Family Vacation Critic Favorite

Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa

KM 6.5, Cozumel, 77600

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Overview

Leading into the Presidente InterContinental, the tropical landscaping instantly turns lush. Palm trees line the drive and shrubs bloom with colorful, tropical flowers. Families are greeted upon exiting the taxi and escorted to the lobby where cold towels and bottles of water await.

The Presidente InterContinental, which opened in 1968 has reigned as the island’s most luxurious hotel for decades. Built when properties could afford to spread out along the waterfront, the Presidente’s beach (more about that later) stretches for 1,000 feet and a green lawn continues the hotel’s impressive waterfront. Crotons, bougainvillea and hibiscus bloom along the hotel’s open-air corridors that lead to the rooms, softening the block-like style.

In 2005 Hurricane Wilma devastated the Cozumel area, destroying many hotels. When the Presidente InterContinental reopened in 2007 after a $25 million renovation, the resort came back better than ever with fewer, but larger rooms and a new spa. The 220 rooms come in seven categories.

The lobby, a large space with a high thatched roof, is a simple, but tasteful blend of woven wicker chairs and couches with coral colored cushions. At check-in children receive a letter inviting them to participate in the Chiqui Club, the resort’s complimentary activities program for ages 5 to 12.

An attendant escorts us to our room, saying “Ma’alob K’iin,” while touching his right hand to this heart. The phrase means “Good sun,” a Mayan expression similar to “Good day.” The phrase is written on the key folder. From then on, we make a game of finding the Maya influences throughout the hotel. After all, the Presidente InterContinental calls itself “a resort with a Mayan heart.”

Inside the room, kids are welcomed with gifts of a Chiqui Club T-shirt and cap, beach toys and a plate of cookies. Other welcoming touches: elephant and rabbit towel animals and red hibiscus leaves strewn on the bed.

Cozumel, a 40-minute ferry ride from the mainland’s Playa del Carmen, ranks among Western Hemisphere’s top dive destinations as one of the largest reef systems in the world extending for 1,500-miles along the Caribbean coast into Central America. The crystal clear waters push visibility to 100+ feet, making many of the dive sites also great for snorkeling.

Jump in the water off the shores of the Presidente InterContinental and you’re swimming in part of the Cozumel Reefs National Park, a 30,000-acre reserve. Also, Chankanaab National Park, with its guided snorkeling, reefs, dolphin swims and botanical gardens is practically next door to the resort.

Cozumel is much more laid-back than Cancun, something families like, especially those with younger kids. Families with college age teens find that Cancun or Playa del Carmen works better because older teens, like heat-seeking missiles, crave the body-to-body beaches and bars of those bustling towns. Cozumel’s San Miguel, the main town, does have some bars and restaurants and is about a 10-minute drive from the Presidente InterContinental.

Our Editor Loves

  • Chiqui Club for ages 5 to 12
  • Laid-back destination
  • Resort pool

Family Interests

  • Beach
  • Museum/Cultural
  • Water Sports

Family Amenities

  • Children Programs
  • Connecting Rooms
  • Cribs
  • Laundry
  • Onsite Dining
  • Pool
  • Refrigerator

Room Information

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We've already mentioned the welcome gifts for Chiqui Club age kids -- T-shirts, baseball style caps, beach toys and cookies. All rooms welcome guests with red hibiscus blossoms strewn on the bed as well as the cute towel animals. The rooms are oversized, giving families sharing with their kids plenty of space, especially for a crib or cot. Some rooms come with a daybed with high lattice sides that makes a cozy bed for a young gradeschooler. All rooms feature either a balcony or a patio with chairs and a hammock, another nice touch. Be sure to note the difference between "ocean view" from which you see the water from your room and "beachfront" from which you can walk from the patio onto the beach. For families with young kids, beachfront rooms or those with a patio offer added convenience.

Classic Rooms
The classic rooms range from 670- to 755-square feet. The contemporary decor of dark wood, beige marble floors, simple woven rugs and coral or yellow accent pillows creates an uncluttered, comfortable feeling. Home comforts include fluffy bathrobes, coffee and tea makers, a mini-fridge stocked with beer and other alcoholic drinks as well as juices and bottled water. Electrical outlet covers, baby bathtubs, cribs and strollers are provided free. Reserve ahead.

