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Mexico has long been one of the most popular vacation destinations for Americans thanks to its close proximity (and plentiful, relatively inexpensive air service across the country), world-class beaches, rich culture and history and a national cuisine that is nothing short of drool-worthy.
And during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mexico has been even more desirable to travelers, thanks to few restrictions and plentiful resorts promising wide-open beaches and plenty of fun in the sun for those stuck in their homes through a seemingly never-ending health crisis and an especially harsh winter.
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Of course, Mexico has plenty more to offer than just beaches — in fact, its cities are some of the most dynamic in the world.
But today, we’ll focus on some of the very best beachfront properties across the country at which you can use your hard-earned hotel points to score a free (or mostly free) stay.
JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa
The recently renovated JW Marriott Cancun is one of the top points hotels on the ever-popular strip of resorts on the Yucatan Peninsula, especially for those with Marriott Bonvoy points to burn. In fact, TPG’s Zach Griff named it the best Marriott property in Cancun, beating out the nearby Ritz-Carlton, Cancun. The JW resort features three pools and three dining venues as well as a full-service spa and plenty of activities, including tennis courts.
The JW Marriott Cancun is a Category 6 Marriott Bonvoy property, meaning free nights will cost you between 40,000 and 60,000 points per night depending on your travel dates and making it eligible for a 50,000-point free-night certificate that comes with certain Marriott cobranded credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
Papaya Playa Project, Tulum, a Member of Design Hotels
Located in Mexico’s Bohemian hotspot, Tulum, Papaya Playa Project lives up to its designation as a Design Hotel. The aesthetic is a beachside embodiment of shabby chic with rustic furnishings and thatched-roof bungalows on the beach. The hotel is conscious about its place in the natural environment, too, and espouses a commitment to sustainability in its operation. Guests can expect meals created with local ingredients served up at the property’s beach club, yoga classes, “jam sessions” and more.
This is a Category 6 Bonvoy property, meaning free nights will cost you between 40,000 and 60,000 points per night depending on your travel dates and making it eligible for a 50,000-point free-night certificate.
InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort
Situated on a prime stretch of Cancun beach, this InterContinental resort boasts a beach club in addition to several other outposts for eating and drinking. It makes a great home base for families traveling to Mexico as it offers base rooms with two beds.
And, this InterContinental is a relative bargain, with base rooms starting at 27,500 points per night for a room with either one or two beds. If you’re looking to increase your IHG points balance, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve directly to IHG at a 1:1 ratio.
Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Cancun
Hyatt’s pair of all-inclusive resorts — Ziva, a family-oriented property and Zilara, an adults-only resort — are fixtures in the Cancun hotel scene. You’ll find multiple pools and jacuzzis, dedicated children’s areas (at the Ziva hotel), two beaches, a full spa and more than a few outposts for dining and having drinks. Of course, as these are all-inclusive properties, most of the eating and drinking you’ll do is included in the price of entry, which is an attractive amenity in and of itself.
The all-inclusive Hyatts both require 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night for double occupancy, with an additional charge of 12,500 points for the third and fourth guests in the room.
If you need more Hyatt points, know that Chase Ultimate Rewards, earned with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, transfer with a 1:1 ratio to Hyatt. The Sapphire Preferred is currently offering a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.
Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen
The Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen is another attractive Hyatt property in the Cancun area, this one is located about an hour’s drive from Cancun International Airport (CUN) in the heart of Playa del Carmen. This large resort offers plenty of options for relaxing with multiple oceanfront pools and, of course, the beach itself. It also offers a Grand Club executive lounge, available for several thousand more World of Hyatt points per night on top of the standard rate.
As a Category 6 World of Hyatt hotel, free nights cost 25,000 points apiece, though cash rates are often reasonable.
Andaz Mayakoba Resort
Located about 40 minutes from Cancun International Airport and in between Cancun proper and Playa del Carmen, the Andaz Mayakoba lies in the exclusive and serene Mayakoba development, which is home to several other high-end resorts. The resort features beautiful rooms and suites with views of the property’s various lagoons or the ocean itself. The property is spread across many acres, perfect for anyone seeking wide-open spaces in relative isolation from others.
This is a Category 6 World of Hyatt property, meaning award nights will cost you 25,000 points apiece.
