by Candyce Stapen
The Ritz-Carlton Cancun, one of the few oceanfront, triple AAA Five Diamond resorts in the world, garners the top rating for the hotel plus two of its restaurants. Stepping from the street into the lobby, we shed the Hotel Zone bustle, for reserved elegance. Crystal chandeliers, pink marble floors, Oriental rugs, antiques and 18th and 19th century portraits of grande dames against idealized landscapes create a formal feel. This could be a city hotel in Europe.
As much as we admire the decor and dignified ambiance, we miss the sense of a Mexican beach resort. Some of that comes when the bellman points out the Ritz’s Very Important Kids registration desk. At the child-sized, red and blue desk, youngsters sign-in with crayons and are handed a scavenger hunt sheet. Questions such as “What are the hours of the Kids Camp?” and “How many sculptures are in the pool area?” help familiarize kids with the hotel.
Ages 3 to 12 also receive a bucket with a plastic rake, watering can, fish molds and other beach toys. When children turn in the quest’s answers to the front desk, they receive a pinat with Mexican candy plus either a doll or a valero, a stick-like toy with a wooden top attached by a string.
Such thoughtfulness is part of the Ritz panache. After all, a hotel has to be more than a pretty face to earn her diamonds. Guestrooms are oversized, tasteful blends of light woods and beige fabrics. Pool concierges keep you supplied with cold face cloths and the bath butler can draw you a Margarita bath, an Energetic bath or even a Kids Bubble Bath. The food is wonderful, even at the poolside grill, an eatery that, at most properties, you expect little finesse and get, sometimes, even less. All 365-rooms have at least a glimpse of the ocean, a result of the Ritz’s E-shaped, two tower configuration. The shops off the lobby sell Escada and La Perla.
In addition to its “beach club,” a lot sized section of sand alongside the building, the Ritz, like most of the hotel zone resorts, had only a thin sliver of beach in front of the property. As a result of a beach reclamation project, the Ritz, along with many other hotels, has added a wide stretch of sand between the resort and the ocean.
Our Editor Loves
- Two AAA Five Diamond restaurants
- Cook with your kids at the Culinary Center
- Itzy, Bitsy Ritz Room comes with baby amenities
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Meal Plan
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
At 438-square feet, the Ritz-Carlton Cancun's rooms are oversized with plenty of space for a cot or a crib. Connecting rooms are also available. And of course the rooms come with marble bathrooms, 400-thread count sheets and balconies. Complimentary Wi-Fi access can be found in the guestrooms and suites.
Itzy, Bitzy Ritz Guestrooms
If you're traveling with a baby, grab one of the three "Itzy, Bitzy Ritz" rooms. Along with a crib and bumpers, the room comes equipped with a Graco swing, a rocking chair for parents, a changing table, kids' dresser, min-hangars, a bottle warmer, a bottle sterilizer, a baby bathtub, baby shampoo, bathroom step stool and a telephone that you can program to light up instead of ring so as not to awake a napping tot. Formula and swimming diapers can be delivered ahead of your arrival. In addition, request a Ritz-Carlton's Protect Our Little Ones (POLO) program backpack. Inside are outlet covers, a spout cover for the tub, Advil for babies and a tiny toothbrush.
Even the most reluctant tot at wash-up time is likely to mellow with a Kids Bubble Bath. Along with floating toys and balloons, children receive cookies as well as milk or hot chocolate to sweeten bedtime.
The hotel provides cribs at no charge but rollaways are at a nightly cost. For an extra charge, refrigerators and microwaves are available.
The spacious suites feature a separate living room area and a large balcony or patio. There are two flat-screen televisions, too.
Stay with Ritz was amazing. Stuff is the most helpful. Everybody was so nice and courteous. Food is one of the best i personally ever had. Caribe grill for lunch on the beach,Casitas for dinner. Stop by at sushi bar for the best crafty cocktails.
Rooms are traditional but implacable clean. Room service came in twice a day and coming back home to chocolate was just so sweet.
All of this with so much pride and love from customer service.
We definitely will stay again! Thank you so much for your hospitality!
by Anah Mafi T
This high class hotel is amazing. its a little old but still the grandeur is still there.
we stayed for 2 days since our business deal was going to be held in the hotels conference room.
Great place , and great service
At the Ritz-Carlton Kids Camp ages 4 to 12 play bingo, go on scavenger hunts, search the property for iguanas, bake cookies, learn Spanish, make Pinatas and splash in the kiddie pool. The colorful children's room comes equipped with board games and art supplies. The relatively small room is brightened by a jungle mural adorned with the resort's mascot Balam, a friendly jaguar.
Because children cannot sign themselves in and out of the program, most older children ages 10 through 12 are likely to think the program too babyish, especially when younger kids sign up. The program works best for younger children. Kids younger than four are welcome if accompanied by an adult. The program operates daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.
For beach loving families, the resort's Beach Club, a deep rectangle of sand that starts at the Caribbean shore and stretches back along the side of the hotel, adds 7,000-square feet of valued play space. In addition to the "beach club" alongside the building, the Ritz, as a result of the beach reclamation project, has added a wide stretch of sand between the resort and the ocean. At the Beach Club, cabanas, which rent for an additional per day cost, consist of raised, wooden platforms covered for shade, two lounge chairs and a hammock. Palapas are available too. You can always ask a beach attendant to bring over lounge chairs. Umbrellas are available to rent daily, too. We wish resorts, especially luxury ones, would offer beach umbrellas on a complimentary basis.
