Tag Archive | mexico

Why Riu Palace Las Americas hotel in Cancun should be your next resort stay

If you are going to Cancun Mexico, you need to do yourself a favor and check out Hotel Riu Palace Las Americas. There are several different Riu locations in Cancun, but I think that Las Americas location is the best.

This is a 5-star hotel all inclusive resort. When we arrived, we received a fruity drink to welcome us. Then we went to our oceanfront room, which was fabulous. We quickly changed clothes and went to relax out by the beach.
The scenery and layout of the hotel was so beautiful. Some days I would get up early (and I am not usually an early riser) just to sit by the pool and enjoy the solitude.

When hubby and I wanted to do a little souvenir shopping, there were several shopping areas within walking distance from the hotel. There was a money exchange station and ATM across the street. We also like to go to Wal-mart in different countries which was a 15-minute taxi ride. It was a plus for us that the resort was centrally located.

Here are some of the amenities that I used quite frequently
Beachfront hotel – My tip: Request an oceanfront view room. It is so relaxing to go to sleep listening to the waves
Swimming pools with swim up bar, poolside bar, pool games (i.e. pool volleyball, pool basketball) – one pool has a chill vibe and the other pool has a party vibe. Of course the party vibe pool has the bar and games.
Jacuzzi, Sauna – My tip: You have to go through the Spa to take advantage of this. It is worth it especially after working out in the gym.
Renova Spa – Wonderful services! My tip: Negotiate a deal when you schedule your massage to receive a discount on whatever services you want.
24-hour room service – My tip: Waiting time is usually about 20-30 minutes. Even if you call 3:00 in the morning! Great service for me because when I am hungry in the middle of the night, I want to eat before I go to sleep. The food was good too! Sometimes the room service food can be sketchy. Not here. Some of the best nachos I had were through room service.
In room bar (with Rum, Tequila, Vodka on tap, beer and bottled water in fridge) – I might not drink all the time, but it is nice to know that it is available. My tip: Take a water with you every time you leave the room to make sure you stay hydrated. Request juice from housekeeping to mix with your liquor.

Restaurants (that I visited – another post will be dedicated to the food of Riu Palace )
Sakura – Japanese food (open for dinner only)
Los Arcos – Italian food
El Romero – Grill and Steakhouse
Don Roberto – Breakfast buffet – made-to-order omelets, chorizo, breakfast potatoes, fruit, breads, etc
Poolside Lunch – mouthwatering grilled chicken and ribs

Every time I go to a resort, I want to go canoeing or kayaking. I did not get to go this time because the water was too rough.

There were shows performed nightly. For example, one night there was a Michael Jackson cover songs show. The shows were not too cheesy and were very entertaining.
This location did not have a nightclub but there was one next door at their sister facility.

Overall, this was one of the best resorts I have visited. The quality of the facility was top of the line. We knew how much we paid and felt that we got our money’s worth. They know how to take care of their visitors and create a comfortable, relaxing environment. All the employees had smiling faces and looked like they enjoyed their jobs. That says a lot about the work environment. I am anxiously awaiting the next time I can visit this or another Riu location.

Places like this make me wish I was a travel agent so that I would get a commission for encouraging travelers to book their next vacation here.
Riu Palace Las Americas hotel
Boulevard Kukulkan Km 8.5
Mza 50 Lote 4 – Zona Hotelera
Cancun 77500 – Quintana Roo – Mexico
Tel (52) 998 891 4300

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Iberostar Rivera Maya, Mexico

Last October, the hubby and I went to all-inclusive Iberostar Hotels & Resorts (hotel Tucán) in Riviera Maya. We flew into Cancun and took a shuttle ride for about an 30-45minutes to get to the resort. I have been to resorts before in Cancun, but it was my first time at this location.

Accommodations & Staff
I like how the resort embraced the natural environment instead of totally clearing the land, cutting down the trees and displacing the native wildlife. The resort looks like is situated in a jungle, full of lush plants and exotic animals (including howler monkeys) scampering all over the place. There were also water areas with turtles, ducks, swans, and iguanas.

