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Trip Report Trip Report Playa del Carmen/Playa Palms Hotel Dec., 2010

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Playa del Carmen, MX December 6 - 11, 2010

This was our 3rd trip to Playa del Carmen and our 10th to the Yucatán Peninsula.

We flew Continental from Midland to Houston to Cancun. When we arrived in Houston, the train to get to the other terminals were out of order. They had to take us from terminal B to terminal E in a shuttle van. 25 people per van. We had 30 minutes to get to our gate and luckily was on the second van. Had about 10 minutes to spare before boarding. We were right next to the food court so DH got a hot sandwich and chips, which I carried on the plane in my beach bag, and we ate on the plane. I don’t really care for the new buy snack boxes on the plane for $6 and if you want to watch TV or a movie another $6. Kind of feels like being nickeled and dimed to death.

Playa Palms - On our previous 9 trips we did the AI thing. This time, we decided to go non-AI and stay at a boutique hotel on 5th Avenue. Playa Palms is very nice. Loved that it is small, quite and on a really great section of beach. Excellent location to get to everything on 5th Avenue. We purchased an ocean view room and was given room 202 on the 2nd floor. We have issues with climbing stairs, but thought we could handle it as the ground floor room patios are not private. The stairs to the 2nd and 3rd floor is accessed by a small spiral staircase. Was able to deal with it without too much pain. The balcony faced sideways to the beach. Great view through the palm trees. I could tell they have done a great job restoring the beach from the last time we were there after Hurricane Dean in 2007. Didn’t care for the fishing boats tied up in the water right out in front. We did not swim at the hotel and never really say anybody else either.

The room had what they call a small queen bed, but it felt more like a double. The mattress was pretty hard, but we’ve had worse in other hotels. A small kitchenette with a sink, microwave, a few dishes, and stocked mini frig with per pay items like candy, soft drinks, beer and wine. There is a list of items with prices for the mini bar. There was a nice size water cooler on the counter. The room was a nice size and comfortable. The TV was in an odd place as it was next to the bed and you had to turn it sideways to see it from the side of the bed. There was a small table and 1 chair. I would have preferred a love seat, so we could watch the TV more comfortably. The bathroom had a very roomy walk in shower and great shelves for storage behind the door. Love the wall make-up mirror. Very useful.

This hotel does not have a restaurant or bar. I read that next door at Coco Maya we could use their restaurant/bar and they provided beach service. Coco Maya never looked open when we went by and we never saw anyone offering services for the beach. In the future, we would like to have a hotel that at least offered better options for food/drink service. We had no issues with the room, staff or location and would recommend this hotel to anyone.

Dining - There were several reasons behind why we decided to not go AI this time. 1.) Have grown tired of the crowded and loud patrons at many AI’s that we have been to. 2.) When we stayed at the Royal Playa del Carmen in 2007, their food was really good. We still ate out on 5th Avenue a few times and found the food to be expensive and not very good. 3.) We stayed at the El Cozumeleno last December and the food there was terrible. We ended up eating out most nights and found great prices and good food in San Miguel 4.) We went to Key West in July and found every restaurant we ate at to be wonderful. So we decided to give 5th Avenue another try and not do AI this time. In hindsight, it was a mistake and we won’t do it again. The hotel was fine as we loved the smallness and the quite, but didn’t like the inconvenience of looking for places to eat and many of the restaurants on 5th Avenue were expensive and hit/miss. I know, I know, get off of 5th Avenue to find better prices and food. It was just an inconvenience to us to do that. In the future, we will just pay for the smaller higher priced AI’s as there are lesser crowds and better tasting food. We found breakfast to be around $20-$25US, Lunch $40-$50US with beer and dinner $80-$100 with beer.

La Parrilla for dinner - We had the Tampiquena Steak, Chili Relleno, guacamole and chocolate mousse cake. The steak was good. The Chile was good except the hamburger meat tasted a little weird. Didn’t like the sauce it was covered in and it could have used more cheese. The cake was good, but mousse is not one of our favorites.

Tequila Barrel - We stopped in on Monday night to watch the Jets/Patriots game. The next day we went for lunch. Had the beef tacos, which was really beef fajita meat and the hamburger tacos. The fajita meat was so tough and chewy it could not be eaten. The beef tacos were better. Also had the stuff jalapenos, which tasted like it came from my local grocery freezer.

