Doing the Hotel Zone HopBy AAA Travel Editor
Cancún's Hotel Zone is full of architecturally striking resorts, and even if you're staying at one of them it's worth checking out some of the others—if only as research for your next vacation. Hotel hopping is one of the fun and free things to do in Cancún, and you don't even need a car; getting from one property to another is easy if you take one of the local city buses (numbered “R-1” on the windshield) that travel up and down Boulevard Kukulcán. They make frequent stops and run until late at night, and the fixed fare is a mere 9.5 pesos—much cheaper than a taxi.
Following is a suggested hotel-hopping tour that might inspire you to come up with your own version. (Note: Some of the all-inclusive resorts do not allow non-guests to walk around their public areas.)
Begin with breakfast at Vips, a bright, cheery restaurant and coffee shop located on Boulevard Kukulcán next to the Cancún Center. It's in the thick of the Hotel Zone and is just a short walk from the first resort on your itinerary. One of their Mexican-style breakfasts with eggs, beans (frijoles), toast, juice and coffee should keep you filled up until lunch.
From Vips, cross the northern extension of Boulevard Kukulcán to the large, peach-colored Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun All Inclusive Spa Resort . This opulent hotel has a spacious, high-ceilinged lobby that radiates understated luxury—marble floors, giant flower arrangements and fine art displayed in recessed wall nooks, with cozy sitting areas scattered about. Look straight up for a view of the large, square piece of kaleidoscope-patterned stained glass. If you skipped Vips, have an early lunch at Isla Contoy , the hotel's breezy poolside restaurant; it has a thatched roof and a view of the beach.
A bit farther down Boulevard Kukulcán is the Paradisus Cancun Resort . This is one of the largest properties in the Hotel Zone, with five soaring, pyramid-shaped buildings housing the guest rooms. The public areas feature statues, frescoes and decorative elements with a Mayan motif. Have a cocktail while you peruse the menu of small bites at the Avenue Bar, which offers a nice beach view.
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
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To contact the local police, dial 911.
Most major local hotels have their own in-house or on-call doctor. A list of physicians can also be obtained from the U.S. Consular Agency, in the Torre la Europea building, Boulevard Kukulcán Km marker 13; phone (999) 316-7168 in Mexico or (844) 528-6611 in the U.S. Local clinics do not accept U.S. health insurance, often charge fees well above U.S. rates and have been known to charge for services not rendered. The Red Cross (Cruz Roja) is in Ciudad Cancún on Avenida Yaxchilán, between avenidas Xcaret and Labná. It is open 24 hours; phone (998) 884-1616. In an emergency, dial 911 and request an English-speaking operator.
The Miami Herald and USA Today are available in the bigger local hotels.
Cancún Tips magazine has easy-to-read maps and information about local restaurants, shopping, entertainment and other things to do in Cancún. Pick up free tourist-oriented brochures at the airport, hotel lobbies, shopping centers and sidewalk booths.
Casas de cambio (currency exchange houses) and banks are along Avenida Tulum in downtown Ciudad Cancún. Most banks are open Mon.-Fri. 9-5; currency exchange normally is confined to the morning hours. Currency exchange houses also are at the airport and in the Hotel Zone shopping areas around Cancún Point.
Crime directed at tourists is not prevalent, but do use common sense. Keep jewelry and other valuables in the hotel safe, or don't bring them at all. Guard against petty theft or purse-snatching incidents in crowded public places or when using public transportation. If leaving a vehicle in Hotel Zone shopping areas, don't invite a break-in by leaving valuables in plain view.