Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancún

All last week, I was in the Mayan Riviera for a college friend's wedding. Following the ceremony, a small group of us took a few extra days to explore the Yucatán Peninsula, and then continued on to Cancún for the last night of our trip.

I booked our one-night stay at the Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa several months ago, and I was able to secure an amazing deal through Starwood Preferred Guest's Best Rate Guarantee. While a quick search on Kayak showed rates for a standard Studio Villa were going for $149/night, I noticed that Orbitz was offering the same room for only $95/night.

I had no idea if this was a mistake or not, but I went ahead and submitted a Best Rate Guarantee claim. The great thing about SPG is that they don't require you to pre-book rooms on their website prior to submitting a claim, so there is really zero risk involved.

The response was a resounding no, as the agent claimed Orbitz's rate was only for 2 guests, while the SPG rate allowed 4 guests without any extra charges. Her assessment was incorrect, however, and I responded with an email detailing my search on Orbitz, which showed a total of 4 guests at the $95 rate.

Finally, after escalating the claim to a supervisor, my new booking was approved along with a 10% discount below Orbitz's already ridiculous rate. The total cost was only $86.06/night for a Studio Villa, accommodating 4 adults per room.

Upon arriving at the Westin Lagunamar property, we were directed by security to the south wing, which has a separate, smaller check-in lobby. I reconfirmed the Best Rate Guarantee with the friendly front desk attendant, but was told that unfortunately, one of our two rooms was not yet ready.

I was more than willing to wait, however, since he also informed me that the room he gave us was an upgraded One-Bedroom Villa! In addition, the rooms were adjacent and connected, which was absolutely perfect for our large group. WiFi was complimentary throughout the property, even for non-elites.

Studio Villa
After receiving the card keys to Studio Villa 1323, which was already prepared, we headed up to the room. An expansive 400 square feet of space greeted us, and I was particularly impressed with the contemporary decor and how up to date everything looked. Although the queen-sized Westin Heavenly Bed was very comfortable, the sleeper sofa mattress was on the thin side, and sagged towards the center.

Studio Villa

Westen Heavenly Bed

Sleeper sofa

37-inch TV, DVD player, and cabinetry

Two-guest dinette

The bathroom was well-thought out, with a sliding glass door separating the sink and bath area from the toilet and shower area. Both the whirlpool bath and the shower were incredibly spacious, and could easily fit two adults.

Plenty of extra shower amenities and large towels were provided, along with two plush bathrobes. While most modern hotels tend to have bathrooms completely open to the bedroom area, I appreciated the opaque wooden dividers, which provided some much-needed privacy while traveling with a group of close-but-not-that-close friends.

Studio Villa bathroom

Whirlpool bath and dividers


Spacious shower

The layout of the room was very reminiscent of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas in Kauai, where I had a wonderful stay last year. The best part of both resorts were the kitchenettes in every villa, which made preparing simple meals a breeze. I loved how everything was provided, from paper towels to dishwasher detergent to plates and glasses and utensils of every kind.

A two-burner cooktop, full-sized microwave oven, compact refrigerator, coffee maker, toaster, and even a blender were available, making this much more of an actual kitchen than a kitchenette. And to top it all off, an in-unit washer/dryer set and detergent made the stay even more comfortable, especially after a week of traveling and plenty of dirty laundry. I imagine this feature would be a godsend for families staying at the resort.


Glasses and plates

More appliances

Washer/dryer and detergent

I suppose our Studio Villa had a partial ocean view, but a more apt description would probably be sliver of ocean view instead. We didn't mind though, since much of our time was spent in the main pool, where there was a spectacular view of the Caribbean Sea.

View from the Studio Villa

Private balcony

One-Bedroom Villa
About 45 minutes later, the keys to room 1324, our One-Bedroom Villa next door, were delivered, and we rushed in excitedly to take a look. My first impression was amazement at how huge the suite was. At 740 square feet, it was almost double the size of a Studio Villa, but it felt even bigger.

Entryway of One-Bedroom Villa

Living/dining area and kitchen

Dining table and kitchen

I felt like the kitchenette in the Studio Villa was already more than enough, but the full kitchen in the One-Bedroom Villa was simply gorgeous. In fact, I wish my own kitchen was this beautiful. It had everything in the kitchenette, plus a full-sized refrigerator and sink, a four-burner cooktop, and enough dishes, glasses, and utensils for six guests.

Full kitchen

Glasses for six

Dishes for six

Coffee maker

The living area had a larger sleeper sofa than the Studio Villa, plus a 37-inch flat screen TV, an extra lounge chair, and a nice coffee table. Sliding doors led into the bedroom, which featured a king-sized Westin Heavenly Bed, down duvets, a comfortable chaise lounge, and a second 37-inch TV. 

