More about Marina El Cid Riviera Maya
Nice Vacation at Marina El Cid
My husband and I vacationed at Marina El Cid June 6th-12th. We are 26 and 27 years old and have visited Mexico 5 times over the last 4 years. Our favorite so far is Dreams Cancun. We arrived at Marina El Cid about 12:30pm, its only a 20 minute drive from the airport. We took a taxi, $28 each way. We feel this is the quickest form of transportation back and forth from the airport. They offered us a room in building 14 on the ground level next to the Kid's Club. I said absolutely no way, we knew that there would be a lot of noise. They then offered us a room in the same building on the 3rd floor but said that would be ready in an hour. That was fine, we went to the outdoor restaurant for lunch. Lunch was pretty good, sandwiches, pizza, salad bar and fish. I am really picky and found it hard by the 3rd day to not get sick of the same grilled chicken sandwich I would order. Our room was ready by the time we were finished with lunch. Building 14 is in the middle of the resort, pretty view of the pools and partial view of the ocean. The room was nice, very clean, but the kitchen was kind of pointless for us. We never used it. The bathroom was spacious and had all the amenities. I would say that besides the Marina restaurant that you get to eat at once for dinner, there's really only two other choice's for dinner. The buffet which we didn't eat at for dinner and the Mexican restaurant outside which was not too good. The alcazar restuarant you need to make reservations which was easy, just called the concierge the day of and tell them what time you want to eat. They say the dress is formal but you saw everything from nice dress pants and dresses to shorts and sandals. They didn't stick to the formal dress policy. We ate here 5 times so we really got sick of the food but you were guaranteed an enjoyable meal plus the salad and bread were delicious. I lived on that for several day. To say the least, I lost weight on this trip. Try the buffet for lunch, no one was in there but it was pretty good considering we got so sick of the outside restaurant. Nightlife is non-existent except for the lobby bar and the nightly shows which were 45 mins long. We did meet some great people at the lobby bar, ask for Wilbur to make your drinks, he's awesome. One nightmare we encountered the first morning was waking up to 2 screaming kids in the next room. It was awful, the walls are paper thin. We gave it one more morning but the same thing happened. We went to the front desk and they told us that the resort was full. Who were they kidding, the resort was probably 20% full, it was practically empty. I said we will pay any amount of money to get away from these screaming kids. They said they would see what they could do and to come back after lunch. We did and they upgraded us for free to a 2-bedroom suite in building 11 which was awesome with a full living room and dining room. It was really nice with a double balcony. Building 11 was furthest from the beach but was on an angle so you had a better ocean view. We didn't mind the walk at all. By the way the front desk act like they are clueless about everything, I am not too sure if this is true or not. The beach was tiny, not able to walk for miles like we love to do. No shopping which was very disappointing, we did go to downtown Puerto Morelos but there was nothing there to do. The resort is in complete isolation. The Marina Restaurant was fair, not too bad. Watch the mosquitos there, they ate us alive. The pool was nice and big but way too many kids for us. There were more families then couples which we didn't realize until we got there. All in all, we made it a good time because it was vacation. Would I return no, but I would say try it. For the price we got it was worth it but not anymore. We are doing an adults only, Le Blanc in September after this trip we had enough screaming kids for awhile. I think the resort will get better but I wouldn't pay full price, it wasn't worth it. Hope you enjoy your trip!
Puerto Morelos All Inclusive
I stayed for a week in February, 2010, in this all-inclusive.
I liked the atmosphere in general. It is a beachfront hotel, and i had never got room so close to the sea. The staff were friendly enough to change our rooms as we found the ground floor one too noisy.
The food was excellent, and ranged from hot-dogs to Mexican very spicy pickles.
The hotel was very clean and staff friendly.
My best dining experience was at Hacienda Arrecife restaurant which specialises on Mexican food. The first time I had cazuela de Mariscos (seafood soup). I also had Mayan coffee both times.
The beauty of the Mayan coffee is not in the coffee itself, but more so in the making of it. It is an art form and the second time around, I was ready with my cellphone's video camera. I have posted a link in YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsb8sSOrYZ4.
I have also posted a number of photos and a general travelogue at my website: http://senthil.ca/category/travel/
El Cid Gave Us a Heavenly Wedding
OK, we just got back today (6-18-06) from Hotel Marina El Cid and I just want to start by saying Ithat the staff is WONDERFUL, ACCOMODATING, FRIENDLY, and GENUINELY WARM.
