I’ve been to the Excellence but not the Secrets. Here are my thoughts on the different ‘key’ aspects:
Rooms: this is where the resort let’s itself down IMO. They are large and clean, and all come equipped with jacuzzi tubs, but, they are quite dated In My Humble Opinion and the bed’s weren’t the most comfortable, and the linen wasn’t great quality, etc. However, they do look nice, and like I said are clean and large, and quite impressive.
Layout/size/location: the resort is a nice size IMO, and nicely laid out; the grounds are beautiful and very well-kept, and the resort is fairly compact, without being too small. It’s approx 30 mins from down-town Cancun, 15-20 mins from the airport, 30 mins from Playa del Carmen, and 5-10 mins from Puerto Morelos, so it’s pretty central.
Pools: really good. The two main pools are a large main pool with music, swim-up bar and activities, and a big lazy river pool which goes round the spa. The lazy river was our favourite as the loungers weren’t too close together so it felt quite private/intimate, and it was very peaceful and quiet; perfect for reading and relaxing. There are a couple of other pools too.
There is waiter/waitress service at all pools, and we found it frequent and efficient; they will also bring snacks to your lounger if you like (like burgers, chips and salsa/guacamole, etc)
Beach: OK, but nothing great; Maroma beach is MUCH nicer. There’s a fair bit of seaweed at the Excellence, and a few rocks.
Food: we found the food ranged from poor-very good for an AI. Mostly, it was average to good for an AI, but we did not rate the food as much as others have. Breakfast was excellent with a large selection and literally anything you could want at the main buffet; lunch was OK, there’s the indoor buffet, a pizza/pasta restaurant, or the Lobster/Grill restaurant which serves simple a la carte dishes. We mostly had room service for lunch, which was pretty good: decent choice, and arrived hot.
Dinner is what let it down IMO. It’s great that you don’t need to make reservations, and a la carte dining is unlimited. But we found the food really varied at dinner; some meals were really good, others were quite poor (eg lots of rich sauces that drowned the flavours of the food; overseasoning; under-seasoning; veg over or under cooked, etc). But nowhere have we found great food at an AI, mostly it’s OK, so this isn’t just the Excellence.
Drinks: they claim to have top-shelf but in reality you need to upgrade to Excellence Club to get the true top shelf. But they have a good selection of international brands as standard, and house wine and ‘champagne’ is included. Cocktails were good.
Service: ranged from below average to excellent, but on the whole it was very good. We always had great service at dinner and at the pool, and the room service guys were good. Service at breakfast and lunch was very spotty, esp at the buffet; sometimes staff would stand around ignoring guests (at lunch, no drinks are self-service, so you rely on wait staff for drinks).Maid service came quite late a few times which was annoying, and we only received turn-down a couple of times, and not much effort went into it IMPO.
On the whole it’s a very good resort, and SMB also gets very good reviews. Trip Advisor is really very useful, as if you post there, some members might be able to do a comparison for you.
Let me know if you have any questions!