we are 7 weeks out from the wedding - and I have got in the habit of sending email updates to our guests. This month, I decided to review all the negative reviews on TA, and provide some tips. This way everyone is prepared for the trip. Thought I would add it here, in case it can help other brides. I cannot believe how fast the time is flying by...
Well, we wanted to send this email on the 8 week countdown day â€“ but unfortunately work got in the way! So here it is â€“ 53 days, 1272 hours, 76,320 minutes and 4,579,200 seconds till we arrive! But whoâ€™s counting?
OK â€“ work got in the way againâ€¦53 days, 1264 hrs, 75,840 minutes, 4,550,400 seconds.
Everything is coming together nicely â€“ just a few minor things to take care of now. Soâ€¦for this monthâ€™s email, we thought we would include some tips and advice on the resort, as well as Mexico in general.
PLEASE CHECK YOUR PASSPORT AND MAKE SURE IT IS VALID FOR SIX MONTHS AFTER WE LEAVE FOR THE TRIP. THIS IS A MEXICAN RULE, AND THEY WILL NOT LET YOU IN. Check it while you read this, so nobody is scrambling for a 24hr rush passport. Jeff may or may not have had to do this before.
Airport and Transportation
When you arrive at the airport in Cancun, you are ushered to their customs. Make sure you fill out your form on the plane when they give it to you â€“ in its entirety (including signatures). If you donâ€™t have it filled out, or are missing info, they make you go to the back of the line. This is NOT fun. After you clear customs, they will hand you back a small piece of the form â€“ hold on to this for your return. It is your tourist card and you need it to leave the country.
Once you get through customs, you are released to the baggage claim area. There is a bathroom here â€“ generally where I put on my shorts! Bags take a little longer in Mexico â€¦ actually most things do. Relax, you are on island time now. After you claim your bags, get in the big line and put them through the scannerâ€¦after the scanner you collect them, hit a button â€“ if you get a green light, you are good to go. Red lightâ€¦inspection time. Walk ALL THE WAY to the end of the hall and out the doors. Even if someone in the hall says they can help â€“ they canâ€™t. Timeshare pitches. Transportation will be outside. If you are with Air Canada â€“ they will have a sign, same with private transport etc.
If you booked flight and room with Flight Centre â€“ transfers to and from the airport are included. If you booked room only, you will need to get transportation yourself. We generally use besttransfers.com, and they are better priced than a taxi is. You book online and can pay with credit card or cash upon arrival. Here are the costs:
1 person â€“ van private transfer - $70 round trip
4 people â€“ van private transfer - $80 round trip
I think some of you are in this boat â€“ as they are flying in from the states. We can look at when everyoneâ€™s flights are due in and see if we can take advantage of that.
Driving Into The Resort
Soâ€¦first off, Mexico has many security check points in place in the tourist areas. The look scary because instead of hand guns like we have in Canada, they carry assault rifles. Lol. Remember, they are only here to keep the area safe for the tourists. You will notice two checkpoints between the airport and the resort (which is a quick 20min ride). There is one outside the airport, and another when the road changes municipalities. They are not interested in the tourists, they are looking for drunk drivers, no plates, etc. Same as what our ride program here doesâ€¦they just do it all day. Once the bus/van/whatever you are taking pulls off the highway, it looks like you are heading into the mangroves to never be seen again. Chillâ€¦you are going the right way. You will go through a small town, make a right and come to the resort.
The Resort â€“ I figured if we helped lay out some common challenges up front, disappointments can be avoided.
Time Share â€“ or Vacation Club, as the resort calls it.
You will all probably be approached about this. They will ask you for breakfast, or to visit another resort for 90 mins, offer spa or excursion credits, and try to sell you their package. 90 mins is never 90 mins, and it is grossly overpriced. If you are interested â€“ by all means, do it. If you are not (which is how we feel) firmly say â€œNOâ€ and they will leave you alone. You have been warned â€“ so no complaining if you fall for it. lol
Restaurants â€“ there are 5 a la carte restaurants and a buffet available for meals, as well as included 24hr room service.
Breakfast â€“ the buffet is open and for preferred category rooms there is an a la carte available.
Lunch â€“ the buffet is open, there is a pool side grill at the adult pool, and there is also a restaurant near the pool and beach that has an a la carte option.
Dinner â€“ 5 a la carte options and a buffet. Each night different ones are open.
No reservations are required (unless you want the teppanyaki table at the Japanese restaurant). You go and put your name in, and if there is a wait they will send you on your way with a buzzer. So relax, have a cocktail and enjoy. Donâ€™t like your meal? Order a different one. Server isnâ€™t nice? You can switch restaurants. We have even enjoyed appetizers so much at one of them that we went there first for appies and elsewhere for dinner. It is completely flexible.
There is a dress code for some of the restaurants (except buffet). Mostly just the men need long pants, dress shoes and collared shirts. No sloppy jeans, flip flops, hats or t-shirts. The ladies just need to look pretty â€“ which we all already do!
