The Fairmont Mayakoba Resort Goes Green

Set in the Riviera Maya just north of Playa del Carmen, the beautiful Fairmont Mayakoba forms part of the Mayakoba Resort, which just won the prestigious Ulysses Award from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, one of the world’s top recognitions for ecotourism development.

The Fairmont Mayakoba’s green iniciatives are seemingly endless, focusing not only on preserving their natural environment, but going several steps further to actually help it grow and form new, biodiverse ecosystems.

The winding canals found throughout the resort were formed utilizing the underground rivers and cenotes already existing on the property, creating several miles of soft current where guests can enjoy boat tours in lanchas to see the local birds, fish and ecosystems. By forming these canals, the resort has managed to maintain much of the pre-existing wildlife while also providing a beautiful home for hundreds of new species.

The Fairmont Mayakoba’s Green Partnership Program incorporates sustainable ecotravel concepts into all areas of the hotel:

  • Eco-Meet program, minimizing the ecological footprint for groups and conventions
  • Nature tours and adventure tourism at the nearby Sian Ka’anBiosphere Reserve
  • Greening Our Greens program for wildlife conservation on El Cameleon Golf Course
  • Green Cuisine, using fair-trade, sustainable, local and organic food products whenever possible (specializing in local Mayan communities and on-site gardens)
  • Alliance with the Climate Savers Program from World Wildlife Fund to cut down on CO2 emissions
  • Energy and Water Conservation projects in staff areas, public areas and guestrooms
  • Flora and Fauna Conservation with plant relocation, a turtle aquarium, and more
  • Waste Management projects with recycling, biodegradable products and composting of organic materials

Rose Spoonbill (apologies for the blurriness, he was too quick to catch on camera!)

In addition to their green iniciatives, the Fairmont Mayakoba also works closely with the community, aligning themselves with local universities, Mayan communities and programs for children.

This year, the resort is working hand-in-hand with the U’yo’olche non-profit organization with Pack For A Purpose. During the month of December, guests at the resort can participate in this iniciative by packing toys and gifts for Three Kings Day, a Latin American children’s holiday celebrated on January 6th. Gifts will be given out to local Mayan communities so children can wake up on January 6th to much-loved presents. For more information on how you can help, follow through here:

Pack For A Purpose

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

A Walk Along Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen

The past month has been one of my favorites since I moved to Mexico over 6 years ago. For three weekends in a row, we found great excuses to make the 1-hour drive from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. First we went to the Taste of Playa Food Festival, then the next weekend to the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, then last weekend just to hang out! Because who doesn’t want to wake up to this…

The most famous area of Playa del Carmen is Fifth Avenue (or “La Quinta”, as the locals call it), a pedestrian street that runs parallel to the beach. All along this avenue, you’ll find charming hotels, tons of restaurants, boutique shops, local artisanry, beautiful cafes and chic nightclubs right on the beach.

Coco Maya Beach and Night Club

A predominantly European destination, Playa del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue is ideal for people-watching. You’ll see everything from luxury travelers to backpackers all on one unique street.

My personal favorite part of Fifth Avenue is a small off-street called “Calle Corazon” (Heart Street). Calle Corazon is filled with twinkle lights, cafes and art galleries, and I lose myself in its magical atmosphere every time I walk by.

Calle Corazon

 

From Fifth Avenue, it’s just a one-block stroll down to the stunning Caribbean beach, where travelers can indulge in enticing meals right on the sand at oceanfront palapa restaurants. But to be honest, sometimes we don’t even make it to the beach! Our favorite thing to do is to simply walk up and down Fifth Avenue and talk about how much we want to move to Playa del Carmen.

"Jellyfish Lanterns"

What’s your favorite travel destination?

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Yet Another Playa Weekend

So excited! Today after work we’re leaving for a short weekend in Playa del Carmen. The company my friend works for has a currently empty 2-bedroom apartment there, so we’re going to enjoy a couple’s weekend. It’s going to be chilly, but fun! Hope your weekend is awesome, too.

Sand and Sound at the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival 2011

This past weekend was the annual Riviera Maya Jazz Festival in one of my favorite places: Playa del Carmen. Held Thursday November 24 through Saturday November 26 at the chic Mamita’s Beach Club, the festival hosted some of the top current jazz artists in Latin America and beyond.

Saturday’s concert began at 7 pm , but Jorge and I didn’t arrive at Mamita’s Beach until around 8 pm. The beach was immense and PACKED. We estimated there were at least 2,000 spectators that night, but probably more. Many had brought their beach chairs, others were standing, and even more were hanging out on the sand talking to groups of friends. It was a very relaxed vibe despite the large crowd.

