Discover Riviera Maya

Overview

Co-escourting a group trip to Mexico, specifically Puerto Morelos, led to my first extended stay in the country (previously I’d only visited on a cruise ship).  Prior to departure friends and family expressed their concerns to safety and security issues in traveling to Mexico. In the 5 days there, both on the resort and on the excursion, I can truly say that I never once felt “unsafe”. Frankly, I felt more uncomfortable, and distinctly less safe, while traveling in Jamaica, Barbados, and St. Lucia than I did during my time in Riviera Maya. Granted, I was in a highly tourist area, and maybe I’m more comfortable a traveler than I was several years ago.

Resort/Length of Stay: H10 Hotels – Ocean Coral & Turquesa/5days, 4nights,

Excursions: Isla Mujeres

Temperature: 80s and breezy

Lows

There were some lows to the stay, that I wasn’t expecting, mainly with the resort. The layout of the resort was nice and it was low season so not crowded. As a whole the service level was less than impressive (some of the bartenders were downright rude…not sure where they left their smiles at). Being in the service industry, I’m typically one to tip – however this trip no one earned a tip and even when I watched friends tip (and sometimes heavy) it didn’t make any difference in level of service. The food was beyond disappointing, the quality, the variety…it was akin to cheap fast food. The Mexican restaurant on property was really really bad – even the worst of “Mexican” restaurants in the states was better than what was on property. I wasn’t expecting it to be completely authentic (it is a tourist resort after all), however I was surprised at how “watered-down”  the quality of food was. Water pressure in the room was sad, and there was no hot water … Finally, pay attention to the fine print. It is an all-inclusive, however if you want to utilize room service make sure it is during the posted hours or you will be charged (and be sure you have a room service menu in your room … one that wasn’t run off a copy machine that was running out of toner).

The decor of the resort overall was marginal and very random (keep an eye out for Spiderman, Michael Jordan, and Elvis and Marilyn statues). The resort is rated as a 5star, and I’d give it 4stars at best.

Highs

Now that we got the unpleasantness out of the way. Mike’s coffee shop is the best thing happening on the resort … open from 8am till 10pm you can get all the espresso, machiattos, cappuccinos, hot teas, etc that your little heart desires (and I did!). The hibachi restaurant was the best food hands down on the resort – fresh, well flavored and a good show. The breakfast buffet was decent – go to the omelet station …eat the bread (it is all fresh and good). The rooms are a good size and the bathrooms are roomy. If you aren’t 100% comfortable with your travel companion then I’d recommend getting comfortable or booking two rooms – the bathroom set up isn’t for everyone as there are doors on the toilet and shower but not the rest of the bathroom. The nightly entertainment was decent – there was a good show that showed the culture of Mexico in dance and traditional costumes, that was well done. The group services staff was excellent – anything needed in regards to handling the group (i.e. convention room set up, handling rooming issues, etc..was all handled very professionally). Also, hidden gem – hammocks! Find them and take a nap. The gym was also good – got in a good workout – dumbbells, treadmills, elliptical, bikes, barbells, and a circuit machine.

The excursion was a catamaran trip to Isla Mujeres – it was fun and I enjoyed it. The downside was there wasn’t nearly enough time snorkeling or stand-up paddle boarding but the mid-day sailing did allow you to see the sunset and enjoy a cool evening breeze on the sail back to dock – and the crew was exceptional.

I enjoyed my time on the beach, by the pool, in the ocean, and in the hammock. Now back to the ‘real world’.

p.s. I’ve been VERY impressed with Detroit International Airport. The entire set-up here is efficient and service oriented. I’m a fan!

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Sending Postcards from the Inn

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Beach Chair View of St. Petersburg

Several years ago, while job hunting I came across the Postcard Inn. I applied for a job but at the time they were unfortunately (or fortunately) fully staffed. Since then, this property has been very high on my list of properties to spend a night (or several) at. Needless to say when the opportunity arose to stay at the property, I was all over it. To that end I would like to thank the gang from Crossfit Hunters Creek, Crossfit Taino, and The Pit Athletics for deciding to compete in Battle at the Beach! Now then, on with my review.

