WOW, 12 Resorts in 10 Days From Cancun to Playa del Carmen. The Low Down for Travel Now or Later
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Mexico with some colleagues of mine. Our goal was to experience first hand how well the people of Mexico were handling the Covid situation, along with the protocols they were taking at the airport, with the transfers and at the resorts. My hope is that this will help others to be able to decide for themselves if they can travel to these areas in Mexico, in a safe way. Please note that IATA, (the International Air Transport Association), determined that you have a very low risk of getting Covid on a plane, (almost 0%), since the air is constantly circulated with the fresh air outside and filtered with a HEPA filter that circulates the air once every 2 to 4 minutes. Everyone must wear a mask and airlines DO take it very seriously.
In 10 days I was able to visit 11 five star and 1 four star resorts and stay at 4 of them, 2 nights at each. I’ll break down each resort and what I experienced with their procedures and let me start out by saying I was very impressed. I’ll also give you feedback on flying out of John F. Kennedy Airport and into Cancun Airport, as well as the transfer companies we used. I would also like to mention that when they say there’s an uprise in cases in Mexico, but they don’t specify on which area, please look into it more, because as of December 5th, the cases were rising drastically in Mexico City, which is very far from the Cancun area. Quintana Roo/Cancun area is doing very well in keeping their numbers low and at bay.
Properties we saw listed as below (click to be directed to that section):
- Le Blanc
JFK Airport, NY
I departed out of JFK. From the time I was dropped off at the Delta terminal, went through check in and security and got to my gate was in about 11 minutes total and yes, I was timing it. I’ve never experienced that at JFK before; the airport was practically empty. It was awesome! There are 6 feet markers everywhere on the floors and signs as reminders to keep your distance and wear our mask. I have Global Entry, (which I highly recommend if you travel at least once or twice a year internationally), so I was able to skip the regular security line and go straight to the TSA line, not that it made a difference at this time, and went through very quickly. Through security, they have antimicrobial bins and once I was at my gate every other seat was blocked off. As far as I could see, majority of people were wearing their masks the proper way (maybe 90%) and some here and there not covering their nose (other 10%). Besides that, it was business as usual with a lot less people flying.
I decided to fly Delta since they were still keeping the middle seat empty, which was very nice. FYI, Delta will be continuing to keep that one seat open until March 2021, while other airlines are back to booking at full capacity. In my opinion, Delta did a great job. They give you a plastic ziplock bag packed with a small water, cookies, sanitizer and sanitizer wipes to wipe down your area. Some passengers must not have been wearing their mask properly, because suddenly the pilot came over the loud speaker and gave a warning that if they did not put their mask on fully and for the whole flight they had no problem going back to the gate and letting them get off. Big applause to that pilot.
Arrival into CUN Airport, MX
Arrival into CUN airport was very quick and easy, since there was also a very small amount of people traveling. Mexico does not require a Covid test to be done prior to your arrival, making it more convenient to travel here. You DO need to fill out a travel form. You can do this prior to your departure and then print it out and show at the airport or if you forget, you can go off to the side and fill out on your phone. You will not be allowed to get your luggage unless this form is filled out. You can find the form here at www.mexicofmm.com. Other than that, the airport was business as usual. Everyone was wearing a mask and there were sanitizer stations along the way to exit outside. Olmedo, my wonderful driver with Maritur DMC, met and picked me up at the exit, sprayed my luggage with sanitizer and once inside the vehicle there was water, sanitizer, gloves, a mask and sanitizer wipes all for me to take, if I wanted. The car looked like it was cleaned extremely well and I felt very comfortable riding in it.
12 site inspections, 4 overnights & a partridge in a pear tree…
Nizuc – 5*, Cancun area, Family Friendly and Adults Only Accommodations
Review: Nizuc, is in my opinion, laid back luxury in Cancun. Situated on a point with no other resorts on either side of them offers a very quiet and private experience and yet is only 10 minutes from the Cancun Airport, which is convenient. Imagine a kind, attentive staff that greets you, and each other, with their hand over their heart every time they pass by you. The grounds are beautiful, the pool looked like a perfect place to relax; nice beaches where even the wifi worked perfectly (this is important, at least it was for me), the food was great and we were even serenated by a fun mariachi band during dinner at Ramona’s. Eduardo, the chef at Ramona’s, is recognized as one of the best chef’s in Mexico! Entertainment, cigar rolling and even several celebrity citing’s were all going on while we were there. I really loved this resort and felt very comfortable.
