I have been anxiously waiting to write this post all week but am just getting to sit down with it right now! I recently got a job at a fantastic travel agency in Wisconsin and am loving it! My boss believes that the best way to learn is by doing, so she courteously sent me to Cancun, Mexico to attend the Mark Travel Corp Summit, which is a three-day long conference on everything the Mark Travel Corp has to offer. They are partnered with Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations, TNT Vacations, Blue Sky, and United Vacations. We sell a lot of their product in our agency and have a great partnership with them, so I was thrilled to attend the conference! And what a fantastic company they are – it’s a family-run company that clearly supports and invests in their travel agency. They put on a great conference for us all and had fantastic evening entertainment at the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun and another night with a fabulous Vegas-themed party to which they flew in actual celebrity impersonators and Vegas show girls!
Anyway, even though the conference didn’t officially start until Saturday evening, I headed down on Wednesday so I could do some resort tours on Thursday and Friday – I have to see what I’m selling! I saw most of the Karisma properties: El Dorado Royale, El Dorado Casitas, El Dorado Seaside Suites, Generations Riviera Maya, Generations Maroma, Azul Fives, and Azul Beaches. I might be forgetting a couple since they’re all blending together in my head, but I have to say that for my first time visiting all-inclusive resorts, I was dying to stay at each! Upon arriving at each resort, I was greeted with a damp face towel (it was so humid!) and a welcome cocktail. At one I even got a baby coconut filled with sweet coconut milk – yum! The resort that we stayed at for the actual conference – the Moon Palace – was really great too, but everyone was complaining that it was too big and easy to get lost. As long as I keep getting free cocktails then I’m still happy 🙂
For the first couple nights of my resort tours, I stayed at the Azul Fives in the Riviera Maya. No idea how I got it, but I had a one-bedroom suite all to myself! At first I was so excited about it but it ended up feeling like a little too much space for just me! It was fun, though 🙂
Naturally I went straight to Azul Fives’ fantastic Italian restaurant, where they make their pasta from scratch!
On Saturday I ended up having the day to myself to explore some of Cancun. I didn’t feel comfortable heading into the city by myself so I took a day-tour to the Tulum ruins. According to our guide, Javier, the name, created by explorers, is short for the Mayan words tum and lum, which means “stone land” – an appropriate title since it’s all made from rocks! The site was actually called Zama by the Mayans themselves, which means “dawn”. The small city was used for commercial purposes as well as astronomical investigations and the city edge sits on a cliff overlooking the gulf. Although the stairs to the beach are currently under construction, visitors can spend the day on the sand and splash in the gulf water.
On the way we stopped at a shop owned by local Mayan descendants so we could buy handmade items to our hearts’ content. I bought a neat Mayan calendar that was painted onto real leather – I always buy some kind of art wherever I go. The shop was mainly used for photographic purposed on my part since its walls were so fabulously adorned with art!
We finally got over to the ruins after being followed around the shop for an hour by the owners. We rolled up to the entrance, another huge tourist shop of course, and had to walk through a little outdoor shopping center with a lot of vendors. The actual entrance took about 15 minutes to walk to from the vendor area. Once we entered Tulum and got inside the walls, the guide had us stand in some shade while he gave us some history about the area. He was full of great information, but I’m the kind of tourist who likes to explore for myself, so I was getting a little anxious that I wouldn’t have enough time to do so. Once he finally stopped talking, we only had about 45 minutes to ourselves to walk around the entire area before the bus left – and that included the 15 minute walk back to the bus. So I ran around as fast as I could trying to get the best shots! I wish I’d had more time to learn about each structure, but what to do?
Tulum is a great choice for resort guests to get out of their all-inclusive indulgence and really explore important history in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from the Cancun area – much more accessible than Chichen Itza, which is a full 11-hour day trip and 3.5 hours away. I highly recommend bringing a carry-on size bottle of sun screen as well as mosquito repellent otherwise you’ll be spending a minimum of $20 to buy each at your resort! They also use USD as well as Mexican pesos; don’t worry about taking pesos out before you head down. Your US dollar will be just fine and is sometimes preferred. Every resort has an ATM anyway and some of them dispense US dollars. You might want to get some pesos out just for fun as they are very colorful and make for a cheap souvenir. The water and food is just fine to drink and eat as long as it’s bottled water, which you can find anywhere. I ate everything and didn’t get sick once!
Although it was a business trip, I’m glad I got to see a little bit of authentic Mayan history. Next time it will be Chichen Itza, one of the world wonders! Can’t wait to head back to Mexico!