Review: Westin Resort & Spa Cancun with a Toddler
Editor's note: Parents know how quickly their little ones grow up and transform - your baby or toddler can seem like a completely different person from one month to the next, let alone one year to the next.
That's why, whenever possible, The Littlest Passport provide new reviews of already reviewed hotel and resort properties. The needs of little ones and their parents are always evolving, and as such, our blog is committed to providing insights to help parents with little ones of every age make the most informed choices possible for a relaxing and exciting vacation.
The Westin Resort & Spa was previously reviewed by parents of an 8 month old. They returned this winter with their now 19 month old daughter, and share their new insights below.
Travelers: Brandi, her husband Owais, and 19 month old daughter Safiya
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York (by way of Canada)
Destination: Westin Resort & Spa Cancun, Mexico
So you decided to return to the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun with your toddler.
Yes. We had a wonderful time last year. I'll be honest that I was worried about going back to the same resort, given that we had high expectations - it can be hard to recreate a great experience.
But as soon as we sat down on the lounge chairs under a palapa, overlooking the amazing turquoise ocean, we were in our zen place - toddler included.
Last year you had a room within the Westin's Royal Beach Club. Did you stay there again this year?
No, the Royal Beach Club section was completely booked, so we stayed in the main resort. However, with our SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) Platinum status, we have access to the Royal Beach Club amenities and perks - including the pool; its slightly nicer palapas and free Happy Hour from 4-6pm.
What room type did you have within the main resort, and did it meet your family's needs?
We stayed in a Balcony room, on the lagoon side. The room was spacious enough for the three of us. And the lagoon views were beautiful. Though oceanside has its perks, lagoon side feels more private, since all of the resort guests congregate on the oceanside of the resort.
Actually, we were offered an upgrade to an oceanside Junior Suite on the 3rd floor, and as soon as we stepped into it, we turned it down and opted for the Balcony room instead. It really was not ideal for a young family - there was no balcony to sit on after our daughter's bedtime. (Editor's Note: Outside of the Royal Beach Club section, only sixth floor rooms have balconies).
I would definitely recommend staying in a room with a balcony or terrace. Not only do you have someplace to sit after your little ones are asleep, but you'll need someplace to dry out your bathing suits and other wet clothes.
Since the Balcony rooms are a standard configuration, there was no place to put the crib so that the baby wouldn't see us if she stood up (we did drape towels over the sides of the crib so that she didn't immediately see us if she partially woke). So, we had to deal with a wake-up around 4am everyday that required co-sleeping before we put her back into the crib, something she's largely grown out of at home. But overall sleep wasn't too bad.
How has your daughter changed in the last year, and how did that impact your vacation experience?
Well, for starters, she's mobile! I knew we'd have to be more careful with her on a terrace or balcony.
We had a terrace room last year and absolutely loved the convenience of walking straight out to the pool and beach. I did wonder whether the terrace would be a good fit with a young toddler. Our daughter is rarely reckless, but she is getting to an age where she doesn't always listen to Mom and Dad. Having to watch her like a hawk so that she didn't wander straight into the unfenced pool felt the opposite of relaxing.
As it turns out, there were no terrace rooms available upon check-in, so we were provided with the Balcony Room.
The balcony proved to be a safer choice for our young toddler. Though obviously we still watched her closely, the bars were narrow enough that she wouldn't slip through (though she did drop her favorite pacifier, never to be seen again! Fortunately she thought that was funny).
The only potential hazards on the balcony were the glass top on the side table (which we removed and stored in the closet), and a small trench near the bars to drain rain water. I felt like I was often shooing her away, since she wanted to try walking in it.
Your daughter's diet last year consisted of breast milk, fruit and purees. She's obviously eating much more now - how was that experience?
Definitely mixed. She always ate well at the breakfast buffet, which had a lot of her favorite foods - eggs, fruit, yogurt, bread. We'd make sure she ate well at breakfast, and we also would pack up some buffet offerings in Ziploc bags that would keep well for snacking throughout the day - more fruit, pancakes, tortillas, raisins.
Westin advertises having a Kids Eat Well menu, but it is limited to about 6 lunch or dinner items. Only two of those items met our needs as a pescatarian (fish but no meat) family - mac and "cheese" (their quotations, not mine) and fish tacos.
We never got a good answer on what was in the mac and "cheese", even after our native Spanish speaking babysitter asked. I'm assuming some sort of vegan cheese? Unfortunately, our daughter was not interested in that dish in the slightest.
We had some modest success feeding our daughter off of our plates, particularly the guacamole and the fish quesadillas. And I had brought food pouches to supplement her meals, but we ran out by the end of the fourth day. If I were to do things again, I’d definitely bring more food with us that I know she would eat and that would fit in the mini fridge – I always ended up anxious at dinner time that she wasn’t eating enough.
