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

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Posts Tagged ‘playa del carmen’

Happy Anniversary to Us…But the Gift is for You

Posted by Tony & Cheri on February 1, 2012

Happy Anniversary to UsSeven years ago today we looked at each other one more time, took a collective deep breath, and signed the papers which made us the owners of a small hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico…that which shortly afterwards became the Luna Blue Hotel.

It has been a long, strange, exciting trip…and we’re still going strong.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we’re offering a little gift to our fans and friends. For any reservation made on our website during the next 7 days (February 1-7, 2012) for any stay now through December 20, we will give a 7% discount.

You must write “Happy Anniversary” in the notes field and make a regular deposit. We will apply the discount and send confirmation. This offer doesn’t apply with other discounts and must be made via our website.

And in case we haven’t said it enough, let us take this opportunity to thank our fans, guests and friends who have been so supportive to us over the years…both in person and online. It has made a huge difference to us both personally and professionally.

Click here to reserve now. Help us celebrate our anniversary by coming to Playa and celebrating yours….or your birthday…or just being alive.

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Posted in Events & Happenings, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

Safety & Crime in Playa del Carmen Mexico ~ 2012

Posted by Tony & Cheri on January 5, 2012

Tulum MexicoAs the last year came to a close and the new one has begun, many people considering a trip to Playa del Carmen still have the same question…is it safe?

We know this because the top phrases by which people are finding our blog include safety and crime in Mexico. We also know it from comments on internet forums, by the questions people ask in e-mails and by talking with our guests who invariably say they were warned by friends and family not to go to “dangerous” Mexico.

So even though we have blogged about this issue several times before, we thought it would be good to start the new year with a clear statement: Playa del Carmen and Mexico’s Caribbean coast are safe to visit.

Mexico is America’s Favorite Vacation Destination

One way to judge the safety of Mexico is to look at how many people come here without incident. In 2011 Mexico continued to be the first choice for travel among Americans visiting foreign countries for vacation.

“Put the numbers in statistical perspective. Mexico is the United States’ #1 foreign tourist destination, and more people will visit Mexico before noon today than visit London in a year. With more than 50,000 people a day visiting Mexico your chance of being involved in a violent act in Mexico are less than half that of being struck by lightning and more unlikely than winning Powerball!”
BajaInsider.com, Looking at the Facts, Dec. 31, 2011 Update.

There is every reason to believe this will continue, as several travel publications and websites have listed Mexico as one of the most desirable vacation destinations for the coming year. For example, tourist industry giant Frommer’s has listed Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula (which includes Playa del Carmen) as one of the Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2012:

“It [the Yucatan Peninsula] remains the safest region in Mexico, with far less crime than travelers are likely to encounter at home. Even so, the Yucatán offers all that is best about Mexico — sublime beaches, a unique cuisine, joyous fiestas and exotic wildlife.”
Frommer’s, Top Destinations 2012

A Geography Lesson

Yes, there is crime in Mexico. And yes, there are areas of Mexico where drug wars have created a real danger to the people who live there. But as we have previously pointed out on this blog, the geographical area where that problem exists is far from the beaches of Playa del Carmen.

“Without a solid understanding of the geography (761,606 square miles) and the nature of the drug wars many foreigners assume that all of Mexico is a war zone. But it isn’t.”
Washington Post, Mexico: A Guide to Which Parts are Safe

The distance in driving miles between Ciudad Juarez (heart of the cartel violence) and Playa del Carmen (heart of Mexico’s Caribbean coast) is approximately equal to the driving distance between Chicago and San Francisco. Would you skip visiting America’s Pacific coast because of crime thousands of miles away in the country’s midwest? The same comparison can be made about Mexico.

Crime Exists in Everyone’s Hometown

Yes we have crime in Playa del Carmen. And there is crime in the city you live in. No matter where you live, there is crime in your own hometown. But in truth, Playa del Carmen probably has a crime rate lower than most North American cities.

