In The News: Mexico Tourism Drops With Ongoing Drug Violence

Miss all this because of a drug war? Not me!

As a person who has visited Mexico twice in the past three months (first to Cancun, then Cabo), I’m saddened by all the recent headlines about the huge drop-off in tourism there. It’s not that I can’t understand why people wouldn’t necessarily chose this particular time to visit —just last October a Canadian tourist in Acapulco was found dead in his rental car, and another was shot in the leg during a firefight in Mazatlan.

And as much as a tourism company or media outlet can say over and over again that the violence isn’t, for the most part, directed at tourists, for some that reassurance simply isn’t enough.

I, for one, wasn’t the slightest bit worried when I went to Cancun and Cabo. Firstly, my own high school was a breeding ground for drug and turf “wars”—I don’t need to travel to Mexico to see that. Secondly, I live in New York City, and let’s be honest, this isn’t necessarily the safest of places in the world, either.

But  more importantly, I knew that the places I was traveling to were as safe as they possibly could have been—large tourist destinations during months where (in previous years) and lot of other tourists would be traveling as well. What exploring we did during those trips was not too far from the hotel, and always at the advice of hotel staff or other tour guides. To be honest, I felt more unsafe around the hoards of drunken American Spring Breakers than I did out and about in the town in Mexico.

Seriously, drunk kids can do stupid things sometimes.

Having said all that, I would never, ever, in a million years recommend to someone that they should travel to Mexico if they felt even the slightest bit uncomfortable or unsafe. Mexico is beautiful. And it’s fascinating and fun and exciting. You can’t experience all of that when you’re constantly looking behind you and worried about whether or not you’re going to get shot by a drug lord.

Sadly, it seems that until these senseless, disgusting acts of violence in Mexico are over, the entire place will suffer…..

P.S. Check out this sobering graph, courtesy of the WSJ, to see just how badly Mexico really is suffering:

Courtesy of WSJ

Cabo San Lucas and Grand Solmar

Welcome to Grand Solmar (still under construction!)

So as you may or may not remember, I was invited a while back to attend a press trip in Cabo San Lucas for the grand opening of the new luxury Grand Solmar Resort & Spa. Having never been on a press trip before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Turns out I should have expected a pretty amazing time—because that’s exactly what we had. On top of the awesome hotel, the breathtaking views, the flowing drinks, and the tasty food, we also had a few days-worth of really fun off-site adventures, and the other people on the press trip were totally sweet and fun, as well.

Our Delta flight had us flying out of JFK at 6:20 a.m. on Thursday, which is obviously super early, but at least that meant that we would arrive by 12:30 Cabo San Lucas time, so that was the good part about it.

And here’s the thing about Grand Solmar—when they say luxury, they really mean luxury. Grand Solmar is not a hotel where I could ever afford to stay in the future (unless of course I become a wildly successful travel writer some day :) ), which means it was that much nicer to stay there this past weekend, and Steph and I could appreciate it so much more. The views were beautiful, and the rooms were spotless (complete with comfy robes, turn down service, and tasty treats left every night), with huge porches overlooking the ocean. As this was not an all-inclusive, meals and drinks were a bit pricey (I bought two bottles of Fiji water for almost $20, people. $20). But everything that was included by the press company—dinner at restaurant/tequila bar Hacienda El Coyote (which, by the way, is owned by the same family who owns Grand Solmar) in the town on Thursday night, the outback camel safari with Cabo Adventures including lunch and tequila tasting, appetizers and drinks on Friday night, swimming with the dolphins and a fancy, ocean side dinner on Saturday night, were all amazing. The food was quite tasty—and this time, no revenge (knock on wood!).

Our balcony

The beach—only a few feet from our hotel

The outdoor lobby area

Gotta love a pool bar! (and 2-for-1 Happy Hour!)

I've had some decent Mexican food in NYC, but no one does Mexican food like this here

So on Friday morning, Steph and I set out on our camel and safari ride with the group. We took a huge open-air truck through the jungle and hiked up along the mountains. Then we headed to the beach where we literally rode camels, and then it was off to a tortilla making class, a great lunch, and a tequila lesson (the best tequila will have bubbles that last for at least 30 seconds when you shake it. And also, there is a certain type of tequila that people take a shot of and then follow with a cooked cricket chaser. Yes, really. A cricket cooked with salt, pepper, and garlic. I abstained from experiencing cricket on my little Mexico adventure).