(Editor’s note: The rooms at the Westin Lagunamar, further down the beach within the same Cancun Hotel Zone, are equipped with kitchens, a feature not offered at the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun. The Littlest Passport has not yet reviewed this property).
In another resort review, you mentioned that your daughter did not dine well in loud restaurants. How did you find the dining experiences at the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun?
Fortunately, none of the restaurants ever seemed loud. On the nights that we ate dinner outside our room, we’d eat on the patio of the sports bar, which had ocean views and plenty of steps and ramps nearby to run the kid around until the food came. I’d advise eating before the sun goes down, though. The outdoor lighting was a bit harsh.
Other nights we would order food from one of the restaurants and eat in our room. (We found it easier to order takeout in person at the restaurants, especially when requesting modifications, rather than through room service). The only downside to eating in the room is having a squirmy little one eat on your lap.
For lunch, the Royal Beach Club restaurant was great. The outdoor seating is poolside, and while we were there, there was never more than one or two other families. We could place our order and swim until the food came.
Did your daughter enjoy the resort?
Absolutely! She loved watching the ocean (from afar). She’s excitedly yell “Look at the ocean!”
We had our daily routine. After breakfast, we’d stake out a few lounge chairs under a palapa, overlooking the ocean. Our daughter would play in the sand for a while, and then she’d want to take a walk to find the iguanas that bask in the sun on one of the sidewalks. After that, we’d go swimming, followed by lunch and nap. Sometimes she’d nap in the room, other times I’d have her nap with me on a lounge chair.
She liked spending some time playing in the room after naptime. She particularly loved the lagoon view from the balcony, watching the birds, and the jet ski boat that would cross back and forth. Then it was time for Happy Hour!
The resort has a Kids' Club area. Your kids have to be 4 years old or older to be dropped off (for a fee), but younger kids can visit for free with an adult. According to our babysitter, Safiya loved the playhouse, small slide, and books – as well as watching the other kids!
You had a babysitter. Was that arranged through the resort?
No, the resort doesn’t offer a babysitting service. We arranged a sitter through an independent nanny service – a simple Google search produces multiple options.
Last year you used the spa services and gym. Did you partake of any other amenities or activities this year?
Nothing new besides the Kids' Club area, which, as I just mentioned, my daughter loved.
The Westin Resort & Spa Cancun is undergoing renovations through Summer 2018. Did you find the renovations to be noisy or inconvenient?
Not at all. We thought the renovations might be more extensive, given the giant pop-up notice on the resort's website. One restaurant was closed as part of the renovation - a minor inconvenience, since that was our favorite restaurant wen we stayed last year.
We did call the resort prior to booking to get some more details about the renovation, and to make sure that we wouldn't have our daughter's sleep interrupted. I'd recommend doing the same, but the construction shouldn't deter anyone.
Would you recommend the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun to other families travelling with young toddlers?
Absolutely. There was enough to keep our 19 month old entertained - we also stayed at a more "kid focused" resort earlier in our trip and realized that our daughter was still too young to appreciate most of its attractions.
The resort's beach is spectacular. The stunning turquoise ocean is ever-present throughout the resort, whether sitting at a palapa, splashing in one of the pools, or dining in the restaurants. It makes you feel like you're on a luxe, relaxing vacation at all times.
The Westin Resort & Spa Cancun is a really manageable size. Even staying on the sixth floor, we could get down to the pools, beach and restaurants in five minutes. And the guests are low-key - this is definitely not a party resort, unlike some other resorts in the area.
The resort is a little light on activities - for example, it doesn't offer yoga or fitness classes. But if you are the type of family that likes to laze about beach or poolside, you won't be disappointed.
Any tips for families who choose to stay at the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun?
We really like the Royal Beach Club rooms and amenities, but if you chose to stay in the main resort, I'd recommend getting a balcony room if you have a toddler. You'll absolutely need some outdoor space in order to relax after the kiddo is asleep, and to dry out all your wet clothes. The balcony felt much safer with a mobile toddler than the ground floor terraces.
If you want to try to get your toddler into the ocean, take a short walk down the beach to Club Med (next property over). The waves are much tamer there.
Ask the front desk to put your car seat (and your stroller if you won’t need it for naps or day trips) in storage upon arrival, so that you don’t have unnecessary items taking up space in your rooms.
If you hire a babysitter from an agency, be sure to tell the front desk. They will require you to add the person’s name to your reservation for security reasons (you can clarify that they are not spending the night, to avoid additional charges).
Westin Resort & Spa Cancun's Balcony rooms start at $204 USD per night during high season; Royal Beach Club rooms start at $237 USD per night. http://www.westincancun.com
All information is current at time of publication. We recommend confirming all information with the hotel prior to booking. The Littlest Passport did not receive promotional consideration for this article.