I never thought I’d be one to enjoy an all-inclusive resort. I’m a foodie, and I like experiencing authentic, local culture when I travel, and I’ve also had some pretty abysmal experiences with that all-inclusives in the past.
However, a couple of years ago, I needed an actual vacation after a few years of travel blogging and going on intense, jam-packed trips several times a month. Some time to destress. While I love exploring and adventure, I just wanted some time to relax and read on the beach.
Tom saw a resort called Excellence Playa Mujeres mentioned on several forums over the years, and we decided to make our first visit in January 2020. It was the resort that travel writers recommended for their actual vacations. While I was still wary of all-inclusives, we decided — why not.
And my friends, we became hooked after that. We just returned from our second trip to EPM, and we’re already planning a third for next year. Here is my review of Excellence Playa Mujeres, my go-to all-inclusive resort in the Cancun area.
Excellence Playa Mujeres Review
Excellence Playa Mujeres: Getting There & Resort Transfers
To get to Excellence Playa Mujeres, you’ll want to fly into Cancun International Airport. If you’re traveling to Mexico and you are not a Mexico citizen, fill out the Mexico Tourist Card in advance to save some time in customs. Airlines no longer hand out the form on the plane, so to avoid any headaches, get it done before getting to the airport.
If you’ve never been to the Cancun airport, it’s pretty chaotic. Depending on when you land, you could either zip through customs, or it could take 1-2 hours. You’ll also have dozens of people offering to “help” you get to your resort through taxis or shuttles. It’s best to book an airport transfer ahead of time, ignore all of the taxi drivers offering assistance, and head to your designated pickup spot after you get through customs.
EPM does offer their own transfer service — if you book directly on their website, the transfer will most likely be included in your overall price. We also have used Kalido Travel for transfers in the past and enjoyed our experience with them as well.
Excellence Playa Mujeres: An Adults-Only Experience
Excellence Playa Mujeres is an adults-only resort, but if you want to bring your family members under 18, they have a family-friendly sister resort next door, Finest Playa Mujeres. Their other sister resort, Beloved Playa Mujeres, is smaller and for couples only. EPM is still fantastic for couples, but we’ve traveled here with friends in the past and loved how social the resort was.
EPM doesn’t have many nightlife options, so if you’re looking for that type of experience, you might want to try a resort such as the Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya. However, I’ll get into all of the resort’s nightlife options later in the post. I loved how EPM had a diverse mix of guests ranging from all ages: you had guests in their 20s all the way to their 70s+.
Excellence Playa Mujeres: Suite Options & Excellence Club
When booking at Excellence Playa Mujeres, you have the option of booking a regular suite or opting for a premium suite with Excellence Club. We’ve stayed in both types of suites, but we prefer Excellence Club. There are some incredible perks with EC that we loved: the private beach area, exclusive restaurant and bar, upgraded room service and toiletries, and more.
For the suites, we prefer the swim-up suite. It’s on the ground floor, and you can enjoy two daybeds outside of your suite and direct access to either the pool or the lazy river. They also have standard suites with balconies, rooftop terraces, honeymoon suites, and even more premium suite options.
Excellence Playa Mujeres: Dining Options
One of the things we loved the most about Excellence Playa Mujeres was the dining options. I’ve been to some all-inclusives with horrible food, but it wasn’t the case with EPM. This foodie was pleasantly surprised. All restaurants are walk-in only: the only reservation you’d need to make is if you wanted to do a Hibachi dinner at Spice.
As a wine lover, the house wine was just okay for me. You can pay extra for other wines, but we decided to bring some wine with us. If you bring your own bottle of wine to a restaurant, they’ll uncork it for you at no charge.
EPM is home to 11 restaurants and 11 bars and lounges. Some of my personal favorites included:
An Excellence Club restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner. They have various menu items, from seafood dishes to pasta to steak dishes. Everything was well done here, and I loved that they had options for everyone.
The French restaurant on-site has one of the most romantic atmospheres. The soups, surf and turf, and desserts are excellent here, and you can reserve your own private dining room with a wine purchase.
Basmati is the Indian restaurant on the property, and they have world-class chefs specifically trained in the art of Indian cuisine.
