March, 2006

The Three Amigos

March 30th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under News

Despite feeling slightly uncomfortable about posting this so soon after my last (deeply troubling) post, I just couldn’t pass up on this one.

World Hum’s "Theodore Fez" dishes out style advice to the Fox/Bush/Harper three-way Cancún summit.

Ellen and Jim Fields say more on their Working Gringos blog.

The mystery of Room 4134

March 30th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under News

Kimberly Kim and Cheryl Everall, the two unlikely suspects in the murder of two of their fellow Canadians on the Riviera Maya have appealed to Prime Minister Harper to speak on their behalf with President Fox, reports the Toronto Star.

Front page of The Windsor Star, March 1st, 2006Domenico and Annunziata Ianiero were found in their hotel room with their throats cut on February 2oth.

Right: the front page of the Windsor Star for March 1st.

Newspaper editorials in Canada have slammed Mexican justice (a bit of an oxymoron) and even urged Canadian travellers to consider avoiding the country.

That would be sad… and serious for Mexico; the country is the No.3 destination (after the US and UK) for tourists from Canada. Canadians…

Tropical fruit cocktail

March 30th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Hotel groups, Photos, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya

Franchise operation 100% Natural has a foothold on Fifth Avenue ("Quinta Avenida"), the main drag in Playa del Carmen (between Calle 10 & 12). It serves up veggie pastas & soups, and fresh fish, meat and poultry, which you can eat in their tropical courtyard garden.

Playa del Carmen, March 22nd - photo: Andy BuddChantelle Tucker (a regular in my posts here) shares out all the wholesome goodness in this set of photos.

Just south of Playa is Ikal del Mar, with thirty beautiful, thatched villas, scattered throughout its lush grounds (the hotel prides itself on the fact that no trees were cut down during its construction).

Brighton-based Andy Budd was a guest earlier this month. Andy’s…

Domestic tourism props up Cancún in wake of Wilma

March 29th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News, Riviera Maya

As Cancún continues to rebuild and reinvent itself, a new study sheds some interesting light on how the hurricane’s impact has been felt in the resort.

Overall, the number of tourists staying in Cancún has fallen by 10 per cent since the October storm. But it could have been so much worse.

Playa del Carmen, March 2006  photo: Chantelle TuckerAn article [Spanish] in today’s La Jornada reports that researchers at La Salle University’s Institute of Tourism Research [website not available until April 3rd] in Cancún have identified that Mexicans themselves flooded in to nullify the slump in US visitors, whose numbers peeled back to a third of what they were before Wilma struck.

In the twelve months to January this year, domestic tourism…

In brief…

Bush joining spring breakers in CancúnChicago Tribune

Cancún in security lockdown for Bush visitReuters

Credit where credit’s due…

March 29th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News

Cancún’s rapid recovey from Hurricane Wilma is being held up as a role model for other destinations to follow.

The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), Francesco Frangialli said yesterday: "…the speed and efficiency shown in the recuperation of Cancún should be used as a blueprint for other countries facing similar threats."

Monsieur Frangialli is now in Acapulco for the annual “Tianguis Turístico” jamboree.

I would have to agree with the WTO’s assessment. Are you listening Mr Bush?

Getting Cancún ready for future battles

March 28th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News, Weather

I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said "Nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time."

Storm coming - photo: Daniel PembrokeFive months on from Wilma, I’ve detected signs that some people are beginning to wonder what may be in store this year. The hurricane season starts in June, which somehow suddenly now seems just around the corner.

Right on cue, Sean Mattson poses some questions about hurricane preparedness in Cancún in an article for the San Antonio Express. He remarks on how insurers have announced higher premiums and are now more demanding of construction quality. You may recall that I wrote about it in January.

As they say in the Caribbean…

"June too soon, July stand by,

Walls of contention

March 27th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News

No, not the wall of sand that has preoccupied my posts recently, but the proposed 700-mile, $2.2 billion wall in the sand along a stretch of the US-Mexico border.

This thorny topic will no doubt find its way onto the agenda as President Fox prepares to host President Bush and Canadian Premier Stephen Harper for two days of talks in Cancún starting Thursday.

Guessing game

The venue of the talks remains a closely guarded secret, and as I reported last week, security has gradually ratcheted up.

The swanky Le Blanc Spa Resort looks likely to either host one of the leaders (most probably President Fox) or stage the summit itself.

Bush and…

El Cozumeleño and Chen Río

March 24th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cozumel, Photos

Patricia Mitchell took these photos last week on Cozumel.

El Cozumeleño Resort and Chen Rio, Cozumel - photos: Patricia MitchellThe El Cozumeleño resort only re-opened at the end of January, but Patricia commented on how the hotel had done "a remarkable job of rebuilding".

