Luna Blue's PlayaZone

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

  • Subscribe

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Playa del Carmen Weather

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 708,971 hits
  • Pages

  • Networked Blogs

Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Sun, Sand and Margaritas…Beach Bars in the Riviera Maya

Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 20, 2014

Everybody loves beach bars.  A little grass shack selling rum, tequila, and beer on a white sand beach only steps from some blue water…what’s not to love?

Playa del Carmen, along with the whole of the Riviera Maya, has one of the largest collections of great beach bars in the world.  Playa’s central and northern beaches are jam packed with clubs, restaurants, and bars of all types. And outside of town along the Caribbean coast you can find even more terrific places to eat and drink next to the sea.

Of course everyone has their own ideas of what makes for a great beach bar. Some like it simple with a little bar, an umbrella and a shrimp taco or two. Others prefer something more upscale with a brick pizza oven and maybe a pool. Some beach bars have live music, while others offer only the sound of the waves.

Most travel sites and blogs have at one time or another made a list of what they think are the best or top or favorite beach bars along our coast. Recently USA Today listed what they thought were the Five “Coolest” Beach Bars in the Riviera Maya.

The article listed some of our favorite places but missed some really great ones. So we decided to add our favorite beach bars/clubs along Mexico’s Caribbean coast to the USA Today list. Our additions are, in no particular order…

Bad Boys Beach Bar in Playa del Carmen

Bad Boys Beach BarAlong the length of Playa del Carmen’s central beach are literally dozens of beach clubs. They range from funky to fashionable and almost all of them are worth stopping in to spend a day in the sun. However, Bad Boys Beach Bar has a special place in our hearts. It was one of the first beach bars in Playa, started long ago by the late, much beloved Playa legend Captain Dave. It hasn’t changed much since those early days. There are decent hamburgers, and sausages grilled by Cowboy John; they serve good, cold drinks; and play fun music. But the real draw is the atmosphere. In this day of big screen, glass and chrome monstrosities crowding the Caribbean, Bad Boys continues the legacy of the of the laid back, toes in the sand, palm-covered beach life of which we all so often dream. It is a classic part of the old Playa del Carmen. And remember…guests at the Luna Blue Hotel receive a 10% discount on food and beverages at Bad Boys.

La Playa on Xpu-ha bay

La Playa Xpu HaAt first you might wonder if you took a wrong turn. Once you start down that awful twisting pothole-filled dirt road hemmed in on both sides by the jungle you might think that the trip was a bad idea and you should turn around. Don’t. That crappy road leads right to one of the most beautiful bays on Mexico’s Caribbean coast and one of our favorite beach bars. La Playa is an old school club with palm thatched umbrellas and faded loungers looking out over blue water. Their shrimp tacos are some of the best around and the beer is cold. Best of all, La Playa offers a chance to escape the madness of Playa del Carmen’s tourist zone for a beautiful, open uncrowded stretch of beach.

El Paraiso Beach Club in Tulum

El Paraiso Beach ClubThe name says it all…paradise. Down in Tulum on the still relatively undeveloped north end of the beach, El Paraiso has everything you could ask from a beach club/bar. The menu is good and the drinks are of a decent size. There are plenty of staff members to take your order and keep your glass filled. You can choose from tables and chairs, loungers or big cushy beds laid out on the beach. But El Paraiso’s claim to fame is its location. It sits on a pure white sand beach with a spectacular view of the Caribbean Sea. In the distance to the north are the ruins of the Mayan Temple. To the south are miles of uninterrupted shoreline for your strolling and swimming pleasure. If you want to get back to the beauty of nature, get to El Paraiso.

The Beach Club at Grand Coral

Beach Club at Grand CoralThe name is misleading. While owned by a giant mega resort, the Beach Club at Grand Coral is actually out on a pretty deserted stretch of beach by itself (about a 50 minute walk north from Constituyentes downtown or a 10 minute taxi ride). But once you get there you will have all the comforts you need. The restaurant serves up some of the best food on the beach in Playa. The bar is cool and hip and has a waterfall as a backdrop. There are two shallow but good sized swimming pools surrounded by loungers and sun beds. All of this sits on a platform raised above the beach so you have fantastic views of the ocean. Or if want, you can walk down the steps to take a spot on the deserted beach. This is one of the classiest beach clubs and one of the least known. This is a real hidden treasure. Another reason we love this beach club…guests from the Luna Blue Hotel receive a 10% discount.

