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…
I’ve updated this page to take into account the speedy beach recovery to date.
Note 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.
I do not think I’m the only one finding myself ‘lusting’ over "trailing suction"…
February 24th, 2006 by Steve Bridger
filed under Isla Mujeres
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
Hills 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.
February 22nd, 2006 by Steve Bridger
filed under Cancún
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.
Another batch of trip reports from the Riviera Maya…
Marsha 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…
Jim Wehrle snapped this photo of the newly-widened beach in front of the Westin Resort & Spa yesterday afternoon (Feb. 19th).
The 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.
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…
Added this page
to record progress made…and the possible timeline for the Cancún beach reclamation project
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.
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
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.
February 14th, 2006 by Steve Bridger
filed under Photos
, Riviera Maya
"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…
February 13th, 2006 by Steve Bridger
filed under Cancún
"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.
February 11th, 2006 by Steve Bridger
filed under Riviera Maya
Tulum escaped the worst of Wilma’s wrath.
In 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.
February 10th, 2006 by Steve Bridger
filed under Cozumel
Cozumel 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.