Luna Blue's PlayaZone

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

Posts Tagged ‘playa del carmen’

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

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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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

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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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

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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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

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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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

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A Personal Decision re the new Playa Animal Rescue

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 17, 2011

Numerous friends have been asking us whether we will be supporting the new Playa Animal Rescue organization. Sadly we must answer “no.” This was not an easy decision for us. After much discussion with many people, including members of the PAR board and former board members and volunteers of the Peanut Pet Shelter, we have determined that the actions, policies and attitudes of the Playa Animal Rescue board are not ones we agree with.

  1. We feel that Playa Animal Rescue should have reached out to the Playa community, both real and virtual, for feedback and input before dissolving the much-loved Peanut Pet Shelter and creating a new board. A charity for Playa should make an effort to include and listen to the people living here.
  2. We are upset with Playa Animal Rescue’s intention to align itself with people and groups whose dishonest and destructive behavior towards the Peanut Pet Shelter has in the past been disruptive for Playa. It seems to us that reprehensible behavior is being rewarded and even embraced.
  3. We are also upset that some (certainly not all) people associated with Playa Animal Rescue are privately maligning the old Peanut Pet Shelter staff and volunteers. In our opinion the Peanut Pet Shelter, while not perfect, was the first groundbreaking pet rescue charity in this area, and its legacy should be celebrated not denigrated. If Playa Animal Rescue is a new beginning, then the future and not the past should be the focus of their work.

We make this decision for ourselves alone. We neither fault nor criticize anyone who makes a different choice. We know some good people who are working for and supporting the PAR. That is their choice. This is ours.

If in the future we see evidence that the Playa Animal Rescue is taking steps to address these concerns we will be glad to revisit this matter. In the meantime there are many great ways to help support and serve the community of Playa del Carmen, and we hope in some small way to do our part. We would encourage our friends to do the same in whatever manner they feel is best.

We are not interested in starting a divisive debate. As such, we would ask that people refrain from public comment here whether you agree or disagree with us. If you feel strongly one way or the other and want to share those feelings with us, please send us to a private message or email. Thank you.

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Thanks for Everything, Andy

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 6, 2011

For the last several years, our friend Andy MacDonald has operated the Peanut Pet Shelter, an animal rescue organization that he and his then wife Jen founded here in Playa del Carmen Mexico.

Andy MacDonald

Our friend Andy MacDonald

That organization has been dissolved in the past few days and has been replaced by a new organization with a new Board of Directors. Andy will not be part of that new organization. We will make a statement regarding that circumstance sometime in the near future. But for now we want to simply say thank you to Andy MacDonald for his years of work and service to the Playa del Carmen community.

We met Andy and Jen when they first visited Playa and decided to move here and open a restaurant. Like many Playa dreams, that went by the wayside. But rather than giving up and going back home to England, they decided to stay and fill a need they saw here. They opened a shelter for homeless dogs.

Nowadays there are many different organizations concerned with animals in the Riviera Maya. Some are local, some are in other countries but have a focus here, some are just individuals, and some are large groups. But back in the days when Andy & Jen started the Peanut Pet Shelter, Playa del Carmen had no abundance of people helping stray animals–only an abundance of stray animals. The local city pound killed strays that were caught, often in a cruel manner, and those that weren’t killed were housed in inhumane conditions. Those left to run on the streets were little better off. Playa was full of stray dogs who were diseased, malnourished, injured and forgotten.

Andy and Jen opened their own home and began to house these animals. Andy would go out and rescue abandoned or stray dogs. The dogs would be cleaned, fed, housed and then offered for adoption. Over the years literally thousands of animals have had their lives saved by Andy MacDonald.

Fundraisers, auctions and corporate sponsorships are now commonplace among the organizations that operate animal shelters in the Mayan Riviera. However when Andy and Jen started the Pet Shelter many years ago, there was no established fundraising base. They had to go begging hat in hand. They were the ones that first made people aware and first made people care. A lot of people and organizations today are reaping the benefits of that work.

Eventually the Pet Shelter became popular among locals, tourists and the internet community which focuses on Playa. Many people worked long and hard for the Peanut Pet Shelter. People gave time and money and volunteered for difficult, unpleasant and often unrecognized work. Playa is a better place for everything this special group of people did. However during all those years, the one constant of the Peanut Pet Shelter was Andy MacDonald. Much of the work of capturing, caring for, housing, feeding and cleaning these animals was done by Andy.

We have seen Andy lying in the mud for hours trying to coax an injured dog out from its hiding place. We ourselves have called him at all hours of the day and night to ask if he might go after an injured or stray dog we had observed.

