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totally new and LOST!

Terre Haute, IN
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totally new and LOST!

OK my family has never been out of the US. We where told that Riviera Maya was a great place. The problem I am running into is I have a 13 and 14 yr old and the cost is getting ridiculus. My question is, What is the best hotels to consider for family fun? I know we want to go to Xcaret. Can someone help break this area down to me, please?

Are travel agent suggested the Gran Porto Real Playa del Carmen. And i found puertoaventurasrentals.com/rentals/rentals_p…

This place. Is it safe? wow I just cant figure it out. Thanks for all your help.

Needavacation

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1. Re: totally new and LOST!

Hi need a vacation (don't we all)?

Do not let Mexico intimidate you. Puerto Aventuras is a good choice with teens...more to do and a central location. Frankly I no longer like Playa del Carmen since the cruise ships started stopping there about 10 years ago. There are more and more every year. You will fly in to Cancun and I would suggest renting a car...the ONLY thing that you have to remember other than looking out for other drivers is when you make a left turn DO NOT use your left turn signal. In Mexico this means the car behind you can pass. What you do to make a left turn is exit right and then come back to the left to cross where you want to go. My favorite place has always been Hacienda de la Tortuga in Akumal. Nice condos and they have 2 bedroom's and were very reasonable. Nice beach and a romantic beach side restaurant for a special evening meal. The beach is very safe and calm as it is protected by a reef. Check out: www.haciendatortuga.com

Another place to peruse would be Tulum...all of these places are safe but be careful with your belongings as you would be any place. Another helpful site is: www.locogringo.com

If I can be of any help or answer questions do not hesitate to let me know. I might add I have been going to Mexico for 35 years and the only time I was uneasy was driving from Ixtapa to Acapulco where we were stopped by armed men in the jungle. Never felt unsafe in the Yucatan nor the Baja.

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Calgary
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2. Re: totally new and LOST!

Yeah, kids are expensive, huh!!!

First thing you need to decide is AI (all-inclusive) or not. AI is VERY convenient (when you kids get hungry 20 minutes after their last feast, you can simply point them in the direction of the buffet). AI also has the advantage of budget control - apart from tipping (which isn't mandatory) and the cost of any excursions, you know what the cost of your vacation is going to be up front. If you choose this option, I personally wouldn't go any lower than a four-star (and even that's pushing it IMHO). Mexican 4 and 5 star hotels are NOT the same as US ones with that rating. If you go less than four star at a Mexican AI, you may find the compromise in food quality a bit more than you want.

Alternatively, you could look at renting a condo or villa. There are TONS to choose from (check out vrbo.com) and they're available at many different price points, so you should be able to find something to fit your budget. When we do the condo thing, we shop at the local grocery store and get in liquor, drinks, water, snacks and breakfast food - plus the obligatory peanut butter and bread. We eat breakfast "at home", the kids have peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and we dine out at a restaurant in the evening. This way, I avoid spending too much time in the kitchen but we keep costs under control (dining out three times a day can get spendy even if you choose cheaper venues).

The last option would be a non-AI hotel. Obviously, this is a very personal decision but I'd find that tough to do with kids. Mine seem to want to eat pretty constantly (yet there's not an ounce of fat on them - go figure!) and not having our own kitchen facilities or a buffet would be problematic.

Another way to keep the budget under control is to travel during the less busy times - e.g. July and August. It's hot and humid but less crowded than at other times of the year and hotel and rental rates are lower.

OK, once you've figured out what kind of accommodations you want, you can narrow down an area. If you want to visit Xcaret, you might want to consider somewhere in that general vicinity. Playa del Carmen would fit the bill nicely. It's a cab ride to Xcaret and there's a wide choice of all types of accommodations available. Moreoever, there's tons of shopping and restaurants.

If a beach is important to you, check those carefully because some have suffered some pretty significant erosion. Others are fine though, you just need to be aware of this little hiccup.

If/when you go to Xcaret, I'd very highly recommend the evening show. We were there a few years ago but opted for their "dinner and show" package. The food was OK, nothing fantastic but not evil either. The real bonus is that we got to sit on cushions (those benches get hard after a while) and we were on the shaded side of the theatre - which was a big deal in August!

