A Weekend at the Iberostar Cozumel

Jorge and I spent last weekend at the Iberostar Cozumel, an all inclusive resort on the south side of the island. It was my first time in Cozumel, and I loved it! The island was gorgeous and had lots of shops and restaurants. The only downside was that the water wasn’t as nice as the water in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but it does have some incredible diving. (We’re not divers, but there were many divers at the resort.)

Since we’re in the middle of low season right now, the resort was almost empty. I would guess there were maybe 20 families/couples total, which meant no buffet lines and tons of room at the pool and beach! The food was just fine for an all inclusive, but nothing too exciting.

The resort is filled with tropical gardens, and the guestrooms are set in small villas throughout the resort. We really loved the cozy atmosphere 🙂 There are also tons of animals hanging around, like flamingos, huge iguanas, hundreds of lizards and even a few peacocks!

I’ll let the pictures speak for the rest of the Iberostar Cozumel…

The Beach


The Resort


The Pool

Our Room

We got lucky with a partial ocean view room right next to the beach! The room pictures on the resort’s website don’t look like much, so we were pleasantly surprised that the rooms were quite a bit nicer than we’d imagined. The bathroom was especially attractive!

Overall it was an amazing stay! During low season, prices are particularly good for locals at $800 pesos (about $70 US dollars) per person, per night, with all meals and drinks included. We’ll be back!

 

 

Follow My Adventures!

Good morning!

Today I’ve been invited to the 2nd Mayan-Tibetan Bicultural Encounter at the stunning Hacienda Tres Rios resort in the Riviera Maya.

Throughout the day, I’ll get to see a mix of Mayan and Tibetan ceremonies, followed by kayaking, snorkeling and swimming in the cenotes (eco resort, baby!), not to mention a lot of eating and drinking (All Inclusive, baby!)

This might be me today!

If you want to hear all about my luxury/eco/cultural/culinary adventures during the day, you can follow hashtags #MexicoToday and #MayaTibet, or @CancunGringa (that’s me!) on Twitter.

To see up-to-the-minute pics on Facebook, make sure to “like” my Gringation’s Blog Facebook Page to follow along as well! We have a lot of fun on there 🙂

*sigh*

Come at me, paradise!

Girls’ Weekend at Now Sapphire Resort

The food, the drinks and the gossip were flowing freely this weekend!

My Brazilian amiga Nadia suggested we do a girls’ weekend at an All Inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya. Saturday afternoon, we drove down toward Puerto Morelos to the beautiful Now Sapphire resort. I actually used to intern at this hotel in the reception area 3 years ago, back when it belonged to another resort chain. (Yes, I interned at many, many resorts during my university days.) Visually, it has always been my favorite resort in the area, with an immense pool and wood walkways winding through soothing ponds. All this is combined with breezy palapa roofs and a combination of Mexican and Asian-inspired style. Gorgeous.

After a quick check-in, we were taken to our room via golf cart. The resort is divided into small, 3-story villas named after Mayan ruins. Our building was set right by the beach, with a jungle view room set on the 2nd floor. I was very impressed with the guestrooms! Each has a small sitting area and a large balcony, not to mention a great bathroom.

Nadia and I spent our evening bouncing from one restaurant to another, taking full advantage of the resort’s All Inclusive plan. We sampled sushi, caipirinhas, martinis, baba ganoush, spinach ravioli and I can’t even remember what else!

The Mediterranean restaurant

The oceanfront restaurant, my fave!

Memories Lobby Bar, with tons of dancing and socializing after dinner

Nadia admiring the bathroom artwork

We turned in at midnight and woke up early the next morning with the breakfast we had pre-ordered the night before. After a quick workout, we put on our swimsuits and headed out to do some damage at the breakfast buffet.

Nadia then went to check out the spa specials while I decided to hang out at the pool. There were no loungers available (experienced resort-goers will be familiar with the infamous Towel Game), but I saw a beautiful bali bed right next to the pool with nobody on it. “This is too good to be true,” I thought to myself. So I waited a few minutes, and nobody showed up. I slowly and cautiously arranged my things on the bali bed, looking around in case anyone came up to tell me it wasn’t allowed. Thrilled with my success, I made myself comfortable and snapped a few photos.

Living the life

After the most glamorous 15 minutes of my life, a young uniformed gentleman approached me with a clipboard.

“Excuse me, miss. What is your room number?”

“307.”

(long pause while he flips through a few pages)

“Is your last name Palmer?”

“No…” (Stay cool, Laura, stay cool!)

“I’m sorry, miss, but these bali beds are reserved for our Preferred Club guests. There’s actually quite a long waiting list to use them.”

“Well I’ve already made myself comfortable! You should really put up a sign or something,” I exclaimed in righteous indignation as I got my things together.

“The sign is right here on the post, miss.”

“Oh. Ummm… sorry then. Thanks.”

Fabulousness transformed into humilliation within 30 seconds. Could only happen to me.

Feeling unimportant and defeated at the prospect of finding a chair, I made my way to the beach and settled in under a palapa while I waited for Nadia.

That's better.

We ordered some bottled waters from the beach waiter, spent an hour or so talking about life, took some pictures and watched the boats go by. Now this is a vacation!

Nadia suggested we try our luck back at the pool. There were still no loungers available, as expected, but we set our stuff  by the pool’s jet tub and hopped right in. I loved the pool. Lots of activities were going on by the swim-up bar, but the pool was big enough that it was easy to find quiet areas for relaxation. Submerged loungers, one of my favorite things, were also in abundance.

