So you’re going to Cancun – lucky you! Is it for a blue-sky holiday, a winter vacation or a honeymoon? Or maybe you just need to get away from it all and enjoy some dependable Mexican sunshine.
Whatever your reason for vacationing in Cancun, you need to know where to stay in Cancun. There are so many great places to stay in Cancun that you’re really spoiled for choice!
I feel that the most important thing in choosing where to stay in Cancun is choosing a great resort. A great resort with an excellent pool (or pools!), top-notch food, attentive service, comfortable and spacious rooms and that kind of vibe that you can only find at a great resort. The kind of vibe that says relax, we’ll take care of that for you. The vibe that says you’ll be comfortable and happy and well-taken care of here.
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Hotels in Cancun Hotel Zone
The JW Marriott Resort & Spa in Cancun is a hotel in the middle of the hotel zone or zona hotelera, the 14 mile peninsula of land between the Nichupte Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. The hotel zone is exactly that – a zone of mainly hotels and resorts. There is a single road running the length of the hotel zone – Boulevard Kukulcan, undoubtedly named after the same warrior who named the pyramid at Chichen Itza!
JW Marriott is a luxury hotel chain under the Marriott Bonvoy banner, named after J.W. Marriott, the founder of Marriott Corporation. These hotels are in a higher tier than traditional Marriott hotels, offering more luxurious rooms and amenities. You’ll recognize the JW Marriott brand by the distinctive Griffin logo.
Check out Adele’s post about Marriott Bonvoy’s free night promotion!
The hotel is located up a long inclined driveway that includes a security booth. The front of the hotel is beautiful with white columns beneath a massive portico under which cars regularly pick up and drop off guests.
We checked into the JW Marriott in Cancun in February 2019. We landed in Cancun at 5:30pm and after we picked up our bags, we found our car and driver and were whisked from the airport directly to the hotel. It was an exciting moment when we knew we were on our way to a great hotel for couples in Cancun!
Our check-in process went very smoothly. The hotel’s front desk was staffed by 3 people and we were immediately welcomed and our reservation confirmed. I was delighted when we were told that our room had been upgraded to a bigger room on a higher floor! Upgrades are one of the great benefits of being a Marriott Gold member.
The lobby area of the hotel is quite extensive and very well appointed, as you might expect for a luxury hotel. There are many seating areas in groups of four as well as small and private conversation areas. The lobby bar is directly across from the entrance doors and boasts a massive selection of Margueritas. As soon as I saw that I knew that we’d made a great a decision about where to stay in Cancun!
If you’re wondering whether you should tip the hotel staff, check out Laura’s comprehensive guide to everything about tipping in Mexico.
Where to Stay in Cancun – Our Room
The bank of elevators sped us up to the 9th floor to our assigned room – 919. We were very pleasantly surprised when we opened to the door to see our room. The hotel has recently been completely renovated and the guest rooms really benefited. Colour palettes consist of blues and whites with reclaimed wood accents, inspired by the resort’s oceanfront views and sandy beaches. Our room was really beautiful! The king-size bed was extremely comfortable (and I didn’t suffer from jet lag!) and the rest of the furnishings, including a club chair, desk chair and chaise lounge were equally comfy.
My favourite part of the room was the bathroom! A dream of mine for quite some time has been to bathe in one of those large free-standing tubs. You know….one of those tubs you can fully stretch out in?
Yeah, our room had one!
There was also a separate rain-forest shower and toilet with a separate door. The bathroom felt very large. There was plenty of space in the bathroom to store the toiletries we had packed for our vacation in Mexico.
We were very lucky that our room had a balcony that overlooked both the hotel pools and the ocean. As soon as we opened the patio doors, we were overjoyed to hear the sound of the ocean. It was simply breathtaking. This was definitely a great decision about where to stay in Cancun!
We spent quite a lot of time enjoying our balcony view! Each morning we sipped coffee and tea (complimentary in the room) in our robes on the balcony while we read and talked, with the sound of the ocean surrounding us. It was a lovely, relaxing start to each day.
Interesting in scuba diving near Cancun in Cozumel? Check out Claire’s post all about it!
