Keys to the Palace

Palace Resorts offers guests a slew of options and new features

By: By Anne Burke

Le Blanc Spa Resort is Palace Resorts’ most exclusive brand. // (c) Palace Resorts
Le Blanc Spa Resort is Palace Resorts’
most exclusive brand. // (c) Palace Resorts

Like most travelers, I learned about the costly expense of hotel-room telephones. I wouldn’t use one to call 911, even if my hair were on fire.

That was before I spent a few nights at Palace Resorts’ Beach Palace in Cancun, where a tent card on the nightstand informed me that I could make unlimited calls to the U.S., Canada and Mexico at no extra charge. (A few exceptions applied, such as Hawaii and 800 numbers.)

The dialing-without-dollars feature is the latest addition to Palace Resorts’ menu of all-inclusive offerings. At each of the Miami-based hotel group’s 10 properties in Mexico (and soon an 11th in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic), most everything is included in the up-front rate, except for high-ticket items like spa treatments, golf and laundry/dry cleaning. Clients can chat on guestroom phones, raid the minibar and surf the Internet on a personal laptop, all without facing the expensive consequences at check-out. Even gratuities are built in to the rate.

Most Palace Resorts properties are concentrated in the Cancun hotel zone and the Riviera Maya, both of which are becoming meccas for golfers. The latest addition to the links is Palace Resorts’ Riviera Cancun Golf & Resorts, a Jack Nicklaus signature design. The 18-hole, par-72 course is the golf legend’s second creation for Palace Resorts after the 27-hole course at Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resorts.

To celebrate the opening of the new golf course and club, Palace Resorts hosted TravelAge West on a tour of five Cancun properties. All share signature elements such as infinity pools and in-room, double Jacuzzis, but each attracts a different type of traveler. Here’s a recap of our visit, starting with Le Blanc Spa Resort at the north end of the hotel zone and ending with Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, located near the Cancun Airport.

Le Blanc Spa Resort
This 260-room, adults-only hotel is a dreamscape in white, from the coconut-milk welcome drink to the fluttering, diaphanous curtains in the lobby and the sugary sand on the beach. Le Blanc Spa Resort is Palace Resorts’ super-luxe brand, with service and amenities a cut above. A butler in a mandarin-collared jacket will draw your bath and uncork your complimentary bottle of French Shiraz. The dimly lit spa is the most enchanting among Palace Resorts’ Cancun properties, and the international restaurant serves splendid fare, including a selection of Yucatecan dishes.

Le Blanc is something of a posh relative in the Palace Resorts family. While Le Blanc guests may use restaurants and facilities at any other Palace Resorts property (in keeping with the company’s reciprocal-privileges policy), the same is not true in reverse.

Beach Palace
This 287-room hotel recently came off a post-hurricane reconstruction. The emphasis is on family fun, with pool games, kids activities and evening dance lessons. Sadly, the beach was entirely washed away and, therefore, the closest access to the sand is via the ME Cancun hotel next door. Or, guests can take advantage of Palace Resorts’ reciprocal-privileges policy and use the beach at any sister hotel (except Le Blanc). Transportation is easy via one of the fast and efficient public buses that ply the hotel zone.

Cancun Palace
The largest of the Palace Resorts properties in the Cancun hotel zone, this 601-room, family-friendly hotel has amenities that you won’t necessarily find elsewhere, like tennis courts and a 600-seat amphitheater. The main pool area offers lots of fun activities for kids but, like the pool at Beach Palace, it can get noisy at midday. Guests seeking tranquility can slip down to the beach or head upstairs to the Jacuzzis on the third-level terrace. A nice touch in the lobby is the leave-a-book, borrow-a-book lending library.

Sun Palace
Clients looking for something well-equipped, but with a subdued aesthetic will feel at home at this 252-room hotel, which opened in 2007. The decor is cool and contemporary, with nice artwork in the lobby and rooms styled in neutral beige and off-white. Its wide beach is one of the best among hotel-zone Palace Resorts properties. While Sun Palace is ostensibly “couples-only,” no pair of friends will get turned away, but they should be prepared to share a king bed.

Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort
Golf, tennis, basketball, slot machines, yoga, shopping, disco dancing, paintball, Pilates. If there’s an activity or amenity that you can’t find at this 2,457-room, 14-restaurant mega-resort, it probably doesn’t exist. The nicest rooms (though many are without ocean views) are in the contemporary-styled new section, which boasts five pools, each differently shaped. The white-sand beach is long, wide and studded with shady palapas. The location south of the airport is a long haul from the action in the hotel zone but, with so much to do, clients will find little reason to wander off-site.