Friday, May 17, 2013

Cancun Part One: Travel, Arrival and Our Room

Mr. B and I spent a delightful (for the most part) week in Cancun May 4 - May 11th.  We own a timeshare (bought six years ago at Villa del Arco in Cabo San Lucas) and decided this year to trade the week for a stint at Villa del Arco's sister resort, Villa del Palmar Cancun, which opened in late 2010.  Our thought process was a) we needed to use the timeshare since we had three weeks paid for and b) Cancun is much closer to us than Cabo.  On top of it, an added bonus, two separate sets of friends also planned to be in Cancun that same week.  

So, I made flight RSVPs several months ago, did my usual research on the destination, talked to the Concierge in San Diego (where the company is headquartered) about whether or not to purchase an All-Inclusive Package (we did) and to book our airport-resort-airport transportation and kept in touch with our friends about travel plans and flight schedules.

We were up B&E Saturday May 4th and were on our way to Tampa International by 6:30 am.  At that time of morning, there was not much traffic and we made it to the airport in under an hour's time.  Here's a picture of The Sunshine Sky Way Bridge, which we crossed around 7:00.  For those of you who have cruised out of Tampa, you've more than likely stood up on deck and marveled at this bridge as you have sailed under it; this is definitely a different perspective!
Upon arrival at the airport, we made it to the terminal and checked in.  Then, armed with Starbucks, we settled in at the gate to await the departure of our quick flight to Miami.

All in all, our flights (both to Cancun and back home) were just fine.  Crowded, of course, and with the usual suspects of rude or obtuse fellow passengers, but not awful.  Thankfully, that furlough-thing, which had caused some many delays and missed flights a few weeks prior, had ended.

If you could fly like a crow to Cancun, it'd take no time at all!  Unfortunately, we had an almost three hour layover in Miami.  Nothing to do for it but sit in a bar and have a SPICY Bloody Mary and some lunch.
We touched down in Cancun right on time, a bit early in fact, and had to wait for our gate to clear out.  Once  off the plane and through customers (this took a bit longer than it probably should have), we claimed our luggage and made our way through the gauntlet of clamoring timeshare and tour people and outside the terminal to find our ride to the resort.  If you've never gone through this experience, let me point out to you that you NEVER want to stop and talk to anyone in this gaggle or else you'll likely ended up signed up for something you don't want to do.  We learned this the hard way in Cabo.  As my pal Travis, the San Diego Concierge reminded me, "No one inside the airport will be your ride!"  

We sailed on through to find a guy from Endless Tours holding a sign with our name on it who ushered us over to the line of cabs where, after a few minutes wait (enough time for me to go buy a few cans of Mexican beer from the little bar outside the airport; sort of a mistake since they were $5.50 each BUT we needed change to give the driver a tip (this is my story and I'm sticking to it!)) we were off on our way to Villa del Palmar Cancun!

Most people who end up in Cancun stay in the Hotel Zone, a long strip (an island, actually) crammed full of hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops.  The majority of the nicer resorts are right on the beach.  It's a hoppin' place.  Our resort, however, was about 1/2 hour north of the Hotel Zone in an area known as Mujeres Beach; quite a bit quieter and definitely off the beaten track.  Not that we found it to be at all boring or dull, but, travelers of a certain age or frame of mind might have found it so.  Sort of in between the Hotel Zone and Mujeres Beach is the downtown area of Cancun, or, El Centro, where there are also many resorts and hotels and the like.

Our cab driver got us to our resort in less than 1/2 hour.  We got lucky in that, even though it was very close to check in time, there really were not many people in the lobby.  In fact, we thought in general that the resort was relatively empty the entire week (an added bonus, especially when you head out to the pool or beach in search of vacant lounge chairs!)

Fairly soon after we entered the lobby, we were handed a welcome drink (Mango Tango) and, after a brief wait in line, were checked in, our  A.I. bracelets were slapped on (more on the A.I. later), and we were escorted to our room 3404A.

The resort currently has one "horseshoe" set of buildings (1, 2 and 3).  Our room was in Building 3 on the 4th floor.  Although technically speaking all rooms have an ocean view, the higher you are, the better your view.  Each building has 7-9 floors, depending; so, we were sorta mid-way up which was just fine.  If we'd wanted to, we probably could have asked for something higher but we were satisfied enough with the location (as you'll see from the pictures!)  BTW, they will be adding on two additional horseshoes over the next few years.  This place is gonna be huge.

We own a one bedroom unit so that's what we ended up with.  In addition to the one bedrooms, there are studios (like a very large hotel room with a tiny kitchen area), two bedrooms, three bedrooms, penthouses, etc.  Also, there are some what they call "Ocean Front" rooms which literally all face the ocean.  Nice enough during the day, not such a great view at night.  For two people, a studio is really quite enough, especially if you do the A.I. and don't need to do any cooking.  But, since we own a one bedroom, that's what we got (we'll have more flexibility on that going forward).

So, the one bedrooms really are spacious!  A family of four would be quite comfy in one.  Each unit has a full bedroom (dreamy king-sized bed) with its own bath (complete with a jetted tub and walk-in shower) and an additional bathroom (with walk-in shower) in the main living area.  There is a pull out Murphy bed in the main living area that would sleep two (probably two not huge people and from what I've read, they are quite comfy).  There is a decent sized kitchen with all stainless appliances stocked with dishes, glasses, pots, pans, etc.  Also, a washer and dryer (I always forget about this and bring more clothes than I really need to) in a closet in the kitchen.  There is plenty of dining space; a two seat bar/counter plus a large table with six chairs.  There is a T.V. in the living area and in the master (we turned it on ONCE).  There are nice enough chairs and a couch in there (I'm not sure I ever sat there).  The main draw is the lanai; totally huge, with its own dining table and four more chairs, a lounger, a small end table and a hammock.  We spent a lot of out time out on the lanai; it's a perfect spot for watching the sun come up and eating a room-service breakfast!  

So, yeah; a great space.  I can't imagine the two of us floating around in a two bedroom but I can definitely see us taking another couple along one of these years and sharing one of them.

With this, below are a few pictures of our room and the views from the lanai.  I'll wrap up for now and write more later!

Mrs. B
 
 
 
 
 
I want this granite for my kitchen back home :-)
 
 
Check out that ocean view!  Lovely to watch the sunrise in the am from "my" side of the bed!
Believe it or not, we never even used the tub!
 

Resort view/the other side of the horseshoe 
Lovely!
Relaxing!
   
2nd up center and also to the right (blocked by palm tree) 4th floor.  Nice location



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