Cancun has become renowned for its nightlife and resorts, making it a hub for commercialised luxury. Cartier and Burberry are not typical names associated with Mexico but they do not look out of place among the newly built malls. For some, this is the ideal holiday, but for those who are looking for an experience that has a little more local flavour then you’re in luck; it’s just a ferry ride away on Isla Mujeres at the Privilege Aluxes hotel.
There are many things to look forward to when visiting Mexico, but driving past the main strip of Cancun resorts can be a bit dismaying, as it has become almost indistinguishable from so many other resorts worldwide.
It’s certainly beautiful and one of the many examples of why tourism is booming in this Latin American country, but when you are looking for something with local character, it doesn’t satisfy. Comfort, cleanliness and luxury were at the top of our list, but a resort area with some semblance of the Mexican culture was mandatory.
Privilege Aluxes can arrange a shuttle bus service (at an additional fee) from Cancun Airport to the ferry terminal so that, even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish, you will feel completely at ease straying slightly off the beaten path. Within 20 minutes you’ll arrive at the Puerto Juarez Maritime Terminal, where you can munch on some snacks and wait for the ferry. There’s no need to rush; ferries come and go every half hour from 05:30 until 24:00, 365 days a year, making it very accessible both to and from the mainland.
The 20-minute ferry ride is rather enjoyable as it gives you the chance to look at the turquoise water and let the anticipation build as Isla Mujeres, which translates to Island of Women, comes into view.
Once the ferry is unloaded, you can ask at the tourism booth directly in front of the port how to find the hotel. It’s only a short walk up the beach, but there are also plenty of cabs lined up, if you prefer.
As the weather was uncooperative that day, we opted for a cab. It is a short trip and an easy walk when the weather is nice. There are quite a few restaurants and beach-front bars dotted between unique and colourful houses that are fun to explore on the way to the hotel.
Privilege Aluxes is situated at the end of road and its clean architecture and colours are immediately impressive. Its facade is cream with a few bold splashes of orange and, of course, “Privilege Aluxes” in silver lettering.
Enter through the sliding glass doors and you’ll be greeted warmly by the smiling concierge at the front desk. We arrived before the official check-in time so he offered to hold our bags at reception, leaving us free to wander around the grounds while they finished cleaning our room.
There are three restaurants at the resort, Sabor, Café Del Mar and Satay. Sabor serves a large buffet breakfast every morning, a la carte options for lunch and a buffet at night. Satay is an Asian restaurant only open for dinner and requires advance reservation. Café Del Mar is located on the beach and appeared to be a popular option for lunchtime, offering a seafood-oriented menu.
The all-inclusive option is a surprisingly cheap addition to the nightly rate, considering that it includes all of the food, room service and drinks that you can manage. It is also very enjoyable not having to worry about the prices at every meal.
Of course, it is still customary to tip so come prepared with small bills, as the occasion does arise rather frequently.
The lobby is equipped with free wi-fi and a few computers. It is a good place to pass the time while waiting for your room. We soon discovered there was a bit of a mix-up with our accommodation, but when it was rectified we were given a full tour of the grounds and personally shown to our room.
We had only just begun to settle in when there was a knock at the door. It was the manager. When we checked in, I had casually mentioned that I was a guacamole enthusiast, so she brought up a tray of chips and guacamole, authentically prepared, as a way of apologising for the mix-up. We were very pleased with the way they recovered and made us feel that our comfort was genuinely important to them.
The room exceeded expectations. It was very spacious with a kitchen, living room and large terrace to sit out and watch the sun set over the ocean. The décor kept in line with the rest of the hotel, very clean and bright with a white sofa in the living room and light beige coloured tiles throughout. There were also two televisions, one in the bedroom and one in the living room.
This is typical for a ’Suite Deluxe’, but there are three different options for upgraded accommodation that offer a Jacuzzi on the terrace.
Valuables can be stored in the room’s safe deposit box. It is programmed with a code of your choosing, for peace of mind.
The mini-bar, filled with water bottles, sodas, beer and a few snacks, was located in the kitchen. It was not the best stocked mini-bar, but we took from it giddily, as normally the mini-bar is a place full of overpriced, undersized snacks that is forbidden to the thrifty tourist. Not so this time! The all-inclusive option endows you the extraordinary power of taking from this mysterious box without a guilty conscience. We grabbed a drink and set out to explore the compact resort. Room service is, however, available 24 hours a day.
The pool area was very inviting with white and brown lounge chairs and a few canopied beds to lie on. The small but practical fitness room overlooks the pool with large glass windows and the spa cabana was next to it, to indulge after a workout.
There are three large hot tubs behind the fitness and spa area; a happy finding as the seclusion makes it feel like a private oasis and is a favourite spot to relax away from others.
Of course, the reason everyone goes to a beachside resort is for the beach and Privilege Aluxes’ private strip was absolutely gorgeous. There were plenty of seats to choose from and beds with thatched roofs to lie on for those sensitive to the sun or just looking for the ideal spot to take an afternoon nap. The sand was powdery white and, after that first drizzly day, we had nothing but blue skies and turquoise water. There was a band that played at night on the beach, making it a lovely spot to unwind with a drink.
The entire hotel provided a good balance for those who wanted to have fun, but still be away from some of the crazy nightlife of Cancun. The hotel is adult-oriented so, although there were some children at the resort, there was not the usual background noise of crying babies.
Another good point is that the bars on the resort stopped selling alcohol at 22:00, bringing about a nice hush for those wanting to get an early night. Night owls don’t despair! There was plenty more excitement at the bars in town, only a short walk up the road.
During the day, if and when you’ve tired of lying by the pool and beach, there are markets to explore and several different sightseeing options, such as snorkelling trips or visiting Chichen Itza, arranged by the hotel concierge. Perhaps surprisingly, it seemed that the most popular option was renting a golf cart. Everywhere we looked, tourists were zipping around on them. Several visitors we spoke to said it was an absolute must and, after walking around in the sun all afternoon, we understood why.
Overall it was a wonderful experience and just what we needed to recharge our batteries. There are several deals advertised throughout the year to look out for and, when you choose the all-inclusive option, Privilege Aluxes is an unbeatable value for an unequivocal experience.
Ave Adolfo Lopez Mateo, Colonia Centro Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo 77400Write a Review
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