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Excellence Riviera Cancun – A Comprehensive Review (2021)

Grade

4.1 out of 5 

Overview 

Excellence Riviera Cancun is a luxury adults-only resort located in the Riviera Maya area of Cancun. It hits the ball out of the park on the complete slate of elements we look for in a top-class all-inclusive resort. From the service to the food and the amenities on offer, this place is the perfect spot to unwind and relax.  

This is one of the Excellence chain of resorts, older locations and it was a little noticeable throughout the resort. The rooms have a more traditional design than some of the Excellence’s newer offerings and as a whole, it lacks as much of a luxury feel when compared to the Finest Playa Mujeres or the Beloved. This is an adults-only resort, so if you were planning on bringing the kids, you may need to think twice about this resort.  

When we stayed in late 2017, we were in an Excellence Club Junior suite and stayed for a week. At the time we got an all-inclusive package including flights and transfers for around $3,000 USD.  

Top Tips 

  • One of the daily activities that are on offer is a guided bike tour of the local area.  We were very keen to do this, but could never get a spot on the tour. There are only four bikes available to guests, so you need to show up super early to get a spot. We recommend going around an hour before the tour commences to get on the tour.
  • The Mile spa is really a top-class offering, but it does come at a premium price.  If you want to grab yourself a deal there are daily offers that are available. These are usually put up throughout the resort and be sure to ask in the spa if not. 
  • Before you arrive, try and request a room in building 1, it’s the shortest walking distance to all of the main areas. So if you like to be close to the hustle and bustle this is the option for you.
  • If you’re looking for the most secluded and quiet spot then we recommend asking for a room in building number 8. It has lovely sea views and is located in a small corner of the resort. 
  • The resort does its best to be environmentally friendly and tries not to offer plastic products, so make sure to bring a reusable straw if you like to use one.

Check-In

All Excellence resorts really pride themselves on their service and luxury and the Excellence Riviera Cancun is no different.  The check-in process is really a spectacular sight to be seen.  As you pull up to the hotel a bellhop will be on hand to take your bags. As you approach the doors they will automatically open. You will be greeted with a glass of bubbly and you’ll be checked in, in a matter of minutes. You’ll be escorted to your room and your bags will be with you momentarily. It’s a very smooth process.  

Check-in time is from 3 pm onwards, while check-out is at 12 pm. You can ask to extend this and when we stayed the staff was happy to facilitate a later check out as our flight was in the evening. 


Location

Located in the Riviera Maya region of Cancun. This is one of the Excellence hotel’s initial resorts. It’s between the areas of Playa Del Carmen and Cancun town. This is definitely a more remote location compared to the resorts in the Playa Mujeres location, so if you’re wanting to get out in the clubs of Cancun or do some shopping then this might not be the right location for you.  

Located a short 20-minute drive from the airport, it really is the perfect location for a secluded feeling holiday that is actually quite close to amenities.  The resort is right beside the beach town of Puerto Morelos. This is a lovely little beach town that doesn’t have the nightclubs and throngs of tourists that you will find in the main Cancun area.  It’s authentic Mexico and well worth a visit.  For more on things to do and see in Puerto Morelos, check out this great article by SheSaveSheTravel.com


Amenities 

The facilities available at the Excellence are really at an elevated level. The resort has everything you could imagine for a relaxing getaway. An extensive gym with a great range of equipment. Tennis courts, an area for beach volleyball, pool tables, ping pong tables. You name it and they have it. 

Pools 

There are six main pools in the resort and a number of jacuzzis dotted throughout as well. There are also a large number of rooms that have swim-up suites, so there are more than enough pool areas to more than cater to the guests in the resort. Only two of the pools are heated and these are only heated in the Winter. The beautiful Cancun weather takes care of the heating of the pools for the rest of the year. 

Day Activities 

The staff here at the Excellence Riviera Cancun put great effort into keeping the guests entertained with some genuinely interesting activities. From sushi-making, ping pong tournaments, Yoga overlooking the ocean, and karaoke these are some of the activities that are available.  The volume of activities on offer really takes this resort into the upper echelons of all-inclusive resorts in regards to keeping you entertained. 

Evening Entertainment 

Like most all-inclusive, there is a wide selection of evening shows and entertainment on offer. Things such as tribute acts, traditional Mexican performances, silent discos, and Karaoke are put on. Normally, the evening entertainment is not our cup of tea, but after a few drinks, we can get on board.  

Golf 

There are no golf courses in this resort, but there are a number of choices within a 30-minute drive. If you are really into your golf then your best option is the El Camaleón Mayakoba Golf Course. Located a 25-minute drive from the resort. 