There are so many great things to see and do and experience when visiting the Riviera Maya, but the number one attraction is and always will be the beaches. Beach clubs allow visitors and locals alike the chance to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean shoreline with a little comfort, something to eat and a margarita in hand. These four beach bars are our favorites, but there are many, many more. Part of the fun of visiting Playa is making your own list of favorite places. We suggest trying a new beach club every day of your vacation on the Riviera Maya…and you still won’t see them all.

Coming to paradise and need a cool place to stay? Check out the Luna Blue Hotel…three-time winner of TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Best Bargain Award, and Playa’s favorite small boutique hotel. And always book directly with the hotel for the best prices and availability.

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Posted in Activities, Living the Dream, Recommendations | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trying to Reason with the Hurricane Season

Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 5, 2014

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

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

Great Weather and Low Prices

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

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

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

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

We Have it All…Rain and Sunshine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avoiding a Vacation Disaster

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

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

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

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


Getting the Right Weather Information

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

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

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

Happy travels!

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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

The “Old” Playa del Carmen Just Keeps Getting Better

Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 25, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Boys Beach Club

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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

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

Posted by Tony & Cheri on February 21, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to vote for Yucatreks for Favorite Mexico Tour Company

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

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

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

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

Tony & Cheri

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Tony & Cheri

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

The Carnival Comes to Town

Posted by Tony & Cheri on July 9, 2012

Hello to all our readers. We haven’t posted a new entry for a while as we have had a very busy high season at our hotel and have been occupied with some family matters back in the US. But now we are back, and in the weeks ahead we will be posting more information about life in our adopted home of Playa del Carmen.

********

A carnival rolled into town this week to the delight of all the local kids…and quite a few adults.

Beautiful gelatinas in many flavors

This is not “Carnaval,” which is a large multi-day series of parades and parties held just before the beginning of Lent. And it’s not the big, glitzy circus that most Americans and Europeans know. Instead the summer carnivals or “ferias” of Mexico are small truck caravans traveling from town to town with rides, games, food stands and cheap merchandise for sale. This is the Feria Playa del Carmen 2012, and it has its own unique Mexican personality.

To us the carnivals offer a step back in time, reminding us of similar shows that traveled the US midwest back in the 1940’s, 50’s and early 60’s. To people here in Mexico today they offer an affordable diversion from daily life. And for the kids they always mean FUN!

As in past years, the carnival set up around Playa del Carmen’s Palacio Municipal (City Hall), taking over the parking lot and part of the plaza that sits in front of the city offices. This year the operation was so big it also spilled over into the adjacent Walmart parking lot and a couple of side streets.

On the evening of the grand opening. hundreds of parents with kids in tow flooded the streets and filled the plaza as city officials, beauty queens, school bands and the carnival’s master of ceremonies crowded onto the hastily built stage under a gigantic tent cover for the opening ceremony. To everyone’s delight, once the ribbon cutting was over the sky above the Palacio exploded with fireworks. After that show, it was time to explore.

We walked along the rows of rides, most of which were for small children. Among the more popular rides were the merry-go-round, “flying” helicopters (which were about four feet off the ground), a tiny swinging pirate ship, a small Ferris wheel, and a train painted with various Disney characters. For the bigger kids there was a tilt-a-whirl and a “twister” that lifted a platform filled with seated riders to whirl them up into the air. And for kids of all ages there were bumper cars!

One ride we had never seen before was a row of five or six plastic bulls with very round bodies. As loud Mexican music played, the bulls would shift left and right and rotate rotate back and forth–a bit like a typical mechanical bull. The trick was to stay on the bull throughout the ride. Not very many were successful at it, so it was really fun to watch.

A very happy little girlIt is impossible to describe the wonder on the faces of the little children as they waited impatiently for their turn on a ride, or their delighted screams when their turn actually came. Sometimes we think Mexico has the most beautiful children in the world. Watching the kids have fun was the best part of the evening for us.

