It’s hard to believe that work can be conducted at an all-inclusive resort, but it can. The AAA Four Diamond Award-winning Moon Palace Cancun happened to be the location of the annual travel writing conference I attend called TBEX. And, well, bottomless food, drinks, and fun led to a surprising amount of productivity, even in a Cancun hotel where the pretty beach and other amenities are ripe for distraction.
I can also see Moon Palace as a popular choice for multigenerational family travel because there are things for all ages to do. Worries about costs are eliminated as soon as you don the resort wristband, otherwise known as your key to happiness.
Plus, the resort is absolutely enormous which means that multiple pools, restaurants, rooms, and other experiences are for the taking. This review is from my stay in 2014.
About Moon Palace Golf and Spa Resort
At over 123 acres in size, the resort is divided into three sections: Sunrise, Nizuc and Grand. A shuttle that runs every 5-10 minutes or so transports guests between the three though walking between them on the beach provides an direct, scenic route, versus navigating the many resort walkways and 2,400 waterside and garden view rooms.
A recent 100 million dollar enhancement project included renovations and upgrades to guest rooms, lobbies, the gymnasium, refreshed meeting spaces, and restaurant upgrades in addition to new amenities like the Flow Rider double wave simulator, a new nightclub, a teen club and more. You can absolutely stay put at Moon Palace though there is a lot to do in Cancun from Xcaret to Tulum.
Moon Palace is about 15 minutes by car away from the Cancun International Airport, which pretty easy to fly in and out of. Upon arrival I was given a flower and blue tropical welcome drink and was initially overwhelmed by the buzz in the lobby and the resort’s size, which became easier to navigate after a day of walking around.
Large, Comfortable Rooms
I was quite pleased with my room in the Sunrise section and wished that I had more time to just chill in the balcony’s hammock. It felt new with two double beds, a huge tub, fully-stocked (and included) mini-fridge, in-room coffee, safe and more. An enormous walk-in shower was a delight to rinse off the sunscreen and pool water before attending conference parties.
Plenty of outlets powered devices and storage was available to unpack a big suitcase. Both the bath amenities and hairdryer are made by CHI. My room was also pretty quiet without a ton of excess noise though I must confess I was in bed much later than normal and sleep with earplugs.
15 Restaurants to Choose From and More
It was a trip to open up the 24-hour room service menu and see no pricing whatsoever. Why? It’s all included, which means that in-room meals are fully-customizable. Want a side of yogurt? No problem. Need more than two pieces of toast? No charge. It was quite liberating.
Most of my Moon Palace dining outside of breakfast occurred onsite at the conference, however, I was able to deviate twice. My flight didn’t land in time to catch the bus to Xcaret with the rest of the group. So my #KidsNTrips Twitter parties partner and I grabbed an Italian dinner at La Gondola in the Sunrise section.
I opted for a burrata cheese and tomato appetizer and salmon with scalloped potatoes. Even the bread was tasty. There may or may not have been a lot of wine, too. You can pay to upgrade your wine, but I we experienced a little confusion regarding how that worked so be sure to clarify.
On our final night, we happened to attend the sea turtle release in front of the Nizuc section of the resort. Craving Mexican food, a staff member suggested Los Caporales, just steps away inside the resort.
After tasty appetizers including incredible guacamole prepared tableside, I opted for a salad and chile relleno stuffed with beef and cheese. The latter was my most memorable dish of the weekend—it was so, so good.
A coffee shop in our Sunrise section served delicious little panini sandwiches, cookies, ice cream and a wide range of coffee drinks to-go, which would be unbelievably convenient with snacking kids in tow. The paninis even became much-needed late-night snacks as we socialized in the lobby bar.
For the sake of full disclosure, the buffet food at the conference events held on site was just OK. But it was designed to serve 600+ people so, there’s that. We also had a just OK buffet experience at a poolside restaurant. I hear that sit-down is the way to go.
Things to Do at Moon Palace Cancun
Plan to spend most of the time in your bathing suit. It’s Cancun, after all, and we’re talking 7 swimming pools and 6 swim-up bars. The Sunrise pool was massive with a kids’ water play area off to one side. It’s so big that it’s hard to find friends unless you know where they’re lounging. Other things to do at Moon Palace include:
- A Flow Rider with surfable waves.
- Swimming with dolphins.
- A teen room.
- Dancing the night away in a nightclub.
- World-class golf including a Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf
- Fitness center
- Beach yoga
- Cooking classes
- Concerts featuring top performers
- Table games like poker
- Motorized water sports
- Seasonal sea turtle releases
The list is very, very long. Moon Palace isn’t just a resort… it’s an entertainment destination.
A Winter Spectacular: Broadway on Ice
In fact, a critically-acclaimed Broadway on Ice production coming to Moon Palace during the winter holidays (December 22nd, 2014 through January 4th, 2015) will feature the talents of Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano and Broadway star Franc D’Ambrosio. Gorgeous costumes, fabulous sets, state-of-the-art sound and mystical lighting are expected to take center stage at the recently unveiled Moon Palace Arena. And, resort guests will be able to ice skate here outside of performance times.
As an added incentive for families seeking world-class accommodations, Palace Resorts (excluding Excludes Isla Mujeres and Cozumel Palace – remember, there are several other Palace Resorts in Cancun) guests who book a stay of five nights or more will receive two complimentary tickets to the performance. Additional tickets will be available for purchase through Ticketmaster and through Palace Vacation Planners on property. Ticket prices range from $49 -$100. Why not spend Christmas and/or New Year’s in Cancun?
Why Moon Palace Works for Group Events
Next door to the Sunrise building, which is I’m sure why we were all staying in this section, is the giant Moon Palace Arena with state of the art AV equipment (though we did have occasional trouble with the WiFi in smaller conference rooms) and plenty of conference room space.
It was unbelievably convenient to saunter from room to conference room in a matter of minutes. And, I’m not being totally sarcastic when I say an incredible amount of networking happened in the bar or in the pool. Having everyone gather in more or less the same place definitely had its benefits. Plus, a beachfront Cancun location enabled vacation-like relaxation during short breaks.
Good to Know
A portion of our conference talks were devoted to sensible tourism and eco-tourism. Tipping isn’t something that is seen much at all-inclusive resorts but it is something you should do unless there is a specific policy stating otherwise. If you can bring an abundance of small bills from home (USD is fine) this is definitely the way to go. I had trouble getting change for $20s, even at the front desk. As you can imagine, they don’t typically deal with a lot of cash.
The resort is large and busy. If you’re looking for silence and sand, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for an abundance of fun, somewhat of a party atmosphere (that is still family-friendly) and to tire out the kids at a more-or-less fixed price, Moon Palace fits the bill. I do think the price, now in the mid-$200s, is great for what guests receive in return.
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Have you been to Moon Palace?