Friday, May 19, 2006

Riviera Maya Journal #1 - Cancun - Larry Widen

As soon as the plane lands at Cancun International Airport, it’s obvious this place is special. Friendly men, smartly-dressed in turquoise shirts and white slacks greet you in that uniquely Mexican patois comprised of some English, some Spanish and something in between. Part of the fun of traveling in Mexico is the utter lack of pretensions on the part of the residents. They know their English is as bad as your Spanish, but everybody smiles and has a good time making themselves understood. “Welcome to Mexico,” says Ricardo, an employee with Lomas Travel.

It’s Ricardo’s job, along with several dozen of his co-workers, to make your stay in Riviera Maya as comfortable and hassle-free as possible. Within minutes this professional corps of guides has you in a car or on a coach bus and headed down the 307 freeway to your hotel. There are a number of outstanding resort complexes that offer beachfront access to Riviera Maya’s beautiful white sand shores. I was shown the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort, a lovely all-inclusive property with a number of world-class dining facilities right on site. I also looked at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach Hotel with its amazing interconnected swimming pool that everyone in the family will love.

Ultimately, I stayed at El Dorado Royale, one of Riviera Maya’s many outstanding hotels. The choice of food was incredible. I had lunch at JoJo’s, the Caribbean grille at poolside. Later I had a dinner of Lobster Carpaccio with grilled bell peppers and all the trimmings. Since El Dorado hosts an average of 250 weddings each year, it's not unusual to see a bridal party in full dress strolling one of the many beachfront trails. While I was there, a seaside wedding took place at La Pax chapel and the adjoining La Isla restaurant. The onsite wedding planner, Pearl, told me El Dorado is consistently voted one of the world’s top romantic hotels. “Many brides are choosing the Riviera Maya as a wedding destination,” she said. “Most of the larger resorts have fulltime wedding experts to help the guests with all the details.”

Although I'd only been there for a half a day, my initial reaction was, "What hurricane?" The tourist areas and hotels were running at 100% efficiency and the beaches were beautiful.


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