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Excellence Riviera Cancun Review: Affordable All-Inclusive Luxury in Puerto Morelos

Excellence Riviera Cancun Review: Affordable All-Inclusive Luxury in Puerto Morelos

Excellence Riviera Cancun in Puerto Morelos is a long-time favourite Mexican beach resort of travellers to the Riviera Maya looking for adults-only, all-inclusive, five-star luxury with an affordable price tag.

It has a traditional colonial Mexican vibe and offers holidaymakers a chance to relax around its pools, spend time on its long expanse of golden sand, dine in each of its eleven restaurants and enjoy daily entertainment from beach activities to evening shows.

Add to that the fabulous Miilé Spa, taking centre stage on an island between bridges, ponds and fountains, and a Martini Bar in the main lobby that serves so many variations of the original martini that you will definitely be shaken, not stirred!

In this Excellence Riviera Cancun blog post, I review my stay at this Riviera Maya all inclusive resort for adults only. I cover the rooms, the restaurants, the activities and much more to help you decide whether this is the right resort for your next holiday to Mexico.

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Where is Excellence Riviera Cancun?

Excellence Riviera Cancun is a beachfront resort in Puerto Morelos on the Riviera Maya. Puerto Morelos is a small quiet beach town and will suit visitors looking for an authentic Mexican experience away from the nightclubs and high-rise hotels in the main Cancun area.

From Cancun airport on a clear run, Excellence Riviera Cancun is a 20-minute drive. It is also close to Sol y Luna and Tula cenotes.

To reach Cancun’s tourist centre, it is a 30-minute drive back past the airport.

The resort is 90 minutes from Tulum’s Unesco ruins and Quintana Roo cenotes.

Address: Carretera Federal 307 Chetumal-Puerto Juarez Mz 7, Lote 1, 11, 77580 Puerto Morelos, Q.R., Mexico

Beach with Palm trees at Excellence Riviera Maya
Beach at Excellence Riviera Cancun

How old is the property?

Excellence Riviera Cancun is almost twenty years old. It opened in November 2004 and is one of Riviera Cancun’s oldest but most popular beach resorts.

Due to its age, it is a little tired around the edges, and its design is dated; however, for some guests, the look of colonial Mexico is why they love Excellence Riviera Cancun and return year after year. The resort is like a comfy pair of old slippers; they fit well, and you know exactly what to expect.

Other Excellence resorts in Mexico include Excellence Playa Mujeres and boutique properties, Finest Playa Mujeres and Beloved Playa Mujeres.

What is in the all-inclusive package?

The Excellence all-inclusive package includes unlimited food and drinks (excluding certain restaurant wines).

The inclusive mini-bar in your suite has snacks like crisps and chocolate, and the alcohol in your room is also included. There are spirits like vodka, rum and, of course, tequila and wine. I heard a whisper that you could swap out the spirits for different ones or more of the same if you have a preference.

The room service menu is included and is available 24/7, perfect if you want to stay in your suite or get peckish during the night.  

In the foyer, a small coffee/patisserie shop called Aroma serves light bites like sandwiches, fruit pots, and mouthwatering cakes. We found this handy for picking up treats if we went out of the resort on day trips or fancied something sweet with our afternoon coffee.

water feature of three faces

Check-in at Excellence Riviera Cancun

Driving through the imposing gates and up to the main entrance of Excellence Riviera Cancun is impressive. You are greeted by the bell boy, who will lead you to a set of imposing wooden doors which open automatically into the air-conditioned lobby, perfect on those hot Mexican days.

The lobby is huge, and the reception desk has several staff members ready to welcome you to the resort. Plenty of seating gives you somewhere to wait while your room key is being arranged. If you want a sandwich or a drink on arrival, the small cafe in the corner of the foyer is where to head.

We arrived in the early afternoon and waited around 30 minutes for our rooms to become available. A porter then took our suitcases to our rooms.

