Mexico’s Yucatan: Cancun

A few years back, Adam and I spent Christmas week on Mexico’s east-coast Yucatán Peninsula.  We had a great time visiting ancient Mayan ruins, snorkeling in the clear Caribbean, staying in small hotels and drinking real Coke out of the bottle.

But this, my friends, was not that trip.  This is the road not taken…to Cancún, the Yucatán’s big resort playground.

Because we’d skipped Cancún altogether, I talked to our dear friends Rhonda and Jason Rush about their recent Cancún vacation to see what we’d missed.  Rhonda, an accomplished event planner who heads Impact Events in Phoenix, Arizona, and Jason, who runs Cobalt Finance, a trucking finance company, received an unexpected offer from Jason’s parents this past December:

“We’d like to stay here and spend time with our grandchildren for a few days.  Why don’t you two take a vacation?”

Who could refuse, right?

The entrepreneurial Rushes had had their second son nine months earlier, and spent almost that entire time consumed by children and work.  A little getaway seemed exciting…and well-deserved.

But with only five days to work with, they felt tired before they’d even begun planning.  After close to a year of intense Arizona weather, they both envisioned a great hotel, breeze, and a beach with soft sand.  Maui, their first choice, felt like too long a plane ride (six hours) in too short a time, but US Airways had a non-stop, three-hour flight from Phoenix to Cancún. Absolute kismet.

Rhonda and Jason gravitate towards high-end American chain hotels, so the glamour and luxury of the Ritz-Carlton Cancún drew them like Jessica Simpson to a football player.  An easy 20-minute drive from the airport, the Ritz-Carlton was conveniently located in Cancún’s “hotel zone,” which boasts a mind-boggling 140 hotels in a row.

From the moment they arrived, the friendly staff looked after their every whim — a pattern they chose to bask in for their entire stay.  Whatever lofty plans they may have had to visit nearby Mayan ruins evaporated when weighed against shopping, wandering the hotel’s immaculate grounds, hitting the state-of-the-art gym (Rhonda routinely runs half-marathons…in the heat of Arizona), turning to jelly in the gorgeous spa, cooking and tasting in the fancy new Culinary Center, and dissolving in the blessed oceanfront jacuzzi.  For them, this trip was less a chance to explore history than to lounge by the pool with fancy drinks, catching up on stacks of magazines and with each other.

But not everything was perfect. The skies in mid-December weren’t reliably sunny, and overcast skies kept them indoors now and again. They found a lot of the local shopping tacky and tourist-driven, with the exception of the high-end Luxury Avenue (in case you can’t abide Mexico without Cartier, Ferragamo, and Tiffany).  They were dismayed to find that Cancún’s famous, long ribbon of beach has been steadily narrowed by hurricane erosion; in some locations, the beach is only a bewildering 25 feet wide.

They managed to cope and wrench themselves away from the hotel to have some fabulous dinners at local restaurants.  Their favorites were Puerto MaderoLa Distilleria, and the newly-opened steak joint, Harry’s; the latter two are both near Plaza Kukulkan, about a $9US cab ride from the hotel zone.

Both Rhonda and Jason agree that this was one of the best trips that they’d ever had, and would encourage more couples to visit Cancún (there’s certainly no shortage of places to stay) to rest and reconnect by (or eventually, from the sound of it, in) the Caribbean.


See related posts
Mexico’s Yucatán: Isla Mujeres
Isla Holbox: A Windfall of Whale Sharks
Mexico’s Yucatán: Chichen Itza
Mexico’s Yucatán: Tulum
Doin’ Time at the Ruins of Tulum
TWT Travel Binder: Mexico


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  1. […] to see the traffic, tacky shopping malls, college students on winter break, and high-rise hotels of Cancun […]

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