One of the more visually stunning resorts to open its doors in the Playa Mujeres area is the beachfront Villa del Palmar Cancun (VDP). The VDP delights guests with its multitude of amenities, large updated suites, and unique architecture. The resort currently consists of three guest room sections shaped together like an inverted “U” with a large central courtyard area where a majority of amenities are located–VDP has plans to build two additional adjoining sections which will resemble the first and add on to the already impressive list of amenities (building began in February 2016 on the second section on the south side of the resort). VDP has a strong timeshare emphasis, so don’t be surprised by multiple invites to a 90-min. presentation.
There are several factors which make VDP unique in Cancun’s all-inclusive market:
- an outdoor spa hidden in the midst of a jungle-like setting with co-ed facilities
- the waterfall bridge which traverses one of the resort’s five pools
- large suites starting at 950 sq. feet
- suites include a washer and dryer
- kitchenettes or full kitchens in all guest rooms
- a separate Manager On Duty desk in the lobby
- several heated Jacuzzis
- two swing bars including a beach bar and poolside bar
So let’s start with the spa. Located in the central courtyard, the Village Spa isn’t just about massages, it advocates relaxation, physical healing, and inner balance through the use of natural herbs, balms, flower extracts, stones, and gems, all in the midst of a tranquil natural outdoor setting. The spa consists of nine palapa-covered treatment cabins, or Tikales, which are set in the midst of dense tropical foliage–two of these cabins are reserved for couples’ treatments. Guests are encouraged to come an hour before their scheduled appointment to enjoy the spa’s hydrotherapy circuit, or “wet areas”, complete with hot and warm Jacuzzis, a cold plunge pool, and steam room. Unlike many other spas in Cancun, wet areas are co-ed which necessitates the use of a bathing suit.
Along with its unique spa, VDP’s waterfall bridge attracts visitors looking for something a bit different in all-inclusive resort offerings. Not only is the bridge visually stunning with its use of rectangular amber columns, but it makes a great nighttime photo op when the columns are lit from within. The pool which surrounds it is family-friendly with easy access to ground floor guest rooms while loungers and shade umbrellas are fairly easy to get without getting up at the crack of dawn to “reserve” one. On either side of the waterfall bridge are two much smaller pools; one is adults-only while the other is shallow for children to use. There are two additional pools, one of which is the main pool with a large floral tile motif while the other is the beachfront infinity pool for Elite timeshare members only–this pool is easy to recognize since it is roped off and has a number of Bali beds with an ocean view. Jacuzzis are for all guests with several being heated; check out the starfish-shaped Jacuzzi with a center fire pit which sits adjacent to the infinity pool for evening socializing.
Perhaps the only disappointment guests may experience with the wonderfully designed outdoor space is the actual beach and ocean entry. Although the resort has made an effort to improve the sand quality, sea grass accumulates at water’s edge and is cleaned up twice daily making ocean entry and ocean swimming less desirable. The VDP does not have the Hotel Zone’s beach and water quality, and potential visitors need to adjust their expectations accordingly. For those who just can’t be without the quintessential Caribbean beach experience, the neighboring Punta Sam car and passenger ferry will transport vacationers to nearby Isla Mujeres, a must-see island with beautiful pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters. The ferry is only a five-minute beach walk to the north. For those who wish to remain onsite and take advantage of ocean-related activities, there are non-motorized water sports including paddle boards and kayaks; however, these can only be utilized by adult guests.
Many vacationers come to VDP for its comfortable and roomy suites which can easily accommodate larger families or groups. There are no less than 11 guest room categories ranging from Deluxe Garden View to extravagant three bedroom lofts and Penthouse/Master Residence Suites with balcony Jacuzzi and sweeping ocean views. Mahogany furniture along with a mixture of warm and cool color hues provide a soothing and relaxing space for everyone to enjoy at the end of the day. Families will like the suites not only for their roominess, but for the complete kitchens with stainless steel appliances, granite or travertine countertops, and the convenience of an en suite washer/dryer. Suites start at 950 sq. feet of living space, while standard garden view rooms are 538 sq. feet which is well above the sq. footage of most standard rooms in the Hotel Zone.
While VDP is a family-friendly resort, it tends to be more accommodating to families with younger children. The Kid’s Club is on the small side and has a limited number of activities and available hours (it is only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), while a dedicated teen space does not exist at this time. Since VDP is in a rather isolated location away from all the busyness of the Hotel Zone, older children will need to be adept at creating their own entertainment.
