Category

Mexico

Addressing Concerns over Alcohol in Mexico

By | Mexico | No Comments

Should Drinking Alcohol in Mexico be a Concern?

Most everyone has seen reports over the past week or so of tainted alcohol being served in Mexico at all-inclusive resorts. It is tragic when things like this occur, and doubly tragic when they occur when people are vacationing!

While the idea of this is certainly disturbing these sorts of things can happen anywhere at any time around the world, and even in the US (although rare and most likely not recently this link shares a horrible story of such a event). A quick google search will turn up well documented cases recently in India, Pakistan and Russia as well, but I’m sure it happens with some frequency across the globe and often is unreported or less publicized.

Of course it should be completely unacceptable for (A) people to illegally brew alcohol for resale and (B) for someone (or company) to purchase illegal alcohol to serve to guests, but human nature sometimes shows that greed trumps common sense and some people are willing to put others at risk in order to put a few $$ in their pocket.

The question I am getting is this – “Is it safe to go to Mexico? Is it safe to drink alcohol there?” How do I answer that? Of course it’s not safe to drink alcohol in excess anywhere in the world (even in your backyard), but the real question is how wide spread is the problem?

Of course I have no way of knowing the truth behind how some apparently tainted alcohol was served at an all-inclusive resort (or perhaps several resorts) but I have a feeling based on traveling to many, many Mexican resorts many times for several years – as well as having hundreds of clients travel there as some of the 10,000,000 Americans that travel to Mexico each year (approx 5 Million to Cancun area). What is my feeling? That some greedy people allowed profit to come before safety. That behavior is not uncommon anywhere in the world.

I am confident that the hoteliers in the tourist areas will be taking extreme measures to insure that this never occurs at their resort in the future – below is a statement from AMResorts, and very popular and well respected organization that delivers a terrific experience. Obviously they are taking things seriously!

 

07/28/2017

 

Dear Valued Travel Partner, 
 
We understand that there are growing concerns surrounding travel to Mexico in light of the recent media reports alleging tainted alcohol at all-inclusive resorts across the country.
 
Please rest assured that the health and safety of our guests and staff is always our top priority, and we strive to deliver exceptional vacation experiences. We remain committed to upholding the highest standards of excellence in hospitality and delivering outstanding service to each and every guest.
 
In fact, our resorts welcome thousands of visitors a year and proudly celebrate a high repeat guest ratio. We attribute our resort’s strong track record for guest satisfaction to our strict guidelines and standards, and our trained staff’s commitment to superior quality and service.
Strict policies and procedures are in place to safeguard all food and beverage products, including alcohol, as well as to ensure the health and well-being of guests. As part of our hotels’Endless Privileges®Unlimited-Luxury® and Unlimited-Fun® offerings, we only serve premium brand domestic and international top-shelf spirits from leading and certified suppliers.
 
Below you will find a detailed list of key related quality control food and beverage procedures as well as health, safety and staff training procedures that we have in place to ensure our guests’ well-being at every property. These include, but are not limited to:
 
Food & Beverage
  • All alcohol is purchased from approved, licensed and bonded vendors that meet all standards required by the designated regulatory authorities
  • A valid Certificate of Registration is required from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for all imported liquors
  • A valid Certificate of Registration is required from the Mexican authorities for all national liquors, known as COFEPRIS (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios)
  • Letters of authorization are required from all direct liquor manufacturers to the regional or local distributors, validating the import and distribution of their brands
Health & Safety
  • Access to a doctor 24 hours a day, seven days a week is available to all guests for minor medical situations
  • Partnership with top hospital facility in the destination available to all guests for more serious medical needs
  • All guests are informed of payment terms for doctor calls in advance, in line with best hospitality industry practices
    • Fees for medical services are regulated by government and tourism authorities
  • If medical, police or government involvement are needed, options are immediately discussed with the guest to ensure their comfort, safety and convenience

