Relax at the Ritz-Carlton

Cancun’s hotel zone might not sound like the most alluring holiday destination for the more intrepid explorer, with its stretch of tightly packed hotels and hoards of holiday makers. So how does a hotel along the popular stretch set itself apart from the rest? Caroline Cullern finds out at the Ritz-Carlton, Cancun.

First impressions

Cancun poolLounge or sunbathe by the pool
The Ritz-Carlton

I have always tried to avoid staying in Cancun when I have visited Mexico after all the horror stories about how built up it is and rowdy spring-breakers chugging back the beer at the pool all the day. However, this holiday we were heading to the beautiful city of Merida the day after our flight landed, so Cancun it was to be, for resting our weary heads for the night.

The first thing that struck me was just how close the Ritz-Carlton is to the airport. To me that would usually be a bad thing, but we couldn’t hear any plane noise and we were on the stunning beach within 30 minutes of picking up our luggage. Goodbye long coach ride, hello Mexico!

The stunning reception offers opulent grandeur, however the hotel’s size means that there is an intimate feel that I have previously found lacking at the resort hotels in this part of Mexico. The views from the guest rooms over the stunning pool and beach are first class, and feel a million miles away from the Cancun chaos I had been worried about.

Ideal for…

The ideal location for those on a family holiday or couples retreat. On one hand the hotel oozes romance, with couples' massages in the spa and candlelit dinners for two on the beach. On the other, the Ritz Kids Mayan Adventures program offers a variety of supervised physical and creative activities designed especially for little ladies and gents ages 4 to 12.

The room

Although we booked the most basic guest room going, there was nothing basic about the stunning sea view, sumptuous decor and impressive floor space. In fact, all the rooms at the Ritz-Carlton come with a sea view, frankly a genius idea and one that makes staying in a slightly more high-rise hotel definitely worth the trade off.

Cancun roomEnjoy a guest room with beautiful views
The Ritz-Carlton

Anyway, you will spend most of your time gazing at the sea rather than at the hotel. Although the room was tastefully designed, there was nothing major that stood out. The huge balcony, however, definitely had the wow factor. I was almost tempted to lie on the supplied sun lounger than head down to the pool or beach.

Best room?

Hands down the Three Bedroom Ocean Front Suite. You'll feel like a rock star! Privately located on the north wing of the resort, the suite offers breathtaking oceanfront views of the pristine white sand and turquoise sea. The master guestroom with king size bed and two further guest rooms offers plenty of space for a group of friends or a family to live the life of luxury.

Eating and drinking

One of the best meals of our holiday was consumed at the Ritz-Carlton. By night the rustic looking cabanas were transformed into stylish private dining rooms on the beach, complete with private waiter and delicious food - a total movie-star evening.

Cancun cabanaDine at night in a private cabana
The Ritz-Carlton

The menu ranges from fresh seafood to dry aged steaks, catering to all tastes. To start with we shared the Fresh Market Seafood Platter, which came with oysters, shrimp and crab so fresh I thought it would walk off the plate - thankfully it didn't. With seafood so fresh we decided to make the most of it and opted for the Chilean sea bass and sugar cane skewered Caribbean lobster tail with garlic herb butter for our mains. Again, this hit all of our fishy cravings. Although full to bursting at this point, dessert is always a must for me, so I ploughed my way through a refreshing key lime pie, and despite claiming I would only have a mouthful of to taste it, I somehow managed to consume the whole lot.

If a private casita is a little out of your budget, there are plenty of other restaurants to choose from, including a sushi and ceviche bar, Mediterranean in Fantino, burgers and more in The Club Grill and Mexican-inspired snacks at the Caribe Bar and Grill. Breakfast is served in El Café Mexicano, which despite its name offers a traditional breakfast buffet of the usual suspects, bacon, eggs cooked to order, waffles, fruit, in fact the list goes on. There are also authentic Mexican offerings for those wanting to sample some local fare, such as chicken cooked in a spicy sauce and black beans – actually a rather good alternative to baked beans and with a little more kick to them!

The extras

When a hotel has a spa as luxurious as the Kayanta Spa, frankly it's rude not to sample! Small but perfectly formed, the spa is tucked away in a quiet corner of the hotel for some much needed peace and quiet. Being a lover of a cheeky kip I opted for the Drift to Sleep massage, which pretty much delivered what it said on the tin.

Cancun spaTreat yourself to a massage at the spa
The Ritz-Carlton

The expert hands of my masseuse applied just the right amount of pressure to work out a few knots without making me wince in pain. Instead I drifted into a slumber, even jerking myself awake at one point with a slight snore (I just told myself the masseuse couldn't hear over the soothing music being played, though in retrospect I am sure she had a chuckle to herself).  The overall verdict was very relaxing, professional staff and a complete luxurious treat.

The hotel also caters for the budding Jamie Olivers with a culinary centre offering a variety of cooking lessons. Fitness fans can practice their swing at the award-winning tennis centre and kids can burn off some steam at the Kids Club (plus give parents a chance to get stuck into their book without having sand flung at them for a couple of hours).

Room for improvement

One of my major bugbears in hotels is stingy tea and coffee making facilities. Without wanting to sound like a prima donna, if you are paying big bucks for the room the least they can do is supply you with enough tea and coffee sachets. However, after using up the measly 2 coffees on day one we were then charged around £10 for another couple when we requested them. It wasn’t until the next day that we realised there was free coffee available in the corner of the lobby, shame they didn’t tell us that!

Out and about

The hotel offers a range of excursions, including swimming with whale sharks. The Mexican Caribbean is home to the largest concentration of whale sharks - the largest fish in the world! Tours can be arranged directly from the hotel. If that’s a bit too close for comfort then try a Water Jungle Safari boat ride instead or Deep Sea Fishing, both available from the hotel. Being located so centrally there are also plenty of shopping opportunities and the swanky La Isla shopping Mall is a short10 minutes walk away.


Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Cancun
Retorno del Rey #36, Zona Hotelera
Cancun, Quintana Roo 77500 Mexico
Tel: (998) 881 0808.
Rooms cost from $229 per night for an ocean view guest room to $609 for a Club Room guest suite.

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