Vacation planning

Trip Start Nov 24, 2006
Trip End Nov 30, 2006

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Friday, November 24, 2006

V A C A T I O N    P L A N N I N G

I spent a whole year comparing prices, locations & reviews.  By the time it was actually time to go I felt like I already knew the place inside out.  Beautful scenery and different cultures are two very important things that I like to see in a vacation destination.  I don't like to drive or fly thousands of miles to see the same Starbucks and buy the same coke, how exciting is that?  I'm not a backpacker.  I don't like to share bathrooms and I guess that kind of makes me somewhat high maintenance, but hey - I put so much effort into preparing for a trip, that it's okay to enjoy a little luxury.  And that's what this trip was going to be - luxury, romance, fun & breathtaking vistas!

This time it wasn't only hubby & me who were going, but my brother and sister in law also tagged along.  I compared prices on various websites for months and eventually nailed it down to three "not all-inclusive" and three "all-inclusive" choices that could possibly offer us the romantic vacation I had in mind.  (Sidenote: Nowadays you can use , they'll compare for you and their prices are right, not like certain other sites that quote you a price and when you go to book it it's not available...)  Here they are:

Not all-inclusive:
Ambiance Suites & Villas

Avalon Baccara Cancun

Casa Magna Cancun Resort

Blue Bay Club Cancun

Blue Bay Getaway & Spa

Dreams Cancun Resort & Spa

We also looked at other great hotels in the area, but they were far out of our price-range.  Overall we didn't want to spend more than $3,000.- per couple for 10 days.  That was supposed to include all trips, tips, flight, hotel and souveniers. 

After comparing for what seemed months we finally got really lucky and found an amazing price for the Moon Palace hotel that had always been out of range during previous comparisons.  

Here are the reason why we chose the Moon Palace Resort & Spa:

o 10 minutes from the airport
o Isla Mujeres ferry - 24.5 km (15.25 mi)
o La Isla Mall (shopping, dining) - 20.5 (12.75 mi)
o El Rey ruins (archeological site) - 14.5 km (9 mi)
o Xel Há (eco-park) - 122 km (76.25 mi)
o Chichén Itzá (archeological site) - 178 km (111.25 mi)

Beach & Pool:
o Facing 0.75 mi of beach (I've walked for over an hour and there was no end in sight)
o Each of the resort's two sides includes an immense lagoon-style swimming pool measuring more than 200 meters (219 yards) wide

o Use of kayaks, windsurfers, Hobie Cat sailboats, and AquaTrikes is part of the All-
Inclusive Plan, as is a championship-grade miniature golf course
o Golfers pay extra to play three 9-hole courses (each par 36, with a total of 9,874 meters 10,798 yards) It was especially important to us that the guys had entertainment choices while we lay on the beach.  Nothing's worse than a nagging husband - they can really ruin the fun.
 o Spa treatments were extra - but I liked the option (I knew if I sat through the timeshare presentation I would get free treatments and I wanted to reserve that option depending on the mood - I am a sucker for free-bees)

o Room Amenities: Cable/satellite TV - Minibar soda, bottled water, beer (complimentary) - Jetted tub
o 14 bars & restaurants to eat (choose) from

~  Nightly entertainment, including music/dance shows, casino night, and karaoke 
~  Tattoo contests 
~  Spanish lessons 
~  Towel handicrafts 
~  Dance lessons 
~  Iron-man competitions 
~  Cooking/cocktail lessons 
~  Twister games 
~  Resort-kitchen tours 
~  Bicycle tours 
~  Water-balloon fights 
~  Fashion shows 
~  Disco dancing
~  Basketball on site   
~  Golf - driving range on site   
~  Golf - miniature on site   
~  Scuba diving nearby  
~  Snorkeling nearby  
~  Swimming on site   
~  Golfing on site   
~  Tennis on site   
~  Windsurfing on site   
~  Sailing on site   
~  Fishing nearby  
~  Racquetball/squash on site   
~  Aerobics on site   
~  Volleyball on site   
~  Yoga classes/instruction on site   
~  Jet skiing on site   
~  Parasailing on site   
~  Running track/path on site   
~  Hiking/biking trails on site   
~  Horse riding/rental nearby  
~  Bird watching on site   
~  Playground on site  

BUT what sealed the deal was the Palace Passport promotion:

~  Unlimited tours from among: Chichen-Itza, Chichen-Itza (Light & Sound), Tulum Express, Isla Mujeres, Ek-Balam/Valladolid, Coba, Wet 'n Wild/Parque Nizuc, or Sail & Snorkel (per person) 
~  US$50 toward purchase of a round of golf at The Golf Club at Moon Palace or The Golf Club at Playacar (per person) 
~  US$25 toward a car rental through Travesias Turisticas (per room) 
~  US$15 toward the purchase of a spa treatment or massage at the Aventura Spa Palace, the Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, or the Playacar Palace Spa & Golf Club (per person)

I've presented these "facts" to my sister in law and we agreed instantaneously to book this hotel.  Once I had the confirmation in hand I started collecting all the info I could get from other traveller's reviews and came up with quite a list (that I'll post separetely - It's really helpful if you choose to stay at the Moon Palace hotel).  There were two really great pieces of information that I found in the reviews:

1.  The hotel is more like two hotels - two identical sides, one massive complex.  One side is called "Nizuc" (named after the lagoon) and one is named "Sunrise".  "Nizuc" is a bit smaller, quieter, not so much action and not all renovation has been finished.  "Sunrise" has all the action and newly renovated rooms with hammocks on the balconies. 

2. The best rooms in the house.  You can request a room - no guarantees - but an entry will be made in your reservation and once you check-in you should request the building of choice again.  Usually they do honor the requests and mentioning that this is your anniversary trip doesn't hurt either :)  Our request has been honored and we had a second floor room in the Bugambillas building.  Basically the buildings next to the pool face the ocean and are located directly on it, plus they are closest to all the restaurants and action.  This holds true for either side.  If you get a room further away from the pool you'll have some serious walking to do.  I chose the Nizuc side, because I figured it would be quieter.  Hey - if I wanted action, I can still go to the other side (or hop on a golf cart)

That's enough about vacation planning though.  Let's start the vacation. 
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