Many upscale travelers cling to the idea that “luxury resort” and “all-inclusive” are mutually exclusive. When they hear “luxury all-inclusive resort” they think of buffet lines, sappy entertainment, some cheerleader with a mic by the pool, and rowdy kids accompanying loud drunken parents. Granted, there are plenty of hotels like that in the Cancun area and down the Riviera Maya of Mexico, but there are also quite a few that are a big step up.
One of those is Live Aqua Cancun, which I just had a chance to experience for one night before heading to the ILTM Americas conference last month. This one presents a nice case study because it actually started out as an a la carte resort, but eventually changed to including food and drink in the rates because of market demands. (There are only three major resorts in Cancun, apparently, that are not on an all-inclusive plan.)
I just updated our review to give an accurate overview of what you can expect, with some new photos. Meanwhile, here’s a quick video tour:
Live Aqua Cancun delivers on the promise of being a luxury all-inclusive resort, where you don’t have to pull out your wallet after checking in since most everything you’ll experience on site is included. You get seven restaurants to choose from, some of them quite impressive, with unlimited drinks from the bar whenever you would like. You can call up room service anytime to order food and there’s a fridge in your room stocked with beer, soda, juice, and snacks. Here’s what showed up to welcome me upon arrival:
There’s an army of people to wait on you though and they don’t treat you like a number. This resort gets a high percentage of return guests. The staffers here are smiling, attentive, and ready to please. I found out there’s a secret weapon behind them showing up with what you need when you need it: they have a shared WhatsApp group where they’re communicating guest needs to each other. (So if the pool waiter is typing something into his phone, he’s not just texting his wife to ask what’s for dinner.) The experience starts out well at check-in and unfolds as you settle in.
The semicircular white building, accented with green glass, soars above the beach at a prime spot in Cancun’s hotel zone—out of the fray of the major bar–and–club area, but walking distance to upscale shopping and sleeker nightspots. Uniformed staff welcome new arrivals and whisk them to overstuffed sofas in the lobby area for check-in, with a cool drink and a hand massage. The soaring space of this area is nothing compared with the view out the floor–to–ceiling windows: an elaborate network of eight swimming pools, all fronting the incomparably blue Caribbean—possibly the most lavish pool area in the city. One has a swim-up bar, one is long enough for laps, and others are best for gazing out at the sea from the infinity edge.
This is an adult-only luxury all-inclusive, so you won’t be sharing any of the seven swimming pools with kids doing cannonballs and shouting, “Mom, watch this! MOM!!” No kids club, no kids menu, and blissfully relaxing. Yes, I’ve got a daughter and I’ve taken her to the other kinds of all-inclusives you’re thinking of. Live Aqua Cancun is a different story.