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Trip Report March 3-10

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
863 posts
54 reviews
Trip Report March 3-10

We returned from Cancun on March 10, and now that I've sufficiently recovered from my mild bout of pneumonia I can finally write my trip report!

We had a great time. I'll post the remainder as replies.

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
863 posts
54 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

Part 1: The Hotel:

We stayed at the Casa Magna Marriott from March 3-10 for our annual family vacation. This year our group included me, hubby, our 14 year old son and his best friend, and our 9 year old daughter. We booked our trip using Marriott Rewards points - my husband is a Platinum Elite member due to business travel - and also booked the all-inclusive package using points. The all-inclusive package is supposed to include two adults and two children under age 12, but we were allowed to book both of our children without additional cost. We paid $50 per day (plus taxes) for my son's friend to be booked as a child.

About the All-Inclusive Plan:

* We spoke with several fellow guests who tried to book the all-inclusive package on arrival that were told that you must arrange for the all-inclusive option before you get to the hotel.

* Kids are required to order off of the children’s menu. We thought this might be a problem for our 14 year olds booked as kids, but it proved to be plenty of food for them every time. We ordered appetizers and shared with the table, plus the kids were allowed to order any dessert that they wanted. No one went hungry. We were told on the phone that they would check passports for birth dates upon arrival, but this did not happen.

* Tips are included in the all-inclusive package, but we always tipped extra because the service was good and we felt that they deserved it.

* Drinks were good, not watered down. The liquors included in the all-inclusive package were decent brands, if not top-shelf. Beefeater Gin and Bailey’s Irish Cream were included.

The restaurants included were fantastic, though any more than 7 nights you may tire of them. All-inclusive menus had slightly less selection than the regular menus, but included plenty of choices to satisfy us. If you would like steak and lobster in the steak house, ask for it as it’s not on the menu, but included for $10 extra. Service in each of the restaurants was very good to excellent for every meal, though they did lose two out of three of our dinner reservations that were made in advance of our arrival. Service around the pool was spotty, even with a good tip. There just never seemed to be enough waiters, but the hotel was not fully booked.

The hotel itself is very nice, spotlessly clean, and had very nice views. Although it is a little farther from the main “action” in Cancun, it is an easy bus ride to shopping, bars, etc. Even for someone like me who is unaccustomed to public transportation.

The room, though not large, was perfectly adequate for us, even though we had 5 crammed into one room (two on each bed, plus a rollaway). Beds were very comfortable, but do note that the two-bedded rooms have two DOUBLE beds, not QUEEN beds. No problems with odor, cleanliness, or functionality of anything in the room.

The beach was broad with plenty of chairs. There were not many strolling vendors, and the ones that were there were polite and moved along quickly if you were not interested. There is a ledge, approximately 6 feet tall, between the newly-constructed beach and the water. It didn’t impact our enjoyment, though it was a little odd. The water was too rough in the ocean to swim in most days, though our boys enjoyed body surfing a couple of times.

Check in and check out was painless and efficient. Some of our meals that were included in the all-inclusive plan were erroneously shown on our bill at check out, but this was quickly resolved. Make sure to check your bill before you leave.

Overall, we felt that it was a very nice property that we would love to return to someday.

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
863 posts
54 reviews
2. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

Beach and Pool Days:

We spent our first and last days around the pool and on the beach. The kids loved these days. We did not have to fight for a pool or beach chair, there were always plenty to be had. But the week that we were there was not overly busy, as it was just before the mad crush of spring break was to begin. (We were bad parents and pulled our kids out of school for a week. I am happy to report, though, that all of the teachers were very supportive and both kids made up all homework assignments prior to their real spring break. Son even has his straight A's still.)

I have read reviews that dissed the pool area as being too small or boring, but it worked well for our family. It was relatively shallow (I believe 4' or so) so we didn't have to worry about our 9 year old going into areas too deep for her to handle. There was a swim-up bar of sorts - no bar stools, just a funky ledge to sit on - that worked for us.

My only complaint, and it's a minor one at that, was the slow service around the pool. Maybe this is because I drink too much, but I would have liked to have seen more waiters. No problem, as hubby and I just took turns going to the bar, or we parked at the swim-up.

