When my husband and I finally ended up at Excellence Playa Mujeres, an all-inclusive resort near Cancun, Mexico, it had been quite the journey to get there. We had had our long-awaited and fully planned wedding and honeymoon canceled the year before, but 14 months later, we were finally married and ready for total and complete relaxation. After a short stay at another all-inclusive resort about an hour away, we ended up needing to switch hotels at the last minute (it’s a long story, but IYKYK)*. The bottom line is that we found ourselves on day three of our 10-day honeymoon needing a new hotel that same day. On a friend’s recommendation, we booked a spot at Excellence Playa Mujeres, which had rooms available.
Because our experience was so last-minute, it gave us an interesting perspective on the hotel and all-inclusive experience. The only other all inclusive I had stayed at was the one we were leaving, and I didn’t have months or weeks to research EPM before I got there. Instead, we had more like two hours. Mostly, I was just really, really determined to relax, but I also went in with a totally open mind. As soon as we arrived at Excellence, I knew that I was in for a treat.
I’m going to get into the specific areas that people have questions about when it comes to all-inclusive below (hotel aesthetics, rooms, food, service, ocean views, pools, location etc.), but if you’d rather go the TLDR route, I’ll cover a quick summary first.
*I’ve talked about this openly on my Instagram (hence why I originally wrote “IYKYK” re: the first hotel debacle), but to clarify so there’s no confusion: The original resort we stayed at was a sponsored stay (I.E. a free stay in exchange for social media promotion). During my stay, I found out the resort has a policy to not host gay marriages at any of their properties. This didn’t align with Jake & I’s values, and I didn’t feel comfortable advertising a place with this policy to my audience, so we left. I didn’t initially include this information in this post because I wanted to focus on highlighting an amazing resort, not dragging the other, but adding now in the sake of transparency.
After six days and nights at Excellence Playa Mujeres, I can honestly say it was one of the most relaxing, enjoyable, blissed-out vacations of my life. My family is very into cruising, so while I’ve had an all-inclusive experience before in a way, I had never had one quite like this. The food was great (more on that below), the resort itself and the landscaping was stunning, and the service was impeccable. Most importantly, though, I didn’t worry about a single thing for six days straight. My biggest concern was waking up early enough to get my favorite spot on the beach, and even that wasn’t too difficult. Sure, there were some minor things I might change (I’ll cover that in the specifics below), but overall, I can truly say that I would recommend Excellence Playa Mujeres to absolutely anyone who wants to truly and completely relax (yes, even those who are skeptical of all-inclusives, like we were).
First, a note on location… one of my favorite parts of the experience at EPM is that it felt very private, like its only little oasis. Contrary to what I thought at first, EPM isn’t on Isla Mujeres, but across from it. This means it’s only a short drive from the airport and you don’t have to get on a boat or ferry to get there. Still, it feels secluded and special. Now onto the hotel itself…
The first thing you notice when you walk into the lobby of the hotel is the smell. I have no idea what the exact fragrance is, but it smells glorious. And then you notice how it looks. The hotel is modern while still being warm and comfortable and feels beach-y and exotic without being kitschy or dated. I’m a little picky about hotel decor personally, and I was incredibly impressed by every aspect of the interior design at Excellence. It’s luxurious while still making you feel right at home — a tough balance. Plus, you are greeted with champagne when you arrive. So, that’s a plus. Also: THE LANDSCAPING. I’m not one to swoon over landscaping, but the flowers and plants here are absolutely stunning. It’s all very thoughtful and very special, and makes walking around the property so very enjoyable.
Since we were booking so last minute, we weren’t too picky about what kind of room we had. I didn’t know that the swim-up rooms were a thing when we booked our standard room with a king bed and balcony (overlooking the lazy river). Our room was a solid 5-7-minute walk from the main restaurants and more like a 10-12 minute walk to the beach, which seemed a little far at first, but we quickly got used to it. Like most people, I’m partial to an ocean view, but I have to say that Excellence somehow managed to make the view from our balcony still stunning (see here). I enjoyed drinking coffee outside or just taking a nap here more than one day. The mini bar, bathroom, and closet were all excellent as well. Plus, the room had a complimentary steamer for clothing. Way better than an ironing board. If I’m being really picky, I do think the bed could have been a little more comfortable (it was pretty firm, which isn’t my thing), but I still slept extremely well every night.