Suites
The suites start at 700-square feet and go up to units that rival the size of some urban apartments. The beachfront superior units also have spacious outdoor showers with high stone walls as well as an indoor shower or tub.

As part of making guests feel at home, the Presidente places beach towels in a straw basket. Instead of spreading brochures and menus on the desk hotel style, these are placed in an Olinala box, a handcrafted, lacquered box. The tradition of creating these boxes is traced to the Mexican village of Olinala. Specially designed for the hotel, each box features three Mayan hieroglyphics. The hotel uses the iguana to represent the natural environment, the fish to remind guests of the island's extraordinary marine life and the swallow to inform visitors that the name Cozumel comes from the Mayan "Ah-Cuzamil-Peten," land of the swallows.

Reviews

Amazing experience.

by Sleen_M

An amazing visit. Clean property, very well kept around the clock. Great staff!
Rooms were very cozy and the cleaning staff did an excellent job every day.
The food was stellar. We did not feel the need to leave the property to eat. Loved the Mediterranean food. Special thanks to the staff there for their service and kindness.
Breakfast at the Mexican restaurant was great.
Room service was the best ever.
Snorkeling right off the beach/piers was perfect!
The events counter by the front desk was really helpful in arranging activities; tour boats can pick you up right off of the hotel's dock.
The gift shop was really nice to get reasonable souvenirs.
Would prefer to see the billing in USD or preferred currency at checkout though.

Anniversary

by frenchiemama03

This place is amazing! Beautiful grounds. Rooms big and nicely decorated. Lovely private beach. Great for snorkeling. Nice and quiet. Perfect for couples. Recommend purchasing the breakfast package. The poolside food was delicious. Enjoyed the pizza . The other restaurants were just ok. No nightlife or entertainment on grounds. Overall, had a great experience and would return!

Family Activities

Beach and Pool
Cozumel's big draw is the water. Lifeguards patrol the beach and the pools. The main pool welcomes children. Although the property lacks a kiddie pool, a cove with a breakwater creates a relatively shallow slope with calm water, perfect for splashing and swimming. It's also a good place for kids to get accustomed to snorkel masks, tubes and fins even if there's not much to see in this cove.

The hotel's white sand beach stretches for 1,000 feet. However, the beach, more man-made than natural, feels somewhat hard and rocky. No matter; kids enjoy it anyway. Thatched-roof palapas and palm trees provide shade and there's enough space to spread out.

Scuba
Scuba Du, the resort's P.A.D.I. dive center, along with offering resort courses, introductory scuba and a range of dives, has a Bubblemaker Program, an introductory, pool-only experience for kids at least eight years old. Depending on the child's age and ability, after completing the course he or she may be able to take a shallow dive with a PADI instructor, a great way to introduce kids to the world of underwater wonders.

Kids' Club
The complimentary Presidente InterContinental's Chiqui (a term of endearment for 'little child' in Spanish) Club operates daily from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. for ages 5 to 12. The program incorporates Mexican, Mayan and Spanish elements. Kids craft -- and whack -- Mexican pinatas, learn Spanish and Mayan phrases, snorkel from the beach, play Mexican bingo, collect shells, bake cookies and have their faces painted.

Kids also go on an iguana search. More than 200 of these critters inhabit the grounds. The hotel has built three "houses" for the iguanas and kids help feed the iguanas plants as well as fruit.

The Chiqui Club also hosts family activities. Take part in a rally (follow clues on the property) paint ceramic figures (nominal fee for the pottery), and play a game of soccer on the wide, green lawn fronting the Chiqui Club building. Outside is kid-sized Ping-Pong table as well as swings, slides and climbing equipment set in a sandy base to cushion falls. Inside the small hut-like facility, colorful sea murals with a blue octopus and green sea turtle enliven the walls. Board games, puppets, beads and crayons for crafts line the shelves.

Teenagers who dive or snorkel enjoy the resort's easy access to reefs as well as the Scuba Du outings. Teens who don't get tired out by a day of undersea adventures as well as those who do are likely to be bored at night unless it's spring break or Christmas when the teen count goes up.