The infamous Cancun beach "ledge" is present, and if my guess is right about 6' tall. It wasn't a problem, didn't impact our enjoyment of the beach, but was just kind of funny looking.

The water was rough the week we were there, but we knew from research on these boards to expect it. It was yellow-flagged most of the time that we were there. But, the water was quite shallow, particularly on one end of the swimming area, so the kids and I splashed around in the waves some. The boys went body-surfing (boards were included in the all-inclusive plan) and had a great time.

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
863 posts
54 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

Market 28.

I planned a trip to Market 28, in order to appease my husband that likes to shop. Or I should say the husband that likes to bargain. We've been to a number of places, and one of my husband's favorite activities is to bargain for a good price on primarily useless stuff. Maybe it's because he's a salesman by trade, or maybe he just likes to argue with someone besides me. I don't know.

Anyhow . . . . we didn't particularly enjoy Market 28. It wasn't that it was really bad, it just wasn't that good. It was the same stuff that you could buy anywhere else in Mexico, at the same price as everywhere else. Except the place was a maze (yes, I got lost in it) and the sales tactics were a little more aggressive than other places. I could have skipped it, and my husband agreed. We bought a few small things and then walked to WalMart to take the bus back to town.

Our Mapchick maps were great for finding our way to and from the market. My husband was highly reluctant to set foot on a bus, but once I showed him the maps and convinced him to get on, he was a happy bus rider.

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
863 posts
54 reviews
4. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

Saturday, Chicken Pizza

Or, Chichen Itza, as it's really called.

We booked our tour with Entertainment Plus in advance of our arrival in Cancun. We booked Saturday based on advice found on the TripAdvisor boards; the logic being that Saturdays were less busy due to that being an arrival and departure day for many people, particularly timeshare occupants. The ruins did not seem particularly crowded at all.

Due to the small group booked, we travelled via a 15 passenger bus that, although not quite as comfortable for the long drive, probably got us there and back quicker than a larger bus would have. We were a small group, half of which only spoke Spanish, so we listened to each part of the tour in Spanish and then again in English. I understand the need to combine our groups, but it did make it a little harder to hold our kids' attention. We may have gotten more out of it had the group been separated by language, but we still enjoyed the tour.

We stopped at a small, shallow cenote on the way, but only stayed for about 30 minutes and did not have time to swim. I would have liked to have stopped at a better cenote and had time to actually swim in it. So, if fully experiencing a cenote is important to you, I would book two separate tours or go to a cenote on your own on a different day. On our next trip to the area (this was our first), I will plan a day for cenote exploration.

Lunch was included in our tour at a restaurant on the way to Chichen Itza. The food was very good, and restaurant staff danced for our entertainment. Drinks were quite expensive ($40 for the five of us, no alcohol) so be sure to budget accordingly.

Prior to stopping at the ruins, we were brought to a market to buy souveniers. Unless you see something in this store that you absolutely must have, I would highly suggest that you wait to buy handicrafts at the ruins themselves. The market was priced much, much higher. We, unfortunately, bought a fair bit of stuff at the market, only to discover that things we had paid $10 for were available directly from the individual that made it for less than half. Live and learn.

We really enjoyed the ruins; they are spectacular. I don't think anything can compare to the awesome spectacle of seeing the main temple for the first time - it's an imposing structure. I must have taken at least 100 pictures that day. The tour was informative (if elongated by the dual languages) and I'm glad that we went. I doubt we will return, but I am very glad that we went once.

The return trip to Cancun is long, but most of us slept it away. This was a full day, so we had a late dinner and crashed for the evening.

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
863 posts
54 reviews
5. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

Crococun

On Sunday, March 7 we visited Crococun. Thanks to directions provided by Co_Pilot54, we were able to use public transportation to do so. City bus to downtown and then colectivo for $20 pesos each to Crococun. Return to downtown was $25 pesos; we waited about 15 minutes for a colectivo to come along that, thankfully, had just enough room for the 5 of us.

