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By Tony & Cheri, Live from the Luna Blue in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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The “Old” Playa del Carmen Just Keeps Getting Better

Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 25, 2014

The View from Bad Boys Beach ClubThe Luna Blue Hotel and Bar…”a last little piece of the old Playa del Carmen”…is thrilled to announce the legendary Bad Boys Beach Club as the newest addition to the family of quality beach clubs that welcome the guests of the Luna Blue Hotel with special discounts and values.

It’s a perfect coming together of two of Playa del Carmen’s most iconic establishments.

This little resort town of ours here on the edge of the Caribbean Sea has seen quite a few changes over the years. It has gotten bigger, fancier and more modern in some ways. And that’s fine…because we know the Playa that we all fell in love with–the old Playa Del Carmen–is still here. Both the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar and Bad Boys Beach Club are part of the tradition of the palapa-covered, laid back, sometimes funky, always fun Caribe-Mexican vibe that made Playa famous to begin with.

We invite all our guests and friends to join us under Bad Boys’ Jolly Roger Flag for great drinks, food, and music on the sand. Guests of the Luna Blue Hotel enjoy free use of a lounge chair and umbrella at Bad Boys when they spend a minimum of $150 pesos for food and beverages (about $12.00 US) AND Luna Blue Hotel guests get a 10% discount on their food and drink orders!

This is just the beginning. Watch for some fun announcements of promotions and parties in the days ahead as the Luna Blue and Bad Boys take you back to the real Playa del Carmen. As Mike Grabow, Playa’s favorite singer-songwriter, says…“This is where you want to be.”

Bad Boys Beach Club

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Posted in Events & Happenings, Friends, Recommendations, The Hotel & Bar, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

New Year’s Eve in Playa Del Carmen 2011

Posted by Tony & Cheri on December 26, 2011

Playa del Carmen New Years Eve at the Luna Blue Bar 2011Playa del Carmen knows how to celebrate the coming of the New Year.

New Years Eve will find the streets of the Playa del Carmen hotel zone packed with people…and we mean packed! There will barely be room to move on some sections of 5th Avenue near the dance clubs. Restaurants will also be full through the evening with many offering special menus and seating times.

The party will go on through the night and into the next day. As the sun comes up, people will move down to the beach and continue there with dancing (and later some sleeping) in the sand. It should be great fun.

Yet we have noticed some changes here in Playa over the years. The simple tropical ambiance of New Years in Caribe-Mexico has given way to more decidedly hip, modern and yes, expensive forms of celebrations. Outrageous cover charges, menus with padded prices, and DJ’s as “live” entertainment are becoming more the standard in our little beach town.

That’s just not our style. We think New Years should be a time to celebrate–not a time to gouge people for that last peso.  And sorry, but we’ve never considered DJs to be “live” entertainment. No matter how you spin it…it’s still a guy playing records. We don’t think folks should have to pay a huge cover charge just for the chance to fight through a crowd, pay triple prices for drinks and listen to bad house-hip-techno-lounge-whatever music by some guy with a turntable.

So here at the Luna Blue bar we will stick to our traditional celebration. Live music will be supplied by the great Blues recording artist Brent Parkin. Brent is a Canadian Juno award winner and has been called one of Canada’s best Blues performers. And there will be NO cover charge. Just grab a swing at the bar and order from our regular drink menu at our regular prices.

We will also have a free champagne toast along with the Midnight Coconut Drop, a Luna Blue exclusive. For several years we have ended the old year and started the new one by hauling a cluster of decorated coconuts to the treetops and then at the stroke of 12, dropping them to the cheers of the crowd. In the past we have always dropped them into a large tub of water…but this year the coconuts will splash down in our brand new swimming pool!

The bar opens at 3 pm with Playa’s favorite bartender, Jorge Sierra, pouring the drinks until 1 am. The music starts around 9 pm. Our sunken garden swimming pool will be open for the entire evening so feel free to take a New Years dip. We will even loan you a beach towel to dry off.