Scuba and Snorkeling
Scuba Du, the resort's P.A.D.I. dive center, along with offering resort courses, introductory scuba and a range of dives, has a Bubblemaker Program, an introductory, pool-only experience for kids at least eight years old. Depending on the child's age and ability, after completing the course he or she may be able to take a shallow dive with a PADI instructor, a great way to introduce kids to the world of underwater wonders.
The Presidente InterContinental, situated on the edge of the marine park, makes it easy to explore. Just be aware of Cozumel's strong offshore current. Snorkelers and divers should never explore alone, no matter their age or skill level.

Scuba Du has six boats and offers several dive trips as well as snorkeling adventures to both shallow and deep water sites. On a four-hour round-trip, snorkel above Palancar, a Cozumel legend that stretches more than three miles. View large coral heads, big barrel sponges and a grove of sea fans swaying in the current. Scuba Du can take you out to the distant part of Paradise Reef, known for star coral, brain coral and schools of rainbow-colored fish as well as to the reefs near Punta Sur on Cozumel's south coast.

If you and your children are strong swimmers and experienced snorkelers, you can simply climb down the stairs cut in the hotel's rock wall and head out. At the sunken barge, there are small stingrays, lobsters and eels as well more colorful fish. It's a rewarding snorkel, just be sure to save your strength to fight the current, if you need to, in order to get back to the shore.

Family Dining

Kids can choose hot dogs, pizza, hamburger and steak from the children's menu. Prices range from about $7 to $10.

Le Cap Beach Club Bar
Le Cap Beach Club Bar on the beach serves light meals and drinks.

Alfredo di Roma
Alfredo di Roma, the hotel's signature restaurant features Northern Italian fare and specializes in fresh seafood.

El Caribeno
Most of the time El Caribeno, the oceanfront, open-air restaurant shaded by a high, thatched palapa is the best bet for families. The menu offers an array of tasty Mexican, Mayan and international dishes. Meals start with chips, a kid-pleaser. At lunch the filet of fish Tikin Xic, Mahi Mahi served on a banana leaf with Mayan style axiote (tomato and spices) sauce is delicious as is the marinated and grilled half chicken, Mexican chicken fajitas or burgers.

In-Room Dining
The resort offers 24-hour room service as well.

Planning & Tips

All About the Extras
We like resorts that convey a sense of place. Each night at turn down, housekeepers leave a brief summary of a Mayan legend. Kids like learning about Alux, an elf-like creature, who protects the jungle as well as how the gods brought music and dance to the earth.

College age children and adults may want to try the spa's temazcal, a traditional Mayan steam bath that resembles a Native American sweat lodge.

The Art of Smart Timing
The resort has several different rates during the year. The highest are during Christmas and New Years. The second highest rates are for a two-week period during April's Easter/Spring break. Rates drop between January and April, a period when it's cold in the north and warm in Cozumel. Rates drop again after spring break and rise a bit in late November and early December.

Getting There
The Presidente InterContinental is a 15-minute taxi ride from the Cozumel International Airport. The cruise ship pier is also about 10 minutes from the hotel. If the port of Cozumel is at the end of a cruise, some families might consider extending their vacation with a land stay.

It would be cumbersome, but possible to fly into Cancun, take a 40-minute taxi or bus to Playa del Carmen and then a 40-minute ferry to Cozumel. By the time you arrive at the hotel, however, you'd be likely to need a Margarita or two.

Getting Around
The resort is easily walkable.

The Art of Smart Timing
The resort has several different rates during the year. The highest are during Christmas and New Years. The second highest rates are for a two-week period during April's Easter/Spring break. Rates drop from January to April a period when it's cold in the north and warm in Cozumel. Rates drop again after spring break and rise a bit in late November and December.

For Mom and Dad
The adult pool offers a quiet, kid-free oasis. The Mandara Spa, constructed like a series of inner chambers suggestive of the swirls of a conch shell, has five treatments rooms but features a range of pampering massages, wraps and treatments. The Mandara Spa also offers Yspa, massages, scrubs, facials and pedicures geared for ages 13 to 17. The program includes mother and daughter as well as father and son massages as well.

There's a Tanya Moss shop in the lobby. For those who have not yet discovered jewelry by this well-known Mexican artist, the small shop provides a taste of Moss's creative mix of modern design and stones, some rough cut. Moss has two, bigger shops in Cozumel.

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