Crococun was my idea, and the kids and hubby were highly skeptical. In fact, they tried to talk me out of it. But we enjoyed it. It's not a huge zoo, and the tour only takes about an hour and a half, but it's kind of fun to touch the animals and feed them. Our tour guide was informative and entertaining. My daughter said that feeding the monkeys was one of the highlights of the trip for her. The 14 year old boys enjoyed it as well, and we have great pictures of my son's friend holding a snake (my son refused to go near it).

As a concession to the boys (hubby and the 14 year olds) I agreed that if they would go to Crococun with me, I would have lunch on the way back at Hooters. So, we enjoyed a meal at Hooters (their wings really are good) and got some great, smiling pictures of the boys with the Hooters girls. Authentic Mexico it was not, but it was the sacrifice I had to make.

Again, the bus system was easy to use and inexpensive. No cabs required.

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
863 posts
54 reviews
6. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

Isla Mujeres

On Monday, March 8 we headed over to Isla Mujeres. After waiting for quite a while for a bus that went to Puerto Juarez, we gave up and approached a group of taxi drivers on break near the Marriott. A nice gentleman with a suburban agreed to take us for a reasonable rate, considering we were tired of waiting, and off we went. I think we paid $10 or $20.

The cost of ferries must have gone up since my MapChick map was printed, as it cost us 70 pesos each way. We did not buy round trip tickets, in case we decided to spend more and take the ferry back directly to the hotel zone. Since there is no cost savings in buying a round trip ticket vs. two one-way tickets, I didn't want to worry about losing my return ticket anyway.

Isla Mujeres was easily the highlight of our trip. We rented a golf cart from "GoMar" that, although big enough for all five of us and sporting a nice storage area in the back, it had issues with the "Go" part of "GoMar". Every time we hit a speed bump, the engine would die. Every single speed bump. There are LOTS of speed bumps on Isla Mujeres. Restarting the golf cart required some gear shift manuvers and key cranking that I don't fully understand, but we managed to get going again each time, after a short delay.

We returned to the rental location, but they were out of carts by then so we were stuck with our faulty cart. Although they did adjust the governor with a screw driver so it would go faster.

Then at one point, the horn got stuck in the "on" position, so we were driving around the island with our horn blaring, until we realized that banging on the dash board with a flip flop would turn it off again, at least temporarily. What an adventure!

But we had a blast roaming the island with no particular destination in mind. We stopped at Punta Sur to look at the scenery and use the "facilities". We stopped at some beaches to look in tidepools, had lunch at an open air restaurant with great food but lousy service and questionable sanitation (hey, a restaurant can't have everything!). Eventually we wound up at Playa Norte in some loungers while the kids splashed in the water. After returning the golf cart we roamed the pedestrian-only streets and decided that next year we are DEFINITELY going to spend a week on Isla Mujeres without the kids.

Our day on Isla was concluded with a rest on a concrete wall of some sort while various vendors strolled by with their wares on their way home. We bought some fried things with bananas and chocolate, fresh mangos, and a hammock all from the comfort of our cement wall perch. Now that's the way to shop!

We reluctantly returned to Puerto Juarez, only to find ourselves in the midst of rush hour traffic. So, we hired another taxi back to the hotel rather than hastle with the bus service at that hour. We should have stayed on Isla M. for dinner.

Eugene, Oregon
Level Contributor
863 posts
54 reviews
7. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

So, in summary, if anyone is still reading my long ramblings, we really had a great trip to Cancun. Great hotel, good food, lots of sun and sand. The weather wasn't as warm as we had hoped, but it was dry and warmer than home.

Although we really enjoyed Cancun, I think that our future trips to the area will be concentrated on the areas surrounding it, primarily Isla Mujeres, as the laid-back island atmosphere was more to our liking. We felt that Cancun was very nice, but at times we felt like we were still in the U.S. with the Ruth's Chris steakhouse, Hooters, Hard Rock, shopping malls, etc. It just didn't fully satisfy our craving for the Mexican culture. But if the price was right, I'd be back in a heartbeat!

new jersey
Level Contributor
1,044 posts
68 reviews
8. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

sounds like you had a great trip

stuckinnj

9. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

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Removed on: 26 March 2010, 06:05
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
443 posts
10 reviews
10. Re: Trip Report March 3-10

Great Report. Thanks for sharing