Travel Diary: Excellence Playa Mujeres

Taking a week long vacation in Mexico in May seems to have become a bit of a tradition for us – at least for the last few years.  We usually like to take a trip in May to coincide with our wedding anniversary (lucky 13 this year!) and this year we decided to visit a resort we’ve been to before – Excellence Playa Mujeres in Cancun, Mexico.

This resort is located approximately 30 minutes from Cancun’s International Airport in the community of Playa Mujeres.  We’ve visited this resort two times previously – the first time as part of a group for a destination wedding and the second time on our own.  Our first visit was actually our first experience with an all-inclusive resort and with Mexico in general, and it set the bar extremely high.  I find that I compare all other all-inclusive resorts to it because it’s just that good.  That said, the last time we visitied an Excellence resort was over 3 years ago so we were anxious to see if it would still live up to our expectations and what, if anything, had changed.


We arranged for Private Airport Transportation through Seasons Tours, which affiliated with the resort.  Upon exiting the airport, we found our rep (who was holding a sign with our name on it) who checked us in. We had to wait about 10 minutes for our vehicle and chauffer after which a Chevorlet Subburan arrived.  They loaded our luggage, provided us with a cold bottle of water and we were on our way.

Checking in

While we were checking in we were provided with cold towels and glasses of champagne.  The front desk agent was friendly and the process was efficient.  Before I knew it we were being led to our room by the bellman.

Here’s the thing I love about Excellence Resorts – there’s no timeshare pitch whatsoever!   As mentioned in my previous reviews, one of my biggest gripes about the Secrets resorts we’ve visited has been their high-pressure sales pitch thrown on you right after the check-in process.  After traveling all day, that is the last thing I want to be bombarded with.  Plus they always seem to take rejection personally which makes me feel like a wench.  It’s the worst way to kick off your vacation and a bad first impression to make on your guest.

Rating: Excellent

Our room:

When we arrived in our room we were pleasantly surprised, given that we had only booked a few weeks prior. We expected to have one of the worst rooms in the resort but we received an end room with a nice view of the pool, with easy access to the stairs (only one flight) and it was quiet (for the most part – more on that later).

In addition, because we had mentioned that we were celebrating our anniversary, they had a banner on our door and left a bottle of champagne, towel animals, fruit tray and gifts for us.  So sweet of them!

The bellman set up our luggage and then pointed out key features of the room including the fact that we could swap out the 4 bottles of full-sized liquor to whatever our preferences were.  Definitely a nice touch but we didn’t even crack open one of those bottles the entire week.  In addition to the 4 bottles of full-sized liquor they will customize to your liking, they also include a mini-bar stocked with beer, wine, pop, water and a few snacks.

Our room was a Junior Suite with a four-poster King Bed.  The rooms are large (807 sq ft) complete with a living area, a huge indoor/outdoor access jacuzzi, generous balcony and amazing bathroom with a huge two person shower.

One of my favourite parts of the room is the covered balcony; it has a large daybed that is super comfy and a great place to take an afternoon nap to escape the sun.  It also has a table and chairs which perfect for enjoying their room service menu.

Similar to other resorts in Mexico, the floors (and shower) were constructed of marble.  Beautiful but definitely a safety hazard sometimes so you need to be careful, especially when coming out of the shower or when wearing certain shoes.

Honestly there is nothing to really complain about in these rooms – they’ve basically got your every need covered.  One improvement I found over last time was the beds – on our last visit the bed was super firm, this time it was noticeably softer but not too much so.  I slept so well the entire trip!

Rating: Excellent


As I’ve said before, if you go to Mexico and expect 5 star meals, at least at an all-inclusive resort, you’ll be disappointed.  That said, we really enjoyed our food, with the exception of one meal.

For breakfast, they offer a buffet or a-la-carte style.  We ate at the buffet most mornings and always left completely stuffed.  The options for the buffet are insane – fresh made omelets, eggs (any-style), crepes, fresh fruit and blended juices, yogurt, waffles, bacon, sausages, hashbrowns, a variety of Mexican dishes, cheese & meats, breads, pastries, salads, etc.  I’m certain I gained 5 lbs just from the breakfast buffet.  They also offer an a’la carte breakfast option which is a good way to keep your portions in-check. 😉

Something new they added since our last trip was a coffee shop where you could pick up fresh pastries, coffees, sandwiches and gelato – all of which were very good.

For lunch they had several options as well – fresh-made pizzas at a wood-fired pizza oven near the beach, a themed buffet that changed daily, two a’la carte restaurants and the buffet.  It was so nice having so many options and we never had a disappointing meal at any of them.

For dinner they offered 11 restaurants but most nights at least one or two were closed on a rotating basis.  Our top meal was at Chez Isabelle, which is their French restaurant, where we each enjoyed a delicious Filet Mignon and our service was top-notch.  The worst meal we had was at Flavour Market which is a Spanish tapa’s-style restaurant.  A few of the dishes were ordered were nearly inedible and we left hungry.  Definitely my least favourite restaurant of the bunch.

Something else they’ve added is a pub-style menu at the Sports Bar.  Previously this was a dance club that didn’t open until well into the night.  They still have a DJ playing here in the evening but they’ve added a full-menu, in addition to a bunch more tvs which made my sports-addicted husband happy.  Having a more casual option is greatly appreciated, especially given that men have to wear long pants and collared shirts at all of the other restaurants on the property.  Plus the food here was really good!

As per all other resorts we’ve stayed at, Excellence does not require any reservations for any meal which we always appreciate.