There is a great info sheet dropped off to your room nightly. It outlines the next dayâ€™s weather, activities, drinks of the day and which restaurants are open the following evening. It is very helpful. If anyone is celebrating any special occasions (birthday, anniversary etc) let them know, and you will get some special treats. They will feature it in here as well.
There is not a typical front desk here. There are office style desks with chairs. They will hand you a cool glass of champagne on arrival â€“ so let them know you are here and relax, as sometimes this takes a bit with a larger group. Should you arrive prior to 3pm, your room will more than likely not be ready yet. I suggest packing a swimsuit and cover up in your carryon for a quick change, so you can go out and enjoy the time in the sun before it is ready. You will be able to enjoy the restaurants, pools, bars etc during this time. If you have booked the preferred category, advise them when you arrive and they will take you to a different area to check in. This resort does not require the wearing of bracelets â€“ which is great. I suggest that while you are checking in, you confirm that your room has the bed request you need (i.e. king or doubles). It is better for you to clarify this up front then to get to your room and discover it isnâ€™t what you wanted. This will happen â€“ it always does â€“ but they will move you.
For those who have read reviews on Trip Advisor, a common theme is that the beach is rocky. This is the case. There are spots on either end of the resort that are clear for swimming, so no worries! The beach itself is sandy and pretty â€“ the rocks just affect the swimming. If you are concerned, bring some water shoes. There are no towel cards at this resort â€“ which we love. Have all the towels you want!
Always a hot topic. Yes, tips are included in the cost of your trip â€“ so it is up to you. We tip on good service, you can do what you please. We bring US 1â€™s with us, as they are widely accepted and appreciated.
NEVER pay the price they tell you, anywhere in Mexico, for anything. They always start out high, and will always go much lower. Soâ€¦practice your negotiation skills J if you are taking a cab anywhere, be sure to confirm the rate up front with the driver. If the driver has translation issues, just ask the bell hop for help. The price is almost always round trip, as they generally sit and wait for you.
No â€“ eating an ice cube will not kill you. All the water at the resort (including the taps in your room) comes through a treatment process. There is bottled water in your rooms, and at all the bars if you have any concerns. I wouldnâ€™t chance drinking a glass of water from the tap, but brushing my teeth has always been fine. If you find you have a very sensitive stomach â€“ pick up some Dukoral three weeks before the trip. You can get it at any pharmacy, and it is an oral med you drink. It will help with any â€œBig Dâ€ that might appear.
$200 Resort Credit
This is another hot topic on Trip Advisor. Each room is given $200 in resort credits. There are stipulations on how they are spent â€“ and this confusion leads to negative commentary. Soâ€¦thought we would clear it up. You get $40, in $10 increments, for wine. You can purchase a bottle from the upgraded wine list, and use a $10 coupon towards its purchase. You cannot apply more than 1 towards the one bottle. This is the same with the Spa certificatesâ€¦if memory serves me right, it is $40 at a time that can be used towards the spa. We have found them useful for the wine (surprise, surprise) but not as useful for the spa. Typically, someone will walk around during the day offering deals on certain treatments that work out better than what you would pay with the credit applied. If you are ever unsure, just ask.
NOW Jade has two pools. The family pool is very large, and home to the daily fun activities. There is a swim up bar, lots of loungers, fun music etc. Everyone is allowed here. The second pool is located on the preferred side of the resort and is for Adults only. This is available to all guests of the hotel, provided you are over 18. There is a swim up bar there, and a small grill but the music and activities are light on that side. Much better for the relaxing vacation experience.
NOW Jade offers Adventure Photos. They are onsite photographers that will do a photo shoot with you, your friends, family etc, free of charge. They do charge rather handsomely for the pictures â€“ but can be a nice memento to take home. We have done this in the past and were really happy with them. The shoot costs you nothing, and you are not obligated to purchase any of the images if you so choose.
Room Safe and Valuables
Regardless of how nice the resort is, we are still in a foreign country. Use your safe, in the closet in your room, all the time. Never leave out tech equipment, jewelry, cash or travel documents. Just make sure you lock it up before you go out of your room to avoid any disappointment. The safes will fit a laptop â€“ should you be bringing one. I suggest you also pack all of these items, and any meds you need, in your carryon bag with you. I have spent 5 days in Mexico without my luggage before â€“ and it sucks.
Jeff and I are thinking of copywriting this term. Lol. After the 5 days, no bag trip, we learned to cross pack. His bag holds half of my stuff, and mine half of his. That way, if one bag goes missing, you still have something to wear. Another lesson learned is that ziplock bags can save you from horrible disappointment when your tanning oil decides it wants to open mid flight. We have some photographic proof of this oops. Now â€“ we double bag anything that can leak.
It isnâ€™t that we think you are all morons â€“ lol â€“ we just wanted to share some knowledge, so everyone is prepared. We canâ€™t wait to get there â€“ 7 more weeks after tomorrow!!