NBC’s cable affiliate msnbc.com recently indicated that visiting the Riviera Maya may be safer than going to Disney World:

“Most tourist-popular areas, such as Mexico City and the resorts of the Riviera Maya, are considered safe for travelers. (In fact, statistics show that these regions saw even less crime in 2010, per capita, than Orlando and Washington, D.C.)”
msnbc.com, To Go or Not to Go

Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya (Cancun to Tulum) are actually safer than a lot of American cities. In 2010 (the latest available statistics) the entire State of Quintana Roo (where Playa del Carmen and the all of the Riviera Maya is located) had fewer murders per 100,000 people than many US cities including Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, Miami, Newark, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tulsa and Washington DC.(based on FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics for the US and the statistics of the National System for Public Security of Mexico.)

Last Year in Playa del Carmen

BUT…some folks will say…there is violent crime in Playa del Carmen. Just last year wasn’t a tourist killed? Didn’t drug cartels murder the chief of the city’s police to stop his anti-drug campaign? Wasn’t the mayor assassinated? The answer to all three questions is “no.”

Last year there were two shootings in Playa which caused many people concern. We have discussed these previously. In short, a man from central Mexico who was involved in money laundering for the cartels stole money from them and then fled here to the coast, not as a tourist but to hide from his employers. His employers found him and killed him.

In a second unrelated incident the chief officer for the Tourist Police unit (not the chief of the city police) was killed. His killers escaped, and no motive for his murder has been discovered. The police officer was not part of any drug investigating unit, nor has any drug cartel claimed responsibility. These crimes targeted specific individuals for specific reasons. They were not random acts that threatened the general population–local or tourist.

A third incident which occurred last year was almost laughable in how the media and the internet reacted. It concerned an alleged shooting involving the mayor’s security team. It seems that after a trip by Playa’s mayor to Cancun, bullet holes were discovered in the SUV driven by the security team which accompanied the mayor. A local newspaper speculated about an armed attack on the mayor and the internet quickly was full of stories of an assassination attempt. Some even reported a successful assassination of the mayor. However, subsequent inspection revealed the shots came from inside the vehicle! It appears that a security team member’s gun accidentally discharged. No attack. No assassination. No crime.

But despite the fact that no tourists have been involved or injured in any of the incidents we mentioned, and despite the fact the predicted introduction of the drug war to Playa never happened, many people reading exaggerated comments on the internet have been left with the impression that Playa is now a war zone. That is simply untrue.

Playa del Carmen is Not a Small Village

No one likes violent crime in their city. People in Playa were shocked and saddened by the crimes that took place. But keep in mind that Playa is not a small town. The most recent population number listed by the Municipio of Solidaridad lists the population of the Municipio at 173,266, with an annual growth rate of 6.8%. This doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit here each year.

Playa del Carmen and the surrounding municipality is larger than both Green Bay, Wisconsin and Topeka, Kansas. Playa is also larger than either Tempe, Arizona or Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is about the same size as Providence, Rhode Island and as Knoxville, Tennessee. Playa is not a small village; it is a good sized city. And in any city of this size, regardless of the country, one would expect to find some incidents of violent crime. Yet overall Playa del Carmen continues to be free of the crime seen in central Mexico or even in some places north of the border.

Don’t Listen to Rumors

While we were writing this blog, we saw an individual on an internet forum state that she worried Playa was too dangerous to visit because there had been an assassination attempt on the mayor! And in that post we realize the real reason for Mexico’s reputation as being too dangerous to visit: Public comments by those ignorant of the facts, always founded in speculation and often based in prejudice, have created a popular but false perception that all of Mexico is dangerous.

We will say it now as we have repeatedly said it in the past. Do NOT listen to the opinions of your neighbors who have never been to Playa telling you to stay home, or the speculation of people who post on the internet with no expertise or experience who advise you to stay hidden behind resort walls. If you have questions, turn to the experts…those news agencies and governmental offices whose job it is to keep us informed with facts; and blogs written by people who live and work in the area. A list of articles, blogs and sources that we believe are reliable can be found in our previous blog on this topic: Safety & Crime in Playa del Carmen Mexico 2011: The Truth. And you can always find up to date information about Playa del Carmen and the surrounding area on the Facebook page of the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar.

Mexico is More than Sensational Headlines

Finally people also need to remember that Mexico, like the US and like any other country in the world, is a complex place, and no one part of it should be seen as representing the whole. We would not condemn the entire US as dangerous because of a crime wave in one section of the country. Yet that is what happens repeatedly with regard to Mexico. Last year when 14 people were killed in 14 days in Dallas, Texas not one person suggested America was too dangerous to visit. Can you imagine the outcry in the media if a similar crime wave happened in Playa?

