This year, North American TBEX was graciously hosted by Moon Palace Resorts on their Sunrise property. While the location is outside of Cancun proper, you can easily see the Hotel Zone from their beach. Kim has already written about her most memorable experience at the Sunrise Palace regarding her finger. Her accident was hardly the highlight of our trip, but it also wasn’t our WHOLE trip. So, I figured I would give Moon Palace an overview for anyone interested in visiting Cancun and trying to figure out where to stay.
Arriving at Sunrise Palace was pretty similar to arriving at the one other All-Inclusive we’ve been to. You get out of the car, they offer to help you with your bags (we didn’t have much, so we just held on to ours – which was a bigger deal than it should have been, but no harm, no foul) and you’re passed a cool, wet towel. The towel was nice as it was pretty humid when we arrived. The property itself makes a good impression with its ENORMOUS lobby. In the lobby is check-in (duh) and several other guest assistant desks, but the highlight is a nice bar where live music was being played as we arrived.
Here’s where things hit a bit of a bump – actually check-in was a bit of a nightmare. When we visited Sandals’ La Toc resort in St. Lucia, check-in did take a few minute, but I don’t recall it being terrible (aside from the overbearing orientation on your first full day on the resort, but that’s another story). I’m sure it was only 10-15 minutes to get checked in, but that is a pretty long time especially when you have several guests arriving all at once. I don’t run a hotel and I get that there is a lot of information that you want to convey to me before you turn me loose, but when I’ve spent the whole day traveling to get to the resort, just let me go to my room. Whatever you tell me is unlikely to fully stick anyhow.
I’d like to be clear here – the staff is not the problem. The people working the front desk were very nice and were working as quickly as possible to answer questions and get guests on their way – they just have a lot of stuff to go over. Here’s your bracelet, your key card, your packet of information. Here’s information on all of our restaurants, bars, pools, etc. The amount of stuff for them to go over is ridiculous – can I maybe have the option of the abridged version with the understanding that I will explore and I’ll give you a call if I get a little lost?
When we did eventually make our way to the room, I definitely was not let down. The room was gorgeous. Every balcony has a hammock, which can be a bit tough to get in and out of, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. There was a great in-room bath, an enormous shower and a well-stocked minibar (included of course). There were plenty of lights to give the room a homey feel at night and ours was on a nice side of the building so that during the day it was flooded with beautiful natural light.
Overall the room was great, but there was one problem. Trying to sort out those nice lights was like trying to walk through a maze blindfolded. Oh hey, there is a switch over there. Let’s try that one – nope, it doesn’t appear to do anything. How about this one? Oh – that turns on our balcony light. Here’s another – ah, the entryway light. Are you sure that first switch didn’t do anything? Oh, now it turns on the main lights in the room. Seriously – I’m not sure what was going on, but it seemed like the functionality of all of the switches changed based on which other switches were on. We’re not talking about a switch at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom – this was full-on lighting chaos!
The staff of the Sunrise was very nice. Most of them seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs. The night of our arrival, we discovered that the in-room safe would not close properly due to a slight misalignment of the lock. We called the front desk and I swear the maintenance guy was there in 5 minutes. It was after 10 PM local time when we arrived and got situated, so I fully expected to be told to wait until the next day as the malfunction was hardly an emergency – I just wanted them to be aware of it. He showed up and had the lock fixed in no time. Awesome.
Also, special shout-out to the wonderful cleaning lady I bumped into when I was walking around the property taking pictures who gave me the biggest, most honest and happy, “Have a beautiful day!” I’ve ever heard. Ma’am – I hope you have that good of a day every day.
The only real problem that we had with the staff was when Kim slipped on the unmarked wet floor in the lobby. It’s 3:30 in the morning, Kim has fallen and banged up her knee pretty good and her finger hurts like crazy. The cleaning people responsible for the wet floor 20 feet away just ignored her slip. The front desk lady did her best to gauge how serious the injury was and elected to call security to see if maybe they had something to give Kim and to try to get an incident report filled out. Security shows up as soon as our ride to the airport starts shouting for us to go.