Check-in is from 3 p.m. onwards, and check-out is at noon. If you have a late flight and need to extend your check-out time, you can ask the staff to facilitate this, and they will be happy to help whenever possible.

Gardens with statues at Excellence Riviera Cancun

How many suites are in Excellence Riviera Cancun?

The all-inclusive resort has 440 guest suites, including oceanfront and swim-up suites.

Club suites are also bookable, with upgraded perks, which include a private beach area, an upgraded mini-bar, welcome in-suite flowers and sparkling wine – one Aqua hydrotherapy treatment per person per stay is also included. A private concierge is also available to Club guests from 7:00 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Excellence Club Suites are the perfect treat for honeymoons or special occasions.

view of the pool from a balcony at Excellence Riviera Cancun

Junior Pool-View Suite

Housed over several blocks, the junior pool-view suites overlook the pools, gardens and the Miilé Spa building.

A seating area leading to the balcony is a lovely place to sit and enjoy a drink from the complimentary mini-bar while the breeze from the open balcony doors cools the room.

Pool-view suite at Excellence Riviera Cancun

Junior Suite Bathroom

Our bathroom was a bit scruffy, where the paint had been touched up too many times, leaving splashes on woodwork. However, the full marble bathroom was still nice and included a jetted whirlpool bathtub, a separate walk-in shower, and a separate toilet. 

The whirlpool bath is the perfect place to relax before getting ready for dinner and an evening of entertainment. Fill the bath, turn on the jets and enjoy the moment!

Dual sinks with a large wall mirror above make the bathroom pleasant to freshen up. A wall-mounted beauty/shaving mirror and a hairdryer are also provided, along with complimentary toiletries.

A large balcony in the pool-view suites with a table and two chairs looks directly at the rich foliage of palm trees, pool and Miilé Spa.

Buildings near the spa are nice and quiet as the more lively pools where activities are held are nearer to the beach. These suites provided the tranquillity we were looking for in this beautiful resort.

view of the pool and gardens from the junior suite balcony in Excellence Riviera Cancun

Sunrise and sunset at Excellence Riviera Cancun

Whether you are up at the crack of dawn or prefer to see the sun go down with a cocktail in hand, you can be sure that you will be treated to a beautiful display of colours in Mexico.

We didn’t wake early enough to see a sunrise; however, the sunset didn’t fail to impress.

Whether you visit Excellence with friends and family or as honeymooners, nothing matches being together to watch the sun set the sky on fire before it retreats behind the horizon.

Sunset over the sea in Mexico

Excellence Riviera Maya Beach

Beach loungers and umbrellas are plentiful, and beach beds are available for an additional charge. Waiter service is available on the beach.

The beach is public, although we didn’t see anyone other than resort guests using it. Along this stretch of golden sand beach are resort hotels as far as the eye can see.

Sadly, the beach is affected by Sargassum (seaweed), much like the rest of the Riviera Maya coastline. To swim in the sea, you must wade through the seaweed to get out far enough to swim properly. The hotel staff do their best to clear the beach each morning; however, it is a tireless job, and no sooner is it cleared away, more arrives.

I travelled in January and had to wade through the sargassum to swim. The sea is also a bit rough and not the clear turquoise water I thought I would experience in Mexico. If you don’t like things touching your feet and legs in the water, forget about swimming in the sea, or wear sea shoes and brace yourself!

Once in the water, I was also shocked at how much plastic and rubbish floated around me so close to shore.

Beach with Palm trees at Excellence Riviera Maya

Pelicans in Cancun Riviera Maya

Each day you will see a whole bunch of pelicans sitting on the old wooden pier remains; if, like me, you come from a country that doesn’t have pelicans, then this is lovely to experience. You can watch them catching fish and storing them in their bills – fabulous.

pelicans sitting on wooden pier

You can walk along the beach in either direction past the other Riviera Maya Cancun resorts. There’s not much to see, but you will come to the directional signpost that makes for a good picture.

