You know what I love? Being wrong, particularly when it pertains to travel. I would not have expected to have the ultimate relaxing weekend in Cancun (I thought it would be all party, all the time), but I did!
When my husband and I got an email from CheapDFW (look it up for your city – we’ve booked several trips using their fare alerts!) for cheap flights to Cancun, we contemplated it for a few minutes and ultimately booked a flight+hotel package through Marriott Vacations for less than what a nightstand costs. (#RealTalk: I’m unsure of what that says about my vacation preferences or my furniture taste.) I planned for it to coincide with the weekend following principal presentation… without really knowing how badly I would need a relaxing weekend in Cancun after that nonsense.
Should We Book an All-Inclusive Resort?
I went back and forth on whether or not all-inclusive resorts would be worth it for us. Ultimately we opted for a “regular” resort for a couple of reasons. One, we practice intermittent fasting so I didn’t think our food costs would justify the additional expense. Two, we aren’t big drinkers. I might be inclined to drink a little more if it’s included, but I didn’t know if it would make sense for us. The Marriott Cancun Resort ended up being the most cost effective option. I’m a platinum member with Marriott so it seemed like a win-win. (The JW Marriott (right next door) was only about $30 more, and I would be willing to try it as well.)
Now that I know we could be beach people, I will be consulting this list of the best luxury resorts worldwide before booking our next beach trip.
Checking In to the Marriott Cancun Resort
Once I booked our package, I was offered the opportunity to add ground transportation. Every video we watched about Cancun prior to booking recommended setting it up in advance, so I booked a private shuttle for $58 total. ($14.50/person, each way) The private shuttle would prevent us from having to wait on others and allow us to maximize our (short) time in Cancun.
As soon as we walked out of the arrivals hall, we found the shuttle line. They tagged our bags with the time we were supposed to arrive and had us wait in line. The shuttle to the Marriott Cancun took about 20 minutes from the airport. (It took a little over an hour from the time we stepped off the plane to the time we stepped into the hotel.)
Check in at the property was slow, but they were friendly. As a platinum member, I was offered an upgrade to a premium ocean view room… with two double beds. While I was initially disappointed about this, I knew that part of a relaxing weekend in Cancun (for me) would involve watching the sunrise, and if we had a balcony facing the water, it would be easier to do that.
Marriott has started to minimize platinum benefits at resort properties, so we weren’t offered breakfast or lounge access. The platinum arrival gift choices were decent, and we opted for bottled water and mixed nuts. This was delivered within an hour of check-in, and they included a large bunch of grapes as well. We enjoyed snacking on both over the weekend.
Marriott Cancun Ocean View Room
Once we figured out how to get to the guest rooms, we didn’t have trouble getting to our room. The corridors are open-air and the architecture is beautiful. I expected everything to be loud because of all the stone, but we hardly heard any noise from the hallway (or the pool area).
Like the hallway, the room had stone floors, but it also had a rug throughout the living area, which made it feel more cozy. Rooms are bright, airy, and the ocean view cannot be beat. The colors are incredibly calming and reflect all the light. There was a cozy reading chair in the corner, and the flat-screen television was huge. We found another small table and two chairs on the balcony. (It would be perfect if they added a chaise lounge or two.) The furniture seemed to fit with the overall decor of the resort, which I thought was really well done.
The bathroom offered a newly-renovated stand-up shower with rain shower, as well as a hand shower, which was helpful for rinsing sand off/out of everything. There was a single sink and a separate toilet area. Nothing felt too cramped. The Thann toiletries were fine, but I never did find the hair dryer.
There is a fully-stocked minibar, along with an assortment of snacks, and a safe in the closet. (We also checked the prices at the gift shop downstairs – very reasonable.) Further, there’s a 7-11 across the street from the resort – it’s not too far of a walk. I would opt for the gift shop over the minibar. (The in-room coffee maker includes complimentary bottled water.)
Overall, I think the room is a great value for the money. The view alone could justify the cost. Even when we would come back to the room to rest during the middle of the day, we would find ourselves out on the balcony enjoying the sound of the waves. If they added chaise lounges, I would bring a suitcase full of books and never leave the room.
Marriott Cancun Resort Restaurants
Between the Marriott and the JW Marriott next door, there are 8 restaurants available on property. We had considered going out into town, but truthfully, I was pretty lazy. I wanted things to be easy. We tried two restaurants over our two days there: La Capilla Argentine Steakhouse and Champions Sports Bar.
La Capilla was a little more formal and they have a live tango show on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights! (We got away with nice shorts, but I definitely wished I had packed a sundress.) There were a few delicious details that I enjoyed most.
One, the fresh bread is served with the most delicious chimichurri sauce.
Two, the steaks are served with fresh, home-made chips (no need to order the fries!).
