My Wife and I decided a few months ago to venture back to the state of Quintana-Roo, Mexico, which is located on the Caribbean Ocean. Rather than stay at the more lively and crowded Cancun, Mexico 5-Star Hotel - Premium Resort | CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort or it's next door neighbor the Cancun Luxury Hotel Resort | JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa that we've been to many times and are both excellent choices in the Hotel Zona. After a few days research we selected Riviera Maya Luxury Resort & Hotel | Viceroy Riviera Maya which I found through the AMEX Travel site and is located a short 35 minute drive south of Cancun International Airport and about 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen.. This place sounded perfect for what we wanted, a nice quiet short trip south that provided beautiful accommodations, outstanding service and complete relaxation.
We picked a late morning flight from IAH-CUN that arrived at 12:45 PM as it provided the best fare, seat selection and got us to the resort with plenty of time to enjoy the getting acclimated and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. All packed up for a three night stay in one roll-a-board and the laptop in the back pack we headed off to IAH and breezed through Pre-Check at Terminal C and then on to the Houston Intercontinental in Terminal D for a breakfast snack and Mimosa. It was there that we learned a long time Bartender friend from the IAH Continental President's Clubs then United Clubs, now Centurion Lounge had suffered a recent stroke. That really put us in a solemn mood for our trip, but offered up a few prayers for him and his family in hopes of a full recovery and seeing him once again back behind the bar telling jokes, laughing and bringing great happiness to his family "Guests". Time to head back over to Terminal C, Gate 33 to board our flight south.
Boarding started promptly at 9:56 AM and we were greeted at the door of the B739 by two smiling friendly Flight Attendants. After storing our bags overhead we were offered a beverage and chose Champagne since this was our first trip back to the Cancun region in some six years. A young couple across the aisle also selected Champagne for their beverage and we soon learned they were on their Honeymoon having gotten married the night before. We talked with them for a while and those around offered their congratulations as well as the Flight Attendant came by with a second glass for all four of us to enjoy as we taxied out to the runway. That was certainly well done United!!
Up we went off Runway 15L for the 1+40 flight to CUN. Lunch was offered and we declined as we had gotten full in the Centurion Lounge, but we gladly accepted more Champagne which kept being refilled until we had cleaned out the galley of it about 15 minutes before landing. The Boeing touched down and after a long taxi to a hard stand since the flight at Gate 34 had not left yet with us being 10 minutes early and with a full airport parking space was limited. We got down the airstairs and on to the bus for the short ride to the terminal. Immigration was packed as was Customs, but amazingly we were out of the terminal in less than 20 minutes from the time we got off the plane. Come on U.S., get folks moving though faster!!!
WOW, talk about a full area of drivers outside the terminal......I gave up looking for our driver on the first pass through and went for a Rita at the little stand nearby. With my Wife procuring the drink I again went to find the driver and this time success as he was right in front of the door, I must have completely missed him with all the mass of humanity. We grabbed the Mrs., the luggage and of course the Rita for the walk to the Suburban and the drive to the resort. Armando was fabulous talking and laughing the entire way as well as being full of excellent information about the resort and area.
We arrived to the Reception area where we were met and given Coconut Water (yummy) while our Hostess got the key to our Villa. This place is very much in the jungle and had a wonderful fresh scent in the air.
A short five minute walk down the paths to VIlla 15, this was perfect. Beautiful clean room, very soft inviting bedding, indoor and outdoor showers, freshly made and cut soap plus a gorgeous view out of the room to the private plunge pool and lounge chairs.
Incredible and we had not even been past our Villa yet to the pool and ocean. After unpacking off we went....spectacular place with fountains along the paths.
Directly across you can see the Island of Cozumel some 10 miles away they say.
Okay, we are very very happy with our choice of places to stay. There are 41 Villas, some further back in the jungle while a few up near the pool area and one or two beach front. Even though about 38 of the Villas were occupied it never was crowded by the pool, while almost all of the beach lounge chairs were taken it still was very very quiet and relaxed. Children under 14 I believe is the age are not allowed so no screaming kiddos splashing water playing at the pool, in fact there was not one person probably under 25 on site.
