February, 2006

Off message

February 28th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Tour operators

Last night I received an email from Mexican ecotourism pioneer Marlene Ehrenberg Enríquez, whom I count as a friend.

Marlene is exasperated having suffered from repeated tour cancellations from German tour companies, including this one.

For example, a complete ten-day tour of Mexico (arranged in June 2005) has just been cancelled in its entirety, despite only two itinerary days scheduled to be spent on the Mexican Caribbean – and in Playa del Carmen of all places, which is 99 per cent back to its pre-Wilma state.

Marlene has sent an appeal to the Mexico Tourism Board: tell ‘em the real story next week in Berlin, where the humongous International Tourism Fair begins…

Did the earth move for you?

February 28th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

I’ve updated this page to take into account the speedy beach recovery to date.

Beach recovery in front of the Royal Islander photo Lee TaylorNote that no timetable for the work has been made public, so these dates remain my best guesstimate.

Cancún’s beach reclamation project looks well on schedule to finish before April 30th, the ‘delivery’ date in Jan de Nul’s contract.

Lee Taylor took this photo (right) a few days ago during a brief sojourn at the Royal Islander.

I have to admit, I’ve become a beach recovery photo junkie. I’m no marine engineer [laughs], but I’ve found the whole spectacle… well, a spectacle.

Another photo

I do not think I’m the only one finding myself ‘lusting’ over "trailing suction"…

Day trip to Isla Mujeres

February 24th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Isla Mujeres, Photos

Isla Mujeres escaped remarkably well from the wrath of Hurricane Wilma.

Eduardo García lives in Cancún and took a day trip to Isla Mujeres on Saturday.

He took the car ferry from Punta Sam for the 45-minute crossing to the island. You get a good view of Playa Norte on the approach to the jetty downtown.

Check the status of the hotels on Isla Mujeres

Beach recovery moves up a gear

February 23rd, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún, Photos

Beach recovery at the Royal Islander photo James WehrleHills of sand are already appearing in front of the Royal Islander as phase two of the beach reclamation project starts ahead of schedule.

Kudos to Royal Resorts as one of the very few to regularly post news updates online. Their website even features a short video of the beach recovery teams at work earlier this month.

Another photo.

Symbol of Wilma free again

February 22nd, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, Cozumel, News

Shortly after two o’clock this afternoon, the ferry Bahía del Espíritu Santo was finally refloated following a painstaking salvage operation lasting two and a half months.

Novedades reports that an all-Mexican team of 60 engineers had worked to free the vessel from where it wedged in the sands near Puerto Juárez.

The 2000-tonne vessel seems likely to resume ferrying passengers between Cancún and Cozumel at some point in the future.

I’ve been following progress since my January 12th post. I guess this should be viewed as another symbolic step in Cancun’s rehabilitation.

Wish you were here #3

February 20th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya, Tulum

Another batch of trip reports from the Riviera Maya…

Playa del Carmen on Feb 15th photo Jonathan ClarkMarsha and Adam Smith painted a serene picture of a recent trip to Cabañas Ana y Jose in Tulum to attend a friend’s wedding.

"The hotel was beautiful (although the restaurant was a little expensive)," Marsha wrote, "but otherwise we really enjoyed our stay there… the beach, the friendly staff, towel art… and best of all, our friends who we don’t see often."

A short distance further south, Jenn saw orange at Amansala, the self styled "bikini boot camp and eco chic resort".

"They had fixed almost everything [by January 3rd] Jenn emailed.

Elsewhere on this blog I’ve written

Westin latest for sand nourishment

February 20th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Jim Wehrle snapped this photo of the newly-widened beach in front of the Westin Resort & Spa yesterday afternoon (Feb. 19th).

Jan de Nul working in front of the Westin photo Jim WehrleThe beach recovery crews have now moved on in the direction of Club Med. We reckon they are slightly ahead of schedule, according to our ‘unofficial’ timetable.

Jim can also vouch that Jan de Nul are working flat out. The dredger – the Filippo Brunelleschi – anchored right off the beach, close to where he lives… journeying back and forth during the night.

A second dredger is expected to arrive later this week, ready for the start of the second phase of the project.

Fox: “No more money for beaches”

February 17th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Cancun Beach Reclamation Project photo: James Wehrle Sheltering from a persistent February rain, President Vicente Fox had a gloomy message for those hoping to hear a commitment to cough up the extra 160m pesos (US$15m) needed to widen the beach to fully 60m.

Fox adopted a ‘wait and see’ tone. "Let’s finish this phase first."