Hotel Staff Training

  • Mandatory and ongoing training is conducted to prepare staff to immediately recognize and respond to situations including symptoms from excessive alcohol consumption and other health-related issues
    • Organizations and certifications include but are not limited to the Cristal Awardfor International Standards and Distintivo H validated by the Mexican Tourism Board
Furthermore, we are taking additional steps to reaffirm our commitment to guests and partners, which is also outlined below accordingly:
  • Random testing of bottles of liquor from every hotel by a non-affiliated certified lab
  • External audit of liquor warehouse procedures and controls
  • Immediate destruction of all liquor bottles before disposal, and any open bottles left in guest rooms, restaurants and bars
  • All drinks to be prepared directly in front of guests upon request
  • Visibly show sealed liquor bottles to guests upon request
  • All guests will be prohibited from bringing alcoholic beverages from outside vendors to the property
  • Increase the number of surveillance cameras at the bars and other public areas in order to further ensure guest safety

We have complete confidence in the strict procedures and protocols we have in place, and the professionalism and attentiveness of our staff. We look forward to continuing to welcome thousands of guests who consistently visit our resorts in Mexico and other destinations. We aim to deliver nothing less than perfect guest experiences at our resorts.

Thank you for your ongoing support during this time and we truly appreciate your partnership.
Sincerely,
Gonzalo del Peon
President
AMResorts

 

So should you feel safe going to Mexico with all the bad press lately? – I do

Is Mexico the right place for you and your family to go on your next vacation? – It depends on what sort of experience you have in mind

Talk to your preferred travel adviser. Hopefully that is one of the team here at EZTravelPad where we like to think of ourselves as “Your friends….in the travel business”

Breeze through Immigrations next Vacation

By | Blog, Mexico, Travel Tips | No Comments

Don’t Miss Your Place in Line – Get to Immigrations quickly on your next trip

I see it just about every time I arrive in a foreign airport….people completing their immigrations forms that were incompletely filled out when they could have easily done so while on the plane – so to the back of the line they go!

What did they do wrong? Most of the time they simply failed to complete the bottom portion of the form – the part that gets detached by the immigrations officer and given back to them to hold onto until they depart the country

Here’s what the form looks like-

20140512_144847

 

Notice that there are 2 sections highlighted with the yellow border?

Many people make the mistake of completing the top portion, but not the bottom portion and they have to stop to complete before moving on to the immigrations line – dang paperwork!

So while you are on the flight, after the flight attendant has handed you the immigrations form to complete….read the instructions carefully and complete it entirely as instructed – each country’s is a little different, but this example from Mexico is pretty consistent – if you have questions ask your flight attendant or ask your seat neighbor and speed through the line quicker!

Oh – and don’t forget your EZTravelPad pen – you’ll need it because loaners are scarce!!

Just one more piece of advice from “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad

What are the Most Popular Honeymoon Destinations Today?

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Blog, Caribbean, Dining, Honeymoons and Weddings, Luxury, Mexico, Romance | No Comments

Is the most popular choice the right choice for YOU?

With so many choices for Honeymoons these days, how do you know what is the right choice for you?

popular honeymoons 1
is it about the perfect sunset photo shoot on the perfect beach?

 

Caribbean? – Hawaii? – Mexico? – Florida? – South Pacific? – Europe?

There are many, many possibilities for destinations to choose from when you are thinking about your Honeymoon or Destination Wedding, and there are many factors to consider-

  • How much time can you afford?
  • What do you want to experience?
  • How does budget play into it?
  • Do you need a passport?
  • What about safety?
  • Resort – Tour or Cruise?

EZTravelPad can help you quickly narrow down your choices to the most suitable, and offer you expert advice as to what else you should be thinking about – after all, an expert knows more- right?

So what are the most popular choices for Honeymoons these days?

Well, in my experience the vast majority of couples that I talk to want to experience something unique- something that neither of them have experienced before so that they can make new memories together, and in general it is usually ranked something like this-

  1. Tropical – Romantic – Beach
  2. Cruise
  3. Close to home – a romantic Bed & Breakfast 2-8 hour drive from home
  4. Tour Europe

So let’s look today at #1 – Tropical resort This can mean Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, South Pacific, somewhere even more exotic…

By far – about 80% of EZTravelPad clients choose either Caribbean or Mexico. Many people make their selection based on preconceived ideas about safety – affordability – beauty – status.