Eventually we wandered through the food area. Large tents offer traditional Mexican dishes like taco al pastor with large spits of marinated pork slowly turning on an open flame. Smaller stands offer churros (a sweet pastry stick), dried spicy shrimp on a stick, or grilled corn on the cob which is slathered in mayonnaise and chili powder. Other specialty items included artistically sculpted gelatin flowers in dozens of flavors and marquesitas, giant Mayan crepes. And of course there was cotton candy…what’s a carnival without cotton candy?

In the center of the carnival is a row of tents offering merchandise for sale. Furniture, clothing, plastic containers, records, shoes, toys, and plaster statues of saints and animals all vied for the attention of people walking by. And if the items don’t catch your attention, a barker with a microphone and amplifier probably will.

Of course there are games of chance. Booths abound where you can shoot an air gun, throw a dart or toss a ring in an attempt to win a great prize like a giant stuffed pink teddy bear. Strange, but we didn’t see anybody win that night. :)

And what’s a carnival without some freaky stuff? The oddity trailer had numerous items of weirdness from the natural world like a two headed snake, a four winged goose and even an alligator woman! We passed on that one.

When we had seen it all we started walking home. We passed a large lot, usually empty, now filled with truck trailers. campers and makeshift tents of plastic tarps. It was where the carnival folks had parked and set up housekeeping. We observed a young man step out of a tent from which very loud Norteño/Ranchera music blasted on a portable CD player. He carried a screw driver and a blender full of what appeared to be the basic fixings for salsa. He nonchalantly strolled over to a nearby building and set about hot-wiring the building’s electrical box so that he could plug in his blender! We laughed all the way home about his resourcefulness. We wondered about how different life must be for a carnival gypsy in Mexico.

The Feria Playa del Carmen is in town through July 16. If you are going to be in town (or you already live here) make sure to stop by.

********

Sale at the Luna Blue Hotel

Can you believe July is already here? The summer seems just to fly by. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could make summer last just a little longer? You can at the Luna Blue Hotel. Our Make the Summer Last sale and Advance Prepayment Rates offer rooms as low as $44.00 USD from Sept 1 to Oct. 14. When everyone else is pulling the fall jackets out of the closet and heading back to work or school, you can be lying on a white sand Caribbean beach. Just CLICK HERE for details.

Enjoy these photos from the feria:

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

St Patrick’s Day in Mexico

Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 5, 2012

We love St Patrick’s Day. We always have. It’s right up there with Christmas and Halloween as one of our favorite holidays.

Yes, we are Irish by heritage. Well, at least Tony is. His great-grandfather James Head emigrated from County Kerry in the 1800’s. And even if James was a bit of a scoundrel (drinking was his vice and gambling was his profession) he still managed to leave his descendants a legacy of love for all things Irish. Cheri is mostly Irish by choice rather than heredity, having fallen in love with the country and the people on a backpacking trip through the Emerald Isle after college.

St Paddy’s Day in the Irish Bars of San Francisco

We established our holiday traditions many years ago in San Francisco where a large Irish population joins with other hard drinking citizens each year on March 17 to wear the green and hoist a glass…or two…or twenty. There has never been a shortage of Irish bars in San Francisco, and we had several favorites when we lived there.

Harry Harrington’s Pub is a dive bar where lawyers and longshoreman rubbed shoulders (and sometimes exchanged punches) in riotous old school St Paddy’s Day gatherings; Pat O’Shea’s (sadly no longer in business, whose famous motto was “We Cheat Tourists and Drunks”) lined the bar with cups of beer and whiskey to be handed back through the packed, standing room only crowd; Ireland’s 32 featured pipers, step dancers and live performances of the classic rebel songs while the hat was passed for various Irish causes.

But our favorite St Paddy’s day destination was O’Reilly’s…owned by our old friend Myles O’Reilly who came to America to find fame and fortune. It was, and is, a classic Irish pub with good food and strong drinks and the finest St Paddy’s Day Party in town. In fact the celebration there became so popular that the local government finally just started closing the street in front of the bar to traffic so that revelers could sing, dance, drink and mingle on the boulevard.

Long ago we agreed we would never work on St Patrick’s Day. We took vacation days so that we could spend the holiday celebrating with friends and family. And each year would find us heading home at the end of the day full of beer and corned beef, covered in green beads and glitter, and with the sounds of “A Nation Once Again” ringing in our ears.

