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!

St. Regis Bora Bora versus Four Seasons Bora Bora

St. Regis Bora Bora
St. Regis Bora Bora
St. Regis Bora Bora
Four Seasons Bora Bora
Four Seasons Bora Bora

There are certain destinations blessed with a luxury hotel conundrum, and Bora Bora is one of those places. Clients always want to know which hotel is the best, and the St. Regis and Four Seasons are at the tops of everyone’s list.

I knew as soon as I had secured my Air Tahiti Business Class award flights that I would stay at both properties, and settle the debate once and for all.

Which hotel is better?

OVERALL ACCOMODATIONS

Four Seasons Bora Bora
Four Seasons Bora Bora

Winner: Four Seasons Bora Bora

St. Regis Bora Bora

Pros: Larger and spacious, well laid out, especially for light sleepers, quiet.

Cons: Bathrooms are dated with low vanities, room was showing wear, you have to call for adapters.

Four Seasons Bora Bora

Pros: Sofa bed in living room, more contemporary and updated décor, two US adapters provided in room, complimentary shared DIY laundry.

Cons: No dedicated table indoors for dining, no shaving platform in shower, some rooms can be noisy in the morning.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

St. Regis Bora Bora
St. Regis Bora Bora

 

Winner: Tie

St. Regis Bora Bora

Nice uninterrupted views of the mountain and a feeling of overall spaciousness. Adult’s only pool and a swim up bar at the main pool. Good lagoon for snorkeling. Our bicycles were rusty, so we did not ride them.

Four Seasons Bora Bora

Gorgeous views of the mountain, but only rooms on the end of the pontoons have uninterrupted view. Resort felt more compact and easier to get around than St. Regis. Kids Club and Teen Island. Only one pool.

DECK, SWIMMING PLATFORM AND LADDER

St. Regis Bora Bora
St. Regis Bora Bora

Winner: St. Regis Bora Bora

St. Regis Bora Bora

Deck lacked some privacy on the sides. Swimming platform was large and sturdy. Ladder had flat rungs, but could have been a little longer. No dedicated chaise lounge covers.

Four Seasons Bora Bora

Deck was private from side to side. Platform was large, but had some give. Ladder had round rungs, which hurt to step on, but was plenty long. Dedicated chaise lounge covers

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Four Seasons Bora Bora
Four Seasons Bora Bora

Winner: Four Seasons Bora Bora

St. Regis Bora Bora

Our dinner at Lagoon was very good and I appreciated the vegetarian menu. Breakfasts and lunch via room service were average to not good. The breakfast buffet was below average.

Four Seasons Bora Bora

All meals whether in room or in restaurant were good to very good. Breakfast buffet was small, but well stocked. Vegetarian was understood by staff and easily accommodated.

SERVICE

Four Seasons Bora Bora
Four Seasons Bora Bora

 

 

Winner: Tie

St. Regis Bora Bora

Our butler was lovely, but we didn’t need much for a two night stay. Restaurant staff were average to very good. There were some misses such as having to ask multiple times for a refill.

Four Seasons Bora Bora

Staff ranged from average to great. Pool service was slow. Room service was easy to order via the Four Seasons app, and the set up was nice.

WI-FI

Winner: St. Regis Bora Bora

St. Regis Bora Bora

Wi-Fi worked well throughout the resort.

Four Seasons Bora Bora

Wi-Fi worked well in the room, but signal strength was low to nonexistent at restaurants, pool, and beach

 

Interested in knowing which one is BEST for YOU? Contact me today at 508-485-3061 or via email and receive special complimentary amenities with your booking.

 

Stay tuned for my trip report from The Brando!

Luxury Resort Showdown in French Polynesia

Billionaire's Pool
Billionaire's Pool at The Brando
Billionaire’s Pool at The Brando

 

On a whim I decided to set up an alert in May 2016  for two business class tickets on Air Tahiti Nui for multiple dates surrounding our 10th Wedding Anniversary in August 2016. Imagine my surprise one night about one week later when two seats popped up as available. I knew this trip must be meant to be, so I grabbed the seats, handed over an obscene number of AAdvantage miles (320,000) and started piecing the rest of the trip together.

Champagne PDB
Champagne PDB

 

There are certain destinations that have highly competitive luxury hotels, and clients always want to know the difference between them and which one is the best and Bora Bora is one of those places. Therefore, I knew that our trip had to include the Four Seasons Bora Bora and the St. Regis Bora Bora, so that I could once and for all settle the debate.

On our way to Tahiti we spent one night at the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, which is  a quick drive from LAX. Since we did not have through tickets, I wanted to do everything possible to ensure that we didn’t miss our flight to Tahiti.

Club Lounge at Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey
Club Lounge at Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey

 

A stay at the Intercontinental Tahiti was required on arrival because we took the daytime flight to Papeete which lands too late to get to Bora Bora. I also booked a room there for our last day, as we had about six hours between our flight from Tetiaroa and our flight to Los Angeles.

Intercontinental Tahiti
Intercontinental Tahiti

 

The coup de grace for the trip, and our second honeymoon, was our week long stay at The Brando, Marlon Brando’s private island on the atoll of Tetiaroa located north of Tahiti.

The Brando Bed
The Brando Bed

 

A complete write up on the St. Regis Bora Bora versus the Four Seasons Bora Bora, as well as The Brando will be coming soon, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you are interested in a trip to French Polynesia please email me or give me a call at 508-485-3061.