Hotel Review: My not so good Cuixmala Experience
To drop a sincere line at first: Cuixmala was the main reason for my trip to Mexico and that I still went even though my colleagues all had no time to join me on that trip. I thought when will I ever have the chance to see one of the most impressive hotels in the world again? Everything on my trip was planned around these two very unforgettable nights at what I thought was the ultimate hotel experience and a life-changing stay. A castle that has a dome as impressive as the Duomo from Florence, a pool that is unique in this world as well as the most glamorous hotel suite I would have ever seen. All that in three relaxing days on my deserved graduation trip - I mean there has to be a reason for staying at such an A-list property. Vast, unique suites? A palatial building? The out-of-this-world-pool? THE best hotel in the world? Spoiler alert: I couldn‘t have been more wrong! Life can sometimes be very fake, and this was my lesson when it comes to hotel marketing!
It is essential to highlight that according to Conde Nast Traveler Cuixmala rivals with its sister property close to Colima on being Mexico’s best hotel. Since I was arriving from the fabulous Hacienda de San Antonio, I was in for the pleasant surprise and as everybody at the Hacienda was saying Cuixmala is doing a slightly better job, of course, my expectations were as high as they could be and honestly only a real Aman or One&Only property could have exceeded those. Actually Hacienda de San Antonio exceeded all my expectations in a good way, so I was really really excited for Cuixmala’s performance. So when we finally arrived at the property, my driver and I had to pass two security checkpoints which are kind of usual for this beach resorts. At one point we reached the airstrip and a small town where the employees seemed to live. We turned right and drove up to the Casitas area. While I had in mind that even though Cuixmala is spread all over the estate, all the rooms are of the same service standards however, I was proven different. The casitas are a resort in their own with Casa Gomez as the main building with restaurant, bar and front desk. It’s more like a casual four-star place with a medium-sized pool and no real dedicated pool service.
The Casitas are not really Casa Cuixmala
On the other hand, you have the ever famous main building also called Casa Cuixmala with its own restaurant, media room, boutique, concierge, stunning suites and bungalows as well as the famous pool on the beach with the staircase. It is interesting that Cuixmala clearly distinguishes between staying at a cheaper casita or in a more luxurious bungalow or Casa Cuixmala Suite. So as a casita guest, you have to ask for permission to use the main pool down the ocean and also cannot just pop up at the restaurant in the main building. Quite silly for a minimum rate of about 700 USD per night for one of those mid-class casitas. Remember a Casa Cuixmala Suite sets you back at least 1300 USD per night, so clearly there is the gap that the resort is all about. I am not a fan of one hotel creating two class systems in one product. While I am okay with one hotel offering various rooms and suites (where the only difference is the size and amenities in-suite), I don’t think it is a good idea also to let the guests paying less know they are not really part of the real game. During my time, I felt like this for the entire 40 Hours I was there. Nothing wrong to say about my lovely casita but when I have to measure the room size to find out my casita was maximum 60 square meters (that already includes the terrace) and they sell their one-bedroom casitas as 130 square meters, something is going wrong.
My Casita “Laurel”
I absolutely loved the white interior design that has been popped up with some colourful cushions and textiles as well as blue windows, making the atmosphere a bit more unique. Generally, the size of the casita was right but the layout was somewhat not convenient. The air conditioning was in the walk-in wardrobe, which made the bathroom and bedroom cool, however, left the pantry as hot and humid as the terrace. Now suppose you come with your child who may sleep on the sofa, not really that of a great catch. Also, I was a bit turned off by the entire bathroom: the toilet was almost right next to the shower, which came with a shower curtain only. Cuixmala is an eco-friendly resort (the airstrip and offering of private charters excluded) so I get that they provide their own toiletries which is a lovely idea especially when they smell as good as the body lotion, shampoo and conditioner- unfortunately there was only a bar soap replacing the shower gel, and this one was without any smell. Towels were very comfy and replenished daily - so plus on that one. Being in the absolute nature, small cleaning issues can’t be avoided, and I found two, three dead cockroaches in the room, which didn’t disturb me at all but could have been removed by the housekeeping after the first service. They did not.
Being allocated in the casita area with a very very limited sea view (I came to see the sea and was very disappointed at first), I was waiting to at least see the highlight of the property. To all my surprise, the Casa Cuixmala was totally shut down for renovations, and even the stunning pool, which was my primary motivation to come to the Costa Alegre was out of water for maintenance. At this point, I was really considering just checking out and directly heading to Careyes next door. However, the staff tried their best, and they were very kind in providing a lovely stay still. They offered me to go to their beach club Caleta Blanca, which sounded like a good plan. However, it was not my smartest move in life to come to Cuixmala a) on my own b) without a rental car. I admit I was afraid to drive in Mexico after so many people warned me, and I was proven right as Mexico City was a traffic nightmare. Even though it would have been no issues to drive on my own in Costa Alegre, I still didn’t feel comfortable to do it unless the concierge gave me no option at Casa Gomez. It sounded like I was kind of forced to book a rental car from Cuixmala at insanely expensive 130 USD a day SUV (note I got 25% discount).