Even strong swimmers should be mindful of the aggressive surf when swimming in the ocean. In many places, rocks and sand bags protrude near the shore. Locals tell us that from December through February, the waves typically crest at 1 to 3+ feet high, breaking in quick succession. March through June, locals say, remain the best months for Caribbean swimming as sea is relatively calm. A lifeguard presides over the beach.
The main pool -- two connected loops with a small waterfall -- always draws guests. Although there's no kiddie pool, one loop's depth is 3.5-feet, good for gradeschoolers. Toddlers, sitting along the shallow area's wide ledge, splash under the watchful eyes of parents.
On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m., ages 6 to 9 and ages 10 to 14 can improve their swings at the resort's Cliff Drysdale Tennis Center.
The Ritz's $500,000 Culinary Center is a big plus for families who want to get hands-on in the kitchen. Each week at the state-of-the-art facility with its four cooking stations, Chef teaches a variety of two-hour cooking classes, most of which are open to families. Families will go back to basics, learning the correct way to cut vegetables (who knew there was a technique?) and discover easy recipes. Following the recipes and learning tips along the way, families will love this hands-on activity. Then, its time to eat what was cooked on the terrace facing the sea.
Is there a chocoholic in your family? Then, sign up for Chocolatier and learn how to create tuxedo strawberries, chocolate truffles and sauces. During Christmas and at other times, the center offers kids-only classes. Kids learn how to fashion gingerbread houses and bake chocolate cakes, and cookies. At other sessions, children, working in teams of three, learn how to make pizza dough, cook pancakes and French toast for breakfast and how to create enchiladas.
On the weekend closest to the full moon celebrate with a beach bonfire, music and marshmallow roast at the Moonlight festival held beachfront.
La Isla Shopping Village, an open-air facility bordering the lagoon, is a pleasant place to shop. The complex features Johnny Rockets, Haagen-Dazs ice cream and many familiar chain clothing stores. At Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe, sample the rich Mayan hot chocolate made with 72 percent cacao.
The food at the Ritz-Carlton Cancun is exceptional. Both the Club Grill, which specializes in grilled meats and seafood, and Fantino, with its Mediterranean cuisine, rate AAA Five Diamonds.
With the Ritz Kids Meal Plan children ages 5 through 11 can order food from any of the restaurants' children's menus, including the room service children's menus, plus soft drinks, snacks from the pool bar children's menu, food from the buffets, as well as unlimited ice cream from the cart by the pool. The per day, per child rate is available year-round except for the Christmas and New Year's holiday period. For kids with big appetites or a willingness to sample items from the buffet, the Ritz Kids Meal Plan is a good deal.
"The meal plan is fun for kids and freedom for the parents," says Michael Naather, associate director of Food and Beverage. "If kids want something to drink or an ice cream, they just go get it. The parents do not have to sign every time."
Along with such reassuring dinner choices as pasta with tomato sauce, kids discover dinner choices that reflect the restaurant.
Without the plan children 11 and younger pay half-price at the buffets. For kids under age 5 and for those with small appetites, the simple entrees from the children's menu may prove less expensive than the meal plan.
To get great food, you don't have to reserve a table at one of the resort's Five Diamond restaurants.
At the Club Grill, known for its grilled meats and seafood, and one of the resort's two AAA Five Diamond restaurants, grilled chicken and filet mignon are on the menu.
At Fantino, the resort's other AAA Five Diamond restaurant, known for its Mediterranean cuisine, kids can opt for beef filet with potato gnocchi. At Fantino entrees include herb crusted lamb, roasted salmon and truffle crusted scallops. Leave room for dessert because Fantino specializes in souffles chocolate, cappuccino, coconut and more.
Kids' choices for lunch at the casual Caribe, overlooking the beach, and offer steamed fish, mini-burgers, ham and cheese quesadilla or small pizza. Breakfast options such as French toast, pancakes, or scrambled eggs. The Caribe Bar & Grill overlooks the beach and serves a really tasty mahi mahi wrap as well as salads and hamburgers (entrees about $15-$18 US).
For more tasty treats try Chef Rory Dunaway's chef's table dinner at the Culinary Center. The chef also hosts tastings of six wines on Saturday nights and tastings of six tequilas on Friday nights.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Okay, we admit it. We love the pampering delivered by pool concierges. These attentive angels bring complimentary chilled, scented towels and fruit as well as spritz you with cool mist as you relax by the beach or the pool.
Along with day activities, the Ritz-Carlton Kids Camp hosts evening programs Friday and Saturday night from 6 to 10 p.m. for ages 4 to 12, making it easy to enjoy an adult dinner at the properties two AAA Five Diamond restaurants.
Complimentary Wi-Fi access can be found throughout the hotel.
The Art of Smart Timing
High season is from mid-December to mid-April. Low season is from mid-April to mid-December.
To get to the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, located along the Hotel Zone strip, not far from the Cancun International Airport, 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 vendors who jump out at you as you exit the airport terminal. Otherwise, you may fall prey to some greedy taxi owners.
The resort is easily walkable.
For Mom and Dad
The Lobby Lounge, a classy venue with Czech crystal chandeliers and a creamy beige decor is the main bar, although that word seems too ordinary for such an elegant space. The Lounge serves a variety of moods. Savor ceviches and sashimi at the lounge's Sushi and Seafood Bar or taste some of the more than 70 kinds of tequila. At Clau, a cozy corner off the Lobby Lounge, enjoy a tete-a-tete as you sip one of their special martinis.
For more pampering, indulge with a massage, wrap, scrub or facial at the Kayanta Spa. Inspired by a Mayan phrase meaning "to be reborn," the spa offers treatments that use Mayan and Mexican oils and elements.
Adult's Only Pool
The adults-only fountain courtyard pool offers parents a quieter place to swim than the main pool.