Cancun and Playa Del Carmen was very lush and clean. United and Delta flights arrived in Cancun from Los Angeles in the late afternoon. With a flight time of about 4 hours and 10 min. and a one hour time change to Mountain-time, half of our day had already flown by.
Transportation in Cancun was very convenient. We used USA Transfers, which I highly recommend if you want a personal driver. At a less cost than sharing a full van with others or a public bus that drops you off in the bus terminal, it was worth the time and hassle. A friendly representative from USA Transfers was waiting for us outside the airport holding a sign upon our arrival. The van was air-conditioned, quiet and the driver was early to pick us up on our return to the airport. Despite what the website quoted for pricing, a private van cost $80 round-trip to Playa del Carmen. Another affordable option in the future would be to drive since the roads were nice and spacious. After 45 minutes, we arrived at Bluebay Grand Esmeralda, an all-inclusive hotel & resort in Playa Del Carmen situated right on the beach. It was a comfortable stay for a short two nights and three days. We were greeted with sweet refreshing juices at check-in, but the front desk personnel couldn’t find our reservation for some reason so the check-in process took awhile. It turned out that he had also forgotten to give us our towel cards so the next day, we walked all the way back from the beach to the lobby in the scorching sun just to get our towel cards. I was upset since we walked from one end of the resort to the other. Golf carts were accessible to transport guests but it did not run often and got crowded. So most of the time, we walked over to building #8, about a 10 min. walk from the lobby. Note, the directions can be a little confusing because only the building names are listed on the signs instead of building numbers.
Every room had private balconies while suites had swim-up balconies. Air-conditioning worked great and the refrigerator was well stocked with sodas, water and beers. Our bathroom had marble-sinks, a walk-in shower with rainfall and another showerhead. But the downside was that after the shower, there was a puddle on the floor that leaked from the crack in the shower. Also, dust and lint sat on our pillowcases and sheets in the bedroom, so we immediately requested for a sheet change. Concierge was very helpful and nice. The first night we arrived, they got us in a dinner show in the theatre as well as next night’s dinner reservation at a seafood/steakhouse. The dinner show featured Vegas’ Cirque de Soleil, tango and Brazilian dances. A pre-fixe four-course menu was pretty tasty, especially the tender, juicy steak. A Canadian couple that we just met sitting in our table warned us their friends had money missing from their safe deposits. Apparently the hotel has the key to the safes in case guests forget to leave it open or lose their code. An older couple at our table was also upset because they had their pesos stolen from the safe as well. Since we had placed all of our valuables in the safe before we left for dinner, we quickly returned to our room. We hid our laptops, passports, money, wallets and cellphones in dirty clothes and lingerie and double-locked our roller boards.
A variety of dining options were available in six restaurants. Dinner a la carte were available at seafood/steakhouse, oriental, French, Italian and Mexican restaurants. If you did not want to dress up, an international buffet at Festival was also a great option. It was odd that the dining hall at Festival looked more like formal dining setting than the seafood/steakhouse. Room service was also available from 11am to 6am the next morning but at an extra cost of 120pesos or about $10 per order. Breakfast and lunch buffets overall were very good. I was grateful that all the dishes had very little salt so you can adjust to your own taste-buds. They also had good coffee.
A 24 hr. sports bar and seven other bars were spread out on the property. They served a handful selection of brand-name liquor such as Sky Vodka, Johnny Walker, Seagrams and Bombay. Coconut rum with real coconut juice, pina coladas and Superior beer are must-tries! We discovered a cool bar on the beach towards the right-hand side of the resort. I wish we had bars with swings like this in the States.
Wi-Fi was at an additional cost in the rooms. However, there was free Wi-Fi in the lobby and at the sports bar closest to the lobby. Sun exposure in Mexico was very powerful, so if you don’t want your face and skin to peel, it is crucial to reapply sunblock frequently. The second day, a quick afternoon shower passed, but for the most part, we enjoyed lazing in our beach beds overlooking the water soaking in the beauty, sipping cocktails, eating grilled shrimp skewers, and dipping in the water occasionally to cool off.
All-inclusive resorts are relaxing and stress-free because there is no need to worry about what to eat or where to go. And other than tipping, you really don’t need any more money. Bars, dining, theaters, gym, spas, non-motorized water activities, beach volleyball, dancing, yoga, Spanish lessons, dart, ping-pong contests, etc…are all available to you. Gotta love it!