LeBlanc Cancun Or Excellence Playa Mujeres: Which Is Right For You?
So you’re finally getting the beach vacay that you’ve been dreaming of, and it’s time to choose a resort. There are so many choices in the Cancun area that it can be hard to figure out which is best. On my last two trips I stayed at my top two options, and wanted to provide a detailed comparison of LeBlanc Cancun vs Excellence Playa Mujeres.
Mexico has been one of the easier places for Americans to get to for eons, but particularly during the the last year and a half of travel restrictions. If you’re wanting a more special experience rather than just party central, these are two of the resorts you should definitely be looking at.
I’ve done super deep reviews on both LeBlanc Cancun and Excellence Playa Mujeres, and I recommend you check both out to really get a feel for each resort individually. This post is about comparing and contrasting them on different areas.
My goal isn’t to tell you which is objectively “better”, but rather to share details on each resort, with direct comparisons where possible, to help you figure out what’s best for YOU.
My other Cancun adventures to help with your trip planning:
A Lovely, Relaxing Solo Trip To Cancun’s Excellence Playa Mujeres
Review: A Stay At Cancun’s Luxury LeBlanc Resort
LeBlanc’s Restaurants: A Detailed Food & Drink Guide
How to Have a Chill DIY Beach Vacay in Cancun (including Chichen Itza)
My First All-Inclusive Experience, at Royal Hideaway Playacar
Review: Playa del Carmen’s Royal Hideaway Playacar
This post contains affiliate links, from which I may earn a commission for qualifying purchases (which I greatly appreciate, and at no extra cost to you). All opinions are, as always, completely my own.
There are some overall differences between the two resorts that are important to know at the outset.
LeBlanc is a small boutique resort right in the middle of Cancun’s hotel zone (though maintains a quiet, intimate feel). Excellence Playa Mujeres (EPM), on the other hand, is a larger (though not massive) resort up in Playa Mujeres. It has more space and so has more expansive grounds, more pools, rooms, activities, etc.
If you’re interested, I’ve also done a review of Royal Hideaway Playacar down south in Playa del Carmen, for comparison.
Both resorts have an app that you use to look at what restaurants are open, menus, activities, and much more, and both work fine if a bit buggy. I think LeBlanc’s is better and more user-friendly, and you can do a bit more on it (such as order room service).
Okay, diving in to the details…here’s what we’ll cover:
- Arrival & welcome
- The rooms
- The pools
- The beaches
- The resort overall & public areas
- The food & restaurants
- The drinks
- The service
- The activities
- Saying goodbye
You might also like: Everything You Need To Pack For A Chill Beach or Pool Vacation
Throughout the post I’ll start each section talking about LeBlanc, then talk about EPM, just for clarity. I’ve included TONS of photos so you can see for yourself too.
Welcome & check-in
For both resorts I used the complimentary transfer service offered with my hotel booking (a reason to book directly). I got detailed instructions for how to find my drivers in the throng of people, and didn’t have to wait long until I was at the resort. They called them shared transfer, but I had the car to myself each time.
At LeBlanc I was met me upon arrival with a glass of cold sweet coconut milk and a warm aromatic neck pillow while I was checked in. Then I was given my plastic bracelet which is also the room key, but even though I hate wearing things on my wrist, having the wristband key vs. a regular hotel key was super convenient and it’s quite tasteful-looking. Then I met my butler, who got my luggage unpacked, while I went down to find a snack and drink and explore.
At EPM, I was whisked upstairs upon arrival to the Excellence Club Lounge, since I’d booked Club level (which I recommend!!). I waited with a glass of (quite good!) champagne, enjoying the air conditioning and peace, and finally got checked in. My room wasn’t ready yet, but they called me later and got me into my room.
You might also like: What To Expect Traveling Between The U.S. & Mexico (COVID Logistics)
Okay, starting with LeBlanc…I’d wanted to splurge, so booked the Royal Governor’s Suite. The room was lovely, spacious, clean, and had a number of delightful little touches. For instance, the view from the jacuzzi tub was stunning (though at night it’s just dark, so less of a selling point). There was an espresso machine, a fresh flower, beautiful décor, two different TVs, and more.
At the end of the day it was still a (very fancy) hotel room, and I was spending most of my time at the pool, so I would go a little less splurge-y next time to make it worth the cost here.
They bring in little gorgeous fancy chocolates each night with turndown service, and I could ask for different pillows, custom aromatherapy, or drawing a bath with custom scents either with my butler or through their app.
One other thing to call out, I LOOOOVED the two-way shower in the bathroom (rain shower on top, then fairly strong pressure sideways jets too). It was so relaxing and unexpected.