Upon walking in the front doors to check-in, the vibe was relaxed and casual but with a wonderful Gulf Coast flair. There was an immediate feeling of relaxation (complimentary postcards are available at the front desk…they will even mail them for you, postage included!!). The front office staff was perfect the entire weekend – always smiling and happy to help with questions (regardless of how silly they might be…not that I would ask such questions!)

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All about the balance

Throughout the hotel you can find a variety of wonderful touches that are reminiscent of a beach vacation back before there was internet or cell phones. From a variety of games available (pool table and ping pong in the courtyard, connect four, scrabble, and giant jenga in the lobby), a fire pit that is lit at night, rocking chairs, and lounge chairs galore to movie night in the lobby on Fridays…there is plenty to do when you feel the need to take a break from the sun.

The room was very well decorated. Bright, happy colors. Old photos on the wall, taken during various eras. A sitting area with a surf board on the wall. Plenty of room to lounge…but really who needs to spend time in the room when the fun is outdoors?!

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Beautiful room

The weather the entire weekend was beautiful and therefore I spent most of the weekend outdoors! In addition to the fun indoor games, the hotel has a beautiful pool, bicycles for use, and … did I mention it is right on the beach? Sure is! With beach chairs and beach couches for hotel guests to use. The PCI Beach Bar was were I spent a good chunk of my time, when I wasn’t on the beach. The bar staff was great (they even found the Dolphins game on tv for me!), the drinks were well priced (I suggest enjoying happy hour!) and the food was rather good (I suggest the fried shrimp or the Island chicken wrap!).

In addition to the bar, the Boathouse Kitchen & Bar is the full service restaurant on premise. I decided to treat myself on my last night for dinner in the restaurant…I enjoyed a wonderful lobster bisque, followed by a lobster ravioli (the seared scallops were out sadly) and paired with a Carnivore Cabernet. I decided to stave off my food coma with a sit by the fire pit, it was rather relaxing!

While there is more that I could go on about, all in all the experience exceeded my expectations. It was exactly what I needed after an intense 3 month of coursework. I would also like to congratulate my crossfit peeps for hitting the podium in 3rd place (respectively for male and female teams)….I can’t think of a better way to spend celebrating being ABD than to be able to grab clicks of my crossfit homies, enjoy some great beach weather, beautiful sunsets and finally get to stay at the Postcard Inn.

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Sunsets on the Gulf Coast

A beach, is a beach

Regardless of if it is the East Coast or the West Coast, I’m a sucker for a beach day. During my trip to California, I had some time to explore and took a drive to Stinson Beach. It is not a drive for those that can’t handle the winding of the mountains, however it is completely worth it. Breakfast was at a the Parkside Cafe. I had the bbq pulled pork benedict. Normally I’m not a fan of eggs benedict, but decided to try this twist. It was well worth it! The Cafe makes all its own baked goods and offers a walk up window for coffee and pastries, as an option for those that don’t wish to sit for a full meal.

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The Road Less Traveled … Happy New Year!

A year in review summed in a poem and pictures.

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
 
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
 
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

Happy Trails 2014 & Bring on 2015!

Winter Wanderings

The best part of teaching is the month off during the winter season (Thanksgiving till 1st week of Jan!). This winter was rather busy, after exams I flew out to Wyoming for a two week training session (me=trainer), then from Wyoming to Florida to spend the rest of the winter with friends and family. I’ve managed to make my way from Titusville to Naples and down to Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood before coming back to Titusville. I’m enjoying the sunshine, especially with the knowledge that Ohio is getting hammered with snow, but mostly I’m enjoying being able to spend time with my family and catch up with friends.

Ruby has been spending her winter vacation in Titusville at Casa de Templeton Parents. Where I am enjoying the warmth, she will be VERY happy to see snow and bask in the cooler climate.

I’ll pull out of Florida by Jan 2 and start the journey back to Ohio, with a stop in South Carolina before parking my soon-to-be frozen rear in Lima. I hope everyone had a super Merry Christmas and has festive plans for New Year (and the New Year!)

 

Ruby enjoying her winter vacation home

Ruby enjoying her winter vacation home

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