My fiancee and I went to El CId because we wanted a beautiful wedding on the beach, and the staff went above and beyond to make sure that our vacation and wedding day were perfect. This was the first wedding that was perforned at the hotel and we could not have been happier with the ceremony, the staff members were our witnesses and the management at the hotel gave us free pcitures, flowers, and so many optional items as gifts for choosing their hotel to perform the ceremony. Following the cremony, we were served candlelight dinner on the beach. The food, service and overall ambience was OUTSTANDING.
I had traveled extensively in my career and am very famialiar with living in 5 star hotels where you are treated like a guest and very informal; however, I cannot stress to everyone that the staff makes you feel more like family than a guest.
The hotel itself is approximately thirty minutes away from everything; so if you are looking for a peaceful resort, this is definetly where you want to spend your time. There are many families in the resorts; however, they have a quiet zone ( Jaccuzzi) for adults only with butler service. We spent a majority of the time in that area and again the service is wonderful. There are outdoor beds and massage therapists are also there if you want a back or full body massage. I am looking forward to next year when they have a full spa available.
We had booked an Ocean suite for the 2 of us it was on the second floor and beautiful. The room and everything in it is brand new. I must add the night of our wedding we were quite surprised and happy to see that the hotel had decorated our room for our wedding night. The room looked beautiful decorated with flowers in the living and dining room, and the bedroom was decorated with a heart and real flowers spread over the bed. It was more than we ever expected and we are very grateful.
The food is wonderful for an all inclusive resort. However the Alcazar Gourmet was my favorite restaurant and we ate their almost every evening by choice. The food is visually attractive and very tasty; it makes you feel like you are in 5 star restaurant back home.
I would just like to end this review by saying that we feel the staff at the EL Cid is more like famliy to us than hotel staff. We would also like to thank Jurrian ( Sales Manager), Karla ( Wediding Coordinator), Roberto ( Food and Beverage Manager) and Wilbur (Bartender) for making our stay so memorable and we will definelty be back next year.
Great Honeymoon Vacation spot
We stayed at Marina El Cid for our one week honeymoon from June 4 to 11, 2006. We upgraded to the Club Platinum level and it was well worth it. Even though we booked a junior suite, we were upgraded to a two bedroom jacuzzi suite right on the ocean. We didn't even ask for it. They gave it to us because the hotel was not full. I don't know if it is not full because of the down season or because the resort is so new, but now is a great time to go. Our concierge, Maricio, was top notch. He always had a smile on his face and was eager to make our stay better than we ever could have imagined. The service all throughout the resort was wonderful.
The rooms are exactly as they look in the pictures. Before we came to the resort, we thought the pictures were too good to be true, but we found out that the rooms really do look that nice. The decor is the best in Mexico, the showers are all-marble, and the beds are very comfortable.
We were completely amazed at the food in the restaurants. Even though there are only three restaurants on the resort, they are all good and there is plenty of food to choose from. We found the Hacienda restaurant by the pool to be great for breakfast, and the Alcazar restaurant awesome for dinner every night. We especially loved Antonio, our happy and friendly waiter at Alcazar. We didn't even go to the Marina restaurant because we loved Alcazar so much. For lunch, it was a toss-up but we typically went to the buffet for its large selection and quick in-and-out time.
There are currently three bars on the resort, but they are adding more right now. There is a swim-up bar in the main pool and a stand alone bar at the spa pool. These two bars are only open during the daytime but there is a bar in the main lobby that is open till 1am. As an all-inclusive resort, we expected the worst with drinks. We thought they would use cheap alcohol and that the drink selection would be minimal. We were completely wrong. The drinks were incredible. We could not understand how, time after time, our mixed drinks were made perfectly. We've never been to a place where drinks are made as good as they made every drink at every bar on every day in this resort. They didn't hold back on the good alcohol either. One night we got crazy and started doing shots of tequila. We asked for the top-shelf Don Julio tequila and the bartender pulled down the bottle and filled shots for the whole bar until we finished the bottle.
Everyone at this resort is eager to please. We hope that the resort can maintain this high level of staff as the resort continues to grow. We never had to argue for anything and there was always someone nearby to assist if we needed help with anything. At the pool, there is a drink guy that walks around the whole pool and the beach continously looking for anyone who wants a drink. He comes by your spot more often than you can finish a drink so you never have to sit and wait.