In my life, I’ve had trouble deciding whether I’m more of a beach person or a pool person, but EPM showed me that I could be both. Most days of our trip, my husband and I would grab iced coffee from the coffee shop (highly recommend — one of my favorite parts of every day!) as soon as it opened and head over to the beach to get our favorite seats and umbrella. The beach itself was gorgeous, with palm trees all around and a view of Isla Mujeres in the distance. It also consistently felt incredibly private, incredibly safe, and impeccably clean (they even removed the seaweed that washed up overnight!). Sometime after lunch (the pizza place right next to be beach is… life-changing), we’d head back over to our room, grab some wine or beers from the mini fridge, and chill in the lazy river-style pool that was a 1-minute walk from our hotel room door. This gave us some peace and quiet as there was only the occasional couple floating by. Despite the fact that this area felt rather private, there was still always a kind and attentive waiter offering us drink after drink. In theory, a lazy river sounds like something you’d find in an amusement park, but in reality this felt more like our own private pool, complete with gorgeous landscaping and chirping birds all around us. And also unlimited drinks. Did I mention the unlimited drinks? Speaking of…
PS: We never did try out the swim-up bar and main pool (if you’re feeling more of a party vibe, this is for you), but I was always struck by how pleasant it looked in there when we walked by. In other words: If you, like me, have preconceived notion about what a swim-up bar is like, this one will probably change your mind. It always looked incredibly clean, comfortable, and fun — without being obnoxious. And you can see the ocean from the pool, so… a win-win.
I should start by saying I had a truly ungodly amount of mixed drinks and cocktails while at EPM and I found every single one to be absolutely delicious. This includes quite a few mixed shots. All great. Were they all the strongest drinks I’ve ever hard? No, and honestly thank God for that. People talk about drinks being weaker (AKA less alcohol) at all-inclusives, and I found this to be true at EPM for the most part, but I didn’t mind. Plus, this wasn’t true across the board. For example, the house margaritas at EPM’s Mexican restaurant truly knocked me on my ass (in a good way). They were delicious. Dare I say perfect, even?
While we’re on the subject of the Mexican restaurant, I should say that this was by far my favorite food I had at EPM. It’s so good. In fact, unsurprisingly maybe, all of the Mexican food at the resort that I had was delicious. I particularly liked the breakfast tostadas at the buffet. There were non-Mexican options that were great as well, though. The Asian restaurant was delicious and we had pre-dinner sushi there one night that was great, too. The beach side restaurants were consistently yummy as well and, again, the beachside pizza place is just… clutch. The only place I didn’t love was the French restaurant, but I heard many people rave about their experiences there, so maybe we just had an off night. Overall, the food at EPM wasn’t the best food I’ve ever experienced in my life (though the breakfast tostada is something I still think about regularly), but it was still very, very good. And I loved knowing that if I didn’t like one place, I could go try out another. If you’re a foodie who’s into Michelin-starred, James Beard-award-winning restaurants, I don’t think you’d go here and have a life-changing experience every meal. Still, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying themselves here, no matter what they’re into food-wise. My husband and I are pretty adventurous eaters who enjoy trying the latest and greatest restaurants, and we still had a wonderful time eating at EPM.
I didn’t go to EPM for the entertainment options, nor did I even know they had any before we got there. Having said that, I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I was to spend every evening before or after dinner listening to live music, though. It was a treat, and the bands were all surprisingly good. If you love drinking unlimited cocktails and listening to live music (did I mention there’s a food truck making you endless snacks in this area, too?), you’ll have fun here. We also checked out some of the other shows a couple nights (acrobatics and a burlesque show, I think), which were fun to check out in passing.
I can’t say enough good things about the service at EPM. Every single person was thoughtful, kind, and went out of their way to make sure we were having a great time. I have so much respect for people who who work in hospitality, and I like to think I am always pretty understanding when service isn’t perfect because it’s such a hard job. Still, I can honestly say that the service at EPM was flawless. There’s not a single negative thing I could say about it. It was a wonderful experience all-around. I’ve never felt better about tipping generously and often (PLEASE don’t go to EPM on my recommendation unless you plan on tipping throughout your stay — the people who work there deserve every penny and more).
I’m sure there is so much more I could say, but that is a run-down of all the big questions I received after our stay! Overall, it was just a wonderful experience. I look forward to staying here again with friends or family. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!