Living area

37-inch TV and lounge chair

King-sized Westin Heavenly Bed

There were doors leading into the expansive bathroom from both the entryway and the bedroom. Like the Studio Villa, there was a separate whirlpool bath and a huge shower. The dual sinks were a nice touch, as was the private area for the toilet. Large closets inside the bathroom held enough storage space for guests' clothes, and also contained a safe and iron.

One-Bedroom Villa bathroom

Dual sinks

Whirlpool bath

Shower to the left, toilet to the right



Bathrobes and door to the bedroom

A pleasant balcony with an outdoor dining set for four was accessible from both the bedroom and the living area. Like the Studio Villa, there was also an in-unit washer/dryer set. We kept the door connecting the Studio Villa and the One-Bedroom Villa open during our stay, and it was almost like having our own private house on the beach in Cancún.

Balcony with dining set for four


Connecting doorway between villas

After getting settled in, we decided to check out additional features of the resort. It turned out the main pools were situated in the north wing of the property, but it wasn't too far of a walk from our rooms. The two-tiered main pool complex was quite impressive, with the lower infinity pool probably being one of the largest I had ever seen.

Since this was Mexico, there was of course a swim-up bar located in the lower pool. The upper pool was slightly warmer, and even included a fun water slide for families to enjoy. Next to it was the shallow kids pool. There was also a 15-person whirlpool spa that was incredibly soothing during a nighttime dip. The third main adult pool was located in the south wing of the resort, closer to our rooms.

Upper pool and kids pool to the right

Water slide

Lower infinity pool

Lower pool and lounge chairs

Swim-up bar

Open seating

Whirlpool spa

Adult pool in the south wing

There were a series of scheduled free activities for guests to enjoy while we were there, such as water aerobics, couples massage lessons, and beach volleyball. Activities changed throughout the week, and I noticed some interesting options like salsa dancing, Spanish lessons, and even cooking classes.

Free activities for the day

The beaches along the eastern shore of Cancún's hotel corridor are known to be slightly rough, and I did notice strong waves when we visited. However, it didn't seem too dangerous as long as you knew how to swim and stayed closer to shore. Sadly, the weather was a bit overcast, but I imagine on a clear day, the wide, clean beach would be the perfect place to spend a few relaxing hours.

Westin Lagunamar beach

Lounge chairs

Lounge chairs and beach volleyball

The rest of the resort was immaculate. I think Westin did an unbelievable job designing and outfitting this property. Every aspect of a guest's comfort was thought through with care, and it really shows. From the automatic foot showers near the beach, to the outdoor barbecue grills for guest use, to the random ping-pong tables, it's evident that management and employees here strive to delight and surprise at every opportunity.

Automatic foot shower

Barbecue grills for guest use

Ping-pong tables

Resort grounds

The Westin Lagunamar featured two gyms, one located in the south wing, and one in the north wing. I only visited the south wing gym, which I believe is the smaller of the two. There were plenty of treadmills and a couple of ellipticals, as well as bikes, free weights, and a multi-station machine. A water dispenser and chilled towels were also provided.

Westin Workout Fitness Studio

Treadmills and ellipticals

Bikes and towels

Free weights

Multi-station machine

Heavenly Spa next door

While we didn't dine at the resort, there was a good variety of restaurants and lounges on site, including the semi-formal Oceano, serving international cuisine and Mexican specialties. The breakfast buffet was also served here. Otherwise, there was also the more casual beachside Viento Restaurant or Duna Sports Bar. As a Gold Preferred Guest, I was given a 15% off voucher for Duna. Guests who prefer to cook in their own villa can purchase fresh produce and meats at the Tierra Market (although I would recommend going into town for groceries).

Unfortunately, we had very little time to enjoy the resort, since we had to check out the following morning. Standard check-out time was a very early 10:00 am, but I was able to secure a 12:00 noon departure for our One-Bedroom Villa.

I headed downstairs early to complete the process since I knew the Best Rate Guarantee might cause some issues. Low and behold, problems arose as the front desk attendant said she couldn't process the discounted rate even though I had my email confirmation. After some back and forth and a couple of phone calls, she asked me to go to the main lobby in the north wing.

There, I was directed to the SPG check-in counter, where a slightly more helpful attendant asked me to email her the Best Rate Guarantee confirmation, which I promptly did. She reviewed the contents in detail, and then agreed to adjust the rate accordingly. In addition, she removed two local phone calls charged to our rooms that we did not make. After 40 minutes, we were finally checked out and on our way.

Main check-in counters and lobby


Despite the minor issues during check-out, we had a phenomenal stay at the Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa. The property was fantastic, the villas were spacious and filled with features and conveniences not found in other hotels, and the service was top-notch. I would definitely consider returning when I visit Cancún again in the future.

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