Destinations - Articles - Mexico

  • Hard Rock, Cancun
  • Beach Palace, Cancun
  • Palace Resorts
  • Playa Del Carmen
  • The Riviera Maya rocks

Hard Rock, Cancun Share on Facebook

By "Commodore" Camille Pepe Sperrazza

It's not too late to become a rock star!

There's a hot tub in your room; food and drinks flow; and the exceptional staff at the Hard Rock Cancun can't do enough for you.

Welcome to the party that never ends.

If you can tear yourself away from the most mesmerizing blue ocean and white sand beach, you can actually star in a professionally made video, lip-synching and playing musical instruments to your favorite rock song. This is no amateur karaoke session. Professionals are brought to the resort to take 45 minutes of close-ups and long shots, featuring you - in costume - rockin' to your favorite song, guitar and mike in hand. About 28 days later, you'll get a link to an expertly-edited video that puts all your other vacation home movies to shame.

There is no charge for this venture into stardom, and it's just one of several ways the Hard Rock incorporates music into your vacation, differentiating itself from the competition.

Yet, if you simply want an all-inclusive beach getaway, you've come to the right place because you can spend all day basking in the sunshine, in a setting that's gorgeous. There's always chicken, steaks, burgers, fish, and more cooking on the outdoor grills; crisp pizza prepared in the outdoor brick oven; bars and swim-up bars with top-shelf booze; tons of guacamole, salsa, and colorful chips. You never have to move from that lounge chair because the staff will bring it all to you. You don't even have to ask.

Don't miss: Fresh seafood ceviche, made to order, poolside, at 3 pm daily; the Margaritas because they are only this good in Mexico; and any drink you can get that's served inside a fresh pineapple. Don't forget to scoop the pineapple walls when the drink is gone - yummy!

In the evening, there are surprisingly good shows in the stadium-style open-air arena that contains a stage and two large screens that show video clips. Smoke machines, special lighting effects, a modern sound system, and enthusiastic performers get the crowd pumped.

Dine at Italian, Mexican, Japanese and Brazilian restaurants. Or, enjoy the nightly outdoor buffet, and eat under the stars, often serenaded by live music.

Day or night, party at the Smash Bar, surrounded by guitars that have christened Hard Rocks round the globe, photos of legends, and lots of rock n roll memorabilia.

The resort is located in the heart of the Cancun hotel zone, about ten minutes from the airport. If you want to leave the premises, a bus stops right in front, transporting you to shopping centers, restaurants, and bars, for a $1 each way.

This is a family-friendly resort, so there are planned activities to keep little rockers busy, too.

Guests at Hard Rock receive up to $1800 in resort credits that can be used to book tours, enjoy spa treatments, or to make purchases at certain gift shops. A 20 percent service fee must be paid to the resort when using these credits.

Ready to book your vacation here?  Contact "Commodore" Camille today.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

Hard Rock Beach

Beach Palace, Cancun Share on Facebook

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza

Many resorts in Mexico are sprawling properties - beautiful, but they require a lot of walking to get from room to restaurant to pool. The Beach Palace is ideal for those who prefer not to do much walking.

Here, guests stay in a hotel setting, taking an elevator, located in the main lobby, directly to rooms. The restaurants are conveniently located in this same lobby. The pool and beach are just steps away. The sports bar is located on the second floor, and there's a rooftop bar, all easy to reach with a push of the elevator button.

Rooms are spacious, and each has a Jacuzzi. Balconies are large enough to contain outdoor beach beds, big enough for two.

It's all located in the hotel zone, right on the gorgeous Cancun beach. The resort tends to attract families and older adults, making it a good choice for grandparents who want to vacation with the grandkids.

This property is all-inclusive, but when you stay here, you also get resort credit to spend. Taxes on these purchases must be paid by guests.

Ready to book your vacation here?  Contact "Commodore" Camille today.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

View from a balcony of Beach Palace.
View from a balcony of Beach Palace

Palace Resorts Share on Facebook

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza

There are several Palace Resorts throughout Mexico, and each offers a different type of experience.

What they have in common is resort credit. Guests of Palace Resorts receive up to $1500 to spend at the resort on tours, spa treatments, and at some shops. Taxes on these purchases must be paid by guests, and there are restrictions as to how much can be spent, and on what it can be spent on, so it is important to check with the resort as it is all subject to change.

In addition, each room of every resort is equipped with a whirlpool bath, a nice way to cool down after a day in the sun.

When you stay at any Palace resort, you can visit the other properties, the only exception to this rule is the exclusive Le Blanc which cannot be visited for the day.

ADULTS ONLY PROPERTIES:

Le Blanc - Cancun

This is the only 5-diamond all-inclusive resort in Cancun. It's upscale, beautiful, and sophisticated.

The word "Blanc" means "white" and most of the decor is set against a white backdrop which is cool, soothing, and understated. A white piano sits in the lobby.