Finding Shamrocks South of the Border

When we left San Francisco for the sunny shores of Mexico’s Caribbean coast we were determined to hold onto our St. Patrick’s Day traditions. The only question was how. When we arrived here in Playa del Carmen, March 17 was just another day on the calendar. This or that bar might sell some Guinness or have 2×1 beers but nobody really celebrated “the wearing o’ the green” in the ways we were used to. We decided to change that. We wanted to show Playa how St Paddy’s should be celebrated.

And so it was that when we opened the Luna Blue Bar we held what we believe was the first real St Patrick’s Day celebration in town, and we have been holding them every year since.

What’s a “real” St Patrick’s Day Party?” you might ask. It’s loud, messy, fun and green. There’s corned beef sandwiches and plenty of beer. There’s Jameson’s Irish whiskey, Baileys and Guinness being served. There’s music…from live performers to recordings of Van Morrison, Christy Moore, the Chieftains, Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys. There’s dancing on the floor…and on the bar. There are hugs and kisses and pretty girls stamping your cheek with shamrock stickers or draping beads around your neck. And there are toasts to the Irish…and on St Paddy’s Day the whole world is Irish.

Of course this being the tropics we added some new traditions to the mix…like giving free shots of tequila (or Irish whiskey) to any lady who shows up wearing a green bikini or thong…and like letting people float in the swimming pool among green balloons as they listen to the music and sip their beer (a St Patrick’s Day pool party…only in the Caribbean!). And there is another tradition surrounding St Patrick’s Day here in Mexico: Remembering the San Patricio Battalion.

The Story of the San Patricios

We first heard this story from San Francisco’s legendary bartender, Mike McCourt, who you may know as baby Michael in his brother Frank’s memoir, “Angela’s Ashes.” On a quiet San Francisco day just before we moved to Playa del Carmen we went to say goodbye to Mike. He smiled broadly when he heard the news. “Mexico you say? It’s a fine place where they treat an Irishman like the hero he is.” As he filled our glasses for a farewell drink he told us the story of the Irishmen who had fought and died defending Mexico.

It was in 1846 that young men fleeing the famine back home in Ireland arrived in America only to be shipped off to fight as conscripts in the war against Mexico. Many of the young soldiers saw the war as an unjust action against a poor, oppressed, Catholic population…not unlike the people they had left behind in Ireland. John Riley, a professional soldier and veteran of many battles, led about 200 Irish soldiers in crossing over to fight with the Mexicans in defending their homeland against the Yanks. The Mexicans called them “los San Patricios”… “the Saint Patricks.”  Most of the Irish soldiers were killed in the war. Those who were captured by the US Army were executed as traitors, but here in Mexico they are still remembered as heroes. A plaque listing the two hundred names of members of the Battalion can be found in Mexico City where several times a year bagpipers play in memory of the young Irishmen who gave their lives for Mexico.

A few years ago the famous Irish band, the Chieftains, along with American singer/songwriter Ry Cooder invited some of Mexico’s finest musicians to join in creating a musical history of the San Patricios on CD. We will be playing some of that music here in the bar on St Paddy’s Day as we raise toasts to Ireland, to Mexico and to the heroes they share.

St Patrick’s Day at the Luna Blue Bar

This year the Luna Blue Bar’s Annual St Patrick’s Day Party will be on Saturday, March 17th. We will have some Guinness (in limited amounts), Irish whiskey and plenty of beer and tequila. We will also have corned beef sandwiches…with real corned beef. Trust us…it ain’t easy finding corned beef down here…but we did. There will be plenty of music: local favorite Mike Grabow (who does a great Playa styled version of the Dropkick Murphys’ song “Drink and Fight”) will be playing from 3-7; and the legendary unshod troubadour of the Caribbean coast, Barefoot O’Skinny, will play from 8-11. In between live sets our own favorite Irish music playlist will provide the tunes. As always, ladies in green bikinis and thongs will get free drinks. The pool will be open so wear/bring a swimsuit. We promise a day of fun and surprises.

Please join us if you can…and if you can’t make it, wherever you are be sure to raise your glass high on St Patrick’s Day and say “Slainte!”

Here are some photos of past years’ celebrations at the Luna Blue Bar Saint Patrick’s Day Party.

