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Exploring Cozumel and Riviera Maya

IMG_2681I try to get to Mexico every year. It is such a great value for your vacation and they always have new resorts being built. The first week we returned to Cozumel to stay at the Occidental Grand at the Southern end of the island. This was our fifth visit to this resort and it just keeps getting better. Barcelo Resorts just purchased the entire All Inclusive Occidental chain. They say everything will remain the same plus improvements to come. They were replacing all beds, mattresses, etc. when we were there.

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Some of the strongest selling points:

  • Great wide sandy beach, little seaweed on Cozumel compared to Eastern facing Riviera Maya.
  • Great snorkeling & reasonable priced diving in area
  • Beautiful grounds of well maintained gardens
  • Hardly can see the three story octagonal buildings
    housing 24 units above the foliage
  • Total of 243 rooms
  • Good food and service. One main buffet and two specialty restaurants that require reservations. No problem at least in low season.
  • Professionally entertainment brought in most nights- Folkloric Show, Fire Show, Mexican Rock band, etc.
  • Resort is for everyone but few children off season. I would assume a great resort for families during prime vacation times.
  • No wristbands needed.
  • Wi-Fi available at a cost of $60 per week

I hope to return again and hope the area never over-develops like so many other places.

DSCF1164Then we took the Ultramar ferry to Playa del Carmen ($10), now a town of over 100,000 residents. We picked up our rental car and were off to the brand new Secrets Akumal, Secrets fourth resort in Riviera Maya. Located one hour and ten minutes south of Cancun Airport on the infamous Akumal Bay which has been an undeveloped favorite beach and snorkel spot for over thirty years.

Having built five resorts in this area of Mexico before, Secrets really knows how to plan a beautiful and easy to navigate resort for Adults Only. 430 junior suites or suites with modern decor, double jacuzzi tubs in bath, double sinks, glass showers with seating, stocked refrigerators, 24 hour room service and free Wi-Fi throughout.

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All rooms are nice but Preferred Club gives you better location with better views, plunge pools on balconies, Preferred Club lounge with premium liquor, snacks and concierge service.

Some of the strongest points:

  • Adults only that would work equally well for couples as singles
  • Professional entertainment every night, Mexican Warrior Show Cirque de Soleil show, Rock bands, and comedians that involve guests in their shows
  • Six specialty restaurants plus buffet, beach grill and coffee cafe. No reservations needed except at Japanese Hibachi style table. Longest wait was 30 minutes for the Portofino Italian restaurant that passed quickly at the poolside lounge with professional musicians. Food was very good throughout.
  • No wristbands needed. Really a challenge for security with other resorts next door.
  • Three main HEATED pools and continuing heated river pools fronting all buildings for swim out rooms. It is rare that hot tubs are heated in Mexico let alone pools so this was a real treat.
  • Lots of activities in the infinity pool. Main and Arch pools are quiet.
  • Beautiful, well maintained beach, seaweed cleaned up daily, no rocks in water and some of the best snorkeling in area.
  • Great service throughout. All of the staff is fresh from training and end each conversation with “It is a pleasure”.

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Problems:

  • Sometimes slow service in the specialty restaurants, waiting thirty minutes for next course. Whether these delays were caused by kitchen or wait staff, I think they will be resolved. The resort and staff are new so it takes time to get up to speed. Secrets has the manpower to fix it.
  • Preferred Club Lounge check in. If your reservations are in the Preferred Club section you will be escorted to the lounge which adds to the waiting time. Then, since they only had two staff members handling every job at the lounge it took another thirty minutes to check in. It only took me five minutes once I got to the desk but this needs to be expedited. No one wants to wait an hour to check in.
  • Of course our room was not ready until after 4PM so we just went to have lunch at 3PM to pass the time.

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Famous Akumal Bay

We and everyone else have been coming to snorkel there for over thirty years. In fact, it is sold as an excursion as a “learn to snorkel” trip. As a result, you have all the locals, all the guests of hotels, apartments, homes next door and groups of twenty snorkelers every half hour coming to this beach. According to Mexican law, the first twenty feet from water’s edge is open to the public throughout all of Mexico. However, we had never had this problem anywhere else in Mexico for that matter.

