“Get Out There” is a column for itchy footed humans written by Paste contributor Blake Snow. Although weird now, travel is still worthwhile—especially to these open borders.
It’s amazing how colorful Cancun is on a sunny day, even if you’ve visited its beaches before. The ocean is a stunning combination of deep blues, cobalts, and teals—some of the most gorgeous you’ll ever see. What’s more, the celebrated city is home to more all-inclusives than anywhere else, which is partly why it’s such a popular vacation hop. (The other is Mexican affordability and American proximity.)
With so many options to choose from, then, which resort stands out? As one of the very last a la carte hotels in Cancun to convert to an all-inclusive, Grand Fiesta Coral Beach is “new” in that it shuns the often pragmatic, systematized practices of traditional all-inclusives while staying true to its fancy heritage. Yes, the property is big and beautiful like other contenders. But the toothy staff are noticeably more attentive and personal, because they were “Hecho en Mexico” and clearly love their jobs.
After a recent weeklong stay, here are five reasons you might enjoy this upscale, beachfront resort that’s as popular with airline pilots as it is with gallivanting families:
I enjoy an efficient American hotel as much as the next guy. My middle name is Marriott, after all—a name I share with my great, great uncle who started it all. But there’s also something to be said about experiencing the best of Mexico with a parent company that exclusively owns and only operates in its native county. I don’t know how to explain it, but you can feel the difference. And the difference is good. This is Mexican hospitality done right, in one of the most scenic places in Mexico.
You can tell a lot about a kitchen after eating their croissants, especially if that’s not a food they’re known for. In this case, Grand Fiesta’s croissants taste perfectly Parisian. If they can get that right, you know they’ll deliver with everything else on the menu, which is precisely what the chefs here do. In a word, the food is fantastic. After 15 full meals and lots of snacks, only one was a miss. That’s like 95% good because math. Almost everything hit. My favorites included the pina colada tuna rolls, chipotle plum pork ribs with slivered almonds, blackened shrimp tacos, all of the other tacos (!), pita and salsa, roasted pepper quesadillas, and filet mignon with pepper sauce. Seriously some of the best food I’ve ever had on vacation.
No one stays at a resort because it has wide, all-marble stairwells that climb 11 stories. But similar to my croissant theory, if you don’t skimp on a stairwell, you don’t skimp on anything else. Neither does Grand Fiesta. Despite its towering size and proximity to sand, the lobbies, rooms, pools, bathrooms, beaches, and grounds are all spotless. Empty cups and out of place items don’t live long here.
Grand Fiesta Coral Beach sits on the northern tip of Cancun’s elbow. Here you’ll find a secluded stretch of power soft sand that’s largely protected from other hotel traffic, pedestrians, and much of the seaweed that’s plagued the beaches in recent years. In that way, Grand Fiesta is in Cancun while also being protected from some of it, which is good if solitude and relaxation is your style.
“This is like a city that’s free,” my son said on the second day. He’s not wrong. Which is why I ran into so many airline pilots, happy families, and one repeat couple who’s been coming here for 20 consecutive years—well before Grand Fiesta became an all-inclusive. On top of that, the kids club was so good, I had a hard time convincing my son to hang out with me some days. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you. The resort is popular for a reason.
So what’s included at Grand Fiesta Cancun? Basically everything but spa treatments, motorized water sports, specialty dining, evening kids club, and airport transfers. With the VIP upgrade, you can get a little of the first four, plus exclusive lounge access, beach areas, priority reservations, and round-trip ferry tickets to nearby Isla Mujeres, which is highly recommended.
What will I remember most about this trip? Multiple swim-up bars, taking cover to avoid a 10 minute monsoon, bottomless guacamole, snorkeling on nearby Isla Mujeres, waverunning in teal waters, and the spa’s 9-step hydro treatment. That and swimming with the world’s largest fish (aka whale sharks) on an all-day, two-meal, boat adventure with Ocean Tours Mexico was a once-in-a-lifetime highlight. Those creatures are huge!
Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a bodacious writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his adolescent family and two dogs.