You might also like: How to Choose the Best Hotel Every Single Time
One of the reasons I went with the Royal Governor’s Suite specifically at LeBlanc was in order to have an actual balcony you could go out on. Most rooms don’t (they’ll open up, but there’s not a real balcony). I would go out every morning here and watch the sunrise with my coffee and pastries.
But as you can see, it’s still not much of a balcony (and it was on the side of the building, so a lot of it didn’t strongly face the ocean). I loved my time out there, but relative to the cost increase I don’t think I’d go this route again.
You might also like: My Favorite Korean Face Sunscreens & Moisturizers
Okay, now let’s look at Excellence Playa Mujeres. I stayed in an Excellence Club Junior Suite Ocean View room. I think most of the rooms themselves are pretty similar throughout the resort (minus some bigger suites), but then some have a regular balcony like this, some have a rooftop pool, some have patio access to the pool, etc.
The room was very nice, comfortable, clean, and had a good seating area. I really liked that they not only had a little table and chairs but also a comfy bed out on the balcony for chillin’ with a great view. I spent a LOT of time out there!
This room also had a little jacuzzi with a great view, though I never ended up using it. I *did* use the pretty little leather card holder they left me, to keep my room keys from getting de-magnetized. They did turndown service here each night as well, leaving pretty little petits four (they looked great though all were way too sweet or stale for me).
One thing I’ll call out is the hallway and room setup between LeBlanc vs EPM. At LeBlanc, the rooms are accessed inside, through air conditioned hallways (first pic below). At EPM they’re accessed through outside hallways, so you’re walking everywhere through humidity. Not a huge deal either way, just nice to know.
You might also like: My Favorite Books for the Beach & Pool
Okay, now we’ll talk about the pool situation between LeBlanc vs Excellence Playa Mujeres, because for me that is the #1 reason I’m here! (We’ll get into beaches next.)
LeBlanc has two main pools, the one in the first pic below (my fave) and in the second pic below (stunning, but didn’t get as much breeze when I was there).
You might also like: 9 Sunscreens I Swear by for Travel
There’s also this small one on the top floor that overlooks the main pool and looks out toward the beach as well.
I honestly loved the LeBlanc pools almost any time of day, but as you can see in the pics below, I really had a soft spot for the colors and reflections of sunrise from the main pool in particular.
You might also like: What To Listen To On the Beach: The 15 Best Full Albums
Excellence Playa Mujeres has a few more pools to choose from (or at least more diversity in pool spaces). Here are a few photos, and then there are some additional ones further down in the “Grounds” section, as they dominate and are seamlessly woven into the overall resort layout.
In that second pic you can also glimpse some of the swim-out suites, if you considering that type of room. I loved the idea and just couldn’t get access to a Club one when I was visiting, but I hadn’t quite pictured them that “in the thick of things”. Personally I’d prefer a bit more privacy, but I still really like the idea of having a dedicated lounger.
And then there are Club pools at EPM, where I spent most of my time (as I was looking for the chillest experience possible). Having access to these is really nice, you get a pool concierge and dedicated servers. That’s a huge selling point.
The Club pools themselves are…eh. A bit small and claustrophobic feeling, not as pretty or special compared to the rest of the resort and the main pools. Again, you can glimpse there in that second picture an example of the swim-out suites.
You might also like: The 10 Best Books I Read In 2020
Quintana Roo is known for its beautiful beaches overall, stretching from north of Cancun all the way down to Tulum. But not all parts are created equal, the beach situations between hotels vary dramatically, and time of year makes a huge differences due to things like seaweed and sargassum.
PERSONALLY, I liked the beach down at Royal Hideaway (in Playa del Carmen, to the south) and at LeBlanc Cancun (in the hotel zone) the best. I don’t spend a ton of time there, enjoy it more for beautiful photos, the sunrise experience, etc. But I just thought it was nicer.
There are a combination of regular loungers, little beach tents, a few hammocks, and then the fancy cabanas (that cost money). There is a bar down there, and servers circulate constantly for food and drink orders.
You might also like: 10 Places I’m Dying to Visit in 2021
The beach at Excellence Playa Mujeres sits on (duh) Playa Mujeres and looks out toward Isla Mujeres, but to me lacks the gorgeous water and beaches that Isla Mujeres is known for (examples of those at the end of the post).
Time of year may definitely have played a role in how much seaweed and other stuff was on the beach (I visited in late May), but I just didn’t find the beach here terribly appealing, and only really came down for sunrise a few times.
