1st Trip to Mexico - looking at Mayan Riviera

Old Aug 19th, 2002, 04:01 PM
  #1  
Lynne
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1st Trip to Mexico - looking at Mayan Riviera

Hi! I am just starting to plan our first trip to Mexico for 7 days in February 2003. We are looking for Al's since it is our first time going, and we are looking at Playa del Carmen/Cancun area. I have looked through a few vacation guides and have spotted Aventura Spa Palace, Copacabana, El Dorado Royale. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions for places to stay? We are going as a first anniversary/honeymoon, would like to be at least 4 star, and not over the top for price. Also what are the costs of tours to Tulum, Chitzen Ihtza, and Cozumel? Thank you.
 
Old Aug 19th, 2002, 10:01 PM
  #2  
Alicia
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I suggest that when taking the tour to Tulum and Chichen Itza, you rent a car and take it at your own pace. You are able to stop in small towns and see sites that you are unable to see in a large tour. The price of a small car was $50 - $60 per day. This included your insurance. The Cancun area has very nice hotels, most hotel are close to the beaches. Tours to those places runs from $60 to $90 per person.
 
Old Aug 19th, 2002, 10:19 PM
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Janice
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Playa del Carmen and Cancun are two entirely different types of vacations. Cancun reminds me or Las Vegas on the ocean....concrete resort after concrete resort, store after store, etc. The Playa Del Carmen area is more tropical paradise. The town is quaint with enough shopping/restaurants/bars to keep you interested and happy without being a concrete jungle. There are resorts nearby or you can stay at a resort anywhere from just south of Cancun to Tulum area. For resort reviews, see these websites:
www.cancunandrivieramaya.com
www.debbiescaribbeanresortreviews.com
There are other websites but that will get you started. I haven't stayed at the resorts you mention but I have stayed at the Barcelo Maya Beach resort, the Iberostar Paraiso, and Club Viva Maya. All were very nice. If you take the package tours from the resorts, they run from $50 to $85 U.S. per person (includes bus, admission, etc.). To go to Cozumel, you don't need a tour, just take the ferry from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel and return. The cost of the ferry is quite minimal (maybe under $20 U.S. round trip per person...but I can't remember the exact price). I would not recommend renting a car in Mexico because of their laws and local driving customs. For example, if you are involved in an accident where someone is hurt, both drivers go to jail until responsibility is assigned. If you do want to drive, be sure to purchase insurance called "proliber" which may keep you out of jail but not the mess. For peace of mind, just take the tours your first trip until you're comfortable with the area.
 
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 07:24 AM
  #4  
Sheila
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Hi Lynne, we were in Cozumel last year may.. best holiday I've had in years and believe me I'm a seasoned traveller. Stayed at the Reef Club and all I can say is fantastic food, atmosphere, water sports and accomodation I would highly reccomened it
 
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 08:12 AM
  #5  
Lynne
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Thank you for the advice! I was looking at the Aventura Spa Palace because it has daily tours included in the Al price with the Palace Passport. These tours include Chichen Itza, Tulum, etc. plus daily shuttle to Cancun and Playa del Carmen. I am thinking that may be a good way to go as there will be no unexpected costs, but I'm not sure.
Janice - thank you for the websites. That will be very helpful. I did some more research too, and think Playa del Carmen is more up our alley. Cancun may be a day trip, but I want to stay away from too much concrete and city-type atmosphere. I was wondering about insurance, etc. if we rented a car, and really would feel best if we do tours our first trip (thank you for the suggestions though Alicia!). I think taking the ferry to Cozumel for a day is a great idea, but would we need a car or tour once we got over there or would bicycles/foot power work? I'm not sure how much there is to see and how big it is.
Also, we want to be on nice sandy beaches that aren't too crunchy. Where would be the best place to stay for that?
 
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 08:55 AM
  #6  
Matthew
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If your looking for all-inclusive, try the Paradisuis Rivera on the road to Playa. Excellent Spanish run hotel. First rate large rooms and excellent food. Great staff. Non all inclusive would have to be the Ritz in Cancun. European style and continually rated best in Mexico. Impeccable service and food.
 
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 09:13 AM
  #7  
Janice
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Once you get off the ferry at Cozumel, the town is right there with excellent shopping, restaurants, etc. If you want to get some excellent snorkeling, try Chanakanaab (spelling???) National Park which is just a short cab ride (10-20 minutes) south along the coast. The cost to get into the park is minimal (can't remember exact costs for all this). Once you are inside the National Park, there are washrooms with showers, change rooms, etc., small bars/restaurants, beach lounge chairs, etc. Just bring your snorkel gear and clothes. There are other areas to snorkel, perhaps closer to town but I've never been to them so I can't advise on that. You can rent mopeds if you want to tour some more but beware the drivers are a bit wild. Perhaps others can come up with other good suggestions about Cozumel.
 