His home has always been filled with these dogs. He has at times lived among over 100 dogs which required constant feeding, care, and of course cleaning up after. We have marveled at his dedication.

The Peanut Pet Shelter eventually became a nonprofit organization, and Andy received a minimal salary as Director. And when we say minimal, that’s exactly what we mean. We know Andy had little money for luxuries, and what he did have he would spend on the dogs before he spent it on himself.

Unfortunately, good deeds are not always justly rewarded. Playa del Carmen, like any small town, has jealousies and petty vendettas. Andy was all too often the focus of such unfair animosity. At the same time, because he was the public face of the Peanut Pet Shelter, he became somewhat of a local celebrity both in Playa and in the virtual world. Andy’s personal life was scrutinized and criticized by people who wanted him to be a saint, to be perfect or to simply meet the image they wanted. Seemed like everyone wanted to tell him how to do his job and how to live his life. He was attacked for getting divorced. He was attacked for getting remarried. He was attacked every time he tried to go on vacation or order a beer at a local bar.

Andy isn’t perfect. But then again, who of us is? What we do know is that he gave selflessly of his time and energy for years and years with too little praise and too little compensation.

Now that Andy is no longer going to be operating a pet shelter in Playa del Carmen, it would seem appropriate that he finally receive some proper recognition and appreciation. We would like to be among the first to simply say thank you to Andy. We have in our lives two former street dogs–Gypsy and Roxie–that we would not have but for Andy’s work at the Peanut Pet Shelter. There are a lot of former strays that have found happy homes with families here in Playa and throughout North America as result of the hard work of the Peanut Pet Shelter, its volunteers, and most of all Andy MacDonald.

We would therefore ask those who know Andy, who have been part of the puppy washes, the fundraisers, the cleanups or the rescues to join us in offering our gratitude to Andy by leaving comments on this blog.

Andy, we are proud to call you our friend and are grateful as members of this community for everything you have done for Playa. We wish you the best of luck in your new marriage and life, and you will always be part of the Luna Blue family. You leave Playa a better place than you found it.

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So Many Choices…Food & Drink in Playa del Carmen’s North Beach

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 28, 2011

As many Playa del Carmen aficionados know, Playa is divided into two different worlds when it comes to accommodations. There’s the world of the small, local or boutique hotels (which are located in town) and the world of the large all-inclusive mega resorts (which are primary located out of town). Most people generally prefer one over the other.

We of course have a rather biased opinion in favor of small boutique hotels, being the owners of the Luna Blue Hotel. But even before we owned a small hotel, our tastes always ran to that sort of experience. We just find it more interesting and fulfilling than an all-inclusive resort type experience. In fact in our travels in Mexico in particular, we have always loved trying the smaller hotels and have never had an experience with one that didn’t leave us with interesting stories to tell…to us the essence of good travel.

But one of the main reasons we recommend the small “in town” hotel experience in Playa del Carmen is the food. Unless you’ve been to Playa, it’s hard to imagine the sheer number of different restaurants and bars one can experience, on foot, within a short distance. We can’t imagine someone wanting the all-inclusive experience here–eating at the same buffets day in and day out, or the same couple of restaurants all supervised by the same chef–when one can try something completely different at every single meal.

Someone sent us an email the other day asking how close we were to the nearest restaurant. The reply we gave, “about 10 steps,” made us think about just how many eating and drinking establishments there are within a short distance of the Luna Blue.

So, for fun, we decided to count them, just in case the question ever comes up again. Using Luna Blue Hotel–26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue–as the central point, we’ve made a list of how many bars and restaurants can be found within a five block walk. We surprised even ourselves. Here’s what we found:

Restaurants and Bars
…within one block of the Luna Blue:

  • Las Cazuelas – Just across the street from the Luna Blue. Authentic Spanish tapas made by our friend Miguel and his wife. Miguel, who also makes amazing paella, will deliver tapas to your bar swing on request. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Sushi Club – In our opinion, the freshest sushi in Playa del Carmen, and just next door to the Luna Blue. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Isola Dolce Pasteleria – Associated with our favorite gelato place, Corsi, this pasteleria (bakery) has two other locations: one in Cancun and one in Florence, Italy. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • El Mero Negrillo – New Mexican/Seafood restaurant, Veracruz style, in the old La Quinta Pasion location. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Il Baretto – Popular spot for Italian expats and tourits. Some say their pizza is the best in town. 26th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Hacienda La Herradura – The best arrachera in Playa del Carmen, in our opinion. Consistently good Mexican food at reasonable prices. Luna Blue guests are almost always offered a free shot of tequila after dinner. Corner of 26th Street & 10th Avenue
  • Trattoria del Centro – Small hole in the wall Italian joint on our “must try” list. Word has it that women from the “old country” cook up authentic Italian food that’s to die for. 26th Street between 10th & 15th Avenue
  • Don Tomato – Small pizza joint, by the slice & by the pie. 10th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Il Pescatore – Italian restaurant which has been around forever. 10th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Capriccio Latino – Another of North Playa’s many Italian restaurants. 5th Avenue between 26th & 28th Streets
  • La Fe – Popular and loud bar with bar food. Almost always crowded. 5th Avenue between 26th & 28th Streets
  • El Carnicero – Authentic Parilla Mexicana. If meat is your thing, you’ll like this place. 5th Avenue between 26th & 28th Streets
  • Kum Kum Mezcal Bar – High end fancy mezcal bar and store. 5th Avenue between 26th & 28th Streets
  • Deli Smart – Small deli and convenience store. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Cantegrill Parilla Uruguaya – The latest restaurant in a location that seems to change restaurants every six months. We haven’t tried this one yet. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Pizza Renzo – Our “go to” pizza spot in the north end. Pizza by the slice that’s great when it’s fresh and so-so when it’s not. Open late. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • La Vagabunda – Popular breakfast spot which also has lunch & dinner. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Tutti Fruiti Yogurt – New frozen yogurt shop. 5th Avenue between 24th & 26th Streets
  • Pummarola – Popular pizza/Italian food spot. 24th Street between 5th & 10th Avenues.

…within two blocks of the Luna Blue:

  • Corsi Gelato Italiano – Our favorite gelato place in Playa. Their nutella gelato is to die for. Reasonable prices, to boot. 28th Street between 5th & 10th Avenue
  • Starbucks – Just like every other Starbucks. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Cenacolo – New high-end restaurant on our “we’ve been meaning to try” list. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • That’s Amore- Surprisingly good pasta and pizza at reasonable prices. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Rufino Mescaleria – Bar and restaurant with traditional Mexican seafood. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Buddie’s Diner & Cantina – New restaurant in the old Babe’s location owned by some young American guys. Decent American breakfasts, burgers. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • La Micheladeria5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Maktub Cafe – Popular Lebanese & fondue spot. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • 1847 – Traditional Mexican fare. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Sushi Tlan – Reasonably good sushi for Playa. Sushi Tlan has other locations in Playa as well. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • El Bistro Bites – A casual international tapas restaurant with a Mediterranean taste. Associated with La Tortuga’s popular El Bistro. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Molusko – Cocina del mar. That’s “seafood” for you gringos. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • El 10 – Argentinian steak house. Reasonable prices. Very popular corner spot. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Haagen Dazs – Expensive ice cream, but yummy. 5th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Shanghai Restaurant – One of only a handful of Chinese restaurants in Playa del Carmen. 10th Avenue between 22nd & 24th Streets
  • Ambasciata D’Italia – Excellent Italian food. Tell Bruno the manager we said “hi.” 5th Avenue between 22nd & 24th Streets
  • Las Delicias – Traditional Mexican fare. 5th Avenue between 22nd & 24th Streets
  • La Fragata – Eclectic meals with an emphasis on Mexican foods. 26th Street between 1st & 5th Avenues
  • PG’s Sandbox – Popular sports bar and restaurant with big screen TVs and live music on some nights. Some say the best shrimp tacos in town. 26th Street at 1st Avenues
  • Off the Vine – Liquor boutique and bar. 1st Avenue between 26th & 28th Street
  • Vera Lucia’s Pasteleria – Pastries and light meals. 1st Avenue between 26th & 28th Street
  • Caiman Tugurio – Small open air restaurant with Mexican dishes. 24th Street between 5th & 1st Avenues
  • Mayan Bistro – Located in the Aventura Mexicana hotel. 22nd Street between 5th & 10th Avenues
  • El Fresco Sabor Small outdoor eatery attached to hotel Riviera Caribe Maya – 10th Avenue between 28th & 30th Streets
  • Winery & Plus10th Avenue at 28th Street

…within three blocks of the Luna Blue:

  • Ah Cacao – Best chocolate and chocolate related goodies in town, bar none. 5th Avenue between 30th & 32nd Streets
  • Playa Wings & Pizza – Not only does this place have pizza but it also has hundreds of types of wings. 5th Avenue between 30th & 32nd Streets
  • La Parilla de Manolo – Used to be Asadora de Manolo which was located around the corner from the Luna Blue. Argentinian steak house. 5th Avenue between 30th & 32nd Streets
  • Yaxche Mayan Cuisine – Traditional Mayan food, served with a flair. 5th Avenue between 20th & 22nd Streets
  • Freeze – One of those frozen drink kiosks with pretty colored liquids whirling in little machines. 5th Avenue between 20th & 22nd Streets
  • Ristorante Romagna Mia – Traditional Italian food. New location. 5th Avenue between 20th & 22nd Streets
  • Texas Burger Company – The name says it all. 5th Avenue between 20th & 22nd Streets
  • Burro PlayeroBeer and tacos. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • La Tavola dello Squalo -Small Italian restaurant featuring carry away pizza on the way to the beach. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Las Helodias – Bar near the beach with take away drinks. Specializing in cheladas. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Hangover Bar – New little bar with a catchy name. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Bella Vita Pizza28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • TNT Bar & Beer Shop28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Capitan Camaron – Seafood on the way to the beach. 28th Street between 1st Avenue & the beach
  • Mamita’s Beach Club – Playa’s classic beach bar/restaurant. 28th Street at the beach
  • Kool Beach Club – Eclectic menu and bar on the sand. 28th Street at the beach
  • Reina Roja – Bar known for its many red lights and mannequins in suggestive poses. 20th Street between 5th & 10th Avenues
  • Nikkori – Japanese food. 10th Avenue at 32nd Street

…within four blocks of the Luna Blue:

  • Bar Dello Sport Bar & pizzeria located in the Banana Hotel – 5th Avenue between 32nd & 34th Streets
  • Da Gigi – Italian food. New location. 5th Avenue between 32nd & 34th Streets
  • Chez Celine Boulangerie, Patisserie, Artisanale – Pastries and sandwiches. 5th Avenue between 32nd & 34th Streets
  • Kixten – Popular bar with live music most nights. 5th Avenue between 20th Street & Constituyentes
  • Karma Bagels – Great salads & bagel sandwiches. Now open for breakfast. One of our favorite lunch spots. Big pitcher of iced tea is always refreshing. 5th Avenue between 20th Street & Constituyentes
  • Bip Bip – One of Playa’s oldest Mexican restaurants, known for its good breakfasts. 5th Avenue at Constituyentes
  • Ah Cacao – Best chocolate and chocolate related goodies in town, bar none. And with two locations within blocks of the Luna Blue, you can’t go wrong. 5th Avenue at Constituyentes
  • Los Amigos – Traditional Mexican food, very low prices, located on one of our favorite streets, outside the tourist zone but not too far. 30th Avenue at 26th Street

…within five blocks of the Luna Blue:

  • Bodeguita del Medio – Cuban food, fun restaurant and bar. Free salsa lessons two nights and week. Live music every night. 5th Avenue between 34th & 36th Streets
  • Coffee Cafe – A popular place to sip that important first cup of the morning. Plus snacks. 5th Avenue between 34th & 36th Streets
  • Winery & Plus – Wines from around the world by the glass or the bottle. 5th Avenue between 34th & 36th Streets
  • Util Pasta Factory – One of our favorite Italian spots, run by very nice people. Wonderful sauces. Eat there or take away. 25th Avenue between 30th & 32nd Streets

There you have it…74 bars & restaurants within a five block radius of the Luna Blue…75 if you count us. You could have breakfast, lunch and dinner at a different spot every single day for almost a month and never have to travel more than five blocks from one central point. And just think of the possibilities if you were to venture out further!

Now isn’t that a million times more interesting than a giant buffet or lobby bar at an all inclusive mega resort?

We think so, too.

Playa del Carmen's North Beach area

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Ch..Ch..Changes at the Luna Blue Hotel

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 24, 2011

The New Luna Blue Hotel Swimming PoolLuna Blue, one of Playa’s oldest boutique hotels, is now one of it’s newest. We’ve recently made some changes that you’re going to like, and we’re excited about them.

Some might say, “why mess with a good thing?” After all, we’ve won our share of awards and accolades over the years, we have a 93% positive rating from TripAdvisor, and most of our guests return again and again.

The truth is: we don’t want to rest on our laurels. We think there is always room for improvement in any endeavor. So we’ve spent the last several months making the Luna Blue even better. We’re hoping our guests enjoy the changes as much as we’ve enjoyed making them.

Our Newest Addition ~ a Tropical Lagoon Swimming Pool

The New Luna Blue Hotel Swimming PoolFor years we talked about whether or not to put in a swimming pool. This year we finally did it. And is it ever a beauty!

We placed our new pool in the sunken garden portion of our property just beneath the deck where our bar sits. The pool nestles against the garden’s tropical waterfall and is overhung with palm trees which help shade the water from the heat of the afternoon sun.

There are patios at either end of the pool for lounging, sitting and sunbathing. And of course when the bar is open, Jorge will be glad to bring you one of our famous margaritas to sip poolside. Just ring the bell.

