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Trip Report Isla Mujeres - Mayakoba - Chichen Itza

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My niece had planned a destination wedding at the Fairmont Mayakoba in Mexico so DH and I decided to take a few more days and also see Isla Mujeres and Chichen Itza. This was our first trip to all of these locations.

ISLA MUJERES

Our flight to Cancun was uneventful and we breezed through customs. Isla Mujeres is a small island reached by boat from Cancan. After reading some reviews of the hotel and talking to a co-worker of mine who had stayed there and raved about it, we stayed at a hotel named Villa Rolandi. I had found a "special" rate on the hotel's website if booked during a certain time, although there weren't any restrictions on the dates of stay. The room rate included a full breakfast. We had arranged pick up service with our hotel who took us to the Embarcado at Playa Linda where Villa Rolandi's private boat picks you up to take you to the island. The boat was there waiting on us and sped us across the waves to the hotel. The boat docks right at the hotel. Villa Rolandi is a small boutique hotel (no children under 14 allowed) with a small lobby bar, its own restaurant, a small beach and two pools. We stayed in one of the junior suites; all suites have their own jacuzzi on the terrace. We were greeted by the concierge with mimosa's, checked in, given information about activities the hotel could arrange and off the the room. The room had a nice king size bed, a step down to a seating area with a couch and a terrace with a jacuzzi. The bathroom was nice with a large walk-in shower. It also had a "mini-bar" which was really an empty small refrigerator that you could put your own items in to if you wanted. Ice was obtained through room service. Our view of the ocean from the terrace was a little obstructed by a couple of large ferns so tip if you go - ask for a room more central such as 204, 205, or 304 or 305 (3 story property). Still it was a beautiful view from the large terrace which not only had the jacuzzi but with a table and chairs we enjoyed using.

We relaxed on the terrace and enjoyed the view. Later we went down to the lobby bar and enjoyed a cocktail and then on to dinner. We thought the food at the restaurant was wonderful! Very flavorful and right there with a gorgeous ocean view. Service was very good. The prices were probably higher (as with most hotels) of what you would find in town but we enjoyed it.

The next day we were up, ordered coffee to our room and relaxed and then had breakfast which was also very good. They provided a bread basket, a large fruit plate and then eggs cooked to order. We had arranged to rent an electric golf cart from the hotel (again higher than what you pay in town - but convenient) and took off to explore the island. It was a beautiful day and we went to the some Mayan ruins and then on into town where we walked around and ate a late lunch. Back to the cart where we did some more exploring and just enjoyed our day. Then we headed back to the hotel where we lounged around the pool for the rest of the afternoon listening to the waves and enjoying the quiet. No yelling of marco polo, no loud music - bliss!

We again ate at the hotel's restaurant for dinner since we had enjoyed our meal the night before and once again we had a great dinner.

Checkout was smooth, our ride back across the waves was nice in the sun and it was a great start on our trip! We would certainly go back to Isla Mujeres and explore what we didn't get a chance to see.

Next up Rivera Mayakoba

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    I have stayed at the Fairmont Mayakoba, the property is huge (taking a golf cart "shuttle" to the beach and back)the grounds are wonderful and staff was helpful and attentive and the rooms amazing. My only problem with the property was the location, it's a $25-30 cab ride into Playa and unless you wanted to eat every night at the hotel you were going to Playa. That was also where the night life was as well. If you want a quiet, luxury vacation spent sitting on the beach or by the pool then the Fairmont can't be beat!

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    MAYAKOBA

    We had made rental car reservations and the rep from America Car Rental, a/k/a Cancun Rent a Car, a/k/a Caribbean Rental Car met us at Playa Linda and took us to the rental car office in Cancun. We had reserved a Chevy C2 for $168.00 (p/u 1/9/13 and return 1/13/13) which included all insurance and unlimited milage as well as a 2nd driver. It was the first time we had used this company. They got decent reviews and their rates were so much better than Hertz, Avis, etc we decided to give them a try. We double checked all the usual -that all brake lights, signals, wipers worked and that there was a spare tire in good condition with a jack. We also noted every ding we could see and took a picture of the car. Off we went with Tom Tom in hand (we own our own) and always take it on both domestic and international trips. We had also studied a couple of maps before hand. As the posts on driving in Mexico said, we simply made sure we stayed in the right lane and watched our speed. I remember reading that the police all know which cars are the rental cars. Duh! We had a big ass sticker on the back that said America Rental Car! No wonder they all know.