We had programmed a late check-out for 1:30, so we eventually headed back to the room, packed up and changed into some dry clothes. Check-out was quick and easy, and we made our way to the Bluewater Grill for some more All Inclusive action in the form of ceviches and burgers.

The Now Sapphire was a great experience. I dare to say it was even better than most All Inclusives! Here’s why:

  • No bracelets
  • No waiting in line to make dinner reservations every morning (first come, first served)
  • 24-hour room service included
  • No worrying about towel cards… just walk up, get your beach towel, then bring it back when you’re done. Easy.

Gringation’s Tips:

  • Bring bugspray! Mosquitos weren’t a problem during daylight hours, but let’s just say that we weren’t the only ones feasting during our outdoor dinner at the beachfront grill.
  • Upgrade to the Preferred Club. Preferred guests have a private lounge, a beautiful separate pool, access to spa facilities and reservations for the poolside bali beds. (I only spent 15 minutes on the bali bed, but it was amazing!) This is one instance where I’d say the extra amenities are worth the higher pricetag.
  • Sit at the teppanyaki tables at Lemongrass restaurant. What a show!
  • Get to the pool early if you want to grab a lounger. Just don’t leave your stuff there for 4 hours without using it. Be cool, people. (Waking up at 5 am, putting your flip flops on a lounger, then going back to sleep until noon is not acceptable resort behavior.)

 

Barcelo Maya Resort: The Beach

I have a confession to make… Playa Norte (North Beach) on Isla Mujeres is no longer my favorite beach.

The beach I went to last Wednesday “blew it out of the water” (pun intended).

When we went to the Barcelo Maya Palace Deluxe resort for my cousin’s wedding (more on that later), I wasn’t expecting to find such an incredible beach. So, so many palm trees. Pool-like water. No seaweed. Breathtaking.

Even though there were so many of us in the water, several schools of large silver fish had no qualms about swimming around us, between my knees, and along my feet. I was actually screaming, smiling and jumping up and down out of sheer joy. Why can’t every day be like this?

Somebody please slap me if I ever decide to move away from the Caribbean.

What’s your favorite beach in the world?

A Day at Now Riviera Cancun Resort

First of all, here’s a heads up to all the “lurkers” on my site… I see you! Make sure to leave a comment from time to time! I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for hanging out 🙂

Anyway, now on to today’s post. Yesterday was the best. day. ever. Well, maybe not the best, but it was up there.

My company had given some of us day passes to Now Riviera Cancun Resort in the Mayan Riviera. I got to take 1 person with me. Of course, I took the fiance. It was free all-inclusive. 🙂

We took the bus down to Puerto Morelos (about half an hour south of downtown Cancun, 15 minutes from the airport). From there, we caught a cab out to the resort. (There’s also a local bus to take you there, but we were too lazy to wait for it.)

We got there around 10:30 and enjoyed some breakfast, beach time, pool time, and a late lunch. Sadly, we had to leave around 6 pm. The day went by too durn fast. Here are some pics we took:

The main lobby

*sigh*

View from my table at breakfast. The buffet was AMAZING! fruit, sausage, kiwi-flavored cream cheese, bacon and fruit. yummm! Fiance was weirded out by the American-style breakfast sausage, but I made him try it and he enjoyed it. (To be fair, they are pretty disgusting looking.)

Beach view from my breakfast table

Next, we stepped down to the beach.

Well hello, toucan!

I had no idea he took this picture until later in the day. When I saw it, my heart melted. "Awww, he took a picture of us holding hands! He loves me! Dang, my legs look great!"

My fave pic of the day.

View from our pool loungers

View from a bridge going over the pool

Pool with swim-up bar

Next came a late lunch at the poolside snack restaurant, which had tons of great stuff on the menu. ceviches, fajitas, desserts, sandwiches, etc. Everything we got was fresh-tasting and very very good. I knew my calorie counting was working because they served me the tiniest Greek salad ever, and I considered it enough to fill me up (plus dessert, of course).

View from my chair at lunch 🙂

Jorge and I loooooved these lattice roofs over the restaurant terraces. Someday when we own a Caribbean dreamhome, we'll have one. You'll be invited to the terrace parties. 🙂

My dessert - Strawberry Martini with Chocolate Mousse (couldn't finish it... more proof that the calorie-counting is taking effect)

Jorge's dessert - cheesecake

After lunch, we went back to the pool so I could work on my tan. I laid out on one of those submerged loungers while looking out over the ocean. Jorge sat next to me. I didn't want to leave!!!

The two ladies on the lounge chair came with a huge group of friends, who had names such as "Frogger", "Double-D" and "Fancy". They have a friend who's married to a violent drunk and cheats on him with young guys. Another friend spent an entire night with diarrhea and puking. Yet another friend is addicted to Oxycontin. How do I know this? They were screaming about it for about an hour. They then proceeded to flirt with some poor guy from the hotel's entertainment team by yelling out very bad Spanish. Fun times.

Before we left, we stopped by for some drinks (water) at this bar.

My only complaint was that the drinks were all very disgusting (except the wine, the fruit juices and the water). Still, it may have just been a bad day because one of my coworkers was raving about the drinks when she went a few weeks ago. The food was excellent, though.

Overall, it was an amazing day, and we didn’t want to leave. Since the past few weekends had been very busy with wedding planning and my in-laws’ vow renewal, Jorge and I hadn’t spent any alone time together in quite awhile. (We don’t get to see eachother much on weekdays because I work 9-5 and he has school 4-10.) It was really just what we needed.