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

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Posts Tagged ‘mexico’

Trying to Reason with the Hurricane Season

Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 5, 2014

It happens every year on June 1st: the annual hurricane season arrives. Officially, the hurricane season (or the tropical rainy season or storm season…whichever you want to call it) runs from June 1st until December 1st. And every year, many people ask us here at the Luna Blue about how this affects travel to our beautiful part of the world.

People unfamiliar with weather patterns south of the border often wonder if it is safe to travel at all during this time. They also worry that if they do visit, their vacation might be ruined by constant rain. The reality is that with some planning and precautions, travelers can enjoy summer in paradise. Here are some facts and helpful hints about visiting Playa del Carmen during this time of year.

Great Weather and Low Prices

Summer can be a great time to vacation in Playa del Carmen. The air temperature during June, July and August is generally in the high 80’s during the day and the mid-70’s at night. The water temperature is slightly less, with average temperatures in the low 80’s. In other words, the days are warm and long, the nights comfortable and the Caribbean Sea is perfect for swimming.

The summer months also see fewer tourists, so the beaches, restaurants, bars, and tours are less crowded. There are some days you may have a part of the beach all to yourself.

In addition fewer tourists means lower prices. Hotels and tours in particular will offer lower prices during this time period.

Of course, the downside of traveling in summer is the threat of rain and storms.  However it is important to remember that rain storms do not occur every day or even every week.

We Have it All…Rain and Sunshine

We do get summer storms which can last for several days. That can certainly put a damper on any vacation. However, the average number of days of rain in the summer months of June-Aug. is 16 days per month, only slightly higher than in the rest of the year.

In other words, these months have about the same number of sunny days as rainy ones. And of course a forecast of rain doesn’t mean there will be rain from morning until night. In the tropics we often have rain showers or a thunderstorm sweep in off the Caribbean Sea only to quickly pass though, leaving the rest of the day bright and sunny.

As for tropical storms and hurricanes, the truth is they don’t threaten Playa del Carmen very often.

These types of storms occur every year in the Caribbean Sea. Some years there are more than others. This year the prediction by the experts is that we will have fewer storms than normal.

Playa del Carmen Has Not Been Struck by a Hurricane Since 2005

There will absolutely be some large storms between now and December somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean sea. However not all tropical storms become hurricanes, and not all hurricanes grow to be major storms that threatens life and property (a Category 3 storm or greater).

Not all hurricanes will make landfall, and of those that do threaten areas of land, few if any will be in the area of Mexico’s Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen. The last hurricane to make landfall on Playa was almost a decade ago with Wilma in 2005.

The established historical tracks of summer storms in the Caribbean do NOT pass over Playa del Carmen in the months of June, July, August, October, and November. Storm tracks do cross the Riviera Maya in September, which is our wettest month of the year and the month when the vast majority of hurricanes and tropical storms happen in the Caribbean.

This is not to say that major storm will never hit Playa. We are simply saying that statistically it is a rare event.

Avoiding a Vacation Disaster

But what happens if a major storm does threaten to come ashore near Playa del Carmen? If you are already here on vacation you may have several options. The first is to leave town. As hurricanes build out over the ocean before moving towards land they are usually seen days in advance, allowing for evacuation of those who wish to leave.

Or if you are in a secure location, or the storm is not of great strength, you may be able to simply wait it out in your hotel or in a designated shelter area. Hurricanes are usually fast moving storms that sweep through in a day or two.

If you are planning a trip and a major storm is threatening before your arrival, you may want to change your travel plans. However be aware that most airlines, hotels, and resorts do NOT usually offer refunds for cancellations or changes due to weather problems.

Because of this we strongly suggest that anyone traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season ALWAYS purchase insurance which will cover your costs if weather keeps you from traveling. That way, if you do have to cancel or change your vacation plans it won’t be a total loss.


Getting the Right Weather Information

No one can tell you with any certainty what the weather will be like in Playa del Carmen (or anywhere else) next week or next month. Trying to determine in June what the weather will be for the second week of August is simply guesswork. However you can keep an eye on the weather in the immediate future by checking several reputable weather websites:

These sites will provide you up to the minute detailed information about weather in the area.

We hope you now see that with a little planning and some basic precautions there is no reason you cannot plan your summer vacation in the paradise of Playa Del Carmen. And remember… a margarita sipped sitting under an umbrella tastes just as good whether it is rainy or sunny outside.

Happy travels!

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Posted in Weather | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Awards Keep Coming In

Posted by Tony & Cheri on May 28, 2014

Luna Blue Hotel Wins Certificate of Excellence 3 Years in a Row

Lately our little hotel in Mexico, the Luna Blue, has been receiving a lot of recognition from the people who matter the most to us…the traveling public.

We have just been awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel website. This comes shortly after we won the prestigious TripAdvisor 2014 Travelers’ Choice Award for Best Bargain Hotel earlier this year.

We’re very proud to say that the Luna Blue was the only hotel in the popular Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen to receive a Travelers’ Choice Award for Best Bargain Hotel in 2014!

Luna Blue Hotel wins 2014 Travelers' Choice AwardFor a small 18-room hotel owned by an American couple living in the paradise of Mexico’s Caribbean coast to receive such honors is very gratifying. These days, the travel industry seems to focus more and more on large all-inclusive properties and giant chain hotels. So when a small place like ours wins these awards, it shows that people’s opinions matter at least as much as corporate marketing campaigns.

What makes these awards especially meaningful to us is that just over a year ago, we were engaged in a David and Goliath dispute with the giant online booking site Expedia. Expedia’s unfair attempts to stop people from booking with our hotel caused us a lot of damage and worry. Yet, after the story of our battle for survival caught the attention of social media site The Verge and news sites such as SFGate and others, the story of a small independent property going against a mega corporate giant went viral. Expedia was forced to back down and leave us alone. Winning these awards is made all the sweeter for having survived this difficult time.

The Travelers’ Choice Award is awarded to less than 2% of all hotels worldwide. The Certificate of Excellence is given only to the top 10% of hotels worldwide. Both are based on consistently high reviews and ratings from hotel guests. This is the third consecutive year the Luna Blue Hotel has won a Certificate of Excellence and the second consecutive year it has won a Travelers’ Choice Award.

