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Hotel Review: The Presidente InterContinental Cozumel

November 12th, 2010

THE BOTTOM LINE

Instead of having you read through an unfavorable review only to learn that I am not going to endorse the hotel, I’m just going to give you my bottom line upfront. The Presidente Intercontinental Cozumel is a decent resort, but in my opinion not worth the rate of the room (unless you’re coming specifically for diving). I could refer you to a handful of other places in Mexico within a range of prices and experiences so that you would feel like you really got the bang for your buck.

Here’s my thinking: These days I believe time is as precious as money, and I would hate for you to schedule a few days for vacation and not be satisfied with your experience.

If you’re curious as to how I came to this conclusion, you can read on.

MY 4 DAY STAY

When the PR team from the resort contacted me to stay on their beachfront property for 4 days, I was excited, but hesitant. Cozumel has one of the worst reputations in terms of Mexican destinations as being old and dirty. As a port for cruise ships, the center of town is ridiculously touristy, and aside from that, the rest of the island is unfortunately poor.

After seeing the website and beautiful pictures of the hotel, I decided I would give it a shot. I’m working on a story for The Chronicle that gives a guide to each of the popular Mexican getaways and where to stay when you go. The Presidente would be a great candidate for it because there aren’t any other reputable hotels on the island of Cozumel. And after my experience at the Intercontinental in Scottsdale, I believed they could have a little secluded oasis.

So, Edward and I flew down a couple weeks ago to stay for 4 days and experience a little of what the resort and island had to offer. A friendly staff member, Jorge Luis, picked us up at the airport and set the bar for the service at the hotel. He was remarkably friendly, informed, and honest just as the rest of the staff would prove to be.

Unfortunately the hotel itself was not so inviting. Walking through the stone corridors, I felt like I was making my way through a cave. When I opened the door to my room, I was hit with a huge waft of mildew smell that didn’t subside for at least 10 minutes. This odor would greet me every time I walked in the door.

In the room, the accommodations were nice, but not exceptional. Everything was covered in hibicus, a lovely beach bag was there for Edward and I, and they even prepared for Mason’s arrival (although he didn’t make the trip).

If guests had reserved a room that wasn’t on the beach, you might now even know you had left the States. Pictured below is a room with a view of….well…nothing.

Not even I can argue with the first picture I posted of the view from my room, but when I tell you the beach is fake, I’m not kidding.

It’s like walking on concrete sprinkled with sand.

Going in and out to the terrace would cause the entire room to condensate due to the intense humidity. And with the stone floor, that can be pretty dangerous. This picture was not taken after a shower. Just to complete this picture for you, when I open my suitcase at home, all of my clothes were damp!

AROUND THE GROUNDS

(Edward at the bar/restaurant under the palapa.)

There are three restaurants to choose from that offer an eclectic mix of cuisine, not just tacos and huevos rancheros. All of them served exceptional food. As you would suspect, it was pricey, but well worth it.

Usually when you visit one of these resorts, you want to be able to not leave the property and be content. That did not hold true for The Presidente. As I said the beaches were fake and the furniture that lined them were old. I also think the little bugs that kept biting us were living in the palapa thatch umbrellas you see here.

At the bottom of this slope of sand, you’ll notice the water is crystal clear because this part of Mexico is on the Carribean.

The pools were nice and cozy. A lovely place for everyone to spend an afternoon.

I can’t say that about the tennis court that looked like it was the one amenity on the grounds that had not been renovated. (The entire resort was renovated 2 years ago.)The spa and pottery painting were our favorite activities. I was really impressed with my masseuse. Her knowledge of pressure points was admirable.

(Thankfully, the lady who ran the painting bar topped off our work so they came out quite nice.)

The main fun features of the resort are actually outside of the hotel. As I mentioned, Cozumel is famous for its diving.

Other activities include:

  • Submarine ride on the bottom of the ocean
  • Day trip to Playa del Carmen (via ferry)
  • Golf
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming with the dolphins!

If you ever have a chance to swim with dolphins, do it, and get the VIP package (you’ll want to do all of the tricks). I wish I hadn’t lost the dvd of our day being rocketed through the air propelled by dolphins. It’s a surreal experience that makes you feel like a kid again.

OTHER GUEST IMPRESSIONS

I talked to guests on the property and a few friends who had visited before. They were all very pleased with their stay. I don’t know about their experiences in other parts of Mexico, but I can tell you their impressions were different than the one I have presented here.

I’m not saying I’m an expert at this, but I am very well-traveled in a range of accommodations, especially in Mexico. I’ve offered you here my honest opinion and you can take that for what you will.

Calling the publicist who sent me on this trip and telling her I was not going to write a glowing review was truly difficult. They paid for almost everything which means that they believe they have a gem of a resort and I would highly suggest my readers visit. But like I said before, the value in my reviews (which is why they contacted me) is that they are compelling, which derives from my honesty and loyalty to my readers. You trust me to give you an accurate account, and I will not betray that – not for money, vacations, anything.

I would like to extend a big thank you to the InterContinental hotel for your generosity and hospitality. I truly do appreciate the experience.

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