Hotels In Mexico Add Easy & Cheap Coronavirus Testing

Filed Under: Hotels

As of this week the United States will start requiring pre-travel coronavirus testing for all arriving international travelers. The most popular international destination for Americans is Mexico, given the close proximity and the lack of entry restrictions.

With the US adding a new testing requirement, many thought that this would kill tourism in Mexico, given that getting tested in many places can be complicated, time consuming, and costly. Fortunately hotels in Mexico are acting fast, and that’s not turning out to be the case.

Mexico hotels introduce impressive testing options

Several readers have brought to my attention the testing options that hotels in Mexico are introducing due to new US restrictions. This makes getting tested both easy and affordable. Keep in mind the US only requires rapid antigen tests before travel, so that’s going to be the easiest testing option, given the fast results.

It seems like the best testing options are at hotels in the Cancun and Los Cabos areas. Just to give some examples of some popular resorts:

  • The Cape Los Cabos (a Hyatt property) is offering free rapid antigen testing for guests, and results will be available within 24 hours
  • The Andaz Mayakoba (a Hyatt property) is offering free rapid antigen testing for guests, assuming you booked a stay of three nights or more
  • The Thompson Playa del Carmen (a Hyatt property) is offering free rapid antigen testing for guests, assuming you booked a stay of three nights or more
  • The Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos (a Hilton property) is offering rapid antigen testing for $30, and results will be available same-day

Those are just a few examples, though lots of other hotels are offering similar testing options.

Some hotels in Mexico are adding convenient testing options

There are lots of considerations here (obviously)

I feel like any post like this requires a few disclaimers. I’m writing about this because I’m genuinely impressed by how affordable and readily available testing will be at resorts. Making testing affordable and easy is great, but some hotels are even going above and beyond, and throwing testing in for free.

If hotels in Mexico want to continue to see American tourists, it goes without saying that this needed to happen.

Beyond that, there are a few things to consider, though:

  • Even if testing is easy, keep in mind the general risks of international travel, including the potential need to quarantine in Mexico if your test comes back positive
  • It’s worth checking with your hotel about what happens in the event you do test positive; rapid antigen tests aren’t as accurate as other types of tests, so do you automatically have to quarantine with one positive test, can you take a PCR test, or what?
  • One has to wonder how resorts in Mexico are getting access to so many of these rapid antigen tests; in December I tried to get tested here in the US, and I was told I could only get a rapid test if I met certain criteria, which seemed to be that you needed to have coronavirus symptoms
  • Balancing social responsibility and economics here is challenging — are these tests being taken from people who may need them more? At the same time, with Mexico heavily reliant on tourism, what are the social and economic impacts of tourism in Mexico decreasing even further?
  • If people are going to travel, we’re ultimately better off with more people being tested

Where are resorts getting all of these tests from?

Bottom line

International destinations that are popular with American tourists are having to prepare for new testing requirements, which kick in for travel as of tomorrow.

Mexico is the single biggest international market for Americans, and also seems to have the most hotels with reasonably priced and convenient testing options for travelers. Based on the data points I’ve seen, in many other countries testing options are significantly more expensive (often $100+) and sometimes require going to a clinic.

With many resorts in Mexico offering complimentary testing on-property, this new requirement may be a non-issue for those Americans who choose to travel to Mexico.

Are you surprised to see how hotels in Mexico are adapting to the new testing requirement?

  1. Rapid antigen tests are cheaper to run than the more accurate “rapid” RT-PCR tests, and I’m sure are more available. That’s probably why they can offer it for free. My clinic in the US has one for $50 (vs $175 for RT-PCR).

  2. I also noticed most (not sure if it’s all or not) of the Hyatt Ziva/Zilara’s are offering free rapid tests

  3. Only helps Americans…

    I guess with a 51% positivity rate in Mexico, thousands of cases are unreported.

    So if you fancy testing positive and driving home from Cancun because you cant get on the plane – enjoy Mexico!

  4. The biggest issue to worry about is the quality of these tests. Rapid testing quality varies a lot. You could do everything “right” so to speak and get into trouble with a false positive. Hyatt Baha Mar offers follow up PCR testing in the case of a positive rapid. Its worth thinking about this contingency because sadly this happens more commonly than we would like.

  5. Quality and validity is a concern with any rapid test. But everyone wants to get tested with no symptoms whatsoever, so let them eat cake.

  6. Ben:

    If your test comes back positive, you need to isolate, not quarantine.

    If your test is negative, after you fly back to the US you need to quarantine.

    The use of isolation vs quarantine may vary in other countries, but we are talking about a CDC requirement, and the CDC is very specific on this.

  7. I ended up canceling Como in Turks and Caicos. Was supposed to be there this week. But with testing on both ends, boat transfers to Parrot Cay, secondary insurance required, was going to be almost $2K in “stuff” before I even set foot on the beach.

    Como is offering testing at the hotel – but at $250.00 per person. Looks like Mexican resorts are doing it right. Free.

  8. Karizma hotel chain, which holds multiple all-inclusive resorts in Cancun (e.g. Riviera Maya), provides free testing for US residents on site and guarantees 14 days free stay at the hotel for guest and partner in the same room if one or both are positive. If the partner wishes to stay in another room, they provide a discounted rate for the second room. This is up to 3/31 and they will continue to monitor CDC guidelines.

  9. Some hotels are offering to let you stay for free if you test positive and are denied boarding on the way home.

    Trust me, there aren’t going to be any positive test results at those hotels.

    How can they do this so cheaply? Hey, all they need is a photocopy machine and some paper, they already have what they need.