Most of us view other places with a different perspective than we do our own country or home. And while that may be understandable it isn’t always fair or factual. Mexico is not black and white, good or bad. It is a tapestry of different lives, cultures and experiences. It would be a shame if people continue to paint all of Mexico with one brush and deny themselves the opportunity to experience the greatness that this country has to offer.

We have lived and worked in Mexico for almost seven years, and we can say with absolute conviction that this little bit of paradise known as the Mayan Riviera is beautiful, relaxing, welcoming and above all…safe.

And on that note we will leave you with this video made by the Tourist Board of Mexico about the Riviera Maya. We think that without saying a single word it explains perfectly why we and so many others think of Mexico as someplace very special.

This is where we live…come visit us at the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar.

Read our other blog entries about safety by choosing the “Safety in Mexico” category in the right column of this page, or simply click:
Safety in Mexico Blog Entries ~ Luna Blue’s Playazone

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Posted in Safety in Mexico | Tagged: , , , , | 17 Comments »

Owning a Saloon in Mexico: The Luna Blue Bar Story

Posted by Tony & Cheri on November 29, 2011

Luna Blue BarWhen we first thought about opening a bar in Mexico, we simply wanted a quiet little place for our guests to have a cocktail in the evening before and after visiting 5th Avenue.

We did have some strong opinions about how our bar should look. We wanted it to match the old-school tropical ambiance of our Luna Blue Hotel. So we decided it would be open air, with ceiling fans, a roof made of palm leaves, and–in the Caribbean tradition–swings instead of stools around the bar.

We also decided there would be no TV and no DJs playing music we didn’t enjoy. Instead we installed satellite radio and turned it to Radio Margaritaville. We wanted our bar to be funky, laid back and tropical. In short, we built the kind of place where we ourselves would want to drink margaritas.

After building the bar, we designed a few special drinks with the help of our good friend Eric Rogers, one of San Francisco’s best bartenders. We have great top shelf margaritas like the “Papa T Margarita” and twists on old favorites like the “Playa Colada.” We also have unique drinks nobody had seen before (but have since been widely copied) like the “Beso Cubano” (Cuban Kiss) and our all-time most popular drink, the “Sarita B Careful” margarita made with pomegranate infused tequila.

Leon J Morton at the Luna Blue BarOf course one of the most important parts of a bar is the bartender. And we found the perfect one in Jorge Sierra. Jorge is honest, hardworking, speaks perfect English, loves people, always has a smile and pours a strong drink. And he is creative. He is always coming up with new ideas for drinks like our very popular “Sex on the Bar” cocktail. Yes, Jorge is the inventor of Sex on the Bar!

Once we had the bar built, the drinks figured out and a great bartender hired we looked around the place and decided we needed one more thing…live music. After all what is a margarita in paradise without some good tunes to listen to? Since we couldn’t get Jimmy or Kenny, we hired local musicians whose music we liked…guys who played funky or bluesy or plain old good rock n’ roll.

Over the years the best musicians in Playa have performed at the Luna Blue. Chris Bolister, “Bad” Brad Ryan, most of the Nasty Bastards at one time or another, Barefoot Skinny, Pako Mondragon and Mike Grabow (who wrote “Where I Want to Be” about the Luna Blue). You can currently see Mike Grabow every week at the Luna Blue Bar. Even the infamous local legend Sharkey has growled “House of the Rising Sun” at the Luna Blue Bar.

This coming holiday season we are going to keep up that tradition of great music while trying to expand the type of music that is available here in Playa del Carmen. And one type of music that Playa needs more of (and we can’t get enough of) is the BLUES!

This December we are bringing back Blues Hall of Fame artist Leon J Morton. Jay (as he is known to his friends) is famous for his traditional roots Blues renditions and his bring-down-the-house performance of Blues-inspired rock n’ roll classics. Jay’s extraordinary performances have been honored by the Telluride Blues Festival and by the National Blues Hall of Fame which has designated him an “Ambassador of the Blues.” When he is in Playa Jay plays exclusively at the Luna Blue Bar.