Tip: Try the Baron Nizuc Margarita at Bar A-Kan! Yum and I’m not even a tequila gal. Also, definitely check out the paddle board yoga in the morning.
Covid Protocols: Their protocols were great. Each and every staff member was wearing a mask at all times. Upon entering the resort lobby there is a sanitizer station for your feet, sanitizer around the grounds and restaurants. The rooms are sanitized before a guest arrives and once sanitized no one is allowed to enter except the guests. The guests were not forced to wear masks, but please keep in mind that everything is open air here, so even in the lobby or walking within the resort is all open to fresh air. Nizuc has passed the government inspection to reopen.
*Virtuoso resort, which is a consortia that my agency is a part of. When you work with a Virtuoso advisor we can have included in your stay: complimentary breakfast for two, per day, per room; $100 hotel credit, per room; the Hydrotherapy experience is included; complimentary upgrade; priority early check in/late check out and complimentary wifi.
Le Blanc Cancun – 5*, All inclusive, Adults only, in the Hotel Zone area
Review: I was pleasantly surprised by this Five Diamond Awarded resort for the last 10 years in a row! They are also #2 Best All Inclusive in Mexico and #5 for Best All Inclusives in the World! Whoa, impressive. The resort was beautiful. Lot’s of space outdoors and in, so plenty of space for privacy and distancing, including three pool areas. When we were hanging out on the beach we couldn’t even tell that there was a resort on both sides of us. You can clearly see it’s a fun, upbeat environment, but not for partiers. I can’t say enough about this resort. Very classy and laid back. Great for honeymooners with the resorts honeymoon package and also wonderful to celebrate with a group or for a corporate retreat. And all guests have access to their sister properties, not too far away, but non Le Blanc hotel guests cannot come on property. You are within a 5 minute walk to wonderful restaurants and shops in the hotel zone and it is all very safe to walk around.
Tip: The hydrotherapy experience at this resort was the BEST out of all the resorts we visited, so I highly recommend trying it. Also, don’t forget to stop by the chocolate shop, K’akau, where they HAND PAINT each and every piece, as well as offer tea and coffee. They were delicious!
Covid protocols: Right from their beautiful, grand entrance you have sanitizer for your shoes, you’re given sanitizer for your hands and then handed a refreshing glass of coconut water. You’ll then go over to a check in desk, where they clean the desk and chairs right in front of you. Then, you are offered a warm neck-warmer while you check in. A perfect way to get your trip started. The resort takes 264 preventative actions for health and safety, including each person working must change their mask every 4 hours with a different color.
*For more of my recommendations and tips please email me.
Chable Maroma – 5*, Member of Leading Hotels of the World, Punta Maroma area, Family friendly
Review: I had the pleasure of staying at Chable Maroma for two nights, which is approximately 35 minutes from Cancun airport. If you like seclusion, peace and quiet and nature, then this resort is perfect. The grounds are like beautiful, easy to navigate mazes from the lobby to your accommodations to the restaurant, spa and beach. Each villa is spacious with its own private, plunge pool, a private entrance and the coolest, and perhaps a little scary, shower. The shower is ceiling to floor glass, so you feel like you’re outdoors. The same with the big window in your room. You can watch some of the friendly animals passing by, like the cute Coati – they’re everywhere, like squirrels here on the East Coast. A lovely breakfast and coffee are delivered to your patio each morning. There’s no entertainment in the evenings, so I think that’s important to know, but the roof top bar and atmosphere don’t make you miss it at all and the resort has a BBQ at the main pool every Friday. It’s the little touches of this resort that makes it special, as well as the wine and tequila tastings offered; a 6 course meal with pairing; cooking classes and they are listed in Wine Spectator Magazine 2019, 2020 for the wines they carry.
Covid Protocols: Upon arrival, the wonderful staff sanitizes each piece of luggage, offers you sanitizer for your hands and shoes and they even sanitized each of our passports! The rooms seemed like they were cleaned very well and the resort passed the Government’s seal of approval protocols in order to reopen.
