all-inclusive guests may find it annoying to have to sign for their food, even when they are wearing bracelets.
The resort strikes the right balance when it comes to size: It's large enough not to feel crowded, but not so large that it's a hassle to get around. Brown and tan buildings are spread out across three residential towers in a giant U-shape. Centered in the middle are the interior gardens and grounds where the five pools, outdoor whirlpools, restaurants, beaches, and kids’ club are located. The Village Spa and treatment rooms are tucked away in a quiet, unassuming corner of the resort, hidden away by jungle undergrowth. The color themes are brown, tan, and white, and that palette is echoed through the exterior of the building as well as the interior decor. Colored glass is a major feature in all of the areas, from the entrance with its starburst ceiling pattern radiating out from a cluster of hanging globes, to the tops of the towers in the main family pool, and inside Zama restaurant. Expect to see granite flooring, hardwood floors, pillars with mosaic tiling, and contemporary furniture and artwork throughout. The majority of the clientele here are American families on vacation. Wedding groups and honeymooners are also common.
Note that the resort employs a full-time time-share staff who will attempt to wrangle guests into listening to their presentation in exchange for coupons and gifts.
The Villa del Palmar is set in a remote section of the coastline in Playa Mujeres. It’s about 30 minutes north of downtown Cancun, and around an hour from the airport. It’s far enough away from everything that it’s got a nearly private section of beach, so there are few vendors to bother guests, unlike the Hotel Zone's beaches closer to the city. But seaweed can be more of a problem here, and the water isn't quite as clear. There’s nothing in the surrounding area, and the only way to get back to Cancun is via taxi or private transport; there are no public transportation options this far north. Isla Mujeres is just out across the ocean, silhouetted every morning against the rising sun, which makes for a pretty scene. It's a five-minute walk to Punta Sam, where the slow ferry to Isla Mujeres departs. Taking the ferry is a popular excursion for guests, as is exploring Isla Mujeres, which offers great snorkeling and several beautiful beaches, including famous Playa Norte.
Spacious suites with upscale materials and luxe details, many with ocean views
Every suite at Villa Del Palmar comes with hardwood trim, modern furniture, and granite surfaces. Bed runners and pillows -- sometimes a sophisticated neutral, sometimes colorful -- look elegant against dark-wood headboards. Standard rooms include a fully stocked wet bars with microwaves, coffeemakers, and mini-fridges; appliances are stainless steel. On the digital front, there are flat-screen TVs and electronic safes. The Wi-Fi comes with an additional cost.
Bathrooms feature more granite, along with marble tiling. The Deluxe Suites feature shower/tub combos, while the rest of the suites have walk-in showers with benches. All room have terraces or balconies with hammocks. Ground-level units have garden views or overlook additional buildings, which is less than ideal, and views from the second floor may be obstructed by palm trees. All higher floors usually have some ocean view; even those categorized as garden view often have an outlook over the pools and sea. The higher the floor, the better the view.
There are three main room categories: Deluxe Rooms, One-Bedroom Suites, and Two-Bedroom Suites. The Deluxe Rooms are 538 square feet and have wet bars; upgrading to the One-Bedroom Suite will nearly double your space, and also get you a dining space full-size kitchen. Both fit a maximum of four guests, while Two-Bedroom Suites can fit six. Those looking to splurge may want to consider one of the Residences, which have one- to three-bedroom options and extras such as butler service.
Sandy beach, fun pool complex, and tropical garden spa
The beach is one of the major highlights at the resort. Most of the year, the sand is free of seaweed, and there’s plenty of space in between loungers and beds. Since the resort is away from the Hotel Zone, guests aren't bothered by vendors on the sand. Waiters on the beach provide drink service. Beyond the beach, there are five different pools to explore (also with waiter service): one with a big bridge across it, one by the snack bar and nearer to the beach, two half-moon pools to the sides of the complex (one of these is for adults only), and a small infinity pool with cabana beds overlooking the beach that's exclusively for elite guests. Pools are pretty quiet, despite occasional organized activities (no loud music here).
There’s also a kids’ club with its own splash pool. A full array of water sports include kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling. Nightly entertainment is provided, often live bands or occasionally acts such as a magician performance, and resort activities are on offer all day long: tequila tastings, Pilates, cooking lessons, and face painting for kids are just a few of the options. Overall, though, the vibe here is low-key and the nightly entertainment may be too limited for some.
The resort’s gym is large, and has a full array of modern equipment. Water, towels, and flat-screen TVs are provided. There’s also The Village Spa with eight different treatment rooms set in a tropical garden environment. It's set up to look like an ancient Mayan village and there are a whirlpool, steam room, and hot/cold lagoon. Guests can book massages, facials, nail treatments, and healing Mayan rituals. Babysitting is available for a fee and there's a small kids' club with computers, crafts, and games. Parents can leave their children ages 4 to 10 there on their own, but are encouraged to check in every half hour or so.
One of the major benefits of the resort’s location is it is just up the road from Puerto Juarez, which is a local fishing hot spot. Much of the seafood is locally sourced and fresh, some of it from that very day. There are six restaurants, plus there’s a local market on the front side of the resort that sells almost everything. Two additional snack bars are available, as are three cocktail bars (one is a tequila bar, located at the Mexican restaurant, one is a lobby bar with a happy hour, and one is located at the Mediterranean restaurant). Guests can book all-inclusive packages, which includes meals and standard alcohol and wines. Reservations are not required (only elite guests are allowed to make them, via their butler), and there can be a wait; dress codes may apply. Room service is available 24 hours, and costs extra.
La Casona STK is the resort’s steakhouse and is open for dinner only.
Davino is a blend of Mediterranean and Italian cuisines, specializing in brick oven pizzas.
Zamá, focuses on Mexican specialties with modern twists, served indoors or outdoors.
Hiroshi is the fusion restaurant that blends Pan-Asian and Japanese cuisines.
Bites and Grill is the resort’s light snacks option by the pool.
Caprichos focuses on comfort food, served buffet-style; this is the also the location for evening shows and entertainment.
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