by Candyce H. Stapen
The JW Marriott Cancun, with its marble, pillared lobby adorned with fresh flowers, exudes an elegant feel. Like the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, Marriott’s other, nearby flagship property, the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa rates Five Diamonds from AAA. Although lacking the cachet of the Ritz (as well as its antiques), the JW Marriott offers luxury, but at rates typically 20 to 30 percent less than those of the Ritz-Carlton Cancun.
From the JW’s lobby, a large Palladian window offers views of the outdoor waterscape of free-form pools and the turquoise Caribbean just beyond. Like most of the resorts along Cancun’s hotel zone, the JW Marriott fronts an appealing swath of sand, too.
Another reason to choose the JW: its exceptional 35,000-square-foot spa that’s ranked amongst Mexico’s and the Caribbean’s best. With children happily engaged in activities, pamper yourself with Mayan-themed treatments or go for a soothing — and quiet — swim in the adults-only, indoor swimming pool.
Our Editor Loves
- Outdoor waterscape
- Children's program for ages 4-12
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
At 460 square feet, the guestrooms work well for families sharing with kids, especially since each room features a sleeper sofa, large enough for one teen or two small children. All rooms come with some sort of ocean view as well as with balconies big enough for chairs. With 54 king bedded rooms that connect to units with two double beds, the JW has enough inventory to almost guarantee that families wanting adjoining rooms will get them.
The rooms, with flat screen televisions, sound-proofed windows, robes and slippers for adults, duvets and down comforters, provide a welcoming retreat. Wi-Fi and Internet connections are available, but at an additional cost.
The spacious suites feature a separate living room area with a sleeper sofa and a king bed is in the bedroom area. A balcony and two flat-screen televisions can be found in the suites.
Cribs are available on a complimentary basis, but should be reserved when booking. Cots cost extra. In addition, the resort maintains a few strollers and car seats for use at no extra cost, but book these well in advance.
I’m staying that the JW Marriott in Cancun right now. We checked in this afternoon. Our room is lovely and up to date. We purchased the upgrade to Club 91. Hotel staff have been pleasant and friendly. But the cons: 1. We had a late lunch at the restaurant at the pool. The food was so mediocre. My friend ordered the cheese nachos and they were pretty bad. Granted ordering nachos at a mega resort in Mexico probably wasn’t the best idea. They were bland and boring.Honestly, we would have had better nachos if we’d purchased chips and cheese in a can from a supermarket. 2. Club 91 we had dinner there. It was cuisine from Japan tonight. And just super bland and boring. Would not recommend and honestly wish we’d left the hotel and gone elsewhere. 3. No turn down service. We returned to our suite later this evening and I was disappointed that housekeeping skipped our turned down service. One of the things I love about staying at a luxury hotel is the turndown service. It is a nice amenity and something small but makes me feel special. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I contacted the hotel and inquired about this missing service and was told that perhaps “housekeeping hadn’t knocked loud enough”. We weren’t in the room so not sure why that was relevant. The lack of personal attention is why I feel our stay isn’t going to be that memorable.
We needed a short break so booked JW Cancun for a week. We decided to book the Club 91 even though we read mixed reviews here. That was the best decision we made. The food was great. Different every night but there was always something delicious. Open bar after 6pm and the bartender Ernesto made the experience amazing. He made us whatever we wanted even if he had to grab ingredients from the kitchen. He also made his own versions of drinks that would fit our palate. Jazmin was a great hostess and Rocelio overheard us asking for hot sauce and when we were brought Tabasco I was a bit dissapointed. After all, this is the land of hot sauces and I expected more. Next day he brought us habanero green sauce which was made for us. Every night he made sure we had our hot sauce at our table. We splurged on the Spa one day. Eric as the host on the mens side. He was helpful and efficient without being intrusive. Made us feel very comfortable. Catalina and Gabriela were our massage therapists and did a wonderful job. Being a same sex couple, we found that JW very inclusive and we were never made to feel different. Our room was on the Club Level and had an amazing view. Each of the JW staff made us feel like we were their only customers and they were our personal butlers and assistants. Of course, this was not the case and they did an amazing job making each guest feel the same way.