Jay will be performing his repertoire of classic Blues songs on Friday Dec. 2nd. On Saturday, Dec. 3rd, he will be back offering his take on the best in Rock, Rhythm and Blues, as well as some original tunes. On Sunday, Dec. 4th Jay will be playing mellow and easy at our Barbeque and Pool Party.

Luna Blue BarThen later this month Brent “Guitar” Parkin will be returning to the Blue. Brent is one of the greats on the Canadian Blues scene and winner of the Canadian Recording Arts and Sciences’ prestigious Juno Award. In his forty years of performing he has toured with the likes of BB King, Johnny Winter, Otis Rush and Bo Diddley among others. The Edmonton Sun calls Brent, “one of this country’s best blues guitarists.” The Winnipeg Free Press says Brent is “One of the Prairie’s great blues guitarists.” The bottom line is that Brent puts on a heck of a show every time he plays.

Not only will Brent be a regular at the Luna Blue Bar this winter, but we are especially proud to announce he will perform at our New Years Eve celebration. That will be quite a party.

And we are pleased to announce that Brent has just agreed to play at for us on Sunday, Dec. 4th at our Barbeque and Pool Party. Both Jay Morton and Brent Parkin the same afternoon. We’re very excited!

Of course this year the Luna Blue Bar has something new: a swimming pool. Our beautiful sunken tropical garden pool is open most nights for bar guests to take a dip and float beneath the stars while sipping a margarita or listening to music. We are the only swing bar in town with its own pool. We think that is kind of special.

In the end the Luna Blue Bar turned out to be bigger and more popular than we ever dreamed. But in a lot of ways it is still exactly what we wanted when we decided to build it…it’s still a great place to get a margarita, enjoy a laid back tropical vibe and hear good tunes from great musicians. It’s also a good place to hang out and chat with your friends…or make some new ones. What more can you ask from a saloon in tropical Mexico?

And who knows…maybe someday Jimmy or Kenny will drop by…maybe.

If you’ve been to our bar or one of our events, please share your best memories in a comment below. Gracias!

Jay Morton

Mike Grabow

Barefoot SKinny

Chris Bolister

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Posted in Events & Happenings, The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Another Epic Playa del Carmen Halloween Party

Posted by Tony & Cheri on November 2, 2011

Last night was an epic Halloween party as only can be found at the Luna Blue Bar. We think the pictures speak for themselves.

For many more photos, check out our Facebook page.

Feliz Dia de los Muertos! We’ll be blogging again later today about our Day of the Dead ofrenda and our favorite Mexican holiday.

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Posted in Events & Happenings, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

No Eye….No Hay Hurricane Rina ~ Just a Storm for the Weekend

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 28, 2011

Hurricane Rina image by National Hurricane Center
Here in Playa del Carmen we’ve been waiting for days for Hurricane Rina to appear.  A week ago no one had even heard of Rina. Then within the last 72 hours we thought we might have a Category 4 hurricane, then a Category 3, then a 2, then a 1 and then….as it turns out….just a tropical storm. That’s life in the tropics!

It’s 5:30 pm Playa time, Thursday, and it appears the rain has finally begun.  Still no wind, and as of now still not all that much rain.  To our knowledge no one here is without power. Now supposedly the brunt of what’s left of Rina is scheduled to pass by us around 2 am tomorrow morning.  The storm is much weaker than anticipated, having lost its eye (no hay – inside joke if you speak Spanish), and the latest word has it passing just offshore, to the east of Cozumel island.

That’s all great news.  Everyone prepared for a hurricane and are now facing just a tropical storm.  Ho hum.   The locals are all posting on Facebook about how bored they are.  But better safe than sorry.

But wait…there’s more!  A look at the tracking map shows Rina passing offshore tonight but then making a big loop out in the Caribbean – going up past Cancun then circling back down past us again (on Sunday) and then heading south to Belize.  This is quite unusual for a hurricane but is probably making those in Florida and the gulf states pretty happy.  That means we’ll probably have some wet weather throughout the weekend but not the hurricane we had anticipated.

Stay safe everyone, and remember:  no storm is gonna keep us from throwing a kick ass Halloween party at the Luna Blue Bar on Monday night.

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Hurricane Rina Weakens as it Nears Playa del Carmen!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 27, 2011

Hurricane Rina image by Weatherunderground.com
When you’re sitting in the path of a hurricane, you hope for any little bit of good news. Today we got some. Hurricane Rina is starting to weaken!

