Loyal fans of some hotel chains often face a dilemma when planning a vacation to a tropical destination: stay true to their preferred brand, select an à la carte package and pay-as-they-go, or be lured by other chains and independent properties offering enticing all-inclusive packages. Now, devotees of one popular company can have the best of both worlds.
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest hotel franchisor, recently unveiled its first all-inclusive resort brand, Wyndham Alltra, which is also a strategic alliance with Playa Hotels & Resorts, a leader in all-inclusive resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. Wyndham Alltra currently has locations in Cancun and Playa del Carmen; the former is a family-friendly property, while the latter is adults-only. (The name “Alltra” is short for “All-Inclusive Travel for All,” a reference to the concept’s appeal in the upper-midscale category of resorts, offering an outstanding experience and a great value.)
I recently spent a few days at the Wyndham Alltra Cancun All-Inclusive Resort, located 20 minutes from the airport in the heart of the city’s Hotel Zone. Here are some things to know if you want to book your own AI Wyndham getaway in Cancun:
The 458 accommodations are decorated in a palette of whites, neutrals, and turquoise that matches the water just outside your door. They are divided into several categories: standard room, junior suite with private balcony and hammock, beachfront walkout junior with a terrace with direct beach access and cabana, and premium junior suite with private balcony and hammock and access to VIP suite.
All rooms include WiFi to stay connected, complimentary drinks and snacks in the minibar, room service, flat-screen HDTV, coffee and tea maker, safe, hair dryer, bathrobes, and deluxe bath products. Guests can upgrade to a swim-up suite with a semi-private infinity pool, or a master or presidential suite with separate bedrooms and access to the VIP lounge.
My vote is to book a room category that includes access to that lounge, which offers snacks and light fare throughout the day and a well-stocked bar cart with top shelf spirits, syrups, bitters, and mixers as well as fresh fruit, herbs, and garnishes. It’s a great little respite for a light breakfast or lunch before or after hitting the pool or beach, or for a pre- or post-dinner cocktail.
I was really impressed by the elevated menu of craft cocktails, like the Smoke Anana with mezcal, lemon juice, grilled pineapple, and serrano chili garnish, and the Waba Passion, with mezcal, agave, guava, and grapefruit juice, topped with sparkling water. I even collaborated with the bartender on a few original creations: a freshly muddled strawberry basil mojito and a gin and tonic made with Mexican gin infused with orange, ginger, and honey, topped with a splash of Campari and garnished with star fruit and basil. He was even nice enough to bring out a bowl of fried, salted, smoky crickets—Mexico’s perfect bar snack that’s way more addictive than mixed nuts.
Beach and Poolscape
The resort is blessed with an absolutely stunning white sand beach that’s neither rocky nor overtaken with sargassum, the brown seaweed that floats on the surface and collects at the shoreline that’s a major problem for some Mexican beaches. Not sure if luck, maintenance, or a combination of the two accounts for the lack of it here; either way it made for great swimming, wading and walking on the beach.
However, the Wyndham Alltra Cancun is one of those resorts where you have to stake claim to your beach chairs before breakfast if you want to secure a spot—especially one with a thatched palapa. Cabanas are available to rent and include a cooler with water, a bottle of bubbly, and snacks like guac, salsa, and chips; since it’s all-inclusive you can also order whatever drinks you’d like delivered to your beachside abode, and grab lunch at one of the buffets and enjoy it surfside.
If you don’t have a cabana or a beach umbrella, escape the searing midday sun for a bit at Las Olas Bar, where you can sway on a hanging wicker chair and sip a classic, pineapple or cucumber mojito, or a Riviera Maya, with rum, melon liqueur, strawberry pulp, and orange juice.
The main poolscape is very roomy—I didn’t have trouble snagging a chair here no matter the time of day, and the water was warm and enjoyable. There isn’t a swim bar, but Agave Bar is located right next to the water to quench your thirst with a spritzer or frozen libation. Kids will enjoy splashing and whooshing down the slides at the pirate ship pool nearby. (There is also a Kids’ Club where the younger set is entertained inside and outside while parents can get some me time, and a game room for tweens and teens.)
Aura Spa offers a selection of massages, facials, body treatments, and salon services. It also includes a hydrotherapy circuit with contrasting water temperatures, a steam bath, sauna, and outdoor tub. If you are looking for the ultimate in relaxation, book the 80-minute Blend Massage, a “greatest hits” of all their techniques: Swedish, Shiatsu, deep tissue, and hot stone. Stay after your treatment to linger in the outdoor coed jacuzzi.
Food and Beverage
With more than 10 restaurants and bars, you’re sure to find something for everyone. Depending on the length of your stay, however, you may need to strategize your dinner choices. Casa de Rosa serves authentic Mexican cuisine; signature dishes include lobster posole with meaty chunks of succulent shellfish, and mahi mahi served in a local preparation with tomatoes, peppers and herbs. The most interesting dessert was sweet corn cake served with corn ice cream and caramel corn, but I also couldn’t pass up a slice of cream-soaked tres leches cake.
The real showstopper was the tableside preparation of Mayan Coffee, sure to make every guest envious. The drink mixed Tequila and amaretto with coffee, topped with tequila poured down a flaming grapefruit peel onto freshly whipped cream. It wasn’t just a fancy parlor trick, either: the drink definitely picked up citrus flavor from the oils. It’s a must-order.
Viaggio serves pasta and Italian specialties in a black, white, and red dining room complete with a vintage Alfa Romeo. At Sunset is a newer dining concept, billed as a healthier option and open for lunch and dinner. Though, since the menu is heavy on salads and sandwiches, it makes it better suited for the former. They do a mean Greek Salad, grilled steak with vegetables and seared salmon, and if you have a sweet tooth fear not, there are plenty of desserts on the menu.
Ventanas is an all-day buffet, a great spot to start any adventure with chilaquiles, made-to-order omelets, freshly pressed juices, or pastries, or pop in for a midday repas of tacos, guacamole, grilled shrimp, or quesadillas. (Azul is the other buffet with a much smaller selection, which becomes an Asian-inspired restaurant at dinnertime.)
The grab-and-go spots on property are also worth a visit. Cafe Mexico is open 24 hours for hot and cold coffee and tea beverages, sandwiches, and pastries. Cravings is a tucked-away spot for ice cream, donuts, and other indulgences. And The Dog House is a poolside cart for a quick lunch when you don’t want to leave your lounge chair.
After dinner, head to the sleek KAA Bar & Lounge in the lobby for a nightcap and music. The beverage selections throughout the property are pretty standard, and you can upgrade to top shelf spirits if that’s your preference. At the restaurants and bars, you’ll find a white, red, rosé, and sometimes bubbly wine; other glasses and bottles are available for purchase. The resort would do well to add more included wine options, especially those made in Mexico.
If the location or layout of these resorts seems familiar to anyone, these properties were formerly Panama Jack Resorts, relaunched last December in time for the holiday season. One truly cool element is in the lobby, where dozens of pieces of vintage luggage are tucked into shelves underneath the check-in desk. While the overall hotel design works, there are a few areas that seemed a bit dated or in need of a refresh, including Azul.
But none of that takes away from the enjoyment of a sojourn here. The Wyndham Alltra Cancun is located on a gorgeous stretch of beach, with a sprawling poolscape, diverse restaurants and ample watering holes to grab that round of Margaritas. Wyndham fans will appreciate getting points through the company’s Rewards Loyalty Program, and each guest will like the value and experience of this affordable all-inclusive property in Mexico’s fun zone.