Photo: Courtesy of The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas and Spa

This Cancún Resort Might Change Your Mind About Vacation Clubs

Cancún Epic Stays
by Sara Iannacone Dec 21, 2023

The moment you enter The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, your eyes dart to the infinity pools and crystal-clear teal waters that await you through the lobby doors. For me, as a first-time traveler to Cancún, this was the moment that the slight chaos of the busy tourist city faded away, and I was able to step into that zen vacation state that we all crave.

While a majority of the hotels in Cancún are all-inclusive resorts, the Westin Lagunamar is a member of The Marriott Vacation Clubs, which gives guests and vacation club owners alike a more flexible experience. To be frank, I never really understood the appeal of vacation ownership before this trip. But after meeting the Westin Lagunamar team and experiencing the villas, entertainment, and ease of access that the resort provided, it’s safe to say I’m a convert.

My biggest takeaway while basking in the size of my room and the service I received was that it’s the ideal alternative to traditional vacation rentals for young families, annual friends’ trips, and general group travel. You get the best of both worlds under one roof and have a place to come back to every year — although you don’t have to.

With The Marriott Vacation Clubs model, points are allocated annually that you can spend anywhere. You can visit places like Costa Rica, Spain, or Hawai’i. However, after talking to some of the families I met during my stay at the Westin Lagunamar, it seems that many travelers find a favorite destination and keep coming back.

The villas at The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa


Photo: Courtesy of The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa

While you can opt for The Marriott Vacation Clubs ownership at the Westin Lagunamar, you can also book the resort as you would any other hotel. Pricing typically starts at $250 per night but can cost $450 or more per night during holidays and school breaks.

The property is spread across 14 buildings and houses 580 “villas” — a luxe moniker for the hotel rooms. Split between studio villas and one-bedroom villas, rooms can also be connected to create two-bedroom villas. As I entered my one-bedroom villa, I was blown away by how large and well-equipped the room was. There was a full kitchen with all the standard appliances, a washer and dryer with detergent, a dining area for six, a living area, an enormous balcony with a seating area, a bedroom with a king bed, and a spacious bathroom with a whirlpool that looks directly out onto the ocean. The kitchen had enough plates, flatware, cookware, and margarita glasses to host a full dinner party — a perk some guests take advantage of as they make friends with other owners who return to the property year after year.

Winding down also comes easily when you stay at the Westin Lagunamar. My ritual at the end of every day was to draw a bath, whirlpool jets on full blast, and pour myself a glass of wine from the bottle of Mexican red that I was able to buy at the Tierra Mercado mini-mart on the first floor. Then, just when I thought I couldn’t get any more relaxed, I’d slip into the room’s signature Heavenly bed for the night, which indeed lives up to its name.

The food at The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa


Photo: Courtesy of The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas and Spa

It wasn’t just the rooms that impressed me during my stay at the Westin Lagunamar. I was also amazed by the culinary program. In fact, the resort was recently honored as part of Food & Wine’s 2023 Global Tastemakers reader’s choice awards. And after tasting the food — dinner specifically — I understand why.

Chef Angel Ibarra is a master at his craft and has a team of talented individuals who are incredibly passionate about what they do. When I asked him about his inspiration for menu creation at each of the hotel’s three restaurants, he shared, “My inspiration is my passion for balancing flavors and textures. This balance creates an incredible culinary experience full of sensations and emotions for our owners and guests [through] extensive Mexican, Maya, and Caribbean cuisines, even including some special notes of Middle Eastern culinary techniques.”

While breakfast and lunch are pretty standard in terms of resort fare, the dinner menus are truly made with passion. Some of my favorite dishes from the week were coconut “ceviche,” scallop tostadas with beet emulsion, and surf and turf with wagyu beef and shrimp.

There are QR codes around the entire property linking to ordering platforms for the Viento Bar & Grill and Duna’s Sports Bar. You can order lunch or drinks to your chair or grab takeout to eat on your balcony — and since rooms come with a full-size fridge, leftovers are fair game.

