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Hotel Check: Garza Blanca Resort & Spa Cancun

Gourmet dining, abundant swimming pools and ocean views

WHERE IS IT? Thirty minutes from the international airport and fronting a private beach with Isla Mujeres in the distance, Garza Blanca enjoys panoramic views just north of the main hotel zone. The pier near the hotel is also a convenient spot for area tours and excursions including a variety of watersport activities and catamaran sailings.

WHAT’S IT LIKE? This all-inclusive resort, a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, is still a work in progress. It is currently in a soft opening phase, and guests will find part of the building to still be under construction – eventually growing from the current 162 suites to a total of 452 suites in all. Luckily, management is offering special rates for guests since construction noise is possible in the coming year. Also still in the works are a spa, numerous restaurants and additional pool and bar areas, but for now, guests can use the facilities of its sibling Villa del Palmar resort next door. Essentially, guests have two resorts in one place.

Garza Blanca guests have plenty to excite and entice them during their visit. Most notable are the numerous swimming pools with cushioned day beds, cabanas and numerous palm trees surrounding them. An Olympic-sized swimming pool with a glass wall is a big draw (especially for photos), but so is the infinity-edge pool that seems to spill directly into the sea. When the resort is fully complete, all rooms will enjoy excellent views, and the numerous dining options will rival some of the best luxury resorts in the area.

ROOM FACILITIES Only a subset of rooms is open now, but all of them enjoy beautiful views of the pools and ocean. These sizeable accommodations have contemporary décor, colorful fabrics and artwork, large-scale photographs of well-known Mexican locales and furnished balconies with hammocks. Besides the view, the beds are the star of the show with bespoke pillowtop mattresses and stacks of enormous pillows. High-quality linens and duvets assure a sound rest.

You cannot go far in the rooms without finding power and USB outlets at every turn including by the bed and dining tables. The large, flat-screen TVs have ports that allow guests to sync their own devices with the large screen. Electronic controls open and close the drapery, and Nespresso machines and coffeemakers are an appreciated perk.

Junior suites are the entry-level category with larger one-bedroom suites adding separate living areas behind a sliding mirrored door. These also have second, full bathrooms with showers plus kitchens with stainless steel appliances and refrigerators stocked with complimentary drinks and snacks. Many of these have sofa beds in the living room.

The most impressive accommodations have wrap around balconies and multiple bedrooms ideal for families. On the top floors, tri-level loft suites offer beautiful views of the turquoise water and feature a whirlpool and patio with outdoor shower on the rooftop. Many of the ground-level rooms open directly to private plunge pools.

Bathrooms are gigantic with marble showers and separate soaking tubs. Double vanities come stocked with L’Occitane toiletries and enormous plush towels. The rooms have mirrors everywhere reflecting the outdoor views, which are visible from the shower and tub. Separate water closets feature Japanese toilets, and robes and slippers are available in the sliding closet. Laundry facilities are yet another impressive touch so that you don’t return home from vacation with dirty clothes.

All rooms come with butler service who can assist with everything from restaurant reservations to tours.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Perhaps the most notable part about Garza Blanca and its neighboring Villa del Palmar is the quality of the food and beverage experience. Expert chefs lead the various restaurants, which include Mexican, Japanese and Italian options open now, and a Chinese outlet and international food hall concept coming soon. Most guests opt for the all-inclusive package, but people can also choose to book an a la carte rate without food and drinks included, which may be popular if you plan to spend most of your time exploring away from the resort.

Blanca Blue is the all-day dining restaurant serving a bountiful breakfast selection including a buffet as well as a la carte menu with plenty of Mexican dishes like chilaquiles and Aztec crepes. The Mexican menu at dinner is exquisite, showcasing recipes from around the country with Michelin-star quality and presentation. Exhibition kitchens in most restaurants give guests a chance to watch the action. A food truck by the beach serves tasty ceviche, light snacks and potent cocktails. Other dining options include sushi at Hiroshi and freshly made pizza and pasta at Davino.

LEISURE FACILITIES A 24-hour fitness center has modern equipment, and a new spa is in the works (for now, guests can use the gym and spa next door). On the beach, guests can enjoy lounge chairs beneath a palapa while staff pass by to take bar and snack orders at any time. When it opens, the kids club will operate from morning to night providing supervised activities. Since the club will stay open late, parents can enjoy a private dinner while their children have fun.

The heated pools are the main activity for guests who nibble on tacos, salads and other delicious fare while enjoying the happening pool scene. Live music makes an occasional appearance including a trumpet player that serenades guests with popular songs. Several whirlpools are available, and some of the pools have massaging jets. A swim-up bar keeps guests sufficiently hydrated, and a second pool bar will open soon.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Wireless Internet works well including on the balconies and by the many pools. New event spaces are scheduled to open by the end of 2021.

VERDICT This is not your typical all-inclusive resort. Part of the upscale, 100 percent Mexican-owned Tafer hotel portfolio, this property delivers excellent quality on all fronts including the elegant accommodations, amazing food, genuine service and sparkling swimming pools worth experiencing.

PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Gourmet dining, gorgeous swimming pools and turquoise ocean views

HOW MANY ROOMS? Currently, 162 suites

CONTACT Garza Blanca Cancun, Carretera a Punta Sam km. 5.2 Mza 9 Lote 3, Zona Continental de Isla Mujeres. Cancun, Q.R., 77400, Mexico. Tel +52 998 193 2600,

All Images: Garza Blanca Resort Cancun