Just half an hour across the Caribbean Sea from the pulsing, energetic vibe of Cancun's Hotel Zone is an island that is a world all its own.
Isla Mujeres has long been the hideaway for Cancun locals and travelers in the know. A 30-minute ferry ride from Puerto Juarez in Cancun takes visitors to the 4.3-mile-long island with a laid-back vibe and a small-scale atmosphere. While the north end of the island is the most crowded, known for its seafood restaurants, beach day clubs and a few resorts, a short golf cart ride (the preferred method of transport on the island) reveals a far more tranquil setting. It's here that the Izla Hotel is celebrating its first anniversary.
The all-white, 123-room boutique hotel opened in December 2017 overlooking the Caribbean Sea with the Cancun skyline in the distance. With two wings surrounding a central pool and overlooking the small, semiprivate beach area, this is perhaps one of the most chic hotels to open on Isla Mujeres. Sleek and minimalist in design, it is set far away from the crowded beaches of Playa Norte where day-trippers camp out on the sugary sand to escape Cancun city life.
The rooms are on the Spartan side in terms of design, but each one has its own ocean-facing balcony.
All the guestrooms at the Izla Hotel feature ocean-facing balconies.
The focal points of the hotel are its public spaces. The central pool is surrounded by lounge beds, while cabanas dot the shore, hugging the bath-like, calm sea. A pool bar serves cocktails and light bites, while two indoor restaurants serve Mexican cuisine. Numa is open for dinner and fuses Caribbean flavors with Mexican favorites, including ceviche, marinated fish, lobster tacos and shrimp. Izla Cafe is an all-day dining establishment with a fantastic breakfast selection, many options of which are included in the room rates. The evenings open the menu to Mexican cuisine from around the Yucatan and Quintana Roo regions.
One of the highlights of the hotel is its rooftop infinity-edge pool surrounded by daybeds and lounge chairs. From the rooftop, guests have a direct view across the Caribbean Sea to the Cancun skyline.
And if the buzz and hum of Playa Norte, or any of the island's other sights, is on the itinerary, fortunately they are just a quick golf cart ride away, and the hotel can arrange cart rentals. The island is easily circumnavigated in less than an hour, and a straight shot to Playa Norte is about seven or eight minutes.
The ferry from Puerto Juarez, just a few minutes from downtown Cancun, leaves every half-hour from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Rates begin at $151. See www.izlahotel.com.