VDP is an all-inclusive optional resort, meaning that guests have the choice of a European or all-inclusive meal plan. The resort offers a certain amount of flexibility within the all-inclusive plan and does allow guests to use this plan for only part of their vacation. However, guests must book the all-inclusive portion for a minimum of three consecutive days, and all guests staying within the same room/party booked at the same time must be a part of that plan for the allotted time frame. This type of flexibility would work well for visitors interested in doing lengthy excursions for several consecutive days and planning on staying at the resort for the remainder of their vacation. Those who choose the optional all-inclusive meal plan will be happy to know that most of the resort and its amenities are included; higher-end food items like lobster, lamb, and fine cuts of beef in addition to some top-shelf liquors and bottles of wine/champagne/spirits are an extra charge. All guests are required to sign a receipt after a “purchase” (such as a drink at one of the bars) regardless of meal plan.
Type of Resort: Family-friendly, all-inclusive optional
Pro: Large rooms, unique spa, nearby ferry to Isla Mujeres, washer/dryer in suites
Con: Isolated location, beach, strong timeshare emphasis, infinity pool only for Elite timeshare members, no swim-up bar
Best Suited For: Families or groups traveling together who can entertain themselves, families with young children (ages 4-7), pool lovers
No. of Rooms: 415 (in the first completed section). The second section began construction Feb. 2016 which will add more rooms.
Room Amenities: King or two queen beds, A/C, balcony/terrace (most with hammock), armchair, microwave, dishes, bar sink, digital safe, mini-bar or full refrigerator, flat screen TV, telephone, ceiling fan, coffee maker, iron/ironing board, alarm clock radio, hair dryer, shower, tub, toiletries, and 24-hr. room service. WiFi is an extra cost for non-Residence suites. Here is a brief rundown of guest room categories:
- Deluxe Room: King or two queen beds, tub/shower combo. (This room category only has a microwave, not a full kitchen nor a washer/dryer). Garden or ocean view.
- One Bedroom Suite: King bed in separate bedroom, two full bathrooms (dbl sinks, Jacuzzi tub and separate shower in the master with a tub/shower combo in the second bathroom), dining room with seating for six, living room with Murphy bed, sofa, coffee table, iPod dock, two flat screen TV’s, washer/dryer, full kitchen with sink, stovetop, dishwasher, granite countertops, full size refrigerator, breakfast bar. Garden or ocean view.
- Two Bedroom Suite: Same amenities as the One Bedroom Suite in addition to a “lock-off unit” which includes a king or two queen beds, third full bathroom with tub/shower combo, and flat screen TV. Garden or ocean view.
(Luxury Residences Category): Residences include additional amenities such as private in-room check-in, free WiFi, additional balcony/terrace space, robes and slippers, welcome fruit basket and snacks, espresso coffee maker with six complimentary pods, in-room stationary, one bottle of wine, and assigned personal butler service. A full-time nanny or private chef are also available upon request and are an additional fee.
- One Bedroom Residence: King bed in separate bedroom, two full bathrooms (dbl sinks, Jacuzzi tub and separate shower in the master with a tub/shower combo in the second bathroom), dining room with seating for six, living room with Murphy bed, sofa, coffee table, iPod dock, two flat screen TV’s, washer/dryer, full kitchen with sink, stovetop, dishwasher, granite countertops, full size refrigerator, breakfast bar. Balconies are somewhat larger than those in the regular Suites category. Garden or ocean view.
- Two Bedroom Residence: Same amenities as the One Bedroom Residence in addition to a “lock-off unit” which includes a king or two queen beds, third full bathroom with tub/shower combo, and third flat screen TV. The lock-off unit has its own balcony/terrace with a small table and two chairs. Garden or ocean view.
- Two Bedroom Residential Loft: This room category is spread over two floors with the upper master bedroom open to the floor below. The first floor includes a full kitchen with sink, stovetop, dishwasher, full size refrigerator, travertine countertops, breakfast bar, washer/dryer, dining room with table and six chairs, living room with sofa, two armchairs, coffee table and flat screen TV, two full bathrooms, separate bedroom with king bed, steam room, and balcony with two full loungers, a small table and two chairs. The upper floor contains the master bedroom with hanging king bed, Jacuzzi tub, full bathroom with dbl sinks and separate shower. The floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the resort and ocean views.