We loved the location but it's not for everyone. The resort is very close to the sleepy fishing town of Puerto Morelos. There are no nightclubs or popular bars in Puero Morelos. Shopping is sparse but quaint. Puerto Morelos was hit pretty hard last year by Hurricane Wilma and there is still a lot of damage in the town and the surrounding forests. All of the trees were destroyed by the hurricane so the area surrounding the resort is pretty grey. We were told it takes two years for the plant life to come back. This is why the resort is not for everyone; it's very low-key. We love the low-key environment so it was perfect for us.
They have pretty much everything. Kayaking, windsurfing, bicycle rides, ping-pong, snorkeling, sailing, volleyball, and horshoes are included. They schedule events throughout the day such as water aerobics, water volleyball, bike tours to Puerto Morelos, kayak tours, horshoe tornements, yoga, beach volleyball, salsa lessons, spanish classes, and bracelet crafts. They had at least one included catamaran cruise while we were there and the boat held more than forty people. As a Club Platimum member we were allowed one free snorkeling trip which we would have had to pay for otherwise.
It is very easy to spend your whole vacation relaxing at this resort, but if you come here we recommend doing a few tours. We rented a car one day (very cheap only $50) and drove to Tulum and Playa Del Carmen. Tulum was so beautiful that we spent three hours there taking pictures and swimming in the ocean. Playa Del Carmen is a cool little town with lots of small shops, great restaurants, and a beautiful beach. On another day, we went on a tour/safari to the Coba ruins. Coba is the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula and the tour included a visit to a Mayan village where we rode a zip line across a ravine and rapelled down a cliff. After leaving the village we went off-roading in the tour van out into the middle of nowhere where we kayaked through a swampy wilderness then hiked through the jungle to secluded cave where we climbed down into the cave and swam in the fresh spring water. There was more to this tour that I didn't mention but the experience was unforgettable. There are so many things to do in the Yucatan that it would be a waste to come here and not take advantage of it.
They went far beyond the call of duty.
OK guys, we just got back today (6-11-06) from Hotel Marina El Cid and I just want to start by saying I am the MOST picky of guest and will tell you in detail about our experence.
We arrived at 8:30 p.m with my 2 small children that were hungry and tired (to give you the mind set I was in) we walked through the doors and were greeted with nice cool drinks. The lobby was empty so check in was a breeze. They will make you wear these hot pink braclets so that you can eat at all the restaurants. AND Yes I was hit up by a guy for timeshare but I stopped him in his tracks with this little trick a friend told me about because she was one of those timeshare sharks.....make up a phony travel agent bus. card on your computer. Its very easy and it works. I told him we came to try out the resort so that we could inform others of this "great" hotel. Did NOT see him ever again.
We had booked a Jr. suite for the 4 of us it was on the ground floor and very nice. It was in bldg 10. We faced a large area of the pool, the club house and the beach although not a very close view. The room and everything in it is brand new. The only complaint was the beds were SO HARD. I took the sheets off to look at the mattress and it had a pillow top but when you lay on it, it feels like a bed of stone. The 1st night was ok except for the ice machine and elavator right outside our door. By the 2nd and then going on the 3rd my husband had had enough of the noise of the ice dropping every 20 min. got mad and we went to the front desk and asked to talk to a manager and guesssss wwhhaatt they moved us to a large 1 bedroom that was in the same bldg but on the 4th floor and on the end with NO NOISE. It was heaven at last. I do want you to know we were very nice but told them that we could not sleep. They were VERY nice and VERY accomadating.
The FOOD.... Well it was good but......its food you are not used to eating and its the same everyday. Even though it is a good variety. We ate lots of fruit everyday.
For breakfast at the Al Andalus they will make you any egg, omlette, pancake, waffle or milkshake any style you want. Plus they have this large orange juicer that makes fresh orange juice. This restaurant has the best variety with out having to fight the flies off your food.
The Hacienda restaurant is by/part of the pool and it is outdoors with a bar that extends inside the pool. It's really cool. They serve mostly mexican food but not the kind we eat in the states. They do have GREAT nachos and spaghetti. IF YOU EAT THERE AT NIGHT PLEASE USE BUG SPRAYwith deet because the bugs WILL BITE you ALL OVER.
The Alcazar Gourmet restaurant is very nice. Get the steak for 2 you will not be dissappointed and the wine list is ok too but the desserts are wonderful. I tried everyone of them.