Tip: Chable Maroma had my favorite beach out of all the resorts in the entire trip. The palm trees are perfectly positioned along the beach for shade, the sand was white and powdery, and the water was perfect. Want a private beach dinner or pre dinner cocktails? No problem. The staff creates the best setting with a big sand pit. Your seats are carved out of the sand with a beautifully set table in the middle.
*Virtuoso resort - when you work with a Virtuoso advisor you will receive complimentary breakfast for two daily; complimentary upgrade upon arrival; $100 resort credit; VIP early check in/late check out. The room mini-bar is included in your stay.
Viceroy Riviera Maya – 5*, Adults only, Riviera Maya area, 35 minutes from CUN Airport
Review: This is a boutique resort we visited for a property tour and delicious lunch under their gorgeous palapa. With only 41 private villas each very spacious with 1000 sq. ft. and with its own private entrance, you never feel like it’s overcrowded. Upon arriving to the outdoor lobby, you’re greeted by a butler and welcomed by a Shaman that performs a very short and beautiful Mayan blessing. You’re given refreshing cold coconut water and then you’re taken to your accommodations. When folks travel to Mexico they like to have all inclusive, while other do not. Well, the nice thing about Viceroy Riviera Maya is that they offer a breakfast rate or the all-inclusive option, so you can get the best of both worlds. 38 out of the 41 villas are jungle views and each villa has a private plunge pool and are decorated beautifully and comfortably. There are 2 beachfront villas, which if you can snag, these are the best rooms at this resort, for obvious reasons – the beach! Cooking classes, mezcal tastings, fresh ingredients for authentic Mexican food, tennis courts two minutes away, a Mayan based spa with a sweat house are all available from this resort. The resort sees a lot of honeymooner’s, corporate and wedding groups, as well as just couples enjoying their time together. Plenty of celebrities and Royalty have also stayed here. I thought the property and accommodations seemed very private and nice. The beach was a little on the smaller side, but plenty of room for guests, since there’s only 41 keys, including cabanas that are first come, first serve. A nice departing gift Viceroy Riviera Maya gives is handmade Mayan soap, which smells lovely.
Tip: Try to schedule the Mayan Bliss – a session with the Mayan Shaman, which is complimentary. Also, you may not see them from the pool, but there are water hammocks along their pier! Definitely relax in those for a bit.
Covid protocols: Upon arrival there are sanitizer bottles on each table for guests to use. The hotel was approved by the Mexican government to reopen with their safety measures and protocols.
*Virtuoso resort – with your stay, booked with a Virtuoso advisor, you will receive full breakfast for two daily; $100 resort credit per stay; complimentary upgrade upon arrival; VIP early check in/late check out.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya – 5*, Family friendly and Adults Only, All inclusive, 40 minutes from CUN Airport
Review: Grand Velas is a part of Legend Preferred Hotels and has been awarded with the Five Diamond Award. It’s a larger resort with three separate buildings. Two are family friendly with kid’s clubs and one is for adults only. The kids club looked amazing for all ages. They offer so much indoors, and out, kids will not be bored. The staff looking over the kids are certified by Red Cross. And if it couldn’t get any better for parents, the resort offers the most amazing ‘Baby Concierge’ that I’ve ever seen. You literally only have to bring the baby and diapers and the resort will provide everything else from cribs to high-chairs, baby tubs, teepee’s in the room and more! Let’s discuss this more in an email or by phone.
Since the resort is still not booking at full capacity, all guests currently get an automatic upgrade to the oceanfront suites in the normally adults only section, lucky you! We can discuss this more in detail via a phone call. The pools are large with lots of space, one of them being world famous, and the ocean was warm and beautiful. A little rocky here and there, but nice for snorkeling. Great restaurants and the food we had was delicious. Not all of the restaurants were open at the time, but this may change by the time you visit. A nice surprise for the kids will be on Christmas when Santa will be arriving! Also, during festive, kids are 50% off.