We think the pool will be a perfect place to sit beside and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning…to cool off after a hot day…or for a romantic twilight dip. The pool will also be the setting for occasional pool parties and afternoon barbeques.

We think everyone–local visitors and guests alike–will enjoy the new pool scene at the Luna Blue.

Starting the Day is Easier at the Luna Blue

Morning Breakfast SnackNot everyone has time for a leisurely breakfast. Some folks want to start the day quickly as they head on out to scuba lessons, a tour of Chichén Itzá or just to get the best spot on the beach. For them our new breakfast counter is perfect. Coffee or tea and some of our locally baked sweet breads offer a quick snack on the go as they head out the hotel gate to enjoy Playa del Carmen.

Or if you want to start the day a little more slowly (and after all you are on vacation), then take some of our Chiapas mountain grown coffee and a piece of coconut, orange, Mexican chocolate, carrot or banana bread down into the garden to sit where the orchids bloom and the birds serenade you.

Fast or slow, whatever your pace in the morning, you are going to enjoy starting the day at the Luna Blue.

The Essence of the Tropics

New organic bath products at the Luna Blue HotelWe have searched for a number of years for the best bath products. We have always wanted something that was as uniquely tropical as our hotel is. Recently we found what we have been looking for.

It is a special line of new handpicked environmentally-safe organic bath products. We have chosen the flavors and scents we think best represent the Caribbean/Mexican ambiance of Playa del Carmen: Honey, Mexican Chocolate and Coconut.

You will find our new body lotions, shampoos, conditioners and soaps waiting in your room. We are so pleased with the quality of these products we have proudly put our name on each one. Luna Blue Bath products…the essence of the tropics.

Changes Inside and Out

Outside, we have redone the reception area with new stone patterned tile and we have filled the garden with new plants. We have even started growing some beautiful orchids which are attached to the trees in our garden. We also have some new hard wood Adirondack chairs and tables handmade by our favorite local carpenter, Lucio.

Inside, you will find new paint and new art. And to help insure a peaceful night’s sleep in paradise we have placed Sealy Posturepedic brand hypoallergenic cushion top mattress covers on all our beds.

It’s All About the Beach

Beach Club at Grand CoralThe number one reason people come to Playa del Carmen is for the blue water and white sand of its beaches. Our beaches have been called the best, the prettiest and the sexiest beaches in the world.

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the beaches of Playa del Carmen is by spending the day at one of the beach clubs which dot the shore. At a beach club you can find food, drinks, restrooms, showers and all sorts of amenities to make your day on the sand a perfect one.

At the Luna Blue we now offer access to FOUR of Playa’s most popular beach clubs to help you get the most out of your vacation. Our guests have special privileges at Mamita’s Beach Club, Indigo Beach Club and Wicky’s Beach Club.

Our newest addition is the Beach Club at the Grand Coral (formerly Blucacao Beach Club). With an excellent restaurant and bar, two swimming pools and a beautiful section of unspoiled beach, this beach club should be on everyone’s “must do” list. And our guests have free use of the facilities.

Why limit yourself to some resort that offers only one beach club when you can have your pick of four of the best?

Still the Best Deal in Town

Don’t think that just because we have made some improvements our rooms will cost more. Our prices have actually gone down this fall!

Right now rooms are as low as $49 per night through October 31, 2011.

And with our advance prepayment rate, you can SAVE 10% on bookings for this coming winter and spring.

We still offer a full range of room types from our cozy budget-minded Courtyard Nook rooms to our full studio Garden View Deluxe rooms with kitchen. Every room has a private bath, daily maid service, unlimited bottled drinking water, outdoor terrace or balcony and air conditioning. Most rooms have refrigerators.

You can’t beat the Luna Blue Hotel’s combination of quality accommodations, great service and low prices.

Some Things Never Change

Great Destinations Guidebooks has said the Luna Blue Hotel “has a lost in time quality that’s not easy to find in a modern resort.” That hasn’t changed. We are still an oasis of tranquility in the midst of Playa del Carmen’s busy tourist zone.

We have made many improvements to the Luna Blue Hotel, but the things our guests have always loved the most have not changed. We still have the best location, only a few steps from the shops, restaurants and bars of 5th Avenue. We are still a quiet garden hideaway. We still have one of the most popular bars in town. We still provide the personal service of a small, friendly, English-speaking staff. Playa is still safe and secure. For those of you who have concerns about safety in Playa del Carmen, please refer to our recent blog entry, Safety & Crime in Playa del Carmen 2011: The Truth. At the Luna Blue, we are still your doorway into the beauty of tropical Mexico.