- Three Bedroom Residential Loft: This suite has a very different look than the Two Bedroom Residential Loft despite the fact that both categories are spread over two floors. While the Two Bedroom Loft has the hanging bed in the only upstairs bedroom with plenty of room to spread out, the Three Bedroom Loft has its extra bedroom upstairs with a king bed. Both upstairs bedrooms have their own balconies with table and chairs, dbl sinks in the bathrooms, and a Jacuzzi tub in each room. The downstairs area has all the amenities that the Two Bedroom Loft has including the steam room. The downstairs balcony includes a hammock and table and chairs. Ocean view.
- Two Bedroom Master Residence: Two separate bedrooms both with king bed, flat screen TV, and dbl sinks. While both bedrooms have a Jacuzzi tub, there is only one steam room. Both bedrooms also have their own small balcony space. This room category includes a half bath, full kitchen with travertine countertops, dishwasher, full refrigerator, and stovetop set into a separate island as well as a washer/dryer. The dining space includes a table and six chairs, while the living room has a sofa, two armchairs, coffee table, and Murphy bed. This room category offers very large balcony/terrace areas with Jacuzzi, full loungers, and table and chairs. Ocean view.
- Three Bedroom Master Residence: Three separate bedrooms with two master suites; each of the master suites has a king bed, Jacuzzi tub, and dbl sinks. The third bedroom has two queen beds and a tub/shower combo, while a fourth bathroom is just off the foyer. This room category includes a full kitchen with travertine countertops, dishwasher, full refrigerator, washer/dryer, and stovetop set into a separate island. The dining space includes a table and six chairs, while the living room has a sofa, two armchairs, coffee table, and Murphy bed. The large balcony has three full loungers, several tables and chairs, and a Jacuzzi with ocean view.
- Two Bedroom Penthouse: Two separate bedrooms both with king bed, flat screen TV, dbl sinks, and Jacuzzi tub; only one has a steam room. The kitchen, dining, and living room spaces separate the two bedroom areas with a sofabed, armchairs, coffee table, flat screen TV, dining table and six chairs, and full kitchen with travertine countertops, dishwasher, full refrigerator, stovetop, breakfast bar, and washer/dryer. There is a third full bathroom off the entryway. The real attraction of the penthouse room categories is its oversized, wrap-around balcony with four full loungers, a large outdoor sectional sofa with shade, table and chairs, hammock, bar area, and Jacuzzi. Ocean view.
- Three Bedroom Penthouse: Three separate bedrooms, two of which have a king bed, dbl sinks, and Jacuzzi tub (there is only one steam room in the master bedroom). The third bedroom has two queen beds and a tub/shower combo, while a fourth bathroom is just off the entryway. This room category includes a full kitchen with travertine countertops, full refrigerator, dishwasher, stovetop, and washer/dryer. The dining area includes a table and eight chairs, while the adjoining living room has a sofabed, loveseat, armchair, coffee table, and flat screen TV. Just like the Two Bedroom Penthouse, the wrap-around balcony is huge and includes several full loungers, a large outdoor sectional sofa with shade, fire pit, barbeque, and Jacuzzi. Ocean view.
Physically Challenged Rooms: Available
Resort Amenities: Five pools (main, waterfall bridge, small adults-only, small children-only, and the infinity pool for Elite members–no swim-up bar in any), four Jacuzzis (some heated), spa, fitness center, non-motorized water sports for age 18+, Kid’s Club, fire pits, pool and beach wait service, beachfront massage tables, pottery painting, complimentary use of lobby computer, small grocery/convenience store, concierge, Manager On Duty lobby desk, tour desk, gift shop, car/limousine rental, laundry service, ATM. The resort is also within a ten-minute drive to Playa Mujeres Golf Club course designed by Greg Norman, and a five-minute beach walk to Punta Sam ferry which goes to Isla Mujeres.
Restaurants/Bars: Caprichos is the sole buffet restaurant but it does not serve lunch; Zama is the only restaurant which does. There are four a la carte restaurants including a steakhouse (La Casona), Mexican (Zama–no A/C), Mediterranean (Davino), and Japanese (Hiroshi, no teppanyaki show tables). Reservations are not necessary at the a la cartes. Snacks are available at The Bite Bar and the Tiki Bar. There are six bars including the lobby bar, pool bar with swings, beach bar with swings, and three restaurant bars (La Casona, Davino, and Zama). Check the website for restaurant closures.
Entertainment: Evening shows are primarily held at Caprichos; there are live music venues throughout the resort.