Throughout the evening, we got to hear music by Richard Bona, Alex Otaola and the Yellowjackets. I’m not a huge jazz fan, but even I was really getting into it! Some of the music was a bit bland for me, but the upbeat numbers were a lot of fun.

Juan and Viri joined up with us later on, and we got a new spot near the very back of the crowd. It was less crowded, and everyone in that area was just sitting on the sand talking to friends with a pretty clear (if distant) view of the stage. Juan had brought a 10-pack, so he and Jorge joked over their beers while Viri and I spent the evening talking and taking pictures. We’ll definitely be back to the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival in 2012! It was a fun, relaxed evening of beach, friends and music.

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

I Got "Steeped" at the Fairmont Mayakoba

Saturday evening, Jorge and I were invited by PR Director Paulina Feltrin to visit the incredible Fairmont Mayakoba resort in the Riviera Maya for something I have never done before… a tea tasting! On November 12, the Fairmont chain hosted different “Get Steeped” events throughout all their international hotels and resorts, offering everything from cultural events to “tea-quila” drinks.

At the Fairmont Mayakoba, we got to enjoy some unique yet delicious Berry Berry Tea Martinis.

The resort’s resident tea and tequila expert, Jesus, explained to us about the Fairmont’s popular line of teas, offering a variety of delicious infusions ranging from traditional Earl Greys to modern fruit flavors.

Jesus mixed each drink with the following recipe:

  • Fairmont’s Berry Berry infusion tea, with dried hibiscus flower (popular in Mexico), raisins, berries and herbs
  • A generous portion of vodka
  • A dash of Xtabentun liqueur, a traditional anise from the Yucatan

All these ingredients combined to create a strong, flavorful and very Mexican tea martini!

I even got the chance to mix my own, which Jesus said was even better than his (Maybe he was just trying to butter me up, but it worked). I learned that the best way to steep tea is by scooping the mixture directly into the water, NOT with a tea bag! Also, you need 20 – 30 shakes to mix a martini. Considering I’ve never mixed a drink in my life, I was pretty pleased with myself.

The final product was quite beautiful, with the alcoholic Berry Berry Tea Martini sporting a lovely pink color and the non-alcoholic martini with a deep purple tone.

I’ve never been much of a tea drinker, but after the tea tasting at the Fairmont Mayakoba resort I just might have to turn these tea martinis into a bad habit!

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Taste of Playa Returns to the Riviera Maya!

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve already got my calendar marked for November 20. The city of Playa del Carmen will once again be hosting its annual “Taste of Playa” event, where guests can sample the favorite dishes and drinks from the city’s most popular bars and restaurants all in one stunning beachfront location.

My long-time readers may remember that Jorge and I got to go last year, and it was an amazing day filled with beer, cupcakes, shrimp and Caribbean views. (They obviously know exactly how to win over this couple!)

In my excitement to go back, I scored an interview with friend, Playa del Carmen resident and fellow blogger Michele Kinnon from Life’s a Beach, who has helped organize the event ever since its beginnings. I love her insights on PDC cuisine!

Michele, how are you involved in Taste of Playa?

My husband Rob and I are proud to be corporate sponsors for Taste of Playa. This is our third year supporting this community event. As expats and business owners in Playa del Carmen, we are always looking for ways to give back to the community that has given us so much. Taste of Playa is exactly the kind of event we try to ally ourselves with as it truly celebrates the diversity of the region. For the first two incarnations of Taste of Playa I had the role of Marketing Chairperson for the event, a job that I found challenging but rewarding in many ways. I got to work with an amazing group of women, all business owners in Playa del Carmen and all committed to promoting the Riviera Maya as a tourism destination.

How did Taste of Playa begin?

The idea for Taste of Playa was conceived in 2009 by a group of Playa del Carmen businesswomen. We were looking for a way to draw positive attention to all the wonderful things the Riviera Maya had to offer, ultimately increasing tourism to the area. This new culinary event was the culmination of hundreds of hours of planning and preparation volunteered by the Executive Committee and dozens of committed and passionate sub-committee members.

Why do you think this event has become so popular so quickly?

I think the event has been so successful because it appeals to many different people for many different reasons. For locals, it is a fun, affordable festival to enjoy with family and friends. For foodies it is a chance to scope out new restaurants and get some face-time with favorite chefs and restaurant owners. For tourists it is a destination event, one which many people now plan their travel around, that offers the opportunity to try the signature dishes of 40 plus local eateries all in one place, something they would likely not be able to do within the span of the average vacation week. For everyone, the event is a way to try great cuisine at a very accessible price whether you go for the VIP pass or buy individual tasting tickets.

What makes Taste of Playa different from other culinary events throughout the world?