The Luna Blue Hotel is located in the heart of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We are a place for travelers–not simply tourists–and we cater to those who want to explore the beauty, food and culture of Mexico and not be limited to the cookie-cutter experience of giant Vegas-style mega resorts. We will work hard to always be Playa del Carmen’s best bargain hotel and will continue to be grateful to our guests and friends for all of their support.

After we won the Traveler’s Choice award, we celebrated at the Luna Blue Bar and asked guests to pose with the award. The photos here are from that night.











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Posted in The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

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

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

St. Patrick’s Day 2014…when the Luna Blue turns Green!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 6, 2014

It happens each year, and St. Patrick’s Day 2014 is no different…the Luna Blue turns into the Luna Green for Playa del Carmen’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day Party.

This year, as always, we will be combining some great Irish traditions with the some south of the border style. St Paddy’s Day in paradise means there will be tequila shots and corned beef sandwiches on homemade rye bread (made by Playa’s very own Grumpy Bakers), Margaritas, Guinness, our very own special St. Paddy’s Day cocktails, and green bikinis in the pool.

It’s a unique Irish-Caribe-Mexican combination you can only find at the Luna Blue.

We are proud of our Irish heritage, grateful to our adopted country and happy to be the biggest and greenest St Patrick’s Day celebration in town.  The bar and pool open at 12 noon to the tunes of our own special Irish playlist. Live music starts at 3, and the party ends at 11 pm (so our hotel guests can still get some sleep!). There will be giveaways, lots of fun, and some interesting surprises. As always, women in green bikinis will get a free drink, and the first green bikini we see in the pool on St Paddy’s Day will receive a $200 peso bar tab!

Please be our guests on March 17th, 2014 at the Luna Blue….home of Playa del Carmen’s original St. Paddy’s Day party. And if you’ve never been to a St. Pat’s Day party at the Luna Blue, here is a slideshow of past years to show you what you have been missing. Don’t miss the fun!

St. Paddy's Day 2014 at the Luna Blue in Playa del Carmen

Once again….St. Paddy’s Day at the Luna Blue 2014!

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What a Difference a Year Makes

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 21, 2013

Jaime Garcia, our most senior employee, with our 2013 Travelers' Choice Award

What a difference a year makes!

It was just a year ago that our little place, the Luna Blue Hotel, was struggling to avoid being crushed by travel industry giant Expedia as it bulldozed over small hotels like ours throughout the world. Things looked grim. But here we are less than a year later still thriving and now receiving accolades from some of the biggest travel sites on the internet. Quite the turnaround, if we do say so ourselves.

Early this year the Luna Blue Hotel was awarded its second Travelers’ Choice Award for “Best Bargain Hotel in Mexico” by TripAdvisor. It is one of the most sought-after and prestigious awards in the travel business. Then not long after that honor, About.com (one of the world’s most popular websites with 90 million visitors a month) named us the “Favorite Bargain Hotel in Mexico.” We are proud and pleased with these awards. It’s always wonderful to be named the “best” or the “favorite” on any list or in any category. To have it happen twice in the same year is a something very special.

What makes these awards even sweeter is the fact that both sites base their results on the opinions of actual travelers. It makes us happy to see that travel choices are not yet completely controlled by giant international mega-corporations but are still ultimately where they should be…in the hands of those who love to travel.

About.com Readers Choice Award Winner for Favorite Bargain Hotel in Mexico - the Luna Blue HotelOf course we are also thrilled that these awards show that people recognize what an excellent choice our hotel is for travelers. Being a bargain…a great value…has always been our goal.

When we first started on this adventure we knew our hotel would never be a fancy, luxury property. That wasn’t our style. But neither did we want a bare bones “budget” property. We believe people want and deserve a little comfort when on vacation. We wanted a hotel for people like us…simply a nice place to stay that average travelers could afford. To us that is what “bargain” means: a good deal for a good price.

In keeping with that idea, we have always tried to keep our rates some of the lowest in town. For example, compare the nightly high season price of a standard hotel room (not the most expensive room nor the cheapest…just the basic mid-range room many people want) at the Luna Blue Hotel with some of the other popular small hotels in the area.

Luna Blue Hotel…$90.00
Aventura Mexicana…$188.00 Riviera del Sol…$176.00
Casa Tikul…$160.00 Hotel Cielo…$125.00
Acanto…$153.00 Hacienda Paradise…$122.00
Hotel La Tortuga…$139.00 Hotel Bric…$125.00

 

In fact, our most expensive room–the Garden View Deluxe room with a full kitchen sleeping up to 4 people–is less expensive than all of the other listed hotels’ “standard” rooms!

All prices were taken from the respective hotel’s website, are exclusive of tax and are for the same high season time period. Not all the well-known small “bargain” hotels in Playa are listed here. Some of Playa’s small hotels don’t publish their rates but require you contact them for a quote. This gives them the chance to increase the rate on a moment’s notice if they want. We don’t deal that way. Our rates are always published on our website. What you see is what you get.

Of course no two properties are alike. Each of these hotels offers its own type of atmosphere, amenities and extras. At the Luna Blue we offer amenities we feel certain will help our guests get the most out of their vacation. Each standard Tropical Hideaway room has a queen bed, unlimited free bottled water, a refrigerator, air conditioning, safe, private bath, ceiling fan, daily maid service, either a porch or balcony, free or discounted use of four local beach clubs, a free margarita at our very popular bar, daily free breakfast snack of coffee, teas and locally baked sweet breads and use of our garden and pool.

Luna Blue Hotel wins 2013 Certificate of Excellence Award from TripadvisorObviously, price and amenities don’t tell the whole story. The fanciest place in the world isn’t worth staying at if the service isn’t good. We are suitably proud of our own reputation for great service. Our multi-lingual hotel staff speaks English and is renowned for being helpful and friendly. And as owners who live here in Playa, we personally look to the comfort and safety of each guest…which may be why we have one of the highest “Excellent” rankings on TripAdvisor in all of Playa del Carmen.

We think our outstanding service is also one of the reasons we also were awarded a third major award this year, our second “Certificate of Excellence” by TripAdvisor…an award given to only 10% of travel businesses worldwide.

Yes, it’s been a wild 12 months…but in the end we are confident that there is still a place in the world of travel for the small independent property like ours. We are thrilled to be recognized for the value we offer to travelers who come our way, and we are happy to still be here in Playa del Carmen, wishing “Happy Travels” to all our readers and friends.

Come join us in paradise.