If you are in town, stop on by for a tropical style New Years’ celebration with us. The Luna Blue continues to be a last little piece of the old Playa del Carmen.

We wish all of you a very happy new year in 2012. May it bring us all peace and happiness.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Playa del Carmen, Is it Safe?? Part II…the Swine Flu

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 28, 2009

We thought it time we said something about the swine flu in Mexico. First let’s deal with the current situation in Playa del Carmen as we know it.

As of this morning there have been no reported cases of swine flu in Playa del Carmen or in the larger area of Quintana Roo, the state in which Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Tulum reside. In fact, to our knowledge, there have been no reported cases of swine flu in the entire Yucatan peninsula, comprising the eastern portion of the country of Mexico. This somewhat contradicts the statement of a so-called medical expert on MSNBC TV last night who proclaimed with wild eyes that the virus had “spread through the entire country of Mexico.”

Playa del Carmen itself is calm, except for the kids who seem to be everywhere today. Mexico in its wisdom has closed all of the schools nationwide until next Wednesday. As a result, the kids have a holiday and are making the best use of it. Kinda like snow days we remember from our own childhood. :)

There are no other closings or restrictions to our knowledge. Stores and restaurants, clubs and tours, business offices and governmental buildings are all open for business. We haven’t seen anyone wearing a mask. There is no sense of hysteria or even anxiety about this. The main concern is how the economy will react to the sudden drop in tourism, since so many people earn their living from that industry.

We were disappointed to see the travel advisory put out by the Centers for Disease Control suggesting that non-essential travel to Mexico be curtailed. We appreciate the CDC and Homeland Security are doing their jobs, and we applaud them for it. However, the travel restriction seems to have more political foundation than health concern. There is an advisory against traveling anywhere in Mexico, not just the areas which have reported cases of swine flu, which is primarily Mexico City. While the US government is advising individuals not to travel to Mexico, there are no advisories against travel witihin the US, despite the fact that there are a number of swine flu cases there over a broader geographical area. And of course, when India, China and the European Union advises its citizens not to travel to the US, our government responds” ‘that’s not necessary.’ As we say, there is a lot of political emphasis here as the different countries weigh in on this issue.

Above the fray of nationalized attitudes, the World Health Organization has taken a different tact. The World Health Organization says that restriction on travel will have absolutely no affect whatsoever in controlling or eliminating this disease. According to the most recent WHO travel updates on swine flu, “WHO does not recommend to restrict international travel. As usual it is considered prudent for people who are ill to delay international travel and for people developing symptoms following international travel to seek medical attention.”

Concern in this situation is legitimate and a natural response, but hysteria is not, and hysteria seems to be building, primarily through an overabundance of sensationalized news coverage. There is a difference between reporting the facts and creating a sense of overwhelming danger and impending doom. The other night FOX News led its evening broadcast with a split screen showing Mexico City on one side and the disaster movie Outbreak on the other!

But FOX is not alone in its overhype of this situation as a medical disaster. And that’s not just our opinion. “Of course we’re doing too much to scare people,” said Mark Feldstein, a former correspondent for NBC, ABC and CNN who teaches journalism at George Washington University. “Cable news has 24 hours to fill, and there isn’t 24 hours of exciting news going on. If you scare people, they’ll tune in more.” This quote comes from an excellent article by Howard Kurtz in today’s Washington Post. You can find it here.

Another good article can be found on MSNBC.com from David Whelan of Forbes.com. Mr. Whelan makes the point: “Hysteria and exotic-sounding disease outbreaks go hand in hand. Whether it’s anthrax, mad cow disease, foot-and-mouth disease, bird flu or, going back to the 1990s, ebola—news of an outbreak generates fear that’s disproportionate to the risk of catching the disease. In each of these cases deaths, if they occurred at all, were minimal.” He also goes on to say, “…in every year this decade—between 30,000 and 50,000 American deaths were recorded from complications related to the seasonal flu. Another 40,000 people died in automobile accidents. And each year, gunshot wounds account for 30,000 deaths, around 4,000 people drown while swimming or boating and 60 people die from lightning strikes.”

This is not to say that people should not be concerned. They should. This is a health issue they should pay attention to. But at this point in time, we have a virus that has been reported in only 65 people in the US (according to the CDC official report) . There have been no fatalities and only one hospitalization, and all seem to be on the road to recovery. There have been deaths in Mexico City, but only 20 have been conclusively linked to swine flu at this time. In a city of 22 million.

So we are suggesting some perspective and some calm. If you’re worried and don’t wish to travel at this time, that is obviously your choice. If you are canceling an existing reservation with a hotel, an airline or a travel agent, you should contact them immediately to see what your options are. Truthfully, most will tell you that you have no options and will forfeit your deposit. The reason for that is simple. They have no more control over medical circumstances and governmental advisories than you do. Trust us, your cancellation will cost them much more money than your forfeited deposit will cost you. They will still have to pay their employees, pay their overhead expenses and try and continue their business. We know this from personal experience. However, it never hurts to ask, and some businesses in the travel industry are creating some alternative plans for people who are wishing to change or delay their travel. Of course, this is another reason we always recommend people purchase travel insurance.

At our own Luna Blue Hotel, we have had some cancellations, some delays, and a number of new reservations for the upcoming weeks. We are certainly not in a position to tell people they should or should not travel during this time. But we are informing people that in our opinion travel to Playa del Carmen is safe, and we continue to accept and honor reservations. We’re trying to be understanding of our guests’ situations at this time, and so we have modified our cancellation policy to allow guests to change their reservations if they want to come later in the summer.

If you’re planning a trip to Playa del Carmen now or in the near future, we hope this has been of some help. Despite all the hype and fear, the Caribbean Sea is still a beautiful blue, and the skies are sunny. And if you are going to be in town the 5th of May, don’t miss our blowout Cinco de Mayo party at the Luna Blue Bar.

For more recent information on this topic, Playa is Open for Business…Still No Flu in Sight.

Read our most current blog entry about safety:
Safety in Playa del Carmen Mexico ~ 2012

Visit our Facebook page and become a fan of Luna Blue Hotel & Bar!

Posted in News & Politics, Safety in Mexico, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 49 Comments »

Paintings For Pets: Art Show & Benefit at the Luna Blue Bar This Week

Posted by Tony & Cheri on November 24, 2008

Award winning artist Barry LauniusThe Luna Blue Hotel & Bar is proud to announce that tomorrow night and the next night, Monday and Tuesday November 24 & 25, we will be sponsoring “Paintings for Pets,” an Art Show & Benefit at the Luna Blue Bar, from 6-11 pm. Our friend and extraordinary artist Barry Launius, has brought a collection of his tropical watercolors and acrylics to display and sell, with the sole purpose of raising money for the Peanut Pet Shelter here in Playa del Carmen! This is an extraordinary generous gesture on Barry’s part. He and his wife Phyllis are also pet lovers, and according to Barry, this show is a memorial of sorts to their dog Rex, who they recently lost, as well as our own Huggybear, who we also lost a short time ago.

Barry is an award winning artist of major talent whose works focus largely on the tropical paradise of the Riviera Maya. We love his art, and it is displayed prominently in the Luna Blue Hotel and Bar and throughout our home. This week’s art show is a rare opportunity to see many of Barry’s original pieces and pick up some early Christmas presents–while benefitting one of our favorite local charities.

A local art framing shop, Paré, has offered a 15% discount on matting/framing any pieces purchased at the art show. We use Paré exclusively to frame all of the art we have purchased for the house and hotel, and they have always done an excellent job. They are located in central Playa del Carmen on Calle 12 between Avenida 15 and 20.