This Greg Norman-designed course was the first course in Latin America to stage a PGA tour event and has a recurring event every October, so you know the course is legitimately good.  Be prepared to pay for the experience though. The resort is run by the Fairmont hotel company so you’re looking at a minimum of $200 around. 

If you are looking for a closer option then your best bet is the Moon Palace golf course which is located a 20-minute drive from the resort.  This 27 hole Jack Nicklaus designed course has varying challenges for all levels of the Golfer. Again this course is on the premium side and can cost up to $300 for around.  It can be difficult to get tee times here as a lot of guests of the resort get complimentary passes or have booked unlimited golf packages. 

If you are looking for a resort with a conveniently located course on the resort then we suggest you check out the Excellence Playa Mujeres resort. There is a golf course located right next to the resort.  For more on the Excellence Playa Mujeres, check out our review here 


Beach 

The beach area at the Excellence Riviera Cancun is really impressive, it’s a sprawling beach and there will be no issues getting a sun lounger here.  The sand was piercingly white and the ocean had turquoise colors to it. Although it was a little murky in parts. Due to the spread-out nature of the beach, this was our go-to spot for relaxing throughout the day. The bar service on the beach was on point and our drinks never reached the bottoms. 

There are a few drawbacks to this beach. Firstly, if you like swimming in the ocean, this isn’t the most ideal place to swim. As the water is pretty choppy. We didn’t really see anyone swimming in the ocean when we visited as it really was too choppy for a dip. 

The other downside to the beach is that the staff are constantly battling an accumulation of seaweed that washes ashore. It’s a thankless task and there is only going to be one winner in this battle, but all credit to the staff for doing everything they can to make the beach look pristine. 


Spa 

The Mile Spa is a solid offering.  The building itself is pretty stunning and the circuit of hydrotherapy waters is available to people booking treatments in the spa. 

There are daily specials that are offered on Spa treatments every day, so it’s worth checking these out as it makes the Spa a lot more affordable. 

If you’re not too fussed about the price of the treatments.  We would suggest booking before you go. We had issues getting an appointment when we visited.  We were lucky to get one for the end of the week. 


The Service  

The Excellence resorts are known for their impeccable service and the Riviera Cancun location is no different. The staff are genuinely friendly and do everything in their means to make your trip run as smoothly as possible. We also noticed that there was a large volume of staff working throughout the resort. So, you were never too far away from a member of staff that could help you out. 

From the bar staff, waiters at the restaurants and the poolside staff we really couldn’t fault any of them. By the end of day one, Jorge who was looking after us by the pool knew our routine of drinks order.  We started off with bloody marys in the morning and progressed our way through a variety of drinks throughout the day.  Like clockwork, the next day Jorge had the drinks queued up before we even had to ask. 


Cleanliness

The resort was impeccably clean. There were no empty drinks left sitting by the pool for too long.  We didn’t see any rubbish anywhere in the resort and on the occasion when a drink was spilled the staff was on hand to clean it up immediately. We really can’t fault the resort for its cleanliness.  

Our room was cleaned in the morning around 10.30 am each day and there was a further turndown service and quick room spruce up in the evenings.  The housekeeping team was super-efficient. They were in and out in 15 minutes and were very flexible if they needed to come back at a later time.  


Booking During COVID 

Although we stayed pre-COVID, as we mentioned the resort was exceptionally clean.  From what we have read from the reviews, Excellence has really stepped up its game in creating a clean and safe environment in these uncertain times. 

There are a range of precautions that the Excellence chain of resorts has put in place and if you would like to review these they can be found here.  


Price Range + Packages 

The Riviera Cancun resort is definitely on the more premium side for resorts in Cancun, but when you consider the quality of service, food, and the overall feeling of luxury that you get when you stay at this resort, it is well worth the premium. 

When you actually compare it to its sister hotels in Playa Mujeres you can actually look at this Excellence resort as being competitively priced.  On average the Riviera Cancun location comes in around 10-15% cheaper than the adults-only resorts in Playa Mujeres.  

What’s included in the all-inclusive package 

Included in your package are unlimited food and snacks, the majority of drinks (excluding some bottles of wine in the restaurants). Stocked Mini-bar with all of the goodies you could ever need.  Bottles of spirits are also included in your room. When we stayed there was tequila, rum, vodka and a bottle of red wine. 

There is also a large room service menu that is available 24/7, so if you ever get peckish you order in some grub.  

There is a lovely coffee shop on offer too where you can grab your morning pick me up. They serve the complete range of caffeine-infused delights as well as a range of freshly baked treats. 


Food + Restaurant Options 

Overall the food selection was wide and of good quality. If you have been to an Excellence resort before these restaurants will be familiar to you.  When choosing an all-inclusive resort I think the food is the most important element we look at. A Lot of these all-inclusive resorts aren’t located near towns and local restaurants, so you need the food to be good and the Excellence does not disappoint on the food.  