The La Marina restaurant is outside....so wear BUG SPRAY. It was good and the service was wonderful. I started out with the seafood soup and it was the best soup I have ever had. And NO there is NO lobster. But the desserts were GREAT. By the end of the 7 days all I wanted was a PB&J sandwich.
The Pool.........we had some BIG problems with this matter. We got there on sun and by mon. afternoon the pool was 1/2 full and the KIDS area that we played in was emptied of water so that they could do repairs. My 2 year old had no other place to swim.......so..... back to the front desk. They said by tue it would be complete. But no it was not complete on tue or wed morning. So back to the front desk for a manager This time we got one pretty high up. We calmly and nicely told him that unless he would like to personally babysit our 2 year old with a blow up pool that he would provide himself he had better get the pool done. Well........he send us on a day trip that he paid for and with a personal driver to the Xel ha. It was lots of fun and they had a wonderful kiddie pool area. The pool was completed by the way on thur. night. Friday was a wonderful swimming day.
P.S. Everyday at the pool they have a phote guy that brings different animals to take your picture with. Monday we had our picture taken with a baby loin cub that we got to hold and on friday a little spider monkey. Plus he will take your picture anywhere you want. We had a few taken at the beach and they were EXCELLENT.
Overall we had a VERY relaxing trip with great shows at 9:00p.m. every night. There were only about 40 people there at any given time and so you felt pretty alone in a large resort.
By the way......they have bracelet making at 1:00 every day and it was alot of fun. I think we made in all 2 bracelets and 4 anklets a piece for all 4 family members but my husband won't wear his though. Party pooper.
Compared to Moon Palace it is EQUAL. We have been to MANY 5 star resorts and they all compare to this resort. But you have to REMEMBER they have just opened up and they are starting with a new staff and they are ALL learning the ropes. This takes time not days. Overall they went far beyond the call of duty to make us happy and very satisfied. Yes I will go back and yes I will recommend this resort as a 5 star stay.
Would go back tomorrow if we could!
We stayed at the El Cid Marina in Puerto Murelos from June 4th to June 8th for our honeymoon. The resort is about 15-20 minutes away from the airport and for those of you who are interested, we booked our transportation through Olympus Tours who were very efficient in getting us to the hotel and back to the airport 5 days later. We checked in around 10;30AM and were able to get into our room immediately. We stayed in Building 14, in front of the Silent Area - very quiet and peaceful.
The pool/beach areas - there are two pools - the jacuzzi in the Silent Area and the main pool near the restaurants. Both are awesome :) There weren't many children staying at the resort but the ones that were present were quiet and well-behaved. No complaints at all. There is a kids-area too. There are plenty of activities throughout the day to keep the kids busy. The beach is very well maintained and the seaweed is removed from the beach every morning. There are plenty of beach beds and hamacs for every guest staying at the hotel.
The room - we had a junior suite, ocean front, king size bed with an additional queen size bed if necessary. Small kitchenette, living room, balcony, double bathroom sinks, shower. The room was very clean and the floors were not slippery at all. However, keep the balcony sliding doors closed to keep the mosquitoes out. Surpringly, the mosquitoes are only found on the balconies - most likely due to the endless shade. We ordered room service once and our food was delivered quickly. The staff cleans the rooms twice - once in the mornings and a second time around 6-7 PM to collect towels, remake any beds, etc...
The food - we had breakfast and a few lunches primarily at the buffet restaurant, lunch at the mexican restaurant, lunch outside the resort, and dinners at the mexican and meditarrenean restaurants. We did not have a chance to try La Marina restaurant, although we were told upon arrival that they did not serve lobster at this time of year. Breakfasts were varied and delicious - cereals, pancake station, buffet stations, omelet stations, etc... Lunches were good too. Dinners were excellent at both a la carte restaurants. And the guacamole is to die for... :) If you chose to drink/eat outside of the resort, my advice is to only drink bottled water or canned soda. Do not try the local water or drink alcoholic drinks with ice in them - they will make you sick. Water, ice and all fruits and vegetables are good to eat and drink at the resort though.
The staff - whoaw... Every person we met seemed to only want one thing - to make sure that we had what we wanted and were completely satisfied. Yes, they are still learning and are not aware how to make every drink known on the planet - but if you know what's in the drink - they will make it for you until you are satisfied. While relaxing by the pool or on the beach, staff makes sure that your drink is refilled before it is even empty. They are also super attentive in the restaurants and at the buffet.
