Villa Del Palmar- Cancun
I had the pleasure to travel to the Villa del Palmar resort in Cancun, Mexico this past July, 2014. The resort is beautiful! Each room has a balcony with a very comfortable hammock. I recommend getting an ocean view, as waking up to azure waters is a great way to start your morning. I traveled Tuesday-Tuesday and I must say I was quite surprised at how quiet the resort was. I’m not complaining, it was great having that space and it was easy picking for beach spots in the morning.
The resort is located about twenty minutes from the hotel district. There are pros and cons to this. The pros are that you have some extra peace and quiet and you get to truly get away from it all (not as much commercialism and fewer vendors walking up and down the beach.)
One con is that if you want to go out and about, it may seem like a task. I read a lot of other reviews saying people had to spend 30-40 dollars to get downtown and that they were bored from lack of activity. I will give some helpful hints on this.
First, there is an island across the way (you can see it from the beach) called Isla Mujeres. This island has bars, restaurants, a BEAUTIFUL beach (Playa Norte) and is a fun place to explore. Isla Mujeres is a small island that you can explore in a day trip. Once on the island , you can rent a moped or a golf cart (roughly 50 dollars for the day). I went with my boyfriend and we rented a golf cart and drove around the island. We stopped at a few fun places including: A turtle farm (3 dollars), Playa Norte (beautiful sand and water), Mogagua (fun restaurant with open walls and a very laid back atmosphere. The tacos here are pretty tasty), Villa la Bella (Great place to stop, relax, and grab a couple cervezas). Villa la Bella has chairs that overlook a cliffside where you can lay out and listen to the waves crash against the jagged rocks. There are also tables and a thatched roof sitting area. After all our stops, we dropped off the golf cart and walked up and down the main streets which were full of merchants. It is the usual items such as bathing suit covers, sunglasses, knick -knacks, souvenirs, etc. The island takes Pesos and American, however, they used an exchange rate of 10 to 1 rather than the current (at the time) standing of 12 to 1. So depending, you can save money by only bringing one type of currency.
How do you get to the island? Water taxis which can be found right next to Villa del Palmar near the ferry port cost roughly 40 dollars. We found a cheaper way. We paid a bus five dollars to take us to Puerto Juarez (about 10-15 min away) and hopped on a ferry. Round Trip the ferry was 139 pesos. One couple used the ferry port, Punta Sam, which is right next to Villa del Palmar, to get to the island. This ferry carries cars and trucks to and from the island. I am not sure the cost of this ferry. The car ferry from Punta Sam takes about an hour to get to the island. The ferry from Puerto Juarez took twenty minutes. It is up to you!
Second, Villa del Palmar offers free shuttle service to downtown Cancun. Ask the concierge about this and make a reservation. The only drawback is that the last shuttle returning to Villa del Palmar from downtown departs at 9:30p.m., so if you are trying to stay out late, you may have to take a cab back to the resort (but you still saved money by only paying for one way).
Third, there are excursions you can do. I did a pirate cruise which left from Puerto Juarez. This was so fun. We ate dinner, had cervezas, and got to watch the pirates fight with each other. Another plus is being out on the ocean during sunset. Other excursions include: snorkeling, Mayan ruin tours, and city tours. These will all cost extra of course, but why travel if you aren’t going to explore the area in which you are visiting?
Lastly, the resort puts on nightly shows from 8-10(ish). The shows range from Karaoke to a Michael Jackson show. The shows are pretty entertaining and they are interactive. So get ready to dance and/or sing!
The resort has other activities in the daytime. They have morning yoga, free paddle-boards and kayaks, a gym, and the pool/beach area (all free). If you have extra money, you can visit the spa and get a massage, enjoy the steam room, and relax in a Jacuzzi. You can also rent jet skis for half an hour (not free). The resort conducts free daily activities like volleyball, bingo, dance lessons, and mixology.
The resort was definitely quiet, and you do have to spend a little extra money to go downtown and around, but it wasn't too bad and if you do your homework, you can find cheap ways to get around.
The beach has beautiful white sand and turquoise water. There is plenty of space to swim, though parts are roped off. The one drawback is that there is a lot of seaweed. I didn’t mind it much because I enjoyed sitting under the sun with my feet in the sand. The seaweed gets cleaned up in the morning, but by mid-day, it is noticeable, but in the end, its just seaweed.
The beach does not stretch for miles and miles. If you walk towards downtown, you will end up at another pier about ten minutes into your walk. From here, you pretty much have to turn around and go back towards the resort. If you like to walk beaches for miles and miles, you might be disappointed with this aspect. However, it is still a beautiful place and due to its location, it was not very crowded.
Plenty of pool space! There is even a separate pool area for kids.I never had a problem finding a chair by the pool and I never felt crowded while swimming. The water was not too cold either, which was nice.
The infinity pool was reserved for elite timeshare members, however, there were two or three days when no one was checking ;)
My mom owns a timeshare with Villa del Palmar, so I went as a guest on her account. The staff kept asking me if I had a VIP card (I did not get the all inclusive deal because I can eat/drink on less than 95 dollars a day) which apparently members get. The card gets you discounts at all the restaurants and the market. The concierge said that if we went to the timeshare presentation we would receive a VIP card. The presentation is 90 minutes and gives you a tour of the resort. They try and pitch you deals to become a member. I did not go to the presentation. I guess it would have been nice to get the discount card, but I didn’t want to go.
The resort has several restaurants to choose from: Hiroshi (japanese and sushi), Zama (Mexican), Davino (Greek and Mediterranean), La Cocona (steakhouse), and Bites Bar and Grill (eclectic and cheaper). I did not eat at Hiroshi or La Cocona.
I ate the breakfast buffet at Zama and Davino. I think I liked Davino a little better because they had more selection and spicy sauce! Both places offer you a free drink with your breakfast whether it be an orange juice or a bloody mary. Only certain drinks are included with the meal, so be sure to ask. Also, the friendlier you are with the waiters, and the better you tip, the more likely you are to receive a second free drink with your meal :)
Dinner at Zama was pretty good. Keep in mind, dinner at these places can be pricey, so check the menu beforehand!
I ate dinner at Davino one night, I was not impressed. The food tasted good, but the portions were TINY, especially for the price. However, the calzones are hearty. I saw one on my way out and wished I would have ordered that instead! Do some research first to avoid disappointment. Also, ask to see the wine bottles first. My boyfriend ordered the cheapest bottle of wine they had ($20) and when it came out it was a mini bottle.
There is also a market on site. If your room has a kitchen, you can save money by making your own food. The market also serves food, ice cream, and coffees!
You can also take advantage of room service. The menus are in your room.
*If you wish to eat dinner at one of the restaurants, visit the concierge first thing in the morning (or the day before) and make a reservation. ** Dress codes may apply.
The resort was clean and beautiful. The staff was nice and attentive. It was nice to be away from the crowd. I had a good time. Villa del Palmar, Cancun is the second Villa del Palmar resort I have visited. I went to the Cabo resort a few years ago. The layout of the resort was similar, but the location was more in the middle of everything. I enjoyed the location of Cabo a little more because I could walk up and down the beach passing other resorts and tiny restaurants right on the beach (I love food). I could stop at a random place (which didn’t have resort prices ;) ) and order food while sitting in the sand. That was one thing I missed in Cancun. However, Cancun was beautiful and had things I wanted to see like Chichen Itza (really cool Mayan tour). I will return to Villa Del Palmar, Cancun one day. Everywhere has its pros and cons. Do a little research and I am sure you will find the place that is right for you!