Posted in Events & Happenings, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Heading for the Beach? The Luna Blue’s Newest Beach Clubs

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 5, 2013

Beach Club at Grand CoralPlaya del Carmen has what many consider to be the best beaches around. In order to help our guests get the most out of their stay here in paradise, the Luna Blue Hotel has always offered discounts and passes to some of the most popular beach clubs in town. From time to time those clubs change based on feedback from our guests and from the clubs themselves. Here is the latest news on our associate beach clubs.

First and foremost we are very happy to announce the reopening of the Beach Club at the Grand Coral (formerly Blucacao). This beautiful upscale club has long been a favorite of our guests for its pristine, uncrowded beach, its two shallow infinity pools and the restaurant/bar overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The beach club was badly damaged earlier this year in a fire and has been closed for several months. However it has now been completely repaired and is open once again, bigger and better than ever. Guests staying at the Luna Blue Hotel receive free use of the beach club facilities including use of the pools, pool side loungers, beach chairs and umbrellas. The restaurant does have one of the more pricey menus on the beach, however it also features some of the most interesting and highest quality dishes around. Best of all, guests from the Luna Blue Hotel receive a 10% discount on their food and drinks. And the setting can’t be beat.

Indigo Beach ClubWe are also very pleased to announce the return of the Indigo Beach Club to the Luna Blue Hotel family. Set on Playa’s central beach at the foot of Calle 14, the Indigo Beach Club offers a lovely arrangement of loungers, tables, beach chairs and umbrellas. Guests of the Luna Blue Hotel may receive free use of beach chairs and umbrellas after 11 am, when the breakfast crowd clears out, with a $150 pesos minimum food or beverage purchase. In addition, Indigo has a new young chef, Rubén López. Rubén, who many may know as the head chef from the upscale Negrosal, has put together a series of upscale tasting menus of various prices for the evening hours. For those on a honeymoon—or just feel like they are on a honeymoon—there is a special “Romantic” tasting menu with a private seaside, candle-lit setting and private lounge. We can’t wait to try it. Maybe for our upcoming anniversary. :) The food at Indigo is not only top-notch, but it’s beautifully prepared as well. Guests of the Luna Blue Hotel receive a 10% discount on all dinners as well as all of the tasting menus.

On the north end of Playa we continue our association with the Canibal Royal Beach Club. Set in a cozy little cove on the shore, Canibal Royal offers not only a perfect beach setting to catch some rays, but also has a two floor restaurant with spectacular views of the ocean and a fascinating menu not seen elsewhere on the beach front. Luna Blue Hotel guests receive free use of a beach chair and towel at Canibal Royal with a minimum food or beverage purchase. And after sunning, drinking and dining at Canibal Royal, don’t forget to head up to the giant third floor hot tub to soak under the sky while looking out over an unspoiled view of the Caribbean Sea.

Wicky's Beach ClubFinally we continue our association with Wicky’s Restaurant and Beach Club. Wicky’s sits in the middle of all the action of Playa’s beautiful central beach. You can stroll on the shore, bar crawl or just people watch from your own lounge chair. Wicky’s offers one of the best and most upscale menus in Playa whether it be a traditional American breakfast or a “surf and turf” dinner. Dine on the deck or sitting on the beautiful white sand beach. Luna Blue Hotel guests receive free use of beach chairs and a 10% discount on food and beverages at Wicky’s Beach Club. During high season there is a small minimum food or beverage purchase required.

We are very happy to offer our guests use of such a diverse group of beach clubs. Of course both Playa’s central and north beaches are dotted with various beach clubs where you can rent chairs and umbrellas for just a few pesos. We recommend trying as many as you can. By the way, due to a difficult and unresponsive management and repeated problems with service, we are no longer recommending Mamita’s Beach Club to our guests. This was a difficult decision, but our concern is always that our guests receive consistent and high quality service.

For the most current information regarding the amenities of the Luna Blue Hotel, including our beach clubs affiliations, please check out our website. Do no rely on information found elsewhere on the internet. Hasta pronto from Playa del Carmen…where it’s always summertime. :)

Posted in Dining in Playa, Recommendations, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

2013 About.com Readers Choice Awards – Go Playa del Carmen!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on February 21, 2013

About.com Finalist - Luna Blue HotelWe just found out that our little hotel is a finalist in the About.com Readers Choice Awards for Favorite Bargain Hotel in Mexico!!  Woo Hoo!   We didn’t even know we were nominated…so many thanks to whoever entered us!

And how cool is this..this year Playa del Carmen is well represented in other Mexico categories as well.

Michele Kinnon’s “Life’s a Beach” blog is a finalist in the Favorite Mexico Blog contest (her 2nd year in a row).  Michele’s longstanding blog is certainly our favorite Mexico blog…she always seems to know the coolest places to go and see, and her family is always doing interesting things.  We have no idea how someone who works so hard still finds time to enjoy Mexico and then blog about it, but it’s something we aspire to.

Mitch and Shawn with Yucatreks are battling for the title of Favorite Mexico Tour Company.  Yucatreks is a small tour company with lots of personality–small, interesting tours that people rave about.  Not those giant cookie-cutter busloads-of-tourists tours but intimate, personal and fun.

Show us all some love and let people know that our little corner of the world is the an amazing place to visit.

Click here to vote for Luna Blue Hotel for Favorite Bargain Hotel

Click here to vote for “Life’s a Beach” for Favorite Mexico Blog

Click here to vote for Yucatreks for Favorite Mexico Tour Company

Votes are limited to one vote per award category per user/email address/Facebook account. But you can vote once every day between now and March 19 when the winners will be announced.

So please, take a minute to cast your votes and pass along these links to your friends. Share them on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media platform. It takes only a few seconds to vote.

Whether we win or lose, we are thrilled that Playa del Carmen is gaining the recognition as a world-class tourist destination that it deserves.

Thanks, all!  Hope to see you soon in paradise.

Tony & Cheri

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Tony & Cheri

Posted in Activities, Events & Happenings, Friends, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Nightmare with Expedia Continues

Posted by Tony & Cheri on January 22, 2013

Quite a bit has happened since we wrote a blog last month detailing our difficulties with travel industry giant Expedia, Expedia: Bad for the Traveler, Bad for the Hotel, mostly due to the power of social media.