The resort rooms were very spacious and comfortable. The bed was firm, but fine for me because I don’t like my bed to be too soft. In the bathroom, there was a large bottle of water use when brushing our teeth. It is understandable that in Mexico, you do not drink the tap water. The mini bar in the room was fully stocked every day, just the way I like it. I did not have to ask for anything because it seemed that they provided it before I had a chance to realize I needed it.

All of the staff, from the front desk personnel to the bartenders and maids were very friendly. They were helpful as well. I loved their willing attitude to help make my stay pleasant.

Activities
I was going to make the best of my visit and do as many activities as I could. I took a tennis lesson, did archery, did air rifle shooting, went to the spa, played pool, danced at the techno club and danced to salsa music band. I had to chase down the tennis pro for the tennis lesson. When I got to the tennis courts per the time on the activities schedule, he was not there. But when he finally showed up 5 minutes later, I was almost about to leave. I participated in the archery and air rifle shooting tournaments. I did not win in either activity. My aim is so bad.

When I went to the spa, that was the most relaxing part of my trip. I lounged in the Jacuzzi, sat in the sauna, took and shower and then got a full body massage. I was feeling stress free. It was worth every penny (spa treatments were extra cost).

The onsite night life was okay. I was surprised that there were not more people out at night. Maybe people went to clubs in town, but I did not want to chance that. Being in a different country in a touristy location puts a target on you increasing your chances of being robbed by some nefarious individual. I rather remain in the comforts of the closed gates of the resort.

When I danced at the techno club, there were not that many people there. At times, it was just my friends and me on the dance floor. Considering we were the only ones dancing, you would think that the DJ would have played the music WE wanted to hear. At one point, we were locking in a battle of wills. We refused to dance until he played what we wanted. We won, of course. In contrast, the salsa music band played all the music we wanted and we graced the dance floor with our presence.

The only things that I wanted to do but did not get a chance: a non-motorized water activity and karaoke. I did not realize that non-motorized water activity counter closed at 3pm since their hours were not posted anywhere that I could tell. The last day, I got there 2:30 and they guy told me that I could kayak but I had to be back by 3 since was the time they closed. I told him never mind. I did not want to try to rush and do it just to be able to say that I did it. I missed karaoke also because I did not they were only to going to offer that activity one night a week. I think they should have offered it more than once a week.

Food & Beverages
All inclusive resort means all drinks are included all the time. Great for me! Yes, the margaritas, pina coladas, daiquiris, and tequila shots were free flowing. But bottle water was just as necessary. Before venturing out to shop, I made sure I had one or two bottles of water from the front desk to carry with me. That saved me from having to buy water while I was out. Plus it was so hot, we needed plenty of fluids. No one wants to go on vacation and pass out from dehydration.

The only minor complaint that I have was with the buffet food. Some of the buffet food was not the quality I would have expected. Yes, there was plenty of food at the buffets, but some looked stale, reheated, or old. I think the challenge for a buffet restaurant is that they have to have enough food to satisfy the guests and at the same time, only put out what will be eaten during that time period. Since the resort is catering to people from all over the world, they are also trying to put out food that is familiar to their guests. I think they should have stuck to just cooking Mexican food since that is what they know best. The best food I had from the buffet were the typical native dishes.

Eating at the different "fancy restaurants" required a reservation. That took some planning on our part since the reservation needed to be done early. We at a Caribbean themed restaurant, Japanese steakhouse, and American steakhouse. The food quality was better than having buffet food all the time. In that aspect, it was worth the effort to make the reservation. I think the best meal I had was the pork chops at the American steakhouse (top right picture). They were perfectly seasoned and cooked well so that they were not dry.

Overall, I had a good time at the resort. The accommodations were great. There were plenty of activities to keep me occupied. The food at times left something to be desired, but it was filling and I did not get sick off of any of it. So that is a plus. I would go to another Iberostar location and I would recommend Iberostar (this resort in particular) to others.

City in Review: Cozumel MX

Going to Cozumel, MX as part of your cruise vacation? Most people will go to Carlos and Charlie’s or Senor Frogs and play the liquor games, dance, and eat. There is more to Cozumel than that. If you have never been to Carlos and Charlie’s or Senor Frogs, you should go at least once. The drinks are free flowing and the music is pumping so that you want to dance the whole time. Just be mindful of the time because you do not want to be left on the island when your ship sets sail.

