This was our third trip to Mexico via Cancun and even though we experienced some difficulties, it was our best. Villa Rolandi is a very nice destination and we found just about everything associated with the hotel, the restaurant, the facilities, and the general area of Isla Mujares fit what we were hoping to find.
To start with, Cancun is a hustle the second you clear customs. The exchange rate, the tour sellers, they have it down to a science. All you are is baggage with a wallet. And everyone wants to extract as much as they can with the one shot they get at you. So be forewarned.
Since it was our third time there, we thought we knew 'the drill' well enough to avoid paying extra for being met at the airport by a prepaid service and taken to the dock to meet the boat taking us over to Isla Mujares. Big mistake! We got taken to the wrong dock and had to take the public ferry and then a taxi to the hotel. We got there but it was a pure hassle. Turns out that the resort's boat (they call it a yacht...it isn't but it's a nice boat) had broken down anyway and wouldn't have met us even if we'd been in the right place. But these things happen...we managed to get there.
Once we did, we really liked the resort and the area. For us, it's about the perfect size...35 rooms. That allows the management and staff to get to know you just a little during the short time you're there (six nights for us) instead of being just another nameless, faceless tourist in the large resorts. We found the place to be very professionally run and the staff to be very friendly and informative.
Basically, I wouldn't call this an 'adventure' destination. This is more of a 'relax and have a drink by the pool' kind of place. It isn't quite a 5-star resort like the Rosewood Mayakoba outside Playa del Carmen (a previous visit) and the downtown area doesn't compare to 5th Avenue in Playa in terms of restaurants and shopping. But it costs a lot less than the Rosewood and we certainly didn't experience the throngs of tourists in Isla's district that we did on 5th Avenue. We liked it better. It was a lot more personal at Villa Rolandi and I didn't feel hustled even a single time by the management and staff. In fact, I was really surprised at the totally fair exchange rate they gave us for our dollars (a first in our three visits to Mexico) and pleased with what I perceived as genuinely friendly service.
While we were there, they had 32 of their 35 rooms booked but we never had a problem getting a table in the restaurant for breakfast or dinner. And we never had a problem getting a couple of good, sunny poolside lounge chairs. And by the second day, the poolside attendants (that I liked and enjoyed talking to) knew us by name and knew when to bring us a drink.
We read some reviews that panned the restaurant as overpriced and the food average. But I didn't find that to be the case at all. Interestingly, the menu at the restaurant is northern Italian and not Mexican. Not my favorite, personally, but my wife loves pasta dishes. We took a taxi downtown several times (80 pesos - $5) to eat Mexican food and shop a little. I ate a couple of really good steaks at the hotel restaurant. My wife enjoyed her pasta dishes. My experience was that the food was pretty good and the prices were fair. We did observe one morning that Richard Branson had his yacht anchored right off the resort and was there eating breakfast with his family...for what that's worth.
If you're looking for excitement and adventure, this is not your place. If you want to pay a reasonable price to just relax and be treated well, then I think this is a great week away from cold weather. The beach isn't much (very little shoreline and actual beach) but it's clean and well attended. Far better to get a little sun by the two main pools (they have 3 but one didn't appear to be used much), one of which is a heated, salt water pool.
The rooms are very nice, although hardly oppulent. The bigger of the two options is better (we stayed in both) and you want to be on the third floor and not the first. You don't get much privacy on the first floor right next to the pool. And you get a few more mosquitos.
Now, a couple more tips. First, take a taxi into town (it's so incredibly cheap and you can easily hail one to get back) instead of renting a golf cart. The taxi drivers tailgate the much slower golf carts relentlessly and you don't want to get run over on your vacation. We cringed on more than once or twice while riding into town in a taxi.
Next, sit yourself down in the resort's cigar bar right off the main lobby and order a shot of Selection Suprema tequila. It is absolutely fabulous...$40 a shot though. We liked it well enough to come home with a bottle ($2,300 pesos or about $175), about half of what you can buy it for online here in the states. Don Julio, Patron...forget those. Just get yourself one shot to sip and see for yourself. We also came back with a bottle of 30-year old Guatemalan rum...courtesy of the recommendations made to us by Rolandi's staff.
This is not the most fabulous, most beautiful place we have ever stayed. But it was very, very nice and definitely both genuine and a real bargain for the money. We avoid the high density tourist areas like the proverbial plague. We want to stay where we are treated as real guests and not just another in a long line of nameless, faceless people occupying a room. And this is what we got at Villa Rolandi. Victor was our go to guy and I commend him for his professionalism. But I have to add that everyone we talked to at the front desk and elsewhere were both very friendly and highly professional. The place is simply very well run. And the one time we had an 'issue' (I HATE COMPLAINING) it was dealt with honestly and fairly. You can't ask for more than that.
Bottom line...we will go back. For us, Mexico is the easy button. It doesn't take you three layovers/connections to get there and it doesn't cost as much as most comparable Caribbean island destinations when you do. So when we choose an affordable, easy button destination...Villa Rolandi will be at the top of our list. It's right up there near the top in terms of pure value for your money. And now that we've been there once, we know exactly how to make the next visit perfect.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions. Always glad to help if I can...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Coveted Isla Mujeres small luxury beach hotel featuring only 35 beautiful ocean view Suites; award-winning cuisine at Casa Rolandi Restaurant; a private beach, world class service & amenities, a 5-star Thalasso Spa & its own 42-ft private luxury Yacht. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Rolandi Hotel Isla Mujeres
- Villa Rolandi
- Rolandi Isla Mujeres