The first time we visited the Excellence in Playa Mujeres it was 2012 and we were babies who didn’t have babies. The circumstances of our arrival weren’t exactly normal either. We had only been married for 5 months and it was our first couples’ trip with 4 of our best friends. We arrived at the Excellence immediately after spending 4 days on a catamaran off of the coast of Mexico. One of our friends had found a groupon for a catamaran cruise that sounded incredible but it had two catches. First, it was REALLY cheap. You might think that sounds great but to me really cheap is code for “not safe, probably bed bugs”. The second thing that drew some alarm was that it would be the 6 of us on a boat with two strangers, our captain and first mate. Being young, stupid and always down for an adventure, we packed up our bags and flew to Cancun half anticipating fun, half waiting to be made into skin suits and end up on the next episode of Dateline. The trip actually ended up being awesome but after 4 days on a boat sleeping in a room the size of a king bed we were ready for a shower, an actual potty and space to walk around upright.
Zach and I circa 2012 at the Excellence.
When we hopped off the catamaran and were greeted at the Excellence with a warm towel and champagne, I could have just died and gone to heaven. Having opened in 2007, the resort at that point was already five years old. You wouldn’t have been able to tell by the pristine grounds though! It was shiny and new with wonderful grounds and excellent rooms. We had a blast and always said we would visit again one day.
Fast-forward five years to last week and Zach and I were wondering what we would find when we arrived at the Excellence yet again. Was it was actually as good as we had remembered or was there a heightened sense of luxury since we arrived dirty after four days of sailing, wearing t-shirts and being confined to a tiny boat? And did we even pause to notice how nice it was? After all, we were really young and basically just played non-stop. We had pin-pong tournaments, skied, wind-surfed, played volleyball, ate, drank and went non-stop. This was pre-TSSG so other than documenting for a facebook album I wasn’t exactly the travel sluth I am today.
Sitting here today figuring out what to say about the resort there are three things that stick out. 1) I loved it just as much. 2) It looks the EXACT same. 3) The food has 100% gotten better. First of all let’s discuss the actual resort – I’m amazed at the upkeep. Whatever they are polishing the floors and cleaning the bathrooms with I need to just go ahead and put on my face because that place is frozen in time. Beach resorts are not easy to keep up, people. Not only is there the salty-air but then you have the afternoon thunderstorms and the random drunk people wreaking havoc and vandalizing things. Props to the Excellence for their room service teams, grounds maintenance and facility crews because the place is looking fresh.
Now to the food. The first time we went we were NOT impressed with the food. They still had the same restaurants and some of the same menus but I think they have stepped it up a notch in terms of their dinner and lunch offerings. The breakfast buffet was excellent both times but this second time we were way more impressed with the quality and the quantity of the meals. It felt less like they were feeding the masses and more like we were eating at made-to-order restaurants. We loved the French and Japanese Restaurants! However I will say if you are a foodie this probably wouldn’t be the best culinary experience for you. If you want nachos, ceviche, burritos & burgers you’ll be just fine. Disclaimer: I don’t really know what all-inclusive a true foodie would love. I think Unico really knocks it out of the park as far as all-inclusive food is concerned and I think the Excellence is probably a step beneath that.
POOL OR BEACH?
I think is the only resort that I’ve ever been to where both the pool and the beach are equally as nice. The beach is wide and clean and has a ton of chairs. They use a machine to clean the seaweed every morning instead of hand-raking it so it’s nice and clear by the time you get down there. They have volleyball, jet-skis, wind-surfing, those mini sailboat things and a restaurant/bar area on the beach. There are beds and cabanas available in the Excellence club and plenty of shoreline to walk. I’m typically a pool person because I like to people watch and float around sipping a fruity beverage but I would sit on this beach all day no problem.
WHAT I PACKED:
Now for the goods…. the beach style! I know you all are just chomping at the bit to shop some sun dresses in October but maybe you are packing for a vacation soon! If not, just pin the looks you like for next spring!
Sun wrap | Sunscreen | Sunscreen powder | Chapstick | Bathing suit is not online yet but this is the brand | Sunglasses | Beach bag | Coconut toner | Body Glow | Cleansing Oil | Coconut Balm | Coconut Sheer Oil
THE BOTTOM LINE.
As far as all-inclusives go, the Excellence really is a great choice! It’s easy to get to from the airport, beautiful, has great food and isn’t an arm and a leg as far as prices go. There is nightly entertainment, the spa is great and there are plenty of things to do in the area for excursions, shopping etc. A lot of people have asked me and I do think that Unico is nicer (it’s 10 years newer after all) and I would recommend it over the Excellence but it’s a little more remote and they don’t have as much nightly entertainment. It really just depends what you are going for!