Updated: Sep 13, 2020
Among the travel advisor community, we discuss the idea that if we don't travel, we can't expect clients to travel. It didn't take much to convince me. After seeing positive reports from other travel advisors who traveled to Mexico, I was ready to give it a try. I carefully selected three resorts that appealed to me and made plans for 5 nights in Cancun. After a Lyft ride, and a flight on Delta, I rented a car in Cancun and drove to NIZUC Resort & Spa for lunch and a tour. Then, I moved on to TRS Coral Hotel at Grand Palladium Resort for two nights, followed by one night at Le Blanc Spa Resort, and two nights at Palmaïa--The House of Aïa.
I am now back home in Atlanta, and overall, the experience was fantastic! In this first post, I will highlight my trip to Cancun and my first two nights staying at TRS Coral Hotel in Costa Mujeres.
Lyft Ride—The car had a plastic barrier between the front seat & back seat. That was an unexpected added level of safety. The driver wasn't wearing a mask, but I still felt safe since I was wearing a mask and am sure that I could have asked him to do the same.
Security—Since I was flying to Cancun, I went to the International Terminal. Usually, security is on the same level as the entrance, and it’s pretty fast. It was very fast since there aren’t many people flying, but I had to go downstairs for security. The reason wasn’t clear to me, but it wasn’t really a problem. Everyone was extra friendly. I’m sure it’s a much less stressful job with a fraction of people flying! The TSA agent even told me that my mask was on upside down!
Lounge—I always like to hang out in the airport lounge before a flight. With free food & drink, as well as personal space, it is a much more pleasant experience than sitting by the gate. The same is true during a pandemic. The employees were very friendly and helpful, and instead of a self-serve buffet, an employee serves you. Certain tables are marked “Do Not Sit,” so there is plenty of space. Guests are asked to wear masks when moving around. While I was writing this , there were 9 other people in the lounge, which was wonderful.
Flight—My flight from ATL-CUN was quite pleasant, actually. People are required to wear masks unless actively eating or drinking. The pilot made the joke that it doesn’t take 3 hours to eat a bag of peanuts! Actually, they’re not even serving peanuts. The give everyone a bag with goldfish, cookies, and a bottle of water, along with napkins & hand sanitizer. I wish they would give as much consideration to gluten free people as they do to nut allergies! I was surrounded by some interesting people. The couple in front of me thought they were pretty and kept taking selfies (and removed masks to do that). The man next to me felt that it was necessary to take his mask off when doing things on his phone. Overall, he was a lovely seat mate, though. He was from England originally, lived in Minnesota for a long time, and now lives in Mexico since he married a Mexican woman. What a life!
Arrival—Customs & immigration was extremely fast! I was out of the airport and in the rental car shuttle within 5-10 minutes.
Rental Car—I had reserved a car with Enterprise, and I had previously read some information about insurance in Mexico. It is confusing. My credit card company said not to take the insurance that is offered anywhere because the card provides coverage. However, when you are at the rental car counter, there is an official sign stating that the Mexican government requires you to buy a certain amount of insurance, unless you can prove that you have other coverage. The wording is weird, and when you just want to get in the car and to the beach, it’s even more difficult to process. I purchased the insurance and will do more research once I’m home so that I can properly advise clients in the future and know for my own rentals. All Enterprise employees were wearing masks, and they sanitized the car one last time before they let me drive away.
NIZUC Resort & Spa—I had scheduled a lunch meeting and tour with Julio at NIZUC. NIZUC is about 15 minutes from the airport, which is so convenient. Although it is close to the airport, it feels very tucked away and secluded. It was awarded most Instagrammable resort in the world, and when you enter the lobby, it is easy to see why. Everywhere you turn, there is something so beautiful that you want to photograph it. The design is modern and warm, and outside, there are many water features. The lunch was magnificent, though. Julio treated me to lunch at their restaurant named Ni, which apparently means duck. (Nizuc is “nose of the duck” which is somehow related to the Mayan calendar. I was very confused!). I ate way too much, but it was completely worth it. Julio then gave me a tour of the property. All of the rooms were completely lovely, from the lowest category to their villas. I really fell in love with the villas, and apparently they are very popular right now for their privacy. Experience NIZUC with me in this video:
TRS Coral Hotel—Costa Mujeres is about a 45 minute drive from The Hotel Zone. The drive was fine, but if you ever do it, be ready for a lot of roundabouts and enormous (HUGE) speed bumps. Arrival at the hotel went smoothly. They told me that there was no valet because of COVID, and the parking lot was a short walk away. That was not a problem for me at all. Check-in was fine, although I could not hear or understand the person helping me. There should be voice training for talking with a mask and shield. I know that projecting and speaking more clearly is a challenge for some people.
Someone escorted me to my room and told me that my butler would arrive soon. Since it was around 5:00 and I had not yet been in a pool, I had little interest in waiting for anyone in my room. I waited for about 15-20 minutes and after a few phone calls, finally reached a human to inform them that I was waiting. Just a few minutes later, someone arrived who may or may not have been a butler. He showed me a few things in the room and helped me with dinner reservations. I said that I wanted to eat outside, which meant dinner at their Mediterranean restaurant, Helios. He was supposed to text me to let me know if that was possible. If not, I was going to eat at the French restaurant. I went to the pool, returned, showered, and still had not received a text. I went to Helios, and he was there at the entrance and told me that he had just called my room. What about the text? At this point, I was still confused/frustrated about the butler service.
