• Catherine Joy

Staying at Iberostar Selection in Cancún: My Unsponsored Review of the All-Inclusive Resort


John and I recently got home from our first international trip since April 2019, and I’ve been replaying our week abroad over and over again in my head ever since landing back in the States. To say I was feeling stir crazy over the past two and a half years would be an understatement! I was getting so desperate for a trip that I could not say “no” to a 3.5 hour direct flight to Cancún. In July, we made the decision to book our trip to Mexico for September. After exploring our options of which hotel to stay at, we decided on Iberostar Selection in Cancún, a 5-star, all-inclusive resort.


Since John and I are both fully vaccinated against COVID-19, we felt pretty comfortable with our decision to start traveling internationally again. That being said, we still took many precautions before, during, and after our vacation, including wearing masks whenever indoors or interacting with others, disinfecting frequently touched items, hand washing/sanitizing, rapid COVID testing, etc. I also can’t say enough about how impressed we were with the health and safety protocols enforced at our resort! Their mask requirements, cleaning practices, and convenient onsite COVID testing station allowed us to relax for the first time in a long time and fully enjoy our vacation!


Why We Chose this Resort

We booked our trip to Cancún through Expedia. If you’ve ever used a travel booking site before, then you know that the choices can be a bit overwhelming! We explored A LOT of options before deciding on where to stay. To narrow our choices down, we made a list of the amenities we wanted the most. Our list of most-desired features included: all-inclusive, ocean-front, swim-up bar, beach access, close to the airport, and sustainable practices. Iberostar Selection Cancún checked off everything on our list - and more! After reading the exceptional reviews on Expeida, we pulled the trigger. Since we were traveling to Cancún during the “off-season,” we also got an unbelievably great deal when we booked! For 5 days and 6 nights (plus our flights to Mexico and back) we paid a little over 1,000 USD each.


Getting There

Iberostar Selection is located in the “Hotel Zone” of Cancun. The Hotel Zone is where you will find many all-inclusive resorts, restaurants, places to shop, and an abundance of relaxing, sandy beaches. The best (and only) way to get from the airport to the Hotel Zone is by car. There are plenty of private car/taxi options to take, but if you’re looking for an easy way to save a little money, I suggest opting for a shared shuttle to pick you up and drive you to your hotel. We booked our shared shuttle ahead of time through BD Experience. As soon as we landed in Mexico, made our way through immigration and collected our luggage, representatives from BD Experience were waiting for us at the arrivals gate. After a short wait, we were loaded in the comfortable air-conditioned shuttle and brought directly to our hotel, which was one of the first locations the shuttle stopped at. On our drive, we passed by the gorgeous and popular beach, Playa Delfines, which was also within walking distance of our hotel. Iberostar Selection is located just a short 15 minute drive away from the Cancun International Airport, so it felt like we arrived at our resort almost immediately after landing in Mexico!


About the Property

I had dreamt for months about what it would feel like to finally travel again after not being able to for so long. As soon as we checked in to the hotel and briefly stopped by our room, I immediately got a margarita in my hand and we began exploring the resort. I think the best way to describe the shape of the hotel is to compare it to a fidget spinner! There is a main foyer area with three “wings” branching off of it. Right across from the front desk (where you check in) is where you can exit out to access the main pool area and beach. Many of the restaurants are located in the main building and can be found either on the main level or on the mezzanine level. There is also a convention center, which is where we went to schedule and complete our COVID testing that was required in order to get back into the States. The COVID testing was included free-of-charge if you were staying at the hotel for at least five nights. There were also many travel company representatives on-site, which made it easy for us to book our day-trip to Chichen Itza and the cenote. The property was clean, luxurious, and everything I could have dreamt of for this relaxing vacation!





The Room

When we booked this trip, we were given the option to upgrade our room from a Garden View to an Ocean View with no extra cost. Of course, despite knowing we probably wouldn’t be spending too much time in our room except to sleep, we opted for the Ocean View. Even though I’m convinced that any view would have been incredible in Cancun, I’m so glad we made the choice that we did - waking up to the sights of the sunrise over the ocean’s horizon every morning of our stay was unbelievable! The room was very clean, comfortable, and modern. The mini-fridge was fully stocked with cans of sodas and sparkling water, and we were able to request a restock of it once per day. Soap, body lotion, and shampoo/conditioner were in refillable bottles in the bathroom, and the quality of the products was surprisingly excellent! 24-hour room service was also included in our stay, which neither of us had ever ordered before this trip! On our last full day, we took advantage of the room service for lunch after we had gotten back to our resort after a snorkeling adventure (more about that to come in a later blog post). If you’re willing to splurge a little bit more on a room, they also had an option to book an oceanfront villa, which includes a private swim-out pool.




Food and Dining

I cannot say enough positive things about the food and dining experiences at this resort! After staying at other all-inclusive resorts, I was so incredibly impressed with the quality of the food (even at the buffet-style restaurant) and the service!


Upon check-in to the resort, we briefly met with the concierge, who helped orient us to the resort’s amenities and made reservations for us at each of the on-site restaurants. There are five sit-down restaurants, 1 buffet restaurant, and 8 bars - a few of which allow you to order snacks from.


Here are the names and a few details about each of the restaurants:

  • Antiguo Laguito Buffet - the buffet, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • American Bistro - the name says it all. This restaurant served food you would typically find in the U.S., but don’t let that discourage you from being excited about this dinner option - it was delicious!

  • El Maguey Mexican Restaurant - the oceanside restaurant offering a variety of Mexican cuisine for lunch and/or dinner

  • Trattoria La Horma - save room for the desserts at this yummy Italian restaurant, open for dinner

  • Naga Hibachi Japanese Restaurant - a fun and delicious dining experience! Don’t be afraid to try the sushi - I loved it!

