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First time to Mexico - suggestions ?

logan115

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Greetings All,

Decided over the weekend that since this May marks our 10th anniversary that my wife and I are going to sneak away somewhere this May. Realize that only 2 months out our options may be limited by availabiltiy, but to be honest I'm not even sure what area would be best for us. Neither of us have even been to Mexico and thought it would be a great spot to get away.

By and large, the only real vacations we've taken in the past 10 years have been to WDW with the kids, and a few trips short trips to Vegas with my brother and his wife. Spent a lot of time digging around TUG (and renewing my membership) yesterday and it seems like the Royals and Grand Mayan resorts are highly regarded as I've been reading quite a few reviews.

It seems like there are tons of places that have what we would want/need, ideally what we're looking for is :

1) On a swimmable beach.
2) Clean, safe area.
3) Spa
4) Lazy river (we love the lazy river at Mandalay Bay as well as at the Disney water parks).
5) Good variety of dining/bar options either on-site or close by.


The Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta was one that I was looking at a bit more yesterday, but not sure what else is comparable or if there are better resorts that I should look into.

We could probably do without the lazy river, it's more of a great to have, so if there is somewhere without a lazy river that folks would really favor please throw it out there.

In terms of actually getting a room, I can access RCI through my folks account if there's something that we can pay cash for, but I have nothing with II or any other exchange system (but could sign up for SFX/TPI if it makes sense). Did find a room on the evil empire's site (Wyndham Endless Vacations) at the GM NV for about $1100 for a week but am guessing I can find it better elsewhere. Seems like I could pay cash for a Royal for a similar amount direct as they have cash rooms available for about $100-$125/night.

Not that I'm all that familiar with any of the Marriots/Westin/Starwood/HGVC properties, but I know nothing about the Royals/Grand Mayans.

As you can tell, I have no idea how far these resorts are set up, or how close to town they may/may not be - honestly vacation has meant WDW for so long that it took us a good 30 minutes to even think about where we'd like to go !

Thanks in advance,

Chris
 
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Karen G

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Greetings All,

Decided over the weekend that since this May marks our 10th anniversary that my wife and I are going to sneak away somewhere this May. . . Neither of us have even been to Mexico and thought it would be a great spot to get away.

. . .
The Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta was one that I was looking at a bit more yesterday, but not sure what else is comparable or if there are better resorts that I should look into.

. . . I can access RCI through my folks account if there's something that we can pay cash for
Look at RCI for Extra Vacations. You can find plenty of stuff for under $400/week at Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta. When you do a search, just click on the Extra Vacations Only option.

Another area that I recommend you consider is Cabo San Lucas. It's a great place for a first time visit to Mexico. It's very safe and is a wonderful spot for a relaxing and fun vacation. Check RCI Extra Vacations for Mexico, then Baja Pensinsula. For the best location in Cabo, in my opinion, look for resorts right in Cabo. There are three Pueblo Bonito resorts and any of them would be good.
 

logan115

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Look at RCI for Extra Vacations. You can find plenty of stuff for under $400/week at Grand Mayan Nuevo Vallarta. When you do a search, just click on the Extra Vacations Only option.

Another area that I recommend you consider is Cabo San Lucas. It's a great place for a first time visit to Mexico. It's very safe and is a wonderful spot for a relaxing and fun vacation. Check RCI Extra Vacations for Mexico, then Baja Pensinsula. For the best location in Cabo, in my opinion, look for resorts right in Cabo. There are three Pueblo Bonito resorts and any of them would be good.

Thank you very much, will check this out today and probably have some more questions.
 

siesta

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Im not big on self contained resorts like the mayans in mexico, thats just personal preference. i like to get around, explore, eat at local places. If you are elderly and dont get around alot, or have little kids, or just like to stay put..i can see where these resorts could be of interest. They do look beautiful.

That being said, some suggestions for you:

Cancun - royals are conveniently located, as well as beautiful beach front property, with many restaraunts and bars close by. This would be an excellent choice for any trip, let alone first trip. Some other mentions: westin lagunamar, the rates dont look that bad from hotel for a studio.

Playa del Carmen south of Cancun- royal hacienda is a royal resort

These two locations are great becaus besides the fun and sun, you have important mayan sites like chichen itza, tulum, etc. That are fun day trips to explore. Plus snorkeling or swimming in a Cenote is spectacular, they are like underground rivers,unique to this region. Also you can head over to Cozumel or Isla Mujeres.

You could also check out Los Cabos, but you are looking at a longer, more expensive flight. And if you want swimmable beach, you wnt to stay on Medano(pueblo bonito, casa dorada some examples). The beaches in Cancun and Playa are much nicer, with prettier water.

