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Riviera Maya, Mexico PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen   

Riviera Maya, MexicoThe Riviera Maya in Mexico encompasses more than 200 km (124 miles) along the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, palm trees sway in the warm breezes, exotic flowers perfume the air, and an ocean in a myriad of tourmaline colors gently laps the stunning sugary soft white sandy beaches. Ah, paradise, at last.

I thrive on warm weather, and with the temperature where I live bouncing sporadically between 10 - 15.5 °C (50 to 60 °F); I knew I had to take immediate action. Longing for warmth and a romantic getaway, Edward F. Nesta and I took a trip to the Riviera Maya in May 2008 flying from New York to the international airport in Cancun, Mexico. We arrived at the airport in Cancun where warm breezes embraced us and we knew that we had made the right decision.

Although the Riviera Maya offers a variety of luxury hotels in all sizes, we stayed at the boutique luxury 88-room Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort located in the sleepy fishing town of Puerto Morelos, where if you have ever dreamed of what it would be like to own a beachside home in Mexico, this is as close as it comes. The hotel is a little gem where luxury and privacy go hand-in-hand, there are two restaurants, two swimming pools, a Spa, a Dive Center, ocean view guestrooms are just steps away from the beach, and our well-appointed suite had its own outdoor Jacuzzi.

Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort

Arrecife Grill & Lounge at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico - Ensalada MexicanoAfter settling into our suite, we had lunch at the hotel at the Arrecife Grill & Lounge, where we sat outside under a thatched roof and listened to the sound of the waves lapping the shore as we enjoyed a lunch of Mexicano Ensalada and grilled Argentine chorizo.

Xtabay Restaurant at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico - ShrimpIn the evening, we had an excellent dinner at Xtabay Restaurant where Executive Chef Santiago Kantun creates innovative cuisine with a Maya focus. A few of our selections included Callo de hacha con sangrita, al chile habanero aromatizado (Scallops with sangrita and habanero pepper) and Camarones a la diabla (Mexican spicy shrimp).

Read about Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort in the Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, and Spas sections.

Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort
Costera Norte, lote 1 S.M. 10
Mz. 26 C.P. 77580
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Telephone:      +52 998-872-8060
Toll Free:         01 800-426-9772 Mexico
Toll Free:         1 877-545-6221 USA
Fax:                 +52 998-872-8061
Email:            
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www.CeibadelMar.com

Edward and Debra on Catamaya Cruises, Riviera Maya, MexicoThe next day was sparkling bright as we boarded the 65-foot Catamaya Cruises catamaran to explore the Riviera Maya and have a snorkeling adventure. After a preliminary safety briefing, the friendly crew started the party off by coming around with trays of fruit juice as well as Margaritas, before we headed out to sea. With James Taylor's song "Mexico" playing in the background, we enjoyed an exhilarating ride with the sails blowing in the wind.

A windy day perfect for sailing, turned out to be too rough to go snorkeling, however, we enjoyed being out on the water while the crew entertained the passengers with silly dances, and the open bar freely flowed throughout the trip.

Catamaya Cruises - Riviera Maya, Mexico - The Crew
The Crew on Catamaya Cruises

Returning to the marina, we went swimming while the crew cooked us a delicious lunch of grilled lobster and steak onboard the catamaran. Accompanied with a few Margaritas to quench our thirst, it was a delightful ending of our day at sea.

Catamaya Cruises - Riviera Maya, MexicoCatamaya Cruises
Telephone:      +52 984-8034-008
Email:            
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www.Catamaya.net

In the evening it was time to explore Playa del Carmen, and have dinner at Negrosal, owned by Chef Rafael Olivera Núñez, which is an attractive design restaurant where the Mediterranean meets Maya cuisine that enchants the taste buds.

Negrosal - Riviera Maya, Mexico
Negrosal

Negrosal - Riviera Maya, Mexico - GrouperA few of our dinner selections included Gazpacho made with tomatoes, cucumbers, and garlic (Gazpacho sopa frio - tomate, pepino, aji) layered on guacamole and elegantly served in a martini glass with an endive garnish, and Grouper with creamed spinach and epazote (a green leafy Maya herb), presented with the grouper cooked in a cornhusk on a pool of Hibiscus sauce. Read about Negrosal Bar in the Restaurants section.

Negrosal - Riviera Maya, Mexico
Negrosal
Calle 16 bis norte
Enter 1st and 5th Avenue
Playa del Carmen, CP 77710
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Telephone:      +52 984-803-2448
Email:            
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www.Negrosal.com

The following day began an adventure with Alltournative Off Track Adventures where we visited Río Secreto to learn about the cenotes, the underground rivers, and sacred places of the Maya people. Caves have always fascinated us with their interesting formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and the tour was especially interesting with our knowledgeable guide, Moises. Equipped with helmets mounted with lights, we toured the caves in our quest for learning and adventure.

Rio Secreto
Rio Secreto

What we especially liked about Alltournative Off Track Adventures is that they are a sustainable tourism company focused on ecotourism to help promote and preserve the Maya culture. Read about Río Secreto in the Adventures section.

Rio Secreto
Rio Secreto

Alltournative Off Track Adventures
Alltournative OffTrack Adventures
Carretera Federal Chetumal-Puerto Juarez Km 287
Playa del Carmen, CP 77710
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Telephone:      800-507-1092 (Toll-free in United States and Canada)
Telephone:      984-803-9999 (Mexico)
Telephone:      +52-984-803-9999 (International)
Email:             
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www.Alltournative.com

Xcaret Parrots, Riviera Maya, MexicoWe continued our day at Xcaret, a sustainable tourism eco park located 5 minutes from Playa del Carmen, which offers much to explore including an aviary, an aquarium, bat cave, jaguar island, archeological sites, gardens, music and equestrian performances, and water activities. Walking around the park we watched with amusement as monkeys frolicked overhead in the trees, and also enjoyed visiting the Sea Turtles.

Xcaret, Riviera Maya,Mexico - Equestrian
Xcaret Equestrienne

Xcaret - Riviera Maya, Mexico - Artisan at WorkWe swam through the underground rivers, watched the artisans at work, strolled through a replica of a colorful Mexican cemetery, and along the beach, and found time to relax with a cool beverage before it was time for the show.

Xcaret - Riviera Maya, Mexico - PerformerThe exciting dinner show, Xcaret Spectacular Mexico features more than 300 artists telling the cultural history of Mexico through ancient ball games, folklore dances, and music. The costumes were gorgeous and the pageantry of the dances and the music were especially well orchestrated. The Xcaret Spectacular Mexico show begins at 6:00 pm in the winter and ends at 8:20 pm, and in summer begins at 7:00 pm and ends at 9:20 pm. The park is open from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm during the winter, and from 9:00 am - 10:00 pm in the summer.

Xcaret - Riviera Maya, Mexico Xcaret - Riviera Maya, Mexico
Xcaret Show

Xcaret
Telephone: 01-800-2XCARET
www.Xcaret.com

Edward Zip-Line at Maya Zip-LineAlways ready for another exciting adventure, the next day we explored the Riviera Maya from the treetops with a Maya Zip-Lines tour by Alltournative Off Track Adventures.

After our guide Eduardo gave us a briefing on the area and instruction on the art of "zipping," we slipped into our safety harnesses, and with our equipment secured, we were off on a thrilling ride flying along the wires high above the trees for a scenic bird's eye view of the jungle foliage. Read about our experience in the Adventures section.

Edward on Zip-Line at Maya Zip-Line - Riviera Maya, Mexico Debra on Zip-Line at Maya Zip-Line - Riviera Maya, Mexico
Edward and Debra Zipping

Alltournative Off Track Adventures
Alltournative OffTrack Adventures
Carretera Federal Chetumal-Puerto Juarez Km 287
Playa del Carmen, CP 77710
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Telephone:      800-507-1092 (Toll-free in United States and Canada)
Telephone:      984-803-9999 (Mexico)
Telephone:      +52-984-803-9999 (International)
Email:             
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www.Alltournative.com

We always enjoy a little well-deserved pampering but especially after our adventures, and the 800-square meter Spa at Ceiba Del Mar was definitely up to the challenge of restoring our bodies to their pre-adventure state.

