VDAY Week in Mayan Riviera?

Old Feb 8th, 2012, 09:30 PM
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VDAY Week in Mayan Riviera?

First off, thanks to everyone who helped so much with our previous questions about hotels/rain etc!

We are a NYC based couple in our late 20's visiting Mexico for the first time next week!
We will be traveling Feb 12th-19th staying at the Fiesta Grand Coral Beach hotel in Cancun.

Looking mainly to chill out from NYC, do a little spa action, eat LOTS of tasty Mexican food, soak in local culture/shows whenever we can, and take many romantic scenic walks exploring. Not too keen on too many early morning day trips, or sitting on a beach all day/swimming (I can't swim + have an irrational fear of getting my much needed contacts wet

With that in mind we are trying to schedule our 6 full days by spacing out the early morning tours etc. and had a few questions:

1. Early Day Trips: Chichen Itza, Tulum, anything else recommended? Not sure about Xcaret/Xplor/Xel Ha? And do we have to do a pricey tour to Chichen Itza or can we just take a bus ourselves? Also was considering Coba just because you can climb it, but are there enough things to climb at Chichen?

2. VDAY IDEAS?:
Never traveled over Vday. Any ideas for a romantic scenic way to spend VDAY daytime and also the evening? We are planning to go to PDC/Cozumel and Isla Mujeres at some point anyways--are either good options for vday? Anything else please? We were thinking about renting a speedboat or doing a candlelight dinner on the beach but don't know if it is too crazy overpriced, only one we saw so far is Ritz and food looked a bit boring...any reccs?

3. SPA: I've heard the Fiesta spa is very overpriced. Any reccs for other spas in the area that could be more fairly priced/have deals please?

4. Nightlife/Shows: We are planning to go to Coco Bongo midweek...anything else like that that's more than just a dance club? Ie has a show or scenic views or just really great?

5. Hotel Dining: Since we are from NYC we want a break from overpriced haute cuisine restaurants, and are looking for more interesting stuff like Surfin Burrito & El Fogan or with pretty views. La Joya seems cool just because it has a show...are any other big hotel restaurants any different too?

6. Free Upgrade? Does anyone know if its possible to get an upgrade at the Fiesta? We booked a Junior Suite Ocean Front but just heard the master suites/club jrs were really amazing, but don't know it its worth $125 extra/day!!

7. Itinerary--we are trying to space out early morning days with more chilled out days. Can you assist with ordering? Don't know if its cooler to do Chitchen first or last, etc. etc...
Sun: arrive in afternoon--explore hotel zone
Mon--Chitchen
Tues--Vday?
Weds--afternoon in Isla, Coco Bongo later
Thurs--downtown Cancun
Fri--PDC/Cozumel (just taking a bus whenever)
Sat--Tulum/Xcaret/Xel Ha?

Sorry for so many questions, just very excited & any insights would be much appreciated =).
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 07:11 AM
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You can't climb anythPDC is 50 min south of Cancun.ing at all at Chichen Itza.

Go to Coba on the day you go to PDC, or Tulum if you are going to Tulum. PDC is 50 min south of Cancun, Tulum is another 45 further south, and Coba is inland from Tulum.
Where exactly are you going in downtown Cancun? Not a great place to roam around. Suggest staying in the hotel zone.

The bus that goes up and down the one road that all the hotels are on will take you straight to the nice La Isla outdoor shopping mall on the lagoon. You can do some shopping there without being hawked like you will be at the tourist shops in the little strip of mexican tourist shops (which is on that same road, closer to Cancun city)

Senor Frogs in Cancun (on that same road) is a fun night club for your age group.

You can rent a car (probably at your resprt) and drive to Chicen Itza. We've done it, and have also driven it from PDC. Some people say not to drive but we have never had any problems, never been pulled over, etc. We rent from places that provide 100% coverage on everything insurance-wise. By all menas avoid those awful bus tours.

You can easily spend a full day in PDC. Go to Wickys beach club, eat a nice lunch there and use their beach chairs. Or go to Zengo next door to Wickys (good music for your ages) and use their beach chairs. WHen done on the beach, you are one clock from 5th Ave, where you can shop, walk, people and animal watch, etc. Personaly I would opt for that instead of taking the ferry over to Cozumel. IMO, Cozumel's town is not as nice as PDC. Cozumels town is a big cruise ship stop and gets very crowded w/tourists from the ships.