Tip: The automatic upgrade right now is really nice, so I would recommend trying to take advantage of this. Also, when you book a massage, the hydrotherapy experience is included, an $85 value. If you’re walking around the property and you happen to see a Coati, don’t freak out; he’s basically the resort mascot and very accustomed to humans. You can tell how well fed he is by his big belly!
Covid protocol: Grand Velas was by far the most high tech with their protocols than any of the other resorts. The moment we arrived our temperatures were taken, a heart rate monitor was placed on our finger and we had to answer travel questions on a computer stand. Once a room is cleaned and sanitized they place a sticker across the outside of the door, so no one can enter except the guest. After the check in protocols you can now relax with either a glass of champagne or a refreshing cold tea.
*Virtuoso resort - when you work with a Virtuoso advisor here’s what we can have included in your stay – complimentary upgrade upon arrival; daily breakfast (included in the rate); complimentary one way private transfer; $50 spa credit per day, person, not combinable; welcome bottle of mezcal; VIP early check in/late check out.
Next, the Mayakoba Complex needs a little bit of an explanation of its own before we tackle each resort within. Think of a secure, gated community with four amazing resorts within it. There is a nice, long walking/biking nature trail that goes through each property that links to one another. There are smaller cenotes along the trails that you can stop and visit. In between the 4 resorts is El Pueblito – a small square with a beautiful, Mexican church and a storefront or bar/restaurant that represents each resort and has locally made clothing and gifts. A visit to El Pueblito will not be a regret. I was able to get some really nice, locally made gifts to bring home.
Tip: Since these four resorts are in the same complex you are able to stay at one and eat at any of the others, (with access to 25 restaurants), and charge it back to your room; complimentary transfers between properties too. How amazing is that! You don’t have to worry about carrying your wallet or having money on you. Just charge it back to your room.
1.Banyan Tree Mayakoba – 5*, Family friendly, 40 minutes from CUN Airport
Review: Out of all of our overnights, Banyan Tree Mayakoba was probably my favorite. You feel right at home as soon as you arrive with a beautiful, inviting lobby that overlooks the lagoon at this Asian inspired resort. The staff is very attentive, warm and inviting. The entry level rooms, The Bliss Pool Spa, (our villas), are private and are wonderfully big with a private outdoor entrance to your own yard and plunge pool, (which is a huge understatement). I was able to do laps in my ‘plunge pool’. When you arrive, you’ll find bicycles for each guest in your party, including smaller bikes for the kids. Nature trails, a beautiful sandy beach with a soon to be new beach club and wonderful food options make this a great option for couples, groups and families. And their new Beachfront Suites will be completed this month, December 2020 and they are beautiful. We were able to see a mock up version during our visit.
Tip: I highly recommend booking a breakfast or tapas experience on board their boat through the lagoon. The driver will double as your guide and point out some wildlife with fun facts. The evening tapas ride is a very romantic way to propose...hint hint. My other tip is to ask the front desk to draw you a bath after you get back from dinner and you will arrive back to your villa with the most beautiful, relaxing, romantic set up…and the tub is outdoors. Put on a little music from the Bluetooth stereo and enjoy.
Covid Protocols: Masks are mandatory when in the public areas of the resort. There are sanitizer pads for your shoes upon arrival. After you sanitize your shoes, you’ll be led into the lobby where you’re given sanitizer for your hands, green juice and a nice pack of sanitizer wipes, sanitizer and other goodies. A staff member will take your temperature and you’ll need to fill out a travel questionnaire. They are very thorough. The villa seemed very well cleaned and you are personally walked to your accommodations with a staff member, who is wearing a mask and gloves, to go through any details or answer any questions.
*Virtuoso resort: When you work with a Virtuoso advisor for your stay here is what we can have included complimentary: breakfast for two daily; upgrade upon arrival, dependent upon availability; resort credits ranging from USD $100 to USD $200 per villa, per stay (Resort credit amount varies depends on the villa categories); preferential green fees at El Camaleon Golf Course, a PGA championship course; preferred early check in/late check out, depending upon availability; complimentary wifi.
