Adventure in the Yucatan

 

Our Ride to the Cenote
Our Ride to the Cenote

Our Yucatan adventure started a few weeks before our departure when it came to my attention that American Airlines still did not have approval to fly to Merida. Luckily, even though it was a prime holiday travel week I was able to find two seats in Business Class on AeroMexico.

This was my third trip to the interior of the Yucatan, and my primary goal was to see Uxmal. The other goal was to stay in one hotel for the duration of the trip, so we booked the centrally located Hacienda Temozon, a part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection (yes, I can get you VIP perks here too!).

Hacienda Temozon
Hacienda Temozon

Our Junior Suite was located near the main entrance, and was appointed with all of the creature comforts that one would expect at this level of hotel. I appreciated the cold air-conditioning, crisp clean sheets, abundance of bottled water, and last but not least, the adorable towel art.

Towel Art Elephant
Towel Art Elephant

For our first full day we toured some of the Puuc Route visiting Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, and had lunch at the beautiful Hacienda Xocnaceh. Uxmal exceeded my expectations, and is quite different in comparison to the other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan.

Our lunch at Hacienda Xocnaceh was amazing. A beautiful setting with more food than we could ever hope to eat, although we gave it our best try. Plus, impeccable service from Juan Carlos who never let our glasses go empty.

Lunch was followed by a swim in the former water tank that has been converted into a pool. There’s nothing better after a hot day of exploring ruins than taking a cold refreshing dip.

The next day we went to Celestun Biospehere Reserve to take a boat ride to see the pink flamingos. Another nice break from seeing ruins. It was refreshing to be out on the water, ans interesting to get to go into the mangroves.

Day Four was where the adventure truly began. Our journey back in time to see what Mayan ruins looked like before they were excavated and reassembled. The first stop was the parking lot at Labna where we met our archaeologist guide, an assistant, and Juan Carlos. We all smushed into a small well-loved pickup truck and barreled down some dirt roads into the jungle. What fun!

Our first stop was Huntichmul, a largely unexcavated site. We hiked up a hill, or what appeared to be a hill. Upon closer inspection everywhere you looked there were piles of stones, rubble, from ruins that had collapsed.

Huntichmul
Huntichmul

Of course, Juan Carlos was waiting for us with comfy chairs and refreshments after we hiked back down to the truck.

 

We got back in the truck and bounced down the roads toward our final destination of the day, Kiuic. The site is surrounded by the Kaxil Kiuic the Millsaps Biocultural Reserve, operated by an international organization that carries out archaeological and biological research.

It was interesting and sobering to see ruins that had never or only partially been excavated. To be able to picture in your mind how this carries through the entire Yucatan peninsula. There were so many people living here and now there are so few, and so much of their culture has been lost.

Beyond that, the amount of effort and skill that goes into creating sites like Uxmal and Chichen Itza, and how much more money is needed to maintain, preserve, and continue exploration. And to whose benefit? We had lots to think about on our way back to Hacienda Temozon that evening.

Day Five was purposefully planned as a free day, since it would be the last day of our vacation. We slept in and had a leisurely breakfast. Took a ride on the old rialway to the cenote for a swim. Participated in a cooking class, ate a delicious lunch, had a couples massage, and lazed by the pool for a couple of hours.

The perfect end to another amazing trip to the Yucatan with Catherwood Travels.

Interested in having your own adventure in the Yucatan? Contact me via email or phone at 508-485-3061.

PS: Stayed tuned for our next adventure in Mexico when we visit Chiapas later this year!

Trip Report: Hacienda Chichen, Cenote Xocempich, and Villa Vidorra

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

I had such an amazing time in the fall with Catherwood Travels that I decided to tack on a mini-trip before our scheduled vacation so that my husband could have a similar experience. Plus, Chichen Itza is something that he has always wanted to see.

After much debate we decided to fly roundtrip into Cancun. It would have been more convenient and more fun to start in Merida, but it just wasn’t worth it to deal with having two one way tickets, or worse yet, having a two stop itinerary. Merida is not the easiest place to reach from Boston. So we flew into Cancun and were greeted upon arrival by our driver and guide.

It was around two and half to three hours to get from the Cancun airport to Hacienda Chichen. There was water, soda, and snacks in the van and we could have stopped for lunch in Valladolid, but decided to just soldier on to the hotel. The highways in the Yucatan are flat and straight, and not overly scenic, except when passing through small towns. It was a nice, relaxing drive.

Hacienda Chichen

We had the Merle Greene Cottage (Master Suite #25) which was clean, spacious, and comfortable. The only thing lacking was wifi, but it was kind of nice to unplug while in the room.