Dinner was pretty good, although the sever even questioned my first choice of entree. It was salt cooked shrimp, which turned out to be a few cold shrimp with shells and heads on. That would be ok, except they were overcooked, and the shells were very difficult to remove. The server talked me into getting a second entree, which was lobster & filet. The lobster was quite delicious. I don't think the butter for dipping was real butter, which concerns me. The steak was fine, although, it was covered in some sort of gravy that I would have preferred not having. For dessert, I tried the sorbet, which was pretty good and refreshing. Helios, being an open air restaurant was a good choice, overall.
Breakfast—I slept until about 5:30 (6:30 EST), which was fine for me. Fortunately, there was water and a Nespresso machine (also drip coffee maker) in the room. I had a handful of peanuts and some espresso to hold me over until breakfast at 7am. From what I understand, there is one place for breakfast. This was my first time actually inside a restaurant during COVID, and I actually felt safe. With staff wearing masks and the fact that there were very few guests in the large dining area, there was plenty of room for distancing. For breakfast, there is an area where you can grab small plates or bowls of food: cheeses, meats, pastries, granola, yogurt, etc. There is also a pretty extensive menu, and I ordered chilaquiles. It was quite delicious, and after having a few bites of papaya and yogurt, I was stuffed. I didn't even need second breakfast!
I walked down to the beach. It’s beautifully set up with loungers and cabana type things. The seaweed situation wasn't too bad. However, the seas were rough. Of course, I chose to visit Cancun while there were 2 storms headed toward Mexico! Fortunately, it was only partly cloudy, there was a nice breeze, and it was not extremely hot or humid.
Yoga—There was a yoga class offered on the beach at 10am, so I went to check it out. The teacher was a Canadian named Chloe, and she was absolutely lovely. The class was very gentle and pretty amazing to practice yoga right by the edge of the ocean. Although we were far enough apart and outside, Chloe wore a mask while teaching the class.
Hurricane—Just before noon, it got a bit stormy, and I was informed (by Chloe) that there was a hurricane warning. The storm passed pretty quickly and was never that bad. The worst thing that happened is that it messed up my lunch plan. I was going to order food by the pool because I didn’t want to go eat inside a restaurant. At around 12:30, the weather cleared up, and I ended up ordering lunch by the pool. This sounded like an ideal situation until it took almost an hour for me to get food. I think the server might have been overwhelmed, but I’m not sure. I was in the phase of being hangry that is neither pleasant nor pretty. Once I finally had a few bites of food, I was ok again. The lunch didn’t quite satisfy me, though, so I ended up going to the restaurant anyway, for a salad! I contacted the butler just to let them know this had happened, and after being told that someone would talk to me while I was by the pool in the afternoon, someone finally came and spoke with me at around 9pm, after dinner. It had happened so long ago that it no longer seemed relevant, and it was certainly too late to do anything to improve anything or perhaps make my dinner experience better. This is my Facebook Live video from when I found out about the hurricane warning:
Post-lunch involved more pool time and a tequila tasting. The tasting was supposed to be outside, but they moved it inside because of the weather threat. I was hesitant to go inside, but it was fine since only one other couple showed up. The bartender who led the class was very informative and told us a lot of interesting facts about the different tequilas and mezcals we tasted. Time at the pool and the beach is always wonderful, but taking part in the activities is always memorable for me. I think more people should do it!
Dinner--I planned for dinner at 6:00 because I thought I would have lunch at noon. It worked out fine, and I was stuffed. The dinner reservation was for Tapeo, the Spanish restaurant. I started with a sampling of 3 gazpachos, which were delicious. The almond one (ajoblanco) was amazing, and I want to make it at home! Then, I had a meat & cheese plate, followed by Iberico ham fritters, chicken wings, patatas bravas, and an egg dish. For dessert, the server recommended the leche frita (fried milk). It was delicious, and I’m still feeling fat!
Zentropia Spa—A complimentary hydrotherapy appointment is included with the room. At the time, they only allow 10 people to be reserved at the same time. That was actually excellent. There are many different places to go in the hydrotherapy area, so you never have to be near other people. Someone walked me in and showed me their suggested order in which to experience the hydrotherapy. I took the suggested route, which began with 10-15 minutes in the sauna and a few minutes in the snow room. I actually also did an ice plunge, which was invigorating! Then, I moved on to the enormous infinity pool that has indoor and outdoor areas with different types of jets and waterfalls to hit different places of tension. They are operated by pressing a button on the wall, so I felt like a child going around and pushing all of the buttons! My favorite was the waterfall feature, followed by the one that felt like you were being sprayed by a fireman’s hose!
I only spent about 40 minutes total at the spa because I wanted to go to yoga again. Chloe was leading another class on the beach at 10am, and I was the only person who showed up this time, until her coworker, Cecilia, joined us. It was another gentle class, but I wanted to note that there was some variety from the previous day. It is such a great way to start the day!
Check-out—The bellman met me promptly at 11:15, as I had requested, and he took me in his golf cart to the lobby to check out. It was all very easy, and he then drove me to my car since it had started raining.
Rafa Nadal Tennis Center--I did not get to see or experience this place, but I think it is a real draw for people who love tennis. They have programs for adults and children, and I think you can also just go use the courts. It is pretty far from TRS, and I tried walking there but actually couldn't figure it out. As I was leaving, I noticed a couple at the entrance to TRS who were getting a golf cart ride, so that is probably the best way. In this photo, you can see the chapel on the left and the tennis center on the right.
And enjoy this video for the full experience!