The Excellence Riviera Cancun... what can you say about this magnificent place? well, after spending a fantastic 12 days here, I've got plenty to say, so here goes.
our holiday started at Manchester Airport with the airport lounge (well worth the extra on this one, as it's a break from the normal busy rush of airport life). Drink responsibly, start at 6am! (just kidding). An undelayed but rather uncomfortable flight on board what I am certain is the same First Choice 767 that took me to Huatulco in 2006. Theres no padding on the seat so you'll have to sit on the head pillow provided (or at least provided in premier class, again recommended in the uk for the extra leg room and entertainment). it's a 10 hour flight from the uk, which this time round saw icebergs near Newfoundland, New York from above, and a pleasant route down the east cost USA. admittedly the 5 hours into the 10 hour flight, I was trying to figure out the best way to pop out for a walk along the wing i was so bored... probably a good thing I didn't follow it through. After the 10 hour tedious flight, we arrive at Cancun airport. this is fun... through immigration (step 1). that's form 1 dealt with. into baggage reclaim and prepare form 2. pick up your bags and take them through to another section to have them x-rayed (again) and them stand and push a Button and pray the light goes green (especially when your parents and wife have your birthday presents in their bags for the following day). just our luck, we push the button and it goes red... bag search! this is the wife's doing, as she seems to get searched every time we leave and enter a country! no hardship the customs staff were very accommodating and allowed me to step away while they glanced through our stuff. onwards to a taxi transfer to The Excellence Riviera Cancun.
the drive from the interstate is anything but excellence. it's actually made me re-evaluate the bad roads we have in Britain, BUT don't let this put you off! for when you reach the end of this road, the sweet beauty of the hotel's front gate appears before your very eyes. It's at this point that you realise just how organised this place is. your transfer is greeted at the front gate by a security guard, who identifies the names of the occupants. as you then take the drive upto the hotel reception the guard radios through to the concierge staff, who are ready to greet you. ok, so you're there, get out of the taxi and leave our bags, you'll see them again soon. take the walk down towards the huge wooden doors with your complimentary glass of champin, and watch the grandeur as the doors open before your eyes (its an automatic door, but don't let that spoil the magic). you're then greeted by the concierge. now here is where my review will differ from others. we were in The Excellence Club, so we're taken over to the club room for our priority and special check in. The communications excellence still evident as they knew we were coming! the upgrade to the club is well worth it for a number of reasons. the concierge staff give you that personal touch, the toiletries and minibar are upgraded to include posh top shelf bottles of alcohol. there's a private pool and a private section of the beach.
after check in its off up to our room 8352 (block 8 floor 3 room 52) though there were not 52 rooms on the block! In no time at all, our bags arrived and we unpack before going for our traditional start of holiday explore.
The Excellence Riviera Cancun is a modest resort consisting of a number of separated blocks. our room was an ocean view junior, amazingly has a jacuzzi bath in the room AND on the balcony! it has 8 ala carte restaurants for evening meals, and 2 restaurants for breakfast and lunch, excluding the beach grill of course. I'll come to food shortly. in terms of bars, this one has an exclusive bar for the club guests, as well as several other bars around the site, and a 'night club'. I didn't go in here, so will not offer comment. there's also more pools than you could ever imagine using. what this leads to is a considerable and welcome lack of crowding in the pools!
Foodwise, the hotel is broken down into the following (with reviews to go)... i had a birthday while we were here, my folks discussed the evening meal with the concierge staff, who went off and did the unthinkable. hearing that I am a Wigan Rugby League fan, (a sport that they hadn't heard of, let alone played) took the time to research the club, and take that research to the executive chef to create a rugby ball shaped birthday cake in Wigan's Cherry and White colour scheme!
Barcelona - Buffet Style Breakfast, but good food, eggs and omelettes to your liking. my only single complaint here, and this isn't the hotel's fault, rather that of the clientele, is that the bacon is that streaky crispy trash that the Americans seem to like, for a Brit who likes real bacon, you won't find it here.
Steak/Lobster House - ala carte. Served by a waiter.
Barcelona - Buffet Style Lunch, excellent food including pizza and calzone.
Oregano - pizza place. didn't eat here but some people we met out there said it was good.
Steak/Lobster House - extensive menu served by a waiter. we ate here a couple of times. its open air, so there's birds around, but they don't cause an issue until some moron leaves the cover open on the salad/desert bar!
Beach BBQ Grill - exactly what it says on the tin. my dad ate from here, and said he liked the burgers!
note, there are no buffets for dinner!
Toscana - Italian food, amazing food - I genuinely struggle to find Italian food that matches the standards that I like, but here surprised me. the food was excellently prepared and presented. go the whole hog and have 4 courses, you won't be sorry, but you will be stuffed!
Oregano - Pizzeria, pizza there, pizza everywhere. again we didn't eat here, but those who did said it was good!
