The Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta has a special place in my heart. His boutique hotel within a hotel, Hotel Mousai, holds so many memories of my travels to the beach town over the years.
So when I heard the brand was opening a resort at Playa Mujeres in Cancun, I couldn’t wait to see what it had in store. Much to my delight, the Garza Blanca Cancun managed to raise the bar from my previous experiences, transitioning quite comfortably into the Mexican Caribbean vibe.
The first impression I got when I entered the resort was that there were some serious Mousai vibes. The Garza Blanca Cancun is decidedly modern and chic — glossy white with high ceilings, glossy chartreuse accents, marbled mirrors, and expansive terraces with hammocks that overlook the turquoise Caribbean Sea. The immediate vibe is that it’s still about the beloved brand, but elevated to a whole new level.
We settled into a One Bedroom Garden View unit, which had all the trimmings of a luxury apartment: two full bathrooms, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen, a washer/dryer, and a pretty patio. great for a small cocktail. The room overlooked the large swimming pool and the sea beyond – because here, even if a room is billed as a garden view, chances are there will be an impressive sea view.
The resort has 452 rooms, the largest of which is the four-bedroom Penthouse Loft. This expansive room is split over two floors and has its own private roof terrace on the third level with dining area, hammock and jacuzzi. Even the smallest room category, the Junior Suite Garden View, is still spacious at 588 square feet and has a terrace with a hammock.
The resort was in soft opening mode when I visited last November and work on the lobby was underway. But I could see the bones of what was to come, and it was, in a word, royal. The high ceilings and white marble facade are warmed by the glow of hundreds of chandeliers. Behind the lobby are doors that lead to the expansive pool deck, and at either end are the resort’s two upscale restaurants.
Food Truck fare overlooking the beach at the resort. Photo credit: Courtesy of Garza Blanca Cancun
A focus on food
Speaking of restaurants, dining at Garza Blanca Cancun is one of the best selling points, especially in a city like Cancun that’s saturated with luxury all-inclusive resorts. Those who emphasize their culinary programs should be sent to the top of the list, and that’s the case here.
At the time of my visit, the only restaurants open were Blanca Blue, the resort’s Mexican restaurant, and its Food Truck/Beach Bar. And if that was some sort of preview of what was to come, then that was a very, very good sign. (Tip: the shrimp tacos al pastor from the pool bar menu are a must.)
Blanca Blue’s chef took us on a journey through Mexican cuisine, from succulent octopus and risotto to tender pork belly tacos and fresh tuna tartare. A mixologist is also on hand to pair meals with the perfect cocktail.
Since my visit, the resort has opened its two fine dining establishments: Hiroshi serves Asian cuisine and Bocados STK is a modern steakhouse specializing in dry-aged steaks. Coming soon: an additional restaurant, Dao, and the Rooftop Pool & Bar, which will serve tapas-style cuisine from around the world.
The Garza Blanca Cancun, with its large pool and views of the Caribbean Sea. Photo credit: Courtesy of Garza Blanca Cancun
Top of the poster
Perhaps the most breathtaking aspects of the resort are its rooftop and spa. The large rooftop outdoor playground has an adults-only pool that overlooks the rest of the resort and the Caribbean Sea.
The Wellness Floor – yes, the Floor – is essentially a lavish tranquility room. The flow of space is mesmerizing, from geometric curves and mirrors to treatment rooms, hydrotherapy pools, high ceilings, and floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the space with natural light.
If you know the Mousai hotel in Puerto Vallarta, this spa has Mousai written all over it. The gymnasium, too, appears to have been cut from the Mousai fabric. Think dark red walls covered in black patterns and huge windows that overlook the beach.
Unlike Mousai, the Garza Blanca Cancun is family-friendly, but it’s managed to separate spaces enough that those traveling as a couple or group of friends don’t feel like they’re at a “family-friendly” resort. A family pool is tucked away in the back, away from the main pool, and only adults have access to the rooftop sanctuary.
The resort’s beach is small but beautifully maintained, with powdery white sand and plenty of lounge chairs. The beach is shared with the neighboring resort of Villa del Palmar, but guests of the Garza Blanca Cancun also have access to restaurants at Villa del Palmar.
Guests can take out kayaks or stand-up paddleboards, and families will love the inflatable water park that floats just offshore. The resort also has its own private dock for guests who wish to arrange day trips to nearby Isla Mujeres.
For a brand that has been so iconic in Puerto Vallarta, Garza Blanca seems to have settled on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. I have a feeling it won’t be long before it becomes one of the most demanded places to stay in the area.