cancun ritz carltonThe Cancun Ritz Carlton ($318-$557), considered by many the best hotel in Cancun, is rated #4 in the world. The background music at this “family friendly” resort is soft and hypnotic. The place “drips” with crystal chandeliers. The Cancun Ritz lies on 1200 feet of soft, white, talc (coral) beach with a spectacular view of the gently rolling, crystal-clear Caribbean surf.

A shuttle will pick you up from the Cancun airport ($18 one-way) for the 15 minute trip to the hotel. The Cancun Ritz offers its guest 386 air conditioned rooms and suites, each with its own spacious balcony, marble bath, mini bar, and multiple phones. The hotel is a little past it’s prime and due for a renovation, but the place is sprawling and the view is amazing. This property is highly recommended for its family friendly environment, away from the Cancun nightclubs. The property has a very elegant feel and less of a “party” scene so common in hotels here. If you want a truly peaceful, 5 star Cancun experience, this is your best option. The hotel does not have free internet, coffee, or tea in the rooms. You will find fine linen, marble, thick carpets, and thick robes.

The Club Level ($250 additional per night) provides car service from the airport in a leathered, tinted Escalade, and a private beach cabana. Upon arrival you’re escorted to the reception area, and sat down in plush chairs with cocktails, cool towels and smiles everywhere. You may begin to feel like a rock star or Royalty. Breakfast, lunch and snacks (except dinner) are included, along with a filled Tequilla bar, and even specialty salt (?). In the evenings, two fountains drizzle white and dark chocolate for you to dip fresh fruit and pasteries in while helping yourself to the after dinner drinks.

Enjoy fine dining at any of the Ritz’s four restaurants, El Mexicano, Fantinos, Casitas, and the Club Grill. The breakfast buffet at El Mexicano is open until 11:30 A.M. (after all, this is Mexico). Choose from an Asian spread of fish, rice and seaweed, American bacon, eggs, and tropical fruits like mango, papaya and pineapple, and Mexican fried eggs on tortillas, refried beans, ranchero sauce, cheese, ham, and bananas. A “reconnect package” includes 2 buffet breakfasts, and a $100 daily resort credit which can be spent on drinks and food. Mixed drinks run about $20USD, not counting tip. The tab adds up very quickly. El Mexicano restaurant will honor special orders in addition to the large buffet selection.

Eat dinner on the beach at the Casitas Restaurant, and catch a glimpse of the charming sea turtles going about their business of raising there own families oblivious to the many humans “underfoot” (flipper). A store located on “The Strip” at the entrance to the Ritz sells bottled water, beer and snacks much cheaper than the hotel. The Cancun Ritz is walking distance to Kukulcan Shopping Mall, and several good restaurants – The Crab Shack and a wine bar with live music. Many recommend eating at Harry’s (within walking distance) and La Madonna restaurants.

Relax in the spa and beauty salon or lounge by the pools. Need a workout? Try the fitness center or one of the 3 lit tennis courts. The Cancun Ritz has a kid’s club (but no “kids’ pool”), in case the parents decide to get-away for some shopping, or a little “private time”. You’ll find the Ritz’s beach great for “people watching”. Canopied beach loungers are available for the guests. Have a one bedroom suite? Opt for an oceanfront room with a larger balcony and better view. Oceanfront views always have the morning sun and are great for lounging and soaking up the sun while reading, drinking coffee.

Attendants are ready to help set up your loungers at the pool or on the beach. There is a theater set up for movies that ran 4 videos a day with the last one ending at 7pm. There is also a games room set up with x box and wii, foosball and air hockey. The hot tube is family friendly. While there is plenty to do for the little ones, older teens might find the environment a bit “staid”. There is entertainment nightly in the lounges.

The pools are heated to a very comfortable temperature, a must have when you plan to spend hours playing with the kids. The staff delivers cold face towels, fresh fruit and popsicles for refreshment daily. The kid’s club staff will invite interested youngsters into the pastry chief’s kitchen to check out the making of the lobby ginger bread house. The hotel tries to make this an educating as well as an entertaining vacation for the kids.

Cancun makes it easy to get off of the property with a convenient and reliable bus service. For under $2 per person, jump on the bus outside the hotel and ride down the strip for a wide selection of restaurants and shopping, or connect to some of the many Cancun tours to artsy, hip Playa del Carmen and the Mayan ruins at Tulum, Chichen Itza, etc.