There are 11 bars on the property as well so you’ll never go thirsty!  The bars are all stocked with premium liquor and in comparison to the other two resorts we’ve stayed at, we never once felt like our drinks were watered down, even with the extreme heat and humidity.  One of our favourite spots for drinks was the martini bar in the lobby – it was a nice escape from the heat and we had some really delicious drinks, including my new favourite a Milky Way Martini!

Rating: Very Good

The Beach: 

Super soft sand, clear waters – what more can you ask for?  We experienced a lot less seaweed on the beach than we had in previous trips – but even then they had a tractor going up and down the beach keeping it clear and seaweed-free.

The one thing I will complain about is the lack of shaded chairs on the beach. One morning we didn’t arrive until around 9:00 am and the only chairs available had no umbrella and were sitting right in the blazing sun.  It’s a good thing we are morning people but I definitely think this is an area they could improve on.

Rating: Good

The Pools: 


This resort has the best layout of pools out of any resort we’ve stayed at.  They have a total of 7 pools – some that are more lively and some that are quieter.  They also have a lazy river where you can float along on a pool raft.  Put a drink in my hand and I’m set for the afternoon – so relaxing!

Rating: Excellent

The Resort/Layout/Customer Service:

We’ve never been ones to stay at large, sprawled out resorts and this definitely does not describe Excellence Playa Mujeres.  I really enjoy their layout because everything seems close yet far enough away.  Many of the restaurants are located in the center of the resort and the rooms are somewhat grouped around them.  It’s never more than a 5 minute walk to get anywhere.

The resort itself is kept in top-notch shape – it literally in the exact same condition as it was when we first visited over 5 years ago.  You can’t go anywhere and not come across someone painting a wall, trimming a hedge or fixing a piece of cracked tile.  Their maintenance is commendable.

I’d say that 90% of the staff were friendly and helpful and committed to making your vacation the best it can be.  We always ensure we tip bellman/waitstaff/bartenders and housekeeping.  The staff here work hard and deserve it.  That said, you do occasionally encounter someone who is perhaps having a bad day- we had a surly hostess at the Indian restaurant but that’s the only instance that stood out to us.

Rating: Excellent

Our daily routine:

Not unlike previous trips, we did absolutely nothing but relax here.  Breakfast, beach, lunch, lazy river, Martini Bar, nap, dinner, bed – repeat.  I know this sounds incredibly boring but this is exactly what we like to do in Mexico – nothing at all.  Not to mention the heat and humidity really tired us out – most days it was 35 degress celcius plus humidity – and the humidity reached close to 60% some days!


  • We had a very large, rowdy group check-in to the room below us a few nights into our stay.  They were so obnoxious, loud and crude  The lack of self-awareness that some people have is truly astounding.  They woke us up a couple of nights in a row because they decided it would be fun to jump in the pool at 2:00 AM …#otherpeopleschildren
  • I did not enjoy the Spa on this trip but I have in the past and I’d recommend it.  They often have specials included in their daily newsletter so I wouldn’t bother booking in advance of your stay.
  • There’s always something going on in the evening – they have nightly shows, casino nights, themed buffet nights, singers, bands, etc., in addition to the DJ in the Sports Lounge.  We’ve seen all the shows in previous trips so we watching them didn’t interest us but there is definitely no shortage of things to do at night if you so wish.
  • Another improvement we noticed this time around was the wifi; our first two trips the wifi was horrible and would cut out constantly.  We had zero issues with wifi – I was even watching YouTube videos on the beach!

Overall rating: Excellent

As I was writing this and revisiting our trip I was itching to go back – even though when we left I was definitely ready to leave, despite our amazing time.  I always find a week is the perfect amount of time to spend at an all-inclusive – by then I’m sick of the food and drinks, feeling rested and relaxed and yearning for home.

I still think that Excellence Playa Mujeres is the best all-inclusive resort we’ve stayed at, with Secrets Maroma following close behind.  I always recommend this resort to anyone who is looking for an adults-only, all-inclusive resort in Mexico because we’ve never been disappointed.

What’s your favourite resort in Mexico?

Catch up on my other Travel Diaries here:

Travel Diary: Secrets Maroma Beach

Travel Diary: Boston

Travel Diary: New York City

Travel Diary: Secrets Playa Mujeres


  1. stashy says

    Those canopy beds right on the beach look so heavenly!
    But ick on the loud obnoxious group. That can sure ruin an otherwise tranquil resort stay.
    I’m not a resort person but I like the idea of an adults only place!

  2. Polished and Inspired says

    Oooh this looks soooo relaxing and beautiful. Is it weird that I’ve never been to Mexico? Or an all-inclusive resort? lol! I feel like it wouldn’t be a good deal for me considering I don’t drink much – I might be able to have one drink a day 😛 However, we HAVE looked into all-inclusives in Mexico before, and will definitely keep this place at the top of the list for future reference! It looks positively dreamy.
    How does one snag one of those cabanas on the beach?? Pay extra, I’m guessing?

    • prettyrufflife says

      Nope the cabannas are first come first served but you basically have to be up really early to snag one of those!

      I think even if you don’t drink a lot, you could still enjoy an all-inclusive. It’s just super relaxing and it’s nice not to have to worry about pulling out your wallet to pay for anything. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  3. Tanya says

    Thanks for the review! Great tip on the spa, too. We booked a last minute get away later this month for two weeks (we are that burnt out) and got the swim up room. I know this was a while ago – have you guys been back since?

    Our last, and only other all inclusive was Barcelo Resorts in Cancun. I’m looking forward to a smaller (ish) place with no kids.

    Thanks again!

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