We are on vacation. We are at a very nice resort on the Cancun coast. What, oh what should we do? Pools? Beach? Which pool? Which beach? Ah, life can be so difficult when on vacation. Finally, after our two busy sight seeing days, we were ready to relax and enjoy some of the delights of Vidanta Riviera Maya. Because, in spite of my whining, it was really a very nice place, and there was much to enjoy.
We decided to begin the morning with the breakfast buffet at Havana Moon, the bright turquoise restaurant that I found on that first morning walk around the resort. At 7:30 AM there was still plenty of room, but after we were seated I noticed that the tables were filling up fast and the lounging steps covered with cushions on the far side of the restaurant were filling quickly with waiting customers.
The buffet was huge, with many interesting foods, not all breakfast. The watermelon and pineapple were fresh and sweet, the special fresh squeezed papaya/orange/pineapple juice was worth two glasses. I don’t remember another thing that we ate. Pastries were so-so, once again, the star was the fresh pica de gallo that I put on something I ate, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. We don’t eat enough to make a huge buffet really worth the price, but I am glad we tried it once. The view was nice, and we watched the sun peek through the darkening clouds as we enjoyed our coffee, and the really great service in spite of it being a buffet.
I still wasn’t aware of the secret method of securing a pool chair, but with the threatening storm we got lucky and snagged two lounges where we deposited our shoes and wraps and slipped into that gorgeous water. Just after we got in, there was a water aerobics class beginning, right in front of the stairway that was our only exit out of the water! I wasn’t about to exit that pool up those steps in front of all those people! We swam around a bit, checking out the pool bar, watching kids play ball, and watching the sky get a LOT darker and listening to thunder.
Finally decided that swimming during a thunderstorm wasn’t the brightest choice and we headed home to enjoy the heavy tropical rains from the comfort of our room. Cards and books kept us entertained until a crazy wild racket started up in the jungle around us.
It sounded like some kind of yelling, or weird construction equipment. I went outside to try to figure it out and eventually found the cause of the ruckus. We were surrounded by a couple dozen chacalaca birds. Related to chickens, they travel in groups of a dozen or so, aren’t very good at flying, but hang out in the tree tops. It seemed kind of strange that they hadn’t been around until now, but from this time on they were a constant presence in our part of the jungle.
When evening arrived we looked outside and said, “Nope, we aren’t tackling that walk again in that rain”. Room service was a phone call away, and we were shocked when they showed up 15 minutes earlier than they had said, with some truly luscious salads, gorgeous presentation, lovely service, and a flower for the table. It was no more expensive that going out to the restaurants, and was a delightful way to end a rainy day.
By Friday morning I had finally visited with a few people here and there, and learned that I needed to be at the pool or the beach by 7am or so with towels in hand to save chairs. I know this seems quite awful, but truly, it is the only way to get any place at all to spend a day at the water at this resort, and is an accepted practice. Once again I made the 2.5 mile round trip walk at 8am, and even then many chairs were already gone, but I did have some choices.
Mo wanted to go back to the infinity pool that we found on our first day here, and I found two great chairs with a sheltering umbrella right in front of the water but away from the shallow sandy part that draws all the little kids. We spent the rest of the day in our lovely spot, entertained by the people around us, families and kids having conversations that seemed like they should be a bit more private. One family was discussing at length how their father should set up his will while the father was getting his birthday massage at the spa.
A tiny lady not five feet tall, from Montreal, got in a verbal fight with 3 tall, thin, yes very bitchy women, who didn’t like the towel method and tried to remove her towels from the chairs she was saving for her friends. They thought they knew the rules and made no bones about it, very loudly, but the tiny lady won. We were all cheering her on. I told her I would count on her to watch our chairs while we went swimming!
We were also entertained by two iguanas that seemed to be regulars, hanging around the pool. Panchito was bigger and incredibly colorful, and her husband Pancho was darker and smaller. People said they had a clutch of kids around the corner somewhere but we never saw them.
It is amazing how the hours can slip by with sunshine, getting in and out of the water whenever we felt like it, swimming a bit, and finally enjoying the 2 pm happy hour with nachos and two for one pina coladas for me and zombies for Mo. I thought two for one meant a pina colada and a zombie, so was a bit taken aback when the waiter delivered 2 of each drink for us. Good thing they weren’t very strong.
We left our towels and wandered off for a walk around the lagoon, checking out the beautiful gardens and boardwalks on the way to the flamingo park where we sat and watched the birds for some time. I have never seen flamingos feeding before, watching them drag their beaks in the water to strain out tiny crustaceans was fascinating.
We continued along the pathway to the crocodile enclosure, but it was hard to get photos through the heavy fencing, which I was very glad was there.
The pathway around the lagoon led to the Lago Restaurant, home of the huge buffet and entertainment show that was touted as something not to miss while at the resort. There was another show that we chose to miss, the Joya Cirque de Soleil, something that Vidanta is known for, with the theater specially built on site to house the acrobatics venue. The shows were pricey, with $100 USD per person for the Mexican Fiesta and $130 per person up to $175 per person with dinner for the Joya show. Neither of us had any desire to part with that much money for entertainment, so we skipped both of them. My daughter said Joya was a fabulous show and worth every penny, so if you ever go, you might want to consider it..
One of the additional benefits of our Grand Luxxe upgrade was access to the fancy Grand Luxxe pool and the Burger Place there at poolside. Reviews for the burgers were high, but we didn’t think much of the uppity pool. It was long and narrow with everyone lined up on top of each other. Not our style at all. We did think we might try to get there before 5 to try the burgers for our supper, but by 4:30 our tummies were still full from drinks and nachos and we decided instead to amble back home.
