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The laid-back small island of Isla Mujeres has long remained free of familiar franchises and chains. But that isolation ended recently when two boutique all-inclusive hotels from top-notch resort companies opened a few miles from the island’s super-casual town center.
Isla Mujeres Palace, from Palace Resorts, and AMResorts’ Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun, display the high standards of big-brand properties in nearby Cancun and Riviera Maya. Both hotels are conveniently located in the Laguna Macax area, giving guests easy access to many of Isla’s most popular attractions, including turtle farm Tortugranja and Garrafon Natural Reef Park. Taxi rides to just about anywhere on the island cost less than $5. Both properties are more upscale than Isla Mujeres’ other hotels.
Isla Mujeres PalaceThe adults-only Isla Mujeres Palace is geared toward couples and is extremely popular with honeymooners. All 62 spacious rooms come with double whirlpool tubs; mini-bars with complimentary soft drinks, water and beer; and a complimentary bottle of wine.
Romance packages include a candlelight dinner, a bottle of sparkling wine, breakfast in bed and other goodies. It’s common to see newlyweds and anniversary couples in fashionable resort wear strolling hand in hand along the beach at sunset and sharing hammocks beneath palm trees. Pina coladas and other umbrella drinks popular at the swim-up bar are included in the room rate, as is wine at dinner.
All Isla Mujeres Palace guests can reserve transportation to and from Cancun on the resort’s private 51-foot luxury yacht, appropriately called Casanova.
Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres CancunVilla Rolandi, now under the AMResorts umbrella, first opened in 1999 as the most lavish hotel on the island. Its 35 oceanfront rooms and suites quickly became all the rage, thanks to their isolated exclusivity and unique design touches — they even offered unusual therapeutic showers that acted as either a steam room or shower, depending on the setting.
The hotel’s Casa Rolandi restaurant was so well regarded that foodies staying in Cancun would sail to the island on private yachts to sample its award-winning Northern Italian cuisine. Fans were surprised when Villa Rolandi closed in mid-2014 and reopened on Nov. 1, 2014, as a Zoetry property. Fortunately, Casa Rolandi and the showers survived the remodel, and the property gained a gourmet French-Mexican restaurant called La Metissage. Longtime Casa Rolandi chef Daniele Muller oversees both restaurants, ensuring continued quality.
The suites still have hot tubs on the balconies and bi-level seating and sleeping areas, and all rooms and suites have been enlivened with modern colors and furnishings. Guests can arrange transport between Cancun and the hotel’s private dock on Cocoon, a 40-foot catamaran.
Children are welcome here, though it’s best if they are accustomed to sophisticated surroundings. The ambience around the pool and small beach leans toward quiet relaxation rather than rowdy activity.
The presence of these two luxury resorts makes Isla Mujeres a more desirable destination for upscale clients. The island’s combination of high-end accommodations, dining and amenities — combined with its easygoing atmosphere — is a delightful reminder of all that is special about the Mexican Caribbean.
Isla Mujeres Palacewww.palaceresorts.com
Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancunwww.zoetryresorts.com