During the Paintings for Pets events, we will be featuring 2×1 margaritas, and Tony will be cooking up his famous Cheeseburgers in Playadise (with proceeds also going to the pet shelter). Local musician Chris Bollister has hinted that he may drop by one or both nights for an acoustical guitar set. We’re hoping for a large turnout.

The cost of the paintings will range from $30 US for watercolors to $350 for the very largest acrylics. Once you see Barry’s work, you’ll fall in love with it!

If you’re in Playa, please drop by the tomorrow or Tuesday night 6-11 pm at the Luna Blue Bar. Calle 26 Norte between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue. Hope to see you then!

Here are a few of the paintings that will be up for grabs at the Paintings for Pets event:

To view some others that will be for sale at the event, click here.

Posted in Activities, Events & Happenings, Friends, The Hotel & Bar, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Day of the Dead

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 31, 2008

Living in Mexico has exposed us to many traditions we were never aware of back in the US. One of those we really admire is observance of El Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

Our Day of the Dead OfrendaIn Mexico November 1st and 2nd (All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the Catholic church) are celebrated as Dia de los Muertos. It is not a Catholic holiday but a tradition which goes back centuries. During this time people remember lost friends and family whose spirits symbolically return to the world of the living for one night to be with those they love. These are not scary ghosts but memories of the departed recalled and shared by those who love them. It is a chance to honor loved ones who have passed and to acknowledge that death is not to be feared but accepted as part of life.

The spirits are called back to this world by altars called ofrendas, or “offerings,” on which are placed pictures and objects that recall those who have passed away. The altars are festooned with flowers and decorated with candles, crosses and other significant icons. Water and a sweet bread called pan de muerto are also placed on the altar to give refreshment to the spirit who journeys across the void to be with family. A deceased person’s favorite foods or drinks or other objects associated with him are often put on the ofrenda as are candy skulls which symbolize that death comes to us all and is nothing to be afraid of. An altar may be set with cigarettes, whiskey, sweets or anything the deceased liked in real life. We once even saw a marijuana cigarette placed by a friend who explained to us that getting a little buzz was one of the deceased’s favorite things to do.

On the night of November 1st people gather to eat, drink and recall those who are no longer here. For some it is a symbolic celebration. In some areas of Mexico it is believed the spirits of the dead actually return to hear from the living about how much they were loved. The next day on November 2 people in Mexico visit the graves of the departed and party! Whole families visit the cemetery with picnic lunches. They spend the day remembering those who are gone. Tears are not allowed as they may make the path from the spirit world too slippery for the souls to travel. Whether it is symbolic gesture or in true belief of traveling spirits, El Dia de los Muertos is a beautiful gesture towards those who once shared our lives.

When we first started to come to Playa, many restaurants and store had an ofrenda out front. Sadly, nowadays they are rarer as Playa becomes more cosmopolitan. However we have always liked this celebration and this holiday, and so for the last few years we have made our own ofrenda, honoring the memories of family members and friends who we have lost but not forgotten.

This year our ofrenda is decorated with paper coverings, candy skulls, cigarettes, a bottle of Irish Cream liquor, some wooden cats, lots of flowers, candles, pictures of St Jude and The Virgin of Guadeloupe, a cross inlaid with pictures of saints, a nicho or shadow box showing a small skeleton couple holding hands (a Day of the Dead tradition) and a Bible. The following friends and family are part of our ofrenda this year:

Tony’s Mom and Dad, Jack and Rosalie Head. Rosalie’s picture is her high school graduation picture showing her red hair, green eyes and bright Irish American smile. Jack’s picture is when he was 21 just after he made corporal in the Marines on the eve of WWII. It is inscribed “To Rosalie, The Sweetheart of the Marines.” On the back of the picture of Rosalie is a brown smear. It is Jack’s blood. The picture was inside his shirt on the island of Guam when he was hit by mortar fire. He carried it with him through the rest of the war, and still had it when he returned after the war to marry Rosalie. They remained together until Rosalie passed in 1997. Jack passed away in 2002.

