Well known sun-spot, “Cancun Mexico”, was built specifically as a tourist destination, on a 23 km strip of land between a mangrove lagoon and the Caribbean Sea. Hence the infrastructure; roadways, sidewalks, etc… is modern and user friendly. The Cancun International Airport is located a short 20 minutes from the hotel zone. Within an hour of flight arrival, you can be checked in and changed into your bathing suit – ready for fun.

In the 80’s and 90’s Cancun had a reputation as the Fort Lauderdale of the South and attracted a young party crowd. But in the aftermath of 2005 Hurricane Wilma, the tone changed. The beach and hotels have been upgraded and renewed to appeal to a different clientele; newly built hotels and shopping venues are upscale and mostly rated five star.

We stayed at the newest RIU – the RIU Palace – one of four RIU all-inclusive properties on the Cancun shoreline. The RIU hotel belongs to a luxury Spanish-owned chain. Each RIU offers a distinctive décor and ambiance. The RIU Palace, which opened in May of 2012, is ultra-modern and European in styling. The ocean side property is exceptional; beautifully landscaped around pools and gardens, and proudly boasts an authentic Mayan ruin as part of the scene.

The RIU Palace has six restaurants: Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Steakhouse, Fusion, and an enormous buffet area. I have never experienced a breakfast buffet to rival the one at this hotel – on land or sea. Choose seating on a terrace overlooking the sea, or inside on white clothed tables… Make yourself a Mimosa or a Bloody Mary, or just have a glass of champagne to start the day. Eat, and eat, and eat – almost anything you can imagine as breakfast or brunch fare. Total indulgence and friendly staff to bring all those little extras you want. And then there’s lunch and supper to come, and 24 hour all-inclusive room service if you get a little peckish in the night.

Our group took a catamaran excursion from Cancun – to snorkel, visit the fisherman’s village on nearby Ilsa Mujeres, and have lunch on the beach. The warm, clear ocean water off Ilsa Mujeres is reputed to be the home of the second largest coral reef barrier in the Americas. Hence the snorkeling is delightful – offering a variety of coral gardens and colourful fish to enjoy.
Another tour – a must do – is a visit to the real treasures of Mexico; the archeological sites of past Mayan civilization. The most well-known sites are Tulum in the Riviera Maya, and Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula, either about two hours from the hotel area of Cancun.

The ancient city of Tulum is perched high above the ocean waters of the Caribbean Sea. For the fit, some tours include a hike to a secluded beach area on the Tulum site. Tulum maintains a spiritual atmosphere, both because of the awesome vista, and because local craftsmen are required to display their handicrafts off the official property.

Chichen Itza was discovered in dense tropical jungle, and is now designated one of the seven wonders of the modern world (along with the Taj Mahal in India, and Machu Pichu in Peru). If you have to choose to visit only one historical site, go to Chichen Itza.

It is an extraordinary place – a huge expanse that was once a city of many thousands…the history; the remains of complicated transportation and trade systems once linking more than fifty Mayan cities; the games grounds; the temples; the observatory; the mathematical precision of the pyramid of Kukulkan; all are awe inspiring and magical. Be sure to go with a guide, most of whom are Mayan descendants, proud and eager to amaze and impress visitors with incredible stories of the rituals and ceremonies of their ancient, lost civilization.

Grand Sunset Princess

For a more relaxed taste of Mexico, consider the Riviera Maya. Also developed specifically as a tourist destination, most of the hotels in this region are all-inclusive properties situated on beautiful, spacious parkland by the sea.

The Grand Sunset Princess, located just 15 minutes from the town of Playa del Carmen, is a favourite destination of Sunwing travellers. The hotel is designed in the form of a horseshoe of interconnected 3 storey units – some designated family friendly; others adult-only with private pools are just a step off the balcony. The Sunset Princess boasts seven thematic restaurants, including one offering traditional swiss food, along with a selection of buffets.

The ends of the horseshoe design opens to a wide, white sand beach and the turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea. At the Princess beach there are areas inviting to kids; areas quiet and secluded for lovers; and areas with all the toys – snorkeling, jet ski, kayaks; sailboats – to delight the young at heart.

Travel Planner

Sunwing “Come Fly With Me” The Chairman of the Sunwing Board, Colin Hunter, may well sing Come Fly With Me, as he is also a professional singer, a crooner! Sunwing offers flights to vacation destinations in Europe, the USA, the Caribbean, and Central America. For more information, contact www.sunwing.ca.
For more information about Mexico: www.visitmexico.com
Cocina Chef Cristian Morales: www.chefcristianmorales.com

Written by Beverley Kerr

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