rage_on_ny does Cancun
Well, we managed to sneak over to Cancun before the big wave of spring breakers and had a nice little getaway.
Why Cancun you ask? Several reasons. Firstly, being that Roberto is Mexican he always would rather go back “home” for a beach getaway to support their economy (rather than places like Jamaica or St. Lucia or Bahamas etc). Secondly, from NYC this is a relatively short direct plane ride (about 3 1/2 hours) which allows us to go for a shorter time (we hate leaving our doggie, only went 4 nights). Thirdly, the beach there can’t be beat. Fourthly, the food is really good. (The place is teeming with Americans, Canadians and Europeans and for us gringos, they are pretty sensitive about the whole Montezuma’s revenge thing. I haven’t had any issues with it there yet….) I can keep going, but I think the point is made.
For those afraid of the “Mexico crime thing” I would use city street smarts, but do not be deterred. The people of Cancun are very warm and tourism is the major driver of the economy in that area. They don’t want any trouble with the Gringos. Especially once you are at your resort, the staff will always try to give you pointers for staying out of trouble and having a good time.
We are member of the SPG rewards network (“Starwood Preferred Guest“) which includes Westin, W, Sheraton and others. We ended up staying at their beautiful resort called the Westin Lagunamar. The experience there was excellent. We got a pretty good deal which was “pay for three nights get the fourth night free”. In general, I have personally had very good experiences traveling using the Starwood chain of hotels throughout the US and Mexico.
For jetting, here in NYC we have a great airline called Jetblue. I know it is in other places, but I think their focus is the east coast, so specifically from the NY area airports, we have a lot of destinations available through the network. They are a discount airline of sorts, but it doesn’t feel cheap. Here again, I used points for the tickets through my credit card reward system. The tickets were about $650 each RT. Unfortunately, we got caught returning on a day considered spring break time so I think we paid a bit more than we normally would have had to (saw tickets earlier for around $450 RT).
The Westin Lagunamar is considered one of their “resort vacation ownership” properties. This basically means that most (all?) of the rooms have a kitchen or kitchenette, kind of like a timeshare. But don’t worry, they still feel like a luxury hotel room. Westin Heavenly bed, Westin Heavenly shower, Westin Heavenly robe etc. etc. What was nice is that every guest is assigned a personal concierge. She contacted us via email before the trip and helped us arrange transportation to and from the airport. She also helped us with excursions and restaurant reservations once we got there. Very nice little perk… Also, I want to emphasize that they did NOT try the hard sell on the vacation ownership pitch. They did offer us the pitch once but were not pushy about it at all. We declined and that was the last we heard of it.
Highlights of the trip included an excursion to the nearby Isla Mujeres where we rented a golfcart (~$45 US dollars) to dart around the seven mile island. We probably looked about as dorky as all the other tourists doing the same thing bopping around town but it was fun. At the end of the island there is a small Mayan ruin (Ixchtel’s temple)in a little park with a sculpture garden. The location on the sea is absolutely gorgeous. There is a little cliff walk that is a must for picture taking…be sure to have some ceviche at the little restaurant on the premises there which was extremely fresh and delicious.
We spent a good amount of time pool and beach side, which was a nice break. For nice meals we went to Puerto Madero (Argentinian grilled meats and seafood) and had a return trip to La Destileria (traditional Mexican fare). Both are located on the lagoon side of Boulevard Kukulcan with lovely outdoor seating areas where you can feast as the sun sets. Both places have excellent food. Portions at Puerto Madero are huge. My favorite part of the meal were the grilled vegetable side dish. At La Destileria, they like to put on a bit of a show. I got the tequila grilled shrimp which is prepared that way (table side) with lots of fire and fanfare…quite fun. The last time we had gone to La Destileria, we monopolized a wonderful mariachi band who Roberto sang along with.
Now, the best part of the trip happened right on the premises of our hotel. We found that the Westin Lagunamar were the guardians of a small Mayan ruin (the smallest?) right on the resort site called Yamil Lu’um. The location is the highest point in Cancun. The ruin has apparently survived many a hurricane. There is a small little path at the corner of the resort that leads up a stony path to the “Temple of the Scorpion” so named because of a supposed graphic of a scorpion on one of the walls (not visible). The spot is lovely and overlooks a beautiful stretch of the beach and sea. Access is shared by the neighboring resort called the Park Royal Cancun.
Well, my honey knows me pretty well because he chose this special little place as his spot to propose marriage to me. It was the perfect choice given my love of anthropology, the romantic beach backdrop, sunset and the warm ocean breezes. I joyfully (and tearfully!) accepted!
Alas, the next morning we headed back to grey and gloomy NY! Hasta pronto Cancun!