Monday, May 15, 2000

Aventura Palace on the Riveria Maya, Mexico

We stayed at the all-inclusive resort, Aventura Palace (one of the Moon Palace resorts) on the Mayan Riviera (60 miles south of Cancun), the first week of May, 2000. This is billed as adults-only. However, one time-share owner brought his 2 teens and one 40ish couple brought a new baby. Our travel arrangements were through Adventure Tours 1-800-305-5072,

This was my first time at an all-inclusive. The positive points are: The resort itself is delightful. The setting is beautiful. The buildings and grounds are well-maintained. Our room was clean, clean, clean. The air conditioning, and everything else in the room worked. Our room had a two-person Jacuzzi, satellite TV, hairdryer, data port, in-room safe, AM-FM clock radio, a balcony with a hammock, a refrigerator stocked with all types of alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and bottled water at no extra charge.

There are three restaurants and a pool snack bar to choose from. There is an on-site water purification plant for all drinking water and ice. The food was very good, including Mexican cuisine (the best guacamole I have ever eaten), Continental cuisine, French pastries, and English afternoon tea. The Bahama Mama and the Midori Freeze drinks were excellent.

There is a free shuttle to the other Palace resorts in the area. (Pay for one, party at all six.) There is a daily listing of resort activities and personnel to help plan side trips. There is varied entertainment nightly. The swimming pools cover a couple of blocks. There is an artificial lagoon, all types of water sports, scuba lessons, volleyball, billiards, foosball, tennis courts, and a gym. Golf courses are nearby.

The spa (fees not included in the inclusive package) provides massages, hair care, nail care and henna tattoos. I highly recommend the masseuse Roberto who "cured" my painful jammed knee and hip joint that, for 6 months, modern medicine had not been able to help. Spa fees are similar to USA rates.

The well-stock resort gift shop had better prices for T-shirts than we paid (after hard bargaining) in Playa del Carmen. There are plenty of sofas and chairs in cool, breezy porticos to take a snooze, chat with friends, enjoy a smoothie, or read a book from the take and share library.

The resort staff went out of its way to make everything pleasant and relaxing for the guests; in fact, the staff was the friendliest I have ever encountered. The resort provides employment for locals, and others from Mexico who otherwise might not have jobs.

The negatives are: It's kind of like being at Disney World or Las Vegas. You know its not real and there is not much of Mexican culture. One could be anywhere really. Phone calls to the USA - $84.15 for 14 minutes - are tremendously expense. (This was a collect call using the international operator.) The only other complaint I had (and this is such a nit that you can see I really had nothing to complain about) is that the blankets on the beds are too thick and heavy. I just took mine off and used the bedspread instead.

On a broader, and long-term, scale, I am concerned about the fresh water issue in the Yucatan. There is little surface water. Rainwater is stored in underground aquifers. There are thousands of hotel rooms in the area, and more being developed all the time - many with those two-person Jacuzzis that use a tremendous amount of water. I hope someone is planning the conservation of the water supply.

Would I go back? Yes!