“Look! There’s the water!”
We were cruising down Boulevard Kukulacán from the airport when I caught my first glimpse of the postcard-perfect Gulf of Mexico. We’d been in the taxi for about ten minutes when we rounded a bend in the road and the flash of turquoise came into sight. I opened my window to let the tropical breeze take over for the air conditioning and stuck out my elbow. The warm sun and blue Caribbean sky made me feel far away from the chilly 35-degrees I’d left behind in New York only a few hours earlier and I was looking forward to the three day escape to paradise that lay ahead.
Boulevard Kukulacán, the main thoroughfare of what is commonly known as the Hotel Zone or Zona Hotelera, is bordered on the west by the Nichupté Lagoon and on the east by the spectacular beach. As Cancun’s primary tourist destination, the 14-mile strip abounds with hotels of every style and is a mecca for all-inclusive type resort experiences. My home for the next few days would be the CasaMagna Marriott, a beautiful resort situated smack in the middle of the Hotel Zone overlooking the gorgeous white sands and ultramarine water of Mexico’s Gulf.
If the sight of that beach wasn’t enough to transport me from the daily grind, stepping into CasaMagna’s grand lobby, with its lofty ceilings, sweeping sea views, enormous wrought iron chandeliers and cool marble floor certainly sealed the deal. Translated to mean “the main house,” the CasaMagna Marriott Resort was built in the classic Mexican hacienda style and its graceful architecture and decor makes it stand out from many of the other big-box hotels on the beach. Rich woods and leathers are complimented by bright terra cotta and ochre upholstery and pillows throughout the comfortable seating, bar, and lounge in the main lobby. The resort’s public areas are adorned by traditional pieces of artwork, furniture and pottery to complete the feel of being in a gracious, Spanish Colonial estate.
Accommodations at the resort are varied and the recently renovated rooms are bright, airy and spacious with comfortable beds, plush linens, big, soft towels and lots of storage. The resort is equipped with a water filtration system and rooms feature conventional 120-volt outlets making it simple to use electronics and appliances. Additionally, complimentary wireless internet access is available in the lobby while in-room wifi can be purchased during your stay.
Each room and suite in the resort features a balcony or patio with views of the lush gardens and beautiful pool as well as the idyllic beach and ocean. For parents, having the balcony is a huge bonus as it offers a perfect place to relax and chat in the evenings while the kids are asleep. In this vein, I recommend booking a room that is not considered oceanfront. Although those rooms will treat you to gorgeous daytime views, nighttime will find you in total darkness. My room overlooked both the ocean and the pool area, a view that was plenty spectacular, and the lighting below cast a warm glow over my balcony each night as I sat listening to the surf, enjoying a cold Negro Modelo and watching the palm trees sway in the warm breeze.
Water Water Everywhere
If your family is looking for the ultimate relaxing, go nowhere resort vacation, CasaMagna will not disappoint. You could easily spend a week enjoying the resort’s beach, setting up shop at a different palapa-shaded grouping of lounge chairs each day. For a splurge, rent one of the lovely, shady cabanas with comfy cushioned loungers for an afternoon. Collect shells, play a game of beach volleyball, build a sandcastle or just take a stroll along the 14-mile of coast stretching in both directions from the hotel.
When you’re ready for a change of scenery the resort’s oceanfront pool is bliss, with plenty of chairs, shady umbrellas, an enormous hot tub, a toddler’s wading area, a swim up bar and a poolside restaurant serving casual, family-friendly fare and colorful tropical drinks all day long. Big towels are available as well to be used on the beach and at the pool, so there is no need to bring them down from your room, another bonus for parents who are likely already schlepping sunscreen, goggles, pails and shovels for the kids.
Unplugged Exploration & Recreation
For those looking for a bit more action, the area surrounding Cancun offers ample opportunities for outdoor adventures on both land and sea. There is recreation desk in the resort’s pool area where guests can book a fishing excursion or head out for some diving or snorkeling. At the same time, there are many private tour operators in the area and during our stay we spent two days with the lovely folks from Tropical Incentives. We utilized their services for our airport transportation as well as for some fabulous outings to explore the Yucatan Peninsula area including an incredible tour of several ancient Mayan cenotes, a visit to the seaside town of Playa del Carmen and a sail out to the nearby Isla Mujeres.
The Marriott Kids’ Club gives parents the chance to have some time for some solo adventures whether that means enjoying a poolside margarita, a run on the treadmill, or a couples’ massage on the beach. The club gives kids the chance to have a bit of their own kind of fun. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., kids spend time on engaging activities like making pinatas, learning some Spanish, preparing Mexican foods, or playing on the beach. The resort also offers in-room babysitting by members of the staff giving mom and dad the chance for a date night during the family vacation.
Between the restaurants and lounges at CasaMagna and the several establishments at their sister resort, the JW Marriott Cancun right next door, families have numerous on-site dining options. Each of the places I experienced during my stay at CasaMagna was absolutely delicious. Kids will love Mikado, featuring authentic Japanese Teppanyaki cuisine prepared table-side by an exuberant chef. Other choices include Indian specialties at Sashi, a gorgeous, palapa-covered, open-air restaurant and La Capilla, the resort’s Argentinian steakhouse which also offers and abundant breakfast buffet each morning with absolutely every item you could want. The resort restaurants are on the expensive side, though all-inclusive packages or those that include breakfast only can make it more affordable.
What Works for Families
- Plenty of room configurations with everything from standard rooms with connecting doors to spacious, luxurious
suites, all with balcony
- The gorgeous beach and pool area with plenty of shade
- Excellent kids’ club with energetic staff and great activities
- Children’s menus at most of the restaurants
- Lots of options for day trips within an hour or two of the resort including the famous Mayan ruins, local towns, eco-adventures and the nearby islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres
- The resort’s gift shop, while pricey, is very well-stocked and also has a coffee bar with an assortment of breakfast pastries, sandwiches, fruit gelato and sorbet
Good to Know
- Guests may use the fitness center facilities at the JW Marriott for a fee. If you are a spa guest at the JW’s luxurious spa, access to these areas is included in your visit. Guests of CasaMagna are not permitted to use the outdoor pools at the JW.