Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review: Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort (Cancun, Mexico)

Max and I spent last week in Cancun, Mexico at the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort. We were there with his parents, brother, and our good friend Missy. Overall we all had a good time.


PROS:
  • the view from our concierge level room in the Nizuc section was very nice and with the balcony door open, you could hear the waves from the Gulf of Mexico
  • all the water at the resort is filtered through reverse osmosis so I didn't have to worry about brushing my teeth, showering, adding ice to my drinks, or swimming in the pool
  • A longer description follows but in summary the spa and salon services were great
  • free wifi available throughout the resort so we were able to check our email and Facebook while we were there. The signal was not consistent though and sometimes there was no access. There are some computers you can use but we never did.
  • the all-inclusive package allowed for free drinks and food including room service and the mini bar (which came stocked with bottled water, soda, juice boxes, beer, vodka, tequila, rum and scotch). The nightly turn down service included a special dessert and the TV turned to the instrumental music channel.
  • Free calls to the US and Canada which was nice because I was able to call my Mom twice while I was there.
  • At night, there was sometimes a little bazar set up selling all the usual stuff (ceramics, blankets, silver jewelry). I got a henna tattoo on my right arm for $40 USD and 2 nights later, the artist offered to touch it up for me for free so that it would last longer which was really nice.
  • one of the bars has swings which was pretty cool. I had a "Miami Vice" which is pina colada on top and a strawberry daiquiri on the bottom.
  • the soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, and lotion were from L'Occitane, really nice stuff.
  • the room service menu is pretty short but when I called to ask for nachos, it was no problem. Or getting toast at 2:30am.
  • The staff was very pleasant, friendly and accommodating. While they alway accepted our tips, they NEVER stood around waiting for them - not even a hint. Sometimes we tipped but we definitely did not feel like we had to. Probably did not give out more than $30.
NEUTRAL:
  • our room had a two-person jacuzzi tub. We used it one night, which was nice but the jets were uneven - super pressure on one side and almost nothing at your feet.
  • the nightly entertainment was hit or miss. The Michael Jackson show was by far the best one.
  • the disco club was nice because we could go dancing but it was nothing special and not all that many people dancing. The music was good and we could make song requests too. The staff took care of us and one in particular watched our purses so we could dance without worrying about getting it stolen.
CONS:
  • The shuttle buses between Nizuc, Sunrise, Grand, and the Spa were supposed to come ever 10-15 minutes but it was more like 20-25, and while it was okay to walk from the Sunrise to the Grand, it's too far to walk to the golf course and spa
  • The Vacation Points were a MAJOR source of disappointment for all of us. For my room, I had 1500 points and after 5 nights, I still had 711 points unused when I checked out. A longer description follows but in summary, the lobster dinner and Chichen Itza tour are not worth it.
  • Membership upsell. Max's parents felt that this was the major reason that we did not receive excellent service all the time.
VACATION POINTS:
As I mentioned, the points were very difficult to use up. There were not many options and many things were booked up and no longer available. Here's my advice:
  1. Definitely upgrade your room to the concierge level. It's the easiest use of points and comes with a 25 minute back massage at the spa, a room on the top floor of the garden style rooms with a better view, and a private dinner for two;
  2. Book the swimming with the dolphins tour and use points for a limo service instead of paying for a taxi. It is a fun activity and doesn't take you away from the resort all day. Cameras are not allowed in the dolphin pool area and that is so they can sell you their photos and video. For our group of 6, we were able to get them down to $238 USD for 136 photos and a 5 minute video. We were able to burn copies of the video when we got home so each person has a copy;
  3. If you choose to go into Cancun city, use your points for a limo instead of paying for a taxi.
  4. All the spa and salon services were great... but there was a limit on the number of points you could use - for me it was only 300 points. I chose the package that was $314 USD and paid the extra $14 myself. It included a body scrub, massage, facial and a 50 minute pedicure. Plus they have a nice hydrotherapy room with a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and special hibiscus tea;
  5. If you're brave, sign up for the zipline tour. Max and Missy went and they said it was worth it. Of course there was an upsell to do other stuff like horseback riding and segway tours. If you don't buy anything, you have to sit around for an hour instead;
  6. Ordering special wine at dinner is another option. I looked at the wine list and it was alot of dry whites and reds - nothing really appealed to me;
  7. The Chichen Itza tour was only okay... I wouldn't do it again. The bus was completely packed, every seat filled. After a long bus ride, the first stop is at a store where they want to sell you souvenirs. Then you have to wait for your bus to be called to be seated for lunch in an outdoor area. (Of course, our bus was the last to be seated) Lunch is nothing special - orange slices, hot soup, jello, some kind of salad, and pulled chicken with soft tortillas. Beverages were not included and a small coke was $2 USD. After lunch it was another 20-30 minute drive to Chichen Itza. The group was split up into two groups - Spanish speaking and English speaking. We spent about an hour walking around the site with our tour guide giving us a bit of explanation about the buildings. We then had only one hour of free time to walk around some more, take pictures, and shop from the dozens upon dozens of local vendors selling wood carvings, t-shirts, dresses, ceramics, and souvenirs. If you can book a private limo, that is a much better option - that way you can go to see some of the other sites near Chichen Itza like Ek Balam (where you can still climb the ruins);
  8. DO NOT BOOK THE ROMANTIC LOBSTER DINNER on the boat. It is not worth it. The steak was cold and the lobster was overcooked;
  9. I would have liked to book a photography package for me and Max but there weren't any times available.
All in all, it was a good vacation. The weather was great and I could have easily spent the entire week by the pool or on the beach. I'd love to do another all-inclusive one day but I'd want one that did not have a membership option to push on me.
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