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?

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.

Vegas Weekend Part 1

I’m back from Vegas! I have a cold and started 10 hours of travel at 6 am yesterday (Pacific Time), and today I just wanna curl up and sleep… but somehow I managed to make it in to work today. That means ya’ll get to enjoy some Vegas pictures 🙂

We spent most of our time at Caesar’s Palace. My sister Sarah and I stayed the last 2 nights at Imperial Palace across the street, but anyone who’s been there knows it’s not picture-worthy. We really only went there to sleep. (It does have a great location, though!)

I didn’t take too many because I was trying to just enjoy the moment most of the time… but I got some cool ones.

Here goes:

 

View from my lounge chair at the pool

 

 

Gringation by the fountain in the Caesars Palace lobby

 

 

My lovely sister Sarah

 

 

Casino at Caesar's (love that ceiling!)

 

 

The Forum Shops and Caesars... Sarah and I were taking the "Poor Man's Tour of Las Vegas", so we just walked around and longingly stared into store windows. Good times 🙂

 

 

Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Caesar's Palace... crazy looking!

 

 

My Belgian waffle with fresh fruit at Augustus Cafe...

 

 

...and the butter and syrup to go on top of it.

 

 

The New York New York hotel

 

 

Yours truly out and about in Vegas

 

 

Mandalay Bay... probably my favorite hotel we went into. Miles and miles of restaurants & casinos... not to mention an aquarium and a lazy river! Seriously, the pool area was like a water park!

 

 

Lunch with the family at Raffles restaurant at Mandalay Bay

 

 

Walking under a sleeping lioness at the MGM

 

 

The Centrifuge at MGM

 

My favorite part was probably the view from my sister Noelle’s room at Caesar’s Palace. Got to enjoy this every day…

 

Day

 

 

Night (Bellagio Fountains!!!)

 

My overall thoughts:

As a Hotel Management major, I was in Heaven. These places are INCREDIBLE! I heard a guy at the airport say, “Vegas is like DisneyWorld for adults… pure fantasy.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The food was expensive… but amazing.

I did a few hours of gambling at Caesar’s on Saturday night with my sisters and lost 10 bucks. It was worth it 🙂 I followed the rule that you shouldn’t gamble more than you’d want to spend, so I think I did pretty well!

I’m so glad I got to experience it! I can certainly see why people would go there… but personally I’d prefer something much more relaxing if I could go on vacation.

Tomorrow: Pictures of my sister’s wedding! It was AWESOME.

Weekend at Sandos Caracol All-Inclusive Resort

This weekend, Jorge and I went with some of our friends to Sandos Caracol Resort in Playa del Carmen for my friend Juan’s birthday. We’d been once before, and we LOVE IT! It’s an all-inclusive eco-resort, and they’ve done everything they can to leave a lot of the native surroundings intact. Most resorts here tend to cut down everything to make room for villas, pools, bars, etc. This hotel has done the same, but still left behind lots of local mangrove all over the property.

This means lots of wildlife roaming on the resort grounds, a creek running through the middle of the resort, beautiful mangrove scenery and 2 gorgeous cenotes.

I love the layout of the hotel. Many resorts here have a bunch of builings set in a semi-circle in front of the beach, with the big pool area in the middle. This resort is a bit different, with small villas spread out along winding paths throughout the property, with restaurants and small pools nestled in there. It definitely makes things feel a lot more private.

24-hour outdoor buffet? Yes, please!

View of the mangrove from my favorite bar

The spa has a sauna, showers, jacuzzis and hydromassage pool with beds that you can use FOR FREE!! I have definitely spent a few hours here 🙂

People in Mayan costumes hanging out in the parking lot before a show 🙂

A 100% Mexican dog breed, called a Xoloitzcuintle, known for being used by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs

The adults pool, where we usually spend most of our time

Gringation, living the life

The main outdoor buffet often gets special visitors...

"I like to move it, move it"

The hotel just got a new kids' water park this year, called Splash.

Getting a little better at taking nighttime photos...

Freshly rolled cigars

Las Mascaras Mexican restaurant

The resort is currently completely renovating some of their guestrooms, mainly the ones closest to the beach. They’re going to be bigger, more modern and more eco-friendly. The main pool will also be bigger. AWESOME!  (The renovations in no way affected our stay, btw, and everything still looks attractive!)

Mr. and Mrs. Gringation

During certain seasons, Sandos Caracol gives special discounts to locals. We got an all-inclusive deal for $650 pesos (about $50 US) per person per night. Not too shabby!

The staff is incredibly friendly and the grounds are impeccable, yet natural. We’ll definitely be back a third time!

Check back later this week for pics of our hotel room, and the great idea they have for keeping guests eco-friendly!