  • La Parrilla Rotisserie - the resort’s “steakhouse” - open for dinner - that served some of the most top-of-the-line cuts of meat


We hit up the buffet multiple times, and ate at 4 out of the 5 sit-down restaurants. Everything was completely included except the tip - we always try to tip well while on vacations (even at all-inclusive resorts). The only restaurant that we did not sit down to eat at was the Mexican restaurant, El Maguey Mexican Restaurant, and that is because the resort threw a Mexican Fiesta in celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day on the evening that we would have gone. It ended up working out perfectly, because we were still able to enjoy some delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine at the fiesta even without going to the Mexican restaurant. My favorite thing I ate at the fiesta was definitely the elote (Mexican street corn)!


Some of our favorite bars that we hit up for drinks and snacks throughout the week were:

  • Las Olas Beach Bar - located next to the beach (pro-tip: there’s a bathroom located behind it)

  • Carey Snack Bar - the full-sized poolside bar where you could get delicious drinks and a variety of snacks, like burritos and sandwiches

  • Starcafé - the in-house coffee shop, serving up specialty coffee drinks, pastries, and sandwiches. We hit this one up many times in the morning and/or for an afternoon caffeine pick-me-up

  • Las Palmas Lobby Bar - some of our best margaritas came from the main lobby bar

  • La Perla Pool Bar - the swim-up bar, where we ordered most of our drinks from since we spent most of our time in the pool!

(Scroll through the photos below to see some of out delicious meals and snacks!)


Pool

There is one large, main pool on the resort, as well as a couple jacuzzis and a water park for kids! We spent most of our time during this trip either in the pool or relaxing in the lounge chairs beside it. The pool had a large swim-up bar, which we spent plenty of time at! Every day, there were activities led in or near the pool, including water polo, bingo, and an obstacle course. The pool also overlooked the beach/ocean and you couldn’t beat that view! Beach towels could be checked out from a small building beside the pool and we were able to reserve 2 at a time - to get fresh towels, we just had to return our used ones. Something to be aware of near the pool area is the wildlife! I referred to every day between the hours of 1-3pm as the “Iguana Time” because that’s when the Mexican spiny-tailed iguanas would emerge! The resort, once again impressing me, had a lot of signage up about respecting wildlife and not feeding any animals you see around the resort. PLEASE do not ever feed wild animals. It can be extremely harmful to their health, as well as the health of the ecosystem they are a part of. That being said, these iguanas was pretty assertive and definitely not afraid to jump right up on the lounge chair with you and swipe some of your food! We witnessed some guests being pretty skittish with them nearby, but John and I thought they were super cool to see!








Beach

Iberostar Selection Cancun is located right on the ocean and has direct access to a gorgeous sandy beach. One of the very first things I made sure we did as soon as we arrived was head to the water. Since Cancun is situated along the Caribbean Sea, the beach offers breathtaking views of the vibrant turquoise waters. I could have sat and watched/listened to the sound of the waves crashing into the shore for hours and hours. And the resort had plenty of lounge chairs and beach umbrellas all along the beach for doing just that! We spent some time on the beach every day during our stay! It was a great spot to relax, get some sun, splash around in the water, and spot some of the native species of sea birds! Please consider using reef-safe, biodegradable sunscreen when traveling to the beach to protect wildlife.







Entertainment & Amenities

If you’re looking for more than just eating delicious food and lounging by the pool during your vacation, Iberostar Selection has you covered! They went above and beyond when it came to entertainment. Each night they put on a different themed show in their spacious theater. I was blown away by the amazing talent that was showcased throughout the week! In addition to the nightly entertainment, there was never a moment when you couldn’t find something fun and exciting to do. Depending on the day and time, there were soccer ball kicking contests, beach volleyball games, pool-side Zumba classes, bingo, water polo, ‘bags’ tournaments, etc. There are also 2 tennis courts, basketball courts, a regulation FIFA soccer field, and an 18-hole golf course! When we were there, they had also just reopened their gym with all brand-new weights and exercise equipment (We admittedly did not spend much time working out during this trip, but it was still neat to see the space and how it overlooks the beach!) If being active on your vacation isn’t something you’re looking for, they also have an on-site, relaxing spa where you can pamper yourself! And if you’re traveling with kids? Drop them off at the poolside Star Camp for fun and educational programming.




Sustainability Efforts

Above all else, the thing I was most impressed by was Iberostar’s commitment to sustainable practices. If you know me, then you know that sustainable actions and conscious consumption is incredibly important to me. It can be very challenging to reduce your environmental impact while traveling - especially while traveling internationally during a global pandemic. Fortunately, Iberostar made it much easier! For starters, the resort was 100% single-use plastic free! Instead of plastic water bottles, we had two tempered glass bottles in our room that we could fill up with filtered water at any of the numerous fill stations around the resort. In going plastic-free, they help to eliminate 420 tons of plastic waste per year, much of which would otherwise pollute the gorgeous oceans that we travel to these places to admire. They also are committed to a responsible consumption of seafood and to improving the coastal health of the ecosystems that surround their properties. In 2020, they even opened two coral nurseries to aid in the effort of reef restoration. I was in complete awe of Iberostar’s efforts toward building a circular economy, sustainably sourcing seafood, and improving coastal health! Read more about Iberostar’s commitment to the ocean and eco tourism here!




In Conclusion

I obviously can't say enough good things about Iberostar Selection Cancun! I would without a doubt return back to this resort someday, and if I did, I may opt in to their Coral Level, which offers exclusive access to a private, more secluded area with a pool. If you're looking for a clean, relaxing, and high-quality resort for your next vacation to Cancun, I highly recommend considering Iberostar Selection!


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