Spa at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Spa Shop

The attractive Spa takes a holistic approach to treatments and their professional therapists know how to pamper the guests. From indigenous rituals of Temazcal, to using special Yucatan herbs and honey in their treatment, the Spa incorporates Maya elements into their extensive Spa menu. We left the Spa after our treatments feeling renewed, refreshed, and eager to return. Read about the Spa at Ceiba del Mar in the Spas section.

Spa at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya, Mexico - Temazcal
Temazcal

Spa at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya, MexicoSpa at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort
Costera Norte, lote 1 S.M. 10
Mz. 26 C.P. 77580
Puerto Moralos, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Telephone:      +52 998-872-8060
Toll Free:          01 800-426-9772 Mexico
Toll Free:            1 877-545-6221 United States
Fax:                 +52 998-872-8061
Email:            
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.CeibadelMar.com

After spending our last afternoon being pampered in the Spa at Ceiba Del Mar Beach & Spa Resort, in the evening, we were ready to explore Playa Del Carmen. If the name sounds familiar, it may be due to the ferry service that runs several times per day from Playa Del Carmen to Cozumel, and there is also shopping on 5th Avenue, which covers several blocks and is a designated pedestrian area.

Havaianas5th Avenue is an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, upscale boutiques selling silver, minerals, and clothing, typical souvenir shops, and even kiosks, where I saw the trendy Brazilian Havaianas footwear designs, designed by my friend, José Marcos.

Another highlight was finding the shop of jeweler designer Daniel Espinosa, Having met Daniel Espinosa at the opening of Luxury Avenue in Cancun a few years back; I naturally made a beeline to his boutique to see his new line of imaginative and luxurious jewelry.

Daniel Espinosa Jewelry
Centro Commercial Paseo del Carmen loc. 56
Playa del Carmen
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Telephone:      +52 984-808-0006/07
www.DanielEspinosa.com

Silver Spoons When it comes to shopping, since the area caters to tourists, if you want the best price, it is always a good idea to do some comparison-shopping before making large purchases and be prepared to bargain. Always on a mission for silver spoons for my antique saltcellar collection, I was delighted when I found the shop, William Spratling Silver Shop, S.A. located on 5th Avenue between 4th Street and 2nd Street where the silver was notable and the prices were fairly priced. The shop carries silver jewelry, sculpture, and also carries 14kt jewelry.

William Spratling Silver Shop, S.A.
5th Avenue between 2nd and 4 Norte
Playa del Carmen,
Quintana Roo, Mexico

Although it may sound strange that we dined at an Italian restaurant in Mexico, Di Vino by the Glass Bar is not your typical pasta and pizza parlor. Owned by four partners, two are the chefs, all hailing from Italy, Di Vino by the Glass Bar has a creative and upscale approach to Italian cuisine, and an extensive wine cellar. Located on the pedestrian street of 5th Avenue, the restaurant was definitely a lovely surprise.

Di Vino by the Glass Bar, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Di Vino by the Glass Bar

Di Vino by the Glass Bar, Riviera Maya, Mexico - Fennel SoupA few of the selections we dined on included an appetizing trio of Tempura shrimp with calamari in its ink on a bed of marinated onions, a steamed clam with black caviar, and a steamed morsel of lobster with a balsamic sauce; and a Fennel soup with grouper carpaccio and pink peppercorns. Read about De Vino by the Glass Bar in the Restaurants and Chefs' Recipes sections (recipes English and Spanish).

Di Vino by the Glass Bar, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Di Vino by the Glass Bar
Calle 12 Norte at the corner of 5th Avenue
Playa del Carmen
Quintana Roo, Mexico
Telephone:      +52 984-803-1270
Email:            
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www.Divino.com.mx
www.TheGlassBar.com

The next morning, we rose early to enjoy a final breakfast on our terrace followed by a walk on the beach to savor our last few hours at this little gem of paradise. With the Riviera Maya's close proximity and excellent exchange rate, we know that we will be returning often.

Breakfast on the Terrace at Ceiba del Mar Beach & Spa Resort
Breakfast on the Terrace

If travelers need additional incentive to travel to the Riviera Maya, as of June 2008, sales tax (VAT, Value Added Tax) will be reimbursed at the airports in Cancun, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos, for foreign visitors returning to their countries of origin by sea or air on purchases over 1,200 pesos (approximately $116 USD at the current exchange rate). Please be sure to save your receipts as proof of purchases.

