Cancun Dreaming

March 11, 2016 Updated: March 11, 2016
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When can I go back to Cancun? Five days is far too short for a visit to this tropical paradise for tourists.

Five weeks would be more like it. After all, the legendary Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Chetumal are only a few hours away, making a great side trip. And the Cancun nightlife has developed a reputation for variety that begs to be experienced.

Cancun is fairly new to tourism, established in the 1970’s thanks to former Mexican president Luis Echeverria’s efforts to outdo Acapulco by building a world-class resort city on the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico.

Located on a deserted sand spit, the resort city of Cancun was carved from the jungle on the eastern side overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Hard to believe it’s only been three decades since the now-bustling tourist mecca was inhabited only by Puerto Juarez, a tiny fishing village.

No doubt staying at two five-star resorts like Excellence Riviera Cancun and Finest Playa Mujeres was a major contributor to my enjoyment of Cancun. Both resorts are operated by Excellence Group, a company from Barcelona that specializes in creating all-inclusive resorts (also including Beloved Resorts) in exotic locales.  

Riviera Cancun Resort

From the moment of entry into the gated Riviera Cancun with its classic Mediterranean-style architecture, everyone is treated like a celebrity. An icy glass of fine champagne was another welcoming touch.

The Riviera is for adults only, which makes it perfect for romantic getaways. There are six pools, a white sandy beach, and the turquoise waters of the Mexican Maya coast just waiting to be explored. There are also 10 restaurants featuring international cuisine, numerous bars including a swim-up bar, and a spa to pamper the resort’s guests.

Even when it was cloudy and slightly cooler than expected, our group of travel writers stayed busy and happy with so much to do inside the spacious resort. Seemingly endless supplies of delicious food and beverage choices—balanced with water wellness treatments, massages, and other spa experiences—made staying indoors a lot more fun than expected.  

So when a morning with cooler temperatures kept us away from the beach, no one complained.   But as soon as the sun peeked out, the beautiful Caribbean beckoned us to the beach. The Riviera Maya coastline on the northeastern tip of Yucatan Peninsula boasts one of the world’s largest reef systems. The resort offers exciting snorkeling and scuba adventures as well as boating.  

Cancun offers the perfect romantic getaway for couples of any age.

Finest Playa Mujeres Resort

While the Riviera Cancun is for adults only, the newer Finest Playa Mujeres, which opened last spring, welcomes families. They feature amenities such as a Kids Club with its own theatre, pool, water slides, special activities, and even a Kiddy Spa where small tots ages 2 and up can get manicures and pedicures just like their parents. When my children were that age, they spent their time at the beach collecting shells or building sandcastles. Hopefully they didn’t realize they were being deprived!

Our group was invited into our junior suites at Finest Playa Mujeres with champagne on ice, roses on the bed, and pastries, flowers, and fruit. In the cupboards we discovered premium brands of booze, while the well-stocked refrigerator contained a variety of goodies—all included with the room.

A two-person “half-and-half” Jacuzzi offers a view of the sky out on the balcony, or rain forest showers for those who preferred to soak indoors.

The resort boasts 12 swimming pools plus hot water Jacuzzis, children’s pool/playground/indoor pavilions, and world class spa facilities, as well as an 18-hole golf club, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, tennis lessons, yachting excursions, a 3,500 square foot fitness centre, and outdoor fitness trails.

Perfect Romantic Getaway

Both resorts have multiple restaurants ranging from French, Indian, Asian, and Spanish to seafood and steak houses. A personal favourite was Agave, an authentic Mexican restaurant where we were entertained on our first night at the Excellence Riviera Cancun.  

Both resorts also have a variety of pools, and there are lazy rivers for those preferring to float around the property. We were entertained at one swim-up bar pool by a gleeful wedding party, including a white-gowned bride, who had all jumped in the water to celebrate, trashing their fancy clothes.  

Cancun offers the perfect romantic getaway for couples of any age. Both resorts have busy teams of wedding planners who are adept at planning a memorable destination wedding.  They also help plan engagement and anniversary parties.

Romance is in the air wherever you look at these two Cancun resorts. We saw happy couples ranging from young to senior citizens. There were starry-eyed newlyweds toasting each other with champagne at the French restaurant at Finest Playa Mujeres. Later that night we watched an energetic couple celebrate their golden anniversary by out-dancing everyone on the disco floor.

At Cancun’s Excellence and Finest resorts, guests can be as active—or inactive—as they choose.  Here, the customer is always right!

Jo Ann Holt is a journalist and car columnist based in Dallas.

Editor’s note: The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that all travellers protect themselves from mosquito bites when travelling to regions where the Zika virus is circulating and countries in tropical and subtropical regions where the virus has the potential to circulate.