This is a constant challenge for the Secret’s security guards to maintain order and protect their and the guests property. During our stay, they came up with a great solution. They placed poles and planted palm trees on their property at the twenty foot mark. However by week’s end the community made them remove all even the palm trees. I do not know how this will end but unfortunately having the best beach with snorkeling in area, everyone wants the use of it. We never felt in danger but glad security was there and felt badly that Secret’s has to deal with this issue. Time will tell and maybe be resolved in the future.

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Xenotes Excursion

I took an online course “Xcaret Expert” that agents trains on the most popular excursions in the Riviera Maya area – Xcaret, Xplor, Xelha and the new Xenotes. This newest consists of five separate cenotes that allow for various activities in each. They are located thirty minutes inland from Puerto Morelos, off a very rough dirt road. Transfers are included for $109 per person.

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You get to repel down into a water filled cave, snorkel in clear water cenote open to sun, kayak down a mile long river, zip line into the water from three different types of lines, water slide into
another river, swim down lazy river and jump 30 feet into cool waters below. All of this with lunch and snacks makes for a nine hour excursion. It was lots of fun, professionally run and well worth $109. We have done so many of these excursions and they really make this Riviera Maya so popular.

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Hanging Out in Huatulco, Mexico #travel

Nine bays, no limits.

Huatulco (wah-tool-co) is one of Mexico’s most relaxed tourist destinations, located on Mexico’s southern Pacific coast at the edge of the Sierra Madre Mountains in the state of Oaxaca. 22-miles of picturesque beaches dot the nearly virgin Pacific coastline while nine bays make Huatulco a watersports lover’s dream. Be sure to take a trip around Huatulco’s nine bays to discover the stunning surroundings, hidden beaches, and flora and fauna. Deluxe modern resorts are set amidst a natural unspoiled setting on Tangolunda Bay. Peaceful and romantic Conejos Bay offers golden sand beaches and sapphire waters. The hemisphere’s first eco-tourism resort, EarthCheck certification has been awarded to Huatulco for its high environmental standards.

Some of our favorite resorts

Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa

Conejos Bay, with its golden sand, beautiful rock formations and sapphire waters, welcomes Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa, a AAA 4 Diamond Award Winner and part of the Secrets brand, voted Best Hotel Chain by Apple Vacationers. This spectacular adults only (18+) resort is gently carved into the natural landscape to give all rooms a magnificent view. The exclusive amenities of Unlimited-Luxury® start with endless meals, snacks and premium beverages, pool and beach wait service, and 24-hour room and concierge service – all without the wristband that many resorts require. Suites offer a daily refreshed premium mini bar and spectacular views, while select accommodations provide a furnished patio, balcony, terrace Jacuzzi, or swim-out pool access. Enjoy unlimited activities, including windsurfing and snorkeling, and live nightly entertainment. Guests will indulge in some of the finest international fare at any of the seven gourmet á la carte restaurants, a buffet, and more – all without reservations. Enjoy nearby golf at Campo de Golf Tangolunda or pamper yourself at the world-class Secrets Spa by Pevonia with tranquil treatments.

Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa

Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa, perfectly placed on Tangolunda Bay, one of the largest and most beautiful bays, is a sanctuary of both leisure and adventure for families, couples, singles, and friends. Enjoy endless day and night activities and all the privileges of Unlimited-Luxury where everything is included.

All rooms and suites boast amazing views, elegant design, and comfort. Amenities include a private terrace, satellite TV, DVD player, complimentary daily refreshed mini bar with soft drinks, juices, bottled water, and beer, 24-hour room service, and other lavish luxuries. Upgrade to a Preferred Club room and receive exceptional services and world-class amenities.

 

Quinta Real Huatulco

Bask in warmth and luxury in an exquisite Mexican atmosphere in beautiful Huatulco. Quinta Real Huatulco is located in Huatulco, Mexico, about 13 miles east of Bahias de Huatulco.

