Amazing All-Inclusive Adults-Only Resort: Excellence Riviera Cancun, Mexico

Over the past 25 years, I’ve stayed at more than 20 all-inclusive, oceanfront resorts, mainly in Mexico. I find these luxury, tropical properties ideal for laid-back warm-weather vacations — where swaying palm trees, toes in the sand, frothy drinks, poolside entertainment, and hammock naps take center stage. 

When my children were young we booked family-friendly properties with kids’ clubs and plenty of buffet options. Now, as empty nesters, my husband and I seek all-inclusive stays in a romantic setting with top-notch, a-la-carte dining experiences. 

Palm trees and foliage in front of a hacienda-style building at Excellence Riviera Cancun.

After a three-night stay at Excellence Riviera Cancun, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, I can confidently say this adults-only, hacienda-style property more than fits the bill for an adults-only getaway.

Here are just a few reasons why I highly recommend an escape to Excellence Riviera Cancun — especially with an upgrade to one of its premier Excellence Club suites.

The Resort Is Close to the Cancun Airport

White hacienda-style hotel building and turquoise pool with blue sky at Excellence Riviera Cancun.

I’ve stayed at all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya — which stretches along the coast from Puerto Morelos to beyond Tulum — that require an 80-minute transfer from Cancun International Airport

The all-suite Excellence Riviera Cancun, on the other hand, is a short 18-minute shuttle ride. All the better to get your beach vacation started ASAP.

Tip: Book your airport transfer before your arrival and avoid the gauntlet of time-share representatives offering taxi rides once you exit immigration and customs. (They will likely offer you a free ride to your hotel but require you to tour their property first. Just say no.) Excellence Riviera Cancun offers reserved private transfers; you can find cheaper prices with other shuttle companies online.

Excellence Club Benefits Begin at Check-In

Black and white tile floor with fern trees and vaulted ceiling in a lounge setting at Excellence Riviera Cancun.

On arrival at the 440-room Excellence Riviera Cancun, my husband and I were whisked into a private VIP check-in area because we were booked in an upgraded Excellence Club suite. We sat down with a glass of bubbly in an air-conditioned lounge to complete our check-in and get the scoop on the resort’s dining options, activities, and amenities.

This staffed lounge is where we could also ask questions of dedicated Excellence Club concierges. There was also a buffet table of freshly made snacks, like cookies and finger sandwiches available to nosh on throughout the day and into the evening. 

Adjacent to the VIP lounge is Magna restaurant, available exclusively to Excellence Club guests (more on that below), with a bar that’s open afternoons and evenings. I found a wine brand I liked here that wasn’t served at any of the main resort bars, so the sophisticated spot became my go-to spot for a drink before dinner or a nightcap.

Extra Amenities Are Included with Excellence Club Suites

Hotel room deck with cabana bed in front of a turquoise pool with blue sky at Excellence Riviera Cancun.Our 668-square-foot Excellence Club Ocean View Junior Swim-Up Suite was steps from the beach, with a terrace and our own shaded cabana bed directly in front of a freeform pool exclusively for Excellence Club guests. We loved this easy pool access, in part because we could relax on our cabana bed where staff would swing by regularly asking for our drink order. So luxurious! 

Similarly, a private area of the beach is roped off for Excellence Club guests with plentiful lounge chairs under thatched umbrellas. The beachfront here is lengthy; I spent a couple of mornings walking up and down the sand, admiring the turquoise Caribbean Sea and checking out neighboring beachfront resorts.

Excellence Club in-room upgrades include Bvlgari bath products, full bottles of premium liquor and wine (plus soda, juice, and water also found in standard rooms), and extra mini-fridge snacks — all included in the room rate. 

The Complimentary Spa Hydrotherapy Was Phenomenal

Round pool with water sprays at Excellence Riviera Cancun open-air spa.

A spa aficionado, I was delighted to learn that a stint in the resort spa’s hydrotherapy facilities was included in our Excellence Club stay.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our 45-minute treatment in the spacious, open-air Millé Spa. With bathing suits on, we were guided through a shower, steam, scrub, and another shower before spending a few minutes each in various water sprays in a warm pool, each designed to massage a specific part of the body. A cold plunge, sauna, and scalp massage rounded out the soothing service.

Resort Dining Options Are Varied — and Quite Good

Elegant restaurant with wooden floors and brick wall at Excellence Riviera Cancun.Dining at all-inclusive resort restaurants has come a long way since my first all-inclusive Mexico vacation in 1998. I was envious of guests who were at Excellence Riviera Cancun for a week, simply because they’d have more time to sample all of the resort’s restaurants.

A la carte eateries focus on different international cuisines, including Mexican, Indian, French (pictured above), and Asian. There’s also a food truck, a coffee shop with yummy pastries and grab-and-go sandwiches, and a snack grill — all included.

We ate at the sole buffet restaurant twice for breakfast, and it was the most expansive array of delicious food I’ve seen at any all-inclusive resort. Stations included not only your standard omelets, pancakes, bacon and sausage, fruit, yogurt, and pastries, but also Mediterranean salads, roasted vegetables, sushi, and every oatmeal topping you could wish for. Plus, a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar — fabulous!

My favorite meal was at Magna, the restaurant available exclusively to Excellence Club guests. The menu included items like foie gras, shrimp risotto, beef short ribs, and molten chocolate cake. Another favorite meal took place at Basmati, the Indian restaurant, where my husband and I dined on fabulous naan, samosas, chicken tikka masala, and chicken korma.

I’d say the only disappointment with eating at Excellence Riviera Cancun was the lunchtime menus. They weren’t nearly as inspiring as those at breakfast and dinner. My husband had cold nachos and shoestring fries at the beachfront Las Olas restaurant. (Notably, his coconut shrimp and lobster thermador at a Lobster House dinner were also not hot, with the caveat that he likes his meals served especially toasty.)

The Bottom Line

Palm trees around a pool in front of the beach with sunset at Excellence Riviera CancunFor a laid-back adults-only, all-inclusive Mexico beach vacation, you can’t go wrong with Excellence Riviera Cancun. I highly recommend the upgrade to an Excellence Club suite for the extra VIP perks.

One note on the Excellence Club pool access: From our suite (#8057) the step down to the pool was unusually steep. I had to hoist myself in and out of the pool — thankfully with the help of a handrail — when I wanted to access it from our room (or otherwise slide in on my butt or walk around the pool to access the larger, less steep steps with handrail). 

Some of the other resort inclusions I haven’t mentioned are nightly live music and entertainment, an on-site tour desk to help plan off-site excursions, a huge fitness center, complimentary non-motorized watersports like use of kayaks, SUPs, and snorkel gear, and a plethora of planned daytime group activities, ranging from beach volleyball to Spanish lessons to bingo. Besides the Excellence Club pool outside our suite, the resort has five other pools to swim in, including one with a swim-up bar that’s a hotbed for activity.

Rates at the all-suite Excellence Riviera Cancun vary seasonally. Current stated pricing on the resort website shows that the least expensive standard suites start at $557, while Excellence Club suites start at $647 per night.  However, those prices may be lower if you book ahead, consider a summer vacation when temperatures are typically quite steamy in the Cancun area, or book through an online booking site such as Expedia or Hotels.com

Hotel review and photos by Colorado-based travel writer Kara Williams. Excellence Riviera Cancun hosted her three-night stay. As always, all thoughts and opinions are her own.

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