Avalon Reef Club, Isla Mujeres: hotel review
SHANNON’S TRAVEL BAG: travel tips for women
Shannon Skinner visits the Avalon Reef Club, Isla Mujeres, Mexico that’s an island unto itself.
I have visited Isla Mujeres, Mexico on three separate occasions over the past two years. It has a wonderful energy and beauty that keeps calling me back. One of the other reasons I love returning is because the locals are so “sunny” — they smile A LOT. It was no exception with the staff at the Avalon Reef Club Isla Mujeres, whose sunny dispositions and wide-open smiles did not disappoint.
Located on the secluded island of Isla Mujeres, (“Woman Island”), just a 20 mins. ferry ride from Cancun, the Avalon Reef Club, a luxury hotel, sits on its own private islet. After arriving on Isla Mujeres, I took a taxi from the pier to the hotel, which took all of five minutes through the town. We drove along a small wooden bridge across a shallow channel of water to get to the property. Once there, I felt like I had my own private island. Given the name, it is as enchanting as one might expect.
Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, the property offers a spectacular view of the water, amazing sunsets, enjoyment of powdery beaches, rejuvenation of the spirit and romance for those looking for a getaway.
The amenities are ideal for weddings, retreats, seminars and conferences. I had attended the We Move Forward 2012 International Women’s Day three-day conference (March 8-10 2012) that was held in the property’s event centre. I attended representing my web TV show, Extraordinary Women TV with Shannon Skinner, that was the event’s media partner. The event centre itself was located outside the main building, and is circular in shape and bright with lots of windows. (Considering Isla Mujeres means the “Women Island,” I thought it was the perfect setting for such an event.) We were well taken care of by the staff. So if you run retreats or seminars for women, I highly recommend this venue.
The hotel offers standard hotel rooms and suites, and also Spanish-style studios that have a few alcoves and a gazebo situated next to the water with a breathtaking view. All rooms in the tower have an ocean view. My room was a standard one. It had everything I needed for my five night stay, including the soothing sound of the rolling waves underneath my window. For small groups, the studios might be an ideal choice.
To me, a hotel’s staff can make or break a stay. The staff at the Avalon Reef Club were friendly, courteous and helpful. In fact, one of the staff at the desk graciously went beyond the line of duty to help me book transportation to the airport from the ferry.
There are a few restaurant/bar options on-site offering tasty Mexican and international food, although the service was a bit tardy. However, I was in no rush so my patience was not tested.
The hotel’s natural swimming pool looked so inviting, though I did not have time to dip my toe in it, let alone enjoy it, sadly.
The only drawback about this venue to me is that it is quiet at night (especially if you enjoy nightlife). But, depending on your values, this may be a benefit. The hotel is only a 10 mins. walk to bars and restaurants, and the benefit is you can retreat to peace and quiet after a night out.
The hotel manager, Diana Arriaga, speaks English and is highly resourceful and eager to ensure you enjoy your stay.
For solo women: consider not wearing the wristband that the hotel supplies and instead keeping it in your wallet and showing it when you are required to, rather than walking around the town with it on your wrist. Just be aware the town is small and the wristband does identify where you are staying.
And a note about safety: while there is fear about traveling to Mexico, I have felt perfectly safe traveling solo as a woman to this island on three occasions now. When I asked many of the locals why they live on the island, they all said they felt “safe.” A contributing factor, I learned, is the presence of the Mexican navy base.
Price From: $95-120+ Cdn (inquire about rates and specials)
Who goes? Singles, couples and families.
Style/Character: beach-resort, bed & breakfast/European plan
Service/Staff: Friendly, resourceful, helpful, English-speaking staff – and they smiled a lot.
Rooms: Standard, suites and studios.
Food/Drink: A few restaurant and bar options.
Value for Money: yes
Women traveling solo-friendly: Yes. Consider not wearing the wristband and instead keeping it on your wallet and showing it when you are required to. Inquire about single supplements for hotel rooms.
Amenities: great for holding weddings, seminars, retreats or conferences, especially for women. There is an on-site spa/salon.
Disabled Access: yes
Local shopping: Lots of shopping is walking distance, in the town’s center.
Where to eat: In the town’s centre, check out Como-No (“Why Not?”), an inviting restaurant/bar that is owned/operated by Canadian Penny Deming, which has a terrific roof patio and entertainment. Barlito offers healthy, inexpensive food. La Luna is a spacious bar/restaurant (Canadian owned/operated).
What not to miss: The Mayan temple to the goddess Ixchel, on the south end of the island.
Nightlife: Check out La Luna Bar and Como-No (rooftop patio) in the town’s centre.
Location: north beach, Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
© Shannon Skinner 2012