What distinguishes Taste of Playa from many other food festivals and culinary events is its diversity. There is no one cuisine that represents The Riviera Maya. Certainly, we are in Mexico and Mexican and Maya cuisines are well represented here in hundreds of restaurants and eateries. What is different here is that unlike in most cities, which are divided up into neighborhoods such as Chinatown and Little Italy, all of the chefs and restauranteurs who have brought their unique cultures and cuisines to the Riviera Maya are working and living side by side with chefs from the local Mexican community. Walk down La Quinta in Playa del Carmen and you will find an Indian restaurant next door to a sushi joint, next to a taqueria, an Italian pizza place, an Argentinean steak house and so on. It’s like a great big culinary melting pot and Taste of Playa was designed to reflect just that!




What kind of cuisine can we expect to see at Taste of Playa this year?

As the Riviera Maya has a culturally diverse population made up of people from all over the world, we can expect that the cuisines represented at Taste of Playa 2011 will be equally diverse! Expect to see influences from France, Italy, Thailand and Spain mixing it up with traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine! Many of the participants from years past will be returning but we also have quite a few new restaurants coming on board. I’m excited to see what they will bring to the table!


Thanks, Michele!

All photos courtesy of tasteofplaya.com

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Riviera Maya Road Revamp

As Cancun and the Riviera Maya continue to grow and flourish, any local following the #traficun hashtag on Twitter knows just how crazy traffic can get.

Highway 307 has especially affected by luxury resorts, new attractions and the discovery of hidden beaches. This coastal road begins in Cancun and continues south through Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Bacalar, all the way through the entire Riviera Maya.

With more and more commuters, weekend warriors, tourists and locals using this coastal highway over the past few years, traffic jams became so common that the stoplights, intersections and slower speed limits in each town along the road were more of a headache than a help.

A bridges and tunnel system was planned for popular traffic jam areas along Highway 307, like southern Cancun, Bonfil, Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen. Cancun kicked off this new system with a tunnel and traffic circle combination at the intersection of Avenida Tulum and Avenida Kabah, whose stoplight used to cause ridiculous lines at rush hour.

Avenida Tulum tunnel in southern downtown Cancun

As you drive 5 minutes south of the new tunnel, the Bonfil intersection is also undergoing the tunnel treatment, making a trip from downtown Cancun to the airport a breeze. (I used to drive through this intersection twice a day, and trust me… that stoplight had to go.)

The soon-to-be Bonfil tunnel

As you continue south along Highway 307 and make your way along the coast of the Riviera Maya, you won’t have to stop or even slow down thanks to the new overpass in the small fishing town of Puerto Morelos.

The convenient overpass bridge in Puerto Morelos is small, yet beautifully adorned!

The most impressive project of all is the new bridge/overpass system running through Playa del Carmen.Driving through this city used to cut 10-20 minutes off of travel time, but not any more. A set of several impressive bridges, combined with many entry and exit ramps, makes it easy for travelers and Playa del Carmen locals to get where they need to go.

Exit ramp by the Playa del Carmen bridge

 

These bridges are perfect for cutting travel time

So far I’m loving this new system! It’s so much faster and easier to get to the airport and travel through the Riviera Maya. No more stoplights for this gringa aventurera!


Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

 

Xcaret

This weekend, I made the quick trip from Cancun to Playa del Carmen with Jorge’s family to visit one of my favorite places in the world: Xcaret.

Xcaret is an immense ecopark filled with unbelieveable attractions. I’ve been there 4 or 5 times already, and I still haven’t seen everything! The park has Mayan ruins, an underground river, a Mayan village, an hacienda, greenhouses, a huge butterfly pavilion (my favorite part), stunning beaches, dolphins, jaguars, sharks, a lookout tower, amazing restaurants, an aquarium… and the list goes on. All this is surrounded by lush jungle and winding paths, making you feel as if you’ve stepped into another world.

This park isn’t just about nature, though. It’s about Mexico. Combining Mexican culture, Mayan roots and the stunning jungle setting of the Riviera Maya, Xcaret is heaven on Earth. (Except for the snake that slithered across my foot at the entrance… sent that thing flying with a high kick and a scream!)

We started the day wandering around the hacienda near the entrance, with beautiful courtyards and unique colonial artwork, followed by amazing views of the Riviera Maya from the lookout tower. Then, we stopped by the orchid greenhouse (WOW) and took a turn on a riverboat.

A few of us jumped into the underground river, where we swam through caves and vine-covered cliffs, exiting into a beautiful enclosed jungle filled with vibrant butterflies. We walked past jaguars, tapirs and monkeys on our way to explore some Mayan ruins, then stopped by Xcaret’s large aquarium.