Friendly, comfortable, intimate and unique. That is the way Playa del Carmen used to be…and still is…at the Luna Blue Hotel and Bar.

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Posted in Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Safety & Crime in Playa del Carmen Mexico 2011: The Truth

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 14, 2011

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

We think it is time to again talk truthfully about safety and crime in Playa del Carmen.

The two acts of violence which took place over the last month in Playa del Carmen raised questions in many people’s minds about safety in this area. Unfortunately many of the people answering those questions have no real information and simply offer their own negative opinions about Playa. So it is time to do several things: talk about the sad events of the last month, discuss the use of the internet by ignorant people to fan anti-Mexico fears, and offer sources where truthful and factual information can be found.

Recent Acts of Violence in Playa del Carmen

In the last few weeks we have experienced two very tragic events here in Playa. First was the killing of a man from central Mexico whose business was involved with drug gangs. According to police he fled here to Playa hoping to avoid retaliation for something he did which angered the drug gangs. He was shot to death in his car near a restaurant in the north part of the city. No one else was injured, and the assassins have not been found.

The second and even more tragic incident was the murder of the Chief of the Tourist Police. This branch of the city police is charged with patrolling the tourist/resort zone. The Chief was killed while getting out of his car on Avenida Juarez, a main thoroughfare from the federal highway leading to the ferry dock. This was the second attempt on this officer’s life in the last year. No one has been arrested, and no evidence has been found to explain why this particular officer was twice targeted.

Those of us who live here in Playa have been shocked and saddened by these events. No one likes to hear of such violent acts happening in their home town. It is particularly horrible to see a young officer killed in the line of duty. The government, the local community and the expats who are guests here have all strongly condemned these crimes.

However these events touch more than the local community. The thousands of tourists who visit here each year want to know what this means for them. In truth, it has very little effect on visitors.

These were not random acts of violence involving innocent tourists. No attempt was made to target tourists or the resort area. There is no evidence that these crimes are related to or represent some sort of burgeoning crime wave. These victims were specifically chosen for reasons which we do not fully know. What we do know is that these crimes did not target, involve or touch tourists, and we know that there has been no subsequent outbreak of violence around the city. In short, these are isolated incidents that do not represent a continued threat.

Put it in Perspective

Still, despite the fact that these two acts didn’t involve tourists, some folks wonder if they are safe when visiting here. Many people have publicly spoken of their fear of coming to this part of the world and question if they shouldn’t change their vacation plans. We say: keep some perspective.

Crime–even violent crime–is a fact of life in just about every city in the world. So why do we consider one safer than the next? If it is the number of crimes, then Playa is most certainly safer than most as its crime rates are lower than many US cities.

If safety is predicated on the type of crime, again Playa still ranks as among the safest. There are no riots here. There are no mass shootings and no crimes involving groups of innocent people.

Recent crimes in the USAThe fact is that people worry about safety in Mexico because they react differently, even unfairly, to hearing about a crime in Mexico than they do about crime elsewhere. For example, when this last summer began with the Memorial Day weekend, gang violence resulted in six deaths in Chicago and eight deaths in New York City. During the same weekend three police officers and four innocent bystanders were shot in Miami Beach.

Then summer ended with the horrifying act of a man with a high powered automatic weapon slaughtering five people in an IHOP restaurant in Carson City Nevada, while over the Labor Day weekend in New York City 13 were murdered, 2 police officers were wounded and 67 were injured by gunfire in 52 separate shootings.

Despite these horrendous acts leaving dozens of people dead and scores more injured, no one on TV or the internet told people to avoid going to New York or Chicago or Nevada. No newspaper article suggested people avoid the upcoming Broadway shows in Manhattan or skip going to the Bears games because of violence. And yet two isolated acts of crime in Playa are treated by many as the collapse of all law and order in that area. People worry that a trip to the Riviera Maya will turn them into victims, when in fact they may be safer here than in their own home town.

How did we end up with such a skewed perception of Mexico? Why do we have such an unbalanced view of crime in Mexico as opposed to crime in the US?

Not long ago it may have been because Mexico was the favorite whipping boy of a news media that feeds on sensationalism. But over the last year even they have come to acknowledge that the dangers of violence seen in Central Mexico do not extend to the peaceful shores of the Caribbean. However where the media left off, the World Wide Web has taken over. We think much of this anti-Mexico hysteria is generated by the ignorant and sometimes prejudiced people one encounters on the internet.

Opinions are Not Facts: Internet Forum Misinformation

In this time of instant gratification and access, most people turn to the internet for information. The travel industry is no different. Printed guidebooks have given way to web sites, chat rooms and forums where people can exchange ideas and opinions. And that isn’t a bad thing…except when opinion is taken for fact and speculation becomes a substitution for proof.