Cheri’s dad, Ed Skultety. Ed is pictured on our altar in his US Air Force uniform. He spent twenty years in the Air Force serving honorably in Vietnam. He was later stationed stateside, mostly in Omaha, Nebraska. He married Sally Vernon (Cheri’s mom who now lives in Sacramento) and together they had six children. He retired from the Air Force in 1974 with the rank of Master Sergeant. That year he and the family moved from Nebraska to Pennsylvania where Ed had grown up and where much of his family still lived. He passed away in Pennsylvania in 1985.

Bill and Barbara Oates. Bill and Barabara were dear friends of ours in San Francisco where Bill was a waiter and Barbara a bookkeeper at the legendary restaurant the Washington Square Bar and Grill. We met Bill one day when we sat down to lunch and he served our food. As Bill set her plate down, Cheri exclaimed, “That looks delicious.” Bill said, “you know, it really does.” He picked up a fork from a nearby table and took a bite of her lunch! We were friends ever since. Bill and Barbara were one of the strongest, most loving couples we ever met. They lived through a time when interracial couples (Bill was black, Barbara white) were often ignored at best, or treated with disdain, or worse. They never complained, never returned the hatred they occasionally saw and never looked back. They held on to each other no matter what. They found a wonderful life in San Francisco where they were known at every good restaurant and decent bar in town. After they got older and ill they passed away within a few months of each other…it seemed they couldn’t live without one another. We miss them very much.

Jerry Seawright. Jerry was the founder of the Blue Devil Drum and Bugle Corps. He took a small group of kids in Concord, California and created a performance group which eventually became an international sensation which today still sets standards for excellence. Jerry’s vision led the Blue Devils to win the Drum Corps International World Championship an unprecedented twelve times. The Blue Devils selects teenagers from across the country to come to California and become part of the group of performers and musicians Jerry called “my kids.” He was a special soul who managed to make each member of the corps feel special and important–and he somehow managed to always remember everyone’s name. One young 18-year-old who received a call from Jerry to come join the Blue Devils was Cheri. She was a member of the Blue Devils color guard from 1979 to 1981 (they were named world champions in 1979 and 1980). She then became an instructor of the color guard for the next two years, during which time they won another world championship. Cheri says the Blue Devils gave her an opportunity few ever experience, allowing her to mature, to grow and to see the world. And she largely thanks Jerry for that chance. Jerry passed in 2004 and is still remembered lovingly by thousands of “kids” all around the world.

Larry Hartsell. On our altar, Sifu Larry Hartsell‘s picture is laid on the book he wrote and next to a patch from his martial arts association which he gave to Tony many years ago. Larry was a pioneer in mixed martial arts. He was one of the first American black belts in both Judo and Karate. Later he became one of the few people ever trained by the great Bruce Lee, whose art of Jeet Kune Do Larry helped to carry on after Bruce’s death. Larry never became as famous as some in the fight game. There were no movies or big paydays, but he was one of the truly great and gifted fighters of his generation. And while he sometimes fought with his own private demons, he still had a gentle soul and was a good man. Tony was honored to have known Larry and to have been his student. Larry passed away late last year. We remember him fondly.

Also on our altar are pictures of our many pets, our family, who journeyed here to Mexico with us, or became part of our family after we arrived, four of whom we lost within the last six months: our beloved English Bulldog Huggybear; our sweet cats Belle and Carib who made the trip from San Francisco in our van; and finally Blue and Lola, cats who made their home for their short lives in the garden of the Luna Blue Hotel.

Our ofrenda gives us a chance each day to stop, look at a picture and recall a moment or time with someone special to us. And if their spirits join us for a night then we hope they find nothing but love waiting for them here in this world.

Luna Blue Bar Halloween Party!!