Double Moorish domed buildings mark this romantic and relaxing hotel. The small clusters of suites are integrated into the sloping hill near Tangolunda Bay and offer spectacular views of the Tangolunda Golf Course and Pacific Ocean.

Camino Real Zaashila Huatulco

Experience a spectacular vacation on a private beach on Tangolunda Bay. Camino Real Zaashila Huatulco is located in Huatulco, Mexico, about 14 miles east of Bahias de Huatulco International Airport.

One of the most exclusive resorts in the Bays of Huatulco, this shimmering sanctuary combines Mexican and Mediterranean architectural styles with 27 acres of gardens, fountains and waterfalls. Its unique, stacked design is submerged in a breathtaking natural setting, featuring a monumental, 120-meter length swimming pool, sculpted in front of the complex with a view over the Bay and endless crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Barcelo Huatulco Beach Resort

Barcelo Huatulco Beach rests upon a shimmering beach at the head of Tangolunda Bay, the largest of the nine secluded bays of Huatulco. Built in a contemporary Mexican style, this is a prestigious resort in Huatulco, known for its luxury and green sustainability. A distinctive resort where you’ll enjoy a variety of land and water sports, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful grounds, the swimming pool, or just go for a stroll along the sapphire waves of the Pacific Ocean, as they are all just a few steps from your room.

Contact Traveline for more information or give us a call at 1-888-700-8747.

 

 

Learn More About Ixtapa in Mexico

Ixtapa is a modern world-class resort area with a 600-slip marina, top hotels, restaurants and nightclubs and beautiful golden beaches ideal for watersports of all kinds. Choose from a wide variety of exciting excursions like snorkeling at Ixtapa Island. Ixtapa’s two world-class, 18-hole golf courses make this tropical destination a haven for golf enthusiasts. The courses are located at opposite ends of Ixtapa’s main hotel strip along Palmar Beach.

Some of our favorite hotels

Capella Ixtapa Resort & Spa

Take the first step toward an unforgettable memory at one of the most luxurious hotels in all of Mexico. Capella Ixtapa Resort & Spa lies about 14 miles northwest of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport. In this divine, five-star paradise, guests will discover an exotic world of private villas, crystal blue waters and an intimately private cliffside location. Ideals for couples and honeymooners, the hotel’s professional staff and your own personal assistant ensure that your every wish is fulfilled.

Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa

Vacations at Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa are anything but ordinary. Day and night, the fun never stops for families, singles, and couples. Sunscape’s world of Unlimited-Fun® gives you one of nature’s most pristine beaches, 24-hour room service, top-shelf spirits, daily refreshed mini-bar, and spectacular ocean views, all while experiencing the special feeling of being welcomed as a most honored guest.

Las Brisas Ixtapa

Ixtapa is a small fishing village on the Mexican Pacific, where life is casual and relaxed and retains the quiet charm and tranquility of years gone by. Contact Traveline for more information about this property.

Azul Ixtapa Grand

The spectacular all-suite, all-inclusive Azul Ixtapa Grand features a combined luxury and eco-environmental concept, with spectacular views from all of its suites. In addition, its variety of mouth-watering dining options can pamper your taste buds throughout your stay. This distinctive hotel has three spectacular swimming pools, two of them focused on relaxation, and boasts five infinity Jacuzzis. Immerse yourself in an enchanting panorama on the beach in a Bali bed, where you can truly feel the romance and allure of beautiful Ixtapa.

Azul Ixtapa Beach Resort

The spectacular all-suite, all-inclusive Azul Ixtapa Grand features a combined luxury and eco-environmental concept, with spectacular views from all of its suites. In addition, its variety of mouth-watering dining options can pamper your taste buds throughout your stay. This distinctive hotel has three spectacular swimming pools, two of them focused on relaxation, and boasts five infinity Jacuzzis. Immerse yourself in an enchanting panorama on the beach in a Bali bed, where you can truly feel the romance and allure of beautiful Ixtapa.