Mazatlan is also a great place. But with recent uptick in violence in the poor areas, and Culiacan the neighboring capital is one of the most dangerous cities in mexico, thus toursim has dropped in mazatlan. Im not saying dont go there because of safety concerns, i was just there in Oct. '10, its just that tourism is so depressed there including recently cruise ships now skipping the stop, that you will not get the true feel. Alot of our favorite restaraunts closed or closing, hotels at low occupancy rates. Also, no direct flights like to cabo and cancun from ohare international
 
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Passepartout

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I wouldn't worry about a first time, because after you experience Mexico, you'll want to go back. It's a large, geological, historical, and culturally diverse country.

Not a fan of giant self-contained resorts, but if that gives you the services (spa, lazy river) that you desire, it's do-able. Because of that and ease/expense of the airfare, I'd suggest Cancun and vicinity- Cozumel- Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya. One reason I selected this area is for the swimable ocean and sugar-white beaches. This close to your desired dates I don't know how choosy you can be. Check the last calls, extra vacations for deals. Then look over the resort reviews and pull the trigger.

After you have gone to Cancun/Yucatan area, then set your sights to Puerto/Nuevo Vallarta on the West coast. A whole different 'feel. Very Romantic. If it was good enough for Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, it oughtta be good enough for you. However the ocean is not as warm on the West Coast. There are not the large expanses of beaches- more little 'pocket' beaches. Compared to Cancun/vicinity, PV is much more 'Mexican.' Wonderful, warm, friendly people, great food- especially seafood.

Whichever place you choose, I'd advise no car rental. Use public transport, taxis and organized tours. Both for safety, security and ease of use.

Have a great trip. We have just been back a week and we are in the planning stages for next winter's trip.

Jim
 

logan115

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Im not big on self contained resorts like the mayans in mexico, thats just personal preference. i like to get around, explore, eat at local places. If you are elderly and dont get around alot, or have little kids, or just like to stay put..i can see where these resorts could be of interest. They do look beautiful.

Well, after doing some work around the house on Saturday I certainly felt well beyond my years Sunday morning, but I'll first be turning 40 later this year.

I wouldn't worry about a first time, because after you experience Mexico, you'll want to go back. It's a large, geological, historical, and culturally diverse country.

Not a fan of giant self-contained resorts, but if that gives you the services (spa, lazy river) that you desire, it's do-able. Because of that and ease/expense of the airfare, I'd suggest Cancun and vicinity- Cozumel- Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya. One reason I selected this area is for the swimable ocean and sugar-white beaches. This close to your desired dates I don't know how choosy you can be. Check the last calls, extra vacations for deals. Then look over the resort reviews and pull the trigger.

After you have gone to Cancun/Yucatan area, then set your sights to Puerto/Nuevo Vallarta on the West coast. A whole different 'feel. Very Romantic. If it was good enough for Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, it oughtta be good enough for you. However the ocean is not as warm on the West Coast. There are not the large expanses of beaches- more little 'pocket' beaches. Compared to Cancun/vicinity, PV is much more 'Mexican.' Wonderful, warm, friendly people, great food- especially seafood.

Whichever place you choose, I'd advise no car rental. Use public transport, taxis and organized tours. Both for safety, security and ease of use.

Have a great trip. We have just been back a week and we are in the planning stages for next winter's trip.

Jim

Thanks Jim, appreciate the info.
 

PStreet1

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The lazy river at the Grand Mayan in Neuvo Vallarta is absolutely outstanding; it takes about 30 minutes to make one trip around it. If a big, self-contained resort is what you're looking for, you would probably love it.

We love Puerto Vallarta because of the city itself. We find we spend most of our time in the romantic zone because of the restaurants/easy strolling/etc. Because we are so fond of Puerto Vallarta itself, we would rather be closer to Puerto Vallarta than in Neuvo Vallarta---but the Grand Mayan in Neuvo Vallarta is lovely. We haven't stayed at the Grand Mayan in Puerto Vallarta, but I haven't heard good things about it.

We also like Cabo, but the feeling of the area is, for us, entirely different from the feeling in Puerto Vallarta. Cabo is "less townish" and "more resortish." San Jose del Cabo is more townish and has some of the same things we love about Puerto Vallarta. It's easy to drive between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

Unlike Jim, we like having a car and always rent one. We like being totally in charge of where/when we go places. We've also taken the public bus in both Puerto Vallarta and Cabo and found it handy for some things when we didn't want to drive/look for parking. We do not find driving difficult, and we do not feel that safety is an issue. I think the choice is more a matter of personal traveling style than safety.
 
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Passepartout

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Unlike Jim, we like having a car and always rent one. We like being totally in charge of where/when we go places. We've also taken the public bus in both Puerto Vallarta and Cabo and found it handy for some things when we didn't want to drive/look for parking. We do not find driving difficult, and we do not feel that safety is an issue. I think the choice is more a matter of personal traveling style than safety.