Obviously safety is a paramount concern. Nothing is more important to EZTravelPad – and all of our travel partners – than your safety! Many people see negative press about Mexico or specific Caribbean islands and rule them out. I am not here to change anyone’s mind – I am here to help you make the best choice possible given your particular wants, needs and desires. I happen to love Mexico, and the value that it presents to the US traveler, so would urge you to consider it – or if not, then it’s a really big world with plenty of other choices!

Budget & Value-

Sometimes price and value are confused. At EZtravelPad we always strive to acheive the maximum value for our clients. One of the best ways to acheive MAX value is by selecting an all-inclusive resort. Most all-inclusive resorts are located in-

  • Cancun / Riviera Maya area of Mexico
  • Jamaica
  • Dominican Republic

At an all-inclusive resort (and there is a very wide variety ranging from budget to luxury) typically food and beverages plus entertainment and non-motorized water sports are included in the price.

Some resorts – such as Sandals Resorts also include motorized water sports such as water sking & scuba diving- even golf….unlimited! Sandals Resorts are very good and are located in Jamaica, Bahamas, St Lucia and Antigua

Palace Resorts are another great choice. Palace Resorts are located in Dominican Republic and throughout many areas of Mexico. Palace offers $1500 in resort credits that can be used for scuba, tours, spa, romantic dinners, golf & more. This is a great value and allows MAX flexibility & choice!

There are some other great choices as well…

BUT– all-inclusive resorts are not necessarily for everyone. If you are the type that wants to get out and experience the destination to it’s fullest – meet the people – eat the food – live the culture, then an all inclusive resort experience is probably not the best choice. If you are the type who likes fine dining offering tremendous choice and is not afraid to pay for it, then a more “Americanized’ resort may be your best option, and they exist EVERYWHERE.

You may be interested in a destination like Hawaii or South Pacific or Europe where all inclusive resorts simply do not exist – no worries, at EZTravelPad we are completely familiar with all types of EP resorts- from high-rise in Hawaii to private-island in French Polynesia. Consider this- will the OTA (online travel agency such as Expedia, Orbitz, etc) personally email the sales manager at the resort and let them know to expect you – and what to expect from you? Unlikely

Choice

So is your Honeymoon or Destination Wedding all about the beach?

popular honeymoons 2

the party?

popular honeymoons 3

the food?

popular honeymoons 4

 

the tranquility?

popular honeymoons 5

the adventure?

popular honeymoons 6

the spa?

popular honeymoons 7

the service?

popular honeymoons 8

the destination?

popular honeymoons 9

the room?

popular honeymoons 10

How you answer those questions plays a very important role in determining which will be your best choice, and it is very difficult (if not impossible) to make the right choice based on the price and photos you find on the internet.

Adults Only vs Family Friendly

Often times Honeymoon couples want their Honeymoon experience to take place at an adults only resort. There are great options here, and again, Sandals leaps to mind as they are exclusively for adult couples only. Honeymoon couples make up the majority of guests at a Sandals Resort. Sometimes, particularly if a Destination Wedding involves children, then the adults only aspect is not possible. in that case there are still many, many choices- but I want to suggest that a primary concern at that point should be service – you want your most important vacation to go flawlessly and a more service oriented (and often higher end) resort may be the best choice.

How Can You Make The Most Informed Decision?

Here is the best advice you will receive- work with a travel professional….especially a travel pro that specializes in Romance Travel. In most cases the cost will be the same as you would achieve doing things yourself on the internet or going directly to the resort/airline/cruiseline….plus you will most certainly experience a higher grade of service and impartial advice to help you make the best choice.

Experience

Experience can mean many things. Is someone who has worked behind a desk for 20+ years your best source for feedback? Is your cousin, who went to Jamaica on her Honeymoon the best source for info? My belief is that experience is best when it’s broad, and part of that broad base of experience is only achieved by getting out and seeing – getting out and experiencing destinations and resort brands first hand – on the ground.