Tony & Cheri, Owners of the Luna Blue HotelFor starters, our story seemed to touch a lot of folks. In fact so many people liked what we had to say and shared it with others, that our blog eventually went viral. Thousands of people have read our story and many have e-mailed Expedia to complain about how we were treated.

The blog was first shared on various Facebook pages and then by internet news networks Hacker News and Reddit.com. Adrianne Jeffries of The Verge online news service interviewed us and wrote an excellent article about the situation: One Small Hotel’s Long Nightmare with Expedia.  Next came the The Daily Mail, London’s second largest newspaper, which posted an online story about Expedia’s bad behavior towards us.  And it just kept going.  Blog after blog picked up our story and shared it; people throughout the world tweeted and retweeted our story on Twitter, and it was spread all around Facebook.  Most recently we were interviewed on Blogtalk Radio by Canadian Travel Expert Deanna Byrne: David vs Goliath. Small Independent Hotel Battles Expedia.

We are overwhelmed by this amazing response and moved beyond words by the avalanche of support we have received.  To everyone who passed our story along, commented on it, and e-mailed or messaged us words of support or suggestions on how to handle this situation, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Expedia Finally Responds

As a result of this internet activity Expedia finally responded to our situation…kind of.

One common reaction to our blog was a bit of healthy skepticism.  Many people said ‘That’s terrible, but it’s only one side of the story. I want to hear from Expedia.’  So did we.  We had been waiting for a response from Expedia for months.  We never got one.  However it seems that while Expedia could and did ignore all of our e-mails and phone calls, they were less able to withstand the power of social media and the press.  Expedia finally broke its silence on our situation when contacted by Adrianne Jeffries for her story on The Verge. Of course they didn’t have much to say.

The Expedia spokesman refused to comment on our allegations and would only say that: “Expedia … can confirm Luna Blue Hotel and Expedia are no longer working together.

So Expedia says it isn’t doing business with us.  That’s great; it’s what we have been asking for for several months.  But we have just one more question:

Expedia: If we are no longer working together, WHY ARE WE LISTED ON YOUR AFFILIATE BOOKING SITES ACROSS THE INTERNET AS A PARTNER HOTEL AND WHY ARE YOU STILL TELLING PEOPLE WE HAVE NO ROOMS AVAILABLE AT ANY TIME?

Expedia still hasn’t answered that question.

Expedia by Any Other Name is Still Expedia

Photo by Tim SmithShortly after our story appeared on The Verge, and after causing several long months of damage to us, Expedia finally disabled the Luna Blue Hotel pages on the Expedia website.  At least people going to Expedia’s main pages would no longer be told we had no rooms available.  Unfortunately this is a tiny step with little consequence given the size of Expedia’s reach. Expedia STILL continues to list us on dozens of their affiliate sites throughout the internet. The on-line booking site Venere is a perfect example.

Venere is a subsidiary of Expedia.  Like Hotels.com, Hotwire and many other travel sites, it is wholly owned by Expedia and acts a booking site using Expedia’s database.

We have never contracted with Venere and never given it permission to list our property.  Yet Venere/Expedia claims it is a booking agent for our hotel.  When anyone uses Venere to check for availability they are linked back to Expedia which says we have no rooms to rent ever… and then they are directed to other more expensive hotels!  And we continue to be listed, with no availability showing,  on many sites linking to Venere/Expedia such as travelyahoo.com, cleartrip, holidaywatchdog.com, travelpod.com, tingo, reservetravel.com and many others. 

The biggest and most important site to link to Expedia/Venere’s false information is TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel website. It maintains pages about nearly every hotel in an area, including ours, upon which people can post reviews. Also on these hotel pages, TA sells space for advertisers and vendors like Expedia, Venere, Hotels.com, etc.  On our TripAdvisor page Expedia/Venere places a link or tick box which says you can check with them for availability and “best rates” at our hotel. There are two problems with that… 1.) we aren’t doing business with Expedia/Venere and 2.) when you click the link, Expedia once again falsely says we have no availability ever.

Photo by Tim SmithIn other words, anyone looking at our hotel on the largest travel website in the world will be directed to Venere/Expedia and told, falsely, that we have no rooms to rent!   And yet…Expedia says it’s no longer working with us.  To Expedia, we guess “no longer working together ” doesn’t mean that they won’t use our name to fraudulently lure people to other hotels on their site.

We recently asked TripAdvisor to remove this link, which they have temporarily done.  However they removed this link in the past at our request only to have it return shortly thereafter.  Unfortunately TA tells us they really have no control over the space they sell to Expedia. Each month Expedia resubmits its designated links to TA for posting on its pages. Although Expedia/Venere is saying they don’t do business with us, they have been continuing to advertise our hotel each month on TripAdvisor, claiming to be our booking agent.  We will see what February brings. For now, Expedia’s war on small hotels continues.

We Aren’t the Only Victims of Expedia

So as you can see, Expedia’s tiny gesture of removing us from the Expedia page does little to stop the continuing damage they are doing to us. And frankly we are not surprised by this.  Because along with the well wishes and messages of support we have received in response to our first blog, we have also been swamped with people–both consumers and those in the travel business–telling their horror stories concerning Expedia.  For some examples just take a look at the comments people have posted on our previous blog post.  Many of them relate their own nightmares with Expedia and are quite enlightening.

Photo by Tim SmithThe stories we have heard range from horrible customer service to stories similar to ours… i.e. hotels being listed as having no availability on Expedia when there are plenty of rooms open. However the one that struck us as the most outrageous was the story of Columbus, Georgia. It seems that this small town had a dispute with Expedia, demanding that Expedia pay certain taxes which were required of anyone booking hotel rooms. Expedia refused, and the city of Columbus brought a lawsuit against them.  However, Expedia wanted more than a court decision. It wanted to punish this little town and anyone who did business there. So Expedia wiped Columbus off the map by removing EVERY hotel in the town from all of its affiliated travel sites, as if the town didn’t even exist.  If you went to Expedia and looked for a hotel in the town of Columbus, you were told there weren’t any, and directed to hotels in the next town!  To embarrass the city government and bring pressure on it, Expedia attacked every hotel in that town not because the hotels had done something wrong, but because they were being used as pawns in Expedia’s ever widening attempt to control all travel bookings.  Expedia continued to hide every hotel in Columbus, Georgia from every one of its websites for over five years, until the case was finally settled.

In our opinion this example clearly shows Expedia’s corporate goal is not mere financial success but it is instead to seek complete and improper control of the travel industry market…and woe to anyone who protests or stands in its way.