A green thong will get you a free shot of tequila at the Luna Blue Bar

Ireland meets Mexico in a south of the border St Paddy’s Day

Everybody in green

Our shot girl, Ginger O’Cutie, with a guest

Tony and a bagpiper

Irish Consulate Anthony Leeman came down from Cancun for the celebration. Here he poses with Tony and Ginger O’Cutie.

A typical Tony moment on St Paddy’s Day…surrounded by pretty girls

Nothing says St Paddy’s Day like funny hats

Our friend Rob Kinnon making the most of St Paddy’s Day

It’s always a party at the Luna Blue on St Paddy’s Day

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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

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.

‘LIKE’ the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar

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

Playa del Carmen Right Outside your Door: Small Hotels vs. All Inclusives

Posted by Tony & Cheri on January 11, 2011

You are going to Mexico! You have been dreaming of margaritas and white sand beaches in the beautiful seaside village of Playa Del Carmen. You’ve waited all year for this vacation and now you just have to decide where you will stay.

We’re Going to Playa! Now Where Should We Stay?

Playa Del Carmen has a large number of small boutique-style hotels throughout the resort/hotel zone which stretches along the shoreline of the Caribbean Sea. The resort/hotel zone goes from Juarez Avenue in the south to Calle 40 in the north and from Avenida 10 east to the beach. There are also many mega-resorts up and down the coast outside of town which list “Playa del Carmen” as their location. These generally are all-inclusive properties—which means the price you pay includes food, drinks and your room, much like the cruise ship vacation your great aunt Myrtle takes every year.

All inclusive resorts (called “AI’s”) have become quite popular in the travel industry. That popularity has been helped along by a tourist industry which too often places its fees ahead of your interests. Such resorts are often part of an international chain which can afford not only extensive advertising, but also to host and finance press junkets for travel writers and pay travel agents large commissions to steer their clients to them.

This is not to say that such a giant resort might not be right for you. But we think the decision should be based on what kind of vacation you want and not because someone else will make the most money from recommending a property to you.

Of course, we are not objective on the matter. We own one of the most popular small hotels in Playa del Carmen, the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar, and have long encouraged people to think about a visit to Mexico outside of some resort’s gated compound.

Over the years we’ve heard many reasons why people prefer AI vacations—generally by people who’ve never traveled any other way. The following is a list of those reasons, along with our own opinions and views. We hope it helps with your vacation planning.

Safety

The number one reason given by most people for choosing to stay in a gated, all-inclusive resort on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is safety.

Some visitors are frightened by the sensationalized media portrayal of all of Mexico being engulfed in a violent drug war. Others are just concerned about possible problems of being on their own in a country where they don’t know the language or the culture. Both fears are understandable, but neither is a realistic view of Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Playa del Carmen is Safe
Mexico’s drug wars are taking place primarily around Ciudad Juarez, a city near the border with the southwest United States. The violence and crime associated with that problem have not spread to the eastern coast some 3000 miles away. The Caribbean border state of Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, has a crime rate much lower than many large US cities. Playa Del Carmen is perfectly safe for any visitor, and there is no need for visitors to hide away in a fortress-like compound, avoiding and missing the true spirit and flavor of Mexico.

Likewise, finding yourself on your own without resources or help or unable to speak the language even to ask for assistance is simply not going to happen. Playa is a modern city. Many of the locals working in the hotels, restaurants and bars speak very good English. Well trained English-speaking doctors and health care workers are readily available. There is even a special branch of the police department called the “Tourist Police” that patrols the resort zone to help visitors with problems.

And if you should need assistance, you will find it easier to get help in a small hotel where you are a familiar face to the people working there than a large resort where you are just another room number in a crowd of hundreds or thousands.

Convenience

Many people also think that an all inclusive experience offers the most convenient way to travel. They think that having shops, a beach club, bars and restaurants all in the same compound will make their vacation easier.

Shopping
The truth is that the widest range of services and stores in the area are in downtown Playa within easy walking distance to the small hotels. Laundries, clothing stores, pharmacies, wine and liquor shops and souvenirs of all types are available in hundreds of stores lining Fifth Avenue. Even our Super Walmart is conveniently located just outside the central part of the downtown hotel zone. By staying in a boutique hotel in town you have not only convenience but also more choices. By staying in a mega resort outside of town (and very few of the AI resorts are within walking distance of town), you are limited to the choices available there on the resort grounds, and you must share those resources with the hundreds and possibly thousands of others staying there at the same time.