When you compare the volume of restaurants on offer to the capacity of the resort there are a very high amount of restaurants for its size. So, there will be no queueing for restaurants and bookings are relatively easy to get and the resort.

Ranking the Restaurants

1. Spice 

This was an easy choice, they really nailed this restaurant and this is a running theme throughout the Excellence resorts we have stayed at as the restaurants are the same. This Asian eatery serves up a huge range of your favorite Asian staples such as sushi, ramen, tempura, udon, and Pad Thai.  

The restaurant was aesthetically designed in a minimalist Japanese vibe and the food was really good quality.  It’s a must-try if you like Asian food and was our favorite restaurant on the resort.  We liked it so much we ate there three times over our ten-day stay. 

Also located in Spice is a Hibachi experience. This was a great night out, the food was delicious and the chefs were really entertaining and talented.  

2. Basmati 

Always one of our favorite restaurants when we visit Excellence resorts. The Indian food is actually legitimately good and quite authentic. We really enjoyed the butter chicken and the onion bhajis. The food was up there with some of the most authentic Indian eats we have had outside of India. 

3. Las Olas – Mexican

The food here was delicious, we have been to other Excellence resorts in Mexico where the local food was not done very well, so we were happy to see the Riviera Cancun resort bucking the trend. 

The atmosphere in Las Olas was also buzzing, which always adds to the experience. We made sure to try some of the dishes that we had never had before and found a gem of a dish with the Chilaxtle which is a braised pork in a chili sauce with rice.  The pork was so succulent and delicious. 

4. The Flavour Market

Tapas is one of our favourite types of cuisine, so Flavour market had a lot to live up to.  The food and the atmosphere at Flavour Market were very good. They nailed the traditional dishes of Patatas bravas, Octopus and meatballs. 

5. Chez Isabelle

A traditional French-style eatery serves up some really well-done dishes. The aesthetic of the restaurant is lovely with white linen tablecloths and beautifully chosen furniture. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. 

6. Oregano

We really liked the Italian offering here. It served up all of the traditional Italian dishes you would expect to see on the streets of Rome. Their wood fire Pizzas were very good and the seafood risotto was delicate and delicious.  

7. The Kitchen Table 

This is the main buffet at the resort and is most likely the restaurant that you will frequent the most. With a wide selection of choices and open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner you really can’t go wrong with this choice. 

The seating area is vast so there’ll never be any issue getting a table here and there is a nice outdoor eating area which is the perfect spot for an early morning breakfast.  The food on offer is basically an amalgamation of all of the other restaurants on the resort plus all of the typical buffet options such as an omelet and burger station.  

8. The Lobster House

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this was actually a place we frequented quite a bit for breakfast.  The location of this restaurant is really lovely.  Perched above the pool overlooking the ocean, this is a picturesque spot to grab a bite to eat.  If seafood is your thing then this is the restaurant for you.  

Although lobster is in the name of the restaurant we found that the lobster offering of the Lobster risotto and the grilled lobster was a little overcooked for our liking.  The breakfast and lunch options were nice and the perfect spot for a mid-tanning meal.  The Mahi Mahi Skewer on the lunch menu was top class.  

9. Agave 

This was slightly disappointing for us and seems to be a common trend throughout the Excellence chain of resorts that they miss on the local offerings. The decor and the style of the restaurant were very nice, we sat in an open courtyard that had a nice rustic feel about it. The Margaritas were definitely the highlight of this restaurant.  

The food was where the disappointment came. We ordered the Mole and the Buro Callejero and they were both bland and under seasoned.  The spicy red sauce that was described to be in the Buro Callejero has zero kick which was disappointing. The Mole was ok, but honestly, we felt like this was something that we could do a better job at in our kitchen and we are in no way chefs. 

10. The Grill

The main steakhouse in the resort was pretty underwhelmed by this offering. The burgers weren’t very nice and the cuts of steak that were being used weren’t of the highest quality. The staff here were very good and the service was seamless, but the food definitely was a letdown. 

11. The Sports Bar

This is the place to be if there is any game or sporting event. It has TVs all around the bar and has a nice selection of beers and bar food options.  The typical go-to’s for bar food such as Nachos, Burgers, and Tacos are available. 

Excellence Club Lounge 

When we visited we weren’t staying in the Excellence club, but we have stayed in some of the Excellence group’s resorts before as Excellence club members.  The club lounge is basically a private bar/restaurant area that is open all throughout the day. The food offering is lighter compared to a full sit-down meal, but it is a great place to grab a quick lunch or breakfast.  Also on offer is an extensive range of Alcohol,  including a number of premium liquors that aren’t available in the other bars.  Brands such as Grey Goose, Johnny Walker Black are available. 