Twenty four hours ago we were looking at predictions that a Category 3 or possibly 4 hurricane might strike dead center in the Playa del Carmen area. Since that time, weather conditions have changed dramatically, and Hurricane Rina has begun the slow process of weakening. She is now a Category 1 hurricane, and both weatherunderground.com and the National Hurricane Center are predicting that she will not regain strength before reaching the Yucatan. A category 1 hurricane is not considered to be a major hurricane. Weatherunderground is also predicting that once the storm makes contact with Cozumel it will diminish to a tropical storm as it moves northeast towards Cuba.

This is good news for all of us here on the Yucatan peninsula. However, even a category 1 hurricane is something to be cautious about. High winds and surging waves can still cause damage. We’d like to send the word out to anyone in the Yucatan coastal area to stay inside once the storm reaches us. High winds can turn any loose object on the street into a deadly missile, and surging waves can come onto the beach very quickly–faster than a person can react to get away. Please, under no circumstances should you go down to the beach to watch the storm.

Although this is all good news for the resort areas of the Riviera Maya, it must be remembered that a category 1 hurricane or even a tropical storm can have devastating effects on the rural areas of Mexico and central America. Eighteen people have already died in Honduras from flooding associated with Hurricane Rina. Massive amounts of rain in Playa del Carmen and Cancun may be an inconvenience to tourists but may turn deadly in small inland villages that are not equipped to deal with such storms. Visitors here should never think of Mexico solely as the popular resort areas. Our thoughts and prayers go to those less fortunate citizens of our adopted country who will be suffering as this storm passes through.

Before the news of the hurricane’s diminishing strength, Playa was getting ready for the storm. As we drove around town today, we saw a number of businesses with large glass windows beginning to put up plywood covers. In Walmart, supplies like toilet paper and large jugs of water were stacked prominently in the center of the store. We heard reports from friends that such diverse items as tuna and disposable diapers were in short supply. We ourselves only went shopping for dog food, flashlights, extra candles, duct tape and BBQ potato chips. We found everything on our list readily available.

We went down to the beach to see the preparations taking place at Mamita’s Beach Club. The building was closed up and had been covered with heavy canvas shutters over the entire front facing the water. The beach itself was empty. Normally it is filled with beach chairs, umbrellas, tables and scantily clad people sipping margaritas. Today it was just sand and surf. The water was actually pretty calm, and there were no waves yet. However in the distance we could see darkening clouds indicating that Rina was out there someplace.

Back at our hotel, we talked with some newly arrived guests about what to expect during the storm. We remarked again at how lucky we are at the type of people who come to the Luna Blue. These particular guests come every year and not only showed up today bearing gifts (a handmade necklace for Cheri and some boxes of See’s candy!) but also immediately offered to help if we needed any work done preparing the hotel for the storm. We love our guests.

In fact we didn’t need any help with storm preparation. Our amazing staff of Alex, Jaime and Julian had gotten everything put away. They stacked the stools in the bar and tied them down. They also tied down all the hanging bar swings so they didn’t crash into things when the wind picks up.

We collected our hotel cats, Frankie and Oso, and gave them the honeymoon suite for the duration of the storm. Litter boxes, food and water were supplied, along with a comfortable double bed to sleep on. Some cats have all the luck.

At this point we’re simply waiting for the storm to arrive. We’re receiving occasional showers, but mostly it’s humid and warm with a slight breeze. The eye of the storm is scheduled to pass near us between 2 pm Thursday and 2 am Friday. We should begin to feel the early effects of the storm sometime tomorrow morning.

We’re hoping if the storm passes through quickly and we are clear of winds and rain by Friday night that we will be able to host a “We Survived Rina” party in our bar with our friend Barefoot Skinny providing the music.

Without question, we’ll be holding our annual Halloween party on Monday night. If you’re in town, please stop by. It should be a lot of fun.

