Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Paradise in Playa Mujeres

Relatively unknown, compared to the Riviera Maya and the Cancun hotel zone, Playa Mujeres is a paradise on the verge of becoming the next great vacation spot. About 40 minutes north of the Cancun airport, lies a magnificent resort, Excellence Playa Mujeres. It is located on a 2 mile stretch of pristine white sand beach with crystal clear waters.

When we arrived at the front entrance, we were greeted like royalty. Of course, there was a cool wet towel and choice of champagne or a fruity cocktail . . . I chose both! Check-in was painless and very quick. We were welcomed with "welcome home" from many of the staff. They truly want you to feel like it is your home for the time you are here . . . And they aim to please!

The elegance of the resort is evident, yet there are no formalities. For our first lunch, we chose to eat outside, overlooking some of the pools and beach. You can't go wrong with
Cerviche and sangria to start off our holiday!

Our junior suite was ready by the time we finished lunch. Instead of describing the room, just look at some of the photos. New, clean, elegant . . . Beautiful. I was impressed.

A quick change into bathing suits and we are down on the beach, , , , palm trees and plenty of shade for those who are sun shy!!! Jesus, the beach bartender was at our chairs as soon. We sat down. Get the monitor . . . Very well made! After a sip or two, we took a walk into the calm, clean, crystal clear Caribbean. The water temperature was just too perfect!!! This is what Caribbean water should be like, everywhere!

Prefer sitting by a pool? This resort has a magnificent mending pool, with hammocks hanging just over the water, chairs placed in shallow areas for maximum comfort, again, plenty of shade for those who need it, and a pool bar with friendly staff. Along the buildings of the resort are smaller pools with many of the same features. There are plenty of quiet areas, and for those who want more activity, hang out closer to the pool bar and the Sol bar for live music and a large array of social activites.

The resort has .... Restaurants. Which one to go to first?!?!?! We chose Chez Isabelle. The atmosphere is romantic. The food was excellent. We had onion soup, surprisingly excellent, quiche lorraine, escargot, duck in a balsamic reduction and rack of lamb. I decided right then that I could eat there every night!!! We had wine poured freely through dinner and shared a dessert . . .just too full! After dinner, we went out to a courtyard where there was a live band, a good band, playing great classics, a mix of rock, blues. Jazz, etc. The bartender there, Pablo, became a quick friend. We had a nice ruby port while we listened to the music. There was a show (there is one every night) but we finished dinner too late to see it. We will see one another night. Tonight is about the music!

Back to some basics . . . The concierge is incredibly helpful with Anything you will need. You might choose to stay in the Excellence Club, which is an upgraded service, private check in, rooms closer to the beach (although many of the standard rooms have good views as well), a private bar, pool and beach area, if you want a little more pricacy!

The resort has one buffet style restaurant, Tuscaca, that is opened for breakfast and lunch. It becomes an italian restaurant for dinner.Definitely nit the typical buffet. At breakfast, there is a piano and horn ensemble playing, champagne, mimosas, bloody marts, an omlette station, crepe station, great fruit, fresh fruit drinks, smoked salmon with all the ecoutrements, and so much more. The food is excellent. For lunch on the second day we tried Toscana and delighted in fresh grilled calamari and shrimp, other seafood delights, salads galore, traditional Mexican foods, pasta station, pizza, sushi (they will make whatever you want) and so much more. Again, the service is great and they are extremely helpful. For example, I took the wrong sauce for my sushi, which was soy sauce with habeneros. I thought I would need a fire extinguisher, but one of the waiters saw my distress and brought over some bread, told me to eat it all, and onAly after that, to drink the water he was pouring. Way better than the fire extinguisher!

During the day, we met Oscar, who works with the social staff. He looked so familiar, and we realized we had met him while he was working at another resort. We introduced ourselves and he was as personable as we remembered! He had taught me in a spanish class at the other resort. I had requested that he do it on the beach so not to miss out on the scenery. He agreed . . . How could I forget him?!

I could tell you so many great stories about this resort, but instead I will just tell you about a few of the employees that made our trip so perfect!

