Aloft is a visually striking and very distinctive brand in the SPG family; I would call it a younger and poorer cousin to their other brand W. It’s still hip, stylish, and youthful (I would use the word boyish, but that would be sexist 🙂 ). I’m sure a lot of people like the style and appreciate the effort, but I can’t say I do. Bright neon lights that would make an arcade or a night club look great do not necessarily work for the place where you spend your nights. I personally prefer a more conservative feel for a hotel, but to each their own. Plenty of people love the design, and the lobby looks really cool. No doubt there!
The Location Could Not Be Better… Or Worse
The Aloft Cancun is right downtown, around the corner from Coco Bongo and one of the nicest beaches in town. And the thing about Cancun is that if you like your ocean to plat truly Caribbean colors–that beautiful mix of azure and emerald–then downtown Cancun is one of the few places where you want to be based. As you would expect, staying downtown also means access to endless entertainment options and eateries for every budget and taste. The Tacos Camineiro–an excellent Mexican restaurant with great food, low prices and air conditioning–is right around the corner.
But since there is always but, this location also works against the hotel. Tranquil, it is not! Be prepared to be accosted by numerous touts as you stroll down Boulevard Cuculcan at any time of day or night. Or perhaps, this is because,it’s a low season now in Cancun; and the tourists are few and far between.
So, some of the biggest Aloft advantages are also the source of its downside. The location is one of them, and there are more, but good things first.
Aloft Cancun Pros
- The hotel is brand new. It’s probably the newest property in town.
- Location, location, location. It’s on the main drag, next to the buses and in the same building as the Cancun Convention Center???
- The central bus station (to Riviera Maya, Tulum, etc.) is just a short bus ride away.
- It is right across from the ferry to Isla de Mejores.
- You can use their contracted beach club, which is right next to the Coco Bongo. It’s open from 10 to 6.
- It’s a cheap stay on both, SPG points and cash. You will need 3,000 points on the weekends and 4,000 on the weekdays, or $70-90 a night. A great rate for a full-service SPG property in the middle of the major tourist destination.
- Beautiful, hip, modern lobby with a pool table, a bar, and a reasonably priced restaurant.
- A rooftop pool with a bar and panoramic view.
- Cute bathroom with a mini Spanish shower. Plenty of hot water, too, and I stayed on the top, 10th flooк.
- The view from my room if you don’t look down. 🙂
- Location: noisy and busy.
- The price-point reflects the Cancun hotel costs in general for non-inclusive properties; the Aloft is not an exceptional bargain.
- Regular rooms were not available for my dates, and so they charged me 5K per night instead of 4K. Needless to say, I do not enjoy this trend, especially when hotels pull this “regular room” trick in low season and for no apparent reason at all!
- The lobby is too hip, too funky, and too much in your face (if there is such a thing).
- The room decor is a bit ridiculous with cheap wooden laminate panels and furniture that are totally out of place. These wooden panels immediately took me back to the old Soviet hotel design of the 1980-s.
- Why put a work desk in the room if there is no source of light around? The room is dark, and a desk lamp is a must!
- While their mattress was comfortable, the linens were rough on the skin. Look, I don’t expect the 400-thread count, but I seriously don’t remember when I had even been aware about the linens at a hotel.
- The view from my room’s window if you do look down. 🙂
Do I Still Recommend This Place?
Absolutely! If you are watching your budget and want to stay smack dab in the center of the town at a modern, and comfortable hotel, go for it! The staff are super friendly, and the service is what you would expect from SPG, meaning excellent. When you walk out of the hotel and turn right, there is a small place that sells soups and quesadillias for about a buck! There is also a taco alley across from the Coco Bongo where there are all kinds of restaurants and tacky souvenir shops.
By the way, do not use the beach across from the hotel, it is narrow, and there is nothing good about it. What you need is the one that is behind Coco Bonga where there is a contracted Beach Club is.
This is the entrance to the Mandala Beach Club. Drinks are not too bad, around $5-7.
Should You Even Stay Downtown at All?
Yes, if this is your first visit to the area: to party, take in a few shows try a few restaurants, and do some fine shopping if you are so inclined.. Cancun, at least its Zona Hoteliera is very americanized, and yet, even Miami Beach feels more Latino. As to me, this is my second Cancun visit (the first was 3 years ago, and I spent it at an AI without going anywhere).
So, like I said, if it was my first visit, I would split my stay. Perhaps, three days in Cancun just to see what it’s all about; a day on Isla de Mujeras; and another 5-7 days exploring the Riviera Maya down south. Next time I’m heading south, straight from the plane.