What to Do?

So people continue to ask: what can be done about this? The answer is we aren’t sure. A lot of people have written and urged us to lead some sort of campaign against Expedia. But that is not our role here.  We work full time to make our hotel a success. It is a 7 day a week/24 hours a day job. We jokingly say that we are the whitest people in the Caribbean. Everyone has a better tan than we do as we never seem to have time to get to the beach. So we are not in a position to lead a crusade.  All we can do is speak out to tell people the truth about what was done to us by Expedia and help educate others about travel companies such as Expedia and its affiliates.

Photo by Tim SmithThe simplest response to Expedia’s misconduct is …don’t use them or their affiliates: Venere.com, Egencia.com, eLong.com, Hotwire.com, Hotels.com, Localexpert.com or any of the websites listed above.   Don’t book your vacation though a nameless, faceless data bank but instead talk to people who actually know about the places you want to visit.  Call the hotel or restaurant or tour operator directly.  Or call a travel agent who specializes in the type of travel or destinations you want.  We don’t suggest this just because we feel that Expedia harms small businesses such as ours.  We suggest it also because you are better off making your own decisions about your vacation than leaving them in the hands of large corporations who do not act as your advocate.

Remember: the claim that Expedia offers lower rates is not generally true.  Expedia may at times buy blocks of rooms from large hotels or hotel chains and offer them at a discounted rate.  However those hotels are unlikely to offer additional amenities or benefits as they have already tremendously discounted the rate to Expedia.  On the other hand, you may get a better deal by contacting the hotel directly.  In dealing with guests directly, hotels–particularly independent and small hotels–may be much more willing to offer discounts, upgrades, specials or promotions if you book directly.  Remember, Expedia has no ability to negotiate with you for hotel prices, special requests or amenities.  The hotel does.  Call them directly.

Don’t Start Your Research on Expedia or Related Sites

Some people say they use Expedia just to get an overview of available hotels before booking directly.  The problem with this is that Expedia ONLY lists hotels it has chosen to promote.   There will be many other fine accommodations which you will miss if you limit your search to Expedia.  If you want to do your own research, which we strongly suggest you do, check out Tripadvisor, which will list nearly every hotel available in an area, since hotels do not pay to be on those pages, and read their reviews.  Or have a reputable travel agent give you options. A travel agent will act as your advocate, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, ultimately leading to a better vacation–which is what it’s all about.

Always remember it is your vacation and your money…don’t let somebody else tell you how or where to spend it. Don’t let some mega-corporation limit your travel choices.

Some Good News

We continue to receive not only messages of support, but bookings as well. The word is getting out and people are finding they can reserve at our hotel by contacting us directly via our website, e-mail or Facebook.  2013 Travelers' Choice Award Winner - Luna Blue Hotel - Best Bargain MexicoAnd we have been contacted by several quality travel agents with whom we have begun working.  Sadly, we we are still getting way too many messages that say “I heard about the problem with Expedia too late. I booked another hotel because I thought you were full.”  So we are keeping up our efforts to tell travelers around the world…we are open and we have availability.

We are also very excited, as this week were were awarded a 2013 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for being one of the best Bargain Hotels in Mexico!  TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards have been given each year for the last 11 years to the world’s top properties.  This is the second time we have won this award, and we are very proud about that.  According to TripAdvisor, “Unlike any other hotel honors, TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions covering more than 650,000 hotels and collected in a single year from travelers around the world.”  Thank you to all of our guests who wrote such great reviews about us on TripAdvisor’s Luna Blue page. We remain committed to offering our guests the same high level of service and accommodations which have earned us this award. 

In closing, once again, we would like to say thank you to all who offered support and helped spread the word. We deeply appreciate it.  Now…come join us in paradise.

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Posted in Recommendations, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , , | 24 Comments »

Expedia: Bad for the Traveler, Bad for the Hotel

Posted by Tony & Cheri on December 4, 2012

There is a lot of talk in the news these days about the difficulties facing small business owners around the world. Nowhere are these difficulties felt as deeply as in the travel industry. The rapid growth of the control of travel by big business with its multi-billion-dollar internet and advertising power has caused many small travel business owners to be pushed aside. As a result the consumer ends up with limited access to travel choices while the Mom and Pop hotel or tour or shop ends up on the brink of extinction. We know this firsthand, as we are one of those small businesses being unfairly crushed under the weight of travel industry giant Expedia. In fact we think Expedia is trying to put us, and small independent businesses like ours, out of business. And here’s why:

Expedia and its many affiliates, including Hotels.com and Venere.com, invite people to come to their sites to book our hotel, the Luna Blue Hotel in Playa del Carmen Mexico. Yet when people get to these websites they are told that our hotel is completely occupied for all dates now and in the future. If someone calls on the telephone, they are told that our hotel is going out of business! They are then directed to book another more expensive hotel, which provides Expedia greater commission. It seems that Expedia and its affiliates use small hotels like ours to attract people to their sites so they can get those people to book with bigger resorts. It is the classic “bait and switch” scam.

We think what Expedia is doing is completely outrageous, and we think you should know the whole story:

Living the Dream

Tony & Cheri owners of Luna Blue Hotel in Playa del Carmen MexicoSome years ago we fell in love with Mexico’s Caribbean coast. We left our home, quit our jobs and headed south. We had scrimped and saved and put our entire life savings into buying a small, rundown backpacker hotel in Playa del Carmen. It wasn’t anything fancy. It wasn’t a part of some chain or franchise. It was 18 rooms and a garden on a side street a few blocks from the beach. But it was now ours, and we loved it.

The plan was to turn this property into our vision of a slice of paradise and to live the good life as innkeepers on the Caribbean Sea. That’s what happened…for a while. And not to toot our own horns, but we were a success. We won some awards, received great reviews and filled our rooms. We renamed it the Luna Blue Hotel, and we’re quite proud of what it has become.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing of course. The swine flu scare and the hysteria over central Mexico’s drug wars really did some damage to tourism in this part of the world. But we held on and weathered the rough spots. We weren’t going to give up. This was not just our life…it was our dream. We put all of our money, time and heart into making it work. Then we made a mistake. We signed up with Expedia.