Maria, the beach bartender, had so much fun at her job! She'd come around and say, "What's my name? . ..  remember to give me good comments!" There is a survey that you fill out during your stay -and she wanted to be sure to be mentioned - and for good reason. Great service, always a smile, and FUNNY! At the end of every day, she would come around to say adios, and would say, "See you tomorrow, same time, same place same crazy waitress!"  We looked forward to seeing her every day.

Jesus was another great beach waiter. He remembered every drink that we would order, and the next day, would still remember our favorites!

Daniel, at the water activities desk, was just a pleasure to be around. He took us out for Hobie Cat lessons (we had them before, but it's always good to take a refresher). He made it so much easier to understand the wind, the sail . . . even though I'm still not that sure about it. But, we did manage to take the Hobie Cat out by ourselves and, thanks to Jay, we made it back to shore!

I could go on about more servers, but you don't have all day. So I will just mention our absolute favorite person at the resort, Vilma, the concierge in the main lobby. She helped us more than you can imagine. Her attitude was one of excellence, an "if you want it, I can get it done" attitude with a smile (always). She met us the mornings of our excursions to wish us a good trip, she met us when we returned to see how our day was, she took us on a private tour of the resort and all the incredible suites, printed our boarding passes, made local calls for us, and so more. And when we were leaving, she made sure to be there, with hugs, wishing us safe travel home and hopes that we would return.  An incredible woman who has a passion for what she does - and it shows!

Enought about the hotel.  For excursions, we have done the Mayan ruins, the ecological parks, the jet ski tours, etc. This time, since Isla Mujeres (an island just off of Cancun known for it's white sand beaches, fishing villages, turtles, and more) was in plain view on the horizon, we took a catamaran excursion, by Sea Passion, to the island. We sailed, snorkeled, sailed, had a great lunch (with an option for lobster tail), sailed, docked in the market area where you can shop for all the Mexican items and more, and then hit the beach for a while before getting back on the catamaran for the sail back to the mainland. And, if I didn't mention it, this is a HUGE catamaran - 75 feet of pure heaven, with a great, fun staff, great music and some fun surprises on the way back . . . and unlimited drinks (alcoholic and non).  We left for the tour at 9am and returned after 5pm - so a full day of fun!

The BEST excursion we have ever done is only available from about May 15 - September 15 each year. We went on the  Cancun Whale Shark Tour. (www.cancunwhalesharktours,com). Roddrigo is the owner of this company and he has been doing this for years! There are many companies doing this tour, but his company is reasonably priced with the biggest bang for your buck. First class operation (now the boats are not yachts . . . they are made for people to get in and out of the water on a regular basis so they are simple, but fast and their captains are pros!).  Whale sharks migrate to about 25 miles off the coast of Cancun every year during the times I mentioned. I cannot explain how incredible the experience was - you simply have to do it. The feeling of swimming with some of the biggest fish in the sea - some were almost as long as our boat - is just breath-taking and euphoric. These sharks are vegetarians and extremely docile. And they are definitely used to having humans and boats around. They come back year after year (they are monitored) and are unaffected by us!  Imagine jumping into the water where you see fins all around you, and swimming out to swim along side (if you can keep up) with a whale shark.  We were 12 guests on the boat. We went into the water 3 at a time and we were able to go 3 times.  We were not rushed, our guide, Dioser, was a master! we swam up to these great creatures, swam with them and then swam to the next, and the next, and the next. There were over 100 sharks in the area, so no shortage for the other boats that were there.   We had people who had never snorkeled and some who were afraid of fish (not to mention sharks) on our boat, and everyone got into the water and loved it. It was an event I will never forget. Of course, bring an underwater camera - and an underwater video camera if you have one.  If someone doesn't believe you, just show them. And, I keep looking at them to bring back the incredible feelings of freedom!!!

I could go on forever about the resort, but I don't need to.  Since I am back, I've already booked this hotel for clients who read some of my Facebook posts! This is a definite repeat resort for me.  I've only been home a couple of days and I'm ready to go back.

If you want more information, just email me at kathi@vacationonyourmind.com or find me on Facebook. My page is Vacation On Your Mind. And when you find it, please "like" the page and you will see a lot more!!!!