Onsite Review: Double the Charm in Cancun

JW Marriott Cancun REsort & Spa daybed
Balinese-inspired daybeds at JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa (photo courtesy: Luisana Suegart).

Cancun is just a quick jaunt from many North American cities, drawing plenty of travelers looking for a beachside getaway, and with plenty of hotel options for whiling away sun-filled afternoons. So how can your clients determine which of the many hotels in Cancun’s Hotel Zone is the perfect fit? We found one property—well, two actually—that offers guests twice the perks when it comes to amenities with double the poolside action, spas, restaurants and beachside fun. Over the course of a long weekend, Recommend discovered the best that Marriott’s two connecting properties—JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa and CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort—have to offer.

a cancun duo

“Although each property offers a distinctive experience, guests benefit from having shared amenities at their fingertips with signing privileges at both resorts, where they are guaranteed world-class service and a reliable product,” says Sharon Dayan, director of sales and marketing for both properties.

The properties appeal to “the leisure traveler who wants to have that authentic, beachfront vacation experience. Our hotels are located in the heart of the Hotel Zone, a short drive from the airport and nearby local attractions and nightlife, but still provide a quiet, relaxing escape, and on one of the world’s brightest blue beaches,” she adds.

Both properties appeal to “families, couples (especially honeymooners), solo travelers, girls getaways…[travelers] who want to have the real vacation experience with everything you need on property, like six specialty restaurants, an expansive spa at the JW Marriott, an outstanding kids’ club program located at CasaMagna and much more,” Dayan says.

child-friendly casamagna marriott
The 450-room CasaMagna Marriott, which has been named Cancun’s best AAA four-diamond hotel since 1993, has a laid-back feel that’s more family-oriented than the JW Marriott. The kids’ club offers activities such as piñata making and sandcastle contests, and has recently been updated with new equipment and an open-air game area with a covered section (protecting against UV rays). The resort also has 24/7 babysitting services if parents want some alone time to dine at one of the five specialty restaurants.

Speaking of restaurants, one of our favorite dining spots was Sasi Thai Cancun, an open-air restaurant with thatched roofs that serves a killer lychee martini and delicious Thai dishes, like the Ob Cha Kiew, green tea-smoked salmon with jasmine rice.

We started our stay in Cancun in an Ocean View room at CasaMagna with a private balcony overlooking the beach and pool area. While the hotel seems massive, it’s easy to get around to the restaurants and the ocean, where your clients can relax in one of the new beachfront palapas. They can also enjoy a spa treatment on the beach or at the hotel’s spa, with five treatment rooms.

beachside retreat at jw marriott
During the second half of our stay, we cozied up in an Ocean View room at JW Marriott Cancun. In fact, all of the rooms at the JW Marriott have a private balcony or terrace facing the ocean, so no matter where your client ends up, they’ll have a room with a view.

The 448-room hotel is also the only JW Marriott in the world that has AAA five-diamond status, and it exudes a more luxurious feel than CasaMagna. In the evenings, a lounge singer serenaded the crowd at the bar in the recently renovated lobby decked out with marble columns and floors. Just outside, guests can hop into one of three free-form pools with eight new Balinese-inspired poolside daybeds and four palapas, where your clients can spread out and order cocktails and lunch fare, or a cerveza and oysters like we did.

While the pool is relaxing enough, the 17 Mayan-inspired treatment room spa, which just received a $350,000 renovation, is an even more enticing option at the hotel and incorporates the region’s ancient culture into its treatments. After a few days of trekking around Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen and Tulum, we stopped by the spa to try out the 50-minute blend massage combining Shiatsu, Thai, Swedish, deep tissue and more with aromatherapy oils in a treatment room overlooking the spa’s indoor heated lap pool. Let’s just say, we found Nirvana. If your clients book a treatment, they’ll also have access to the pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.

Rates at CasaMagna Marriott Cancun start at $169 for a Garden View room and $219 for a Premier Ocean View room; rates at JW Marriott Cancun start at $219 for Ocean View and $249 for Premier Ocean View rooms.

getting there
The resorts are located about 15 minutes from the Cancun International Airport, which has direct daily service from many cities in the U.S. and Canada on airlines such as Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Spirit and United.

day tripping in cancun
While being in Cancun is already a tropical getaway, your clients can also go island-hopping to Isla Mujeres, just a quick ferry ride from downtown Cancun. Once on the island, travelers can opt to do as much or as little as they want, lounging on the white-sand beaches, strolling through the street-side stands among local vendors, or venturing off for a beachfront meal. We drove around the island and stopped at Playa Lancheros for a taste of the local Mayan specialty—Yucatecan Tikin Xik, a whole fish cooked in banana leaves. Of course, there is also Playa del Carmen, located about an hour away from the resorts. The pedestrian-friendly streets are great for strolling around the one-time fishing town that is now a hotbed of shopping, nightlife and beach clubs. We recommend a stop at Mi Pueblo for lunch with open-air tables and classic Mexican cuisine located off of La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) in downtown.

contact information
CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort: (800) 900-8800; casamagnacancun.com
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa: (800) 900-8800; jwmarriottcancun.com or travelagents.marriott.com/travelagents/signin.mi