By Paul Shoul
At 4:00 am on a cold December morning; the door closed on the long-term parking shuttle headed to Bradley Airport in Connecticut, where I would catch a flight to Mexico to check out the new Iberostar Cancun Star Prestige all-inclusive resort.
A few hours later, through the madness and magic of modern day flight, I sat on the beach drinking a shot of Don Julio tequila, pondering the turquoise waters of the Caribbean as they gently advanced on pristine white sand.
Fly and Flop
I had been through Cancun years before on my way to Valladolid, Tizimin, Merida and other parts of the Yucatan, but I have secretly wondered what it would be like to fly and flop at an all-inclusive resort.
To land on the sand, sit back and relax. I think they call it a vacation. Here is what I found.
The newly opened 156 room Iberostar Cancun Star Prestige is an all-inclusive, adults-only resort, part of the more massive Iberostar complex. This 13-story tower offers visitors an exclusive, upscale level of comfort.
The junior suite where I stayed was spacious. All suites face the beach with private balconies and a whirlpool hot tub.
They have free wifi, a Bluetooth sound system, huge flat screen smart TV, large bathrooms with rainfall showerheads. And a spectacularly comfortable bed.
The rooftop corner suite is the largest room and includes a private rooftop pool area with lounge chairs and a stunning view of the beach.
“All inclusive” means just that. There are no hidden fees. There is 24-hour room service with a damn fine menu from Mexican treats to full meals. Want something from the mini bar? Take it. Need another bottle of wine and some fajitas at 1:00 am.? Just ask.
Any notions of maintaining my diet were quickly abandoned. The quality of the food at the breakfast and lunch buffets and restaurants was surprisingly good.
I had expected fatty pasta ladened lunches and watery scrambled egg breakfasts. What I found was grilled lobster tails, freshly carved Jamon Iberico ham from Spain, and more fruit: cheeses, sushi quality fish and traditional Mexican dishes that I could consume.
Star prestige has exclusive lounge, bar, restaurant, pool and beach areas, (a nice buffer from any potential spring breakers) but also gives you access to the golf course, five unique restaurants and all amenities within the Iberostar complex.
I had an incredibly relaxing massage at Sensations spa. Spa services are a la carte and include a sauna, private pool, steam room, oil, mud, and hydro massages as well as holistic and beauty treatments
The Japanese restaurant Naga Hibachi was complete with a flashy knife-wielding flame throwing chef. Very entertaining, reasonably authentic and delicious.
The Mexican restaurant El Maguey had some of the best chicken Mole, tacos and Sopa de tortilla I have ever had the pleasure to eat.
Spicy, deep smoky flavors, This was the real deal and not watered down for a tourist palate. The restaurant at Star Prestige was a delight. An avocado mousse starter. Tender grilled octopus and steak.
Many of the staff I talked with had graduated from years of employment with Iberostar to work at Star Prestige. Service throughout my stay was exemplary.
The Iberostar group located in Majorca, Spain has been in the business of beachfront properties since 1956, with 120 hotels worldwide.
They have recently initiated the Wave of Change program designed in” line with Goal 14 of the SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals), focused on three main areas: the reduction of single-use plastic pollution, the promotion of sustainable fishing and the conservation and protection of marine ecosystems.”
They have already stopped the use of 10 million plastic straws and plastics at their poroperties in Spain. In 2019 they will remove all disposable plastics from the rest of its hotels globally. Nicely done Iberostar.
As of this writing, rooms at Star Prestige were available in a price range from $239-$299-usd. Rates vary seasonally.
To stay or not to stay at an all-inclusive resort depends on your travel priorities. I tend toward smaller hotels, in little towns, hunting down out of the way restaurants.
But that is my job. I was looking for comfortable easy and relaxing and found it. This is a pretty attractive option. I loved doing nothing at the Iberostar Cancun Star Prestige.
I think they call it a vacation.
For More Info go to:
Iberostar Cancun Star Prestige
I flew from Connecticut to Cancun on American Airlines. I was diverted twice on my connecting flights due to severe weather in Charlestown, but American kept me updated and rebooked me seamlessly on time. Much appreciated.
Overhead space was gone fast on all flights. I try to get a seat in an early boarding group to get the first crack at it.
Cancun airport: Food prices are through the roof. The exchange rate restaurants offer is ridiculously low per dollar. A seventeen dollar margarita?, A plain slice of pizza for 9 dollars? Don’t fly hungry.
This trip was made with assistance from Iberostar, but the opinions are the author’s own.
Paul Shoul is a Northampton, MA-based photographer who doubles as a staff writer for GoNOMAD. For thirty years he’s lived in the Pioneer Valley and chronicled life there through his work in the Valley Advocate. He’s also been seen in the Boston Globe, New York Times, BBC, the Chronicle of Higher Education and many other publications. Today as well as shooting around the world for GoNOMAD he works for local nonprofits, banks and advertising agencies.