Dining
The same is true for restaurants, bars and cafes. With a few feet of any small hotel in town, you will discover limitless dining and drinking possibilities. For example, within one block of our own small Luna Blue Hotel, guests can find eight restaurants and three bars. A ten minute walk down 5th Avenue or in any direction will bring dozens more of all types and price ranges. The same can be said for any small hotel in Playa.

We think having access to several dozen restaurants of varying cuisines within a few minutes stroll is certainly more convenient than taking a long hike down to the food complex across the resort grounds to choose from a small group of restaurants, all of which share the same kitchen.

Beach Clubs
Visitors staying in town will find more beach clubs and find them more conveniently located than at a giant resort. For example, some rooms at a large resort like the Mayan Palace may require guests to take a shuttle bus or even two to get to the beach. Once there you may find the infamous “towel game” in full effect, i.e. when people rise early, go to the beach and “save” chairs with towels or personal items to use later in the day. As most large resorts do not have a beach chair for every guest, many beachgoers end up with no comfortable way to enjoy a day on the sand.

On the other hand, since the resort/hotel zone of downtown Playa parallels the beach it is only a short 5 minute walk from almost any small hotel in the area to the beach. And some hotels can even be found right on the beach. Once on the sand you will find Playa’s two main beaches (centro and norte) to be lined with beach clubs, bars and restaurants. Instead of having one beach club where you may not even get a chair, the person staying in town can pick a new beach club every day of their vacation. In short you are nearer to the beach and have more choices when staying in a small hotel in town.

Food

People can get a little fussy about food. They know what they like, and many folks are not too willing to try something foreign or different. That need for some familiarity combined with the myth that “Montezuma Revenge” awaits anyone who eats in Mexico makes some people conclude it is safer and easier to eat at the buffet or American-style restaurants usually provided by the big AI resorts. Once again, this commonly held view turns out to be untrue.

The truth is that most large all-inclusive resorts will have at most three to five dining rooms (featuring steak, seafood, Mexican, or Asian food). In addition there will be a buffet or two and a couple of burger/pizza grills. One or two of the fancier restaurants will require reservations and have a dress code. Now compare this to what you can find in town.

Playa is a Food Lover’s Paradise
The number of restaurants available within a block or two of any small hotel will be in the dozens. The resort zone has literally several hundred choices of where to eat. One will find Thai, Spanish tapas, sushi, steak (Argentinean, American and Mexican style), and Italian (often featuring excellent homemade pasta from expat Italians). There is traditional Mexican food, French, fondue, vegetarian, seafood featuring fish caught that day, or lobsters fresh from the tank. You will find local specialties like lobster macaroni and cheese, coconut shrimp and marinated barbequed pork tacos. Street-side cafes offer fresh coffee and Mexico’s famous chocolate. There are grills with hamburgers and hot dogs, street carts with tacos and empanadas. And don’t forget the Italian bakeries and gelato stores. And of course there are some familiar names like Burger King, MacDonald’s, Johnny Rockets, Haagen Dazs, Starbucks and even Dairy Queen. Or you can even have Domino’s deliver a pizza to your hotel room.

Whether you will only eat the same food you know from back home or want to experiment with something new, you will find many times more restaurants within steps of your hotel than you will in any major resort. And it is perfectly safe to eat at these places.

Yes, it’s Safe
Playa Del Carmen has an efficient system of health inspection. Restaurants in town are held to the same high standard by the same government inspectors as the kitchens and dining rooms of the large all inclusive resorts. There is no more need to worry about your health when eating in town than when eating at a resort. In fact it might even be safer to eat at a restaurant in the resort zone where the meal is prepared when you order it instead of having food which has been sitting out in an AI buffet for hours.