Agave - Mexican Cuisine - there was some guy in the hotel complaining that he 'regularly eats Mexican food back in the uk and this restaurant didn't come close', if anyone ever tells you this, they're an idiot. yes, the food in this restaurant is not the exact food that you would expect in Mexico, but it is specially prepared to meet the standards of an audience who are not tolerable to hot and spicy foods. its a mid point between traditional Mexican cuisine, and the packet stuff you may find at home. we ate out in a mayern restaurant on our trip out, and agave wasn't far off!
Basmati - Indian food - like it hot or like it not, there's something here for you. what I will say is that basmati is not air conditioned, so it will be a little warm on those hot nights.
Chez Isabel - French Cuisine - this was probably our favourite restaurant. the Meat is perfectly prepared and although the portions may look small, the food is so good that you won't feel the need to ask for more. the creame brûlée is to die for and I fully recommend.
Spice - Eastern (Japanese, Chinese, Thai) - there's a good choice of food in here. I highly recommend the Yaki Udon! if you get the chance to you should try to get in on one of the teppanyaki tables (in addition to trying the normal restaurant) its not the best teppanyaki I've eaten or the best show of preparation, but it is well worth it if you have the chance.
Steak House & Lobster House (we didn't eat in these as they're open air)
What I will say in respect to the restaurant is that there are dress codes in most. For gentlemen this is classed as 'Casual Elegance'. generally speaking shirts with buttons, smart trousers and proper shoes. there were a lot of American/Canadian (sorry if I offend either there, I'm not great at determining the accentual differences) who were complaining at the dress code, what i will say is that if I can fly 10 hours, with 23kg of luggage allowance for 12 days, you can fly 4 hours for your week long trip. if you can't be bothered to dress according to the dress code, get used to room service.
The brochure for room service is fantastic and expansive. you will find something there to quench your thirst or quell that hunger. try it at least once as an alternative to a sit down meal in a restaurant at lunch.
Whatever you do, while staying at The Excellence make sure you try each of the restaurants. They're splendid! And if they don't get it right first time, don't complain to the rep, don't write it on Trip Advisor, tell the waiter and they will correct the issue straight away. They want to please. And that is just what they did.
One thing that struck me immediately about the hotel, was the overall cleanliness and good hygene of the place. All of the waiters have to wear hairnets!!!
Entertainment Wise - there is plenty to do at The Excellence Riviera Cancun, if you're not one of these strange people who will lay in the sun all day and do nothing but read (my mum falls into this category). Day time activities include yoga, Pilates, volleyball on the beach and in one of the pools, salsa, merengue, Spanish classes, power yoga (whatever that is) archery and an array of other sporting activities. You can visit the lovely girl on the cart and purchase and paint a pot (she doesn't speak English very well). In the evening, there's a good range of different shows in the theatre, we did see bits and pieces, but only really sat down for the magic show. I'm British, and I like Penn and Teller, it takes a lot in magic shows to impress me, this didn't. though it comes with popular acclaim!
In the evenings, again, you need not leave the complex. The martini bar is a magnificent place to enjoy a few drinks, have a chat with your new friends. if you want something a bit more quiet (and if you're a club guest) the club room is open for an after dinner nightcap and a game of big chess.
in terms of excursions, you're in the perfect spot to do a bit of ruin exploring. we original booked an excursion to Tulum with our tour operator, unfortunately, they messed up big time giving us a pick up time 2 hours earlier than the actual, told us 3 different itineraries, and didn't offer an apology. So why am I telling you this? Well, in many hotels, you're the tour operator's customer, not here... where the tour operator failed, The Excellence excelled, and not only handled the current situation, but also offered an alternative. 2 days after our tour operator messed it all up we boarded a minibus for 6 people to Chichen Itza. The itinerary included a dip in the Ik-Kil Cenote, lunch in a Mayan restaurant, and a visit to the colonial town of Valladolid. in a way the tour operator did us a massive favour, as this trip rivalled our visit to The Valley Of The Kings in Egypt.
if you want to know a bit more about how the hotel is run, ask for the kitchen tour this is awesome and shows you the level of hygiene, that the raw ingredients used in the guest restaurants are also used in the staff restaurant, and that the hotel is very much self sustaining! well recommended!
I know The Excellence Rivera Cancun is expensive, I know the club upgrade is a further expense, but if you can afford these, it will make your visit to Mexico one that you will never forget, and will always want to repeat.
we've read some quite ridiculous reviews on trip advisor regarding this hotel from the desperate (sea weed on the beach, I mean, really?) to the just plain rude (salmonella 3 days after returning, find somewhere else to blame because it certainly didn't come from here) those people who complain about trivial things do so because their sad lives don't allow them to relax and enjoy what is as near to perfection as they will find.
extra thanks go to Rosalia, Isole, Dari, Michelle, Margarita and Juan from the concierge teams for fulfilling all of our dreams!
would I come back? most definitely. I'd go back tomorrow if I could. I will go as far as saying that excellence is an understatement.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC