Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tulum becoming an enticing Yucatan resort town
With the night winding down in the beachfront cafe, the young Italian hostess was writing in her notebook, working on her Mayan language studies. This little moment perfectly captured the challenges facing Tulum, the rapidly growing exotic resort town on the site of an ancient Mayan city on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
A temple in Tulum stands over one of the area's many fine...Fresh fish and shrimp tacos at La Cueva de Pescador.The restaurant at La Zebra in Tulum, a small resort with ... View More Images

While many of the locals in the state of Quintana Roo still speak Mayan, the town of Tulum, just a little hideaway not long ago, is becoming inundated with newcomers speaking every language under the abundant sun. They're staying because they're falling in love with the place. Bali, who just opened a food lover's corner store and rooming house near the beach, is an expert chef who moved here a few years ago from Hungary. Bruno, who came from his native Biarritz by way of New York City, runs the Hemingway-esque Havana Cafe downtown.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cancun as a jumping-off point to the affordable towns, islands and ruins of the Mexican Caribbean
CANCUN, Mexico — Even before the heat hits you from the Mexican Caribbean’s springtime glory, a blast of ads and brochures and billboards offers numerous ways to separate you from your money.

A plastic bag handed out at the airport contains slick guides promoting outings that sometimes rival the nightly cost of a nice hotel. The XPLOR cave experience goes for $129 plus transportation. The Xel-Ha water park is $75, and yes, first you have to get there.

A swim with the dolphins or a lobster dinner on a boat make those day trips look cheap, and there’s enough shopping and clubbing and watersports to turn this bargain Mexican vacation into a credit-card buster.

But before the fancy dining, powerboat rides and designer malls arrived, there was already plenty to do along the 80-mile stretch that runs from Isla Mujeres to Tulum, with Cancun and Playa del Carmen in between.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Report: Mexico's tourist zones much safer than many in U.S. | Los Angeles Times
Now Mexico's real estate industry is fighting back. A day before President Barack Obama visits Mexico to discuss, among other things, the troublesome drug war issue, RE/MAX Investment Properties issued the results of its research claiming that tourist zones in Mexico are up to 26 times safer than many tourist zones in the United States.

Among its findings: The state of Baja California Sur, which includes some of my favorite destinations such as Cabo San Lucas, La Paz and Loreto, has a homicide rate 26 times lower than Orlando, 18 times lower than Miami, 17 times lower than West Palm Beach and 12 times lower than Tampa and Honolulu.

(Note to self: Stay away from Florida!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Yucatán on a dime
Could I spend a week in the Yucatán without busting my budget? That was what I asked myself a few weeks ago when I was making plans to go to a friend's wedding on the beach in Tulum. It seemed silly to spend the money to fly all the way there and not see a little of the country beyond the beach. But times being what they are, I had to do it on the cheap if I was going to do it at all.

As I did a little research online, I found it's cheap to travel in the Yucatán: Airline ticket prices are down (round trip tickets from Miami to Cancún are now starting around $250). The peso is almost 50 percent weaker to the dollar than it was just a year ago, simple hotels outside the resort areas can be had for $10 a person and rental cars are nearly being given away -- as long as you're willing to take the risk of staying away from the big-name companies.
Luxury in the Yucatán
MAYAKOBA, MEXICO -- The iced cucumbers sent an arctic jolt pulsing down to my eye sockets -- not an altogether unpleasant sensation -- and temporarily blotted out the Caribbean Sea.

They were as bracing as the frozen grapes delivered to our chaises in the sand that morning; as refreshing as the mango sorbet served poolside later that afternoon.

At a high-end resort in the Riviera Maya, they don't let you sit around and sweat.

The longer you linger at the pool, the beach or the spa, the more you are surprised with ''amenities,'' as in, ``Hello, Ms. Latson, may I offer you this amenity?''

You get used to it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dangerous Spring Break?
Of the 159 killings of Americans that have been recorded over the last three years, eight occurred on beaches (Mazatlán, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta).

However, there are Web sites devoted to spreading the negative experiences of American tourists in Mexico. Two that stand out for their shrillness--a succession of murders, rapes, kidnappings and robberies that bring to mind the film “Friday the 13th”--have a common connection: The Tourism Council of the state of Florida.

Mexico, according to figures from the Mexican government, made $13.289 billion from tourism in 2008. It’s a huge market and, it seems, there are some who are willing to kill the truth for it.