It has been our observation over the last few weeks that on certain internet forums dedicated to discussing Playa del Carmen, the intensity has been exceeded only by a lack of factual information.

On such forums, unless properly moderated, anyone can literally post anything, offering “facts” that have no basis in reality. The intentions of such posters are unknown. Perhaps they are attempts at making the poster feel important or perhaps they are intentional acts aimed to denigrate other peoples or countries. But even if we don’t know the reason for posting fantasy as fact we do know the effect…it creates false information that misleads people looking for the truth.

How Rumors Become “Facts”

We will give you some examples: Recently on a popular forum about Playa del Carmen hosted by a website called playa.info, a thread was started about a woman’s body found in the sea near the Playa shore with a rope tied around her. There followed several days of speculation by posters (the vast majority of who do not live in Playa) over whether or not she met with foul play. It was even suggested by someone with no facts or personal knowledge that her death might be evidence that the cartel had killed her and was moving into the area! Thousands of people read these baseless speculations until the woman’s son posted that she had drowned while swimming, and local fishermen finding her floating in the sea had tied her body to a buoy so that it did not float out to deeper waters before it could be brought ashore. No murder, no gang retaliation, no cartels moving into Playa. But for the thousands who read such irresponsible comments the damage was done. A simple drowning had quickly become the work of the drug gangs, and Playa was dangerous.

In other postings on playa.info about the recent shootings, it was suggested that the cartel would be coming after tourists next, that the drug war was escalating into Playa, and that everyone–but especially those with children–should avoid Playa to keep from getting hit by stray bullets. ‘The bad guys are moving in and they are not going anywhere’ was typical of the statements. Of course no statistics, articles or even governmental warnings were offered in support of these “facts.”

Sometimes People Just Make Stuff Up

A similar situation can be found all around the internet. On TripAdvisor.com (which bills itself as the largest travel industry website in the world), a forum dedicated to Playa del Carmen dealt with the shooting of the Tourist Police Chief by having many posters assert that most Playa businesses were paying protection money to the drug cartels. It went further. One individual posted that many businesses were closing “each day” because of drug cartel pressure.

We were surprised that while living here we had missed a daily wholesale loss of businesses. When we asked the individual for some facts or statistics or even personal knowledge about this massive loss of businesses in the area, his response was that he had been “told” of two businesses that closed. His story went from daily closings of many businesses to an anecdotal story of two unnamed businesses. Never mind that his original claim had been shown to be without basis, the damage was done. Other people had already picked up on his false claim and repeated it as “fact.”

In the same vein was the suggestion on the same forum that patronizing Playa businesses was just giving money to the drug cartels, since they all paid protection money. When we said we paid no such protection money and knew no one who did, the response was that we had to say that because the cartels would punish us if we admitted our support of them publicly!!! Seriously, that was the response.

The result is that people without knowledge created a new set of “facts,” i.e. the cartel is already in Playa; it controls Playa’s businesses; it puts those it can’t control out of business, and it silences the locals with fear of punishment if they talk about it. That is some scary stuff. Except there is not a single shred of evidence to show it is true. It is a fantasy which arises from a “common knowledge” (i.e. assumption and opinion) fed by too many viewings of the Sopranos rather than actual facts. Once again, irresponsible and ignorant people are painting a false picture of Playa that too many people see and believe.

Widespread Damage

In fairness to the forums we have just mentioned, they both have rules that prohibit inflammatory and false statements. Playa.info has barred further posting on a few of their most inflammatory threads, and TripAdvisor has done the same, actually removing some of the more outrageous posts. However neither forum moved to enforce their own guidelines for several days. The prohibition of these false statements was done hesitantly, at best. Why? Internet websites such as these two make money based upon the number of visitors to those sites. They sell more advertising, more tours and more vacation rentals and use the boosted statistics to seek new advertisers. So a controversial issue like crime, even if spinning out of control on their own website, is beneficial to them. Unfortunately, it’s not beneficial to others.

Not only do such irresponsible comments mislead the public seeking actual information, but they do serious and unwarranted damage to people and businesses here in Playa.
Just a few days ago we spoke with a local business owner who said he had had $5000 US worth of cancellations in a single day, and that the people canceling specifically cited their reason as being the frightening stories about crime in Playa del Carmen they had read on the playa.info forum. And the damage is not limited to just this individual or his business. It in turn will cause damage to his employees, to their families and to the local businesses where they shop. It will also cause damage to other businesses such as restaurants, bars and tours that these visitors would have patronized had they not cancelled their trip. The casual comments and opinions of someone with no knowledge can be magnified on the internet to do real damage. That damage is not to drug dealers and criminals. That damage is to local Mexican families. We would ask everyone who posts on the internet to remember that.