Premium brand liquors are served throughout the resort, and 14 complimentary wines are part of the all-inclusive plan. All rooms carry the same amenities, including a notepad, foil-embossed with guests' names. Chocolates and snacks are in the refrig, no extra charge. Should you need anything at all, your personal butler is a phone call away.

Every night the cushioned lounge chairs by the pool are wrapped in plastic to keep them fresh from morning dew. In the gorgeous infinity-pool, a waiter may come by, serving drinks from a surf board. The beautiful spa area features a darkened sanctuary, lit by candlelight, surrounded by whirlpool waters designed to soothe aching muscles.

The beach is gorgeous, and the infinity pool is constructed so it appears to blend into the ocean and sky.

Sun Palace - Cancun

This resort has the distinction of being the first all-inclusive hotel in Mexico, founded by Roberto Chapur in 1984. Located in the hotel zone, this adults only property is beach front. All 252 rooms have king beds only, and 242 of them are ocean view. Be aware that some of the ones that do not overlook the ocean, have a roof top view, but if you do get to a higher floor, you might catch a glimpse of the water. There are four restaurants - Italian, Asian-fusion, Mexican, and an outdoor steakhouse.

PROPERTIES FOR EVERYONE:

Playacar Palace - Playacar

A tree grows through the open rooftop of the lobby.

The upscale white decor is reminiscent of Le Blanc because this resort, located in the lovely Playacar area, about 50 minutes from the Cancun airport, was originally slated to be Le Blanc. Families are welcome, but the resort is adult-oriented.

There is shopping galore along the famous Fifth Avenue strip, just steps from the resort. If that's not enough, take the ferry to Cozumel, conveniently located by the dock along the side of the beach.

A tasty Chai tea and a lemonade-based Sangria, with fresh fruit, were served table side at the buffet here, a welcome change from the ordinary. The guacamole, too, was a treat as it contained thick slices of avocado. Victor, the general manager, explains it enthusiastically: His resort is simply "the best."

Moon Palace

Here, be prepared to walk. A lot.

This sprawling resort boasts its own golf course, a swim-with-the dolphin facility, and a FlowRider. Many families love it for these reasons alone.

Divided into three sections - Sunrise, Nizuc (sunset), and the Grand - each has its own lobby, pools, and restaurants, a total of 17 eateries on the premises. Both Sunrise and Nizuc are priced about the same, and when you make a reservation, you may be put in either section. The decor in Nizuc is a bit more subtle and sophisticated, while Sunrise is home to the FlowRider. As the name implies, Grand is the most upscale of the three, and the rooms are larger. While this part of the resort is more quiet and adult-oriented, children are welcome. The Olympic-sized swimming pool is in the Grand section.

No matter where you stay, a bus loops all three lobbies, so you can enjoy every part of the facility and every restaurant.

Another resort bus can take you into the heart of Cancun, as Moon Palace, located 10 minutes from the CUN airport, is not in the hotel zone. As a result, the beach is not of the caliber one expects to find in Cancun. Of the three sections, Grand has the nicest beach area. Still, there are plenty of pools to keep adults and kids content.

So many weddings take place at this resort, it has its own horse stable, used to pull white carriages that carry couples who are looking to make an impressive entrance.

In the spring of 2015 construction was underway to add another 700 rooms to the Grand section, bringing the total number of guest rooms at Moon Palace to more than 3,000. Construction was expected to be completed by December 2015. Additional restaurants may be added.

Best service at a restaurant goes to La Trattoria, located near the golf villas. Reservations are required.

Cozumel Palace - Cozumel

All 169 rooms are ocean view - and what a view!

Cozumel is an island, and the resort is designed so you feel like you are part of the ocean. Because of that proximity, it is a family resort that attracts a lot of divers. It is the only resort at which all credit can be used to dive.

There are 12 loft rooms that can accommodate 6 people, but it was unclear during the visit whether all six could be adults or if it was restricted to a maximum of four adults. Concierge level rooms have beautiful walk-in showers and upscale toiletries. The resort is spread across 5 floors.

Ready to book your vacation here? Contact "Commodore" Camille today.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

Le Blanc.
Le Blanc

Beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico Share on Facebook

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza

One of my favorite places in the world is Playa del Carmen, Mexico, about a 50- minute from Cancun.

I love the culture, the people, the food, and the gorgeous beaches of this area, known as the Riviera Maya. Here, the colors of the ocean are mesmerizing shades of aqua, deep blue, light blue, and white. Just breath-taking.

If you want to be near the action, stay in Playacar, an area with lots of resorts and shopping. Just about all the resorts are all-inclusive. One I highly recommend is the Riu Palace where I have personally stayed and have sent many happy people. The service, food, and drinks are excellent.

If you want something more "off the beaten path," there's Sando's Caracol. This resort utilizes the natural surroundings, to create guests with unique experiences. For example, there are natural sinkholes where guests can swim. Stroll among the ponds, and you can spend considerable time watching turtles interact in the waters. There are Mayan ruins near the property, and a professional guide may escort you on a complimentary tour.

