The city of Cancun, Mexico, on the northeast shore of the Yucatan Peninsula, has a distinctive geological feature: a thin ridge of land reaching into the Gulf like a cup handle, bordering a rectangular lagoon. Known locally as Zona Hotelera (the hotel zone), more than 90 resorts stand side by side along this strand, with balconies facing the surf.
With so many competing all-inclusive Cancun resorts ready to welcome you, how will you decide? By virtue of some first-hand experience and some in-depth research, our friends at Dunhill Travel Deals selected 20 affordable resorts that each offer something special. Read on and find one that’s right for you, and then let us help you find the perfect flight to match.
Paradisus Cancun All-Suites Resort
The Paradisus Cancun has both beach and lagoon views, and a spectacular central atrium with ivy hanging from four stories up, coy ponds, wooden boardwalks and fountains. It’s like being in a jungle treehouse. There’s a Kids Zone for the young set and a luxurious spa for the adults. Take advantage of the family concierge and kids will never be bored.
Can’t-miss feature: The swim-up tiki bar. Enough said.
Secrets The Vine Cancun
Secrets is a modern, high-rise hotel for adults only. Most visitors credit the excellence of the staff for their high ratings of this chic resort. You’ll also appreciate the superior connectivity, including amenities like in-room iPads to order room service. Secrets really caters to couples and has a romantic vibe, ideal for honeymooners. If you ask, the staff can arrange a private romantic dinner for two.
Can’t-miss feature: There are many fine dining opportunities here, but the Italian experience at Nebbiolo’s Ristorante is especially good.
Omni Cancun Resort Villas
Many guests of this resort praise the staff for their professionalism and excellence, and the food is reported to be amazing. The condo-style hotel is on Cancun Island, between the Gulf and the lagoon, and sunsets on the lagoon side are spectacular. Choose from rooms, suites and villas and enjoy seven restaurants along with many bars and cafes.
Can’t-miss feature: The whirlpool/hot tub is clover-shaped, so there’s room for four or more couples without crowding.
Dreams Sands Cancun Resort Spa
This resort is perfect for family vacations and adventurers of every age group. Adults can attend cooking and bartending classes, take Caribbean dance lessons, fly high from the ocean trampoline, take a yoga class or work it all off on an impressive jogging path. Traveling with family? The Explorers Club for Kids sponsors a camp-out on the beach once a week.
Can’t-miss feature: The family can grab a blanket and enjoy big screen movies on the beach.
ME Cancun All-Inclusive Luxury Resort
The ME Cancun Resort is for adults only and describes itself as a “lifestyle” resort offering a balanced vacation experience. Think yin-yang philosophy, healthy eating, yoga and aromatherapy. There is an expansive spa with hydrotherapy for total relaxation. Don’t spend all your time in the spa, though. The beach is just as spectacular.
Can’t-miss feature: The huge pool has built-in lounge chairs so you can lie in the sun and the water at the same time.
Club Med Cancun Yucatan
Of the wide variety of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, this resort ranks as a family favorite. Located on the southern end of the hotel zone, the resort has both ocean and lagoon frontage, with plenty of cabanas and beach chairs for optimal sun worship. This is not a high-rise, but a hacienda-style resort with a central square surrounded by bungalows and specialty restaurants.
Can’t-miss feature: The Club Med has an actual flying trapeze and offers trapeze lessons with circus performers.
Crown Paradise Club Cancun
This active resort is on the beach, but also nestled in a tropical garden with open atriums. The family suites have bunk beds, kids stay for free and the water park has eight slides and a pirate ship. Arghhh-uably the best family-friendly resort in the city.
Can’t-miss feature: If you are traveling as a couple, ask for a room with an ocean view hot tub. Just add wine and you’ve got your own private relaxation station.
Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun
This high-rise resort has a central location in the entertainment district of Cancun, but you won’t have to leave the premises to find great things to do. Live music is provided in the lobby lounge at night and water sports rule the day. The large lagoon-style pool has waterfalls, a swim-up bar and plenty of tanning decks.
Can’t-miss feature: With crystal-clear water and no rocks or seaweed, this beach is perfect for swimming.
Occidental Costa Cancun
This affordable all-inclusive Cancun resort is part of the Barceló hotel group and resembles a Mediterranean village. The hotel features a huge pool with water jets in the center and shallow areas for smaller children. The gardens are lovely, and, if desire strikes, the patio gazebo is perfect for a private moment or impromptu engagement (don’t forget the ring). You can also schedule a romantic dinner on the beach.
Can’t-miss feature: Located on one of the nicest beaches in Cancun, and the palapas are super comfortable for finding a shady respite.
Occidental Tucancun Beach Resort
A little farther south along the Zona Hotelera is Costa Cancun’s sister resort, the Occidental Tucancun Beach Resort. This one is nestled between the Caribbean beach and the lagoon. The international buffet has a different theme every night, and the lobby bar offers live music in the evenings.
Can’t-miss feature: The chocolate wrap at the spa is a decadent must-try. Creamy chocolate skin treatments, a thermal blanket and a heavenly smell. It may make you hungry, but it will certainly leave you relaxed.
Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe
The Grand Park Royal is right on the narrowest part of the hotel zone, and has lovely views of both sunrise and sunset. For a little more money, you can upgrade to a deluxe tower suite or private villa. You’ll love the spacious lagoon-style pool with hot tub and swim up bar.
Can’t-miss feature: There’s a bar on the roof of the Italian restaurant called Equinox, where you’ll have the perfect vantage point to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Hyatt Zilara Cancun
For adults only, the Hyatt Zilara Cancun is luxury, romance and fun. There are 300-plus suites with private balconies or patios set along the beach. You can open the doors and hear the surf at night, and early risers will love the sunrise views over the ocean. The property also features a lot of really unique touches. Play tennis on lighted rooftop courts, indulge in a private tequila tasting, or arrange a candlelit dinner on the beach. Be sure to schedule a body treatment at SPAzul, Cancun’s only ocean view spa.
Can’t-miss feature: The swim-up suites allow direct entry into the pool right from your room.
Oasis Palm Resort
This is a budget-friendly resort, and it’s a great value for families although a little short on luxury. The location is right next to the marina, where you can get an inexpensive ferry to Isla Mujeres. From there, rent a golf cart and explore this pretty island and its white sand beaches.
Can’t-miss feature: The KiddO Zone is a fully supervised program for kids, with cooking lessons, crafts, shows, songwriting workshops and of course, video games.
Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort
This is the quintessential adult-oriented vacation you need if you’re planning a romantic getaway. Sandos Cancun is quietly luxurious, with elegant décor, three cascading infinity pools with different temperatures and the “Total Gourmet Experience” in five world-class restaurants. Grab your sweetie and book this resort with confidence. It’s not overly opulent, but it’s incredibly romantic.
Can’t-miss feature: Head to Spa del Mar and try the Moonlight Massage. As advertised, it’s “a relaxing and romantic evening therapy session [that] wraps the body in a blanket of starlight on the edge of the sea.”
Breathless Riviera Cancun
This chic, modern all-suite resort is brand new and just for adults. Every suite features a furnished balcony or terrace with a hot tub. There are ten gourmet restaurants offering French, Italian, local and Asian specialties. Evening entertainment features the “planet’s sexiest DJs” who will have guests dancing in the pool. And that’s not an easy feat.
Can’t-miss feature: The Sip, Savor and See program allows you to discover what neighboring resorts are like. Choose a Secrets or Dreams Cancun resort and the concierge will arrange transportation, a free dinner and live evening entertainment.
Presidente InterContinental Cancun Resort
The Presidente InterContinental faces north at the top of the hotel zone along the largest stretch of beach in the area. The water activities include parasailing, kayaking and jet skiing. The beach here feels uncrowded, and the signature cocktail served at the Deck Bar is a must try. Just ask for the Sunset Presidente.
Can’t-miss feature: The beachside dinner at sunset is romantic and elegant.
The Royal Sands Resort & Spa All Inclusive
The Royal Sands is an eight-story resort with guaranteed ocean views, a huge central pool and outdoor dining on elegant terraces.The Refine All-inclusive Package here is optional, and you can book a room with a kitchenette if you want to cook. And if you change your mind about cooking, room service is always there, 24 hours a day.
Can’t-miss feature: The two large infinity pools and the beach bar are just what you imagine for an all-inclusive Mexican vacation: sunny decks, sparkling pools and tiki drinks with those little umbrellas.
CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort
This resort is highly rated by guests and looks like a grand hotel from the 1920s. The luxurious lobby has marble floors and tall vaulted ceilings adorned with chandeliers. Most of the spacious rooms and suites face either the Caribbean Sea or the Nichupte Lagoon. Ask for a balcony suite equipped with a telescope; the stargazing is exceptional.
Can’t-miss feature: If you’d like to get married on the beach and have a beachside reception under torch-lit tiki huts, this would be a romantic choice. Ask for the wedding planner.
Golden Parnassus All Inclusive Resort Spa Cancun
The Golden Parnassus is a fun, adults-only resort with outstanding entertainment options. There’s always music at night, dancing and parties. (Book a higher floor so the noise won’t bother your sleep.) The large pool and the beach are both close to the rooms, and the ocean views are exceptional.
Can’t-miss feature: The entertainment staff here is funny and engaging. If you want to try Tequila Volleyball, this is the place. They offer Spanish lessons, Aquarobics, Karaoke and dancing in a 60s-style bar.
If you’re willing to splurge a little (okay, a lot), consider Beach Palace. While it may not be as wallet-friendly as some of the other resorts, this all-inclusive with the shortest name is long on luxury. All three pools have ocean views, and one has a twisting red water slide for the kids. The main pool has a stage for entertainment and “dive-in movie” nights. It’s not all about the pools, though. Four great restaurants, a spa and lots to do for families make this a favorite vacation choice.
Can’t-miss feature: Games all day. This place has a lively, fun vibe. It’s just happy here.
Which resort is calling your name? Share with us in the comments and, when you’re ready, we can help you get there.Search for flights to Cancun
This post was written by our friends at Dunhill Travel Deals.