For questioning these irresponsible and false statements, we and other members of Playa’s expat community have been branded by many on the internet as “cheerleaders” for Playa. It is said that because we have businesses that rely on tourists we ignore and hide the facts about dangers here. That’s not true.

What we really do is demand that dangers of traveling here or anywhere be discussed responsibly with facts. Innuendo, rumor, speculation and guesswork are not the foundation of responsible discussion. And such opinions should never be the basis of deciding whether you visit Playa or Miami or New York. When deciding where you can go to safely spend your vacation time you need facts. So the question is…where do you go to get real information…real facts…about safety in Playa del Carmen?

Sources for Factual Information

Luckily there are plenty of places where you can get both facts and some responsible opinions about safety in Mexico, starting with the governments of the United States and Canada.

The US State Department assists travelers with information about countries they may be visiting, including issues of crime and safety. When the US government feels an area may be dangerous to visit, it issues a travel warning (as now exists for areas in central Mexico). No such warning has ever been issued for Playa or the state of Quintana Roo. In fact the US government has consistently said that the Riviera Maya is NOT experiencing the drug war violence seen elsewhere. Click here for the US State Department’s web page regarding Mexico.

The International Affairs and Foreign Trade division of the government of Canada has a similar function with a similar result. While a travel warning has been issued to its citizens traveling to the central Mexico/US border area, NO warning exists for traveling to the Riviera Maya or the state of Quintana Roo. Click here for their web page regarding Mexico.

Of course many travelers want more than just bare bones ‘is there a warning or not’ before making a decision. They want an overall picture from an objective source. We suggest checking out major respectable news sources. We googled the following news sources regarding stories on Mexico safety:

The New York Times, CNN, the San Francisco Chronicle, ABC News, the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News and USA Today all say the same thing: While there are parts of Mexico that are dangerous and should be avoided, the Riviera Maya is far removed from the drug wars and is a safe vacation destination.

The prospective visitor can also check with major travel writers around the country to see how they feel about safety in Playa and Mexico. An example is the respected travel author and expert Peter Greenburg, formerly of NBC News. (A note of full disclosure…we do not know Mr. Greenburg but he once gave our hotel a rave review based on the experience of one of his reporters.)

Mr. Greenburg recently made a statement about the hysteria over Mexico that goes directly to the heart of so many negative postings on the internet: “I’ll call a spade a spade here. Mexico has been seen in an almost racist way by Americans for so many years. They imagine dusty border towns, guys wearing sombreros and doing shoot ‘em ups. They see it how it was portrayed in the movies. If you couple that perception with the drug cartels or with the swine flu or with select crime reports, suddenly everybody starts running for the border.” Peter Greenburg’s web site has many articles about all aspects of the Riviera Maya, including safety.

Finally if you want to know what is happening here in Playa you may want to ask the people who live here. There are many well-written blogs by expats living in this area. Yes we are sometimes “cheerleaders” about Mexico. We live and work here because we love it here. Yet if anyone thinks we are blind to dangers or problems, they are mistaken. We are here with our children and our families. We walk the streets and go to the beaches. Does anyone think we would do that in the middle of a war zone? More than any visitors, we stay aware of the issues of safety here. If it weren’t safe for us, our families and friends we wouldn’t be here. Here are some of our favorite blogs and websites written by people who live and work here:

And there are dozens more. Of course there is our own PlayaZone, the blog you are reading now. You will also find numerous Playa based pages on Facebook, including our own. On these blogs and pages you will find the voices of people who live here. And we might be worth listening to.

A Final Note

Mexico isn’t for everyone. And those who are interested in coming here often have legitimate reasonable concerns. We neither ignore nor condemn those concerns. We only ask that people seek out responsible factual information when looking for answers to their questions.

We will end on a personal note. We have been living here in Mexico for over six years. Before that we were regular visitors to this area for another seven years. In that time we have never been the victims of a violent crime. We have never witnessed a violent crime. The worst thing that happened to us was the theft of a backpack left unattended on the beach six years ago.

We realize there is crime here, just as there was in San Francisco when we lived there. Crime is sadly a part of life everywhere. But to us, Playa del Carmen is still a safe wonderful place where the pace of life is slower and the Caribbean beckons with warm blue water. It is our home and we feel safe here. If that ever changes, our readers will be among the first to know.

Happy travels to you all. And if you find yourself in Playa del Carmen, please stop by the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar and say hello.

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Posted in News & Politics, Safety in Mexico | Tagged: , , , , , , | 25 Comments »

 
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