The tours - we booked two tours through the resort - one day of shopping in Cancun and a day at Chitchen Itza. A perfect example of how far the staff at El Cid will go for you: our trip to Chitchen Itza consisted of our El Cid guide and 4 couples (including us). We started off visiting the ruins for the day and the trip should have ended there. Not at El Cid... :) Our awesome guide took us to lunch, then to visit an underground natural spring river, a very old Catholic church, we stopped to buy some fresh coconuts to drink on the way back to the resort, etc... This was probably our best day at El Cid - thank you very much Jose :) You made our honeymoon and stay at El Cid very memorable :)
Except for the timeshare presentation (about 90 minutes, they show you what phases are left to be built at El Cid, explain how their timeshare system works, etc), I could not have asked for more. We will definitely be returning :)
Needs a lot of improvements
I (27 y.o.), my husband (30 y.o.) and our daughter (4 y. o.) stayed at El Cid for 1 week (June 4 - 11). It is our 3rd trip to Mexico, but first time with a child.
First I want to get something straight. This resort is not a 5 *, it is advertised by Apple as 5 apples, but apples have nothing to do with the star system. If you check on any website (like expedia, hotels, etc.) that uses the star system this resort is rated 3 - 4* depending on the source. So, please, when you plan your vacation adjust your expectations accordingly. When you arrive expecting a 3* resort you will be pleasantly surprised, if you expect 5*, I can guarantee, you will be disappointed. Some things you have to keep in mind:
1. The resort is still not finished (they said it should be done by the end of 2007), so they have different levels of construction going on at all times.
2. They do timeshare presentations/sales. I personally don't mind, I find the information interesting and I love free trips. (this time we got 2 Full day tickets to Xcaret and 1 person swim with dolphins - normal price would be about $380). Just make sure that your presentation is not too long, because I forgot to look at my watch and we ended up there for 3 hours (should be 90 min), at which point I just interrupted the guy and demanded my tickets
3. The resort is small, located in the small village, so if you are looking for the nightlife, shopping of something to do near the hotel - there is NONE of that. I don't think it would be good for singles, trying to meet someone - the place is family oriented. No springbrakers, no college students (unless with the parents), no topless sunbathing...
4. At this point the resort is about 1/3 occupied, so you will not have any lines, crowded pools, or shortage of towels.
5. If you get an all inclusive tips should be included, so leave more tips only for outstanding service... that is what we did.
Overall I would give this hotel 3.5* here is why:
Rooms - 5*- really beautiful, new. We got upgraded for free to 1bdrm suite so that we can stay in separate rooms with our daughter. 1 king bed, 1 queen bed, 2 bathrooms, little kitchen. We had room # 1101 first floor. We liked the location of our room.
View - 4* - dead trees and ocean on the background. On the 4th floor it would probably be an ocean view. I personally don't care for the view...
Housekeeping - 5* - fantastic. The room was sparkling, and the maid sometimes stopped by in the afternoon to give us more towels.
Food main buffet - 5* - always many choices, great quality, great service, never waited in line. We tried to eat in the buffet as much as possible
Food specialty restaurants -4*- Mexican - beware of flies, Marina restaurant - mosquitoes almost ate us alive, and no lobster, Alcazar - long wait, very plain food. Overall specialty restaurants were hit and miss on service and selection. However everything was fresh and None of us got sick!!! I was very afraid of the stomach virus...
Pool -2*- It is a great pool with water slide, waterfall, and a smaller deeper pool on top. The main pool is 4 feet deep (I think 5-6 feet would be better), but for 4 days of our stay they drained it down to 2 feet!!! because they were fixing something. So 4 days it was unusable...
Beach - 2*- very warm water, but there is no sand once you get 3 feet deep into the water. There is always a lot of place in the shade. The beach is small with just trash and dead trees on both sides. Also, they almost never clean the sea weed.
Watersports -4*- we took the sailing boat twice. They have really great boats but someone always have to go with you.
Towel service - 5*- always available, nice big size, no towel cards, no waiting in line...
Kids club -5*- Our daughter stayed there few days until lunch. Denise was great, my daughter loved her, and could not wait to come back to kids club. Of course I did not watch them all the time, but when I did Denise was very nice and professional.
