No one was more surprised than me when I went to Cancun for the second time in six months. But in the time of COVID, it was one of the easier options, so the question was whether to stay at the stunning LeBlanc again or try something new. I finally decided to try Excellence Playa Mujeres (my second choice) and wanted to give a detailed review!
If you want to read more about mePersonal experience at EPM(more voiceover, the grind I got myself into, just more personal in general) I've got this for you. This post is a more formal and in-depth review of specific parts of the resort experience.
My other Cancun adventures to help you plan your trip:
A beautiful and relaxing solo trip to the quintessential Cancun, Playa Mujeres
Review: A stay at the luxurious LeBlanc Resort in Cancun
LeBlanc Cancun or Excellence Playa Mujeres: Which is right for you?
Here's how to have a laid-back DIY beach vacation in Cancun
My first all-inclusive experience at Royal Hideaway Playacar
Rückblick: Playacar, the Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen
I'll go into much more detail below about the room, resort grounds, pools, beach, food and drinks, Excellence Club and much more...with LOTS of photos to give you a true idea.
That's a lot of information, but that's because in my own research on resorts in the Cancun area, I've had a hard time finding any really useful details (especially recent ones) to help me with my decisions.
But if you're short on time, here's the TL;DR version...
Summary of the excellence of Playa Mujeres:
- Oappealit is beautiful, well maintained and quite spacious. People clearly love it and keep coming back. It's definitely geared towards couples and it seems like 50% of the doors have happy anniversary or honeymoon banners on them. But you also saw some groups of (adult) friends and families.
- there are 7 differentpool(3 dedicated to Clube de Excelência) and they are adorable. Oslopeit's awesome, not the best in the area... if you really want an amazing beach go further south.
- MeinRoomGenericNameit was beautiful, quite large and comfortable, and immaculately clean. I appreciated that they also had decent porch seating. I stayed in an Excellence Club Ocean View Junior Suite.
- OEssenit was a bit uneven...had some great individual dishes but also some average. They *always* look pretty, but they don't always taste that good.
- I didn't get a chance to test this.Spa,but it has good reviews.
- EPM has some differentActivities, depending on what you want. Live music and shows at night are great, and there are things going on during the day. If you want to try one of their mixology classes or something similar, book a few days (or more) in advance. And if you want to go on excursions they can organize them for you.
See my direct comparison of Excellence Playa Mujeres vs LeBlanc Cancun
Ok, let's dive into the details... here's what we'll cover in this EPM review:
- Free transfer to and from the airport
- Club of excellence: yes or no?
- The rooms
- the grounds of the complex
- the dishes
- The beach
- The service
- food and drinks
- Activities and Excursions
First, some different ideas and tips for your trip.… I was there at the end of May 2021 and all the staff were wearing masks but no guests. To me, that was good news, but if you're worried, you should know.
There is a Facebook group called We Love Excellence Playa Mujeres that is VERY helpful! I only found this out halfway through my trip, but it would be invaluable for your trip planning. I recommend participating!
The resort has eliminated all plastic straws. But they have no alternatives (paper, bamboo, etc.). There are literally no straws at the resort. If you care ( ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡these are metalThey are great. Also, it would be useful to haveclipsto hold your towel on beach chairs. Many people bring their ownvacuum cupas well as.
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My booking included free transfers to and from the airport and I used Seasons as recommended. Confirmation from your resort will provide you with the information you need to contact them about your transfer.
I emailed them and no response for a while (maybe a week?), but I checked in about a week before my trip and they responded quickly. The process was easy and I had no problem meeting her at the airport. Seasons was easy to use, nice clean cars and friendly drivers.
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Should you get the Excellence Club?
Therefore, one of the most important decisions you have to make, besides the type of room, is whether you want to have the Excellence Club (EC) or not. Unlike many other resorts, this is not a club you join or pay for long term, it is a room level you reserve.
Now it is important to know that the rooms themselves are no different. They are the same as the non-EG ones, albeit in slightly better locations, in my opinion. But there are some great benefits that come with it. The biggest are access to the Excellence Club Lounge, Magna restaurant and bar area, and the exclusive Excellence Club pools and beach areas.
You also get private check-in and check-out. I knew I wanted the Excellence Club (especially for the more private and relaxed pool areas) and booked that, so on arrival I was escorted upstairs, offered champagne and checked in. This is the lounge and bar area of the Excellence Club.
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Below is an example of one of the Excellence Club pools (Building 7, view from my room). EC's pool areas are small (feels a bit claustrophobic) but nice and private, and for someone like me who didn't want the more party atmosphere and crowds of the main pool, this was a draw.
One of the biggest differences is the beach area, and you can see in the third image below that the Excellence Club beach area has gained hammocks, beach bags and Balinese beds.