After a quick dip in the Caribbean Sea in one of the park’s crystal clear inlets, the family grabbed a quick dinner and headed to Xcaret’s famous show. Mayan warriors greeted us along the fire-lit path to the immense theater, where we sat back and watched the Mayan ball game, Papantla flyers and traditional dances from all over Mexico.

The evening ended with the show’s final song, “Mexico en la Piel” (Mexico In Your Skin), which brings tears to my eyes every. single. time.

Exhausted, I took a little cat nap on the car ride back to Cancun, thinking how much I’m dying to go back already.

[slideshow]

You can follow Xcaret on Twitter via @XcaretPark

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

Mexican Independence Day Parties in the Riviera Maya

While all my fellow Americans are fast asleep in bed tonight, everyone in Mexico will be partying it up Independence Day style. Here, we don’t just shoot off some fireworks, eat some apple pie and call it a night… oh no. In Mexico, it’s not September 15th if you’re not staying up until the wee hours singing banda music with friends, family, or maybe even several thousand of your closest friends. I mean come on, the party doesn’t even officially start until El Grito just before midnight.

Home to some of the best nightlife in the world, Cancun and the Riviera Maya are no exception.

A local Independence Day show in downtown Cancun

In the early evening most Mexicans spend time with the family, maybe having dinner, going to a bar, or enjoying a local Independence Day show. At midnight, everyone crowds around the radio or TV to hear the president give El Grito. Cheers are made, hugs and kisses are given, and then it’s every man for himself. The older crowd will usually spend the rest of the night chatting, drinking and laughing at a friend’s house, while Cancun’s younger crowd will head out to the clubs in the Hotel Zone (if they’re not there already).

September 15 is a great night to explore Cancun’s Party Center since it fills up with both tourists and locals, all looking to celebrate Independence Day the best way they know how. Music, cheers and the green and red of the Mexican flag all come together in a rush of energy. Nightclubs like Coco Bongo, Dady O and The City host excited locals and visitors, and the thrill in the air becomes contagious. This is the best way to experience Cancun nightlife.

Another great spot to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day is in the laid-back city of Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya, where you’ll find a much more casual vibe along with excited crowds. Fifth Avenue and the surrounding streets overflow with partiers. Here, you can grab a beer at a local store and party in the street with crowds of thousands, or duck into a chic yet laid-back tropical bar to celebrate with your closest friends.

No matter where you are in the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Independence Day, you’ll find exciting parties lasting all night. This is a country that really knows how to celebrate!

**Note: This is a blog hop! Feel free to check out any of the following blogs for more Mexican Independence Day fun! (Listed manually because WordPress is a jerk and won’t let me post the linky… WordPress, I think we need to talk.)

Mexico's El Grito de la Independencia

Celebrating Independence Day Around Mexico

Dolores Hidalgo: Cradle of Mexican Independence

The Story of El Grito and Mexico's Independence Day

United Mexico: Their Independence Day Traditions

16 Tips for a Great Mexican Independence Day


16 Little Known Mexican Facts

The Mexican Tequila Bandera

Viva la Independencia!

Mexican Independence Day Parties in the Riviera Maya

Where to Eat for Fiestas Patrias

10 Ways to Celebrate Mexican Independence

Mexican Independence Day in Cancun

 

 

Chiles en Nogada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.

New Virtual Tour of Puerto Morelos

Yesterday I came across one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time, thanks to a Google+ post by blogging friend Kelly.

Cancun’s OVC (Office of Visitors and Conventions) has recently launched an amazing virtual tour of Puerto Morelos, one of my favorite spots. On the virtual tour, you can see aerial views of the town of Puerto Morelos and its amazing Caribbean waters, as well as some of the town’s most luxurious resorts and tours of several of the area’s famous cenotes along the Ruta de los Cenotes.

Cenote Kin Ha

Designed by Cameleon360, the tour includes aerial views, ground views and of course 360 views. In other words, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to play around with. You can even see my new favorite spot Cenote Verde Lucero from a crazy cool “Little Planet View”:

The tour covers about 20 kilometers (about 12 miles for my American readers), and each 360 shot requires 70-80 different images to create. I don’t know how they find the patience, but I’m glad they did!

Hotel Azul Beach

Rumor has it that soon Cancun will be undergoing the same project, showing the city’s shopping, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, etc. From there, they hope to move on to Isla Mujeres, Isla Contoy and Holbox, and possibly even Chichen Itza. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to spend a morning of daydreaming at the office with virtual tours of the entire region!

At the moment, you can see this incredible Puerto Morelos virtual tour on cancun.travel or puertomorelos.com

Disclosure:  I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the Mexico Today Program.  All stories, opinions and passion for all things Mexico shared here are completely my own.