From a sleepy coastal village just a few decades ago, Cancun is now a booming tourist destination. Consider that in 1990 it had a population of 168,000 people. By 2010 — just 20 years later — the city had 630,000 residents.
Meanwhile, tourism to the area has grown sharply as well. Today there are hundreds of hotels available for visitors. Many of these tower over the beach in the famous Hotel Zone that stretches out into the electric blue Caribbean.
So many hotels concentrated in one area makes things busy, but it’s also a great thing for your budget. The competition between hotels drives prices down, making a stay relatively affordable compared to most beach paradises.
And while Cancun and its popularity has grown, so have your options of booking your hotel. These days there are dozens websites you can use to reserve your room. In fact, there are so many options that it can get confusing. How do you know if you are getting the best deal? Maybe your Cancun hotel is cheaper on one site compared to another?
To help you save time, we’ve searched through the most popular websites for booking a Cancun hotel to find which one offers up the best deal.
Before we can determine the cheapest spot to buy your hotel stay in Cancun, we first have to know what to search for.
In this case, we took a look at the Marriott Cancun Resort. This hotel sits in the middle of the city’s Hotel Zone and offers a lot for visitors to enjoy. TripAdvisor’s rating in 4.5 out of 5, after more than 4,700 reviews. Offering everything from restaurants to tennis courts to pools to a spa — and of course sitting beachfront with spectacular views — it’s a perfect example of what a great resort in Cancun can offer.
It’s also relatively affordable place to stay despite its high ratings and luxury. Our initial searches found rates around $100 a night, which would be affordable in any American city, much less a luxurious beachfront resort.
For our search, we looked at an example stay in September, arriving on a Friday and departing on a Monday.
Here’s what we found…
The Hotel Website
With so many website options for booking hotels, the hotel companies try their hardest to get you to book directly on their website. That’s because the hotels often pay advertising fees to be featured on third-party websites, or they pay a commission to the website for bookings through their portal. In other words, it’s cheaper for the hotel if you book directly through them.
That’s why you will often see perks offered for booking through the hotel website — or a guarantee that you are getting the cheapest rate.
For the Marriott Cancun website, our search found a nightly rate of $111 for a prepaid non-refundable purchase. The room in question is their least-expensive, with a “resort view,” king bed, and a balcony. Standard refundable rates were considerably higher, with the same room running at $139 per night.
One thing to note is that if you are a Marriott Bonvoy member, then you can get a “member rate” for $106 per night.
You should also know that the Cancun Marriott charges a $25 per day resort fee, and taxes and fees are also added on.
All told, we found a total rate of $489.72 for the three-night stay (including the resort fee and taxes), with a daily average rate for the room only of $111.
On thing to note is that Mexico charges a 25.34 pesos (about $1.30) per night as an environmental fee on hotel room. Sometimes this fee is included in the taxes shown and other times we’ve seen it not added in. Therefore, you might find differences of a few dollars between rates.
Third-Party Travel-Booking Websites
In addition to the hotel website, there is no shortage of outside websites focused on hotel booking. In particular, we searched for the same hotel room on the same dates across some of the most popular hotel booking sites. Here’s what we found…
A search on Expedia for the Marriott Cancun brought up the same $111 per night rate found on Marriott’s own website. Noticeably absent was the $106 member’s rate found on the Marriott site.
Expedia also includes the resort fees and government taxes — explicitly including the 25 peso environmental fee. All told, for the three night trip Expedia shows a total price of $493.72.
Another popular travel site that’s gaining in popularity, Booking.com shows the $111 per night price found elsewhere. Including the taxes (shown as 19%), plus the $25 per night resort fee and environmental fee.
All told, however, it shows a $472.67 total price — about $20 less than booking directly on the Marriott website. With the nightly rate being the exact same, the difference comes from the taxes and fees charged on Booking.com. It’s not entirely clear why these fees are smaller on this website compared to others.
Kayak is a search aggregator that searches across multiple sites at once to bring you all the prices from a number of sources. In a sense, you are able to search once and get all the prices. In addition, you can book through their partners on the Kayak.com website.
In our case we found the Marriott Cancun for the same $111 per night rate, and a total of $493.74. This $111 price was also found on multiple websites that Kayak searches.
TripAdvisor is known for its ratings and reviews, written by real travelers like you. However, you can also search and book hotels from their website. Like Kayak, TripAdvisor has deals from all the major booking websites, allowing you to see at a glance who offers the best rate and book quickly.
Our search for September 5th through September 9th returned multiple sites with $111 per night offers, and even one (Otel.com) with a $99 per night rate. However, when factoring in the taxes and resort fees, the prices all came to the $493 rate found elsewhere.
So Which Website Is Best for a Cancun Hotel?
If our search revealed anything, it’s that you don’t have to worry about which website offers the best deal. At the end of the day, the prices come out to be very similar. In our search Booking.com did save about $20, but we think that amount is negligible on a $500 hotel room.
So does that mean you should just go straight to the hotel website? In many cases this is a great idea. Many hotels guarantee the lowest rates you’ll find. Others have perks that they offer guests who book direct. If you know where you want to stay, start at the hotel’s website.
But that only works if you know exactly where you want to stay. For many people visiting Cancun, they aren’t quite sure which hotel they want.
In that case, we recommend starting with an aggregation site. For instance, TripAdvisor will let you book a hotel but also allows you to search for a spot to stay in Cancun, see ratings and reviews, and then gets you prices across all sites (including the hotel’s website). When you aren’t sure of exactly where to stay, starting with one of these sites is the best way to search for a Cancun hotel.