They will continue to come and request your room number upon arrival and throughout the day to ensure that only EC people are in EC pools and beach areas and that your room key gives you access to Magna.
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Magna was my favorite restaurant at the resort and is exclusive to Club Excellence. I had dinner there twice and breakfast twice. The service there was great, the food really solid, and they have a few more wine options that don't cost more (at least you can choose from varietals instead of just "red or white").
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On my last night, the staff placed a beautiful note with rose petals on my table ("CBS" stands for "Be Back Soon") and on my dessert.
The pool concierge at my Excellence Club pool also gifted me with a "Coco Loco" (coconut monkey stuffed with a pina colada like I've been drinking all week) and a lovely towel message on my last day. I guess they are all "special" from EC, but I'm not sure.
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As rooms of the EPM
I booked an Excellence Club Junior Suite with Sea View. The room was very nice, comfortable, clean and had a good sitting area. I really liked that they not only had a small table and chairs, but also a comfortable bed on the porch to relax. I spent a lot of time here!
If the doorman doesn't mention this when he walks into the room, you can ask him to turn the air down to 64, which seems to be the lowest. He doesn't feel like 64, but he's so much better. And many people recommend using something calledget rid of moistureto help with moisture (I didn't and it was fine, but I can see how nice it would be).
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I never used my little jacuzzi but it was very nice and had a nice view. I *used* the leather card holder they gave me for my room keys so they don't get demagnetized. I think the in-room bottles of alcohol are a bit better in the Excellence Club as well, but I can't confirm.
The little petits fours they left with the nightly turndown service were beautiful, although they were all too cute or old for me. Beautiful.
Every morning I would get up early, make myself an espresso (they have Nespresso machines in the room) and sit on the porch.
I ordered sweets from room service the night before to be delivered at a certain time, although it wasn't very good. If I remembered, I would buy some pastries from the cafeteria before going to bed to drink with my breakfast.
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the grounds of the complex
The complex is a circular maze and I'm pretty sure I never got to each part. The gardens are beautiful and very well kept with interesting landscaping.
In addition to the main building, which houses the lobby, several restaurants, the Excellence Club Lounge and the Martini Bar (on the ground floor), the resort revolves around the main pool and the Lobster House restaurant. The restaurant is on a small island in the pool, so there is always a great view.
The "lazy river" pool (it doesn't move on its own, so the name can be a bit misleading) meanders around the main pool, and there are little paths and bridges that take you to different parts of the complex. They give a fantasy feeling just by having sidewalks.
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This is the interior of the main building, as you can see it is very beautiful. The Excellence Club Lounge, Magna and a few other restaurants are on level 2, the lobby and some restaurants are on the main level and then the Martini Bar, some restaurants and shops are on the ground floor. This is an important meeting point at night.
The third photo below is Plaza Preludio which has a good bar, nightlife, the taco truck (which I never tried) and then Café Aroma on the opposite side of the plaza.
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The resort is also very pretty at night.
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Die Pools at Excellence Playa Mujeres
Well, some of the really important stuff... because as I mentioned in myLeBlanc Cancun ReviewI'm really here for the pools! EPM pools are all good, but especially the main ones. The Excellence Club pools are nothing special, except that they are more private.
The club pools don't get much early morning or late afternoon sun (pool 8 at least gets more in the morning). In general, the afternoon sun is a godsend, because the sun disappeared behind the tall buildings.
The main pool surrounding the Lobster House is definitely the place for the action, much more "slam" (do they still say that?). That's not to say it's like College Kids Spring Break or anything, just more of a happy party atmosphere, very social, they have activities all day long and a DJ.
It's an adult party, but it's still a party. It's a tough road for me, being an 80 year old on the outback...all I want to do is sit and read my Kindle, get a tan and drink pina coladas!
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My biggest problem with EPM pools? All pools have palapa (thatched roof) style umbrellas which look great but aren't particularly practical. They cannot be lowered or moved depending on the type of sun protection you want. This makes it a bit tricky when you (like me) are going to be at the pool all day because the sun moves around a lot and you have to keep moving your chair or trying to find a new chair (which is tricky, especially when this complex is full).
The other minor thing is that the loungers by the pool are decent but have a lot of space when flat. She always had to put them on backwards when she was lying on her stomach because otherwise it was super uncomfortable. One minor thing, but just a note.
I tried the networks for a hot minute knowing that @sjems5 would kill me if I didn't. It's a really cool option and I see some people spend a lot of time here. I was more worried about throwing my Kindle in the pool!
There are a few Balinese beds (with covers/curtains) around the main pools, which are also on a first-come, first-served basis, so head out early if you want!