Beverages
And if drinking is a favorite pastime, you will certainly not go thirsty in Playa. You will find bars with swings, bars on the sand, bars with swimming pools, bars with dancing, bars with live entertainment and bars with big screen TVs showing the latest sports. A bar crawl with friends at an AI resort will most likely consist of a drink at the pool bar and one at the disco. In downtown Playa a bar crawl will become a fun filled fiesta stretching from one end of town or the beach to the other. And don’t worry about drinking the water. Purified water is provided in every restaurant in Playa’s resort zone, and ice in your drink is also purified. Most small hotels provide bottled drinking water for their guests.

Language

Another concern which leads people to stay at an AI is their own lack of Spanish language skills and the fear they won’t be able to speak to the people around them. It’s a needless worry.

In Playa Del Carmen and all of the Riviera Maya, the number one source of income is tourism, primarily from English speaking countries. Over the years this has caused a Mexican national workforce to develop which is fluent not only in English but other languages as well. It is not unusual to find a waiter or bartender with limited formal education who can speak not only Spanish but also English and Mayan. He or she will probably have some knowledge of Italian and maybe even a smattering of French or German, as tourists speaking those languages are frequent visitors here. You will also find most restaurants have English language menus available.

Of course Spanish is the primary language of Mexico, so it should not be a surprise to visitors that it is spoken in most places and circumstances. And while many Mexicans will be glad to switch to English for you if they can, it is still nice to remember you are a visitor in a land with a different language from your own. So even if you can’t speak much Spanish, just try a little…such as “hola” (hello) or “por favor” (please) or “gracias” (thank you). After all, part of the adventure of a new land is negotiating a new language. At the very least it will earn you a smile.

And it would seem to go without saying that your chances of meeting, speaking to and interacting with locals is much more likely in town than at a gated resort that most Mexicans will never see the inside of.

Cost

In the end, after the issues of safety, convenience, food, and language have been shown to favor the small boutique hotel, it always boils down to money. Some people believe that an all inclusive is cheaper because the guest doesn’t have to pay for food and drinks. That is simply not true.

There is No Free Lunch
One doesn’t eat or drink for “free” at an AI. The price of what you will consume during your stay is factored into the price of the room. Those prices fluctuate greatly depending on the resort and on the time of year you are visiting Mexico. The truth is a stay in a small hotel in town, even adding in the cost of dining out, can easily be less expensive than the cost of staying at a large resort. More importantly, the small hotel can make decisions about discounts and upgrades on the spot. Rarely do they need to forward your requests up the corporate chain for a decision by someone not even in the same country.

AIs may occasionally offer what appear to be very low rates. However it is important to remember that those rates are per person, not per room like you’d find in a small hotel. And of course there are often extra fees—for towels, for use of sports and leisure equipment, and for those mysterious “resort fees.” Be sure to factor in all costs and fees, or you won’t be comparing apples to apples.

Playa Won’t Break Your Budget
If you’re concerned about cost, do a little research to look for the best deal. Look on the internet. Contact the hotels directly. Ask your travel agent’s advice. Go to tripadvisor.com and other travel-based websites. And don’t worry about paying for your own meals and drinks. After finding the small hotel that is right for you, you can be assured that the costs of dining out in Playa will still be very low. Most of the restaurants in Playa are mid-range to outright cheap. Sure, you can find a four star, multi-course dinner for top price, but if budget is your issue, you can find plenty of places to stretch your dining dollars. Eating and drinking well for little money is a tradition in Mexico that has been passed on to its visitors.

A One of a Kind Experience
And a vacation is not just about cost. People work hard for their money and want a quality experience when they take some time off. Cheapest is not always the best. And if you’re looking for a unique experience customized to your interests, you won’t find it in an AI. Why? Because large resorts are generally owned by international corporations which standardize their services and costs. Food is mass produced—often ahead of time—in order to serve thousands of meals each day. Accommodations must be of the same mass-manufactured design so that furniture and fixtures are interchangeable. Tours, activities and events are chosen and marketed to the guests based exclusively on the commission paid to the hotel, and steps are often taken to limit the guests’ access to other activities.

And often any spirit of the people or culture is eliminated when creating cost-effective generic resorts. You might be in an AI in Orlando one day and in one in Mexico the next and not be able to tell the difference.

