Holiday Inn Cancun Arenas is a budget-friendly, all-inclusive optional resort located at the northwestern edge of the top of the “7” in the Hotel Zone–close to downtown Cancun but far from major clubs, restaurants, and malls. Luckily, it is on the bus route with transportation opportunities available every two to five minutes. The hotel’s exterior has a Mediterranean look with its white walls and large window panes, while the lobby interior has high ceilings, tile floors, several nice chandeliers, but lacks adequate seating. While the check-in area is not a place one would want to linger, there are more seating opportunities and a lobby bar further off to the left of the front desk. Checking in or out can take some time, so bring your patience.
While some of Cancun’s most calm, swimmable ocean areas are on the upper part of the “7”, the one at this Holiday Inn is not amongst that group due to sea grass accumulation and the nearby Marina which can negatively affect water quality. While tide and weather conditions certainly allow guests to swim at this location, some days in the water are better than others–on good days, be sure to swim out to the water trampoline. On other days, try the complimentary kayaks. Although the beach is not wide or long, it does have soft white sand and some trees and palms which provide natural shade. The resort also provides a few scattered Bali beds and loungers on the beach along with palapas and a young child’s play area (ages 1-3).
Not a beach lover? The Holiday Inn Cancun Arenas has two pools and a shallow children’s section to enjoy. While the pools are small, there is easy access to a poolside bar and lunch/snack area (there is no swim-up bar, however). There are loungers at both pools along with shade umbrellas, but when the resort is at capacity, getting a seat can be a problem. On select evenings there are family-friendly movie showings on the poolside wall.
This is a small resort with 209 guest rooms and suites; suites are large and include a kitchenette with full refrigerator, separate seating area with sofa bed, and plenty of room to move about. While room décor is bright and airy with white walls and burnt sienna, green, or blue accents, bathrooms need a renovation. All guest rooms include a coffee maker and digital safe, but mini-bars are not a standard amenity. Certainly a pleasant surprise at a budget-friendly resort like this one is complimentary room service from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the all-inclusive meal plan.
Since this is an all-inclusive optional resort, dining choices are limited. There is one buffet and one Italian a la carte which needs a reservation; guests also have the option of seeing a dinner show (buffet dinner with open bar and a show for an extra fee) which also requires a reservation. The poolside snack bar serves typical American luncheon fare and snacks. While there are no additional restaurants nearby, there is a convenience store located adjacent to the resort making it incredibly easy for guests to purchase their own snacks, soda, bottled water, or liquor to store in their room.
Although this hotel is small for Cancun’s standards, it does make a valiant attempt to provide a resort-type atmosphere for guests’ enjoyment at a rock bottom price (for an all-inclusive). It is popular with Mexican families or couples and singles looking for a home base while on excursions. Guests looking for a typical Holiday Inn experience may be disappointed–this resort needs some renovations.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly, all-inclusive optional
Pro: Very budget-friendly, close to downtown Cancun, free WiFi, large suites
Con: Ocean water quality and lots of sea grass, small pools, no mini-bar/spa/swim-up bar
Best Suited For: Families with young children, couples and singles looking for a place to stay when they are not doing excursions.
No. of Rooms: 209
Room Amenities: King or two dbl beds, A/C, balcony/terrace (balconies have a solid wall which blocks some of the view), digital safe, flat screen TV, desk and chair, armchair, telephone, radio alarm clock, coffee maker, iron/ironing board, hair dryer, shower only, toiletries, complimentary WiFi, and room service from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Standard: King or two dbl beds. Street, resort, or ocean view.
- Suite: King or two dbl beds, kitchenette with microwave, full refrigerator, and bar sink, separate sitting area with sofa bed. Street, resort, or ocean view.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Two pools plus a separate children’s section (no swim-up bar), outdoor massage area with ocean view, fitness center, non-motorized water sports, Marina next door, water trampoline, Kid’s Club (ages 4-12), small beachfront playground for ages 1-3, beach Bali beds, self-service washer and dryer ($), movies at night on occasion, complimentary WiFi, concierge, gift shop, tour desk, and car rental.
Restaurants/Bars: There is one buffet restaurant (Arenas), one Italian a la carte (Diletto), and a dinner show which is an extra cost. Reservations are required for the Italian a la carte and dinner show. There is also a poolside snack bar for snacks and light lunches. There is a lobby bar, a poolside bar, a dinner show bar, but no swim-up bar at this location.
Entertainment: Dinner show, daytime activities.