The beach offers space for romping, building sandcastles and for strolling. Traditionally, along the hotel's beaches swimming can be difficult from December through February because the sea can be rough. March through June, locals say, remain the best months for swimming, as the sea is relatively calm.
The beach also translates to more lounge chairs on the sand, which is good since chaise lounges around the pool can be limited at times. During busy times, guests complain of having to rise early to claim a spot at the pool.
For scuba lessons with or without your kids, follow the gurgling stream to the JW's dive pool, the one with a playful artificial reef. Kids as young as eight years old can learn basics techniques at the resort's Bubblemaker courses. A Family Pool and an Adults-Only Pool are only steps from the beach as well.
Ages four to 12, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the children's program at the CasaMagna Marriott Cancun next door, can be accessed by a covered walkway. Despite the kids' club's windowless room, the program engages younger kids and grade-schoolers by making use of the resort's property. A grassy playground with swings and climbing equipment gives little ones some safe running space. Upon registering the first day, each child receives a colorful backpack, a Marriott T-shirt and a Nemo hat. Kids make and break pinatas; learn Spanish by playing Lotteria, a Spanish version of Bingo using cards; swim in the pool; craft bracelets, build sand castles and cook. There is a daily or hourly cost for the program.
Although only those 18 and older can book spa treatments or use the sunlit and soothing indoor pool, you can treat kids six to 17 to a Mayan Princess experience featuring manicures and pedicures and if you want, hair braiding. For guests age 18 and older, the spa's indoor pool surrounded by glass walls offers a sunlit and quiet refuge for swimming, especially on rainy days. Alas, children are not permitted.
We really like the Gourmet Deli & Gift Shop, not so much for its gifts as for its take-out. The deli sells reasonably priced coffee and pastries, as well as salads, sandwiches, ice cream and sorbet. Located off the lobby, the deli, open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., is a convenient and affordable option for families needing quick sandwiches to go, as well as for kids craving snacks.
Sedona Grill, the resort's main restaurant, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner under a high palapa-shaped roof. The air-conditioned dining room's large glass windows look out to the pool and the resort's waterscape for great views. At lunch and dinner, the menu offers grilled, fried and blackened seafood as well as seafood pasta, burgers and steak. Kids can select chicken fingers, hot dogs and quesadillas from the children's menu.
The poolside BeachWalk MarketPlace serves sandwiches and salads.
Gustino Italian Grill and La Capilla Argentina Steakhouse
Families with teens and 20-somethings into good food may like Gustino Italian Grill, the resort's signature restaurant and an AAA Four Diamond winner, as well as La Capilla Argentina Steakhouse.
Room service offers burgers, quesadillas, chicken fingers, as well as a breakfast menu of eggs, French toast or pancakes.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Babysitting can be arranged, but request this service in advance. The JW Marriott works hard to accommodate families requesting adjoining rooms. The resort maintains a few strollers and car seats for use at no extra cost, but book these well in advance.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season is from mid-December to mid-April. Low season is from mid-April to mid-December.
The Cancun International Airport is about 20 minutes away from the hotel.
Book transportation ahead of time whether by a private car or with the shuttle vans that stop at the strip's many hotels. If you haven't, then buy a transfer from the tourism-related vendors who jump out at you as you exit the airport terminal. Otherwise, you may fall prey to some greedy taxi owners.
For Mom and Dad
Be sure to indulge with a spa treatment. For families with "adult children," the spa is a must. At 35,000-square-feet, the spa is big enough to blur convincingly the line between amenity and destination facility. The treatments incorporate elements and rituals of ancient Maya culture. The Balache massage involves a brown sugar- and cinnamon-based exfoliant followed by a massage with a mixture of oils infused with Mayan herbs.