We went to the lobby for a celebratory margarita (or two) and to soak in the scenery. We then had a very early dinner which was absolutely delicious.

Huitlacoche

We met back up with our driver and guide after breakfast, dropped off our luggage in the van, and walked to Chichen Itza for an educational and fascinating three hour tour.

Las Monjas

Once we had explored most of the site it was time to walk back to Hacienda Chichen, meet up with our driver and head to Cenote Xocempich.

We were greeted with a refreshing limeade and cold towels. We relaxed in the shade for a little while, munching on crudités and sipping Coronitas.

Snack time

Once we acclimated it was time head to the changing room, put on our swimsuits, and cool off with a swim in Cenote Xocempich. Amazing!

Cenote Xocempich

We floated around on noodles, relaxing and checking out all of the features of the cenote. We spent about a half hour swimming before we headed back up to change for lunch.

Lunch

This truly was one of the best meals of my entire life. Multiple course served on a simple, yet elegant table runner in crisp white dishes. Seated at a bench at a long table big enough for twenty, but just for the two of use. Cool in the shade under a tree, on a hill with a view of the grounds.

They made Cochinita pibil, a traditional Mayan pork dish the old-fashioned way, cooking it underground using buried hot coals. A woman made us fresh hot tortillas. Dessert was homemade coconut ice cream. Simply above and beyond delicious.

Cochinita pibil

Sadly we had to leave for Tulum, which was another two and a half hour drive.

Villa Vidorra

We met up with family and friends and spent seven nights at Villa Vidorra on Soliman Bay, just north of Tulum. It is a fully staffed beachfront villa with two chefs, a bartender, daily maid service, and a maintenance person / gardener. The villa also comes with kayaks, paddle boards, snorkel gear, and beach toys. Plus it has plenty of shady spots to relax, both at the pool and the beach.

Villa Vidorra Pool

However, once again, one of our favorite aspects was the cuisine. Felipe wowed us at every meal, from Huevos Rancheros to Chicken Mole (or in my case cheese enchiladas with mole), everything was delicious. We also loved the morning fruit platters.

Fruit Platter

Let me show you a side of the Yucatan that you have never experienced. I promise to make your next trip to Mexico special and beyond amazing. Are you ready to go?

 

 

Five Hot Beach Hotels for 2015

Mukul

These are my picks for the top five hot new beach hotels for 2015.

1. Condado Vanderbilt

Marabar-Condado Vanderbilt

What is not to love about a former grand dame of a hotel that has been lovingly and completely restored? Oh, and it’s super easy to get to from the Northeast. Did I mention no passport required? Perfect for long weekend getaways or week long vacations. A great location in San Juan for exploring or doing nothing at all.

http://www.condadovanderbilt.com/default-en.html

2. Rosewood at Baha Mar

rosewoodbahamar2

You know I love Rosewood. I also love that we have another new easy to get to property in the Caribbean that offers true luxury. Plus, a casino, duty free shopping, golf, and the creme de la creme room category – Beachfront Villas.

http://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/baha-mar

3. Four Seasons Manele Bay

Four Seasons Manele Bay

It is technically not a new hotel, but with the complete transformation of the room product, I feel it qualifies. Gorgeous new rooms. Nobu. A private complimentary airport lounge just for hotel guests. The best from the beach snorkeling out of all of the Hawaiian Four Seasons resorts. It’s Hawaii taken to a whole new level.

http://www.fourseasons.com/manelebay/

4. Mukul

Mukul

Bored with the Mexico and Costa Rica? Looking for something exotic, yet close to home? Mukul is still new enough to qualify for the hot factor for 2015. Located on a gorgeous stretch of beach in Nicaragua this is the perfect place to find your inner surfer. Or perhaps you would rather soak away the afternoon in your private plunge pool on the patio of your Bohio. Whatever you choose, it is easy to slow down and soak up life on the Emerald Coast.

5. Ritz-Carlton Cancun

Rotz-Carlton Cancun Family Pool

Emerging refreshed from a multi-million dollar renovation, indulge in modern luxury on the hotel strip. A fun cooking school, an excellent spa, and all rooms with at least an ocean view make this hotel easy to love. Not to mention the breakfast buffet is one of the best in Mexico. Fifteen minutes from the airport and you are ready to hit the beach.

http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Cancun/Default.htm

Of course, VIP treatments and extra amenities come standard at all of these hotels when you book through me. Give me a call at 508-485-3061 or send me an email. I look forward to seeing which one you choose!