Tag Archives: Mexico

Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort

We first discovered Akumal Bay in 2010. We had hired a driver to take a group of us there but it was a windy day and we ended up at Yal Ku Lagoon instead.  Really wanting to see it my husband and I returned on our own another day.  It was so worth it, but who knew that it would lead us to where we are today.

The Akumal Beach Resort, as it was known at that time, has always had a very loyal following.  It was a three star beach resort that was ridiculously expensive, for what it was, and almost impossible to book.  Very few suppliers even sold it in Canada.  But where we had heard about it from so many people we had to see it for ourselves.  So we visited the town and then, after fulfilling his dream of snorkeling with the turtles of Akumal Bay, we headed off to walk the beach.

The beach itself was beautiful.  Not riddled with resorts, very natural feeling.

Akumal Beach Resort was pretty much as we expected. Nice place with fantastic beach but way over priced.

In 2012 the resort began a major renovation and we started to watch it closely.  After a few years it really seemed like it had come into it’s own and we started looking for packages.  But low and behold, this resort is not for the last minute booker – which we used to be.  It sells out for the period we travel every year. In 2016 I was determined and I watched closely for something within our price range and finally got it for 2017.  That first trip was amazing.  You read reviews and wonder how much of what they say is true but with this place 95% of what we read was bang on.  When we went in 2018 we were astounded that it was better than the 2017 trip and again this year we were overwhelmed with how they continue to maintain such a high standard of customer service.  In my opinion it is the number one thing this place has over any other place we have been.  The Majestic Colonial in Punta Cana and the Decameron Club Caribbean in Jamaica are the only other places we have been to in all our travels that even come close to the same level of customer service as Akumal Bay.

Now this resort is most definitely not for everyone.  There is no glitz no glam no marble statues or towering fountains, it is pure simple elegance with a strong focus on wellness and being environmentally conscious.  There aren’t 2000 rooms spread out over a vast area, there are 310 ocean view rooms spread out over four beachfront buildings.  There no cheesy nightly shows, it’s a live band and dancing every night.  There’s a disco, but we’ve never managed to find time to get there.  There’s no swim up bar, thus the pool is very clean – honestly who is there for the pool anyway.  There are several pool/beach bars and pool/beach service so your never without a beverage.

Guests are generally happy and very friendly.  You see the same faces over and over so you feel like you know each other and you can easily make all the friends (or none) that you want.  We found this with other small-medium resorts we’ve been too as well.  It’s a very ‘homey’ feeling.  It feels good.

From the moment you arrive

and see your room (pictures are of regular junior suite, penthouse junior suite and corner junior suite)

You know you’re in for a treat.

From the drinks

To the food

To the buffet

and many other spots around the resort

There really is something for everyone.  And while for my husband it’s the snorkeling

For me it’s the views.  From sunrise to sunset they don’t disappoint.

Whether it is sipping on a coffee watching the sunrise or filling the tub and watching the stars with a glass of wine, it just feels so peaceful.  For a little while all the stresses of the world are gone.

The only bad thing I can say is that we are now very spoiled.  We measure all resorts based on the standard Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort has set.  And let me tell you that has proven to be a real challenge when it comes to short listing places for our annual southern escape.

I think there is a fit for everyone when it comes to traveling.  A place that fits you as well as you fit it.  I truly believe when you find it you know.

We will try other places again, the world is too big not too, we just need to find something that will make us as happy as we are at Akumal Bay.  Until then, I guess we’ve found our home away from home.

Akumal – Till We Meet Again

Way before we started staying at the Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort we would visit Akumal.  We discovered it on our second trip to the Riviera Maya and truly fell in love with it.  Aside from the fantastic snorkelling, the town is a great spot to spend an afternoon, eat, drink, shop and just explore.

Just up the beach from Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort and Secrets Akumal there is a restaurant/bar called Lol Ha. If you google it, there is a web cam that overlooks the bay on the top corner of the restaurant.  The service there is great and the view is amazing.  We ate at the Lol Ha last year, it was so good.

Walking past here will get you to the path that takes you towards town where you can see the much talked about Akumal Arch.

Past the Arch is shopping, food and pretty much everything you need for a day or week long stay at the beach.