Internet 5* high speed, in the lobby for 1 peso per min. In Platinum club it is free. The staff just allowed us to go and use the internet for free (without paying extra).
Check in/check out -5*- very fast, no extra charges. welcome drink was tasty...
Massage - 5*- pricey but worth it.
Would I stay there again? maybe, if I got a good deal... This time we paid $3000 for the 3 of us including transfers and air from Philadelphia
Good, but some growing pains
My wife and I -- both in our late 20s -- stayed at el Cid for 6 nights. Overall, we enjoyed our stay, but the hotel had only recently opened and was still going through some growing pains. The staff was friendly and helpful, and if you know a little Spanish, they're more than willing to help you find some good spots for shopping and dining outside of the hotel. Not all were fully trained yet, but I'm sure they will all be up to speed in a few months.
We had the all-inclusive package, and we were pleased with the number of dining options available on the property. The pools are great, and the beach is good enough. My only problem with the main pool is that they insisted upon playing loud music throughout most of the day. If you are going to relax, you pretty much are forced to go to the beach or the hot tub.
The rooms are nice, but they were missing a few things when we first checked in (e.g. floor mat for the bathroom, key for the mini-bar, room service menu, etc.). The maid service was good, and they kept everything tidy.
If you visit, I would recommend taking an afternoon to explore Puerto Morales. It's certainly less touristy than Cancun or Playa del Carmen, and there are a number of decent restaurants and bars. We got a couple of good deals in the shops too -- mainly because there weren't a lot of tourists to buy things.
My one major complaint is that the concierges at the el Cid are not really concierges. They are, in fact, salespeople for el Cid's travel agency. Despite the fact that you have already paid for an all-inclusive vacation package, they try and trick you into sitting through a sales presentation. You're "free gift" will be a full buffet breakfast. Nevermind that you already paid for your breakfast...
A Week in Riviera Maya
"Day 1: Arrival & Cancun"
I got in around noon so I got the car at the airport and headed towards Cancun. There were hardly any road signs so I had no idea if I was going in the right direction but I finally made it into the hotel zone of Cancun. I drove all the way down and into downtown where I checked into our lodging for the night. There was a more direct way to get there but I had missed the turn off because of the lack of signs on the road. Anyway, I was quite amazed at how pretty the water was here. I'd been to places with nice beaches, but this ranks up there, too. The water was a beautiful turquoise color. I couldn't wait to get in it. Unfortunately, access to the beach is limited because the hotels put up fences, but I cut right through a 4-star hotel's lobby and hopped in the water. The water felt great!!! But I got tired of the wave hopping so I decided to go use the hotel's pool for some swimming. Despite being off-peak season, the pool area was packed. I had a hard time finding a full-sized chair to lay on. The people in the pool seemed to be having a good time but they looked like buncha 20 something wannabe's. Not really the atmosphere I wanted. Later in the day, I went looking for food (I skipped lunch so I can get some beach time). Unfortunately, there were chain restaurants everywhere. Outback, Hooters, Johnny Rockets, Planet Hollywood, you name it - they got it. It was too much work for me to find a good local place in my state of starvation so I settled on one of these. I'm too embarassed to even name the place. Anyways, I found the Cancun resort area to be too wide spread and touristic to the extreme. I had no desire to hang around here too long. Dave was due to get in late tonight and my plan was drive our butts out of here first thing the next morning - whether he liked it or not.
"Day 2: Chitzen Itza and Ek' Balam"
Probably the most frequented and impressive Mayan ruin of all is Chitzen Itza. It was a two hour drive from Cancun to get there, so we were out the hotel by 0730 to get there before all the tour buses started arriving. We spent couple hours in the area looking at all the ruins and sweating our pants off. For lunch, we drove back to the town of Valladolid, about 30 km East, to check into our hotel. It was the nicest place in town, but still only cost us $50 for the night. It was a charming little place with a nice garden and pool. After lunch, we headed up to Ek' Balam, another set of ruins about 20km North of Valladolid. These were much smaller but still nice. We were able to climb one of them for a cool view of the area. Dinner was held again back in town, and for the evening, we headed once again back to Chitzen Itza for the light show, which was a bit on the lame side.