The president spent 35 minutes observing the bulldozers at work and a choppy sea from a vantage point within the boundary walls of the Sun Palace hotel. He waited (in vain) for the dredger to appear with the next load of sand.

Tourism Secretary, Rodolfo Elizondo Torres, director of Fonatur, John McCarthy, and a gaggle of state and local funcionarios, all accompanied Fox.

“Cancún está de pie”, exulted the…

In brief…

Added this page to record progress made…and the possible timeline for the Cancún beach reclamation project.

UK Operators braced for hurricane legal action

February 16th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under News, Tour operators

In December I wrote of the tempest some holidaymakers’ unleashed against tour operators over their treatment before and after Hurricane Wilma.

Today, TravelMole reports that in the UK, the big operators face a group action "claiming they should not have been flown to Mexico in the first place and that once Wilma struck, not enough was done to help."

Solicitors Alexander Harris are representing (according to The Times) 284 customers who travelled to Cancún with MyTravel, Thomas Cook, Thomson, First Choice and Cosmos.

The number of claims for compensation rose sharply after the story was highlighted on ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme last month.

Whatever the…

In brief…

President Vicente Fox will inspect the progress made to recover Cancún’s beaches on Thursday, reports El Diario de Yucatán.

The president will head to the Sun Palace hotel – where sand is currently being pumped onshore – around 11:15am.

Led by Jesús Almaguer Salazar, president of the Cancún Hotels Association, hotel representatives will press Fox on whether the federal government will pledge any more money into the project to extend the resort’s hotel strip beach out to 60m.

  • See my guesstimate for how the beach restoration will progress

Cancún beach photos

February 14th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Photos

The first phase of Cancún’s beach reclamation project (El Mirador to Punta Nizuc) nears completion as the earth-moving  equipment and piping is moved towards the Westin (View a map).

 

Many thanks to Jim Wehrle who took these photos on February 13th and 14th.

I recommend that you browse through all Jim’s photos in slideshow format.

Wish you were here #2

February 14th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Photos, Riviera Maya, Tulum

"A picture is worth a thousand words" sounds trite, but how about these images to infuse some sunshine into your day.

Ms. Sizzle and her party clearly had fun frocklicking in the turquoise Caribbean Sea and relaxing with a good book and a chilled beer on a perfect white powdery Tulum beach.

I’ve also just caught up with Derbyshire couple, Jason and Vicky Bytheway who flew into Cancún on the first post-Wilma Thomson flight out of Birmingham (UK), just three weeks after the hurricane.

Jason had great things to say about their fortnight at the Riu Tequila (Playacar).

"Whenever we recall our time in Mexico, following such a destructive act of nature," he wrote…

Hello…I must be going

February 13th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News

"More than 100 foreign and domestic journalists as well as tourism officials and business people who will [sic] take part in the fourth edition of the National Tourism and Communications Forum, held in Cancún from Feb. 8th thru Feb. 10th."

"Will take part…held…" Mixing tenses. The confusion is not surprising given the official press release from the Mexico Tourism Board was posted online on February 8th, the day of the event.

Why hold a tourism and communications forum and not let media know about the event in advance? Seems counterproductive to me.

Journalist friend Jon Clark did make it to Cancún and ruminates about the spring break market in an article published today.

This follows…

Romancing Tulum

February 11th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Riviera Maya, Tulum

Tulum escaped the worst of Wilma’s wrath.

The Boca Paila road - photo > Towle NeuIn fact, the beaches even gained a few more metres of white powdery sand.

A good place then to escape the mid-winter freeze for a long weekend. 

Towle and Cassie Neu stayed at Cabañas Copal earlier this month; a couple of nights in a "Garden View" cabaña (#29), "not the best", according to Towle… followed by a switch to a "much better" "Sea View" cabaña (#17).

A maintenance crew was (still) resurfacing the Boca Paila Road (pictured) on February 6th – the day Towle and Cassie rented bikes.

The Neu’s have since returned to Minneapolis… and six inches of snow.

Freedom Tour

February 10th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cozumel, Cruises, News

photo courtesy Royal CaribbeanCozumel mayor Gustavo Ortega Joaquín announced yesterday an investment of US$40m dollars to ready the island’s cruise ship piers for the next generation of even bigger vessels.

Ortega commented to journalists that the Punta Langosta pier in San Miguel de Cozumel would welcome the world’s largest cruise ship, the Freedom of the Seas, in June.

The 160,000-ton, 3,634-passenger vessel (pictured, right, at the Aker Yard in Finland) will be the largest cruise ship in the world when it debuts in May 2006.

Currently, cruise ships are mooring offshore and ferrying in passengers by tender.