Author: Archie Stephenson
Date of Trip: May 2012
Our 2012 Mexico Vacation
Our Vacation to Playa Del Carmen Mexico (near Cancun) started with a flight from Chicago. If you are a citizen of the USA, you must have a passport to enter Mexico. You can easily get one by visiting a U.S. post office. The total cost is around $100 plus the cost of passport photos. I got my photos from Walgreens for $10. The whole process took 4 weeks.
When we arrived at the Cancun airport (CUN), we went through customs and immigration. My wife had a Tupperware container with cut watermelon and another with cooked greens, the watermelon was not allowed in but the greens were. Next were guided to a desk where we were asked where we were staying, I thought this was part of their security process. As it turned out it was a timeshare presentation offer that looked like official Government business. Everyone we spoke to said “STAY AWAY FROM THE TIMESHARE PRESENTATIONS” so we declined (several times). A friend did give in and agreed to the presentation, he said it was the worst 5 ½ hours of his life. So be warned.
We reserved a rental car months in advance, the rates are not bad but you MUST buy supplemental liability insurance. That is a Government rule in Mexico and most USA insurance will not carry over into Mexico. Even most credit cards that offer free insurance if you use their card to pay for the car won’t cover you in Mexico. Our total for a 4 door car for a week was $85 plus $13 per day for the insurance. As at any airport there are many kiosks to choose from, but shop and bargain with the vendors and you are sure to get a better deal. Upon walking away from a vendor, a better offer is sure to be made.
We are finally on our way to the resort. Hiway 307 takes you EVERYWHERE you need to go. The Mayan Palace is just 25 min from the airport. When we arrive, WOW we are blown away. The entrance has got to be 40 feet tall and 200 yards wide. Security Guards at the entrance assure no one who doesn’t belong there gets in ( I feel safe ) .
The check in process is easy and quick. Again we turned down an offer for a tour of the resort. Theyclaim it will be 60-90 min but a woman who just finished her tour told me her tour took all day.
Now to the good stuff,
The Mayan Palace Riviera Maya is to say the least BEAUTIFUL. Travertine marble is everywhere. Lush tropical plants galore. There are even a few indigenous small animals roaming around (nothing dangerous). The resort is huge with buildings all over. The lower your building number the closer to the pool and beach. Our room is a Grand Master Suite in building 7. That is basically a 1 bedroom condo with master bath, complete kitchen, living room and another 1 bedroom and bath attached. We also have a balcony in each room with beautiful garden views. The décor is nice, with newer furnishings and comfortable beds. A TV in each bedroom and living room was also nice. Our room (condo) is just a 2 minute walk from the pool. Even if the walk was longer, it’s such a nice walk I would not have minded. On the other hand if walks are not your cup of tea, there are trolleys that transport you to any part of the resort and have routine schedules like city buses do.
Now the pool. This is the biggest pool I have ever seen. There are 1425 feet of pool in three section of between 325 and 550 feet that all connect. The warm water is at most 48 in. deep and crystal clear ocean water with a little chlorine added for safety. There are 3 swim up bars in the pool where you can relax on submerged stools while enjoying your Dos Exuis or Pina Colada. The drink prices are typical resort prices. All around the pool are lounge chairs with built in sun shades and PALAPAS . These palapas are little huts with queen size beds underneath a palm roof. Just lay in one and wait for the waiter to bring your drink or lunch. What a life.
Next there are several restaurants for just about every palate. A breakfast buffet for about $16 per person and room service. Nightly floor shows are given at The Blue Havana (a restaurant near the pool). You can enjoy the show with or without dinner.
The grounds are beautiful to walk around, or you can partake in a FREE guided bicycle tour. If you like photos of your vacation but are not a camera buff, there are professional photographers that will do a one hour photo shoot with you for FREE. You just pay for any photos you like.
We did the dining thing a couple of times but most of our eating was in the condo. About 15 minutes away there are grocery stores like Wal-Mart and another similar but with a local name (I can’t remember the name). So we bought food and kept it in the refrigerator in our room. The fridge is tiny like one found in college dorms but it did the job.
Of course money in Mexico is Pesos, and at our time of travel the exchange rate was 12-13 pesos to $1. Food at the grocer was priced comparable to at home except for places like Baskin Robbins, where a scoop of ice cream was $4 U.S. or $15 for a pre packed quart. While driving around (it’s hard to get lost) you will see many taco joints and most are a bargain. Just don’t expect American style food here, this IS Mexico and they do it a little differently. One place we enjoyed was in the Cancun Hotel zone ( north of the resort ) was The Surfin Burrito . this place is hard to find but worth the effort. Directly across from Senior Frogs it’s just big enough for about 8 diners at once, so most of the food is carry out. They serve giant burritos that you custom order from the type of tortilla to every ingredient you choose. All for about $5 US. Most places take US dollars but give change in Pesos. US coins are something not one place welcomed or would accept. It’s a good idea to have a few Pesos in your pocket just in case you stop at a roadside vendor, they only take Pesos. You can exchange dollars or Pesos at the hotel lobby.
All in all Mexico turned out to be a very nice vacation and our choice of the Mayan Palace Riviera Maya was a good one. The only thing that would have made it better was if the resort were closer to stores and tourist sites so we could have saved the car rental dollars.