This Iconic European Hotel Brand Now Has a Beachfront Hotel in Cancun, Mexico

Kempinski Hotels now has its first spot in North America.

View at sunset from the balcony of the suite. The beach and coastline are in view

Tykesha Burton

When I got wind that a European hospitality brand was extending its footprint into Mexico, I decided to be one of the first to check out the Kempinski Hotel Cancun. The 363-room hotel is the successor to The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, which Kempinski Hotels acquired in September 2022. The hotel officially became a Kempinski property in December 2022, without closing during the transition. Known for elegance and top-tier service, Kempinski has 82 hotels across 35 countries, but this is its first property in North America.

After a long and arduous day of travel, my enthusiasm was zapped by the time I arrived. I was frazzled and in desperate need of a stiff drink and a hot shower. That is, until I stepped inside my hotel suite. From every direction, all I could see was the azure sea peeking through the sheer curtains. Then, with my camera bag still strapped to my back, I hurried to one of three floor-to-ceiling windows. I opened it and stepped onto my colossal terrace for a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the Caribbean Ocean.

View from suite's terrace of the beach with palm trees and cabanas below and beautiful early sunset

Tykesha Burton

"Kempinski Hotels are not as well-known here as they are in Europe and across the Middle East and Asia. The hotels there speak for themselves, and we are transitioning this beautiful older hotel into something special," said Aref Sayegh, the general manager of Kempinski Hotel Cancun. "We are bringing 125 years of European luxury to Cancun while ensuring we understand the history of this 29-year-old iconic address."

A view of the ruins in Tulum along the beach on a sunny but windy day

Tykesha Burton

The Kempinski Hotel Cancun is in the city's bustling hotel zone, a beachfront enclave home to several upscale shops and restaurants and located just a 25-minute drive from Cancun International Airport.

I visited a week after the changing of the hotel-brand guard, as the site was still undergoing improvements to ensure the Kempinski ethos was felt throughout the hotel. When discussing ongoing improvements, Sayegh added, "Since September, over 450 people have been trained in the Kempinski 'DNA.' We are continuing to update the guest rooms and to offer thoughtful, intuitive, and individual experiences to all of our guests."

Despite the behind-the-scenes rebrand, the staff was friendly, efficient, and professional. My check-in was seamless, and the lobby was elegantly designed with gleaming marble floors, gold-framed classic paintings lining the sage-colored walls, and sizable chandeliers.

Guests with Club Lounge access can enjoy complimentary breakfast on an exclusive floor overlooking an aviary, where verdant vines create a curtain effect. There's also a tennis center, beauty salon, fitness center with a sauna and steam room, and a spa that offers Mayan-inspired healing treatments.

The hotel's culinary offerings are worthy of a superlative or two. There are five dining venues on-site, including two five-diamond AAA restaurants: Fantino and The Club Grill. The Mexican-inspired fare created by executive chef Rene Camelo at The Club Grill was remarkable (the corn soup and lobster salad with truffle foam were my favorites). I had to force myself not to shimmy with delight during the white glove service. Meanwhile, I struggled not to devour every morsel of the filet mignon with parmesan gnocchi served at Fantino.

The property's 315 rooms and 48 suites are all sea-facing and feature private balconies or terraces. The color palette of each room is muted; oatmeal-colored walls and furniture, with light brown and pewter accents. A bi-fold door separates the living space from the bedroom in the suites. The bathrooms, while not large, had shiny marble surfaces, a rainfall shower, and a large soaking tub that would be great for families with small children.

Living room area in suite at Kempinski Grand Cancun Hotel

Tykesha Burton

Bedroom in suite, decor in neutral tones

Tykesha Burton

Outside, there are two pools, one whirlpool, and a secluded stretch of shoreline. Staff is on-hand to provide drinks and towels or set up private cabanas for guests. After lazing in the whirlpool and an exploratory dip in the ocean, I sat on a lounge chair with a cold, fizzy drink and sugary sand clinging to my feet.

While there are plenty of hotels to choose from in this region, with its luxury amenities, delectable ocean views, and scrumptious food offerings, the Kempinski Hotel Cancun is one to book straight away.

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