I have personally spent 33 days out of country this year alone- in 5 different countries – 8 different islands – visiting well over 60 different resorts, all in an effort to help my clients make the best choice possible when it comes to THEIR most important vacation. It’s hard work, but it is so rewarding!

At EZTravelPad we work with select wholesale vacation packagers – and directly with resorts to insure that you achieve the best possible value AND service. Work with a travel pro that you trust, that knows the destinations, and that understands what it is that you are trying to experience. At EZTravelPad we like to think of ourselves as “Your friends….in the travel business” – so when it’s time to make your plans make the call or send the email – you’ll be glad that you did.

 

Awesome Breakfast Spot in Cancun’s Hotel Zone

By | Blog, Dining, Mexico, Travel Tips | No Comments

Breakfast at the Dolphin Aquarium in Cancun

 

awesome breakfast 1

 

It’s tough to beat a leisurely breakfast at a great restaurant – or a good restaurant in a great location. I’m not sure I have been anywhere quite this good before. Imagine sipping your morning coffee on a bright, warm but comfortable morning in paradise –

now imagine that you are spending your morning breakfast just a few meters away from the dolphin experience at Cancun’s Interactive Aquarium

 

See the video to get a look

 

The Juga de Limon is located at the La Isla Shopping Center along the “7” in the hotel zone of Cancun, Mexico. It’s hard to believe that a good breakfast (full breakfast) in such a great location is available for only $10.50..try it – you will not be disappointed.

When you are ready for more tips and insights into making your vacation the best that it can be, check with EZTravelpad – we are here to help (oh, and there’s also that best price guarantee thingy…)

Karisma’s El Dorado Royale Resort & Spa – a Review

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Caribbean, Honeymoons and Weddings, Mexico, Romance | No Comments

El Dorado Royale- Reviewing an Adults-only All-Inclusive Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico

edr 1

Recently I had occasion to spend a few days with my wife at El Dorado Royale, an adults only all inclusive resort south of Cancun, Mexico along the Mayan Riviera – or Riviera Maya. The verdict? Very good – read on for more of the review……..

El Dorado Royale is conveniently located only about 25 minutes from the international airport in Cancun and is comprised of 2 sections – El Dorado Royale and El Dorado Casitas. The 171 Casita suites are larger and feature private plunge pools and swim-up pools as well as mostly being located in closer proximity to the beach. Interested in experiencing a luxury suite with an outdoor shower? This may be right for you!

edr 2
Casita Suite at El Dorado

El Dorado Royale features 476 suites that all include 2 person in room jacuzzi tubs. There is no separation between the two resorts in one, all guests are welcome to use the facilities, bars and restaurants in either section.

edr 3
Jacuzzi Jr Suite at El Dorado

El Dorado is the adults-only brand of Karisma resorts, a resort chain that also includes the family friendly brand – Azul.

The adults only nature of this all inclusive resort makes it a perfect destination for Honeymoon couples and a great place for a Destination Wedding if there will be no children involved

Since I specialize in Honeymoons and Destination Weddings this was much more a business trip than a vacation (although I did celebrate a significant birthday while there). We spent alot of time checking out the wide variety of restaurants, bars and entertainment options. The highlight? Cuisine

Gourmet Inclusive

Karisma Resorts market themselves as “Gourmet Inclusive” meaning that they pay particular attention to the details of both food and beverages offered. With 10 restaurants and 13 bars (10 of them are swim-up bars) you certainly don’t need to go far to satisfy whatever appetite you have – and the quality of the offerings is quite good. In fact, many of the vegetables and herbs served are grown right on the property in a series of greenhouses that offer a plentiful wealth of organic food choices. Locally grown just doesn’t get any more local than this! BTW- I recommend checking out the tequila tastings – I never even knew that there was a tequila that was almost like Bailey’s Irish Cream!