Beach Club “Caleta Blanca”
Yes, the car was brand new and luxurious inside, so this expense was alright at the end. If you have someone travelling with you, it makes of course even more sense. Cuixmala is generally not the place you go or should go by yourself. Actually, it’s the more, the better. So I went to the beautiful beach club and indeed it was pure heaven. There were a few staff members down there who took care of the car, allocated me a beach chair and served lunch in the restaurant. I probably shouldn’t mention that I had this two-class issue again as I was told I could only choose between the two right chairs as the other ones are reserved for villa guests. After swimming in the absolutely stunning turquoise waters of this paradise-like bay, I was ready to have some lunch. While there is no menu, the waiters tell you more less the selection of dishes that you can choose from. I love this idea, especially when vacationing in Italy as you know the few things they cook are very fresh and change daily (otherwise they would print a menu). Indeed the food was delicious and the salad with goat cheese precisely what I needed. Not so good when I received the bill of 80 USD (at check out not when I was there so I could double check) for a salad, grilled shrimps and two bottles of beer. That means I must have paid 45 USD for a plate of nine shrimps with a bit of vegetable and rice? Almost 25 USD for a salad because it had goat cheese from their own production? I mean 5 USD for a bottle of Pacifico beer is 2 Dollars more than at the Four Seasons in Punta Mita.
Prices & Extra Costs
Don’t get me wrong. I mean it’s definitely okay to charge high prices on these remote locations, but we are still in Mexico, a country where I could get the beer at a local shop for not even half a dollar. Everything is cheaper in comparison to the States or Europe so also a hotel (especially one that doesn’t have a big brand behind like Rosewood or One&Only). Of course luxury hotels have stellar prices here as well, but at least I expect the matching overall experience. After four hours on the beach, I was turned away by the heavy wind that blew all the sand in my face (they didn’t offer to move the sun beds to another spot and just suggested not to use the umbrella). Back at the property, I was offered to do a very cool horseback ride for the next morning, which was really the highlight of this stay. We walked along the zebras and other wildlife animals, which was just incredible as if you are doing a safari. In general, there are quite a few activities available to do though most of them come with an extra charge. To get a better feeling, my two hours horseback ride was about 150 USD, almost a third more than at Chile’s most expensive hotels.
Food & Drinks
Food wise, I have a mixed feeling about Cuixmala. While I would have loved to dine at least once in Casa Cuixmala, I ended up eating both nights at Casa Gomez. My starters were mostly salad grown on the property, once with goat cheese and once with quinoa. Both of them were incredibly good and came with a few different toppings. As far as the main course concerns I was less lucky: once I had a fish dish which was cooked too much, so I asked to return it. Instead, I went for the grilled ribs, which were tender and soft. On the next evening, I went for a ribeye - unfortunately, it was chewy and not really tender. I am not really a Connaisseur of steaks, but serving mustard to a ribeye was a first time for me and didn’t really match. I ended up using the herb butter from the bread service instead, which was a good fit. Cuixmala does not serve any wine by the glass, which might mostly be since the majority of guests come in groups where there is simply no demand for it. It was cool to see they had a Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay on the list which I could drink on two nights so it was a good deal for me. On both nights, I ended up with a bill of around 70 and 80 Dollars for three courses - the wine aside, which was 50 Dollars. As stated above, too high for what it was but they try to charge as much as branded beachside resorts.
Service & Conclusion
Service in the restaurant was always very good, and they were attentive, too. Housekeeping was somewhat good (besides the one incident mentioned above), however I was most disappointed by the concierge. On the first day it took them almost 45 minutes to get a power outlet converter for my European plugs, then had charges on my bill which weren’t supposed to be there and at the end I received a bill from another guest with its full address on it (not sure if that is privacy a la discretion). Mostly it was hard to find the concierge as he was chatting to other guests which is very lovely, but when these chats take more than 30 minutes, and he sees other guests waiting and keeps talking, it’s not so professional anymore. I am very sorry for the experience, and if I imagine that my trip to Mexico actually happened because I thought myself I never get to stay at this property again, so I have to go, then I should be grateful to Cuixmala. However I cannot recommend staying at Cuixmala Casitas if you are really looking for the pure luxury experience! Cuixmala though is a true gem if you are a stressed high profile manager or CEO and look for a place to completely unplug and disconnect with your family. Definitely rent a villa and take some friends, so you make the fun happening there. I also have to highlight that my experience was so unfortunate because the main highlights were closed above all the famous pool and the Casa Cuixmala - I am very sure that if I had stayed there, my experience would have been entirely different. It’s like a day and night experience, but again it is the job of Cuixmala to make that clear beforehand. Don’t sell a hotel which is actually very different and don’t keep the facts hidden. Be transparent and tell the guests when the facilities are closed.
Disclaimer: I was guest of Cuixmala for editorial purposes, however opinions are our own as usual and have not been influenced. Luxury Executive is a blog published by tourism experts and all reviews purely focus on the hotel and destination.