We’ll blog again when there’s more news. In the meantime, follow our regular updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Tony & Cheri

For our latest blog entry on Hurricane Rina, click here: No Eye…No Hay Hurricane Rina ~ Just a Storm for the Weekend

Local businesses busy covering large glass windows with plywood

Large displays of drinking water in Walmart

Canvas shutters on Mamita’s Beach Club

Luna Blue Bar furniture stacked and secured

Bar swings tied in place

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Playa del Carmen Readies for Hurricane Rina

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 26, 2011

Hurricane Rina image by National Hurricane Center
Good morning. It is very quiet here in Playa del Carmen this morning–cloudy but no rain or wind. Birds are singing in the jungle and tejons (coatimundi) are scavenging in the street. It’s the calm before the storm. While we had a little rain early evening yesterday, it didn’t rain throughout the night as we had expected. In fact it didn’t rain at all.

Hurricane Rina is slowing down and it appears she won’t come visiting until tomorrow afternoon. The bad news is most computer models predicting her path have now converged on the Playa/Cozumel area as the point where she will make landfall.

The good news is that this appears to be a small storm.
While the satellite shows clouds extending out over much of the western Caribbean, the actual area of damaging hurricane strength winds is very small. A slight variation or wobble in Rina’s path may spare us from getting hit with those hurricane force winds.

In fact, the image here from the National Hurricane Center shows that there’s a maximum of 50% chance of hurricane force winds anywhere within the storm!

Of course the area of tropical storm force winds area is much larger, and at 100% chance of the center of the storm receiving them, so we almost certainly will get those…meaning a lot of rain and wind. It all comes down to waiting and seeing what path she takes.

We have several guests in the hotel right now, and we have been talking with all of them about what to expect during the storm. We have given them all candles and flashlights (assuming the power will go out) and plenty of extra towels to help with the water coming in. During a hurricane, when the rain is blowing sideways, water seems to come in from everywhere.

The way our hotel is constructed and placed, it makes a pretty good shelter from any storm. It’s set back from the street and is surrounded by buildings on three sides. The concrete structure has been through Hurricane Wilma and some other pretty good storms without any damage whatsoever. Because of this, our guests feel pretty safe remaining here in the hotel rather than going to a public shelter.

We’re telling our guests they should stay in the hotel room their entire time and not try to venture out in the storm. There are many dangers during a hurricane, including being hit with flying debris. We’re making sure they have plenty of drinking water and telling them to have some snacks on hand. All of them seem calm and ready for the adventure. Of course they won’t be alone; our staff will be on hand throughout the storm.

We will get out into town and down to the beach later and report back anything of interest. In the meantime, like most people here, we’re continuing storm preparations while hoping for the best. We’ll be periodically updating our Facebook page throughout the day, so check there for up to date information.

For our latest blog entry on Hurricane Rina, click here: No Eye…No Hay Hurricane Rina ~ Just a Storm for the Weekend

Hurricane Rina image by National Hurricane Center

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Hurricane Rina Approaches Playa del Carmen Mexico

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 25, 2011

Hurricane Rina is currently on a projected path to strike the Yucatan Peninsula and possibly Playa del Carmen in the next 48 hours.

We will be regularly posting updates on our Facebook page and on Twitter (@lunabluehotel, #Rina) as the storm nears. We’ll be offering synopses of what we think are dependable sources such as Dr. Jeff Masters at weatherunderground.com and the National Hurricane Center.

We’ll also be giving a locals’ perspective on what’s happening in Playa del Carmen and will offer comments about our own storm preparation at our hotel and at home.

We’re hoping this will not be a major hurricane. While the storm is growing in intensity, once it makes landfall in Mexico is is expected to diminish in strength. We are hoping for the best.

We’ll keep offering information until the storm arrives, at which point we expect we will lose power. Keep a good thought for all of us here in Playa and on Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Tony & Cheri

For our latest blog entry on Hurricane Rina, click here: No Eye…No Hay Hurricane Rina ~ Just a Storm for the Weekend

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Halloween in Playa del Carmen: The Best Party in Town

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 22, 2011

Halloween in Playa del Carmen at the Luna Blue Hotel“From ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night, May the Good Lord deliver us!” ~ Traditional English Prayer

It’s Halloween again. Here in Playa del Carmen it is time for your every wicked fantasy to take control at the annual Luna Blue Bar Halloween Party! The wildest spirits in Playa will come out to play in outrageous costumes, drink seductive beverages and dance to tantalizing music, all in our garden of spooky delights.