Camel riding in Cabo

Our fabulous camel—Slim. Thanks for the ride, Slim!

Our journey started here, in this Mercedes 4-wheel Jeep

Our desert trek brought us along some pretty high hills

Our tour guide explaining how they make corn tortillas in Mexico

Our delicious, homemade Mexican lunch on the safari

Tequila and crickets. No thanks!

Fancied up for appetizers and drinks by the ocean

Saturday we headed back over to Cabo Adventures for our session to swim with the dolphins. If you know anything about me, friends, you’ll know that I’m an animal lover. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time, have always volunteered with animals, and am a vegetarian. So heading into this little adventure, I was a bit apprehensive, to say the least. But still, it was something I’ve always wanted to try, and why not try it when it’s free, right? Who can blame me?

Unfortunately our little session only proved me right in terms of feeling apprehensive. Don’t get me wrong—the actual rides with the dolphins (which included a “belly” ride where you hold on to their fins as they swim upside down and a “dorsal fin” ride where you ride on top), and the kisses and the “dancing” you do with them, all of that was super fun. Dolphins are cute. And friendly. And apparently very patient.

Except for that Saturday. These dolphins seemed to have about had enough. It all started when the first dolphin that Steph was supposed to ride with absolutely refused to come over and be a part of our little show. He wasn’t feeling it. Maybe he had a fight with his girlfriend that morning—who knows. Then, a girl in the group next to us had her foot cut on the tooth of a dolphin who came up behind the one she was riding and she accidentally kicked into his mouth.

That was the first time we were ordered out of the water.

The second time we were ordered out of the water was when the same girl (poor girl!) and her friend were taking their photo with the dolphin. Another dolphin came up behind the one they were taking photos with and tried to start playing with him. Both dolphins got antsy and jumpy, the girls got knocked in the head, and we were yet again ordered out of the water, this time so they could “let the dolphins be dolphins for a while,” meaning let them swim around crazily and play and not perform.

This is where the dolphins live. Would you like living here if you were an over 600-lb wild animal?

All in all, a bit of a sobering experience. I say—let the dolphins, free people! It’s not that important to take photos with them, and they clearly aren’t all that happy being held in captivity. Just let the dolphins go!

After our morning with the antsy dolphins, Steph and I headed out to the marina where we found a restaurant on the water that had $1.50 fish tacos with a fixin’s bar that allowed you to throw on all the guacamole, salsa, cole slaw, and other goodies that you could ever want. Delish.

Fish tacos. Yum!

On our final night we attended a ribbon cutting in honor of the naming of their new check-in bar area—Infinity (a Grand Solmar Facebook fan had won the contest to name the bar, along with an all-expense paid trip to the hotel that same weekend. Oh the wonders of Facebook), then we all headed to the ocean-front dinner, complete with live music and “casual elegance” attire. We had five courses, along with different wines for each course and a tequila liquor to finish it off.

Cabo, my friends, is everything everyone says that it is, and I can certainly see why celebs love the place. The only sad thing, if it can be called that, is the fact that it’s hard to find a spot in Cabo where you can actually go in the ocean. The waves are monstrous—I mean really, monstrous. Much larger than anything I have seen in Hawaii or Australia.

Still, I plan to go back some time friends, and I would highly recommend a trip there for anyone who loves the sun, appreciates fabulous Mexican food, and enjoys tequila.

Bis bald, my friends!

We’re back!!

And it was fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. As our flight arrived back at 12:30 last night, and we didn’t make it back to my apartment until after 1:30, and I had to work this morning—I obviously haven’t had time to download photos and/or blog about the experience yet. But I will! As soon as possible!

As a preview, check out me and Steph on the beach camel ride above. Yeah. The trip was pretty amazing.

Bis bald friends! More to come soon!

Business or Pleasure?

Destination—Grand Solmar Resort, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

This is it—my friends. It’s the day before I can finally answer the question of “Are you traveling for business or pleasure?” with an emphatic “Business!”

Not that I don’t love traveling for pleasure (obviously, I do). It’s just that I have always, always wanted to travel for business, and this, as my first ever true “press” trip, is all too exciting for me.

I received mine and Steph’s full itinerary today for the Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa in Cabo San Lucas, and here’s what we have to look forward to:

We arrive Thursday at noon, and we’ll hit the beach…hard.