I can’t imagine a trip where we don’t visit Akumal, even if just eat at the local places. I highly recommend a visit.  I would like to think that someday we could rent one of the many condo’s nearby and see how that feels.

Next up – Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort

Akumal – New Friends, Great Memories

Over the many years we’ve been together my husband and I have done a lot of different types of trips and along the way we’ve learned a lot about ourselves as travellers.  We’ve done family, friends, couple, group and just us trips. While they are all wonderful experiences, each offering their own pro’s and con’s, for me none is as good as the just us trip.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change anything about any of the trips we’ve done or experiences we’ve had as they’re all part of discovering who you are as a traveller, but the just us trip is uniquely special.  When you’re not accountable to anyone else you can experience the adventure on your own terms.  There is so much more freedom to explore, experience new things, and meet new people.

The people we have met over the years, no matter how we travel, have come from everywhere – home here in Nova Scotia, all over the rest of Canada, the US, the UK and Germany etc.  I wouldn’t trade the experience of meeting all these wonderful people for anything.  They have all enriched our lives, given us great stories to tell and we continue to stay in touch with many of them to this day.  Below are just a few of the folks we have met or travelled with over the years during our southern vacations.

 

This year we met some pretty fantastic people and while I regretfully don’t have pictures of everyone, we do have so many great memories and stories.  As it turned out, several of the people we ran into had been there at the same time as for us the last two years.  We actually did meet a few of them last year, realizing it in one of those true déjà vu moments on day one this year!  Only one person from the group of us that met last year missed this trip. Considering our timing was different and none of us had talked to each other since last year, it’s pretty amazing that we all were there together again this year.

Drinks, listening to the nightly band, chatting, sharing experiences, pictures and everything else with these folks made this year so much fun! Our last night together I tried to get everyone together for drinks and well, we ended up shutting the place down! It was awesome, such a great ending to a fabulous vacation.

 

We were missing our new friends from the UK, Natalie, Steve and the amazing Ethan, when we did the group shots. They were fantastic folks and I regret not getting any pictures.  Ethan has one of those personalities that just shines, especially with a few tequila in him :). He is truly a fine young man who makes me smile. He knows how to vacation! Guess we all just have to go back and do it again!  It’s funny, everyone was asking everyone else  ‘Are you coming back?’ and the general answer was ‘I don’t know, we like to try new things.’ but then as everyone was leaving it was with a ‘See you next year!’ So who knows. With Nikki and Sophie already booked to return, we shall have to wait and see what next year will bring.  In the digital world we are lucky in that we can stay in touch and remain part of each others life even though we are many kilometres or an ocean apart. Maybe, just maybe, we will see each other again.

I believe that everyone comes into your life for a reason, be it a short time or a long time they are meant to be there.  There is a purpose.  It’s not about how much time you spend with someone, it’s the impact they have on you however big or small that may be.

When we first started going to Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort three years ago we knew it had a very loyal following.  It turned out to be the single most welcoming resort we’ve have stayed at hands down. The staff is just incredible. These are just a few of the staff who really become part of your vacation.

 

 

So, in closing – I say go out, put yourself out there and meet new people as you travel this great world. We all have something to offer each other.

Next up – Till we meet again Akumal!

 

Akumal – Off Resort Adventure to Bacalar

As I mentioned in my last post, Bacalar was our big off resort trip this year. I still can’t believe how amazing it was!

The van picked us up around 8:00am (about a half hour late due to traffic). We then picked up another couple in Tulum – which I might add was the first time we had been there unrelated to a ruins visit. We were truly surprised by how much there was around and how big it is. First stop after that was Muyil. I knew these ruins existed but I knew little about them and after a short visit here we decided we will have to go back. We really didn’t have enough time to fully appreciate the site.  The architecture here is similar to what you find at Tikal in Guatemala. They only began restoration of the site in 1998 so it is still fairly new.

A good half day trip would be grab a cab to Muyil and then spend a few hours shopping, eating and exploring Tulum. On the agenda for a future trip!

From there we went on the long drive to Bacalar. So many cool sites along the way. We stopped for ‘organic’ fruit and fruit juice snacks, which was really just a stand on the side of the road.