Lobster House is one of the few restaurants open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was one of our favorite casual dining options on the property, and they offer a mix of seafood, Mexican, and steak dishes.
You really can’t go to Mexico without enjoying Mexican food, right? Agave is EPM’s Mexican restaurant, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. Get the pork shank; you won’t regret it! Their portion sizes are very generous as well, so keep that in mind when ordering.
If you need a caffeine fix or an afternoon sweet treat, Aroma is the place for you. We were pleasantly surprised with all of the coffee, latte, and cappuccino options here and loved the pastries and gelato they offered as well.
Hibachi at Spice:
The only dining experience you need to make a reservation for. We always have a blast at hibachi, and we’ve met some incredible friends at this interactive experience.
This is hands down the most popular, iconic bar on the property, and we always spend quite a bit of time here. It feels like the social center of the resort, and it’s great for people watching and meeting new friends. One of the bartenders, Cesar, will make your experience incredible and serve you some of the best cocktails at the resort.
Don’t forget: room service is complimentary at EPM, so make sure to take advantage of it. With Excellence Club, you can also make a standing room service order, so if you want a bottle of bubbly and orange juice for morning mimosas delivered to your door at 9 AM daily, that wish can easily become a reality.
Excellence Playa Mujeres: Amenities, Activities & Entertainment
We didn’t have an opportunity to be bored at EPM. There’s so much to do at the resort, and after two visits, there are still things I want to try for our next visit. Some of the things I loved at EPM include:
Pools & Beach:
At EPM, you’ve got multiple pools to relax at. The main pool is lively and has activities throughout the day, or you can opt for one of the smaller, quieter pools on the property. There is also a lazy river that loops around the property if you want some peace and quiet.
The beach is also incredible, and there are plenty of lounge chairs and Bali beds to accommodate nearly everyone. Excellence Club guests can enjoy their own private pool and beach area and their own pool/beach concierge as well. You don’t have to leave the beach to grab food either: you can enjoy quick bites at Las Olas, the beachside full-service restaurant.
Did you know that estheticians in Mexico require rigorous training to be certified? While spa experiences in Mexico are slightly more expensive than treatments in the U.S., it’s worth every penny. I had one of the best massages of my life at the spa at EPM, and the facial was such a relaxing, much-needed experience as well. The Milé Spa also has a special hydrotherapy experience, which is complimentary for Excellence Club guests. Make sure to book your spa appointment ASAP; you can get discounts if you book ahead of time.
Entertainment and Nightlife:
I still haven’t been able to take advantage of all of the activities EPM offers, but you can enjoy yoga classes, tennis lessons, archery lessons, mixology and cooking classes, Spanish classes, pottery lessons, and much much more. It’s also easy to go kayaking, book a private yacht, or take a day trip to Isla Mujeres from EPM as well.
They have nightly shows, but honestly — they were a little more tailored to the boomer crowd than younger guests, so we often skipped those. They also have live music on certain nights and silent discos, or you can enjoy billiards and darts at the sports bar. The nightlife wasn’t that wild at EPM, but honestly, after a day of margaritas and the sun, I was okay with a quieter resort at night.
Excellence Playa Mujeres: What to Pack
EPM does have a dress code for dinner at their restaurants: for women, you’ll want to wear either a dress, dress pants, or a skirt, and men need collared shirts and dress pants. For a detailed packing list, make sure to check out my Cancun Packing List post.
Excellence Playa Mujeres: The Customer Service
The number one reason why we keep coming back to Excellence Playa Mujeres? The outstanding customer service.
The entire staff at the resort is phenomenal and really make you feel like you’re at home. After a couple of days, our EC bartender and concierge learned our favorite drink orders. EPM also has an incredible CRM system, and they are excellent at tracking your preferences over time and will drop off small snacks and drinks in your room during the day. As repeat guests, we were greeted with a few gifts in our room upon arrival. They go out of their way to make your experience special, and it’s honestly some of the best service I’ve ever received at any resort.
RE: Tipping — Even though EPM is an all-inclusive resort, I highly recommend tipping the incredible staff for their hard work! They accept U.S. dollars, and we typically tip $1/drink and $5/person for dinner.
Have any other questions about Excellence Playa Mujeres? Let me know in the comments below!
Photos by Tom McGovern