Last week’s inauguration of The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun attracted a lineup of A-Listers. No less than Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was on hand. Mexico’s Secretary of the Interior and Quintana Roo State Governor also attended.
The Grand technically opened its doors in March, so the property was ready to show off for the VIP-laden ceremonial festivities. Events included tours, dining experiences from executive chef Ricardo Cabeza as well as live entertainment. Speeches by the Chapur family of Palace Resorts emphasized the role of public-private sector cooperation. It’s an essential partnership for Cancun, the country’s top destination.
The Grand at Moon Palace is located within Moon Palace Cancun, but is marketed as a separate property. Its 1,316 rooms include 95 family deluxe suites and 34 swim-up suites. Features include eight dining venues, 80,000 square feet of meeting and event space, an expansive waterpark and six-lane bowling alley. The signature Awe-Spa is nearly 77,000 square feet; includes 60 spa suites, a hydrotherapy circuit, plunge pools, plus steam and sauna rooms.
“It’s not a hotel. It’s a destination,” Kathy Halpern, vice president of sales and marketing for Palace Resorts, tells Travel Agent.
“We listened to guest comments. They asked us for a different level of luxury. With the Grand, we took the Moon Palace concept to another level. It’s a little notch above in terms of luxury rooms that are more spacious. In terms of dining, we have Peruvian, Lebanese, Italian and Asian. We’ll have events such as 'Chef Wars.' There’s an adults-only pool and a day club with dancers and champagne bottle service,” Halpern adds.
It can be challenging for agents to understand the dozens of different room categories and amenities in the Palace Resorts lineup.
“Our variety of products is pretty complex. We offer such unique personalities in different areas of our resorts. That’s why we’ll always need agents to serve as brand ambassadors for us. It’s so important for agents to not be confused,” says Halpern.
Kim A. McNamee, owner of Voyages by Kim, is eager to send clients to the new property in Cancun.
“Everyone tends to associate Cancun with a good, but inexpensive getaway. It can have a college party town stigma and not everyone wants that. It’s amazing to have more options for clients like The Grand. I tell them it is more expensive. Perhaps you don’t have to go this route every time you travel. But, experience it at least once. I’m familiar with Palace Resorts in Jamaica. They really do go all out,” says McNamee.
The Grand at Moon Palace Cancun will have a water park on property
Palace Resorts isn’t the only brand in expansion mode.
Palladium Hotel Group is building two new resorts north of Cancun, in the Costa Mujeres region. One is a 674-room Grand Palladium (Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa). The other is The Royal Suites by Palladium, with 473 rooms. Both are set for a 2018 opening.
Costa Mujeres lies 15 minutes north of Cancun’s city center, and 25 minutes from the airport. It’s a region that hasn’t developed as much as Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya.
That’s a good thing, according to Jacques De Paep, Palladium Hotel Group’s commercial director for North America.
“The beaches are spectacular. They’re white and sandy with little dunes. The mangroves are still intact there. Luckily for us, we’ve learned how to deal with nature and don’t rip it out. We plan to conserve it. We’re saving all the natural plants on the site, which is about 200 acres. We can do it better than we did on the Riviera Maya,” De Paep tells Travel Agent.
The new Palladium hotels will consist of a series of villas with a maximum height of five stories. The Royal Suites will be a fully contained property with its own restaurants, lobby bars, beach club and spa. Grand Palladium will offer a family-oriented vacation concept. A village area shared by both hotels will contain restaurants, a teen club, shops and a convention center. Waterways and water taxis will connect all the facilities.
Palladium will also open Ushuaïa Cancun in 2019.
“It’s a new concept to the area, one we have pioneered at Ushuaïa Ibiza. It’s a music-based product. The music vibe runs through the entire hotel. We have famous DJs who come to play and parties that bring in thousands of people. The parties begin at five but they’re over by midnight. The hotel attracts a totally different clientele. The average age is thirties to early forties. And, it’s not an all-inclusive,” says De Paep.
He adds, “We’ve had some pretty exciting things going on in the past few years. Our management is very young. You’re seeing that reflected in what we’re doing now. We’re taking a bit of a departure, using avant-garde architecture, room decoration and layout. We look forward to being more in tune with the discerning North American traveler.”