As I mentioned, I spent most of my time poolside at the Excellence Club (Building 8), which has its own bar and concierge. Give me those pineapple mojitos!!
Location wise, EC pool in building 7 is super cold, doesn't even play music, but no bar. That is the main reason I chose building 8 so that I can get drinks and food more easily. You can order food poolside, it's quite a limited menu but a good choice (get the quesadillas!).
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I also loved watching the main pool at sunrise! I couldn't help but share this photo...
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This can be decisive for some people. Basically, the beach at Excellence Playa Mujeres is nice enough, but definitely not impressive.
And there are a LOT of great beaches in this part of Mexico, so if that's really important to you, you might look for another resort (Cancun's main hotel zone and Playa del Carmen both have beautiful beaches...BlancooRoyal Refuge Playa del Carmen).
As the beach is oriented to the east, it receives sun very early in the morning and at noon. It also has amazing sunrise views. It has the same umbrellas and loungers as the pools. It also has (at least in the Excellence Club areas) hammocks (first photo below) and Balinese beds (second photo below). One note, none of the bed types can be adjusted up or down, they are what they are.
This is what the beach looks like during the day. Now, I'm not sure the sargassum (seaweed) could have been as bad at any other resort at this particular time (late May 2021). They scour the beach every morning and basically push the seaweed to the edge of the waves.
But even in the middle of the day, you never had that open beach feeling with lots of different shades of green and blue that you might see at the two resorts linked above or on Isla Mujeres at the bottom of this post. I just don't think the beach is a selling point here. For me, it's not my first consideration, so that's okay. If I had @sjems5 with me, it would have been a problem for them.
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However, a sunrise in the Riviera Maya never goes out of style…
Thinking about the Riviera Maya?You might also consider the luxurious LeBlanc Resort Cancun!
You cannot review Excellence Playa Mujeres without talking about the staff and service as this is one of the biggest things they say is a selling point and people talk about that later. In general, I found the staff here to be super friendly, always smiling and helpful. Shout out to Martha and Antonio at pool 8!
One thing that was a bit strange was that sometimes I felt ignored by the waiters when I was trying to get their attention, be it at the pool or in the restaurants. I wondered if it was because he was alone. I could only see them checking everyone but me, which was weird. I think good resorts in general have a hard time knowing what to do with singles/solo travelers. Interestingly, I felt more comfortable being single at Leblanc, even though I was literally the only single person there at the time.
Something that made me laugh was that I was constantly being asked if I had any food allergies. I really appreciate you asking, but the funny thing is when I checked in I was asked (and it was noted on my bill) and literally every time I went to a restaurant the hostess would ask me and write her note, and then the waiter would invited back to my table. I started laughing every time they asked me.
One thing I did NOT like was that some of the staff pressured me to fill out reviews right in front of them... daily pool area, snorkeling off the boat, etc. they have rank quotas tied to their jobs, which is ridiculous. So this is a management issue, but it left me with a bad taste in my mouth (and made me a bit more suspicious from the reviews I saw).
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food and drinks
I'll be reviewing the restaurants and bars at Excellence Playa Mujeres in MUCH more depth, including diving into various foods and drinks I loved (and didn't). Therefore, I only give an overview here. Dinner reservations are not required (and in most cases you cannot make them), so it is first come first served. I always left at 6:00 when they opened.
First a PSA:There are no straws at the resort. Period. So if you value a straw, bring your own.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Magna was my favorite restaurant overall, and that's just Excellence Club. Some of my favorite dishes were the foie gras toast with candied pears, the salmon starter and the scrambled eggs with mushrooms and truffle oil. They had good cocktails and better wine.
My second favorite restaurant was Basmati, which was delicious and had great service (thanks to Efraín!). Among the other restaurants, Chez Isabelle was generally good, although I found the starters to be strong but the main courses unremarkable (this was a common theme for me in EPM restaurants). The service here felt rushed and perfunctory. The seasoning was fine, although the rice pudding (like kheer) was fantastic and the sushi was good.
In general, EPM was much more focused on cocktails and alcoholic options than other resorts I've stayed at, which was great for anyone who isn't a fan of tequila. The Martini bar had interesting cocktails (and a few gin cocktails), the Excellence Club bar had some great ones and to be honest I had most of my drinks poolside.
I was SUPER disappointed that they didn't have the gin cart when I was there, but hopefully I'll be back again soon. I think he may have been a victim of COVID.
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I've only eaten at the Lobster House a few times and never found The Grill so I can't speak to that. The fish tacos were very good, as was the salmon tataki (a bit weird in texture, but good flavor). I just wasn't in the mood for a proper lunch as I usually eat twice 🙂
Okay, let's talk fast/casual dining options. The food that could be ordered poolside was quite limited and standard but with enough variety. Quesadilla was decent, edible guacamole but really needed salt. The nachos were terrible.
