January 31, 2011

Soaking up the sun and dissolving the stress

What a blast I had in Cancun this weekend! My old roommate, Kelly, is in Chicago now getting her MBA at Kellogg, so I rarely see her anymore. To remedy that, we decided to plan a girls’ getaway in February… but then pushed it up to this weekend. With only 48 hours in Cancun, we were a bit crunched for time – but made the most of it and had an absolutely fabulous time. Our shared opinion at the end was that weekend trips are just the perfect length of time to relax and rejuvenate before heading back to the responsibilities and stress of school/work.

The resort we stayed at was gorgeous, and I was thrilled. We had gotten an incredible deal on Travelzoo – $42/person/night for an all-inclusive 5 star resort! Given the mixed reviews on TripAdvisor, we didn’t expect our resort to actually be 5 stars, but were hoping it would at least be passable. Both Kelly and I have a lot of travel experience, so we know quality when we see it – but we’re also both down-to-earth enough to be fine with a Comfort Inn, if the price is right. For two nights, we figured, how bad could it be? But our fears were compounded when I called to make sure Kelly’s name was on the reservation I had made, since she’d be getting in a few hours before me, and was told that they had decided to close our carefully-researched resort (the Be Live Grand Caribbean) due to lack of business, but that they were moving us to one of the sister properties, both of which had reviews that weren’t quite as stellar as our original choice. The two options we were given were for either the “party hotel” (the Be Live Grand Cancun), whose reviews indicated that the rooms were old, dirty, and barely functional; or the “family hotel” (the Be Live Grand Viva Beach), which was newer but was much smaller and very quiet. We decided to go with the family hotel, and hoped we wouldn’t regret our choice.

Well, we turned out to be entirely wrong… in a good way. All of the resorts in the chain were gorgeous – maybe not 5 star properties, but at least 3.5-4. Our “family hotel” did turn out to be really quiet and so empty it was almost creepy at times (when we made the rounds of the bars on the property our first night, there were only a few people at each one!).

However, the resort was beautiful and very well-kept – there were staff constantly running around sweeping, polishing, and even touching up paint chips on various sculptures and centerpieces. As for the rooms, we both agreed that the beds were even comfier than the Heavenly Beds at the Westin – which is really saying something. As far as the outdoor areas went, I particularly loved the touch of the peacocks they had walking around the pool area – so neat!

On Saturday morning, we walked to the Be Live Grand Cancun to see the sights along the way and then spend the day at the larger, livelier resort. While we didn’t check out the rooms, the rest of the resort was gorgeous – I can’t imagine why people would write reviews about it being worn out and uninhabitable, unless the rooms are completely different from the public areas (which would be surprising). The beach was particularly stunning – I couldn’t get over the beautiful turquoise water that faded into aqua where there was a sandbar, and then darkened to a gorgeous cerulean and then navy blue as I looked out to the horizon. Just magnificent.

We wished we had chosen that hotel instead, but for our short trip, it didn’t matter that much. However, with this crazy special still running, I may head back down for another weekend – $45/day is probably less than I spend at home on groceries and going out in NYC, so I can hardly afford not to go! Haha.

Kelly and I used to work together at my first consulting firm, so we talked a lot about my work issues and her thoughts on returning to consulting when she finishes school this summer. Having not been so great about keeping in touch with each other once Kelly moved away from New York, I had forgotten how much Kel and I “get” each other. We have a lot of the same opinions on work life balance and the “right” way to handle difficult situations that arise at the office, and it was great to get each other’s takes on the challenges in our lives.

Of course, the trip wasn’t all serious! We definitely had our share of margaritas throughout the trip, and got some great-looking tans thanks to the gorgeous weather. With the cold snap across the continent continuing, I had been afraid that our “beach getaway” would turn into us sitting inside at the hotel bar, drinking our faces off, to compensate for ocean breezes making it too cool to lie out. Fortunately, I was totally wrong – temps were absolutely perfect, so even with the breezes we could lie in the sun reading our books/magazines for hours without getting so hot/sweaty we needed to jump in the ocean.

One funny thing about the trip: despite the tantalizing color of the water, I didn’t go in the ocean once, not even dipping a toe in to test the water! I didn’t even realize that until now, which is kind of funny. Apparently I’d be just as happy with a getaway in the sun and sand of the Mojave Desert… as long as I don’t have to run a miserable marathon through there, of course!

We wrapped up the trip with a final cocktail at “Air Margaritaville,” the airport’s version of the tacky Jimmy Buffett chain. My drink was nice and strong – just enough to make me nap on the flight to Miami, and make me almost forget that I was on my way back to snow country 🙂

While I was down there, my sister-in-law posted on my Facebook wall that she wants to do a girls’ getaway… so perhaps I’ll be planning another one of these soon? I certainly hope so! For now, it’s time to pratiquer mon français – I’m off to Switzerland/France for some skiing in the Alps in a few weeks!

With January now basically over (where did the month go?!), I’m going to do a recap of my New Year’s resolutions and current progress, but I’ll note that I’ve been to Mexico before, so this doesn’t count as a new country on that front. More to come…


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