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Riviera Maya Honeymoon Review- GBPT April 11-18, 2009


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#1 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:07 PM

A lot of you know I never really wrote a big trip review after we got married in Cabo, we didn’t get married at a hotel/resort, didn’t use any vendors, and other than the quick hotel review I wrote there wasn’t much else to say!

So I was really excited to write a review on our Honeymoon trip, because we really loved our hotel and Riviera Maya and wanted to let all you honeymoon-crazy B2B’s know what a great choice you made/are making if you choose to honeymoon in RM or at GBP!
Plus we took over 1500 pics that week, and I gotta showcase them somehow, right?

We stayed at Gran Bahia Principe Tulum, April 11-18

We chose RM because Doug has ALWAYS wanted to see the Mayan ruins in the area ever since he was a kid and learned about them in school. Also we both LOVE Mexico, but wanted to see something new and the Caribbean side was the perfect answer!
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Ill give a full version of our whole trip review day by day, and then grade the separate events at the end.

SATURDAY
We were so lucky because we got to take the non-stop flight from SEA-CUN, yup it was way long (5.5 hours!) but much less hassle. We watched a movie on our ipod touch and the flight attendant gave us mimosas and baileys and coffee for free to celebrate our honeymoon! We were really excited when we got to CUN because we didn’t realize that unlike all the other airports in Mexico that we have been to, CUN actually has a jetway that the aircraft pulls up to. (At least that’s how it worked with Alaska Airlines, cant say for sure if all airlines use a jetway.) You don’t have to walk down the stairs onto the hot tarmac waiting to file into customs, you just walk off the plane, down a hall, and into the immigration line. We had no trouble, got our checked bag, and got a green light YAY!

We walked straight out to the front and our driver was waiting with a sign with our last name. We used Cancun Valet at the suggestion of others on the forum. Great to work with, clean new 8 (plus driver) passenger van. From CUN to GBP-T it was 1 hour, 10 minutes, both directions. We timed it on purpose so I could let you guys know.
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By the time we arrived at the hotel it was close to dark, the sun was setting as we got to our room, but being on the east coast of Mexico, we couldn’t see the sun set, so we went to the beach to see the moonrise! It was just beautiful. We didn’t really get to see the grounds or hotel much that night, but we went to the 24 hour snack bar and ate, then to the Circus show that night at our section (Tulum). It was really pretty good! For those of you that have been to an A/I entertainment show at night, you know they can be hit or miss, but I was pretty impressed that night.
our "honeymoon package" and room pics
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#2 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:08 PM

SUNDAY
Sunday we got up and went to the buffet YUM omelet station! Our fave thing about A/I breakfasts! Then we went to the pool and beach pretty much all day! OMG the ocean is so amazingly beautiful! When you first get up it’s a dark grey/blue. As the day gets brighter, it lightens up to this crazy beautiful electric aqua color that we do NOT get on the Pacific coast! Oh and yes, there are really 3 shades of blue, deep dark blue, turquoise, and aqua, so cool to see all 3 at the same time!

After breakfast we went to Public Relations to book our a la cart dinner reservations for the week, we got 3 of them for 7 nights, Dolce Vita on Sunday at 830p, Tequila on Monday at 830p, and Mikado on Wednesday at 1000p (which I was so happy for 2 reasons, I really wanted to try Mikado and also I was glad we got 1 restaurant in each of the 3 main hotel sections, so we could check out all 3 hotels while we were there). Then we went to the pool closest to our building, 24. Hung out all morning and ate lunch at the snack bar (not the best but whatever, its food). After noon I was restless for the sand and waves, so we went to the beach. We started out at the beach by our section. We were so surprised the water was warmer than the pool! It was fan-freakin-tastic. We walked our way down the beach to I guess what is considered the Akumal beach area, in front of the swing bar. We parked it there for the rest of the afternoon! What a great concept, swinging at a bar on the beach while drinking your ass off haha
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The water at the beach was just amazing in this area, not only was it crystal clear aqua water, but you could walk out forever and still not be in deeper than your chest AND the waves were practically non-existant due to the Whales (huge sand bags placed strategically to break the waves and rebuild the beach after hurricane Wilma). Yes the Whales were ugly, but great fun for everyone climbing and slipping all over them all week, pretty fun to watch. I am not a strong swimmer and I REALLY appreciated having the calm, shallow water that the Whales created. In fact I wont even go into the regular ocean in other places in Mexico because the waves are always too rough for me and I am terrified of being out so deep.