Halloween in Mexico

Mexico never used to celebrate Halloween. In fact, many Mexicans are scornful of the holiday, possibly seeing it as interfering with the sanctity of Dia de los Muertos, since the two holidays fall so close together. As a result, trick or treating, costumes, and the images of ghosts, witches and pumpkins have been relatively unknown here. But with the influx of foreign goods and influences, that is changing. This year, Walmart, Mega and other stores had large displays of Halloween costumes, decorations and bags of candy—in addition to traditional Day of the Dead items. It’s quite fun watching young Mexican children eyeing the colorful costumes and plastic pumpkins while their parents pry them away. Seems that kids here have caught onto the fact that all you have to do is put on a costume, and you can walk around and get candy from people on the street! We have seen more and more children on Fifth Avenue the past few years, for days before and after October 31, taking advantage of what must seem like an incredibly cool custom.

Other than the few trick or treaters on Fifth Avenue, how is Halloween celebrated in Playa? Mostly by expats and tourists in bars! Many local watering holes are having Halloween costume parties, including our own Luna Blue Bar, where we’re having Halloween Happy Hour this afternoon, October 31, from 4-8 pm with a free shot or beer for anyone in costume. You could easily start early and bar crawl your way through Halloween in Playa. If you find yourself in town later today, stop by & say hello. We’ll be the ones in costume trying to keep the locals cats off the ofrenda.

Posted in Events & Happenings, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Some Bragging Rights

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 6, 2008

April 2008's  Outside MagazineHello everybody. We’re sorry we haven’t blogged for awhile, but it has been pretty busy here in Playa. With Easter coming early this year and March being the high point of the spring break season, we really haven’t had much of a chance to sit down and blog. The hotel has been and is completely full of people. We also spent a couple of weeks doing some fundraising for our local fire department, the Bomberos of the Riviera Maya. And of course we have the new bar to watch over. We have gotten away on some day trips with friends visiting from out of town, and we will be blogging about that in the very near future. But tonight we have a little bragging to do.

First of all, within a year of starting our blog, we now have had over 100,000 hits! We’d like to thank everybody who has visited us here at PlayaZone and especially those who have left their comments, opinions and ideas. We really enjoy hearing that the information we write about brings people to our adopted home of Playa del Carmen or helps them enjoy their vacations more. We’re going to keep blogging, and we hope you’ll keep reading.

Other big news is our latest award. The April edition of Outside Magazine contains its 2008 Travel Awards. Our own Luna Blue Hotel & Garden was named the “Best-Beach-For-Cheap Hotel” in the world. As part of their Trips of the Year 2008, Outside Magazine suggests people wanting a cheap beach vacation should come to Playa del Carmen and stay at the Luna Blue! We are very honored. Outside Magazine is America’s leading active-lifestyle and adventure-travel magazine and has a readership of over 650,000 people.

In the past, we have received awards from TripAdvisor.com and been recommended by such respected travel writers and publications as the Today Program’s Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, the New York Post and USA Today, among others. This latest award came as a complete surprise. When the magazine called us over a month ago to tell us that we were a recipient, we were thrilled. Unfortunately, this being Mexico, we had no way to get a copy of the magazine announcing our award. At the time, we weren’t even sure what we had been commended for. We sent out the word to family and friends to please be on the lookout for the April issue and call us if and when they had a copy in their hands.

Luna Blue Hotel and Garden - Best-Beach-For-Cheap-Hotel, April 2008 Outside MagazineOur good friend Tim Smith, who lives in snow covered (at least at this time of year) South Dakota, braved the chilly weather to hunt a copy up for us. He not only called us to let us know the exact nature of our award but sent us photographs of the magazine which we’ve included here. Since there we have gotten our hands on a couple of copies. The plan is to frame them and display them prominently. :)

It really is very gratifying for us to have the work we’ve done at the Luna Blue recognized by others in the travel industry as well as by our friends and guests.

That’s all for now. We will be back very soon with stories of some adventures up and down the coast and life in Mexico. And if you’re going to be traveling in Playa del Carmen anytime in the near future, please stop by and say hi.

Posted in Friends, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel, Uncategorized, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

 
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