by Traci L. Suppa
Along with its mainland neighbors — Cancun, Riviera Maya, Isla Mujeres and Playa del Carmen — the small island of Cozumel maintains much of its pre-Hispanic Mayan culture. That’s part of the charm of this region, along with modern attractions and manicured white-sand beaches. There is an abundance of luxury hotels for families to consider, too. Along the main thoroughfare on Cozumel’s western coastline is the Cozumel Palace resort, the only one on the island, and one of seven in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
For convenience and value, this all-inclusive property is hard to beat. Your rates include all meals and drinks, including room service, as well as resort-wide Wi-Fi and unlimited long distance calls from the guestrooms to Mexico, the continental United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe. Also included is the attentive service from some of the most helpful and friendly hotel staff members we’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Formerly the Hotel Plaza Las Glorias, this property has been the Cozumel Palace for the past 10 years. Renovations upgraded and modernized the 175 luxurious guestrooms, which feature a mix of traditional Mexican architecture with modern dÃ©cor. The stone pool deck, with glass railings allowing an unobstructed view of the Caribbean Sea, is especially impressive.
Families will spend most of their time swimming in the pools, or taking part in scheduled activities and evening entertainment. Young children are welcomed to the Kids Club by warm, enthusiastic counselors. Cozumel is one the world’s most notable scuba diving destinations, so you may want to try snorkeling from the hotel’s docks among the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the world’s second largest coral reef. The Cozumel Palace is also a 15-minute walk, or five-minute drive, to the main square of San Miguel, the island’s largest town.
This is a waterfront property, but not one on a beach. Rather, it’s situated on a rocky shoreline, although there are ladder access points into the water suitable for strong swimmers to get in and snorkel. There are several local beach clubs, however, where, for a nominal fee, you can relax under a thatched-roof palapa and enjoy the clear gentle waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Our Editor Loves
- All-inclusive resort, including Kids Club
- Family-friendly atmosphere with English-speaking staff
- Convenient location to beach clubs, shopping and world-class snorkeling
- All Inclusive Rates
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
All of the resort's 175 guestrooms feature contemporary Mexican dÃ©cor, and standard amenities include turndown service, free Wi-Fi, purified water, in-room wine, a liquor dispenser containing whiskey, tequila, rum and vodka, and a mini-bar or mini-fridge containing sodas, bottled water, juices and domestic beer (restocked daily).
All rooms have a private bathroom with a glass-door shower, a balcony, satellite TV, complimentary CHI toiletries, hair dryer, bathrobes and slippers, digital safe (laptop size), individually-controlled air conditioning, coffee maker, direct-dial telephone, alarm clock, iron and ironing board.
Rooms for the physically challenged, as well as non-smoking guestrooms, are available. Most balconies are covered to offer shade, although the ones on the top floor aren't. Some balconies contain two plastic chairs and a cushioned love seat, as well as a hammock. There are a variety of TV networks available, including the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, but these are produced by Spanish networks, so much of the programming is in Spanish.
There are several "green" initiatives taking place at this hotel; you'll notice the use of glasses versus plastic cups, although you can ask for plastic for the kids. There is a towel reuse program, as well as systems for water and energy conservation and waste management.
Tip: If your kids go to bed early, you may want to request a "city view" room not facing the pool deck, where the lively evening entertainment can go on until 10 p.m. You will sacrifice a water view, but it will be quieter at night.
Standard Deluxe rooms offer one king bed, a balcony and "city" views overlooking Cozumel's main avenue.
Most of the property's rooms are Junior Suites with double whirlpools, a balcony and hammock. They have one king or two double beds, accommodating up to four guests, and a seating area. Junior Suites have ocean views and the rooms with one king bed can fit two complimentary rollaway beds in the seating area between the whirlpool tub and the balcony.
These ocean view rooms face the pool deck, where the evening entertainment takes place between 8 and 10 p.m. every night. Depending on the entertainment (i.e. salsa dance performances), the noise may be disruptive to young children with early bedtimes.