So, needless to say but my experience with the beach at GBP was fantastic! I spent more time in the water there than I did in the pool all week!
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For dinner we had reservations at Dolce Vita, the “Italian” a la cart in the Akumal section. We went early because we were hungry, just in case they had people not show up, but nope they were busy so we went and sat on some beach chairs enjoying the night view. I had some sort of ravioli with spinach/cheese I guess, and Doug had what he thought was going to be chicken cordon bleu, but was just sort of some kind of chicken dish. They both tasted just fine to us, no problems there. Dessert I had tiramisu (better than decent) and Doug had some ice cream with sweet roll thing. Over all, it was a good, decent meal with a nice waiter. Cant ask for much more than that!

We walked around the Hacienda that night, hung out at the sports bar drinking and watching soccer. I cant even remember if we went to a show that night, we were so sleepy and happy I think we just called it a night after that.

#3 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:08 PM

MONDAY
Monday morning we went to the buffet again, then booked our first excursion for Tuesday thru SolTours (we decided to book the excursions when we got there rather than ahead of time, in case we changed our minds or whatever.) For booking tours at GBP-T, you go to the Hospitality Desk, a room off of the lobby. Not sure why they called it that but whatever. Since we booked the trip ourselves, we could use any agency to book our tours. I guess if you use Apple or Sunquest or whatever, you have to book your tours thru their desks but otherwise you are free to book with whomever you want.

After this we headed back to the Akumal beach and camped out there all day, yup you guessed it, right next to the swing bar! We lucked out somehow and got a palapa and loungers right next to the bar, in the 2nd row from the beach!! We hung out here all day, snorkeling and relaxing and enjoying tequila sunrises, margaritas, and chi-chi’s galore.
our fave spot
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yikes! a man in his birthday hat, and almost birthday suit! (NOT my hubby!)
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We also discovered the DIY tequila stations all over the resort, we had fun with these! My favorite flavors were coconut and strawberry! Doug liked lime and cinnamon.
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Dinner that night was at Tequila, the Mexican a la cart at the Tulum section. It was SUPER windy that night (actually the wind didn’t let up our entire trip! It was wind-madness). But it was especially windy that night. While we were at Tequila, the power went out 3 times! It was pretty cool tho because every table had a small oil lamp, and funny so we joked that all the sudden it kept getting very romantic in the room hahaha. Every time the generators kicked in after a minute or 2 and the music would start up again as soon as someone remembered to go turn it on. The food at Tequila was not any kind of Mexican I have ever tried before, so I called it Gourmet Mexican, but oh my word, it was yummy! We both had tortilla soup for the appetizer, it was called something like chicken soup so we were happily surprised with what we got. Holy moly, it was just about the best soup we ever had! Sort of a red broth base with shredded chicken and crunchy tortilla strips and lime! YUM! We also both had the salmon, and oh gosh it was so delicious! Super moist and lots of flavor. Dessert was buffet style, and there were fresh made yummy yummy churros! Any situation with a churro involved is always a better situation!