Bars and Drinks Offering 

For us, at InspoVacay the drinks offering is a very important aspect of an all-inclusive. We like a drink and although food narrowly tips it as the most important thing to consider, the drinks offering is integral to our reviewal process. 

There is certainly no lack of bars on hand in this resort, so a cold drink will always be within reach. Add to that the drinks available in the mini bar in your rooms as well as the bottles available for your own consumption. It’s a really strong drink offering.

When we stayed there in the rooms there were 4 bottles of spirits.  A bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila, Captain Morgan’s Rum, Smirnoff Vodka, and a bottle of red wine.  If you stay in an Excellence Club room the bottles in your room are upgraded to premium spirits.  


Is The Excellence Club Worth It?

The Excellence club has a range of benefits that are included in your package. There are really only a handful of features that we see real benefit in. If you’re into premium spirits and liquors and plan on drinking a lot of these then the Excellence club might be worth it. 

With the Excellence club, you definitely do get a little more privacy. This comes in the form of private pool areas, a specific area on the beach,  some of the restaurants and bars are Excellence members only. While these areas won’t be completely private there are definitely a lot fewer people in these areas.  So, if you value privacy the Excellence club might be for you.  

On the flip side of that if you like to be in amongst the activity and mingling with other guests then the Excellence club may not be for you. Although as an Excellence club member you are more than welcome to use the communal pool areas and partake in the activities it might not warrant the extra cost if you aren’t using some of the amenities. 


Rooms Types

At Excellence resorts, there is a wide range of rooms on offer.  Honestly, this is something I don’t really like about the Excellence resorts there is too much choice. We at InspoVacay prefer a more condensed offering. 

When we stayed we were in Junior with a rooftop plunge pool.  Overall the room was nice if not a little bit dated. The room is spacious with a King-sized bed, living area, Jacuzzi, and a balcony. There is a second floor with a private deck and plunge pool. If you’re looking for privacy, this is the room type for you. When we visited the atmosphere was very quiet party orientated, so the main pool area was a little bit rowdy.  It was nice having our own private area where we could switch off and read a book. 

All of the rooms are more than large enough for two people, there is a large TV with all the US channels and the Wi-fi in our room when we stayed was very strong. 

Entertainment

The staff at the Excellence Riviera Cancun do everything they can to keep you entertained throughout your stay. There really is no reason to leave the resort if you don’t want to do excursions or visit some of the local towns. Throughout the day there was a slate of events on from table tennis tournaments to cooking classes there are an array of things to keep you occupied throughout the day.  

In the evenings the team at this resort put on entertainment, from themed nights such as Vegas and Mexican night to a silent disco and tribute acts there’s a lot on offer.  If you’ve ever been to an all-inclusive resort you know the drill.  The quality of the entertainment was quite good albeit that this element of all-inclusive isn’t really our vibe. 


Conclusion 

The Excellence Riviera Cancun is a strong offering. The service, the food, and the atmosphere around the resort were top quality. The location is more secluded, but it is well located if you want to do excursions like the Chichen Itza. The local town of Puerto Morelos is right next to the resort and definitely worth a visit. 

The standard and variety of food on offer was really top quality. Each night it felt like we were whisked off to a faraway location with some really solid eateries. The service was that of a 5-star resort and the staff were genuinely just friendly, which was great to see and made you feel so much more at ease.

The resort in general is a little older, so if you are looking for a resort with a modern aesthetic this probably isn’t the place for you. Having stayed in the slate of resorts that the Excellence group has in this region. The Excellence Riviera Cancun was around 10-15% cheaper compared to the Excellence Playa Mujeres resort, so if you are looking for a good value option with top quality service and food the Riviera Cancun resort is a strong choice.


FAQ’s

Q. Does the Excellence Riviera Cancun offer a shuttle service from the Airport 

A. Yes, a shuttle service from the airport can be requested. They do advise that you ring before your trip to check availability. Please be aware there is an extra cost for this service. 

Q. Is parking available at the resort 

A. Yes, parking is available for guest and it is complimentary.

Q. Is Wi-Fi included

A. Yes, Wi-Fi is included and is available throughout the resort. Whether we were at the pool, in the lobby, or in our room the Wi-Fi signal was pretty good. We could comfortably stream videos and make video calls without dropping. 

Q. What local attractions are there?

A. Riviera Cancun is located around 10 miles from the main Cancun party area, so if that is your vibe you can still get a Taxi out there.  There is a lot to be seen in this area of the world. There is a lot of heritage and history in this part of the world. The famous Chitzen Itza is just a few hours away and is well worth a visit.