My wife and 2 daughters, 4 and 6, were staying in Cancun at a hotel in the hotel zone, but a storm brought a ton of seaweed onto the beach, so we decided to go to the island for a night (we had never been, although had been to Cancun a number of times). We found the Ixchel Beach Hotel by reading tripadvisor's reviews, made a booking and headed for the island. Notwithstanding that we were going to be paying for 2 hotels, we wanted a great beach, beautiful ocean and peace and quiet in a tropical paradise. Well, we ALMOST found it, but it saddens me to say that we probably wont go back to Ixchel, notwithstanding its great attributes.
First let me give you the positive's: We stayed in a one bedroom suite in Ixchel II, room 310, which is labeled as "ocean front" and, let me tell you, it really is nearly "ocean front" due to the massive beach erosion. At any hotel that we go to, I always tip extra to get the closet rooms to the ocean, and this is by far the closest that we have ever been! The suite was fantastic, clean, tastefully furnished, a well stocked little kitchen, a great bathroom and walk in shower with good water pressure (with a window overlooking the ocean), a great sized bedroom and generally all of the creature comforts of home. There were so many thoughtful touches--triple pane sliding doors that slide into one another and open almost all the way, the lions, swans, and other creatures into which towels were folded each day, the fully inflated pool float and cooler in the entrance hall closet, 25 gallon bottled water dispenser--right down to the coasters on just about every surface in the rooms. But the best part was the enormous wrap around balcony with amazing views of the most beautiful turquoise, azure water that I have ever seen, which changes colors depending on the time of day and wind direction. The hotel staff was fantastic in just about every respect, and any request that we made was implemented almost immediately--from extra towels, extra coffee, 3pm checkout, to an extra float for the kids. The water is calm and shallow, exactly what we were looking for because of the 4 and 6 year old, and you could walk out into the ocean for at least 150 yards. We would just lay out and float/swim for ages in the clearest of clear, stunning water. The hotel is so close and accessible to the downtown area, which was also a pleasure and although we had left our stroller at our hotel in Cancun, our girls had no problem with the walk from the hotel to the end of town and back each night.
Now let me give you the negatives: The beds are rock hard--I am sure that you could bounce a quarter off of them--as are the foam pillows, especially as we are used to down pillows. That we could have overlooked, and if we ever came back, would ship one of those foam toppers and a couple of pillows ahead of time to the hotel. But the one thing that just killed it for us was the overcrowding--not from the hotel guests, but from the other tourists/locals on the beach. As mentioned, we were just looking for a vacation where we could relax, enjoy a great beach vacation and some peace and quiet, and were quite prepared to go back to Cancun, pack up and move to Ixchel. Because of the significant beach erosion, there is only a strip of beach perhaps 30-40 foot wide by 20 feet deep in front of the hotel. The beaches immediately adjacent to the hotel are public, and were "standing room only." We were told that the "blue chairs and beige umbrellas directly in front of the hotel were for the hotel guests," so when we checked in, I thought no problem, we would still have our slice of nirvana, notwithstanding the overcrowding to our left. However, what they failed to mention, was that the bar directly in front of the hotel also rents out the hotels chairs and umbrellas and splits the money with the hotel. The result is that they pack the beach chairs 2" from each other, and we had people on top of us all the time, which just killed it for my wife and I as well as the other gusts at the hotel with whom we spoke. As a result, we were the only hotel gusts on the beach (identified by the blue towels)--the others opted to sit at the pool, which we all agreed was such a waste with the most beautiful ocean right in front of you. On the second day, I woke up early to go and put our towels out to ensure we had chairs, but when we went up to our room for lunch, the bar folks had rented out our chairs, even though we had left our towels, beach bag etc on them, and spent 30 minutes trying to track down the renters and convince them to move. I wish I would have taken photos of the overcrowded condition s to upload for all to see, but just didn't want to remember the island experience that way. What boggles the mind, is that the owner(s) of the hotel would take such a short sighted view of the world by allowing the bar to rent out the hotel's chairs and umbrellas. The Ixchel condos to the right have Raphael "guarding" the privacy of the condo owner's section, which is reserved only for those folks (identified by green towels). For a few dollars a day that they must have received from the hotel chairs they rented, they didn't get the $2,000 or so that I would have HAPPILY spent staying the extra week, which we initially thought to do (after 2 nights we just went back to our hotel in Cancun), lost me and some of the other gusts we spoke to as repeat customers, and, most importantly, the word of mouth experience, which in today's digital age, is so powerful. We loved the hotel, location, island etc to such an extent, that we in initially thought about doing a 2 week stay at the end of the year, but the overcrowding killed that idea when we actually experienced the beach. When I spoke to the manager about it, all she could tell me that she didn't make the rules. Oh well. The other negative is that it seems that the bar aims it huge speaker directly at the hotel's section of the beach, and then cranks it up all the way--so if you want any quiet, without blaring music, this is not the place to be (absent your noise canceling headphones)!
We may have just mistimed this vacation, as we found out that Mexican school vacations are 6 weeks--July until mid August-- and definitely wont do that again. Overall, loved the hotel suite and staff, loved the ocean, fell in love with the island and the people, but just don't think that I could bring myself to spend $4-$5,000 on a vacation and not be able to enjoy hanging out on the beach. I did tell the manager to keep my details, and if they ever changed their policy, I would definitely be back again, and again, and again. Perhaps, if enough people out there raise the issue, the policy will change, and this truly will be a little slice of paradise.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Among the best hotels in Isla Mujeres, visit Ixchel Beach Hotel, a two wing, two phase condotel complex with 117 rooms in Isla Mujeres. East Wing (Phase One) with 48 rooms, 5 stories and opened in June 2006; West Wing (Phase Two) with 69 rooms, 6 stories and opened in August 2007. Both properties (see Accomodation Remark below) are designed in Mexican casual and modern stylish buildings located at the beautiful North Beach on the colorful island of Isla Mujeres (Women Island).Ixchel for the Mayans was the Goddess of love, fertility and the moon. Walking a few steps from downtown of this friendly island and facing the most beautiful white sand & powder touch beaches of Isla Mujeres, in the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mexican Caribbean, our Isla Mujeres hotel offers warm personable service in an upscale, intimate island experience perfect for families and romantics.If you want a great escape to a Isla Mujeres hotel, our hotel is ideal for the relaxing weekend getaway or a romantic honeymoon retreat. Treat yourself to all of the luxury that our Ixchel Hotel in Isla Mujeres has to offer and enjoy the surrounding areas, activities and beauty.Premier in Isla Mujeres hotels, the Ixchel Beach Hotel offers luxurious amenities, outstanding service and a tranquil atmosphere to completely relax and enjoy your Mexican vacation. You won't find a more beautiful or more convenient location to soak in the sun and experience this amazing island of Isla Mujeres.If you are looking among hotels in Isla Mujeres, look no further than the Ixchel Beach Hotel. You won't be disappointed. You, the guest, are our number one priority and your comfort and enjoyment during your vacations in Mexico and lodging experience are our primary concern. We will do everything we can to make your stay nothing short of spectacular. ... more less
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