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#4 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:09 PM

TUESDAY
Tuesday we got up and had buffet for breakfast, then went to the lobby to wait for our tour bus to Tulum and Xel-ha! We decided to just go on the tours and let someone else worry about driving, tell us where to go and what to do. Since we have never been to RM before we just thought it would be easier that way, and it was! We booked Tulum/Xel-ha thru SolTours, it was about $135 a person. I am pretty sure I saw it online for a bit less if we would have booked before we went, but we didn’t have any idea what day we wanted to go our how our week would work, so we’re glad we waited and paid more. Being so far south at GBP we were the last stop, which is nice because that also = first stop on the way home! Anyways we were like 20 minutes tops from both Tulum and Xel-Ha, so either way, whatever. We dropped some people off at Xel-Ha, got more people on board, then went to Tulum. We were there about 2.5 to 3 hours, half with a guide and half on our own. Our guide was OK, but we wish we learned more and had a longer guided tour rather than racing around for an hour on our own looking at ruins that we had no idea what they were or why they were there. We were just trying to get the typical tourist pictures of all the important ruins without knowing what they really meant, that kind of sucked.
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After that we got back on the bus and went to Xel-Ha, we were there only about 4 hours and very soon after arriving realized that would not be enough time! We loved it so much that we even almost went back later in the week! We snorkeled all over the big lagoon area (I was so nervous, it was deep-ish, but mostly clear, but I just get so scared) but life jackets are included in the cost of entrance, so I kept that on most of the day. Doug basically swam all over pulling me with him everywhere he went haha! After a while we climbed out and went to eat, we didn’t want to waste time at one of the sit-down restaurants so we ate at the snack bar, it was slightly better than the one at the hotel. The coolest part was tap-your-own corona, and also we ate at a table with a 3 foot long iguana sitting at my feet! He was so cool! I mean, where on earth do you go to eat lunch with an iguana 12 inches away from your bare feet in the sand? It was great! Oh, unfortunately we had used the camera so much at Tulum that the battery died about 45 min after being at Xel-Ha. So we didn’t get any pics of the really cool things there. After lunch we decided to walk on the trail that takes you around the park, we put our snorkel gear away (how stupid!) we had no idea there was snorkeling all around the whole place! We just thought it was at the main lagoon. First there is a floating bridge, we had great fun trying to stay on it while crossing the lagoon, and there was a HUGE pelican sitting right in the middle! When we finally crossed, I felt drunk! It was a weird sensation. There are rope swings, innertubing down the “river”, cenotes, Mayan caves to swim thru, biking, snorkeling, eating, drinking, and many more activities. Next time we will do the full day trip and buy tickets ahead of time (I think its $67.50 on their website for the full day, all inclusive, no transportation). I would SO recommend this place to anyone! Even if you are a nervous swimmer like me, or little kids, whatever. So much to do and see! It was a fantastic day!
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Left there about 4pm and got back to the hotel, buffet dinner, show and off to bed.

#5 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:09 PM

WEDNESDAY
We slept in on Wednesday because we knew we had a late dinner at 10pm coming up. So we got up about 730a haha. We’re early risers, what can I say!

We took a taxi to Akumal after buffet breakfast again, about a 10 min ride for $10. For those of you that haven’t been there recently, they are apparently almost building a huge nice overpass/cloverleaf type of entrance/exit- to/from the highway at Akumal, so if you are used to the old view of the main entrance to the road that leads to the town, its totally different!
view coming from north, turn left to akumal after the overpass
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view coming from south to akumal, turn right down this road and it leads into the beach/town area
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We went thru the arch at the office for the casitas and walked up the main path to the beach, turned left and followed the private path past the casitas and around that side of the bay. Oh my word, this place is breathtaking! Typical Jimmy-Buffet-style beautiful, everywhere you look. We just fell in love with Akumal! We walked past the cannons, then out to the end of the path, and back to the beach again. Took a quick walk thru the CEA and left boatloads of beautiful-fantabulous-perfect-wedding-vibes all over the beach and CEA for MarieSam, then wandered thru a little art gallery that opened onto the back side of Lol-Ha snack bar, where not only did I have the most absolutely textbook perfect mango margarita of my entire life, but I also left dumptrucks full of fantastic-amazing-perfect-wedding-vibes for Jacilyn. These girls picked the most perfect wedding town ever! So beautiful, every where you look. After that we wandered down the beach for a mile and back again, enjoying the view and picking up shells. Thru another art gallery, and some shops, bought a little charm for my necklace, then found Turtle Bay Caf© and Bakery for lunch and some free internet! Jen the owner, also from Seattle, wasn’t there, but we had a great lunch and hung out relaxing for about an hour checking email and BDW from our ipod touch, pretty cool! We hung out with a cute dog named Lolita, she was pretty sweet.
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#6 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:10 PM