Keep an Eye Out for Mermaids and Sea Monsters

And this year there is something new. Our Halloween party is also a pool party! The Luna Blue’s new sunken garden swimming pool will be open for a dip by our party guests. Just buy a minimum of two drinks at the bar to get a pool access wristband.  So bring a swimsuit… or a costume that floats. But be careful…you never know what lurks just below the water’s surface!

The Return of Barefoot Zombie Skinny

Earlier this month a wild rumor hit the internet that the legendary Caribbean troubadour Barefoot Skinny had met his untimely end in the tropical forests of Belize. Stories abounded that Skinny had been eaten by piranhas, carried off by jaguars or become the love slave of beautiful Amazons.

No one knows the true story, but thankfully Skinny has stumbled out of the jungle still breathing in time to play and sing at our party.  Dead or alive, Skinny is one of Playa del Carmen’s best-loved musicians.  He lives the life Jimmy Buffett only sings about, and if you haven’t seen him perform before, you are in for a treat.

A Night to Let it All Hang Out

Halloween in Playa del Carmen at the Luna Blue Hotel Halloween is a time to dress up, dress down and show off your inner witch, ghost or vampire.  You can strut your stuff at our annual costume contest with prizes and awards for Best Men’s costume, Best Women’s costume…and our all-time favorite…the Sexiest costume.

The only limit is your imagination and (dare we say it) sense of propriety and good taste. Costume contest judging will begin around 9:30 (depending on the sobriety of our judges).

Eye of Newt, Toe of Frog

The cauldron will bubble at the Luna Blue Bar where Jorge, Playa del Carmen’s best bartender. will be concocting magic potions and preparing all your frightfully favorite drinks like the blood red “Sarita B Careful,” the irresistible “Sex on the Bar” and the deadly “Papa T’s Margarita.”

Tequila shots are 2 x 1 (dos por uno) from 6- 9 pm.  The bar will open at 3, the music will start at 8 and the party will go until the witching hour of midnight.

Here at the Luna Blue Bar we love to party…so put on a mask, paint your face, or wrap up in a cape and head on over for the best Halloween celebration in town.

The Luna Blue Bar
Halloween Fantasy Costume Party
What’s Your Fantasy?

Halloween in Playa del Carmen at the Luna Blue Hotel

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Discover Scuba: Underwater Thrills in Playa del Carmen

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 18, 2011

Diving in the Riviera Maya - a sea turtle up closeA week ago we were sitting on the bottom of the ocean, the air bubbles from our scuba tanks drifting slowly to the surface 40 feet above us. Beneath a swirling school of silvery fish, we spotted a large sea turtle casually munching on underwater plants. As we slowly approached he lifted his head and blinked his huge eyes once or twice as if trying to focus on us. He decided we were no threat to him and returned to his lunch as we swam past. This was only one of many amazing sights that greeted us on a very special day of scuba diving.

Not everyone realizes that Playa del Carmen is near some of the premier diving spots in the world. The 600 mile-long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest continuous coral reef in the world, sits just offshore from Playa del Carmen. The reef, with its beautiful coral and abundant sea life, offers a myriad of diving and snorkeling experiences. The reef is home to thousands of amazing sea creatures, from tiny shrimp to large sea turtles and fish of every size and color imaginable. It is an underwater world which has to be seen up close and personal to be believed.

We have both tried diving before. Years ago Tony went diving in Playa a couple of times and both of us went on an introductory dive in Belize a few years back. At one time we even took a diving certification course but never completed the open water dives due to a motor scooter accident Tony had which kept him out of the water.

We both wanted to go scuba diving again, but we knew we needed some refresher time first. Cheri was hesitant as she has always had a fear of being underwater. She knew she would need a lot of patience and help to try it again.

Diving in the Riviera Maya - pool demo at the Luna Blue Hotel poolSo we were thrilled when our friends Patrice and Laure, owners of Mexico Blue Dream dive shop, invited us to join in one of their “Discover Scuba” introductory classes. They promised Cheri she could go at her own pace and that their instructors would give her all the help she needed. They convinced us to give it a try.

We started out with a short instructional video at the dive shop and met with Eric, the instructor. We also met Bruno, who would be taking videos and photos of the class’ adventure. We were each fitted with all the proper equipment: a wetsuit, a BCD (buoyancy control device, or what you might consider a very special life jacket), weight belt, mask and fins. The Mexico Blue Dream staff then brought all the equipment, including tanks, over to the Luna Blue Hotel pool where each person received personal instruction from Eric. We learned proper hand signals and practiced breathing underwater, clearing our masks of water that may have seeped in and swimming around the pool with our equipment on.