Angie standing by directional sign

If I’m honest, there’s not much else to see after that apart from a lot of washed-up plastic, which I wasn’t expecting. I dragged a couple of black bags and bottles out of the water as it can have disastrous effects on sealife and ocean health.

If you continue walking, you will reach the headland, but I am not sure what is further on from there.

View back to Akumal Bay

Landscaping and wildlife at Excellence Riviera Cancun

I have to say one of the things that I loved about Excellence Riviera Cancun was the beautiful landscaping at every turn.

Dense foliage makes the areas around the pools feel extremely tropical, with hidden gems like a jacuzzi and hammocks to relax alone or with a loved one.

Add to that the birdsong that fills the air and the rustle of the palm trees, and you can transport yourself to paradise.

Resident wildlife roams around the resort in the form of the native South American mammal, the coati. This cute-looking animal resembles a cross between a small bear and a racoon with a long tail.

They are unfazed by the resort guests and go about their day digging up bugs in the gardens. They are fabulous to watch; however, they are wild, so they mustn’t be petted!

Iguanas can also be seen around the resort, basking in the Mexican sunshine.

An iguana drinking water from an upturned rock in Akumal

Swimming Pools at Excellence Riviera Cancun

Six pools are dotted around the resort, offering quiet pools for relaxing or more lively pools, close to the pool bars for guests wanting to be in the thick of the action with live music and pool activities.

One of the large pools has a swim-up bar, which seemed popular with the younger guests when we visited. It also has an upper deck where live music is played. On our trip, a Mexican band played fabulous tunes and had guests dancing in the pool and on the sidelines (me included!).

Two pools are heated during the winter months (Nov – Mar). The rest of the year relies on the scorching heat of the Mexican sun.

Pool at Excellence Riviera Cancun

Dining at Excellence

There are eleven dining options at Excellence, but I am sad to say they were hit-and-miss with food quality and service.

Having already been to Secrets Akumal and enjoyed fresh produce cooked to perfection in most instances, I was disappointed with the continuity of food quality at Excellence.

Wine served by the glass is included in the all-inclusive package. Ordering bottles of wine in restaurants incurs an additional cost and is not part of the all-inclusive package.

That said, I had a fabulous meal at the Lobster House and returned a second time!

Restaurant patio with tables and chairs decorated in a Mexican style
Agave Mexican restaurant at Excellence Riviera Cancun

Review of Restaurants at Excellence Riviera Cancun

A thumbs up for Lobster House and Toscana

The Lobster House was my favourite restaurant and served seafood and meat dishes. The dishes we all had were fresh and cooked to perfection, and the servers were friendly. The restaurant has a pool and sea view and gets full quickly, so get there early or reserve a table if you don’t want to lose out.

Toscana is the resort’s mega buffet offering, and it is fantastic. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it has a mix of every dish you could ever want, and the quality is high. Alongside the cold buffet choices, hot stations cook pasta, eggs, and meat while you wait. The produce is fresh and tasty; if I had known the restaurants weren’t great, I would have eaten here in the evening, too!

Not impressed with Basmati, Agave, Chez Isabelle, Spice

Basmati is an Indian restaurant, and it is here that I ate what I could only describe as the worst Indian meal I have ever had. Swimming in grease with gristle and either over or under-spiced, we left most of our meal and had to get room service as we were still hungry. There is nothing authentic about this Indian food despite other reviews saying it was the best they had tasted outside of India!!

Agave is the resort’s Mexican restaurant, and we were hoping for great things but were disappointed with the food we were served. We thought the Mexican dishes would be on point as they were traditional recipes; however, they were bland or over-seasoned, which is a shame. We did, however, have some amazing margaritas, which dulled down the inadequate food offerings.

Chez Isabelle is a romantic French restaurant in an authentic French setting; however, our meals were a bit of a letdown. In contrast, three family members had fantastic meals; the other two were underwhelmed by what was served. It seems it is dependent on your menu choices as to whether the dinner will be good or bad, which isn’t acceptable.