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 10:41 AM
  #8  
Lynne
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Thank you for the advice Janice, and for the tip on where to stay Matthew. I am going to check some of those websites that you offered Janice, and see what I come up with. I really appreciate the help and advice. If anyone else has any tips on where to stay, what to expect and what to do, I would appreciate all the help I can get!
 
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 11:44 AM
  #9  
Nancy
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Lynne,
Chankanaab is definitely the right place to go if you are just going to be in Cozumel for the day.
It also has two good restaurants that serve fresh grilled seafood. You can use the lockers in the shower/bathroom building or leave your stuff on the beach on your chairs under the shade palapas (we've done this numerous times with no problems). You can catch a cab right off the ferry pier and to your left. Go early in the day before the cruise ship people come and the water gets crowded. You can rent equipment - including little flotation vests - if you need to. You can stay as long as you want to, shower and then take a cab ride into town and do some shopping. Pama and Los Cinco Soles are the two best, and right on the main road (Rafael Melgar) that the ferry dock is on.
 
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 12:08 PM
  #10  
Lynne
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Has anyone stayed at the Aventura Spa Palace? I checked the websites that Janice suggested and all reviews are quite good. I am leaning towards it for value for the dollar spent, with the Palace Passport and use of other Palace resorts being included. Plus the jacuzzi in the room is a nice touch! Let me know what you thought if you've been. Thanx!
 
Old Aug 20th, 2002, 03:18 PM
  #11  
Ana
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I would like to mention that the ferry trip into Cozumel is very choppy. If you tend to get sea sick be sure to take sea sickness medicine.

I found it very helpful to put some lime in my mouth (some advice I had got gotten previously on this board).

If you are only going to spend the day, make sure you leave early to make the most of it. I also found it was very helpful to take an early lunch, so the return trip (choppier) wasn't so bad.

Ana
 
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 05:10 AM
  #12  
xxx
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I havn't stayed at any of those resorts but I have seen the Copacabana and didn't care for it. You need to know that the Aventura has a man made beach and it is not as soft sand as some other areas. If you compare prices you will find that the "free" included tours are built into the price. You can do some comparison shopping on line at funjet. The properties in Playa del Carmen all have nice beaches. Take a look at The Riu Palace, Iberostar and the Barcelo Maya. They are all very nice and the price differance will pay for your tours!
 
Old Aug 21st, 2002, 08:48 AM
  #13  
Lynne
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Thank you for the tip on the ferry ride. We'll have to try the lime. We have decided that we would like to stay at either the El Dorado Royale, Moon Palace or Aventura Spa Palace because we would like to have the jacuzzi in our room. These three are of compariable cost, but the Palace resorts include use of the other resorts and the daily tours. I am wondering if anyone has been to these resorts and what they are like?
 
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 07:54 AM
  #14  
thereuare
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Lynne,

For our upcoming honeymoon (Oct/Nov '02) we will be spending some time at Moon Palace.

One thing i learned thru doing some reserach is that most of the "Palace Resorts" can be booked thru timeshare owners at much better rates than booking directly thru the resort or other conventional methods.

We booked thru www.great-cancun-vacations.com as they had the BEST rates even among the timeshare owners (most of the timeshare owner's prices are very similar, but for some reason, the above was significantly cheaper). We haven't been on our trip yet, so i can't vouch for them 100%, but so far everything seems above board and they've been very patient answering all of my questions.

I'll be sure to report when i return to let you know how everything went.
 
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 08:49 AM
  #15  
a
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Lynne:

Just to let you know, I came across a great website www.differentworld.com. It's a website based on travels trough Mexico. If you click on 'find a vacation' you'll be sure to find something. It directs you to a map of Mexico with locations that you can just click on and then it gives you a list of hotels.
I hope this helps!
A
 
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 10:09 AM
  #16  
Lynne
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Thank you for the advice on the Moon Palace. I would love to hear your opinion of it when you return. I am going to try that website, thank you. This message board has been absolutely wonderful and 100% helpful. Thank you all, and if anyone has any other tips, I'll be watching for them!
 