Expedia

If you are not already familiar with Expedia let us give you some background. Expedia, Inc. is the world’s largest online travel agency. People can use their various websites (and they have many affiliated companies) to book a room, a flight or a complete travel package. The company now operates in 60 countries around the world. When you want to know what we mean when we talk about the “Big Business” of travel, just look at Expedia. Besides Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire and Venere, Expedia also owns Egencia (the world’s fifth largest corporate travel company), eLong (China’s second largest online travel company); Expedia Local Expert (an online concierge company in 18 markets worldwide), Classic Vacations (a leading luxury travel specialist) and much more. It also has tight corporate ties to industry giants Ticketmaster and TripAdvisor.

Expedia has an office in Cancun and offers its services to the hotels along the Riviera Maya where we live. A year ago we were visited by the Expedia Market Manager for this area, Javier Polanco. Expedia, he told us, could help us recover some of the business we had lost in the lean years. It wasn’t cheap, as Expedia takes 25 % of every booking made through their sites–a fact that hotels are forbidden by Expedia to disclose to guests.   But we figured that if it brought us more business it would be worth it. So…we signed on the dotted line and became “partners” with Expedia. However we soon discovered that Expedia had a different vision of a partnership than we did.

“That’s Not the Room we Reserved!”

Almost immediately we began to have trouble with our new “partners.” As requested, we provided Expedia with a long, detailed list describing our rooms, amenities and property to use on their website. Yet that list was completely ignored by Expedia when putting together a profile of our hotel. Many of the descriptions of our hotel and rooms Expedia posted were completely wrong. We repeatedly emailed the “content department,” which was in charge of the website details, asking them to make the changes necessary to correct the problems.  However the response to our emails was almost non-existent.

As the months passed, every so often someone in the content department would rewrite our Expedia listing to correct one inaccuracy and in the process add several new problems. More often than not they simply ignored us. As a result, guests would arrive at our hotel having made a reservation through Expedia or Hotels.com and find the room they reserved to be nothing like the erroneous description on Expedia’s website. Sometimes the guest would roll with the punches and accept there had been a problem with Expedia’s site. However other times the guests were angry and demanded an upgrade, or would even leave the hotel.

While this greatly affected our hotel’s reputation, Expedia didn’t seem to care. We began to realize that our “partner” Expedia operated on a mass production scale: Their policy seemed to be keep the inventory of available rooms high enough from a large number of hotels, and the monetary return would compensate for growing customer dissatisfaction over a lack of service.

Our Rooms Suddenly Disappear from Expedia

fightexpediablog3Eventually our Expedia Market Manager Javier Polanco was promoted. All that inventory the big hotels were loading must have reflected well on him. We were told that there was a new Market Manager in Cancun, Judith Monroy. We thought that maybe with a new representative at Expedia things might change for us. And we were right; they did change. They got worse.

One day we noticed our Expedia bookings had suddenly stopped. We went to Expedia’s site and saw the problem right away. The links on our Expedia and Hotels.com pages were broken. The pictures and descriptions of our hotel rooms were gone. They used to be incorrect, but now they had vanished completely! No wonder people stopped booking our hotel through these websites. Potential guests could not find information about our rooms or see what they looked like, and so they quickly moved on and reserved at other hotels. Our bookings came to an abrupt halt. We called Judith. Then we e-mailed her. Then we called again. There was no response whatsoever for weeks. The only response we received was a boilerplate email from Judith telling us to load more inventory!

“It Won’t EVER be Fixed”

Finally we were told the problem had been reported to the Content department. Two weeks later we were told the problem was an IT problem and that the IT department had been notified. All this time our pages remained broken. We kept asking, “What is the point of being on Expedia if no one can see our rooms?” We were told there was a system-wide bug and that many hotels were affected (we found out later this wasn’t true) and that the problem would be fixed…in one month. We waited.

Of course, one month came and went and our Expedia pages were still not working. This time we called Javier, who emphatically told us that the page would never be fixed, and that the links would always be broken. Then he laughed and said that it wasn’t his problem. We told him we were tired of the lies and the stalling and we demanded some sort of helpful response.

If You Complain…We’ll Cut You Off

In response to our demand that Expedia help us, we received an e-mail from Pablo Castro, Javier and Judith’s boss and the Manager for Expedia’s Latin America-based hotels. Pablo wrote to tell us he was going to disable our page at Javier’s request because of our bad attitude but that if we would like to meet with him in Cancun perhaps we could resolve the situation. We wrote back immediately to say we would like very much to meet with him, and asked him to name the time and place. We waited for a response. And waited. And waited. We wrote a second time asking when and where we should meet. Pablo never responded to us and never met with us. To this day we’ve never heard another word from him.

We wondered how long we would stay in business if we treated people like Expedia was treating us. Imagine if a guest checked into our hotel and found that the toilet didn’t work or that the bed was missing and we responded by telling him he had to leave the hotel because he was complaining. Is that really how people in the travel business should act? We certainly don’t think so.

Things Get Better…and Then Much Worse

We thought our time with Expedia had come to an end—and that was okay with us—when suddenly we started getting a flood of reservations from them. What the heck was happening? We went to the Expedia site and couldn’t believe it…the page was fixed and working. After all the months of having it broken, after being told it could never be fixed, after being threatened with expulsion from Expedia for complaining about lack of service, the page was back up and working.

But Expedia wasn’t done punishing us yet. Within a few days we received an e-mail from a guest with a reservation booked through Hotels.com. Why, the woman wanted to know, had we cancelled her reservation? We hadn’t. Judith had! Without our knowledge or consent, our Expedia Market Manager cancelled ALL of our existing Expedia reservations, including ones people had made months before, telling the guests that their reservations were being cancelled because we had no available rooms. This was of course not true.

Expedia Says the Luna Blue has No Availability…Ever

fightexpediablog2Instead of leaving our page up and finally working, or even disabling or removing our hotel’s Expedia page as they had said they would do, the Cancun office did something much worse: They set our hotel page on Expedia’s website to show that we never had any availability for any room at any time. What this meant was anytime anyone looked at our hotel on Expedia, Hotels.com or Venere.com they saw a message saying there was no availability for the requested dates. Any dates. Ever!