Hilton Playa del Carmen, an All-Inclusive Adults only resort
Hilton’s sprawling resort in Playa del Carmen has two huge draws: It’s all-inclusive and reserved for adults only. It features newly renovated guest rooms and suites, a whopping 12 restaurants and bars, a gym, a cigar lounge and more. Of course, it’s all included in your nightly rate.
Rooms can be had for as few as 46,000 Hilton Honors points, though some days that rate skyrockets to over 300,000, so plan accordingly. If you want to boost your Honors points balance, consider signing up for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which is currently offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. The information for the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
In one of Mexico’s famous fishing towns, this hotel boasts a beautiful setting among a jungle, an unspoiled beach, delicious seafood and even ancient ruins nearby. Base-level rooms here (there are only 56 rooms and suites total) are large, and some have private plunge pools. Don’t miss a meal under the expansive palm-thatched palapa with ocean views, either.
This is a Category 6 World of Hyatt property, meaning each award night will cost you 25,000 points.
The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort
Located in the exclusive enclave of Punta de Mita, about an hour away from Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR), The St. Regis Punta Mita is a refined beach escape. The resort sits peninsula on a beautifully rugged coastline with stunning rock formations and white-sand beaches. There are three infinity pools, two Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, a signature St. Regis Remede spa and more. If you want to leave the resort, you’re close to a charming town called Sayulita, which is full of shopping, dining and sight-seeing.
This is a top-tier Category 8 Marriott Bonvoy property, meaning a free night will run you between 70,000 and 100,000 points, depending on the dates of your stay.
Conrad Punta de Mita
About an hour from Puerto Vallarta lies the Conrad Punta de Mita, a brand-new luxury resort in the Hilton family. Set on a gorgeous strip of beach, this resort offers plenty of amenities for all types of travelers. Besides a day at the pool or beach, you can try your hand at any one of a number of activities, including zip-lining, hiking, horse riding and golfing.
Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos
Solaz is a megaresort in the ever-popular Los Cabos at the southern tip of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. While it’s huge, it doesn’t slack on its luxury chops. There are several pools, a phenomenal spa, many dining and drinking outposts and much more wrapped up in a sleek, luxurious, beachfront package.
Solaz is a Category 7 Bonvoy property, meaning that a free night will cost anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 points depending on when you stay. If you can find any off-peak availability, you’ll be able to use a 50,0000-point free-night certificate as well.
JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort and Spa
Another luxury Marriott beach resort in Los Cabos, the JW Marriott is a beautiful property offering multiple pools (one with a swim-up bar), a tranquil spa, numerous restaurants and more. The resort is designed to more or less blend with its desert surroundings and features multiple spaces that seamlessly blend the indoors and outdoors.
This is Category 6 Bonvoy property making it a great place to spend your 50,000-point free-night certificates on nights that price at 50,000 points or fewer. Otherwise, you’ll pay between 40,000 and 60,000 points per night, depending on when you visit.
The Cape, a Thompson Hotel
The Cape, a Thompson Hotel in Cabo San Lucas is one of the area’s hottest hotels. It’s dramatically set above Cabo’s Monuments Beach, and you can see the iconic El Arco rock formation from the property. If you want to stay somewhere that’ll look great on your Instagram grid, look no further. While you’re there, relax in your room’s gorgeous soaking tub and grab a fresh margarita at the hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge and take in the vistas of the Sea of Cortez.
The Cape is a Category 6 World of Hyatt property, meaning an award night will cost you 25,000 points.
Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal
In 2019, Hilton acquired the well-regarded Resort at Pedregal in Los Cabos and rebranded it as a luxurious Waldorf Astoria property. The Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal has just 115 rooms and suites, promising a high-end and relaxed experience for all guests. The resort has three pools: a children’s pool, a saltwater pool and an infinity-edge pool with uninterrupted Pacific Ocean views. In addition, there’s a full-service spa along with multiple dining options, including El Fallaron, a seaside restaurant where you can dine with the sound of crashing waves beside you.
Mexico is a country full of delights for all kinds of travelers. But its beaches are truly special, and luckily, for those with hotel points to burn, there are plenty of fantastic beachfront resorts where you can stay for relatively few out-of-pocket dollars. Of course, these are not all the beachfront points hotels in the country — and there are many more incredible resorts that don’t belong to the major hotel loyalty programs, but these are some of our go-to choices when planning an escape to the beach.
Featured image by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.