Riviera Maya, Mexico
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Important Information for Mexico:

The currency for Mexico is the peso. As of May 2008, the exchange rate was 1 US Dollar (USD) to 10.38 (MXN), and 1 Euro (EUR) to 16.17 (MXN). There are 100 centavos to the peso, and is available in 10, 20, 50 centavo coins, and $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, and $50 peso coins. Banknotes are available in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 pesos.

The electric current in Mexico is 127 volts, 60 Hz. Time in Riviera Maya is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) - 6 hours, and is -1 hour EST in the United States.

The official language of Mexico is Spanish. Although many people speak English, to help you learn a bit of Spanish, I have included some basic vocabulary.

English

Spanish

   

Basic Vocabulary

   

Hello/Goodbye

Hola/adiós

Good Morning

Buenos Días

Good Afternoon

Buenas Tardes

Good Night

Buenas Noches

Please, do you speak English?

Por favor, habla usted el inglés?

I do not speak Spanish.

Yo no hablo español.

I do not understand.

No entiendo.

Yes Sir, Yes Madam; No Sir, No Madam

Sí Señor Señor/Señora; No Señor/Señora

Please

Por favor

Excuse me

Perdóneme

Thank you

Gracias

You are welcome

De nada

Very good

Muy bueno

Very little

Muy poco

My name is

Me llamo (masculine) Me llama (feminine)

What time is it?

Que hora es?

When?

Cuándo?

Now

Ahora

Today

Hoy

Tonight

Esta noche

Tomorrow

Mañana

Yesterday

Ayer

Where is?

Dónde está?

Where is the Ladies room?

Dónde está el baño das damas?

Where is the men's room?

Dónde está el baño de hombres?

How much?

Cuánto?

Expensive/Cheap

Caro/Barato

Too much

Mucho

Large/Small

Grande/Pequeño

Open/Closed

Abierto/Cerrado

   

Health and Emergencies

   

Help!

Socorro!

I am ill.

Yo estoy enfermo.

I need a doctor.

Nesecito un doctor.

Pharmacy

Farmacia

I need a dentist.

Nesecito una dentísta.

Chest pains

Dolor de pecho

Fever

Fiebre

Headache

Dolor de cabeza

Vomit

Vómito

   

Meal Time

   

Breakfast

Desayuno

Lunch

Almuerzo

Dinner

Cena

I am a vegetarian.

Yo estoy un vgetariano.

   

Beverages

   

Beer

Cerveza

Coffee

Café

With cream

Con crema

With milk

Con leche

Jus

Jugo

Tea

Water (Mineral Water)

Agua Mineral

Wine

Vino

Cheers

¡Salud!

   

Food - Eggs, Meat, and Seafood

   

Beef steak

Bistec

Chicken

Pollo

Eggs

Huevos

Fish

Pescado

Ham

Jamón

Lobster

Langosta

Meat

Carne

Pork

Carne de puerco

Shrimp

Camarón

   

Food - Fruits, Vegetables, Other

   

Apple

Manzana

Avocado

Aquacate

Beans

Frijoles

Bread

Pan

Butter

Mantequilla

Cheese

Queso

Corn

Maiz

Lettuce

Lechuga

Lime

Límon

Orange

Naranja

Pineapple

Piña

Potatoes/French Fries

Papas/Papas Fritas

Rice

Arroz

Salt/Pepper

Sal/Pimenta

Soup

Sopa

Sugar

Azúcar

Tomato

Jitomates

Vegetables

Legumbres/Verduras

   

Desserts

Postres

   

Cake or Pie

Pastel

Candies

Dulces

Cookies

Galletas

Ice Cream

Helado

Please read other articles on Riviera Maya in the Hotels and Resorts, Spas, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, and Adventures sections.

Read other articles on Mexico in Destinations: Cancun, Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, Spas, Liquor Cabinet: Xtabentun, Adventures: Scuba Diving in Cancun, Music Scene: Interview with Paco Renteria, Music Scene: Paco Renteria - Gitanus and Oceano, and Travel News: Luxury Avenue.

For information on Riviera Maya, Mexico, please visit the website: www.RivieraMaya.com.

© August 2008. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.

 
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