I, too, have rented a car in Mexico. I just recommended against it on someone's first trip. There is a sticky on the subject just above here. Car rentals in Mexico and the necessary insurances are just daunting at the best of times. If one is not at least a little familiar with Spanish, and unusual road hazards (TOPES!) it's just best to leave it alone. :) J
 

siesta

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I, too, have rented a car in Mexico. I just recommended against it on someone's first trip. There is a sticky on the subject just above here. Car rentals in Mexico and the necessary insurances are just daunting at the best of times. If one is not at least a little familiar with Spanish, and unusual road hazards (TOPES!) it's just best to leave it alone. :) J
I agree. I wouldnt recommend a car on the first trip, especially since most tourist areas have convenient public transportation and/or cheap taxis. Cabo corridor or riviera maya, a car is nice.
 

logan115

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Don't see us renting a car. Think we will stick with public transportation and would look to do a day trip or two but really looking to be somewhere that has enough stuff at the resort but also more options to explore nearby. We aren't world travelers so looking to keep it simple and relaxing.

Lots to think about !

Chris
 

easyrider

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One thing for sure, it rarely rains in Cabo. Cabo was my first taste of Mexico. I caught my first striped marlin in Cabo. I caught my first blue marlin in Cabo. I caught my largest tuna in Cabo. I caught many big dorado in Cabo. Cabo tastes like a fish taco and Sol.

We like southern Baja and did rent a car on our first trip to Cabo. We drove the loop to La Paz and back. Driving in many parts of Mexico is really easy. Especially Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. I don't get why driving is discouraged by some tug members especially if they had no problem while driving in Mexico or have no driving experience in Mexico.

I find it far more convenient to have a rental car than taking an hour long bus ride to the grocery store with the locals.

The Grand Mayan in Nuevo Vallarta is a huge place that a person might be incline to just hang out for a week. A person needs to be a Grand Mayan guest to use the entire resort including the lazy river and wave pool. Sea garden and Mayan Palace guest do not have use of the entire resort.


Bill
 
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logan115

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Have been looking at various resorts and I had a question about the Tris. Sorry for the naive questions but I've never been to Cancun. Are there any shops/bars/restaurants just outside of the Tris or do you need to go into downtown and if so how far is it from the resort ?
 

pjrose

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Have been looking at various resorts and I had a question about the Tris. Sorry for the naive questions but I've never been to Cancun. Are there any shops/bars/restaurants just outside of the Tris or do you need to go into downtown and if so how far is it from the resort ?

There are lobby and pool and beach bars at the Tris, and a great open-air bar at the Mayan, and there are five restaurants at the Tris plus a good take-out/delivery. There are also three minimarkets and one gift shop / boutique at the Tris.

Just outside of the Tris, across the street, is Captain's Cove, a lagoon-side restaurant/bar affiliated with the Royals. You can walk (downhill and across the street) or take the free shuttle. There's also a convenience store there.

That's it; to get to the malls and shops you need to take a bus or taxi; safe and reasonably priced. Distance/time depends on where you're going. The closest is a mall called KulKulCan which I'm guessing is about 15 minutes (?); right next door to the Royal Sands. Everything else is further.

For other restaurants/bars, it also varies - 15-30 minutes by bus or taxi, except for some of the other nearby resorts / hotels that have restaurants - maybe a 10 minute walk?
 

logan115

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Thank you very much. Some co-workers at my wife's office were recommending some AI places in/near Cancun (Barcelo and Excelence Playa Mujeres ?) but I think we're better off staying at a Royal or something like that and paying for our meals/drinks separately.

Thanks for the info,

Chris
 

Passepartout

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Thank you very much. Some co-workers at my wife's office were recommending some AI places in/near Cancun (Barcelo and Excelence Playa Mujeres ?) but I think we're better off staying at a Royal or something like that and paying for our meals/drinks separately.

Thanks for the info,

Chris

From the request in your original post this looks like an excellent choice for you. I haven't experienced the Tris, but PJ owns there and has offered enthusiastic guidance to others.

This will give you a small taste of Mexico. But not too much. Maybe on another trip, you'll want to experience the rich culture and vibrant society away from the resorts. But this trip sounds like a nice anniversary. It definitely won't be Disney.

Jim
 

Karen G

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I think we're better off staying at a Royal or something like that and paying for our meals/drinks separately.
That sounds like a good choice for you. Our first and only trip to Cancun was a stay at the Royal Caribbean and we loved it. Maybe you can arrange a tour to Chichen Itza while you're there. We did ours through the Thomas More desk right at the resort, and it was fantastic.
 

bjones9942

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I've been to Tijuiana, Cabo, San Jose del Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerta Vallarta.

Tijuiana is a 'don't repeat' for me; definately not a great vacation spot. Cabo is very touristy, San Jose del Cabo was a day trip, but it was nice and kind of laid back. Puerta Vallarta was the most tropical, but still had a touristy feel. Mazatlan has a tourist area (the Golden Zone), but you can easily get out of that and get a good feel for Mexican life and culture.

Whichever city you choose, I'm sure you'll have a great time!
 

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I don't go to Cabo for the Mexican culture.

I go because the weather is always fantastic...and they have a really good taco stand that I enjoy spending my lunch every day. :D
 
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