Concierge Level rooms offer ocean views and all of the amenities of Junior Suites with a king bed, as well as upgraded liquor brands, CHI-branded hair tools, a beach bag, DVD and CD player, Espresso/American coffee maker and iPod dock. Special services include nightly petit fours, a pillow menu, exclusive concierge phone service and private check-in and out. Concierge rooms accommodate two adults and are non-smoking.
Located on the Mezzanine level, these are the best room configurations for families, featuring a lower-level bedroom with a king bed, and an upper-level bedroom with two double beds, a living room and seating area. There are 12 of these suites, which accommodate up to four adults and two children, and offer all the amenities of Junior Suites.
by Eric M
I came here to scuba dive. The on-site Aqua Safari offered excellent opportunities to dive on various reefs and are staffed with well qualified dive masters and have available all the diving equipment you need. It was an excellent and most gratifying experience to dive four of the seven days with two dives per day. The staff are very friendly and attentive. We especially enjoyed the great service offered by Martha and Isabel at the Turquesa restaurant! In fact all the staff were really great!
The staff at the Cozumel Palace is fantastic! They quickly resolve all issues and keep you on pace for an incredible vacation. Management is very good top to bottom. The food is great, the spa is great and the location is fantastic. We are return guests and would recommend the Palace to anyone wanting a nice, relaxing vacation. The staff is genuinely invested in making your stay a pleasurable experience.
There are two pools, although the larger pool is separated into three distinct sections. The smaller pool is a shallow, fish-shaped pool for young children, located next to the swingset and slide equipment.
The main area of the large pool is where the swim-up bar is located, so this is where most of the child-free adults congregate. Several daily activities, such as aqua aerobics and pool volleyball, are led by the resident coordinators. The pools are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Beach towels are provided, and the gift shop carries other necessities, such as sunscreen.
The Kids Club, open to children ages 4 to 12, is based in a room off the lobby with a loft, toys and games, and a TV. It's open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, and again in the evening from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Activities include treasure hunts, cookie-decorating, face painting, games in the kiddie pool, arts and crafts, movie nights and masquerade nights. In the evening, the kids are provided with dinner from a menu featuring items like burgers and fries, pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken fingers, quesadillas, spaghetti and ice cream.
Because the Kids Club has a small staff, the counselors' faces become familiar. After a few days, they will address children by name whenever they see them on the property, and kids will surely revel in the attention. The evening sessions are a favorite among little ones, especially on "Mexican Night," when they have a piÃ±ata party for kids out by the pool.
For Teens and Adults
There are no dedicated spaces or programs for teenagers, although they can participate in the adult activities. These change daily, and a schedule is posted in the lobby. Activities include pool basketball and volleyball, aqua aerobics, bracelet making, water balloon battles and more.
If your family enjoys snorkeling and scuba diving, there is an onsite dive operator, Aqua Safari. Professional instructors offer training and will lead you on excursions near the property. The reefs surrounding Cozumel's shores are some of the largest and oldest corals in the world, offering a variety of dive environments.
From the Palace, you can walk 15 minutes into downtown San Miguel to shop or visit the Museum. The property is also within a 10-minute drive to several beach clubs and popular attractions, such as Chankanaab Park and Atlantis Submarine.
There are four different restaurants at Cozumel Palace, but two are only open for dinner. High chairs are available at all of the restaurants. A standard children's menu covers the basics: chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and hamburgers. But your children can also order off the regular menu at each restaurant, which allows kids to try various foods, such as egg rolls with their mac and cheese.
Enjoy breakfast from the buffet at Turquesa. It is an extensive smorgasbord of cold meats and cheeses, hot entrees (including Latin American specialties like chorizo and empanadas), made-to-order omelets and breakfast burritos, hot and cold cereals, breads and a wide variety of fresh fruit.
For lunch, there's an extensive buffet at Turquesa, with plenty of hot and cold options to please all ages. At dinner, Turquesa serves an Italian menu and becomes more formal, requiring long pants, collared shirts and shoes.