In Mexico, the currency is the Peso which can be converted 10 pesos to 1 dollar. Most stores in the tourist section will post prices in USD. If you go into a store to buy some souvenirs and the prices seem outrageous, ask if the currency is Peso or USD. That happened to me and once I converted the prices to USD, I was relieved to know that I would be able to afford to buy for everyone on my list.

As with any foreign country, find out how to contact someone in case of an emergency. If you are taking a cruise to Cozumel, this information is usually available to you before you leave the ship. You never know what might happen so it is good to take precautionary measures. Since this is a tourist town, most people speak some English. If you are downtown in Cozumel, you will be able to find plenty of people who speak English. If you are going to explore the island, having a small Spanish-English dictionary should be able to help resolve any communication problems that may arise.

If you are going to travel around the island, your options should be taxi or jeep. Scooters should not even be an option. There will be many people riding scooters and making it look like fun. But is the most dangerous mode of transportation if you do not know what you are doing. If you are taking a taxi, ask how much it will be for a tour of the island. You can even arrange for the taxi to drop you off at one of the parks and pick you up later. If you rent a jeep, many of them are manual transmission. The car insurance that you have in US does not cover rentals in foreign countries. You want to make sure you get full coverage for your rental. If you do not and you are in an accident, you will be stuck with unimaginable expenses. It is worth the $10-15.

Cozumel has one main road that goes around the whole island. It probably takes 45-60 minutes to circle the island. From the main road, there are signs that tell you the name of the different beaches and guide you to the ruins. On the ride to the beach, I saw where the water crashed against the rocks at times. If you stop along the road to walk along the beach, you need to be careful. There are not a lot of sandy beaches, but slippery limestone rock. If you do not have on the right type of shoe, it can be very dangerous. It is best only to stop where there is beach access. You can tell where there is beach access because there are little bar restaurants that are situated near the beach. These restaurants offer margaritas, tacos, chips, and salsa. People can eat these while they are relaxing on the beach or sitting sit at the bar. There are usually little gift stores adjacent to the restaurant too. If you have children, you want to know that a lot of the souvenirs are not very family friendly at the beachside restaurants. On my last trip, I saw A LOT of male and female anatomy shaped items.

One of the beaches that I have visited was Punta Morena. People were surfing, swimming, and lying out on the beach. The waves were choppy at times because there was storm earlier that day. These little restaurants do have bathrooms, but there are no lockers for your valuables. Since many of the rental vehicles are soft-top Jeeps, you cannot exactly lock your valuables in your car. It is best that you keep these with you in a waterproof pouch around your neck. I do not eat anything in the beachside restaurants, although I saw other people that did. If you want to eat something in the restaurant, you do so at your own risk. I do not advise it. However, I did order a margarita. I think that tequila kills all bacteria.

I was not impressed with the advertised Mayan ruins. If you are the exploratory type, you might like that sort of thing. But if you go in the rainy season, be prepared to be eaten alive by mosquitoes. I had insect repellant on and counted over 50 mosquito bites.

Overall, Cozumel is nice. There is not much to do besides lay out on the beach and drink margaritas. Recipe for a good time.

La Torta

<> Hola mi gente!
When I was in Mexico City in 2009, my friends took me to this wonderful little restaurant called La Torta.
These days I am not sure about the safety of trying to find this restaurant on your own if you are not already living in Mexico City. I think that it is well known since they have been around since the 60’s. I do not have a very good idea where this place is in relation to anything in the city. I know we were walking in the looking for something to eat. We passed China town and probably a few blocks later we found La Torta.

If you by any chance can get to this restaurant, you will not regret it. The food was delicious. I had the torta al pastor (small pork cuts with chili and spice seasoning torta). Tortas are sandwiches on thick bread usually with some type of meat, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, mayo, salsa. The meat at La Torta was seasoned and cooked to perfection. Even the guacamole was good.

To drink, my friends and I shared a jarra of agua de piña (pitcher of pineapple water). I think the recipe for this is pineapple juice, sugar, water. I do not know the measurements to replicate. But I do know that this is very refreshing. I know that some people will probable gasp that I drank the water, but this place used purified water. So my weak tourist stomach did not get sick.

If you are ever in downtown Mexico City, have your local friends take you to La Torta. You won’t regret the food or the experience. YUM!