Kempinski Cancun puts a new face on an old favorite

The Kempinski Hotel Cancun is one of the newest luxury hotels to grace the Mexican Caribbean coastline. But when I visited in August, it was like visiting a very dear, old friend — truly coming full circle on my career writing about Mexico.

For three decades, the Kempinski Hotel Cancun flew under the Ritz-Carlton flag. It was the first Ritz-Carlton in Mexico, and its guests were loyal devotees.

It was also the first hotel I visited in Mexico when I started covering the country in 2009. When the brand changed hands, its regular guests — myself included — were wondering how the rebranded property would stack up to its previous incarnation.

Kempinski, it turns out, does this iconic property justice, and then some. Guests will appreciate that the grande dame — the first to fly the Kempinski flag in North America outside of Cuba — is as refined and elegant as it was under the previous name.

My visit started with a decadent dinner in the elegant restaurant Fantino. Marked by stunning frescoes on the ceiling, long curtains, white tablecloths and the lilt of a piano, this five-diamond restaurant is one of the most coveted in Cancun. The filet mignon in particular is exceptional.

By day, I lounged poolside or in a cabana on the fluffy, white sand on the lengthy stretch of beach. The days were broken up only by a stop for fresh fish tacos at the Caribe Bar & Grill or a massage at Kayanta Spa.

In the evenings, you could find me at D-Lounge, the lobby lounge that overlooks the Caribbean Sea, sipping a glass of prosecco and having light bites of sushi and sashimi.

One of the beachfront pool areas at the hotel.

A must for clients

One of the most special experiences that travel advisors can arrange for their clients is a beachfront dinner at Casitas. Served within one of the private cabanas, this oceanfront experience serves haute Mexican cuisine to the soundtrack of gently lapping waves. The local catch served tikin xic-style came highly recommended, and it was certainly worth the suggestion.

I was happy to see that the Kempinski Hotel Cancun has retained much of what I adored about the property when it was a Ritz. I think others will, too.

Guests are still greeted by the familiar black- and pink-marble lobby with opulent chandeliers, stately paintings and regal furniture that once stood in Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. Even the magnificent carpet that runs down the lobby’s sweeping staircase has remained the same over the past three decades.

Returning guests can also count on the same hospitality and many familiar faces. Many of the staff members I spoke with have been at the property for 20 years or more. Their love and devotion to the property and to keeping it running exceptionally well is clear.

The 363 rooms still exude that classic elegance, though Kempinski has refurbished them to have a brighter color palette and new furniture. The views of the 1,200-foot beachfront and sparkling, turquoise Caribbean Sea remain as picture-perfect as ever. 

Club Rooms include access to the Club Lounge throughout the day, which offers menus for breakfast and lunch as well as an assortment of drinks and private check-in and checkout.

Club Rooms come with additional amenities and perks, including access to the Club Lounge.

So what’s new?

Noteworthy at the hotel is the addition of the signature Lady in Red concierge service that is synonymous with Kempinski.

The Lady in Red is the exclusive brand ambassador that welcomes each guest with personalized service. Dressed in crimson, this person is the local expert and top resource for designing everything from a surprise proposal to a family excursion. The Kempinski Hotel Cancun is also one of only four Kempinski hotels around the world to have a Gent in Red. Cancun’s Gent is Ruben Grajeda, who has been with the resort for nearly 20 years.

Part of Kempinski’s renovations include two pickleball courts and a renovated tennis court as well as renovations to the on-site culinary center, where guests can take private cooking lessons.

New menu items at white-glove Fantino and the Club Grill are additional changes that visitors can expect to find.

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