Thursday at 7:30 we have dinner reservations at Hacienda El Coyote

Friday morning we’ll be swimming with the dolphins

At 6:30 we’ll have a welcome cocktail on the Don Luis Restaurant Terrace with other press guests

On Saturday morning at 8 a.m. (I know Steph loves that time), we’ll begin our outback & camel safari

At 6:30 we’ll attend a ribbon cutting ceremony

At 7:30 we’ll attend the ‘casual elegance’ attire Gala Dinner on the Land’s End Terrace.

Sunday is our last day. We’ll probably hit the beach for a bit, then the farewell brunch, and then we’ll be off to the airport.

I can’t think about it all too much or I’ll throw up, I’m so dang excited.

Bis bald friends! Details of all our crazy adventures when I get back!

In The News: Rodent Waste Found on Plane

Rodent waste anywhere is gross, don’t get me wrong. But on a plane—that’s just wrong.

According to this WSJ article, Delta is going to need to keep up a bit more stringently with their cleaning practices after U.S. health regulators found rodent waste on a plane in Atlanta earlier this year.

According to the FDA letter, “numerous rodent excreta pellets” were found near areas of the plane where the food is prepared. Some were even found above door panels and passenger seats. Additionally, the “rodent excreta pellets” were “too numerous to count.”

Just ick! Unfortunately my press trip to Cabo was booked today, and guess who I’ll be flying with? Yup. Delta. Hopefully they’ll get their s*&% together (pun intended) before May.

Bis bald, friends!

Cancun, Mexico—Complete!

Hello beautiful Cancun

Well friends, we’re back! And Mexico was, I must admit, pretty much everything I thought it would be and more. The beaches were the most unbelievable blue. The people were so ridiculously friendly. Our all-inclusive hotel was, well, the epitome of all-inclusive (to include a mini bar and liquor cabinet that was refilled every two days).

Click below to read more about my amazing birthday trip to Cancun, and my recommendations for you should your travels ever bring you there…

Continue reading

Mexico…Tomorrow!

Well folks, the time is finally (almost!) here. Today is moving dreadfully slow, but I do think I have my ducks in a row.

Applied for New York State drivers license this morning so I’m not leaving the country with an expired one? Check.

Boarding passes, hotel reservations, jungle excursion reservations printed? Check.

Note written for sister to take care of animals while we’re gone and food left readily accessible? Check.

Nails painted a lovely shade of bright, sunny Mexico? Check.

And the pedicure is on for tonight. I’m half-packed. I have three bathing suits in my bag, and some work out clothes for our jungle adventure. That’s right friends—our jungle adventure. Chris and I have booked a Hummer Jungle Tour for one of our days in Mexico, and by the looks of things, it’s pretty friggin’ awesome. Some of our adventures include:

Driving a hummer though the jungle and swamps

Exploring Mayan ruins(el Rey) and feeding more than 300 iguanas

Visiting a private Mayan reserve

Swimming and snorkeling in a sacred crystal cenote and using a zip line

Experiencing an amazing interactive zoo with real crocodiles

And I look forward to all these things, friends!

So until next time, with much more detail, bis bald! And have a fabulous weekend!

Mexico on the Horizon

Well my friends, it’s almost here—only three more wake-up days until we depart for Cancun. I thought it would never come.

And yet, as the vacation I’ve waited so long for fast approaches, I’m still wary of articles like this (especially since my family keeps sending them to me). Sure, there’s a bit of a drug mess happening in Mexico right now, so Chris and I promise to keep our eyes and ears open while we’re there. Plus, in my own defense, the craziest thing I plan to do in Cancun involves a book, a drink, and a chair by the side of the pool. And I thoroughly look forward to it.

Bis bald, friends! I may or may not get to write again before I leave, but if I don’t, expect plenty of updates when we return next week.

I’ve Got Mexico On the Mind

The Occidental Grand Cozumel. Don't you want to be here?

So you might remember that I mentioned a little trip Chris and I have coming up to Cancun? I know I briefly mentioned that we booked with a sale, and I figure I should spread the love. So here’s the deal. If you need a little sun in your life some time soon, Mexico seems as good a place as any. Just head over to here, and get $50 off when you book a minimum $500 order at any resort sold on Mexico.com. Book from now through Feb. 28 and travel between now and Sept. 20.

I think you deserve a little trip to Mexico, too—don’t you?