The beach at EPM has a combination of regular loungers and beach beds, some of which are uncovered and some which have palapas. There are different sections for regular and Club guests, and the Club guests have dedicated concierge and servers (just like at the Club pools).
You might also like: 11 of My Best Tips for ANY Trip
Okay, so besides pools and beaches, what is the overall resort like?? Both LeBlanc and EPM are beautiful in their own ways. LeBlanc has more of a high-end boutique hotel feel, while EPM feels more like a traditional resort (on account of having more space to work with).
The main areas at LeBlanc lean into the luxury feel, with lots of warm white, silver, and lights as accents. Even the art feels a little different than I’m used to from an all-inclusive tropical resort. I felt more like I’d stepped into a high-end spa (which…I had, technically). Overall I loved it.
And it smells amazing everywhere…I think they pipe the aromatherapy throughout the whole resort.
You might also like: The Best Cross-Body Purse for Travel
One of the first things you notice walking into Excellence Playa Mujeres is the beautiful ceiling mosaic in the main buildings, with the welcoming scroll staircase drawing you down toward the Martini Bar and the pools.
The resort has far more outside areas than LB, and they all have interesting, lush landscaping that is clearly cared for well.
As I mentioned in the Pools section, the EPM resort grounds are fully oriented around and incorporate the pools.
The main restaurant sits out on a little peninsula over the main pool, with cute walkways criss-crossing all over and batches of hammocks clustered throughout. It all feels very organic, nothing cookie-cutter.
You might also like: 10 Things You Must Do Before Any Trip
The restaurants & food
One of the places I saw a bigger difference between LeBlanc vs Excellence Playa Mujeres was in the food. If you’ve been following me on this blog for a while, you know that food is my JAM. I love food so much.
I was really pleasantly surprised by the food at LeBlanc…I’d consider it excellent for an all-inclusive resort, and pretty good for *not* an all-inclusive. The portions were generally pretty small, which I appreciated because then I could try more things without wasting food.
Each of the restaurants has its own vibe as well, based heavily on the cuisine (e.g. Japanese, French, etc.). My two favorite meals were at Yama and Lumiere. I had a few great breakfast dishes at Terraza too. But I didn’t have a meal that was just “meh”. You do want reservations for most of the restaurants for dinner, and your butler can help with that.
See my much deeper post on LeBlanc’s food & drinks
You might also like: 20+ Tips to Survive & Thrive on a Long Flight
If you order food out at the pool, I recommend the tacos (especially the fish pastor and tinga if they’re on the menu). Everything else I had was kind of bland (the nachos and guac both could use seasoning), but do snag the off-menu onion rings!
I did use room service a handful of times, mostly in the morning. Specifically, I learned to order my some coffee, pastries, and waffles the night before (via the app) to arrive early in the morning, then get up and watch the sunrise with it out on my balcony.
The waffles were delish, pastries pretty good (get the vanilla concha and dulce de leche croissant!), and these room service cappuccinos were HANDS-DOWN the best coffee I got at the resort anywhere.
You might also like: The Only Carry-On Suitcase You’ll Need
The restaurants at Excellence Playa Mujeres do not take or require reservations for dinner (except the hibachi), which means you have to have your timings right. I went right at 6:00 when they opened, so always got seated. Many people will do early drinks and appetizers somewhere, then grab the second seating.
Magna was my favorite restaurant overall, and it’s Excellence Club-only. They offer both breakfast and dinner, and I had both multiple times. Basmati (Indian) was my second-fave. In a lot of the restaurants I tended to find that the appetizers were strong, but the main dishes and desserts fell short. Not terrible in most cases, just okay.
Room service was prompt and there were lots of choices. They provide a box in your room where you can have them leave your food if you don’t want to answer the door (I loved this touch, very convenient). However, I ordered breakfast multiple times, dinner and dessert a couple times, and the food sadly was—without fail—terrible.
Also, a shoutout to the delicious iced macadamia nut lattes and fruit tarts at Aroma, the coffee shop!
You might also like: How to Make Any Itinerary At Least a Little Epic
The drinks at LeBlanc were varied and interesting, though to me they were a little hit and miss. That’s solely due to personal preference, because the cocktail menus tend to be pretty tequila-heavy (for obvious reasons) and I’m not a fan of tequila at all.
I felt Yama and Lumiere had the best cocktails for my tastes, and Terraza had some good ones too. I didn’t have great luck at the regular bars, even for classic cocktails like a gin gimlet or old fashioned. Go with a gin and tonic in that case. There are also good wine options at all the restaurants within the all-inclusive, plus elevated options for an extra cost.
Poolside I found plenty of variety and stuck to a lot of the “beach vacay” classics like piña coladas and mojitos.