Turquesa is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. for breakfast, from 12:30 to 4 p.m. for lunch, and from 6 to 11 p.m. for dinner.
Flamingos is the casual poolside eatery, serving an early continental breakfast, lunch buffet, and dinner buffet. It's the most family-friendly, especially for young children.
Flamingos is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for lunch and from 6:30 to 11 p.m. for dinner.
For dinner, your options are broader, with all four restaurants open. Bugambilias offers Mexican favorites, with a delicious variety of seafood. It's open daily from 5:30 to 11 p.m. for dinner.
Momo No Hana
The Asian restaurant, Momo No Hana, serves a la carte dinners and a sushi buffet.
Your all-inclusive rates include the option of ordering room service from a 24-hour menu with breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, including omelets, sandwiches, pizza, salads, burgers, fajitas, pasta, fish and chicken. Open daily from 5:30 to 11 p.m. for dinner.
Light snacks and cocktails are available at the pool and lobby bars. There's always a tempting tray of cookies in the front lobby near the coffee service, and snacks in the bar area, too.
There are several well-known chains nearby if looking for offsite dining, including a Hard Rock CafÃ© and SeÃ±or Frogs.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Check-In and Check-Out
Cozumel is in the Central time zone. When you arrive at the property, everyone is presented with a cool, moist hand towel, and a non-alcoholic piÃ±a colada. Women are given a carnation, as well. Check-in is at 3 p.m., and if your room is not ready, you will be given a pager and invited to have lunch or relax in the bar area. Check-out is at noon.
There is a small business center with two computers and a printer, so you can print out your flight's boarding passes if you want to check in early.
There is laundry service available Monday through Saturday, but there are no facilities available for your own use.
The onsite gift shop sells an impressive range of souvenirs, from jewelry to handmade pottery, as well as resort wear, snacks and sundries, such as sunscreen and over-the-counter remedies. There is also a supermarket directly across the street with a full pharmacy. You can find a wider, less expensive range of beach and pool toys, sunscreen, and diapers there.
Foreign currency exchange is available at the front desk, or you can draw Mexican Pesos from the HSBC Bank ATM off the lobby.
Access to Other Palace Resorts
You have the option to visit other Palace Resorts and use their facilities, such as pools and restaurants. You can easily take the ferry to Cancun and the Riviera Maya for the day.
The Art of Smart Timing
Throughout Cozumel, both the crowds and the prices swell during the high season, which occurs December through March. The temperatures are moderate, and it rarely rains. During the summer months of May through August, it's hotter, but still dry, and scuba divers rave that the visibility underwater is best. The fall season, September through November, is the rainy season, and also hurricane season, so consider travel insurance if you want to travel during this time to take advantage of lower rates.
The small Cozumel International Airport is only 10 minutes away and is served by American and Delta airlines. All of the taxis belong to one regulated agency, so fares are always consistent and fair. Drivers accept both U.S. dollars and Mexican pesos, but will likely not be able to make change in dollars.
There is more frequent and direct service to the Cancun International Airport, but from there, you have to take multiple steps to get to the resort, including a taxi to the ferry port for a 30-minute ferry ride to Cozumel, and then a taxi to the Palace.
You have the option to rent a car at the airport -- both Dollar and Thrifty have locations there -- and this is the more affordable option if you plan to get off the property several times to see the sights. The resort does not have a shuttle service, and there is only limited, seasonal public bus transportation on the island. From the Palace, you can walk 15 minutes into downtown San Miguel if you don't have a car.
For Mom and Dad
The Kids Club has evening hours (7 to 9:30 p.m.), which makes it easy to enjoy a leisurely meal at one of the resort's restaurants. Enjoy the balcony in your suite, too -- sit and enjoy a drink after the kids are asleep.
The Awe Salon and Spa at the Palace offers massage, body and personalized facial treatments, as well as couples' massages. Beauty salon services are also available, including manicures, pedicures and hair styling. The spa is for adults 18 and older, so it's a serene place to get away.