The pools on property are perfect for both adults and children. Enjoy the ocean and the boogie boards that are provided. Rent a beach cabana for comfort, shade, and privacy. You might prefer the cabana to your room. Join in with the hotel staff and help release newly hatched sea turtles back into the surf. The 2 bedroom suites are comfortable and have a view of the beach and the lit dining cabanas at night.

There are additional fees for use of beach umbrellas and beach cabanas during the day, or if you want a coffee maker in your room. Head out to recommended restaurants by staff for cactus, chorizo, tacos al pastor, cheese, and guacamole. Try the brownie and banana split sundaes, yummy!

Step back in time, and realize the company motto, “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentleman”. Elegant and civilized, there are no TVs blaring in the lobby bar, no loud rap music at the pool, no partying kids on Cancun spring break. The resort had strong security and only paying guests were allowed onto the resort grounds so there were no hawkers selling items on the beach. Fresh flowers greet you on arrival along with warm greetings from the staff. You can be comfortable here in shorts or a business suit. Rent a beach cabana. Snack at the lobby bar on kobe sliders. Try the red snapper ceviche at the pool, and you’ll be hooked.

Oceanfront room come with huge balconies with chairs, table, lounger, espresso machine, large sitting area, older box TV, iPod docking station, separate tub and marble shower, two sinks, rainfall shower head, room safe, mini bar and snacks. A few minutes after check in, staff delivers a welcome citrus tequila drink. You’ll order it again throughout your stay. The hotel sits on the west side of the beach, so from a beachfront room, you get the sunrise. The sunsets behind the hotel, so the balcony is a very comfortable place to sit and watch the pool and beach evenings.

cancun ritzThere are always lots of extra loungers at the pools and beach, all with soft tops. Pool attendants have plenty of soft, dry towels and will assist in setting up umbrellas. Umbrellas on pool deck are complimentary. Order frozen margaritas, pina coladas, and beers (beers about $5-6 and frozen drinks about $8-$11). There is also a large hot tub. The entire area looks over the beach.

The Fitness Center is a spa without a massage. The equipment is up-to-date, with all the bottled water you can drink. Best part is the sauna, steam room, and showers. Some patrons don’t even shower in their rooms. Instead, they go to the fitness center, use the sauna or steam room and shower there. Along with an extra shower head, use the complementary shaving cream, razors, combs, lotions, deodorant while listening to soothing music, and get yourself a tea on the way out. The staff will also bring around cold, wet towels that smell of mint and eucalyptus.

The Cafe Mexicano breakfeast buffet is $30, excluding tip. Fresh OJ, omelette bar, Mexican dishes (refried black beans, tamales, nachos, flank steak), eggs (all types), potatoes (prepared differently every day), bacon, sausage, bread bar, bagels, assorted sliced meats, and all the cut and whole fruit you can imagine (not to mention yogurts, cereals, etc).

Pool Bar/Grill has chips, salsa and guacamole ($8), and quesadillas ($16). Puerto Madero restaurant, directly across the street, is a 2 min. walk. Reserve a table outside, near the railing by the lagoon. Empanadas are $4-$5 each, crab tortelloni $15, tuna tacos $20, and steaks for an arm and a leg. Releasing baby turtles could be an experience of a lifetime for the kids (mom and dad too).

Nearby Puerta Madero, La Habichuela Sunset, and La Destileria restaurants are all within walking distance. You can eat outside at all three with drinks, dinner, more drinks and dessert for 2 running about $100 with tips. At Market 28 ($20 cab) you can buy hammocks, purse, cute shirts, etc. at La Selvatica do the ziplines, dune buggies and swim in the cenote. They’ll pick up from the hotel.

Water costs $6 a bottle (it’s a buck at the local convenience store). Sunscreen is $28 per bottle. A small, chicken quesedilla for lunch is $15. Internet access is $26 per day. If you want a clock radio that can play your iPod tunes, you have to upgrade to the more expensive rooms. Beach umbrellas are $10 per day. A small market just across the street for snacks and water is very convenient.

If your objective is to be pampered in a sedate and luxurious atmosphere, the Ritz Cancun would be a good place. If your objective is to have some rowdy fun in Cancun, then you might do better elsewhere.

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