Kids will love the interactive water park, and parents can lounge where they can keep an out and still be very comfortable.

Many rooms were recently remodeled, and there are lovely amenities which may include bottles of rum, tequila, vodka, and red wine, plus a fully stocked mini bar. Upgrade to "Sando's Select" and have access to a private lounge by the beach, with complimentary internet access, drinks, your own comfty "beds" on the beach, and more.

At Sando's, I discovered a real treat: tequila infused with fresh fruits such as mango, strawberries, cherries, coconut, pineapple, kiwi, grapes, and a whole lot more.

If you're celebrating a special occasion, let me know, and we'll see if we can arrange a romantic canoe ride, complete with strawberries and champagne. I have met the management, and they promise to take good care of clients.

Ready to book your vacation here? Contact "Commodore" Camille today.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

The Riviera Maya rocks Share on Facebook

by Camille Pepe Sperrazza

The stairway to heaven exists.

It is at the Hard Rock Riviera Maya, at the entranceway to the beach/pool area of the all-inclusive adults-only section of the resort. This area is named, "Heaven," fitting because it capitalizes on the resort's rock and roll theme as well as the beauty and serenity of the area. "Your stairway lies on the whispering wind," is written on the wall above the stairs, quoting Led Zeppelin's immortal words to the song, "Stairway to Heaven," setting the tone for guests' expectations.

Famous lyrics appear on walls throughout the resort; pillow cases feature small guitars; and lampshades encourage people to "rock around the clock." Yet, it is all done tastefully and subtly, creating a destination that appeals to people of all ages.

The resort celebrated its grand opening May 2014, with a concert by Jon Bon Jovi, a helluva good way to say, "Let's get this party started." The resort is divided into two sections - Heaven and the family-friendly Hacienda. Adults who are housed in Heaven have access to pools, restaurants, and beach areas that are child-free. Yet, they can rock both sides of the resort and may dine at all restaurants, a shuttle bus available to transport them across the sprawling property. Families stay on the Hacienda side, where there are plenty of appealing amenities and activities for adults and children.

There are so many restaurants, my four-night stay did not allow time to try them all, but the ones at which I did dine were excellent - Italian, French, Mexican, and Asian. The latter has 12 hibachi tables, where chefs create meals in front of guests, with Benihana-type fanfare. The other restaurants create visual excitement, too, preparing specialty coffee drinks and desserts with flaming liquids. These are all sit-down dining experiences. There are buffets, too, and a number of casual dining options for pizza, sandwiches, chicken wings, and the like. One of them, Cafetto, located on the Hacienda side, displays cakes and sweets all day and evening. The chocolate-covered marshmallows on a stick were extremely popular. Cappuccino is also served here.

Mexico does all-inclusive like nowhere else in the world, the wait staff everywhere - at check-in, at the beach, by the pool, and throughout the resort - asking what you would like to drink. Wine is surprisingly good, a feat not always achieved at all-inclusives. You're in Margaritaville so order Margaritas as they are meant to be enjoyed - made with fresh lime juice, sour rather than sweet. In-room refrigerators are fully stocked with soda, juice, and bottled water. There are full bottles of booze at your disposal. Another outstanding feature: a Jacuzzi in every room.

Be aware that the resort is about an hour and 15 minutes from the Cancun airport, about 20 minutes further from the busy Playacar area of the Riviera Maya so one does need to take tours or a taxi to leave the resort. It is important to note, too, that while the beach area is gorgeous - the water so clear, you can watch fish swim - it is more like a lagoon, the ocean separated by barriers that break the waves, contributing to the serene setting that many find appealing. On the other hand, there is no massive beach or endless ocean view when you are at eye level. But some outdoor beach bars are built above sea level, and one can sit there, taking in the ocean view and a cool breeze.

The evening entertainment I caught was a rock band in the Heaven lobby; a Broadway-style show in the Hacienda showroom; a very good magic show; and an outdoor Mexican fiesta at Woodstock, an area that is in between both sides of the resort. There's a late night disco on the Heaven side. The exercise room is top-notch.

There are many appealing shops throughout the resort, and when you stay here, you get resort credit - up to $1800 - that can be used for shopping, spa treatments, tours, and more. Taxes on these purchases must be paid by guests.

Be sure to catch the free monkey tour. Follow a guide on a stroll of the grounds and watch the trees. The very smart monkey we saw looked down on us, turned its back, and positioned itself on a palm tree leaf that tilted downward, making a deposit that landed too close for comfort. While the monkey tour is fun for us, it seems the monkeys enjoy it even more.

Ready to book your vacation here?  Contact "Commodore" Camille today.

This article was accurate when it was written, but everything in life changes. Enjoy the journey!

Copyright: Camille Pepe Sperrazza

View from "Heaven" section of Hard Rock Riviera Maya.
View from "Heaven" section of Hard Rock Riviera Maya.