We dined at several of the restaurants in the hotel, some of them more than once!
We had both dinner and breakfast at the Sedona Grill.
The Sedona Grill is a multi-level restaurant with gorgeous views of the resort’s pool area. The menu features local, authentic Mexican cuisine, and we found it quite delicious. You can sit inside or outside. We tried both and preferred the outside dining area, mainly because we love dining al fresco.
The breakfast buffet is legendary and to die for! We woke up hungry on our second day there and decided to sample the buffet. Oh my goodness, what a spread! There was something of everything you can imagine you might want for breakfast. Delicious tropical fruit, an omelet bar, all kinds of breakfast meat (mmmmm……bacon), seafood, waffles, house-made churros and so much more. I think we had to have a little lie-down after our breakfast that day ;-).
We ate several times at Beach Walk, the restaurant at the hotel pool. The staff from the restaurant circulate regularly around the pool loungers to ply guests with delicious food and drink. It was a real delight to be served pool-side by the very attentive waiters – they were even happy to serve you from the pool itself 🙂
Playa del Carmen is a short drive from Cancun and has some excellent restaurants to try too. Ayngelina has written a great post on some of best Playa del Carmen restaurants.
Where to stay in Cancun – Hotel Pools
The JW Marriott in Cancun has a number of pools, all of which we enjoyed immensely!
The outdoor pools surround the back of the hotel property. There are a number of free-form pools, most connected to each other with whirlpools adjacent. We swam from one end of these pools to the other and it took us at least five minutes – there’s a lot of them! One end of the pool is an infinity pool that overlooks the ocean – this was my favourite spot.
There is also an adult-only pool with a swim-up bar! Can you think of a better way to spend an afternoon than at a pool with swim-up bar?
There are hundreds of loungers surrounding all of the pool areas and we found them very comfortable. We noticed that hotel guests would “claim” their preferred lounge early in the morning, sometimes as early as 7:30am. There were not a lot of actual people on the lounges that early, but people would claim the lounges by placing the distinctive hotel beach towels on them. It clearly wasn’t just us that knew where to stay in Cancun!
We never had any trouble finding an empty pool lounger. Almost as soon as we sat down, a pool staff member would arrive to fit clean towels onto the loungers (in a very expert manner).
There are Bali beds available to the hotel guests for a fee. We didn’t look into this as we found the pool lounges very comfortable with plenty of shade.
There was also an indoor pool in the Hotel spa. It looked particularly well-suited to swimming laps as it was approximately 25 metres long. It also had a spectacular view over the ocean.
If you’re interested in also going to Mexico City, check out James’ post about why Mexico City is a great place to visit.
Where to Stay in Cancun – The Beach
We loved the beach in front of the hotel. The sound of the surf was hypnotic and the visual of it was beautiful too.
The hotel supplied a large number of lounge chairs, tables and beach umbrellas right on the beach. There was a gate between the beach and the hotel area that needed keycard access. We went into the ocean several times and had so much fun playing in the surf. We didn’t use the skidoos available for rent, but did see a number of people really enjoying them.
The surf was quite brisk with a strong undertow. There was always several lifeguards present on the beach. We didn’t venture very far out into the water as we could go more than 100 metres in before the water came above our waists.
The beach sand was quite fine and not too hot to walk on barefoot. The beach was cleaned each morning so always looked great.
There’s more great beaches in Cozumel, which is a short day trip from Cancun. Check out Retha’s post for a great list of 19 things to do in Cozumel.
The hotel was advertising a Valentine’s Day spa special for couples during our stay, and we decided that it sounded like a great idea! I have an enduring love for spa treatments and wanted Ross to experience it too.
Our services included a 50 minute massage, a 30 minute facial and a hand and foot scrub. After we were greeted at the spa on the 4th floor, the staff inquired if we had a gender preference for our therapists (we didn’t). We were lead to individual change rooms for men and women, and thereafter brought to a room where our therapists were waiting.
The massages were heavenly! Although short, the facials were also great, and for me involved the application of 3-4 treatments (no extractions). Although he was initially skeptical about the facial, Ross loved it too. He thought his beard would be a hindrance but apparently not! The hand and foot scrub was a really nice finish and left us both feeling really relaxed.