"Day 3: Coba and Tulum"
I heard the Tulum ruins were a must see as they sat right by the beach and made for a picturesque scene. On the way to Tulum tho was Coba, another set of ruins. This one had an even higher pyramid which we were allowed to climb. It was fun going up it but not much of a view from top since the area was covered by the forest. There was also a lot of walking around in Coba. The distances between sites of interest were large, and we were too macho in thinking we didn't need to rent bikes or bike taxis. If other people are walking, why shouldn't we? Well, for starters, I didn't want to spend all day here, and it was hot as heck outside. I wouldn't have minded the walking otherwise. We only saw a portion of Coba - we were ready to get back to the beaches. Tulum was very nice as promised, but very small. It took less than an hour to see the ruins here, and an hour at the beach by the ruins sufficed (it's a tad on the crowded side). Our lodging for the night was in an el cheapo place (the area is a bit too pricey to stay somewhere nice) but it was on the beach and had palapas. That, beds and shower were all we needed today.
"Day 4: Xel-Ha"
Most of this day was spent at Xel-Ha, one of the several ecoparks in the area. It boasts great snorkeling, which is what we did most of the day. While not the best snorkeling I've done, I must admit there are a lot of fishes and is great for beginners. I had hoped I would find an opportunity to get out to the reefs later in the week, but alas, this was my one and only snorkeling opportunity. We also had the opportunity to do a river ride on an inner tube, which turned out to be more of a work out than a relaxing ride. Part way down, the current turned against us so a lot of paddling was involved (but I always welcome a challenge.) You can also walk around the lagoon and enjoy the beautiful flora and wildlife. Later in the afternoon, we had the chance to chill in hammocks.
"Day 5: Xcaret"
This was the mother of all ecoparks, the Disneyland of Mexico. Xcaret was an all-day affair of 9 to 9. The day started with a walk around the park to check out all the attractions such as a Mayan village, wildlife, flora, Mexican cemetery & church, etc. After lunch, we moved onto a 40 minute swim in an underground river which was pretty exciting save for the fact that I had to keep adjusting the life vest strap that kept rubbing against my crotch. Good thing I'm not a guy. (Lesson: make sure you get life vests that fit tightly). The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling by the beach under palapas and hammocks, or swimming. In the evening, they put on a spectacular 2 hour show. The first half told a story of the area's history. They also reenacted a ancient ball game and fire hockey (like ice hockey but using a ball of fire - pretty neat). The rest of the show was lots of singing and dancing.
"Day 6: Playa del Carmen and life of luxury"
Playa del Carmen is the next most happenning place next to Cancun. The atmosphere here reminded me of Key West and it was a more to my liking. The main area could be covered on foot and I hardly noticed any chain restaurants (although there was a Haagen Daz on every other block.) There are lots of shops in the area so we spent the morning souvenir hunting until we could go check into the swank hotel we booked for the last two night's stay. We had considered staying somewhere nice for a while, but it wasn't put into action until we met some people in Tulum who told us about an all-inclusive deal in Puerto Morelos, just 20 minutes south of the Cancun airport. For roughly $300 bucks a night, they got 4-star lodging, plus all-you-can-eat-and-drink for free (including alcohol!) Resort side activities were also free. So couple days ago we went on-line looking to see what kind of deals we could find, and we found a whopping 40% off deal for a Junior Suite at Hotel Marina El Cid. That's right - we got the room for $183 a night - roughly $90 bucks a person. If I drank like my friends do, it would more than pay for itself in food and drinks alone. The hotel is brand new and just opened in February. The cheap deal that we got is good for couple more weeks so go book your Riviera Maya trip now!!
"Day 7: Life of luxury continued"
Okay, I'm not usually one who can sit around and do nothing all day. I looked forward to a nice hotel, but I had doubts as to whether I could keep myself busy on this last day. Well, it turned out there was not enough time to do nothing. I was way too busy swimming, doing aqua aerobics, playing beach volleyball, working on my tan, napping under the palapas, swimming some more, hitting the wet bar, chilling in the jacuzzi, reading a book on the beach beds; and enjoying the view of the torquoise water and palm trees, the sounds of the crashing waves, and the feeling of the cool sea breeze. Now this was life. I suppose the fact that days like this are rare in my life makes me appreciate it so. What made it even better was the fact that because the hotel was new, there was hardly anyone there. I had the gigantic pool practically to myself. I was in heaven. I couldn't help but think how nice it would be to live somewhere where I could swim when I want to in a nice, big, clean pool or beach. I'm thinking perhaps Sydney is the place to be. Hmm... I'll have to work on that one.