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Wandered back up the path and out to the arch to grab a taxi back to the GBP. Went to the pool for the rest of the day, hung out at the lobby bar in the evening and had some snacks since dinner would be late.

#7 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:10 PM

Dinner was at Mikado in the Coba section. Mikado is like Japanese steakhouse style and we were lucky and got to sit at the table where they cook in front of you! It was just us and another couple from New York. Very fun and yummy! Our chef was good at his tricks like tossing the knives around, and flipping the bowls of rice at us, it was pretty fun! I had spring rolls for app, chicken and filet mignon, it was all really good! For dessert I had fried banana spring roll thingies with vanilla ice cream. YUMMY!
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Early to bed ‘cause we had an 830a pickup time for our next excursion!

#8 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:10 PM

THURSDAY
Hopped on another big bus and headed off for a long day! We went to Chichen Itza! We booked this thru SunQuest, $99 per person, includes lunch, also beer/soda/pastries on th bus all day. On the way we toured thru some “modern” Mayan villages, past an agave farm, stopped at a beautiful but not-serene, over-crowded cenote (Ik-Kil), and stopped at a hotel for lunch and entertainment. Lunch, not so good, entertainment, well, it was entertaining.
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Arrived at Chichen Itza and immediately were SO happy we decided to do this full day tour. Our guide was fantastic, very informative! We learned a lot about all the ruins, took a gazillion pics, and saw all the important ruins at a leisurely pace. Holy mama it was hot this day, but we were lucky with a beautiful cloudless sky and a breeze that kept the heat realistic. This place was haunting and beautiful, it was easy to imagine the people that lived there, and our guide set the perfect tone to help us feel every ounce of culture that we could soak up without actually having lived it ourselves. This trip was a perfect day, we were so glad to be able to say we have seen why Chichen Itza is one of the 7 wonders of the World.
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me being silly
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dougs turn to be a goof
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#9 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:10 PM

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As we were driving away in our big old tour bus, we stopped on an overpass, and our guide instructed us to see one more thing before heading “home”. He said, “Look out your left window from this highest point and never forget Chichen Itza….” And as we all turned to look out the window, off in the distance you could see the huge impressive structure of the pyramid, far away and almost like a dream. Everyone exclaimed “Ahhhhh!” it was pretty cool!
this is on super-zoom
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About a 2 hour ride back to our hotel (first stop again, haha) and got in some pool time before dinner, and crash and burn into bed.

#10 ACDCDCAC

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 04:11 PM

FRIDAY
Our last full day. We were bummed out all day but tried not to show it to each other. We got up early to watch the sun rise on the beach.
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After that we discovered that we could eat breakfast at the a la cart right by our building, it was perfect! It was basically a small version of the same breakfast buffet, only way less people and much more relaxing! They even had an omelet station! Little known jewel at an all-inclusive, we were glad to have found it.

After breakfast we went straight to “our spot” near the swing bar at the beach, and this time we got front row loungers! We set up shop and almost immediately hit if off with the couple at the next palapa. A very fun couple in their 60’s from Indiana, we ended up spending almost the entire day with them, they were so cool!

Did more snorkeling
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this is the freakin water! can you believe it?
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About 3pm we took the tram back to their section (Coba) and hung out at their pool bar for a few hours, then met back up with them after dinner. They had a la cart reservations at 530p and we were all drinking and talking and we didn’t look at a clock until 503p! They had to race off to get ready, oops! They later told us they made it with 3 min to spare. We met back up with them for drinks and the show at Coba, and made sure to trade emails to keep in touch.
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