Another great spa in nearby Playa Del Carmen is at Reef 28, a great all-inclusive resort. Check out MJ’s comprehensive review of Reef 28 here.
Special Valentine’s Surprise
When we had our robes back on, the therapists said there was a surprise for us by the pool downstairs. We followed the therapists downstairs and we were led over to two lounges poolside that had been showered with rose petals! The table between the lounges contained chocolate dipped strawberries, a bottle of champagne and two glasses! We really enjoyed this treat, especially the strawberries 😉 We were so touched by this romantic conclusion to our treatment 🙂
It was wonderful to be able to share the experience with Ross. We truly relaxed and enjoyed every minute of it.
Where to Stay in Cancun – Hotel service
Without exception, we found the service at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa to be exemplary. I had read several reviews in advance that reported that the service at the hotel was excellent. I was very pleased to find out that this was 100% true.
Every single staff member we encountered was friendly, helpful, attentive and smiling. This is a huge difference from what we have come to expect in Canada. It’s not that Canadians are surly or inattentive, but we certainly aren’t as pleased to be doing our jobs as the JW Marriott staff seem to be!
The restaurant staff went out of their way to be helpful to us. As an example, when we were having brunch I was returning to our table outdoors after a trip to the buffet. Our waiter saw me, took my plate from me and brought it to our table for me, along with clean cutlery and a fresh napkin. Of course, he was smiling and chatting too.
The poolside staff were always eager to make us more comfortable, bringing extra towels and arranging them on our lounges for us. The waiters at the Beach Walk restaurant were charming, friendly and quick.
Our room attendant cleaned our room twice a day. In the morning the room received the usual cleaning up and in the evening, we returned to find the room tidied again along with the bed turned down and chocolates on the pillows 🙂
The hotel concierge was extremely helpful whenever we had a question about the area or making reservations for us. There were usually two or three staff members at the concierge desk waiting to help us.
I simply can’t say enough good things about the hotel staff. We were extremely impressed. The spa really added to my comfort of knowing that we knew where to stay in Cancun!
Area around hotel & Day Trips
The hotel is right in the middle of the hotel zone, approximately 7 miles from the city of Cancun (where the locals live). There is another Marriott property next door (your keycard will let you in via the beach) and we wandered around it to have a look too. We ate at the Champions Sports Bar, and while the food was OK I wouldn’t recommend it. It was just like a sports bar in Canada or the US – not exactly a Mexican experience ;-). There are several other restaurants as well that looked pretty good, including a steak house that I wish we had time for.
There are several restaurants across the street from the hotel, and we tried one of them – The Crab House. We dined outside while the sun was setting.
One of the really fun things in Cancun is to go to Xcaret, an Eco theme park. Check out this great article all about it the Excaret experience.
I could have looked at the sun hanging there all night! Sadly, it was over too soon, as what happens with all sunsets.
Merida is a great day trip from Cancun. It’s definitely on our list for our next visit. Check out Summer’s post to learn more about what to do in Merida.
There is a bus stop right in front of the hotel that will take you into downtown Cancun for 12 pesos. We took the bus several times and found it an easy and inexpensive way to see some sights.
A great excursion from Cancun is to Rio Lagartos, where you can see the amazing pink water and thousands of flamingos!
The cost of our room during our stay was $330 per night. However, we didn’t pay any cash as we used our Marriott Bonvoy points for the stay.
I made the reservation in July 2018 before we had enough Marriott Bonvoy points for the stay. This is one of the things I love about the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program. You aren’t required to have the total points for your stay when you make a reservation with points. As long as enough points are in your account 14 days before the stay, you’re good.
Our points were easily acquired via credit card sign up bonuses.
For Americans interested in free hotel stays you can apply for a USA American Express Marriott Bonvoy card at the American Express website.
For Canadians interested in free hotel stays, apply for a American Express Marriott Bonvoy card here and receive 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
We loved every minute of our stay at the JW Marriot Cancun Resort & Spa and wish we could have stayed longer! We can’t wait to return! Book your own stay here.
Do you have a favourite hotel in Cancun? What do you love most about Cancun?