For something special, the resort also hosts themed dinners. One standout is the weekly Maya night, which costs around $35 per person and includes a cultural performance followed by a family-style meal that incorporates traditional dishes such as cochinita pibil (Yucatán-style slow-roasted pork) and a variety of salsas with fresh tortillas.

Things to do at The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa


Photo: Courtesy of The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas and Spa

After spending a week at the Westin Lagunamar, my only complaint was that there simply wasn’t enough time to do everything the resort has to offer. To start, the Westin Lagunamar team puts a lot of energy into creating a robust daily activity calendar that caters to all ages.

One morning, I woke up to watch the sunrise during an all-level yoga class. The ocean breezes swayed not only the palm trees but also me during tree pose. The following day, I was able to join an iguana-feeding session where I dangled melon on a stick and watched a friendly iguana named Rocco emerge from his hiding spot behind the lush landscapes to claim his bounty.

Other activities include afternoon trivia on the pool deck, water aerobics classes, pickleball matches, and even a run club for the very ambitious. For kid-specific activities, parents can drop their children off at the Westin Family Kids Club to play at the playground and create crafts like paper mache maracas. The club also hosts family night once a week, during which parents can drop their kids off for dinner and an activity while they enjoy dinner and a show on the property.


Photo: Courtesy of The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas and Spa

Other resort amenities can be enjoyed at leisure, such as the resort’s 18-hole miniature golf course that’s open from 9 AM to 8 PM daily or the top-notch Heavenly Spa by Westin. Spa guests are pampered with whirlpool and sauna access before and after their treatments, which are so relaxing they might ease you into a restful sleep. (I’m pretty sure I dozed off while being serenaded by calming flute melodies and the aroma of eucalyptus and mint.) Then, while you bask in post-massage bliss, staff members bring out a coconut filled with all the Mexican chocolate your heart desires.

Of course, sometimes you’ll just want to spend time by the pool while sipping on signature mezcal cocktails, enjoy a leisurely lunch on the beach, or zoom down a water slide. The Westin Lagunamar has three sprawling infinity pools (some of the largest in Cancún) and a beach with the softest sand my toes have ever touched. Surprisingly, even at 95 percent occupancy, there were always plenty of lounge chairs to accommodate guests. (The only exception is if you want full sun and poolfront, then you should head out earlier in the morning to claim your stake.)

Things to do outside of The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa


Photo: eskystudio/Shutterstock

The Westin Lagunamar also creates opportunities for guests to see Cancún outside of the resort. To start, the entire resort was constructed to pay homage to the Maya archeological site located next to the property. These ancient foundations — named Yamil Lu’um in Mayan, or Scorpion’s Temple in English, after the sculptures found on the wall when it was recovered — are perfectly framed by the building’s architecture, so they’re always visible. You can tour the site by yourself or go along with Juan, the Activities Director, to get the full story behind them.

Elsewhere, you can walk across the street to La Isla Mall, one of the most popular entertainment and shopping hubs in the city, or plan excursions such as a catamaran tour to Isla Mujeres, a day trip to Chichen Itza ruins, or a visit to parks like Xcaret, which also offers cenote tours. Later, after a full day of activities, you can either head back to the resort to bask in the late-night sound of the waves rolling and crashing on the beach or choose to spend the evening with a strong cocktail in hand, strobe lights flashing, and a heart-pounding base sounding — the iconic Cancún nightclub Coco Bongo is just eight minutes away.

Getting to Cancún


Photo: Anna ART/Shutterstock

Direct flights to the Cancún International Airport (CUN) are available from over 30 US cities. Once you touch down, the Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas and Spa is just a 25-minute taxi ride away. Along with the hospitable team, enjoyable food, and homey accommodations, this ease of access is part of what keeps travelers coming back.

In the words of one couple I spoke with: “It’s just like family to us. There’s no place we’ve traveled to that compares to this — the people, the beauty, the ocean. It brings joy, and it’s just easy to come here.” If that doesn’t change your mind about vacation ownership, or staying at the Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort even once, I don’t know what will.

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