    Hwy 307 is a straight shot down to the Maykoba area which is just north of Playa del Carmen. It took us about 2 hours to make the drive. All the signage was great. Mayakoba is actually a huge resort area with three luxury hotels on it - the Fairmont, a Rosewood hotel and the Banyon Tree. We learned that it took 17 years for them to develop the property. The area is known for golfing and has an internationally rated course. The Fairmont is huge - over 400 rooms. As Seattle WAGal says, it is spread out over a large area which actually looks more jungle than ocean with the various lagoons and then the beach front. It says something when they provide mosquito repellant as one of the room amenities. Because we were there for a wedding, my niece had negotiated some block rates for rooms. We stayed in a Signature Casita King Room for $219 a night versus the rack rate of $351 so it was nice deal. The rooms are very nice. Vary large with great bathrooms. The property made the Gold List for Conde Nast. Now having said that - we confess it's not a place we would go back to stay. There are two 4 star restaurants and we tried them both - ho hum food. Even the moderatly priced restaurant by the pools (they did have an adult pool and a kids' pool right across from each other) was just O.K. we thought. Service in the lobby bar area was horrible. We had to call for turn down service one night and they never showed up one night. Not isolated incidents as this happened to several people in the wedding guest party. We took one of the boat rides on the lagoon (free) which was interesting because they tell you about building the property and they showed us the $4 million homes they will sell you on the property too; however, you have to take a boat simply to get down the lagoon from the houses back towards the hotel. No ocean view from those homes either - for $4 million I would want the view!

    But - we were there for a reason and from that standpoint they did an excellent job. The site of the wedding was very nice (on the beach) just left to Las Brisas Restaurant so it was somewhat sheltered from the wind. The ceremony was very touching and the area was decorated with a beautiful arch and flowers. The open bar was great and they didn't water down the margaritas. Dance floor and D.J. were good and played a good variety. My niece did a "taco bar" and the food was very good. Her dress was beautiful - flowing for a beach wedding with a small amount of bling - she had a shoe valet so once those shoes came off I don't think anyone put them back on! There were about 20 people at the wedding between family and friends and we all had so much fun they had to finally tell us they were picking up the dance floor. So we all caught golf carts and headed back to rooms and/or the lobby bar for a nightcap.

    As SeattleWagal noted - a cab ride to Playa del Carmen would cost some $. Because we were there for the wedding, we were happy to simply stay at the resort for the 3 nights we were there and hang out with family. So - it was enjoyable because of the event but I wouldn't rate it as highly as other luxury properties we've stayed in.

    On to Chichen Itza.

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    Good information, but not a resort I would be interested in. I just can't be that far away from 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen. Sounds like it was great for a family get together/wedding though. Glad you had a nice time.

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    CHICHEN ITZA

    Up early and checked out from the Fairmont after breakfast - did I really have that many margaritas - I did not want to get up!

    The drive was pretty uneventful. We were stopped 2 x by Federal Police at roadstops where they were stopping everyone but all they asked us was where we were from and where we were going. We stopped for gas as the rental car hadn't been full when we picked it up. The attendant came back saying our credit card didn't work so we paid in pesos. Hummm..... The roads to Chichen Itza were fine and actually didn't have much taffic at all. There were other ruins on the way (Coba for one) but we didn't stop as we knew we had limited time in Chichen Itza. Our hotel for the evening was the Hacienda Chichen which is one of the hotels on the actual site of the ruins. In fact, it was used by the Carniege Institute for the workers circa 1923 when they were doing some excuvation. The grounds of the hotel were very lush. We arrived, had lunch and checked into our room. We walked down a path and our room was actually in its own small building with a hammock out front. We stayed in the Tatiana Suite. Here's a link to the hotel: http://www.haciendachichen.com/ A smaller property which we liked.

    We walked over to the ruins which we entered from the back gate just off Hotel Mayaland. I was suprised at how high the admission fee was - 182 pesos per person. Just didn't expect it to be that high. We walked around until they were ready to close and headed back out the same gate we came in and walked to our hotel. O.K. I was disappointed. Don't ask me what I expected but I thought Tulum was actually a nicer site. Perhaps it was the over 300 vendors with all the tables lined up on every single path throughout the property that did it for me. The night sound and light show is not showing right now which was another disppointment. So instead, we opted for dinner at the hotel. It was so quiet - I think the lack of the sound and light show has impacted the overnight business although they had a large tour group there for lunch when we initially arrived. We had a leisurely dinner which we enjoyed; chicken lime soup was good as was the pork. Very peaceful and relaxing. A nice way to end our visit to Mexico.

    After breakfast the next day we headed for the airport via the toll road. Tolls about 300 pesos but since we had to make a plane we appreciated not having to deal with all the small towns and speed bumps. A little difficulty finding the rental car airport return office because it was hidden on a side road not on airport property and since it was a different location from where we rented. Now we know. We happened to see an America Car Rental van arriving from the airport and simply followed it. No problems turning in the car at all. A quick process and they stamped my documents all O.K. and then we were off to the airport.

    Flight home was uneventful and we came home to Phoenix to frostbitten plants! Bummer!

    Oh and that gas fill up? Yep it showed up on the credit card statement so lesson learned and tip for you - go ahead and pay with pesos for the gas to avoid the scam. Of course not everywhere I'm sure would do that - but I know we would simply use cash next time to avoid the chance.

    Adios!

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    "O.K. I was disappointed. Don't ask me what I expected but I thought Tulum was actually a nicer site. Perhaps it was the over 300 vendors with all the tables lined up on every single path throughout the property that did it for me."

    My exact thoughts when we went to Chichen Itza. The vendors are ruining the site. Our next trip, we are going to try Coba.

    Sorry, to hear about the credit card problem. I have never used a credit card in any foreign destination for that reason and the possibility of additional fraudulant usage.

    Glad you had a nice trip anyway. Thanks for posting such a detailed report.

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