On the windward side (eastside) of Cozumel, the Chen Río beach is a peaceful place to stop and eat, and popular with locals (always a good sign). Take a taxi, or rent a car across the island.

Many visitors swear by the huge mixed platters of grilled seafood and simpler cerviches under the palapas at the Chen Río restaurant.

1. View of hotel pool from room 1901
2. Room with a blue-green view
3. El Cozumeleño

The high impact of shore excursions

March 22nd, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Costa Maya, Cruises, Sustainable tourism

Sheltered by part of the largest continuous reef in the Western Hemisphere, the Costa Maya is situated on the Mexican Caribbean some 350km south of Cancún and just south of the stunning 1.3 million-acre Sian Ka’an reserve.

I’ve refrained from mentioning the Costa Maya on this blog, pretty much because the region avoided Wilma’s punch, instead suffering driving rains and a storm surge; a mere slap on the cheek by comparison with resorts to the north.

But I believe the following warrants some attention.

Ten of the largest cruise ship operators now visit Puerto Costa Maya (aerial photo) built to "resemble an ancient Mayan city". Before leaving their…

Cenote secrets

March 22nd, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Diving, News, Sustainable tourism

On this, the final day of the World Water Forum in Mexico City, a salutary reminder of the need to protect the unique cenotes - or sinkholes – of the Yucatán.

Cenote - photoRob Birce of the Alma Libre Bookshop in Puerto Morelos tipped me off about Steve Gerrard’s new book, Cenotes of the Riviera Maya.

Thanks to Scott Clark for allowing me to publish his photo of a cave dive in Quintana Roo earlier this month.

Spotlight on

Mission beach

March 22nd, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún, News

Secret service agents will stealthily sneak into Cancún this week in advance of the tri-lateral summit on 30/31st March. They will begin sweeping selected venues for potential hazards and x-raying walls, lamps, and brand-new puffed-up post-Wilma pillows for bugs.

No official word on where the talks will be held, of course… but the Grand Coral Beach, or other Fiesta Americana hotel look the most likely. Any ‘exclusion zone’ should not impact the beach recovery operation on the "wave" side of the Hotel Zone.

A line in the sand

March 21st, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cancún Beach Recovery, Cancún

Beach at The Royal Sands, March 20th, 2006 - photo courtesy Royal Resorts Peter Grosser paced out the vast "re-loaded" beach (as Mel described it) at the Royal Sands at the weekend. He confirms that at this point the beach is upwards of 50m wide ("83 paces" to be exact).

I’m grateful to Peter for taking time out of his vacation (or was he avoiding the packing?) for settling this conundrum.

Read Peter’s full report here.

Photo taken at the Royal Sands, March 20th. With thanks to Royal Resorts. View a larger version

Meanwhile, at the southern end of the Hotel Zone, scene of the most alarming shrinkage to the already recovered beach, the "wall" has reduced in height a little. Most of the rocks…

Cozumel update

March 20th, 2006 by Steve Bridger filed under Cozumel

Cozumel, March 2006 photo Travis WilliamsEllen Fields has rightly given me a nudge to update you with some Cozumel tidbits. It’s been a while.

Actually, it’s easier to point you to Ellen’s own blog where she posted news of a tour she and Jim took around the island on March 7th, doing some research for an unnamed travel guide. Thanks, Ellen.

While we’re here… Travis Williams took this photo of his rental Bug, while visiting Cozumel on the very same day as the Fields. Similarly, Zu Zu captured another cruise ship anchored offshore, this time after dark on March 11th.

I spotted a comprehensive piece on child-friendly cruising in The Telegraph’s travel supplement on Saturday, which may interest some…

Mother Nature’s way

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

After a double helping of rumination over that "sand wall" (or ‘shelf’) on Tuesday and Wednesday, I thought I’d post this snippet from a recent email received from Mel Zelniker in Cancún.

"The ‘shelf’ you speak of is a not uncommon happening here. Last week we went to Playa Delfines, one of the first re-loaded beaches.

"On our first day there the shelf was an impressive 2 to 3 foot affair with lots of shells and bits to be excavated from the water side.

"When we returned the very next day, the shelf was gone.

"I don’t know if this was the result of sculpting by Fonatur [the Mexican tourism…

In brief…

March 17th - AP’s Julie Watson has written an article about how Cancún is peeling off the wet T-shirt in favour of the spa gown and slippers; turismo premium, I think the Mexico Tourism Board like to call it.

LeBlanc render lobby Spring breakers account for less than 1 percent of the approximately 3.5 million visitors expected in Cancún this year

Last year, Cancún was the No. 2 destination for spring break travelers booking their trips through, second only to Miami… This year, Cancún fell to eighth place.