Click here for more resorts or contact Traveline at 1-888-700-8747 for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana – Featuring an Endless Privileges® Getaway

Here on the striking northeast coast of the Dominican Republic, you are welcomed to our all-suite oasis of cane-thatched sanctuaries. Limited to just 51 exclusive suites, their hardwood floors and natural stone accents harmonize with the lush, secluded oceanfront setting.

Located just an hour away from the Punta Cana International Airport, the spirit here is far, far removed from the hectic tempo of everyday living. Your lifestyle is made even more extraordinary by the bounty of an Endless Privileges® stay. Punta Cana, named one of the Top Destinations in Mexico & the Caribbean by the 2011 Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, is a tropical getaway featuring miles of palm-studded white sand beach and crystal-clear waters.

 

Wellness

We are more than our bodies. More than our minds.

At Zoëtry Agua, our definition of wellness goes beyond the ordinary to encompass the full spectrum of activities and stimulation of your entire being, including exceptional nutrition and spa therapies. To this we add expansive luxury accommodations, unique and memorable experiences, and cultural enrichment.

Lovenotes

The natural beauty of our seaside world can easily be the setting of your ultra romantic wedding and honeymoon. Our professional wedding coordinators will guide you through every step — flowers and decorations, food and beverage menus,  entertainment, special guest accommodations, transportation, legalities… anything and everything.

And speaking of honeymoons, did we mention that your king-size bed beckons you with the softest, most luxe sheets you can imagine, bathed in mood lighting? To take the mood even further, we’re certain you will enjoy your pre-selected passion oils, candles and aromatherapy scents all waiting for the right moment. Too content to leave your love nest? Don’t forget our 24-hour in room private dining.

Zoëtry Agua is a world created just for you. Enjoy it — and all its Endless Privileges®.

Business Retreats

Our professional Business Event Coordinators are experts at making sure everything you need for a conference, seminar, retreat or other business function is perfectly provided.

We will help you coordinate all your indoor and outdoor meeting facilities as well as any A/V or computer equipment needs. We will also help you coordinate special spa experiences, private parties with live entertainment, transportation, golf outings to the area’s best courses and any other tours, special requests or requirements you may have.

 

Personalize your Endless Privileges®

In addition to your automatic Endless Privileges®, the following optional upgrades are also available:

 

Girls Getaway – $125 per person

 

  • Manicure and Pedicure enhanced with Champagne and truffles
  • Complimentary access to wet areas of the spa
  • 10% off additional spa treatments (not including salon products or services).
  • Yoga sessions during weekdays
  • Authentic beach bag
  • Complimentary room service one morning offering Mimosas, fruit, and pastries.

 

Based on double occupancy.

Spa Experience – $158 per person

 

  • Private sunset couples massage with champagne toast
  • In-suite aromatherapy and organic bath amenities
  • Specialty massage with indigenous fresh fruit juices and relaxing bath
  • Reflexology treatment

 

Based on double occupancy.

Babymoon – $350 per couple

 

  • Dominican Cigar with a glass of Dominican Rum for Dad and an assortment of chocolates, candies and fruits for Mom
  • In-suite foot bath with massage for Mom
  • Private Chef Consultation to address Mom and Dad’s food cravings and create a personalized nutritional menu for their stay
  • Nightly cravings room service
  • Nightly themed turn down service
  • Romantic dinner on the pier or suite terrace with non-alcoholic beverages for Mom
  • A 50-minute mommy-to-be massage
  • A 50-minute reflexology massage for Daddy
  • Surprise gift for the new family addition

 

Based on double occupancy.

Zoëtry Paraiso De La Bonita Riviera Maya

Cultural Experience – $300 per person

 

  • Guided tour of Altos de Chavon, a traditional Domincan Republic town with arts and crafts
  • Guided tour to the Basilica Higuey, one of the Dominican Republic’s most visited monuments, with a special stop at a sugar cane plantation and Marina Casa de Campo.

 

 

 


Based on double occupancy.

Lover’s Experience – $528 per couple

 

  • Daily lover’s turndown service with romantic in-room amenities
  • Private dinner by the beach with a romantic set up
  • Private couple’s massage with champagne toast
  • Sunset horseback riding on the beach

 

Based on double occupancy.