You have to understand Expedia’s reach and power to know how bad this can be for a small hotel like ours. Expedia has agreements throughout the world and all over the internet to have travel sites link to their main page. If you click to see the Luna Blue Hotel rates and availability on Hotels.com, Venere.com, Lonelyplanet.com, Yahootravel.com, Travelpod.com, Holidaywatchdog.com, Trivago.com, Cleartrip.com and other similar sites you will be informed via link to Expedia that the Luna Blue Hotel has no availability ever, and it will suggest other more expensive hotels. So the lie manufactured by a couple of people in Expedia’s Cancun office is now spread across the internet. Throughout the web, Expedia is telling people they can’t get a room at the Luna Blue, so those people look elsewhere. You don’t have to be an expert in the travel industry to know how incredibly damaging and unfair this is.

And while it may be unfair, it seems to be the standard operating procedure for Expedia. The country of France recently fined Expedia for this exact scam…telling people a hotel had no availability in order to get them to book with other more expensive properties: Expedia Hit With Major Fine in France Over Misleading Marketing. But apparently being fined wasn’t enough to make them stop this egregious behavior elsewhere.

Expedia Demands That We Pay Them to Relocate Our Guests to Other Hotels!

Not content to simply deny us reservations, Judith and the Cancun gang went further. A few days later we were contacted by Expedia’s Collections department and told we owed an exorbitant amount of money for “relocation fees.” Here’s how it works normally: an Expedia partner hotel agrees that if it cancels an Expedia generated reservation because the hotel cannot accommodate a guest, Expedia will then book the guest into another hotel in the area and charge any difference in cost to the original hotel. Judith, after secretly cancelling our reservations and telling the guests we had no room (a lie), was then booking the guests (our guests… people who wanted to stay at our hotel) into other bigger, more expensive hotels and then having Expedia bill us the cost–costs sometimes as much as three times what our room rates were! As you might imagine we were stunned and angry. Then it got even worse.

And Finally…Expedia’s Biggest Lie Yet

We saved the most outrageous for last.

After everything Expedia had done to block guests from making reservations at our hotel, some people still wouldn’t take no for an answer. Some guests figured, quite reasonably, that no hotel is 100% full for every day in the conceivable future. They wondered if there was a problem with Expedia’s page. So they called Expedia’s customer service telephone line to try and book at our hotel. Expedia then told those fine folks that “the Luna Blue Hotel is going out of business” and that’s why there were no rooms available there. We know this because the guests who were told this lie by Expedia then contacted us directly.

It seems that Expedia will stop at nothing to punish a small independent Mom and Pop hotel which had the audacity to ask to be treated fairly. And that’s how it stands today. Expedia refuses to acknowledge our calls and e-mails and refuses to either open up our Expedia page to reservations or take it down, but instead continues to spread the lies across the internet that we are going out of business and refusing to take reservations.

How Can a Small Business Protect Itself from the Dishonest Actions of a Goliath like Expedia?

fightexpediablog4In today’s world, a corporate Goliath like Expedia has way too much power to be worried about stones thrown by small business owners like us. We have done what we can to explore our options by talking with attorneys here in Mexico and in the US as well as with travel experts and government agencies in both countries. The advice we have received has been appreciated, but truthfully there are few options available to us.

It is unrealistic for us to bring a legal action against Expedia either in the US or in Mexico. The money necessary to hire lawyers to pursue the cases wouldn’t even be missed by Expedia, but would probably bankrupt us.

We have also been told to file complaints with the US Federal Trade Commission and with various federal and local watchdog agencies here in Mexico, including the Ministry of Tourism. We are doing all of that, but we are realistic about the chances of any results or relief in the near future. In the meantime the damage to our small business by Expedia continues.

If you’re a small hotel thinking of doing business with Expedia, think long and hard before making that commitment. If you are already doing business with Expedia, we hope you learn from our experiences here and tread carefully whenever you complain to them, lest you suffer a similar fate.

Spreading the Word

In the end we are really left with only one way to combat Expedia’s misconduct…telling the truth. And we are going to offer that truth to whoever wants to listen. We will tell our story to our friends, return guests, newsletter readers and fans of our blog and Facebook page. We will talk to other small business owners and hotel associations here in Mexico to warn them not to deal with the Cancun office of Expedia unless they want to be threatened with a fate like ours. And we will pass our story along to whoever in the travel industry will listen.

What we are trying to do here is to educate the public…the people who travel…the people who spend their very hard earned money on that one or two weeks of vacation they get each year. Those folks shouldn’t be lied to. Those folks shouldn’t have some pre-set website decide for them what kind of vacation they should take or what choices are available. The big boys in the travel world want to limit the public’s access to only those resources they market and can make a profit on. They would rather the paying public not even have a chance to consider the independent vendor. In our opinion, that’s unfair to those of us who are small business owners, and it’s unfair to the people just wanting to plan a nice vacation.

And so we have told our story here and we hope it opens some people’s eyes. Please feel free to pass it along if you know anyone who might be interested.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself from Being Abused by Expedia?

Most importantly: don’t use Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Venere.com or any of their affiliated websites!  First of all they have a well-deserved reputation for bad customer service. Just Google the words “Expedia bad customer service” and see what comes up. Secondly they do not offer discounted rates as many claim. Many people believe that Expedia will offer better rates for a hotel room that the hotel does. That is not true. Expedia offers the hotel room at the same price as the property. Expedia gets a large percentage of what you pay for the room. Why would they give it to you cheaper? And why would a hotel offer a lower price on Expedia when they are already paying them a 25% commission? Obviously hotels save that 25% when you book directly with them, so why would they encourage you to book through a middleman by discounting their own prices on those sites? They don’t. But Expedia doesn’t want you to know that.

fightexpediablog5Also, remember that Expedia and other travel websites offer a limited number of hotels and rooms. Not all hotels list with Expedia, and those that do rarely list all their available rooms on the Expedia site (for the reason listed above.) For the most availability, best prices and service, always book directly with a hotel.  For more tips on how to have the vacation you choose, read 5 Reasons Not to Book Hotels Using Expedia, Hotels.com or Hotwire.

And finally, if you need help in planning a vacation or finding travel choices, either use the internet to do the research or go to a reputable travel agent. Don’t rely on a mammoth bureaucracy to understand what will be the best vacation for you. It’s your money, time and vacation. Don’t let somebody else make the plans…do it yourself!

The Luna Blue Hotel and Bar

As for our own future, we are not going to be discouraged or intimidated by Expedia’s bad behavior. We are not giving up on our business just because some industry giant tells us to. We are still living the dream here on the edge of the Caribbean Sea and still running one of the finest small boutique hotels in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.