If you or your kids are into ruins, then you might want to consider an excursion to Tulum or Coba. Tulum has fabulous views over the ocean but the ruins are roped off. Coba is tucked away in the jungle so it can be pretty hot. You can still climb the pyramid at Coba (which they're talking of banning soon) - a climb which isn't for the feint of heart. However, the views even if you only make it half way up are absolutely stunning. We took tours to both Tulum and Coba (during separate vacations) through playa.info/playa-del-carmen-info-trip-planni… The cenotes included in the Tulum excursion were fabulous, the Coba ones not so much but it was still a fun day. Even if you don't do the ruins, you've got to at least visit a couple of cenotes.

Another Playa del Carmen attraction is the Alux Restaurant - http://www.aluxlounge.net/eng/ You can get better food for cheaper prices elsewhere in PdC but the atmosphere and surroundings are simply stunning. Drop by for drinks and nibblies and dine elsewhere if you're trying to keep the budget in check.

Finally, get yourselves the relevant maps from Laura aka mapchick (www.mapchick.com) - they'll be the best money you spend!

Oh, and you probably already know this but y'all need to be getting the wheels in motion for passports - the sooner the better.

Phew, this turned into quite a novel .... but I hope it at least gives you a nudge in the right direction.

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Terre Haute, IN
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3. Re: totally new and LOST!

thanks, i am looking AI or condo no AI. Its so hard to pick. i will look into everything you suggested. Thanks again.... realllly.

Halifax, Canada
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4. Re: totally new and LOST!

Check out the Iberostars..Quetzel and Tucan.

You are still close to Playa, close enough to walk in I believe.

-Surf:)

Calgary
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5. Re: totally new and LOST!

With all respect to Gringo, I wouldn't rent a car - especially if you don't speak Spanish fluently.

I'm not an alarmist but I have just seen too many posts about folks getting ripped off either by the car rental companies themselves or gas scams, corrupt police or worse. Taxis are plentiful and cheap and there's always public transportation for that "authentic" Mexican experience!

Florida
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6. Re: totally new and LOST!

Gee Llisa...I have traveled Mexico for since the late 60's and have always rented a car with no problems. I do not speak fluent Spanish but in this day and age that is not a problem. Cabs are indeed inexpensive if you stay in the general vicinity. Gas was never a problem and if you mind the rules of the road you do not have to worry about the police. Granted if you are driving back in the jungle as I did between Ixtapa and Acapulco you could get in to trouble. Not having wheels does limit you particularly with kiddos....

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Cocoa Beach, Florida
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7. Re: totally new and LOST!

My husband and I have stayed at a number of the hotels in Riviera Maya but prefer to stay at the Catalonia Riviera Maya. Your teens might enjoy it as much as your do. The hotel is nice, is AI with a great selection. Puerta Aventuras, where the hotel is located, is a gated community with excellent security so that you can comfortably and safely walk around in the evening. The marina is a 5-10 minute walk with small shops and restaurants as well as dolphins,rays etc. The safety of the hotel and the marina would give your teenagers some freedom and give you some peace of mind. The buffets and specialty restaurants can please even a picky eater like me. Hope this helps.

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8. Re: totally new and LOST!

We really like the Iberostar's for families.

st.louis
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9. Re: totally new and LOST!

The best time to book is March and go in late April or early May and you can catch some very good last minute deals thru Apple or Mlt and even look at dates with funjet and if at all possible try leaveing between Monday and Friday less hassle at airport and trip to hotel plus you can save a couple hundred bucks a couple.And as far as hotels I have stayed at many over the past twenty years and for a first timer try the Catalonia Riviera Maya very reasonable for what they offer.Car rental is expensive unless you are going everyday some place.My son was stopped for speeding in which they were not and told to pay 80.00 us are go to jail by officer.You find out your on vacation and enjoying yourself at the resort you wont need a rental but maybe take a shuttle or taxi.Have fun.

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Catalonia Riviera Maya
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10. Re: totally new and LOST!

"My son was stopped for speeding in which they were not and told to pay 80.00 us are go to jail by officer."

Gringo - I rest my case.

We've never felt the need to rent a vehicle in Mexico - although, admittedly, our Mexican vacations tend to be pretty lazy. As for speaking Spanish not being an issue "in this day and age", for most situations, I would completely agree with you. However, if you get into any kind of "situation" you'll often find that the locals command of English totally deserts them.

FWIW, I was involved in a very, very minor fender-bender in Spain; trust me when I tell you that the whole situation became INCREDIBLY stressful due pretty much exclusively to the fact that my Spanish is abysmal.

Bottom line - let's agree to differ. You have your opinion and I have mine; I think they're both equally valid.

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