Spice is an Asian fusion restaurant with a modern setting and a pre-bookable Hibachi experience. It serves favourite Asian dishes, including Pad Thai, sushi and ramen. I would give this restaurant a higher score than some of the others, but what let it down was the servers who first got the orders wrong and then were quite grumpy when we pointed it out. They also seemed to be rushing us to get the next group of diners in (after we had only been there one hour)

Restaurants not visited

The Flavour Market serves up tapas in a casual setting.

Oregano is an Italian restaurant serving traditional pizza and pasta dishes.

Las Olas is a poolside snack bar serving pizzas and burgers

The Grill is a steak and burger restaurant.

The Sports Bar offers bar foods like burgers and nachos and is where to go for live screenings of sports events.

Restaurant Bookings

The restaurants work on a first-come, first-served basis and get filled quickly, so be sure to put your name down with the maître d to book a table for the time you would like.

And while the resort doesn’t openly tell guests they can book restaurants with reception, you can – we did!

The good thing about waiting for a table is that Excellence has an unbeatable martini bar. It is the perfect place for a pre-dinner cocktail, and when you see the extensive martini menu, you may want to forget about dinner altogether!

Pool Bars and Drink Quality

You will never go thirsty at Excellence Riviera Cancun, as plenty of bars are scattered around the resort. From the long bar in the theatre, a place to pick up drinks to enjoy while watching nightly shows, to the swim-up pool bar in the beach pool, you won’t have to wait long to get a cooling cocktail or beer.

The cocktails are okay, depending on the barperson mixing your drink. Some will come out sickly sweet or taste only of neat alcohol and not much else, while others will be perfectly mixed and a delight to drink. When they are good, they are delicious, but it’s the luck of the draw what you’ll get each time.

Showtime Theatre Bar

The evening entertainment at the showtime bar is excellent and features international and local acts to entertain the guests. Fire dancers, acrobats and singers all take to the stage or the outdoor courtyard to showcase their skills.

We would not usually bother watching evening entertainment, but we stayed for a few shows and were impressed with the quality of the acts we saw.

As well as the official entertainment schedule, you can showcase your own talents with the guest’s karaoke spot before dancing yourself dizzy at the silent disco; such a fun activity, especially after a drink or two!

fire eaters in the outer courtyard at Excellence Riviera Cancun

Resort Activities

If you can’t sit still for too long, the resort has many activities to keep you on your toes. Try beach yoga, ping pong competitions or learning Spanish, to name a few. Fun, hands-on experiences like dance classes and cocktail-making are also popular with guests.

We enjoyed playing ping-pong and snooker each afternoon in the shaded outdoor games area. It was nice to play games with each other after a morning by the pool doing nothing!

Excellence Themed Activities

We took part in the traditional Mexican ceremony of releasing butterflies during our stay. There are often events like this at Excellence; keep a look out on the notice boards around the resort or ask at reception.

men dressed in traditional Mexican tribal outfits on the beach at Excellence Riviera Cancun

As someone who loves butterflies and is also interested in other cultures and ceremonies, it was wonderful to participate in this ancient ritual and learn how the release of the butterflies signifies new life and renewal.

Fitness Centre

If you intend to keep up your fitness levels while enjoying unlimited, all-inclusive dining, the small on-site fitness center is fitted with a few pieces of equipment and free weights.

Miilé Spa at Excellence Resort Cancun

Book a pampering session at the Miilé Spa is a must when staying at Excellence. The hydrotherapy pools and massages on offer are incredible.

The spa prices are high, but there are always spa offers to suit most budgets; believe me, it is well-spent money. It is a haven for rejuvenating the body and mind.

Mille spa building in Excellence Riviera Cancun

Excellence Scuba Diving Centre

Head to the Excellence Dive Centre and book one of their scuba diving trips.

While we were on the Riviera Maya, it was Bull Shark season, and so my two sons booked to scuba dive with the female bull sharks who arrive in this area each spring to birth their pups.

They were picked up for the dive directly from the resort and transferred to Playa Del Carmen to join the boat, which took them to the spot where the bull sharks would be.

