Finest Playa Mujeres Earns Place In The Top Tier Of AI Quality, Value

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

It’s not bragging if you back up your boasts. So when an all-inclusive resort company names its brands Excellence, Finest and Beloved, they had better live up to the hype. The online review world is a harsh judge.

That’s why Open Jaw recently set off for Playa Mujeres, Mexico -- to put Excellence Resorts’ Finest brand to the test. I had written about Finest’s properties based on interviews, but it was my first visit. I also had the rare pleasure of bringing my partner of 30+ years along for the ride. While I’ve stayed at or visited dozens of AI resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean over the quarter-century, Karen’s experience is much more limited – and all the more valuable for offering ‘average traveller’ insights.

Beach Finest: There are three kilometres of beach to explore from Finest Playa Mujeres.

We were booked into an Excellence Club Junior Suite Oceanfront, at 800 sq. ft. the generous entry-level size for accommodations at the 450-room Finest Playa Mujeres. It’s an adults-only section of this 5-star all-ages resort, and it comes with a long list of premium inclusions – a full in-room premium bar, Nespresso machine, Bulgari toiletries (so good), a private a la carte restaurant, exclusive beach area and much more. Family clients can enjoy the premium ‘club’ inclusions in Finest Club accommodations. The supplement is modest for the rewards, and we could think of many people from our own lives who would heartily thank their agent for the upsell.

Finest Jr Suite: An Excellence Club oceanfront junior suite at Finest Playa Mujeres.

Finest View from Room: An expansive 2nd-floor terrace offers a fine view.

After a warm greeting with a cool towel and glass of sparkling wine, we strolled to the Excellence Club Lounge. Victor checked us in, previewed the many things we were about to enjoy, and sent us off for lunch at Duke’s Lobster and Seafood, an al fresco location facing onto the beach. His impeccable service was the first installment of a consistent demonstration of the art of hospitality that stretched through our stay. Clearly, Excellence hires for a genuine desire to please – with the wisdom that all the rest can be taught.

The Luxury Of Space & Plenty

Approaching its third birthday, Finest Playa Mujeres is sleek and modern, a pleasing amalgam of glass, wood, stone and steel. Our suite had a king-size bed, a large Jacuzzi with an ocean view, and a huge 2nd-floor terrace space with double lounge bed.

There was a comfortable seating area with L-shaped couch in the suite, a full bar of premium liquors, and a mini bar filled with pop, beer, juices, granola bars and chocolate bars. Everything was restocked daily. The bathroom had double sinks and a huge rain shower area with a bench seat. Thoughtful touches were many, including a hand-held clothing steamer, daily fruit and petit fours, turndown service, shoeshine service…the list goes on.

Finest Spa: One Spa at Finest Playa Mujeres offers the ultra-relaxing One Aqua hydrotherapy circuit.

Foodie-Approved: The Finest Of Cuisine

The quality of the food offering at all-inclusive resorts has taken a quantum leap in the past decade. The cuisine at Finest Playa Mujeres exemplifies this trend. I’ve enjoyed many a delicious meal at AI properties – with Mexico definitely setting the pace in recent years – but my notes clearly read: “The best food experience I’ve had at an AI.” Karen heartily agrees, though she made me walk miles of beach in penance for my culinary exuberance.

A short stay isn’t enough time to enjoy all 12 of the restaurants at Finest, so we chose three for dinner – Lizo, featuring sophisticated Mexican dishes, Le Petit Plaisir, an adults-only romantic French restaurant, and Bistro, the Excellence Club restaurant. Each offered not just a good meal, but an exceptional dining experience that a couple would pay over $200 for in any major city.

None of the restaurants require reservations – your clients can eat lobster every night at Duke’s if they choose -- and if there is a wait they’ll be sent off to a bar with a pager to inform them when their table is ready. There are casual options too, including the Market Kitchen, a three-meal buffet modelled after a European food hall. The Sweet Corner is a very popular spot from 8am-8pm, offering coffees, ice cream, pastries and more, while La Cocinita is an old VW van turned into a taco and burger food truck. Finest also offers 24-hour room service throughout the property.

Pepper Mill: Would you like some meal with your pepper?

Cool Pools, Beautiful Beach & Live Tunes

There’s water everywhere at Finest Playa Mujeres. Many ground-level suites are swim-up and there are both quiet and more active pool areas depending on your mood. The beachfront is well cared for and there is plenty of space, loungers and umbrellas for all. Finest and Excellence Club guests enjoy private sections with attentive service. There’s no thumping music around the pools, but live music is a welcome part of the Finest experience. During our stay some excellent and highly varied bands played around the pool and beach by day, and in the theatre or an outdoor area at night.

Finest Pool Musicians: This a cappella trio was one of the excellent bands featured poolside.

Nothing Is Too Far Away

Avid gardener Karen was in her glory at Finest Playa Mujeres. Despite the youth of the property, the gardens are well developed and many plants were in beautiful bloom along its walkways. And the resort is a comfortable size. Nothing is too far away, and there are many uncrowded areas – around the pools, on the beach and throughout the grounds, where guests can enjoy a peaceful moment.

Karen and I have many pictures to remind us of all the physical details of Finest Playa Mujeres. Our tastebuds will recall the amazing meals we shared. But our clearest memories are of the staff who made it their mission to ensure our happiness. Their excellence raises Finest Playa Mujeres to the top tier of all-inclusive quality and value.

Bruce & Karen with Charly Garo: Soon-to-be-married Charly Garo was one of many Finest staff to make a wonderful impression.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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