Bacalar is home to the Lagoon of Seven Colours and there truly are seven. It’s also home to sulfur mud which is used to exfoliate the skin. That was so much fun! All of the sun burns disappeared after playing in the mud.

We also stopped for lunch at what my husband called a ‘Harry Potter’ restaurant. From the outside it looked small and you really wouldn’t have noticed it, but you walk in and it grows as you walk from room to room until you finally arrive at an outdoor restaurant in the back. Just like the tents in the Harry Potter movies. Pretty neat!

We investigated the town a bit and were lucky enough to have the group guide take us on a personal tour of San Joaquin Church. The church was the site of a brutal massacre during the Caste War. It was very eerie but peaceful in there.

Being Canadian we watch a lot of sports, so we are used to the group gatherings where everyone cheers for their favourite team. The bars in Bacalar all have outdoor patios and there were loads of people so we ventured over to see what was going on. Everyone was watching soccer and cheering away. It was pretty neat, just like at home when Team Canada plays.

Bacalar was one of those experiences where you know you have to return. Honestly, you need to do a overnight trip here to have time to fully appreciate everything it has to offer.

We returned to the resort around 8:30 that night so it was a very long day, but absolutely worth it. I would return in a heart beat.

Next up – new friends, great memories and til’ we meet again!

Akumal – Off Resort Adventures

As fun as being on the resort is, you really miss out if you don’t take the time to investigate the area you are visiting. You really can’t say you’ve experienced a destination if all you’ve ever seen is resort properties.

Resorts provide us with a utopic view of a destination, not the reality.  Part of the draw of Akumal is that there is so much within walking or cabbing distance.  You really don’t need guided tours, which is fantastic. The walk to town is less than 10 minutes and Tulum the town is only a 10 minute cab ride away.  You can also walk the non-resort area’s of the beach for very long stretches.

We walk to Akumal most days and after discovering the golf cart rental last year, that has also become something we look to do.  It allows you to see and experience that much more of the area. After trying a few golf carts this year we ended up with the pink hot rod they use for advertising.

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This cost 800 peso’s for four hours with a 400 peso deposit, returned to you when you bring the cart back. Well worth it. It’s a great way to explore the area.

 

 

After last year’s visit we knew we wanted to go to La Buena Vida and try the food. It didn’t disappoint. My husband said his burrito was the best he’s ever had anywhere.

 

For the rest of our time we just drove around checking out places we saw last year.  Great way to do a self guided mini-tour! The walk back is always great too.

 

We didn’t stay up too late that day as we left for Bacalar early the next morning. We’ve seen a lot of things as we’ve traveled Canada, the US and Mexico but Bacalar was incredible. I can’t believe we hadn’t heard of it until two days before we went.

Our first morning at the resort we visited our tour rep from Air Canada to let him know we had our own transportation to the airport. He asked what we were thinking of doing and we mentioned that we wanted to do something off the beaten path. We really aren’t interested in the whole tourist park thing – you can do that anywhere, we want a more authentic experience. He mentioned Bacalar so we did an internet search and yup, it looked nice. We headed off the to resorts tour desk to get their thoughts and you could just tell by the way they talked, it was special. Originally we had thought of going to Holbox but Juan really thought, based on what we were looking for, we would love this.  He was right.

I was going to do my off resort post as one but I think Bacalar deserves it own.  It was special.

From what our guide told us it is the educational and artistic hub of the Riviera Maya. It wasn’t hard to see that everywhere you went. It is a city with lots of buzz.

 

Akumal 2019 – First Few Days

Travel is a funny thing. We used to say never return to the same place twice, yet this year we found ourselves returning to the same place for a third time. Originally we had planned to go to Aruba. Had a resort picked, going to spend a few nights in Toronto, maybe catch a hockey game and really live it up as this was my ‘go out with a bang’ retirement trip. Then, as luck would have it, we spied a good deal on Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort (ABBWR) from Air Canada Vacations. When push came to shove and we looked at everything as a whole, we just couldn’t not book it. It was meant to be. So Aruba will have to wait for now.

Airport arrival was as chaotic as ever.  Thankfully we had a pre-booked private transfer so we were out of there in a flash with cold beer in hand and at the resort within an hour.