Two men wearing scuba diving equipment on a boat by the shore.

You will need to be an advanced scuba diver to participate, and they both agreed it was one of the most exciting dives they have ever done.

Learn more about scuba diving with bull sharks in Playa del Carmen.

There are plenty of other excursions in Cancun that don’t include sharks. We chose to do the jungle cruise with reef snorkelling, which was fun. We took a small two-person speed boat through the mangroves and out to the open sea, where we parked on a buoy and swam beneath the ocean.

Book your speedboat mangrove jungle and snorkel tour through Get Your Guide.

yellow speed boats on the water

If you have heard of MUSA, the underwater sculpture park in Cancun, this is where you can see a section of it.

We weren’t aware it was part of the mangrove speedboat trip, so we were surprised when we came face to face with a sculpture as we were snorkelling!

Tours on the Riviera Maya Cancun

If you can drag yourself away from your sun lounger or the beach, there are many great things to do in Puerto Morelos.

Tulum is a 90-minute drive from Excellence Riviera Cancun, and the Tulum ruins and cenotes shouldn’t be missed.

I booked a Tulum Ruins Guided Tour and Two Cenotes. They pick up in central Cancun and from Riviera Maya hotels on the way to Tulum.

We paid $15 extra each to swim in the Tulum cenotes, which was worth every penny. I would highly recommend doing the same tour as we did, as it was so much fun and taught us about Mexican history and culture.

Temple of the wind in Tulum on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Caribbean ocean and sandy beach.
Temple of the Wind, Tulum

Angie’s Final Thoughts on Excellence Riviera Cancun

I visited Riviera Cancun Excellence to celebrate a special family birthday as part of a two-centre holiday following a previous five-night stay at Secrets Akumal.

Two of my family members had visited Excellence several times before and always sang its praises, so we wanted to try it ourselves.

We booked three junior pool-view suites for six nights.

I have to say that while we enjoyed certain aspects of the resort, like the swimming pools, gardens, Miilé spa, evening entertainment and sleep quality of the beds, there were quite a few things that we didn’t enjoy, which now impact my decision to give Excellence Cancun a solid recommendation.

My main disappointment was the inferior quality of the food, the tired decor of the rooms and lack of enthusiasm from some staff members.

Excellence is classed as a luxury resort, and certain aspects are; however, I felt it was worn out in places and ready for a make-over. If you want a modern Cancun Riviera Maya all inclusive resort, I would say that this might not be what you are looking for, so look around, as there are plenty of other resorts in the Riviera Maya.

My Mexico holiday was made special by spending quality time with my family, which is priceless no matter where you are!

Do you need to arrange travel insurance, car hire or accommodation? Please check out my resources page to help you plan your trip.

Please Pin for Future Travel to Mexico

If you are considering joining a turtle tour in Akumal, you might like to read my post first: How to Snorkel with Turtles in Akumal, Mexico, Responsibly.

Trisha Velarmino

Thursday 2nd of May 2024

I live in Mexico and stayed here when we were single! Definitely a great resort for adults and couples. I did not try the spa though. What are their price range for the spa as I think it's paid separately?

WhereAngieWanders

Thursday 2nd of May 2024

Yes, the spa is payable separately for the different treatments you have of which there are many.

Jazmarae Beebe

Thursday 2nd of May 2024

Wow. What a beautiful resort and impressive junior suite! I'd be particularly interested in releasing the butterflies with the locals! Hopefully I can make it some day.

alyson

Thursday 2nd of May 2024

I have not been to Riviera Cancun but this looks like a great choice for an all inclusive! I will be saving for future travel.

Ashlea

Monday 27th of November 2023

I have never been to an Excellence resort but it looks amazing. I am saving this for future travel to Mexico !

Maninder

Monday 27th of November 2023

This looks like an excellent all-inclusive, so much to do there and such beautiful grounds. Shame about the food not being too good but I am still adding it to my bucketlist.