Later on in the evening, the thought of a burger kept coming up and we decided to order just one to share, via room service. That burger was huge, and excellent, with fries, and of course the ever present group of little dishes of condiments, and with half each it was a perfectly decent supper right in the comfort of our home space.
Sunday morning dawned with gorgeous blue skies and a lovely breeze. I so enjoyed my morning walk to the beach, taking in the fresh smells of the thick jungle along the boardwalks, and the sea breezes. We decided that on this, our last day, we should enjoy the beach. Arriving at 7:30 AM I found two perfect chairs facing the ocean, under a lovely palapa, and just steps from the entrance to the big pool.
On this morning, picking up some bits for our breakfast, I discovered orejas, the Mexican version of palmiers that I later learned are a Mexican staple that can be found all over Mexico. Why, oh why didn’t I find these monstrously good things sooner?! Talk about addictive. I ate half, and then another bite and another until I ate the entire thing, and it wasn’t small.
We were in our beach chairs by 10, enjoying the sunshine, the gorgeous water, the lovely breezes, and the delightful shade of our palapa. We sat doing nothing at all, then read a bit, walked up to the nearby pool just behind us for a swim, back to our chairs to sit some more. A perfect day on a beautiful Mexican beach.
Later in the afternoon I went walking along the water, noticing the thick algae that lined the shoreline after watching people with rakes trying to clear it. I found a sign explaining the presence of the ugly stuff. Sigh. We certainly didn’t want to swim or snorkel in that water, although I did see many people out in the waves beyond the brown stuff that had bits and pieces of garbage here and there. I kept imagining what my feet might run into on those rocks in that water. No thanks.
Still, with the clean, cool pool so close by for cooling swims, we had a perfect day on the beach. In the late afternoon we ambled home to clean up for dinner. We chose to save our one big special dinner outing for our last night at the resort. With several very high end restaurants to choose from, it wasn’t an easy choice. I read the reviews, and hemmed and hawed, trying to decide if we wanted a really fine steak at 100 bucks a pop, authentic Spanish food, (which we aren’t that familiar with enough to take the chance this time around), Blue Fish, which sounded wonderful, but the reviews were less than stellar, the French restaurant which we had checked out earlier and looked just too stuffy, and finally Tramonto, an Italian restaurant that had a lot more than pasta.
Tramonto was a great choice. We walked to the Grand Luxxe and were lucky enough to get a shuttle to the restaurant, located on the second floor overlooking the pool. What a delightful dinner! The ambience wasn’t as Italian as I had hoped for, but it made up for that with fabulous service and truly wonderful food. I had mouth wateringly tender osso bucco with a green herbed risotto and sauteed mushrooms. Mo had a perfectly wonderful filet mignon. The salads were fresh and so artistic, and the bread basket was filled with all sorts of creative crackers and breads, including some parmesan crackers that are so popular now since they contain no flour. Yummy.
Dessert was so much fun. I ordered the tiramisu, having read a bit about it in a review and I didn’t want to miss the spectacular presentation. The dessert arrived in a rather unassuming looking round ball of dull chocolate on a white plate. After placing the plate, the waiter brought forth a pitcher filled with molten chocolate and began to slowly pour it over the ball. Slowly the hot chocolate melted a hole in the top of the ball, revealing the globular heart of the tiramisu hidden inside. It was fun to watch, but oh, so incredibly good as well. I never get all excited about tiramisu as some people do, but this one was exciting. With our truly perfect Italian coffee it was a delightful end to a delightful meal. We even got a shuttle all the way back to our room in the dark, another delight.
With our Mexican week coming to a close the next morning, we stopped at the concierge desk for our final checkout. It was surprisingly smooth, with a the bell boy picking up our luggage at 10AM as we exited our room, taking it to the main lobby where we would meet up with it once again as we boarded the taxi for the airport. It seems as though all shuttles are going to the Main Lobby, and this morning it was no exception. The bell boy at the lobby arranged our cab, $35 USD to the airport, luggage loaded and we were comfortably transported to the Cancun airport and dropped off at our departure terminal.
Leaving Mexico was MUCH easier than getting into Mexico, and we were checked in and through security in a very short time. With a couple of hours to kill before we boarded our plane, we found a place to eat on the other side of security where we split a sandwich to share with a good Dos XX beer at the Guy Fieri restaurant, with his shows playing on all the tv’s. Sure didn’t feel much like we were in Mexico!
The flight home was completely uneventful, with too many clouds to see anything at all. Mo and I had booked aisle seats across from each other, and with the very full flight, that was a good choice. We both love not having to crawl over anyone to get to the restroom. During the flights, I reviewed some of my blog notes, finished the book I was reading, and did nothing at all for part of the time.
I can barely remember de-planing in San Francisco, where we had to pick up our luggage, go through customs, and then again check our luggage on to Medford. For a time there was a bit of worry about missing the flight, but by the time all was said and done we landed safely in Medford a few minutes early. Such easy flights, both coming and going!
As I said at the beginning of these stories, in spite of some of the moments of frustration, overall it was a perfect little week long vacation in Mexico. Not too expensive, easy, and really quite nice. I find that looking back on the memories and the photos, gives me a chance to realize just how nice it was. Is that a bit like labor? You forget the hard parts and just remember how good it all is! Good enough to do it again.