Three, steaks are served with a head of roasted garlic on the side! This is my favorite way to enjoy garlic, and yes, I ate mine and took my husband’s, too.
We were given free dessert for our Marriott loyalty (obviously notated on our hotel account – they asked for our room number when we walked in), which my husband enjoyed. Between drinks, sides, and two steaks, dinner cost us about $70USD.
Champions was exactly what you would expect from a sports bar, and it probably would be super fun to be there when there was an exciting game going on. They have screens everywhere showing every game imaginable. It was pretty quiet when we were there, but it was starting to fill up as we were leaving. We had the pretzel with sun-dried tomato chutney, mini sliders, BBQ wings, and drinks and it was about $50USD.
Similar to La Capilla, they brought us complimentary dessert for being platinum members. I think I enjoyed the ice cream (gelato? sorbet?) the most. The food was good, but I think I would try the Japanese restaurant next time. Supposedly the pizza place is good, too.
Either way, there is no shortage of dining options on property, so if you’re only at the Marriott Cancun for a short time, you don’t have to leave the property.
Things to Do for a Relaxing Weekend in Cancun
One of the questions my husband and I both had was whether or not we were truly beach people who could do nothing and just enjoy the beach. (We’re go-see-do people on vacation.) It turns out, we can be beach people.
After we dropped our stuff in the room, we headed out to explore the property. We ended up settling on a couple of chaise lounges by the water for a couple hours. Eventually, we headed back to the room to shower and head to dinner.
After dinner, we headed to the jacuzzi for about an hour. Not only could we hear the waves from the jacuzzi, but we could also see the stars. Magical! (This is one of my most-underrated vacation activities. I specifically booked the Sonora Stars package at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain for the 4th of July because our room would have a telescope.
Saturday morning, we got up for sunrise and then walked down to the beach to enjoy golden hour. (The resort mostly faces east – fantastic for sunrises. Not so much for sunsets.) We laid by the beach for about an hour after sunrise, headed up to put on our swimsuits, and spent the morning playing in the ocean. (The gulf was warmer than the pool. Who knew?!)
Once we were sufficiently tired out, we found a shaded area next to the pool and laid there until around noon.
Beachside Spa Experience
At noon, we headed back to the room and I booked a 80-minute outdoor massage for 1:30. My massage was glorious. The beachside cabana was open air, so I could feel the ocean breeze and hear the waves. It was definitely enough to lull me to sleep. Carmen did an amazing job working the stress out of my body. (She even braided the top of my hair so I had a cute hairstyle for dinner that night!)
I definitely dozed off listening to the rhythm of the waves. I might have tried to recreate that feeling during a nap at home this past weekend. The fan and a YouTube video isn’t quite the same as the massage hut below.
Around 5:00, we headed back down to play in the ocean again. The sun was behind the hotel, so we weren’t quite as worried about getting sunburned and we spent another hour playing in the waves. I think the ocean is warmer than the pool, so I found it quite a bit more comfortable. After a full day of ocean fun, I didn’t want to spend much time getting ready for dinner so we opted for a low-key option on property and a little more jacuzzi time before heading to bed. (I also attempted to photograph the stars from our balcony.)
Sunday morning was more of the same, though we did finally get dressed and head off property to check out what was around our hotel. There were a couple stores nearby (I considered bringing home a stuffed gator and a hand-crafted turtle, but I didn’t) and we had no trouble getting pesos out of an ATM using our Charles Schwab debit card (no foreign transition fees) – despite the fact that we failed to call and put a travel alert on it.
Saying Goodbye to Mexico
At 1:00, it was time to head to the airport for our 4:40pm flight. Our shuttle picked us up (only a few minutes late) and we were at the airport within 20 minutes. Security and customs was similar to the U.S., and we hung out in the Priority Pass lounge (free with my Chase Sapphire card) with free wifi, food, and drinks until we decided to head down to our gate. (Our flight was delayed about 2 hours.)
We used the new TSA app to navigate customs (so much easier) and got back home around 9:45pm. Plenty of time to get ready for work the next day… sigh, lol.
Final Thoughts on our Weekend in Cancun
I walked away from this relaxing weekend in Cancun adventure thinking that we could be weekend “beach people.” Could I spend a week at a resort like this? I don’t know, but I can do it for a few days. Finding a place where I could unplug entirely (seriously – it’s like my brain disconnected from work – even when I tried to think about it, I couldn’t) was really, really nice. Cancun, at least where we were, wasn’t the party culture that I expected. The water was more beautiful than I could have imagined. Seeing the stars from our resort was reassuring.
I wish I had thought to load up with books so I could read my way into oblivion. Buying sunglasses before we left was a great idea. There’s a reason why I put spending a weekend listening to the waves on my 101 in 1001 list. It’s a *really* easy trip from Dallas; I would definitely go back if another cheap flight appears. 100% without question.