The security people are everywhere to ensure only resort guests are on the property and they do a wonderful job of that as well as keeping track of each guest. At any one time you could see three or four security men watching the beach, pool area and along the paths around the resort. It is not that it is unsafe they are simply making sure they know where you are and want you to not be bothered by beach peddlers etc. Everyone knows your name and a few times an employee would walk up and say hello using our first and last names without ever having met them previously. You are called by name each time they see you which is very nice.
Coral Bar and Grill was next to the pool and always happy to provide you with your beverage of choice, a few light snacks a coupe of times a day, unlimited bottle water and splendid service. The open air restaurant La Marea is a few steps away and both had completely casual dress codes so no need for anything other than shorts, flip flops and even t-shirts at this place (those of you who know me know this is perfect attire ).
We met some very nice couples from San Antonio and New York City who we enjoyed fun conversations with by the pool, beach and bar for early evening cocktails before dinner. The weather was perfect with one huge storm late Saturday night and that was it, partly cloudy with temperatures upper 80's and a great breeze off the ocean. We did not think of leaving the property and enjoyed breakfast, snacks and dinner down by the pool at Coral each day. The food was outstanding as was the service. They have a beach BBQ on Fridays which is supposed to be crazy fun and good. Every night they had different specials and on our last night we selected the Fresh Catch of the Day which was prepared in what has to be the smallest kitchen on earth out at Coral Grill.....amazing how the Chef puts out all that food with it being perfectly cooked each time. Our fish that night was Red Snapper that cannot be explained how wonderful a flavor it had. Go try it!
The only slight drawback if you are a lover of being in the beautiful water of the Caribbean and that is the beach is more rocky than the beaches of Cancun and there was plenty of kelp that washed ashore which the resort worked hard to clean up. You will also be charged a service charge and tax upon check-out so be warned ahead of time so you are not surprised!!
As with all great trips it must come to an end and return home. The entire short trip was so fun with absolutely zero things to worry about other than finding ways to thank the guys taking care of us around the pool....Marcos, Pepe' and Edgar as they worked their buns off all the while being super friendly and fun. The Bartenders of Memo and Victor were equally outstanding as was our Guest Services lady Anna.
As we walked down the path for drinks and dinner the last night it was sad to have to go. We hated to leave, but have a feeling we will be back right after hurricane season 2017 is over.
As we said bye to the staff and boarded our Suburban back to the airport we were pleased to see Armando. These folks did it right and everything was top of the line.
Back at the airport we checked in using the kiosks that are around the ticket area rather than get in the line at the United counter, got our boarding pass printed and headed through security for the Priority Pass Lounge Search | Priority Pass to pass the time before heading to the gate. This was a real surprise as they had Sushi and Sushi Rolls, Duck Confi, Sandwiches they'd make, Soup and more, all of which was very very good. The Attendants were always coming by filling your glass with Wine or mixing another drink for you even with the place being 3/4 full. Even though it was busy the lounge was not really noisy and a nice spot to wait for your flight.
We headed to our gate, boarded the B739 right on time at 4:10 PM and enjoyed a cold glass of wine before we left the gate bound for Houston. Dinner was served right after we had flown along the beaches of Cancun then made the turn northbound toward the Gulf of Mexico and into Houston. The selections were Short Ribs or Grilled Chicken Pasta both served with Salad and Vegetables. We decided to share the Pasta since we'd filled up on Sushi (or at least I had) in the airport. Food was better than average, but could have used a little more seasoning on the Chicken. As we started our descent into IAH the Pilot's did a wonderful job of skirting some storms and after a smooth landing on Runway 27 and parking at Gate E9 we were off to Immigration and Customs along with our First Officer who was dashing off the his next flight to Chicago in an hour. We all breezed through the Global Entry kiosks and headed to Customs with our forms while talking to the Pilot. He asked were we had stayed as he was looking for a quite place to take his Wife for their 25th Anniversary. It was very nice to be able to share our trip with him and some photos my Wife had on her phone as we cleared Customs and headed for the train for Terminal C. I hope he looks into the Viceroy as he was excited to learn of the spot.
A restful yet fast trip yet great to be on the Hardy Toll Road headed home, even in the driving rain storm we found that washed the car off completely. That was a frog choker for sure and just as we pulled into the garage the crack of thunder erupted over the house giving me just enough time to get into the house without getting completely soaked. Travel is wonderful seeing so many different ways of life, beauty, meeting new friends and being with your loved ones.
Thanks for coming along and catch ya next time we head off on a crazy short journey in a few weeks.