You can choose an AI and have a “cookie cutter” hotel experience similar to every other hotel or resort. Or, you can choose a small hotel vacation and have a unique, one-of-a-kind experience You can stay in cabanas right on the beach or in a classic Mexican posada, experience the trendy hip vibe of a modern Euro-style hotel, or settle into a quaint, peaceful Caribbean bed and breakfast set amidst a tropical garden. It will be a vacation unlike any other you have had. And you will remember it forever.

It’s Your Vacation; It Should be Your Choice
In the end, if you’re planning a trip south of the border, you should consider the type of experience you want to enjoy. If you choose to come to Mexico because of its physical beauty, because of its rich culture, or because of its unique traditions and heritage…and if you want the adventure of new experiences and to meet and get to know people who live life differently than you do…then don’t lock yourself away in a gated high-rise resort. As a friend once remarked to us, “There is more to Mexico than what you can see from the lobby bar of a big resort.”

Consider a stay at a small hotel in Playa Del Carmen where the flavor, the adventure, and the people of Mexico are right outside your door.

“Like” the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar on Facebook to keep up with the latest news of Playa del Carmen, life in paradise & our version of “living the dream.”

   

Posted in Recommendations, Safety in Mexico, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Paradise…for $40?!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 14, 2010

Summer is over and the chilly winds of autumn will be starting soon. Before you know it the hectic race to the holidays will begin. But there is still time to lie in the sun on a beautiful Caribbean beach one last time this year. And it’s now more affordable than ever before. At the Luna Blue Hotel we are having an incredible Fall Fest Sale with all our rooms on sale for only $40 US!

Yes it’s true…All rooms at the Luna Blue are now $40 for the next six weeks! For the cost of a Mexican meal in the US, you can have a night in Mexico instead.

Make a new reservation now for a minimum three night stay between September 15 and October 23 and you can have the best available room for $40 plus tax. Every room in the hotel is $40…from our private Treetop Terrace rooms to our spacious Garden View Deluxe rooms with full kitchens to our Tropical Hideaway rooms to our cozy Courtyard Nook rooms. Rooms will be assigned on a first come, first served basis, so book early for the best room and the best deal.

With the FREE use of beach clubs, the discounts on beach club drinks and meals, FREE margaritas and FREE muffins and coffee in the morning, you can’t afford to stay home.

And right now you can find some amazing deals on air fare before the prices go up for the winter season. Don’t worry about missing the cold weather. It will still be there when you get back.

Wouldn’t it be nice to start winter with a tan?

Is your fall going to look like this…
Yucky weather

Or this…
Beautiful Playa del Carmen

“Like” the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar on Facebook to keep up with the latest news of Playa del Carmen, life in paradise & our version of “living the dream.”

   

Posted in Events & Happenings, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Mexico is On Sale at the Luna Blue Starting at Under $50 per Night!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 17, 2010

Everybody needs a vacation…But in the current difficult times it’s tough to find something affordable. We understand this at the Luna Blue Hotel, so we have temporarily slashed the prices on all our rooms as much as 40%. ALL our rooms for the rest of the spring, summer and fall are currently on sale. Caribbean Mexico is safe, beautiful, and now affordable at the Luna Blue Hotel.

In addition to incredibly low rates, guests at the Luna Blue Hotel receive:

Breakfast at the Luna Blue...coffee, tea and giant homemade muffinsFREE breakfast snacks with coffee, tea & giant homemade muffins served every morning in our beautiful tropical garden.

FREE use of three of the hottest beach clubs on Mexico’s Caribbean coast: Mamita’s, Wicky’s and Blucacao. Our guests also receive a 10% discount at the new Canibal Royal beach club.

FREE welcoming margaritas at the popular Luna Blue Bar.

FREE beach clubs, FREE morning coffee and homemade muffins, FREE margaritas and a tropical beach vacation STARTING AT LESS THAN $50 PER NIGHT! What are you waiting for? You can’t afford NOT to vacation in Mexico!

Make a reservation at the Luna Blue Hotel to get started.

This is a limited offer, and prices may revert back at any time. Book today to take advantage of these amazing low rates.

Limited only to NEW reservations booked directly with the hotel. Sale prices are not valid with other discounts or offers. All other restrictions and regulations set forth on the Luna Blue Hotel website and in correspondence apply. There are no hidden fees or charges at the Luna Blue. We don’t believe in that sort of thing.

Posted in Events & Happenings, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 689 other followers