Of course, at first it seems a bit strange to be breathing underwater, and until you find your comfort zone it’s nice to know you can simply stand up in the pool if you need a moment out of the water. When everyone was ready and felt comfortable with the equipment we were all taken back to the dive shop and after a short rest break (in case anyone wanted a a bite to eat), we headed down to the beach and the Mexico Blue Dream dive boat where we were joined by Craig, another dive instructor.

Diving in the Riviera Maya - a seahorse up closeA short 10 minute ride later we were at the reef. One by one we got into the water. Once the class and instructors were in the water we began our controlled descent to the bottom. As Cheri was still very anxious, Eric took everyone else down while Craig continued to work with Cheri near the surface.

When Tony and the rest of the class reached the bottom–about 35 to 40 feet down–the tour of the reef began. The clear water made visibility perfect. We found ourselves surrounded by colorful forms of coral and schools of fish of all sizes and types. It would be impossible to list all the sea life we saw, but among the various sea creatures we encountered were sea turtles, moray eels, various crabs, brightly colored parrot fish, beautiful angel fish, sun fish, pipe fish, and even seahorses.

We did two separate dives in two different locations. Both were what are called drift dives, as the current carried us along the reef. Most reef diving in the Riviera Maya is drift diving–what many believe to be the most pleasant and relaxing diving experience there is. With a drift dive, one simply “goes with the flow” and simply drifts past the scenery with the natural current. We literally just floated past the sights of this colorful underwater world. By the end of the day we were tired but exhilarated from the things we had done and the sights we had seen. Cheri was happy that the instructors had been so patient and kind with her.

The day was unhurried and relaxing, something we really appreciated. Extra time is built in so that the day flows more at a Mexico pace. Since students in a Discover Scuba class are new to the sport, Mexico Blue Dream believes in having that extra time for mental preparation and relaxation along the way, so that the experience is positive and enjoyable for everyone.

We have always highly recommended Mexico Blue Dream and came away from this experience even more enthused about their operation. Every single person we encountered–from the owners to the dive instructors to the boat staff–was friendly, approachable, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and calming. Their focus is clearly on making each dive a special experience for everyone involved.

Scuba diving in the Riviera Maya with Mexico Blue DreamAnyone can have the same experience we had when visiting Playa. Mexico Blue Dream offers a SCUBA pool demo where instructors will assist you in trying on scuba equipment and then teach you how to swim and breathe while underwater. This can all be done in the safe confines of a shallow swimming pool.

For guests of our own Luna Blue Hotel, the Mexico Blue Dream pool demo takes place only steps from your room in our new sunken garden swimming pool. Best of all, it’s free when you stay at the Luna Blue.

If after learning to use the scuba gear in the pool you want to try it in open water, the nice folks at Mexico Blue Dream will be glad to take you on a “Discover Scuba” dive, much like we did. You will see a short instructional film and then take the Mexico Blue Dream’s boat out on the Caribbean Sea where you will have two 45-50 minute dives. You will always go with a dive instructor who will watch you closely, monitor your safety and guide you past the incredible sights of a living coral reef.

Many people find that once they try scuba diving they want to go again and again. The good news is that Mexico Blue Dream can help you become certified as a scuba diver. The dives you make in your initial Discover Scuba program count towards your PADI scuba certification requirements.

If you are going to be a guest at the Luna Blue Hotel, just let us know that you would like to try the FREE scuba pool demo.

You only live once. You owe it to yourself to experience the vast world which lives just beneath the surface of the sea.

Bruno’s video talents

Mexico Blue Dream Dive Shop in Playa del Carmen Mexico
On the road to Mamita’s Beach Club – Calle 28 between 1st Ave and the beach
Mexico Blue Dream Dive Shop in Playa del Carmen Mexico

Tony & Cheri practicing in the pool
Scuba Diving in the Riviera Maya

The Mexico Blue Dream dive boat taking us to the reef
Scuba Diving in the Riviera Maya

Tony trying out his gear
Scuba Diving in the Riviera Maya

Cheri getting instruction from Eric in the pool
Scuba Diving in the Riviera Maya

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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