From the moment that my plane touched down in Cancun, I was bracing to be disappointed. I’m not sure why, as I’m generally quite enthusiastic about travel in general, and in new locations in particular. But something in me was just not all that excited about checking out another beach destination (perhaps I was missing Hawaii already?) and I was on guard for scams and touts as soon as I exited baggage claim, as I noted via social media that other TBEX attendees had had problems with the shuttle. When I was able to locate a shuttle (SuperShuttle, instead of the conference’s host company) I was able to get what seemed like a decent rate to the Moon Palace, so I settled in and tried to prepare myself mentally for my first time at an all-inclusive.
I’ve never had a desire to stay at an all-inclusive as I imagined them full of mediocre buffets and watered down liquor. Given the choice, I will always opt for an a la carte menus as opposed to a buffet, where things have been sitting out for god-knows-how-long. In general, I believe in quality over quantity and I felt like with an all-inclusive that perhaps you’d be sacrificing one for the other.
Despite my hesitation, Kim and I had bitten the bullet and splurged on a few nights at Moon Palace since it was the TBEX host hotel, and we wanted to be sure that we were as close as possible to the conference sessions. As soon as my van pulled up to the driveway, I was greeted by uniformed staff with a fresh flower and offered a welcome drink.
Ahhh, I could get used to this, I thought.
After a bit of confusion with my reservation since Kim had already checked in, I was led to my room. It’s a good thing that the staff walked me there because the resort is sprawling and divided into three sections. We were staying in the Sunrise section, which also happened to be where the convention center was located, as well as some of our evening events. We’d read warnings online noting how it could be tricky to get navigate the various sections of the hotel, but it was nothing like seeing it in person – the resort is truly huge!
Once I opened the door and saw Kim had settled in quite nicely, she gave me the grand tour, including our large in-room jacuzzi (ha!) and full bar – none of those little mini bottles of liquor, we had full bottles of well liquor on tap and a mini fridge with cold beer and water as well. Nice! Each room also comes with a couple of outdoor chairs and a hammock on the balcony, which we found perfect for reading and relaxing outside.
Throughout our stay, we tried out a variety of the food and beverage options at Moon Palace.
Dining Options at Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort
- Palapa Barracuda (Steakhouse) – This poolside restaurant in the Sunrise section features a more casual lunch buffet during the day, but from 6pm we would recommend you enjoy the steakhouse fare for dinner. On our first night at the resort we opted to dine here and I believe the moment when we both realized why people enjoy the “all-inclusive” thing so much was when we finished off our ribeye steak dinners and then were able to take the rest of a nice bottle of Argentinian Malbec with us to go. Ok, ok, I get it now!
- Momo (Japanese/Teppanyaki) – A decent option if you are craving Asian/Japanese fare. You can select from sushi and cooked dishes a la carte or dine at one of the teppanyaki grills, as we did. Standard teppanyaki fare, complete with chefs that will toss a shrimp tail into their hat or “shock” the table with a burst of flame. Put your chopsticks down and applaud, even if you’ve seen it before. 😉
- Buffets – Not all the restaurants are ala carte, and we did get a chance to try out a few of the buffets. Two that we would enjoyed are the breakfast buffet at Gondola and the lunch buffet at Bugambilias.
- Room Service – this is one I’d probably avoid, unless you’re really craving something in the middle of the night and don’t mind mediocre.
Drinking Options at Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort
- There are 12 bars in the Moon Palace Cancun, half of which are located in pool areas. We really enjoyed the one in the Sunrise section of the resort where all the seats were swings!
- Despite the free-flowing liquor, most of what we drank was pretty watery hard liquor, so this was one area where we were a bit disappointed. (Although I guess we were being a smidge optimistic trying to find Bourbon in Mexico!) I’d recommend sticking to cerveza or tequilas at an all-inclusive like the Moon Palace, but stay tuned to my upcoming posts on some of the fine dining options available in Cancun for other options…
Overall impression & tips for your stay at Moon Palace Cancun
- My main problem with the Moon Palace (if any) would be that it was pretty far from other things in Cancun. Of course, if you’re really planning on taking advantage of the all-inclusive dining, beverage and activities of the resort, this shouldn’t be an issue. But since it was my first time in Cancun, I wish it had been a bit easier to get to the Hotel Zone, downtown (to eat like the locals do!) and possibly to explore further afield with day trips. I suppose there is always next time, though!
>> For photos from my stay, click here.
>> I’d like to thank Moon Palace and the TBEX conference for providing us with a media rate for our stay although, as always, all opinions expressed here are my own and I was not compensated for writing this post.