Bis bald, friends! A friend and I are taking a day trip to New Brunswick, New Jersey this weekend. I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to travel far to feel like you’re on vacation. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Press Trip Fun

Cabo here I come!

Well it looks like there may be a trip to Cabo in my future anyway, friends. After having never been to Mexico before in my life, I now have two trips planned—one with Chris to Cancun next month and now another press trip to Cabo at the end of May. I’m very excited! I’ll be heading out on May 19 and staying at the Grand Solmar Resort.

Have I mentioned I’m excited?

Bis bald, friends!

Booked—Cancun, Mexico

Well we did it, we booked a trip to Mexico. Cabo turned out to be a bit too far to trek for just a few days, so we went with the classic Cancun instead. Still, I’m beyond excited. It definitely gives us something to look forward to when it’s 9 degrees outside (seriously, it’s literally 9 degrees outside right now).

Anyway, we booked the all-inclusive RIU Cancun in what will allegedly be an ocean view junior suite. That definitely sounds like somewhere I want to be. And I’ve never done all-inclusive before (besides the Toilet-of-the Sea cruise to the Bahamas, of course), but they promise to include everything like daily meals and snacks, unlimited local and imported alcoholic beverages, regularly restocked minibar and liquor dispenser, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, hot tub access, access to sun loungers, parasols and towels, gym and sauna, nightclub entrance, tennis, non-motorized aquatic sports equipment, entertainment, taxes and gratuities. It sounds too good to be true. We did our research, though, and all the reviews seem to say that it really is what it says it is. I certainly hope so.

The only downside to the experience of booking the trip was discovering just how little our airline miles for United actually got us. First were the blackout dates and restrictions. We were able to book an outgoing flight that was pretty decent, but there was nothing available for purchase using our miles to get us home, so that meant we had to pay for it. Then there were tons of fees associated with booking with our miles. About $55/person, actually. All in all, using miles to book the trip probably saved us about half the cost, or a little more, but I was more than a little disappointed with the flight availability and the ridiculous fees. Next time, I think I’ll be booking with a different airline.

Bis bald, friends!

You Must Sign Up For…

The Aqua Club in Cancun

Living Social Daily Deals, if they’re offered in your hood, my friends. The site is in the realm of the Groupon’s of the world, but Living Social has something a bit more fun—travel deals.

In my inbox right now sits a 4-night, all-inclusive deal for two to a spa in Cancun.That’s drinks, food, and even a 1-hour Swedish massage. For $1,335.

That sounds pretty great right about now, how about you?

Bis bald!

Where In The World?: Cabo San Lucas

Let’s talk about my upcoming vacation. The second Chris gets home from Australia I told him that we’re going to sit down and discuss Mexico.

See, Mexico means a lot to me. Mexico is a trip that seems like it’s been a long time in the making. Three years ago now I decided to take a little trip for Valentine’s Day since Chris was in Canada. That was my trip to Hawaii. Then the following year Chris and I headed to the Bahamas together on our Toilet of the Sea Cruise. So you can see how in my head I had decided that going on vacation for Valentines day had become my “thing.” I liked this “thing.” So I decided that last year Chris and I should take a trip to Mexico together for Valentine’s Day.

But then this happened instead.

But I got over it. It was the trip of a lifetime for Chris, and Mexico would always be there for us to visit another time.

And that time has finally come. While Valentine’s Day weekend isn’t the best weekend for us to travel, since it’s so close to the time Chris will be getting back from Australia, we’ve decided to push it back two months—but I’ll still consider it my Valentine’s Day travel, just for the sake of it all.

I can’t really remember how we landed on Cabo. I think it may have been the photos I saw a few weeks back of a bunch of celebrities who were vacationing there. Whatever it was, I now have my heart set on Cabo, and so in honor of the impending trip, let’s talk a little bit about it.

  • Cabo is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, in the municipality of Los Cabos in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur
  • According to the 2005 census, the population was 56,8111 people
  • Cabo is known for its sandy beaches, world-class scuba diving locations, balnearios, and abundant marine life
  • It is thought that the first humans came to the southern end of the peninsula 1,400 years ago
  • Cabo San Lucas is less rainy than San Jose del Cabo, although hurricanes can bring heavy rain for long periods. Average rain in the year: 9.63 inches or 244.7 mm

Bis bald, friends! I’m thinking of warm, sandy, Mexican beaches on this cold, rainy, snowy Tuesday New York City night.