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My family recently returned from a short stay at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres in Cancun, Mexico. This trip was originally scheduled for 2020, but we rescheduled due to the pandemic.
I picked this particular all-inclusive resort due to its positive reviews on TripAdvisor and because it has the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre attached. This was our second all-inclusive experience in Mexico (see my blog post from our trip to Puerto Vallarta).
Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres has a lot of hard-core fans. However, although we liked parts of the resort, our experience didn’t quite match the rave reviews. Here are some hits and misses from our recent stay.
Hit: Location and Property Aesthetics
Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres is located about 40 minutes from Cancun International Airport. It’s nice to land and get to the resort in a short amount of time.
The property is beautiful. The architecture is modern. We enjoyed the beautiful outdoor reception area.
A canal runs through the large resort.
Our rooms were spacious. Each room had a sofa bed that was actually comfortable.
We had one swim-up room on the first floor.
Our other room was a bigger suite on the second floor with an ocean view.
The showers were wonderful–very large with a rainfall shower head on the ceiling plus a handheld shower head.
Both rooms had mini-fridges stocked with sodas, juices and beer.
In the regular non-upgraded section of the resort, there are two pools. The main pool is huge with plenty of lounge chairs and a swim-up bar. Servers came around often for drink orders. At lunch, there is a small outdoor buffet by the pool.
The beach infinity pool was right next to our building. It was never very crowded. It has a large jacuzzi at the end.
When my family went to an all-inclusive in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago, we hated the beach. Thankfully, Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres has a nice beach that is very swimmable.
There are plenty of lounge chairs, and servers were attentive.
The water is warm with gentle waves. The resort does a good job of cleaning up the seaweed.
Hit: Dinner Restaurants and Coffee Shop
We ate at three a-la-carte restaurants during our stay: La Adelita (Mexican food), El Dorado (steak) and Sumptuori (Japanese). Food and service were great at all three. We especially loved the hibachi food and show at Sumptuori.
The coffee shop has a cycling theme and offers treats and sandwiches as well as coffee and smoothies.
Hit: Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre
The entire reason we booked this resort is because it is home to the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre. My oldest son took a few private lessons during our stay. There is also a small Nadal museum. If you’re really into tennis, it’s hard to ignore this cool resort feature.
And now onto the misses. There is a lot of room for improvement at the resort.
Miss: Check-in Process
Our check-in process took 30 minutes. There was no line, that’s just how long it took at the front desk. Lots of paper shuffling and manual processing.
We booked two swim-up rooms for my family of five. There are only 8 swim-up rooms in the non-upgraded section of the resort, so I was confident that if our rooms weren’t next to each other they would be just down the hall. I emailed before our stay to request side-by-side rooms but never heard back. So, two days before our trip I called the resort with the same request. It was noted.
However, the employee at the front desk said no swim-up rooms were available at all and instead offered us two rooms that face the main pool. What?!? I was really looking forward to experiencing a swim-up room for the first time.
I kept pushing to get what we booked. Finally, they offered us one swim-up room and one upgraded suite in the same building on another floor. I was a bit bummed that we didn’t get the two rooms we booked. The ocean view from our suite upstairs was a small consolation.
Only one room was ready, so we proceeded to drop our luggage in that room. The front desk said they would call us in that room when our other room was ready to let us know the number. They never did. I called the front desk numerous times. Most of the time, nobody answered. When someone did answer, they didn’t know our second room number. I finally had to get the concierge employee from our building on the case. The entire process was frustrating.
Miss: Dinner Reservations
Guests at the Grand Palladium are required to have reservations for the dinner restaurants. We can’t make reservations until we have checked in at the resort.
Unfortunately, when we checked in, our options were very limited. For the first night, I was told that only the Indian restaurant was available. For the second night, the only time available was 10 p.m. I had a few more options for the third night, but not what we were hoping to get.
Our building concierge told me I could go to guest services and try to get better reservations because his security level only gave him so many options. After many phone calls, I finally got the Mexican restaurant for the first night, the steak restaurant for the second night at 7:00 (moved from 10 p.m.) and the Japanese restaurant (the non-hibachi side) for the final night.
While the food at all three restaurants was great, the entire process of getting the reservations was a pain.
Miss: Buffet Food
The resort has two buffet restaurants, and the food at both places was not very good. My family is used to buffets from our previous all-inclusive experience as well as on cruise ships, so we know that the food is never as good as in smaller restaurants. However, most of the meats were overcooked and dried out.
The only option for breakfast and lunch (besides room service) was the buffet, which is why it was so important for us to get those dinner reservations.
Miss: Resort Transportation
Since the resort is very large, it offers golf cart transportation and boat transportation (after 3 p.m.). During busy hours, it was very difficult to catch a golf cart ride. After spending time at the pool one day, we were hot and tired, so we waited at the golf cart stop. Several golf carts passed us without stopping. I had to get rather assertive and use my Spanish language skills to get us a ride. We could see other guests that were also frustrated with the transportation process.
Miss: The App
Grand Palladium has an app that lists hours for restaurants and the entertainment schedule. Nothing is on paper.
Don’t count on the app to be correct. Frequently, it was wrong. It said the teen club was open, but it never was. The app allowed me to make a reservation at the kids club, only to discover the kids club wasn’t using the app.
Miss: Security at Kids Club
The check-in and check-out at the kids club was a joke. There was one employee there when I checked my daughter in. I literally just had to write my name and phone number on a blank piece of paper. When I picked her up, I didn’t have to sign or verify anything. Thankfully, since my daughter is 10, I was ok with this laid-back approach. However, if my kids were younger, this would make me uncomfortable.
Miss: Overall Disorganization
In general, many aspects of the resort just seemed disorganized. For example, upon arriving we changed into our swimsuits and went into the beachfront pool. It was lovely and desserted. However, 10 minutes later an employee came up to us and said the pool was closed due to fecal contamination. We had interacted with the towel attendant and the bartender at the pool right before that, and they didn’t mention this at all. (I speak Spanish, so if they had said anything I would know). There were no signs indicating the pool was closed. Another guest walking by told us it’s been closed for two hours. Gross!
The concierge said there was a show in the theatre every night at 9:00. We went there on the second night at that time, and it was dark and empty. On the last night, the fireworks started going off in another location during the same time the theatre show was happening. Weird.
We asked at the coffee shop what time they opened in the morning. They said 8:00. My husband returned the next day at 8:15, and it wasn’t open. None of the employees knew when anything was happening. They always told us to look at the app. Ha!
The line to get a Covid test appointment was wonky. I went to the desk at the appointed time and waited 10 minutes, and nobody showed up. I gave up and returned the next day, only to spend 45 minutes in a line just to make an appointment for the Covid test. A family there during the same time took the Covid test but the resort lost the results. They ended up missing their flight.
Why We Won’t Return
It’s true that a bad day on vacation is still better than a good day at work. We enjoyed the beach, pools and celebrating the 4th of July at this resort.
However, the list of misses really adds up. And, since Cancun has so many resorts to choose from, there’s no reason to return to Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres. If or when we return to Cancun, I’d pick a smaller resort where dinner reservations are not required and the buffet food is better.
What is your favorite all-inclusive resort in the Cancun area?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.