Overall, Excellence Playa Mujeres had a lot bigger focus on cocktails and more alcohol options than other resorts I’ve stayed at, which was great to see for someone who is not a tequila fan.
Martini Bar had interesting cocktails (and quite a few gin cocktails), the bar in Excellence Club had some great ones, and then I honestly mostly got drinks out at the pool. Martha made me delicious pineapple mojitos, Bahama Mamas, and piña coladas!
You might also like: Tips for Picking the Right Flight Every Single Time
Starting with LeBlanc…they pride themselves on their service, and feel they generally lived up to that. Your butler can help with anything you need, from dinner reservations to booking tours to unpacking and packing your suitcases. They can also help you with the in-room offerings like aromatherapy, bath salts, soaps, pillow menu, or anything else.
Out at the pool, the pool concierges and waiters were so on-the-ball. It definitely helped that I was there when the resort was at less than 50% capacity due to COVID, but in general their staff-to-guest ratio seemed high. You didn’t wait long for drinks or food, and they were just lovely and friendly.
I was frequently surprised all the staff I met remembered my name…to be fair, I was the only single person at the resort so maybe I stood out? 🙂
Similarly, Excellence Playa Mujeres says their service is one of their biggest selling points, and a lot of reviews mention it. Overall I found the staff here to be super friendly, always smiling, and eager to help.
I did often have trouble getting the attention of servers both at the pool and in restaurants…I wondered if it was because I was alone? It was a little weird, but not a dealbreaker. I just didn’t feel as warmly welcomed.
One thing I did NOT like was that some of the staff was pressuring me to fill out reviews right in front of them…daily at the pool area, at the snorkeling on the boat, etc. This isn’t the staff’s fault, because from what they told me, they have quotas of reviews tied to their jobs, which is ridiculous. So this is a management issue but put a bad taste in my mouth (and made me distrust reviews I saw a little more).
Thinking of visiting Chichen Itza? Here’s a little about my visit (on a separate trip)
Activities & other things to do
When I visited LeBlanc, I really wanted a super chill and relaxing vacay, so didn’t seek out any of their activity offerings…except for talking myself into stand-up paddleboard yoga one morning. If you’re looking for tons of different activities and a really lively atmosphere, that’s not LeBlanc’s thing as much.
That’s not to say that there AREN’T things to do…from live music at night to the aforementioned yoga to an afternoon game of beach volleyball, you can keep yourself busy. The staff can also book you tours to go see Chichen Itza, the cenotes, and more if that’s your desire.
Still looking? Here’s how I felt about the Royal Hideaway Playacar in Playa del Carmen
EPM is a bigger and livelier resort, and had a ton of different types of activities for people who want them. If you’re looking for a place with lots to do so you don’t get bored, Excellence definitely might be the place for you.
They have a lot of activities throughout the day and in the evening, everything from yoga to pool volleyball to quiz games. I believe non-motorized watersports are free, which is a big draw for people (though not sure what that does and doesn’t include). In the evenings they have live music in the plaza, then later at night they have shows and occasionally things like a silent rave.
Then they have things like cocktail classes, wine tastings, etc. that have a small fee (like $25) and need to be booked. Make sure you book these ahead!! They’re only offered certain days, and are usually small groups. Same goes for any kind of spa treatment, don’t wait until the day before to book.
I did a half-day excursion booked at the activity desk as well, snorkeling and a visit to beautiful Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres. No complaints, though next time I’d book through a private company myself for a smaller-group setting. But the desk there was super helpful and it was affordable too.
Follow One Girl, Whole World on Pinterest for more travel tips & inspiration!
LeBlanc didn’t do anything crazy on my last day, but I really loved the little turtle chocolates they gave me as I was leaving.
At EPM they really make a big deal of your last day if you’re part of Excellence Club. The pool concierge at my Excellence Club pool gave me a “coco loco” (coconut monkey filled with a piña colada since I’d been drinking those all week) and a beautiful towel message on my last day, and the staff at dinner made me a pretty “come back soon” message as well.
So there are some of my experiences when considering LeBlanc Cancun vs Excellence Playa Mujeres. Both resorts will offer you a great time, and it’s just a matter of deciding what type of experience is most in-line with what you’re wanting.
Other delightful resorts to consider for a relaxing stay:
- Resort Review: Royal Hideaway Playacar in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
- A Review of the Lovely Tensing Pen Resort In Negril, Jamaica
- Is Sedona’s “Luxury” Enchantment Resort Worth the Cost?
- Go Further Afield: The Gorgeous “Hotel Unique” In Fethiye, Turkey
Pin for later!