Video

See more of El Dorado in this short video tour from our trip

Pools and Entertainment

With a wide variety of water sports, tennis courts, complimentary bicycles and 13 swimming pools you are certain to find plenty to do – and that doesn’t even mention the activities that are abundant – from water volleyball to water polo and plenty of other diversions, boredom is not an option- but relaxing sure is (had a couple of mid-afternoon naps and loved it).

In considering the service, quality, amenities and price I would have to rate this as one of my favorite resort stays. Sure, there were a few hiccups, there always are – but the attention to detail and willingness of the staff to go the extra mile was evident on a daily basis. A couple of the meals and dining experiences were only above average, others were very, very good.

So what does it mean to go the extra mile? Like I mentioned, I did celebrate a birthday while there, and that afternoon not only did I return to a drawn bubble bath with rose petals floating – but I also found this on the bed…

popular honeymoons 8

So is this the right resort for everyone? Of course not. So how do you know if it’s the right resort for you? Ask your travel professional. If you don’t have one then give EZTravelPad a call – we would love to hear from you and we would love to help!

Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun – a Review

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Caribbean, Luxury, Mexico, Romance | No Comments

Reviewing Le Blanc Spa Resort (a Palace Resort) in Cancun, Mexico

 

le blanc 1

Le Blanc Spa Resort is an adults only all-inclusive resort located in the hotel zone of Cancun, Mexico. It is located very close to the middle of the hotel zone actually, but exists a world away from what you would traditionally associate with Cancun all-inclusive resorts that often cater to the Spring Break crowd.

 

 

This resort is a far cry from typical and in high demand for Weddings and Honeymoons catering to the sophisticated crowd – urban chic, like something out of South Beach. You almost expect Rico Tubbs (Miami Vice) to walk around the corner at any minute…

The Beach is powdery white sand

le blanc 2

The water is an blue as you dreamed it would be and The infinity pool says it all…

le blanc 3

Guest Rooms

As you would expect, guest rooms are extremely well appointed and are as functional as they are luxurious featuring private balconies to enjoy the outdoors and 2 person in room jacuzzis to enjoy indoor.

le blanc 4

Offering butler service in rooms, concierge service at the pools, Haute Cuisine in 5 a la carte restaurants and superior service at every turn, Le Blanc is very much a luxury oasis in Cancun. Nightly turndown service with petit fours, higher end bath products, pillow top beds that you will never want to leave all combine for a very nice package. See more at their website at this link

Beyond the typical amenities Le Blanc offers unlimited free phone calls back to the US, unlimited internet service, and best of all, $1500 resort credits on a 5-8 night stay (other levels exist for shorter and longer stays) that can be used for spa, room upgrades, wedding packages, swimming with dolphins, tours, golf at Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf & much more!

So can you tell that I liked it? Can you tell that I can’t wait to go back?

Le Blanc is not for everyone, but if you consider yourself a person of discriminating taste that would prefer to be located close to the action and shopping in Cancun’s Hotel Zone as opposed to further away down along the Riviera Maya then Le Blanc may just be for you when it’s time to celebrate your Anniversary, Honeymoon, Destination Wedding or even just a luxurious retreat

Reviewing Secrets Capri Resort

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Blog, Caribbean, Honeymoons and Weddings, Mexico, Romance | No Comments

Reviewing & Touring Secrets Capri Resort – Riviera Maya near Playa del Carmen

capri 1

The smallest of the Secrets brand resorts along the scenic stretch of beach south from Cancun, Mexico known as the Riviera Maya may just be the best. Unless you are looking for more, bigger, mas, grande then Capri really is a great option.

With a scant 290 suites (by comparison some other resorts in the neighborhood are 10x larger or more!) Secrets Capri offers a great balance of choice and convenience. It’s not over-the-top fancy like some resorts. There are not 20 choices of room categories. What there is though makes up for it. With 6 restaurants and 5 bars the small property offers much.

