There are some Cancun resorts that can cost you $1,000 or more per night, but if you’re looking for a beach getaway vacation that won’t max out your credit card, you might want to check into Emporio Cancun Hotel & Suites instead. You’re right on the same beach and have a couple pools to lounge around next to, but the rates come in less than what you’d probably spend in, say, Florida.
Emporio is a small Mexican chain of hotels with eight locations, from Ixtapa to Mexico City to here in Cancun. So much of the year they get a largely domestic clientele, while in late December through March there are more Americans and Canadians. The good part of this is the food is not watered down for unadventurous tourists and you can get some real spice.
The most underwhelming part of the resort is the cramped and beat-up lobby, which is an overworked check-in station that looks like it was built for a hotel a quarter this one’s size. There’s a bit of chock-a-block feel that extends out from there too. In come spots you’ll walk over four different styles of floor tiles within a few paces. Thankfully the rooms and pool areas are a different story though and the poor first impression doesn’t last once you get to where you’ll be sleeping.
The design here follows the tried and true beach resort style, with rooms around a central pool area that leads out to the beach. A board posts the daily activities at the spot where you get your towels, like beach volleyball, water aerobics, or “lazy game.” I didn’t ask what that one was…
One free-form pool is for families, with a water slide and a mini pirate ship to climb on, while the other is more sedate and long enough that I saw some people swimming laps. Chairs are also set up at the beach for guests.
The resort was only half full when I was there so there were plenty of lounge chairs. It could get a little cramped at full capacity, though the oceanfront suites have a different pool to take some pressure off.
There are two bars on site: one on the beach and another right in the middle between two pools, in front of the main restaurant. There is an all-inclusive plan option here, which impacts what’s on offer behind the bar: don’t expect a stellar collection of top-shelf liquor like you would find at the Cancun luxury resorts on this strip. But if you stick to tequila, rum, and beer you’ll be fine.
The main restaurant is a circular thatched-roof affair with netting to keep out the hungry birds. The breakfast buffet is the highlight, with plenty of Mexican hot dishes, standard international ones, fresh fruit, and an array of pastries. Those pastries come out of the oven with a ring of a bell and a cry of “pan caliente” that then comes around to the tables via a waiter with a basket.
Lunch and dinner are also served here, but for the latter there’s also an Italian restaurant that’s air-conditioned when you want to switch it up.
There are a few other options on the main hotel zone road if you’re not on an all-inclusive plan, but note that Emporio Cancun is at the far southern end of the zone. That’s great for getting to and from the airport, but it’s at the opposite end of the area where most of the independent bars, nightclubs, and restaurants are situated if that’s your thing. On the plus side, there are two convenience stores within walking distance for stocking up your mini fridge.
The renovated guest rooms are the best reason to stay at Emporio Cancun Hotel. I was frankly shocked to find how nice mine was after the lobby, hallway, and elevator I went through first to get to it. It was spacious, well-equipped, tastefully decorated, and made me feel welcome with a big “Bienvenido” and a dolphin in colored rice on the bedspread.
I had a furnished balcony with a table, four cushioned chairs, and a lounge chair. Then inside were a good number of outlets, a cable TV, fast WiFi, a mini fridge, coffee maker, safe, and sofa bed. The lighting is well-designed, including adjustable reading lights.
A glass wall separates the big tub from the bedroom, presumably so you can look out at the sky or your partner since you can’t see the ocean from there. There’s a separate shower, a range of toiletries (including toothpaste and shaving cream), a makeup mirror, and nice towels.
During my visit in October, the oceanfront was a mess as they were renovating all the oceanfront suites, adding a pool, and upgrading a restaurant. All of that construction work, which they were smartly doing in the off season when hurricanes can blow through, should be done now as the high season kicks in.
There are nine suites that are directly facing the water, then another eight one row back that look over the tops of the first ones and are still looking out at the ocean. The rest are in an inverted U shape, with the upper floors having a line of sight to the sea.
While the Emporio Cancun Hotel & Suites is not going to blow you away, the rooms are well-equipped and this is one of the best values on the beach, whether you just get the room or take the all-inclusive plan.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted by the Cancun Hotel Association while attending a conference in the city.