  10. To be totally clear, here is the Karizma Hotels message to tourists from the US and Canada as shown on their website front page:

    All Karisma Hotels & Resorts in the Riviera Maya region of MX, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica will offer a complimentary, on-site covid-19 antigen test for guests who are traveling to the U.S, as per CDC guidelines. The first antigen test will be available free of charge at the hotels for guests traveling to the U.S. departing as of January 26 in response to new CDC requirements that all air passengers entering the United States produce a negative antigen test.

    For guests whose countries require a PCR test (i.e. Canadian Residents), Karisma will have facilities on-property to conduct the test at a discounted rate.

    If a guest’s test results are positive, Karisma will provide quarantine accommodations free of charge for the guest until a doctor certifies clearance for travel with a negative test result for a period not to exceed 14 nights.

    These amenities will continue to be available for guests traveling to the United States as long as covid-19 antigen testing is required by the CDC. Policies are subject to be reviewed and changed according to covid-19 protocol updates.

  11. I am booked at the Grand Velas Los Cabos in February. They are providing free in room antigen testing and handling all scheduling and logistics of the test. If positive they offer a free second room for the impacted family member and 75% off published rates for the duration of the quarantine/isolation. Quick and full response their group!

  12. @endre travel hack of the year. Covid never looked so good. Would definitely need a good balcony w/ ocean view if isolating for 2 weeks.

  13. “in December I tried to get tested here in the US, and I was told I could only get a rapid test if I met certain criteria, which seemed to be that you needed to have coronavirus symptoms”

    So tell them you have symptoms? Who are they to tell you that you aren’t experiencing body aches, etc.

    Testing in the US overall is free and easy. Go to and fill out the forms. Go to a place and do your test.

  14. @Dick Bupkiss This is the correct answer. Hotels don’t want a bunch of COVID positive tourists holed up there any more than the administration wants Americans stranded abroad. This is just a matter of optics and no one is going to question the lack of positive tests.

  15. What’s hilarious about this is how the cheaper properties are offering this complimentary and the premium properties are charging (sometimes obscene amounts). Exactly the same as when wi-fi started becoming widely available.

  16. Seriously – it blows my mind that Ben continues to post that getting tests in the US is difficult as a blanket statement.

    Major western city where I live (democratic mayor / governor) – every other urgent care clinic is offering antigen tests to all comers, just as long as you can pay. PCR tests readily available through the state, Walgreens, CVS, and several private providers. Back home in the (different) mostly rural red state where my parents live – rapid antigen tests also available from several urgent-care clinics and from certain grocery stores. PCR tests scheduled same day (results in 24-48 hours) from the state no problem.

    Also one-off rapid antigen tests are a terrible strategy for determining if you are negative. False negative rate is something like 15-20%. They are great for confirming confirming positive results quickly.

  17. I would be highly doubtful that these test results are real or accurate, after all they are trying to get tourists to come to Mexico and a huge breakout at their hotel is not gonna help that cause

  18. Stuart, you’re not fooling anyone. Como Parrot Cay is over $1500 per night in high season, way out of your league. =)

  19. Special discounted rate was $1K a night! Still out of my league – but booked anyway for a five day splurge, lol. That is, until the added $2K in costs for testing, insurance, etc killed said splurge.

  20. Go for PCR. My brother got a positive rapid antigen test (false positive), and the secondary impacts were dreadful. You do NOT want to get stuck in Mexico with a false positive.

  21. Guadalajara airport is also offering 1 hour antigen tests for 450 pesos.
    I am amazed that hotels and airports in Mexico are implementing solutions this quickly. South of the border, the norm is to do nothing and complain while blaming others for your problems but this time the risk of losing all the tourist revenue must have got them moving

  22. @Teo, can you provide a link for that info or is it just first-hand knowledge after being there? I came back to the US after being in Jalisco for 3 weeks, looking to go back in May. Didn’t find anything after a quick Google search to verify your information.

  23. These Mexican resorts are really smart. Say you are a family of four. Dad ended up testing positive (whether he is really positive or not is besides the point). So off he goes to isolation room for two weeks while rest of his family frolics by the beach. F&B just keeps on serving those margaritas to wife while dad sitting in his room drinking up the tab as well because he’s bored. Cost of extra “free”stay doesn’t includes restaurant bill not to mention the needed massages/ facials for wife from dealing with kids all on her own 24/7. So sure these resorts are giving away free rooms or charge minimum amount for them. But the devil is in the details. They are making up for it from F&B among other things. Smart business people! I would do the same. Let those freedom loving Americans come down to do their vacation and Mexican resorts can empty out their bank accounts!

  24. PCR tests are required to fly to Canada. These hotel tests seem to be antigen tests. Since the testing requirement to enter Canada came into effect this month, Canadians have been denied boarding in sun destinations for flights to Canada for have an antigen test instead of a PCR test.

  25. @endre It’s become increasingly clear people will travel regardless. I myself need a much needed beach vacation with some margaritas, so I applaud this effort.

  26. No mention so far in these comments about the new 14 day quarantine for intl travelers. If even partially enforced this will destroy Mexican tourism.
    Mexico continues to have zero restrictions on entry. However, there are numerous restrictions throughout the country. Yesterday I got stopped by the police in the state of Hidalgo for driving a car with a license plate whose last digit was even. In an attempt to reduce the number of cars on the road, they apply an odd/even system every other day. In addition all public and private tourist sites are closed in Hidalgo. You may be fine going to Cancun but be aware the situation is very fluid and you may face unforeseen restrictions even after arrival.

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