This is a good resort for a romantic getaway, an anniversary celebration, a Honeymoon or a Destination Wedding as well. At a resort like this with less than 600 guests even a small wedding party of a dozen or so will not feel lost – in fact the entire staff will likely know who is getting married and who the guests are! You can choose from a beach wedding in the sand, or something a little more stately like in this awesome gazebo

capri 2

Check out this short video tour to get a better sense of rooms, beach and overall feel

Restaurant choices include a la carte such as

  • Himatsu – Asian
  • Oceana – Seafood
  • Portofino – Mediterranean
  • La Riviera – Mexican
  • Seaside Grill – as the name implies
  • Cactus Club – Taco & Ceviche Bar

Secrets (along with their new Breathless brand resorts) is an adults-only brand from AMResorts which also offers additional family friendly brands such as Dreams, Now and Sunscape as well as the Wellness & Spa boutique resorts named Zoetry

There are Secrets Resorts located all across Mexico as well as in Dominican Republic and Jamaica. You can see the Secrets Capri brochure at this link

So how do you know which resort is the best fit for you? What is the best way to research your next vacation?

Simple – OUTSOURCE it to your travel consultant (travel agent).

A travel agency should be able to insure that you receive the best value (value = price + service), but more importantly your travel consultant should work hard to make sure they understand what it is specifically that most interests you. Your travel consultant should act like your personal shopping concierge understanding what you want to achieve then presenting the best options to save you incredible amounts of time and frustration!

Don’t have a travel consultant that you work with? Then contact EZTravelPad and see why we consider ourselves “Your friends….in the travel business”

 

Secrets Maroma Beach – Luxury in the Riviera Maya – a Review

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Caribbean, Luxury, Mexico | No Comments

Secrets Maroma Beach – Adults Only Paradise in Mexico – a Review

Maroma Beach, located about half way between Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen, south from Cancun in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is consistently ranked as one of the world’s Top 10 Beaches and for good reason- Clear blue waters, powdery white sands & water sports galore conspire to create a beach lover’s paradise.

One of the highly rated adults-only all-inclusive resorts located along this fine stretch of sand is Secrets Maroma Beach. Secrets is the adults-only brand served up by AMResorts (affiliated with Apple Vacations & sister property to Dreams, Zoetry, Now & Sunscape Resorts).

 

Secrets Maroma 1

Not every all-inclusive resort offers the same sort of affordable luxury found at Secrets Resorts.

Frequently at all inclusive resorts you find limited selections of restaurants – limited choice in all sorts of food & beverages – limited access to bars and scant choice in restaurants. Spending a week at an all-inclusive resort and feasting at the same boring buffet several days in a row can be a bummer, but with 8 restaurants (most of which are luxurious a la carte options) and 7 bars fully stocked with premium fare you will not feel that your choices are redundant.

It’s not all about food & beverages though – and one of the best features at Secrets Resorts are the suites which generally offer in room jacuzzis, after all – this is a romantic escape for 2, right?

Excellent Spa facilities

Secrets Maroma 2

The spa facilities are great – as is the water sports area, common grounds, pool & more.

This is a fantastic place for a Honeymoon or Destination Wedding (assuming children will not be attending) also – a huge part of their business!

Check out this brief video tour

If there is one knock on the property it is this….  Time-share sales

I have personally encountered guests that were quite annoyed with the aggressiveness of the on-site salespeople, and so it is with some hesitancy that I suggest Secrets as a 1st choice, but if you don’t mind being pestered a bit the product is fantastic

For more info on this and many other resort options in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean get with EZTravelPad – you’ll be glad you did!

 

Tips on Finding Your Ride at Cancun’s Airport

By | Mexico, Travel Tips | No Comments

Finding Your Ride at Cancun Airport

 

One of the big challenges of negotiating the airport in Cancun is successfully avoiding the time-share people…. they are numerous and aggressive

Trust me, you WILL want to avoid any contact or you could find yourself in a presentation for hours!!

I give every EZTravelPad client a suggestion on how best to avoid the time-share people who are located in the airport just past the customs area, but here’s a quick video to illustrate the best way to get past the gauntlet.

Remember – just keep walking!!

For expert advice and best deals around it’s EZTravelPad and Funjet – see some of the latest Funjet deals at this link