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 10:28 AM
  #17  
Lisa
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Hi Lynne,
My husband and I spent a week at Moon Palace in Feb. 2002 with another couple and really enjoyed it. The resort is very nice and the pool area is fabulous. If you're looking for a more relaxed atmosphere this is the place to go. There is another palace resort (Sun Palace) next door to Moon Palace that is very lively and noisy but has great restaurants (included when you stay at Moon Palace). There is a free suttle between the two resorts so you can spend time at either place. We liked Moon Palace because it was a little more quiet (not dull, just not so loud). The resort is very spread out as the buildings are only three stories high. It's possible to end up in a building far, far away from the pool and restaurants. We were lucky and got a room in the building right next to the main building--third floor and only about 50 ft. from the ocean. It was great! We gave the front desk person a tip before he even checked us in and were very glad we did. For a total of $20.00 (for both couples) we got some of the best rooms. This is something our travel agent recommended but otherwise we wouldn't have known to do this. We spoke to several other people during the week who had not tipped the desk person and we had the best room location. The in room jacuzzi is really nice-you could see the ocean while in it from our room.
Have you heard about the beach at Moon Palace? If you like to swim in the ocean it's a little disappointing because there are no large waves to body surf or play in. The beach stretches out on both sides of the resort and besides the other Palace resort there's nothing else there, which is nice. When we wanted to swim in the ocean we went into Cancun to Cancun Palace. The hotel is right in the hotel zone and has a good beach area as far as waves and swimming are concerned. Because it's in the hotel zone where all the hotels are right next to each other I wouldn't want to stay there, but it's nice to be able to use the facilities. Cancun is about a 20 min. bus ride from Moon Palace. We shopped there one day but I'm glad we didn't stay in Cancun because it really is quite Americanized.
As far as excursions go it depends on how you want to spend your time. All tours and trips are about a 1-2 hr. bus ride from the resort. Spending that much time on a bus is not my idea of fun, so we didn't take any of the tours. We did go on a snorkeling trip and that was really fun. If you plan to snorkel be sure to buy a disposeable underwater camera before you get to Mexico. They're less expensive in the US and you get great photos of the fish and coral, etc...
We would certainly return to Moon Palace but are planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta next year for something different.
I'd be happy to answer any other questions you have.
 
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 12:06 PM
  #18  
Ally
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One other thing that should be mentioned about the Moon Palace is that it's about 45 minutes away from Playa Del Carmen. Moon Palace is closest to the airport than others and is really fairly isolated. 20 minutes from Cancun and 45 mintues from Playa Del Carmen. As previous poster says, the beach is not great either, but they do have a fantastic pool. I was there in Jan. 01, so quite some time ago, but at the time there was a big sewer problem and the grounds stunk! And, the water in our jucuzzi came out brown..no way I was going to get in it. But I suppose they've taken care of these problems as other posters who have stayed there don't mention this! Do consider the location though...
 
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 01:39 PM
  #19  
Lynne
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Thank you for the info, Ally & Lisa! I have done some more thinking about it, and have decided to eliminate the Moon Palace because we would like to be closer to PDC. We can always take a day trip into Cancun to use the other Palace resorts. So, I think it is going to be the Aventura Spa Palace for us! With so many choices in the area, it really is hard to know where to go, but I really appreciate the help everyone has given.
 
Old Aug 22nd, 2002, 04:51 PM
  #20  
leslieh
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We stayed at the Porto Real resort in Playa del Carmen, Dec. of last year. This resort is certainly bigger than the hotels you will find in Playa but its not a mega resort by any means. It was an easy 5 minute walk into town, the rooms were big and knowing to ask for something on the 3rd floor with a big balcony before you get there is smart... This hotel may be worth checking into...but ask about their expansion plan/ ongoing construction...
About 2 miles north of the Porto Real is a lovely place called Shangri La Caribe. We would stay there for certain if we go back to that part of Mexico. We took a quick tour one day of the property-very cozy, quaint and quiet...check out the other properties that the Turquoise Reef Group has: http://www.mexicoholiday.com/
A friend of mine honeymooned at the Capitan Lafitte resort and had a lovely time...by the way- Playa del Carmen is a great town, don't go AI, you'll find you have too many places in town to eat that you'll want to try!
(You may also want to look at this website: http://www.locogringo.com for more research on various resorts in the Yukatan...their message boards were helpful to me when we planned our vacation.)L
Note on Moon Palace: while we were at the Porto Real my brother-in-law and his wife and friends stayed at the Moon Palace-because they had heard THIS was the place to stay while in Cancun. They like OUR hotel much better- better food, better service, nicer bigger room, better beach, close to Playa- everything...birds stole food from around their pool area,the rooms were small (so what if you have a jacuzzi in the room!). It was inconvienently too far from either Cancun or Playa (about an hour) so if you wanted to only be at the resort it was fine but if you wanted to explore the area the taxi fees and time on the road was spendy.
 

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