PErsonaly we do not like the big amuzement parks like XCaret; they are expensive and there is SO MUCH natural beauty around you in the Riveira Maya. Look into a snorkeling trip to a good cenote system like Dos Ojos. We used Edvetures as our guide, it was amazing. And then go to Akumal to snorkel w/the sea turtles. That would be a great day, doing things you can't do anywhere else.

I am in Puerto Morelos now. We own a condo in PDC and I am down here for the annual condo owners meeting. Have been coming down here to the Yucatan (and traveling all over Mexico) for over 35 yrs. My suggestion is to stay away from the crowds as much as possible (like drive to Chichen Itza and get there very early), and stay away from cruise ship laden Cozumel town. I used to love Cozumel but IMO the cruise ships have really transformed it. Go to PDC and be sure to get to Akumal. Akumal snorkeling is a DO NOT MISS.
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 07:15 AM
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Ooops my computer went wacky. You can't climb anything at Chichen Itza. But you can at Coba. Also, if you drive to Chichen Itza you could go to El Bakam, a very interesting site where you can climb, as well.
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 08:23 AM
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If you go to any of the mentioned ruins (we loved Coba and Ek Balám, didn't care for Chichen Itza and loved the beautiful site but were not over impressed with the ruins of Tulum), try to get there 1st thing to beat the crowds; not as important with EB since it doesn't get many visitors. The Jungle Place is a pretty great - check out the 1st link below. The 2nd link is to my photos collections with blog, travelogue, and review links on the main page of each collection. Happy trails!
http://www.thejungleplace.com/tours.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections/
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 09:03 AM
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Sure I think taking the ferry over to Isla Mujeres for the day would be perfect for a Valentine's activity.
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 10:47 AM
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Thanks so much for your replies! Ya we probably will only go to downtown Cancun just to check it out, maybe get lunch or dinner one day...idk.

If we only wanted to spend 2 of our 6 days at ruins, what other ruin would you recommend besides Chichen Itza? Would prefer something with a different feel/look and would be fun if we could climb something. Coba sounds cool, but not sure if we should be sacrificing scenic Tulum for it? And is it better to see Chichen Itza first or last (i.e. going to a smaller one afterwards may be anti-climatic?)

What would you recommend saving for your last full day? i.e. big fun finale =).

Also any reccs on reasonable rate spas or place to do a private vday dinner on the beach?

And emd3, has it really been down pouring overcast all day lately or is it more like just for 30min? We are hoping for sun next week =).

Thanks again!!
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 12:12 PM
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I'd book a private tour to take you early to Ek Balám, for a swim in one of the cenotes outside of Valladolid, and for some people watching in the beautiful parque central and a nice lunch at El Meson del Marques Hotel before heading back to your resort. In other words, I'd skip Chichen Itza altogether unless you have a driving urge to just say you've been there.

I'd do Tulum as your 2nd one along with snorkeling with sea turtles in the bay at Akumal and visiting the monkey sanctuary, another fun, full day. I'd get to Tulum early because by 9:30 or 10 that place is crazy - long lines, lost "atmosphere".

Have a great trip, whatever you decide!
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Isla Mujeres is a great day trip, have stayed there at least five times. Go early, take one of the ferries (there are a couple from the Hotel Zone but the last return is only 5:30 and the Ultramar from Gran Puerto north of Cancun in Puerto Juarez). Rent a golf cart (Ciro's has good ones) and spend a couple of hours touring around the island, stop for snorkeling if you want at Garrafon de Castillo, next door to pricey Garrafon Park, stop at the Turtle Farm, Punta Sur, stop for a great pina colada at Villa la Bella B&B, visit the Shell House and some of the beaches on the Caribbean for sea glass or shells. Have lunch somewhere along the way, turn the cart in and spend the afternoon on Playa Norte where you can walk out forever it seems like before you get to your waist. There are some cute shops around town - avoid most of the ones alone the main drag, Medina. Then if you want you can stay for drinks, sunset and dinner. For a romantic place with good food, I like Casa Rolandi at Hotel Villa Rolandi. Then take the ferry back to Puerto Juarez and cab back to your hotel. Ferries to this dock run every half hour until nine and hourly after that until midnight.