Tropical Restaurant for breakfast - Ate there twice. Had a difficult time finding restaurants that served breakfast. Had the huevos rancheros, fried eggs with green sauce and a hamburger plate. The eggs and sauces were good. We don’t like refried black beans. The hamburger meat tasted like a soy burger. Pretty yucky.

Los Rancheros for dinner - We had the beef enchiladas, tortilla soup, carrapicho, shrimp cerviche and flan. The beef in the enchiladas tasted weird again. The tortilla soup was like a tomato base soup, the carrapicho tasted weird also. The shrimp cerviche was wonderful, but needed cucumber. The flan was OK.

After those dining experiences, we decided no more Mexican food. The hamburger and sauces did not meet our expectations. Refried black beans are terrible and though I like pico del gallo, I want jalapeños in it and was advised they don’t use them there. Plus I rather have salsa anyway.

Dirty Martini Bar - (went there twice) This is a really cute place. The Martinis were very good. Had the cucumber, the dirty, the key lime and the mocha. A little expensive at $9 - $10US. They have snack peanuts that were wonderful.

Italian Restaurant for dinner - Can’t remember the name and the picture I took I can’t make out the name. It was located on the corner of 5th Avenue and the side street to our hotel by the Blue Lobster. They had a very extensive martini list. Had the dirty, the kiwi and the basil. The basil was fabulous. Yum. We had the fettuccine bolognese, capresse salad, the gnocchi eggplant and the flan. Everything was very good and the best meal we’ve had so far. Their martinis were $10, so the bill was pretty high.

Tulip Restaurant for dinner - We were looking over the menu and the waiter stated he would give us the filet and lobster for 200 pesos if we came in. Originally priced at 480 pesos on the menu. DH wanted it, so we went in and sat down. I had the rib eye. Noticed that the steaks tasted much better than the hamburger meat. My rib eye tasted better than the filet and DH stated his lobster was a little tough, but it really was a nice meal. Had the chocolate cake for dessert, which was mousse again. When we received the bill the filet and lobster was priced at 290 pesos. We just let it go and didn‘t say anything.

Texas Burger Company for dinner - Had the bar-b-cue ribs and the chicken wings. The wings were OK, but didn’t really like the dipping sauce. Would have preferred just plain Ranch dressing. The ribs were just awesome. Moist, tender, falling off the bone and the bar-b-cue sauce was delicious. I asked the waiter if I could get the recipe for the sauce and he took me to the cook who gave me the details to write down. Can’t wait to try it. Also had the flan, which was better than any we have had so far. But they put caramel sauce on top instead of caramelized sugar. Would have been better without.

Media Luna for breakfast - had the heuvos rancheros and scrambled eggs with ham. Both were very good. Better than the Tropical Restaurant.

Excursions - Snorkel tour to Yal-Ku lagoon and Akumel Beach resort. Found the snorkeling to be better than many of our prior trips. The Yal-Ku lagoon was nice and had several fish, but from reading other reports I expected more. It was a very nice place and worth the trip. The Akumel Beach resort snorkeling was better. Very nice reef with lots of fish. Saw 2 sting rays and 3 turtles. Our guide took my camera and was able to get some really nice close-up pictures. Afterward, we ate at the AI lunch buffet. It was OK. Beer was included. There was us and one other couple on this tour.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere - This was really a great tour. There were 12 people. It’s a pretty long drive past Tulum. We then turned onto this bumpy dirt road that seemed like we we got caught up in a time loop and it would never end. Could not believe how long it was. 1 ½ hours to get to the water. Once we got to the water, we took a small motor boat and they took us to see turtles, dolphins, starfish and several variety of birds. Then went to a little Island for a rest and ordered dinner. Got back in the boat and they took us to a reef for snorkeling. Excellent snorkeling. Nice healthy reef and tons of fish. Got some great pictures. Afterward, we went to an area with very clear water about waist high for just swimming. Then back to the little Island for dinner. DH had the “war fish”. It was pretty good and I had the chicken fried chicken. Not very good. After dinner we got back on the boat and headed home. The long dirt road still felt like it would never end. It was a very long day and the drive felt like it was never ending, but it was a very good tour.

We had a very nice relaxing trip and enjoyed getting away. Regretted not doing AI and will not make that mistake again. The weather was a little cooler than previous trips this time of year, but still very nice. Pictures are at:

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