One of the things that draws us to ABBWR is the staff. They are so great and how they remember you from all the many faces they see throughout the year is unbelievable. When your face is new to them they are quick to introduce themselves and ask your name, which they will use every time they see you during your stay. These are just a few of the friendly faces that greeted us this year. I missed getting a picture of my buddy Luis, but his smile is always in my memory.

One thing I have learned over the last few years is that I am not willing to settle when I travel anymore. I worked hard to be able to afford this once a year adventure south and I don’t want to be just another number. Among other things I’ve learned I want a nice ocean front/view room, I don’ think I could ever go back to anything else. People say the room doesn’t matter, but when you wake up everyday make your coffee and watch a view like this, you realize it does matter. There is no better way I can think to start the day.

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To have a space where you can kick back after a long day and just enjoy the moment is absolutely essential to the overall vacation experience. We did a 12 hour tour this year, it was nice to be able to order room service, open some wine/spirits and just enjoy the evening on the balcony in the tub listening to the ocean when we returned. Your room does matter.

Our first few days this year we didn’t do too much. Walking, swimming and appreciating that we were able to be in Akumal.  On arrival, our first stop was to try the new brick oven pizza, yummy! We had been waiting for that since we saw them post it on Facebook.  It was worth the wait! Later he tried a burger at the snack bar – which he loved – then drinks, more drinks up at Lol Ha and so on :).

The next morning we got to try the new smoothie bar, made to order and it was fabulous, and then headed out for a walk to check out the Jungle Fish Beach Club just down from the resort on the beach.  You also get a great view of the whole resort walking in this direction!

We got our annual fix of the wonderful tunes played by Abel the Orchestra Man on the beach.

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We visited the town of Akumal and Lucy’s for Ice Cream!  So good!

We also had one my most favourite meals of the week at the Gourmet restaurant. I looked forward to the desert for an entire year…so good!  Then off for drinks and entertainment with the live band, which we did most nights. It’s fun to watch people dancing to the different bands, especially the entertainment crew.  They can dance!

Most importantly in those first few days, while walking up the beach we see this woman coming towards us arms outstretched calling my husbands name.  Would you believe it was his cousin from Edmonton who we hadn’t seen in 25 years! She, her husband and their travelling companions had rented a palapa just up from our resort!  Just lucky that we were both walking on the beach at the same time and saw each other.

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We did rent a golf cart again this year and we booked a trip to Bacalar, which was by far one of the most amazing spots I have ever seen. More on those in future posts!

Akumal – Saying Good-bye…For Now

So ends another fantastic Mexican vacation.  All the concerns we had about returning to the same resort twice were for naught.  I would say that returning requires that you choose the right resort in the right location, which we were fortunate enough to have done.

We have been to several places, but only three have really hit that ‘I want to return there’ cord with us. One was in Jamaica where we stayed in a rustic cabin at the DeCameron and the other the Catalonia in Puerto Adventuras.

Vacations, regardless of where they are, are what you make of them.  We do have an adventurous spirit and as we get older are more open to trying things that once might have been off limits.  You know, you only live once! Gotta make the best of today, who knows what tomorrow will bring.

One of my favourite things about going to the Quintana Roo/Yucatan area is the ability to roam about safely without a guide or a tour.  Seeing how real people live is important when visiting new places.  Resorts definitely don’t offer you a real-life view of anything.

Here are a few random shots from our drive to Chichen Itza.  This is a store we stopped at that grew it’s own agave.

We drove through 8 different town/villages.

We met people from all over the world while exploring both Chichen Itza and Akumal.  We saw lots and learned about new places.  Really can’t ask for more than that.

To close off this group of blog posts, here are a few random shots from around Akumal Bay Beach and Wellness Resort.

If you have ever been to Cancun airport you know it is big and busy.  I love that there is such a great view.

That’s it for our 2018 southern destination vacation.  Not sure what were doing next year.  We met a travel agent on our trip who gave us all kinds of great ideas to explore with our agent.  We could return here too.  We will have to see what we can find in the upcoming months.

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Next up is Moncton, New Brunswick in May!  I will be turning the big 5-0 and since we can’t do Vegas right now, we are off to Casino New Brunswick to celebrate.  I can’t wait!