hopefullist also had great suggestions, although I seriously doubt you can get into the Jungle Place on such short notice as they book several months in advance and only allow visits 2-3 days a week. There is a monkey sanctuary (have not been but seen pictures) somewhat near Coba ruins called Punta Laguna. You would probably have to get here via rental car, taxi or private tour as I am not aware of any organized tours that visit here (Thank God).
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 01:26 PM
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Ooo, good catch, Jamie - I'd forgotten that we'd booked the Jungle Place well in advance. They were booked when I 1st emailed them (don't remember how far in advance) but they contacted me when they had a cancellation, just weeks before we traveled. I notice the price has climbed from $50 to $80/pp since we were there late December 2010.
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Old Feb 10th, 2012, 07:03 AM
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Yesterday it was very nice all morning, til about 2:30 pm. Partly sunny, paryly cloudy. Then thunderstorm moved in around 2:30 and it poured rain for over an hr. Then stopped and the rain had cooled it off. Nice evening.
Today looks like repeat, very nice and sunny this morning.

Yesterday I went to a WONDERFUL place for a massage. Now I am a massage junky, have had massages all over the world From top notch hotel spas (including Grand Velas on the Riveira Maya) to massages in my room in Japan, day spas in NYC, D.C., CA, and little funky places in Mexico, Peru, etc.

So I am somewhat jaded when I see a place like the "Jungle Spa" on tripadvisor. People rave about it. I thought I'd give it a try. This place is in the jungle behind the colonia of Puerto Morelos (other side of the hwy from the beach). I made an appt online. Drove over there and yes, it is down a dirt rd. in the jungle. It's like a little encampment w/palapa huts. Run by an English speaking lady who set uo thus foundation to employ and help the Mayan women.

Had a 1.5 hr mayan massage for peso equivalent of $57.

OMG, OMG, OMG. Hands down the VERY BEST massage I have ever had.

Maria was incredible. At first I thought she might be going too hard on me (I requested medium pressure) but she had a real sense of where I was tight. She used hot stones bc she sensed that I had inflammation around neck and arms. OMG. Massage started with face up, and once I turned over I fell asleep, even w/the pressure. I woke up to Maria asking me if this was ok, and I realized she was standing on my back! And I had slept thru it! "Oooooo," said I. "Mayan massage" said Mary.

Taxis apparntly know how to get there from Puerto Morelos. If you are driving around the Riviera Maya, definitely reserve online and visit Jungle Spa for a massage. It is a once in a lifetime experience. But I guess not really, as i am going back again.
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Old Feb 10th, 2012, 07:20 AM
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And then I ate dinner at John Grays in Puerto Morelos. Very good food, casual but fine dining at reasonable prices. Warm spinach salad w/pancetta and parmesan shavings. Dory white fish w/manga salsa. A cocktail and a glass of good vino. $45. Highly recommend it. I wanted to go to his restaurant in Playa del Carmen but it closed a few months ago.
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Old Feb 10th, 2012, 03:35 PM
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Banish those weather worries. It was very sunny and hot today, probably mid 80s. Perfect beach weather. And no rain in sight now, it is perfect sunset.

I ate at my favorite lunch spot in PDC today. AguasChiles at calle 34th and 25th Ave. FRESH fish, they make these amazing "Figurine" tacos where instead of tortillas for the shell, they put the fish and fresh veggies (like a slw, w/red cabbage, some kind of crunchy things, roasted sesame seeds, it is GOOD) in big lettuce leaves. Or you can get them on crispy corn tortillas They have ceviche tacos, shrimp tacos, fresh tuna (like sushi tuna) that is marinated, etc. and they give you about 5-6 housemade sauces for the tacos that are really different - one is chipotle based, one is pesto based, one is an oriental type sauce, etc. SO FRESH AND SO GOOD. Highly recommended. It is the place I always go back to. Mostly locals eating there, as it is with almost ll restaurants that are a ways away from 5th Ave.
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