Focus On Fun Travel

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Safety of Cancun vs the Rest of Mexico

     Barbi and I really enjoyed our time visiting 4 of the properties of Karisma Hotels, consisting of Azul Sensatori, Azul Fives, El Dorado Royale, El Dorado Maroma, and Generations Maroma.  Azul and Generations are fantastic family friendly properties, with plenty to do for adults and children alike.  The El Dorado properties are for adults.  Having between 30 and and 476 suites, each property has it's own uniqueness and ambiance.  All have access to fantastic beaches, one of which was listed in the top 10 by the Travel Channel (El Dorado Maroma).  The "Gourmet Inclusive" concept is also unique and award winning.  As Karisma Hotels States: "
Your Gourmet vacation starts the moment you enter one of our Mexico all inclusive honeymoon or vacation resorts in Cancun. You are greeted with a smile, a refreshing towel and a welcome cocktail. The d├ęcor and overall atmosphere of the resorts provide for a relaxed yet upscale environment with lush landscaping, beaches lined with beach beds and multiple pools with swim-up bars. You will be pampered with Gourmet services and amenities such as beach butlers, concierge, turn-down, 24-hour room service, premium beverages and Gourmet cuisine. The latter, which is the foundation for Gourmet Inclusive, has been lauded “Superb,” “Best in class,” “Decadent” and “Outstanding.” To us it simply means creating delicious meals in pleasant environments by our star chefs. Here, you will be indulged with Gourmet hospitality every moment of your stay."

     During our stay, I had many opportunities to converse with locals about the area around Cancun and on down the coast past Playa Del Carmen.  My main objective was to get a feel for the safety of this area.  Mexico has been plaqued in recent years with volence issues, most of which are limited to the boarder town regions, such as Chihuahua, Nogales, Tijuana, and Juarez.  Some spillage has occured in popular places like Mazatlan and Acapulco.  But here in Cancun, where this location relies almost 100% on tourism, it is safe.  Just like any city, there are pockets where tourists and even some locals avoid, like spots in "OLD" Cancun, which have issues from time to time.  However, these are places that tourists are not taken through.  I can think of similar places in Glendale, AZ; West Valley City, UT; Baltimore, MD (Where I am at at this moment); Miami, FL, and New York City.  Unfortunately, violence in all of it's terrible forms, exists because this world and the people in it are not perfect.  Interestingly enough, when I booked my travel through a corporate travel organization, from Cancun to Baltimore, I received a warning letter telling me that I was traveling to a very dangerous city, with many murders, and that the American Consolate was located in Washington, D.C. if I needed help.  I thought it was hilarious.

     Cancun, according to a USAToday article in 2011, produces 50% of all of Mexico's income.  It is a very vital and strategic place to keep safe.  Funjet Vacations states in the same article, that "91% of people who go to Mexico express satisfaction and intend to go back."  I can raise my hand as part of that 91%.  I felt very safe wherever I went.  In fact, we visited Ensenada Mexico this past July, and I observed that all of the streets I travelled on were definitley closer to this century.  The streets were clean and well signed.  Whenever we entered a hotel zone, and then again when entering a specific property, our shuttle or bus was stopped and questions were asked as to who was entering, how many were entering, and why.  Victor, one of our guides from Lomas Travel, noted that people cannot come and go as they please from these properties.  Security personnel are always at the gates.  When Barbi and I checked out, we were given a check out pass, which was showed to the bell boy.

     Mexico is a big country, and certainly, there are issues.  But when it comes to Cancun, The Riviera Maya, and Playa del Carmen, I have no concerns there at all.  I would, and do encourage people to travel to this hot spot of beauty.  The people who work in these resorts are happy to have you there.  They greet you all the time with an "hola" or "Buenos Dias"...Or...Would you like a Margarita, Senor? No? Pina Colada?  Mojito?  I have to say, I got hooked on the Virgin Mojito's served up by the staff in the Mojito Bar.  Seriously here, my friends.  If I could return tomorrow and spend a couple weeks, I would!  There are two bucket list items that still need to be fulfilled.  Swimming with Whale Sharks and Visiting Tulum.  And then there is Chichen itza.  Oh, and shopping in Playa del Carmen.  Oh and Scuba Diving.  And.......

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Friday, September 13, 2013

To Be All Inclusive or Gourmet Inclusive

     We have taken a step off the cruise ship and onto the beach by visiting Azul Sensatori Mexico, in the Riviera Maya.  As a result, we have discovered there is a difference in the All Inclusive Resorts and what Karisma Hotels calls, Gourmet Inclusive.  This resort caters to adults, couples, groups, and families (I am big on that), with lavish amenities and services that foster togetherness.  Unique amenities offered include 24 hour room service, Beach Butlers, King Size Beach Beds, Private Swim up Suites, full service concierge, and gourmet cuisine served a la carte.

     Arriving in Cancun, which we have never flown into before, was yet another learning experience, which we always want to share with you.  Our package included transportation from the airport to the resort through Lomas Travel.  This organization is easily picked out since they wear teal shirts and white ties.  What I did not realize is that they were outside the terminal.  Before getting there, we were accosted by vendors trying to sell us Transportation, excursions, and day trips, saying, "Yes, we know Lomas, and we work with them. Go see Manuel over there".  When we finally figured out what was going on, 15 minutes later, and got ourselves outside, we found our Lomas team happily waiting for us.  They had our names, loaded us up in a Lincoln Navigator equipped with WiFi, and headed down the road.  So lesson is, if you fly into Cancun and we have already scheduled your transportation, nicely pass all those people by and head OUT the quick as you can!!!!  I would highly suggest you reserve the transportation before hand anyhow.  Peace of Mind, ya know.

     Being September, and having the beginnings of a tropical depression on the otherside of the Yucatan, have made it a very rainy time.  So much rain has come down, as we were travelling down the road to the resort, it became a lake. Like a 2 mile long Lake.  I jokingly told our driver, "I guess this makes walking to the resort difficult?"  He responded, "Oh yes. And there are alligators out there too."  Needless to say, I did not jump out.  It seems very remote getting to the resort, but here along the Riviera Maya, there are resorts as far as you can see.  The weather is warm and it is very humid.  Just know, it's the way it is here. Always be prepared for rain.  I think it's funny.  All these people hanging out by the pool.  It starts to rain, and they get up and run inside.  I walked around int he rain yesterday and found it to be warmer than the pool water and actually quite nice to be in.  The ocean is also warm, which makes getting in really fun.  Not JAcuzzi warm mind you, but halfway in between San Diego and St Petersburg, FL in the height of summer.  NICE!

     I could get very used to this.  I love exploring different country's with the cruise option. But when it's time to just relax, I am definitely doing the Gourmet Inclusive. The Molcajete we had at Zocalo last night was out of this world.  Truely a myan inspired gourmet dish.  Lunch on the beach today included Paella, which was the best I have ever had.  Tonight, we are going to the Italian Restaurant, Siena.  These types of specialty restaurants would cost you an additional $15 - $25 per person on a cruise ship.  Here!  It's included. 
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