|Roof top shenanigans!|
This was probably the first vacation that I did not really plan that much - it kinda just happened, but that can be a good thing. Not always good for the budget, but good for life.
Mexico has long been in my Top 20 travel spots and for years, I would look at it, think about it, make excuses why I should not go at that time, and forget about it. Well, this time I looked at it, thought about it, made the regular excuses, started planning a completely different vacation and somehow circled right back to Mexico, and then booked it.
Arriving at Cancun International Airport did not bode well for what the rest of the trip would have been like. The wait for baggage lasted over an hour, and this was followed by an almost brutal female Customs official firing away at travellers in rapid Spanish.
But from the moment I stepped outside, I was in Quintana Roo, Mexico - land of, what I would soon realise were many stories and mysteries. I had pre-booked transportation from Cancun airport to my hotel in Playa del Carmen and within 45-50 minutes, I was being greeted with a colourful, albeit sweet, tropical looking drink at The Palm at Playa Hotel.
I chose to stay in Playa as opposed to Cancun because I knew I would absolutely loathe Cancun with its mega resorts and all-inclusives. That is not my typical vacation. Cancun really is not my style - not my cup of tea. While Playa is not totally unlike Cancun, it still had more of a laid back vibe, villagey, community kinda feel and more boutique hotel options. I really did not envision sitting in a big commercial hotel, eating mass produced all-inclusive food for 7 days, surrounded by drunk tourists.
I really liked Playa del Carmen. Avenida Quinta is a pedestrian zone, with loads of shops and restaurants and bars. I literally could step outside my hotel and be in the centre of the action, and step right back in and be back in my own personal oasis.
My experience with this hotel was remarkable from start to finish. While making all my vacation bookings, somewhere in between my credit card was compromised and after an early morning notification from my bank, the card was cancelled. The hotel therefore could not charge the deposit for my room but Silvia - the greatest ever - held my room for the 5 days I needed to get a replacement card. After that, the service here was outstanding. I was upgraded to a suite, had the best team attending to my every need and was always surrounded with the warmest and kindest people.
|Welcome drink and brownie at the hotel. That brownie was da truth!|
|So much living space for little ole me, but I loved it! The balcony was enormous and I spent |
many an evening maccoing the sights from above
|The best part - that bed was life!|
Everyone had a smile and bent over backwards to make sure guests were comfortable. On the day one of my tours necessitated me leaving the hotel at 5am, the concierge, the amazing, amazing, amazing Sandra, ensured I had breakfast to go, ready and waiting. The hotel has the best rooftop pool and bar area, with excellent mojitos. Not to be left out is the restaurant on the ground floor, Aroma Cilantro, where I had breakfast every day and almost every dinner as well. The food here was so amazing. I guess you can call it a creative take on Mexican street food and typical dishes with chilaquiles for breakfast, tacos, quesadillas, and sopes.
|Chilaquiles - my Mexican life had begun. Breakfast on my first morning.|
|I will not recount the story that comes with this lunch but will only say this was amazing|
The Roof Club at the Palm was where I spent several hours baking in the sun and drinking (lots of drinking), while reading. The cocktails were fabulous and the service team - outstanding. Sadly, all my roof photos include yours truly, so you don't get one. lol. But take a look at this photo, courtesy Visitroo.com
|Photo credit: Visitroo.com|
Truth be told, the people I met during my entire trip were all wonderful. I always thought Trinis were warm but Mexicans proved to be our rivals in that category, outdoing us in the area of service by miles. I had read before I got to Mexico that there is a strong tipping culture and was advised to tip regularly. When you get the service I got throughout my stay, tipping was a no-brainer.
I'll take you outside the hotel in the next post but for now, this was my first dusk on my first day in Playa, as I sat thinking - boy, did I need this!
|Sun sets on my first evening in Playa del Carmen|