If you would like to know more about our hotel just visit our website at www.lunabluehotel.com. You can book directly with us. We would love to have you as our guests and show you the wonders of our little slice of paradise.

Thank you for taking the time to read our story. And happy travels to you all.

Tony & Cheri

For an update on what has happened since we posted this,

please take a look at our latest blog entry:

The Nightmare with Expedia Continues.

 

If after reading our story you would like to add your voice to ours in protesting Expedia’s behavior please consider sending the following e-mail to Expedia:“We strongly condemn how Expedia has treated the Luna Blue Hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, as outlined in Expedia: Bad for the Traveler, Bad for the Hotel.  Please stop blocking their reservations.  We think it is grossly unfair for Expedia to treat small businesses in such manner.”Here are some addresses at Expedia where you can e-mail your comments:

General Corporate mailbox
: travel@expedia.com

Dara Khosrowshahi, President of Expedia
: darakh@expedia.com

Pablo Castro, Manager for Latin America Expedia
: pcastro@expedia.com

Javier Polanco, Area Manager for the Riviera Maya
: jpolanco@expedia.com

Judith Monroy, Associate Market Manager for Southeast Mexico
: jmonroy@expedia.com
12/28/12: The Verge, one of the internet’s largest technology and news media networks, has just published a story regarding our dispute with Expedia. The Verge’s reporter, Adrianne Jeffries, contacted Expedia and gave them a chance to tell their side of the story. As you can see from the article, their response was that they no longer did business with the Luna Blue Hotel. So the question remains: If they are not doing business with us, why are they tying up the internet with dozens of sites claiming that they have booking rights to the Luna Blue but that we are completley full? We’ll explore that soon. In the meantime, we ask that you please take a look at the Verge’s article, One Small Hotel’s Long Nightmare with Expedia.
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Posted in Recommendations, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , | 430 Comments »

Dia de los Muertos

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 15, 2012

Autumn in Mexico brings a cross-cultural pollination of holiday celebrations. Ancient traditions of mystery and magic from the Mayan and Aztec people combine with modern party vibes of the Caribbean and North America to make this one of the most fun times of the year here in Playa del Carmen.

The traditional Mexican Autumn holiday is called Dia de los Muertos, or “The Day of the Dead,” and takes place on November 1st and 2nd.
While sounding a bit scary, the holiday is actually a family-oriented celebration of life and a remembrance of loved ones who have passed on. The evening of November 1st is called La Noche de Duelo or Night for Mourning. On this evening it is said that the spirits of departed loved ones return to earth. Families gather for holiday meals which include the traditional pan de muerto or Dead Bread, which is a sweet cinnamon bread baked in a circular pattern. The spirits are welcomed and their lives remembered with feasting, drinking and music. Then on November 2nd, people will often visit the graves of family members and have picnics or other celebrations at the cemetery.

Dia de los Muertos is also celebrated by the building of ofrendas, or altars, in the memory of those who have died. These altars are decorated with photos, favorite food and drinks of the deceased along with brightly colored flowers, candles and ribbons. In addition decorations for homes, stores and schools feature images of skeletons in clothing going about their daily lives, often in humorous poses. In the same vein, candied skulls with frosting decorations are very popular among children. The idea behind such decorations is to remember that death is part of the cycle of life, and that rather than fear it we should learn to accept and even laugh at it.

We love this tradition and we build our own ofrendas each year for our friends and family who are no longer with us. For some photos and more stories about our ofrendas please take a look at our past blog entries: Day of the Dead and Mexico’s Day of the Dead Alive and Well in Playa del Carmen.

While the celebration of Day of the Dead tends to be a family affair, the famous eco-park of Xcaret here in Playa holds a huge annual public presentation with art, music and dance to celebrate and explain this holiday which predates the Spanish conquest of Mexico. For a great description and some wonderful photos of the park’s displays and activities please visit our friend Michele’s blog entry from a few years back: A Celebration of Life and Death at Xcaret.

Sugar Skulls for Dia de los MuertosOf course Playa has always been a magnet for many cultures, and so it is no surprise that the American version of Halloween has made its way down here. Many local Mexican children have fully embraced the fun of wearing costumes and running through the streets begging for candy. Stores like Walmart now feature the same costumes and decorations one sees back in the United States–something that was not true even a few years back when we moved here to Mexico. Bags of candy marked for Halloween and even pumpkins to carve as Jack o’ Lanterns are also commonly seen. On Halloween night (and for a few nights before and after), costumed children dressed as devils and witches and favorite superheroes will flood the resort zone pedestrian mall of 5th Avenue, running between the stores, cafes and restaurants asking for treats.

And it’s not just the kids who celebrate Halloween here in Mexico. Tourists and visitors arriving in Playa for the last days of the month of October will find there are plenty of fun and unique activities. For example our friends at the Mexico Blue Dream Dive Shop are holding a Pumpkin Carving Contest. However this contest has a Caribbean twist–it is held underwater in scuba gear! For details go to their Facebook event announcement.

There will also be plenty of adult costume parties at many of the bars here in town. Costumes that range from creatively funny to shockingly sexy will be seen up and down the resort zone’s 5th Avenue on Halloween night. The biggest and best of those parties is always the one at the Luna Blue Bar. There will be live music with the legendary troubadour of the Caribbean Coast, Barefoot Skinny. We will have costume contests with prizes for the best and the sexiest costumes. The pool will be open so bar patrons can have their margaritas floating in the pool. Playa’s best bartender, Jorge Sierra, will be pouring the drinks and there will be surprises and fun all night long from 7 pm until the witching hour of midnight. For some photos of our parties of previous years, please click here.

The fun doesn’t stop after Halloween. The beautiful fall weather here (average temperature around 83 degrees) is perfect for some of our other fall events like The Annual Riviera Maya Jazz Festival which features free concerts by internationally acclaimed musicians right on the beach. And America’s Thanksgiving Day/weekend is also a big celebration down here. Many restaurants will serve special dinners with turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings. Imagine having your turkey feast only steps from the blue water of the Caribbean Sea. Now that’s something to be thankful about.

Before plunging into the craziness of the holiday rush, why not treat yourself to a few days of pleasure here in Mexico at the award-winning Luna Blue Hotel & Bar. It’s a gorgeous time of year to be in paradise.

Halloween at the Luna Blue Hotel 2012

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Posted in Activities, Events & Happenings, Living the Dream | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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