In the end, we gave up trying to pass everything through the front desk lady who spoke passable English and our own barely passable Spanish. Instead, we left to go out to the van to make sure we didn’t get left behind and miss our flight. Security seemed a bit aggravated that Kim had the gall to slip on an unmarked wet floor (when floors across the lobby were marked wet) instead of concerned (sorry to inconvenience you) and the language issues weren’t helping any of us. In all honesty, it was probably best that we just bailed to go to the airport – we would’ve been there forever getting nothing constructive done. Kim got good medical attention as soon as we got home (though the trip back was a bit rough).
Now we get into the real meat of an all-inclusive: How’s all the stuff that’s included!? Well… it’s okay.
The bars are great and we enjoyed spending a couple of evenings at the lobby bar. The bartenders are friendly and were patient as we explained Kim’s cocktails to them, which they produced reasonably well from our less than ideal descriptions. (I drink simpler stuff that’s a bit harder to mess up).
The restaurants are where things get a little less awesome. The restaurants themselves are fine, but the food can be a bit hit-or-miss. We only really had a chance to check out the buffet and the food was certainly mediocre. It’s pretty standard buffet fare, with the occasional bit of Mexican flair thrown in. Pizza, various veggies, rices and pastas combined with meats and cheeses make up the bulk of your options. Most of it was good. My real issue was the distinct lack of really good, really authentic Mexican food. Kim and I LOVE Mexican food and it was a little sad to be in Mexico and not have easy access to great Mexican cuisine.
Food-wise, the highlight was a little coffee and snack bar off the main lobby. Here, you could get your hands on all sorts of sandwiches, chocolates cookies, ice creams and popsicles. If you do find yourself at the Sunrise, definitely check out the popcicles at this spot. The pineapple one was very good.
Sunrise’s property is quite beautiful. The pool area is sprawling and overall very nice. We managed to hop in for a short dip despite a downpour on our only free day. It was a bit chilly, but that’s exactly what you’d want when the weather gets humid.
Also, the pool area features the FlowRider, a surf simulator. While we didn’t give this one a go, there is a pool bar right next to it, so we sipped a drink while we watched people get on the board and promptly wipe out. If I had to guess, it is more fun to watch those bolstered by the false confidence all those included drinks offer than it is to actually try it out. Speaking to another TBEX attendee, it was quite a bit of fun, but he was pretty sore the next morning.
That brings us to the beach. Kim talked about releasing baby sea turtles on the beach which was super fun. Aside from that though, this beach leaves a bit to be desired. The sand is nice, but there was quite a bit of debris that washed up on the shore when we visited. For the most part, this would not be a beach you’d run right out on in hopes of walking in the waves or wading out a bit further. The water is a bit murky, but overall, it wasn’t really anything to write home about. If you’re up for a game of beach volleyball though, they do have a few courts set up and the furniture for sunbathing is nice.
Overall, the Sunrise was nice. The property and staff are great, but it’s not without it’s flaws. We only visited for a few days and I would rate it as an okay resort, but it was not what I would call a “must stay.” There’s nothing terrible about the place – just some minor nitpicks. If you can get a good price and you’re a big fan of all-inclusive vacations, give it a shot.
What to know if you go
Like many locations in more tropical climates, mosquitoes can be a real hassle. Keep your bug spray handy.
Also, when you are booking a trip back to the airport – forget the shuttle services. They’ll want to pick you up ungodly early and feed you a line about how it takes an hour to get to the airport and various other problems could lead to a long ride. It takes ten minutes. Especially if you are on a morning flight. We were at our gate by 4:30 in the morning for an 8:30 flight. Just get a cab and show up when you think you should get there for your flight.
Moon Palace Resorts: SunriseCarretera Cancun-Chetumal Km. 36.5 Tamul 77500 Cancún, QROO, Mexico
Moon Palace Resorts: SunriseCarretera Cancun-Chetumal Km. 36.5 Tamul 77500 Cancún, QROO, Mexico