2. Rosewood Mayakoba – 5*, Family Friendly & Adults Only Areas
Review: In true Rosewood form, the essence of luxury is everywhere, but with a very laid back, fun vibe. With only 129 suites and lots of space across the property, it doesn’t seem like you’ll ever feel like it’s crowded. The resort just went through a 20 million dollar reno in 2019 and all of their suites have their own deck and plunge pool. The furniture is locally made, supporting the wonderful Mexican community, which I LOVE! When you arrive, you’ll be given the opportunity to download the Rosewood Mayakoba app, where you can see your reservations and the amenities offered. There will be a registration form to fill out and then your butler who will take you straight to the boat and bring you to your accommodations. Cabanas are available on the beach and by the pool and are first come, first serve. Plenty to offer for bigger families too, including residences or 6 villa’s that can connect FYI - when you book a villa a cooking class is included. There’s a kids club on property, dinner on the beach with firepits and nanny services makes this resort complete. Several NBA player’s and CEO’s enjoy their stay here. Very relaxed atmosphere.
Tip: You’ll always want to book with an advisor that is a preferred member of their Elite program for exclusive discounts and extra amenities. Also, the accommodations along the lagoon are very private, quiet and beautiful and I highly recommend over the beachfront, if you want more nature.
Covid protocols: Rosewood has three certificates for re-opening and are audited every week. Masks are worn in public areas until seated. Sanitizer is offered upon arrival, shoe sanitizing pads are in the front lobby and temperatures are taken.
*Elite Preferred Amenities: When you work with a travel advisor that is a part of their Elite Program, as we are, here is what we can have included – complimentary one category room upgrade upon arrival, depending on availability (many times they have done the upgrade for my clients upon booking, when possible); daily breakfast for two, per room; $125 spa credit; no walk policy for Elite clients, during oversold periods; as well as special promotions only for Elite preferred travel agencies.
3. Fairmont Mayakoba – 5*, Family Friendly, AAA 5-Diamond, Rainforest Certified
Review: If you’ve ever stayed at a Fairmont, then you know the quality and service are going to be top notch and this one is no different. Fairmont Mayakoba is extremely family friendly and in fact, I would highly recommend it for weddings or groups, as there is plenty of space. There are apartments on site that we’re able to book for families now and you can get to the beach by golf cart or by boat along the lagoon. There are several accommodation options including jungle view, lagoon view, or closer to the beach. If you’re not by the beach definitely get a golf cart, a bike or take the boat to get there, unless you want a nice, longer walk. Fairmont has now added an all inclusive option to their packages or you can stick with the regular breakfast or no breakfast plan.
Tip: Their beachfront restaurant, Brisa’s Coastal Grill, was incredible! The seafood was so fresh and everything tasted amazing. I kept imaging being there with a big group of my family and friends, because it was a perfect location for it.
Covid: Upon arrival for our site/tour inspection, there were markers on the floor to stay 6 feet apart. There is a sink on the right when you first walk in and each person must wash their hands before entering. We had to fill out a travel form and Fairmont had two bins for the pens – one for new pens that were sanitized and one for the pens that were used. There is also sanitizer for your hands as well. After all the healthy stuff is done then we were able to get our delicious welcome drink, a Mexican Margarita. Our temperatures were taken and then we were on our way. Everyone was wearing a mask on property and other than being in your room, everything is open air.
*We are Platinum Preferred with Fairmont properties.
4. Andaz Mayakoba – 5*, Family Friendly (The last hotel in Mayakoba section)
Review: If you want a hip, cool atmosphere with a great Vegan Bar, then Andaz might be the perfect fit. Featuring beautiful, large murals, hand painted by a famous, local artist named, Senkoe, on the buildings and in the rooms that are incredible to see. The lobby represents a cenote, which makes for a vibrant and lively start at this resort. This brand definitely translates itself through art, gastronomy and the local culture. Offering 214 rooms, two restaurants by the lagoon area, three restaurants by the main pool and beach area, spa services, ballroom and even a kids club. Connecting rooms can be guaranteed for an extra fee. Friday’s there’s a DJ that plays lounge music AND the resort offers an all inclusive package, where the kids are 50% off! If you happen to be at the resort when Senkoe is in town, you’ll have the opportunity to do an activity with him. Fun kids activities like cooking classes, where they’ll learn how to make guacamole, candies and more, all while learning the history behind it. They will also accept small pets (only up to 5 lbs). Need a home office for home sc