I also had REAL problems with room service. First the good things: the room service menu is large and varied, and it's very fast. They also have a box in your room to leave your food in if you don't feel like opening the door (loved that touch, very useful). However, I have ordered breakfast multiple times, dinner and dessert multiple times and sadly the food was horrible without exception.
My advice is to stick to restaurants or, if you can get room service, things like smoothies or lox bagels (both are hard to screw up and were good).
I wanted to highlight one of my favorite places, Aroma! This is the resort cafe, the only place to get good coffee. They also have decent cakes (pineapple horseshoes!), great little desserts at the end of the day (get the fruitcake!). And I lived on iced macadamia lattes.
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Activities and Excursions
EPM has many different types of activities and also gives you access to many (paid) excursions. I think the non-motorized water sports are free, which is a big draw for people.
My #1 Tip: Reserve things early!If there are activities you want to do, such as the mojito class (which they only offer on certain days) or spa treatments, book in advance. I called Wednesday night and they had nothing Thursday or Friday morning and said the actual spa services were booked later.
They have many activities during the day and night, from yoga to kayaking, beach games and contests. If you're looking for a place with so much to do that you won't get bored, Excellence could definitely be the place for you. Then they have things like cocktail classes, wine tasting, etc. which charge a small fee (about $25) and must be reserved.
I haven't tried any of the spa services so I can't speak to them. The spa is a large building just outside the complex, very quiet and pretty. There is also a small cabana that they use for couples massages on the beach.
There are always nightlife activities starting with live music around 7:30pm. I always ate early (I was at the restaurant at 6pm when they opened) and then finished around 7:30am. m., so I went to Prelude Plaza, had a drink and listened to some music for a while.
From Souly Grail to Indie Acoustic to Cubanissimo, all the live music was great. Around 9pm there was a show in the open air theater next door, then around 10.15pm more live music, silent party, karaoke or something more energetic.
Be aware of your room location as some of this after party stuff can be quite loud and doesn't end until 11:30pm. It was only a problem for me one night.
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On a whim I took a trip, a boat trip and snorkel to Isla Mujeres. We were taken to the boat in groups in a small speedboat and then across the water. El Farito was our first stop, where we swam for quite some time. Then we went to the famous Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres...the water is so shallow that we literally walked from the boat to the beach.
Finally, before heading back to the hotels, we stopped at a shipwreck and swam around. One thing to note, when I made the reservation the guy told me we'd be back at noon, but we didn't get back until 2am. This was important to me mainly because my COVID test was scheduled for 2:30 am. so it was close (I also chose this trip because it didn't take most of the day compared to others).
I loved this experience and next time I would do the legwork and book my own which is a bit more private and less "crowded" (Iates MM Royalegets good reviews from resort goers), but it was a super convenient and easy option, cost me $70 I think, plus tips for the people on the boat
FURIOUS!!! I said it would be a detailed analysis of EPM! Excellence Playa Mujeres is a beautiful resort and an excellent option for couples, adult families, groups of friends, and is suitable for solo travelers. It is a great option if you are looking for a more social experience, a place with lots of activities and things to do, or a little more energy.
If you're looking for super laid-back luxury, that's fine, but there are probably better options out there for you (I loveBlanco). Here's onecomparison of the two.
Frequently asked questions for EPM
What is the best way to book Excellence Playa Mujeres?
You can book through EPMswebsitedirect... although it is worth calling customer service to see if you can get a better price. Curiously, it is not inBooking.comThis is one of my goals. be sure to read itTripAdvisor Reviewsfor.
What is the Excellence Club at Excellence Playa Mujeres?
Excellence Club is a level at EPM for which you can pay extra. Unlike many other resorts, this is not a club you join or pay for long term, it is a room level you reserve. The rooms themselves don't differ, but service and access to different pool and beach areas are included, as well as a good on-site restaurant and bar. It was worth it for my travel style.
Does Excellence Playa Mujeres have a swim-up bar?
Yes the large main pool that surrounds one of the restaurants has a great swim up bar. From what I remember, the other pool bars are all "on land".
Excellence Playa Mujeres Hat in Lazy River?
Technically no, no. One of its pools is designed in the shape of a lazy river, where it narrows and meanders through the complex. However, the water is not moving, which is a key feature of a true lazy river.
Do you tip at Excellence Playa Mujeres?
It's not required, but it's certainly appreciated and I would have felt uncomfortable if I hadn't tipped. I have no idea how many tips other guests have left, but I typically give $1-2 for drinks, $5-10 for meals, and $3-5 for daily cleaning.
Other beach/pool vacation experiences to consider:
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