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Adventures in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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Playa is Open for Business…Still No Flu in Sight

Posted by Tony & Cheri on May 1, 2009

The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of activity in Playa del Carmen. Rumors have run rampant here and on the internet and have covered the gamut of possibilities. Some of the rumors had all of the businesses on Fifth Avenue being shut down, others had bars being closed, and some had the entire city–including government offices and private businesses–being shuttered for the next week. As a result we were inundated by inquiries by telephone and email asking whether it was true that Playa was now a ghost town, closed down because of the swine flu. The answer is a resounding NO. NOT NOW, NOT NEXT WEEK.

We’ve said it before and we’re going to say it one more time: THERE HAVE BEEN NO REPORTED CASES OF SWINE FLU IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN, THE STATE OF QUINTANA ROO, OR EVEN THE YUCATAN PENINSULA. While the government is taking rational and reasonable steps to prevent any outbreak of H1N1 (swine) flu, life continues to go on in this beautiful Caribbean town as it does every spring. There are tourists in the streets, the restaurants and bars are open, and the beaches are full of vacationers.

Once again, we want to make the point that we understand people’s concerns during this medical situation. We’re sympathetic when people say they don’t want to travel to any place in Mexico because of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico City. Our response is pretty simple: are you traveling in the United States? There are now more reported swine flu cases in the US over a greater geographical area than there are in Mexico. Yet the Centers for Disease Control still advises avoiding nonessential travel to any part of Mexico, even those where the outbreak has never touched. Yet they offer no advisories against travel between states where there are swine flu cases confirmed. We think the reason for this has more to do with politics than health concerns. But regardless, we still stand by what the World Health Organization is saying: that travel restrictions will not affect the spread of this disease. So we are telling anyone who asks that Playa is indeed open for business, free of any sign of the swine flu and that people should ignore the rumors.

To make the point that it is business as usual in Playa, we contacted government officials, ecoparks, local restaurants, beach clubs and stores to confirm what was open and what was not. Here’s what we found:

ECOPARKS – Xcaret and Xel-Ha are open, despite rumors to the contrary.

SUPERMARKETS – Walmart, Mega, Sam’s, Chedraui, San Francisco, etc. are all open.

RESTAURANTS – Walking 5th Avenue we’ve seen no restaurants closed. The same is true for the rest of Playa. All of our favorites are open, including Babe’s, Antica, El Fogon, HC de Monterrey and La Pesca. We didn’t see a single restaurant closed.

BANKS – All of them are open. They will close tomorrow for the national holiday of Labor Day but will be open again on Saturday and/or Monday, depending on the specific bank’s normal banking days.

BARS – All bars are open, including the world famous Luna Blue Bar. ๐Ÿ™‚ And don’t forget, if you are going to be in Playa del Carmen on May 5, we’re having the biggest, the best and probably the only CINCO DE MAYO PARTY in town. Live music, Tony’s cheeseburgers, girls in bikinis and Lenny the Wonder Dog. Please stop by and say hello.

BEACH CLUBS – In North Beach we went down to check and saw that Mamita’s, Kool and Blucacao were all open and operating with normal capacity crowds. We checked with our friend Jez who runs Zenzi Beach Club in central Playa and he tells us they were full and the rest of the beach was open with normal business.

NIGHT CLUBS – The clubs that have been closed temporarily are those with the capacity of over 1,000. This includes Dubai, Coco Bongo and Mambo Cafe. Santanera’s indoor facility has been temporarily closed, but its beautiful outdoor terrace is open for business. Other clubs are open for business as usual.

TOURS – All of our tour operators are open and operating. We have heard of no closures.

Government offices will be closed tomorrow for the national holiday. Schools will remain closed through next Wednesday. The archaeological zones (Tulum, Cobรก and Chichen Itza, etc.) will be closed until further notice.

The point of all of this is to reassure people that if they are coming to Playa del Carmen, they will find the resort facilities and businesses open and welcoming. And you won’t be alone if you do come. While we certainly have had some cancellations, we have also had a lot of reservations. A number of guests with existing reservations have emailed us to tell us of their intention to keep them. And, regarding the CDC’s suggestion that non-essential travel to Mexico be avoided, one person emailed us with the comment that his upcoming vacation was “essential” to his sanity. ๐Ÿ™‚

Of course, we are hearing from people that they are afraid to come based upon the continuing reports in the news media. We’re puzzled by the fact that Mexico alone is singled out as a place to avoid, rather than New York, California, Canada, and numerous other cities, states and countries where this flu has surfaced. It appears that once more, poor Mexico is being used as the whipping boy by other countries and cultures. We’re going to blog about that more in the future. All we can say is that if you are refusing to travel to Mexico because of swine flu, you should be refusing to travel anywhere, because the virus exists all around the world at this point. The good news is that it still does not appear to have a high fatality rate or be a particularly destructive virus. To read more about the swine flu, we suggest this Los Angeles Times article: Scientists See this Flu Strain as Relatively Mild.

We will be blogging more about Playa and the effects that this unfair travel ban has had on it over the next couple of days. Right now we’re just going to offer some pictures of our adopted home to show you what it looks like as of today. Before we do that, one personal note: We’ve removed a certain individual’s comments from our blog twice now. We did so because we thought the comments were exactly the type of irresponsible statements about swine flu that we’ve been reading all over the internet and seeing all over the television and have been trying to counter balance. There are plenty of public forums on the internet where anyone with this individual’s views can set forth whatever claims he or she wants, regardless of their veracity. But this is our blog, and it is not available for abuse by others. We intend to keep it a place for rational and factual information during this circumstance. We hope our regular readers understand and approve.

Now, here are some photos to illustrate that Playa is open for business and being enjoyed by locals and tourists alike:

The parking lot at the supposedly empty and closed Playa del Carmen Walmart

Looking inside the Playa del Carmen Walmart

The checkout stand at Walmart. Yes, it was crowded enough we had to wait.

Fifth Avenue showing tourists moving from shop to shop and restaurant to restaurant

Another view of tourists on Fifth Avenue

Playa Norte in front of the Kool and Mamita’s beach clubs

Another view of Playa Norte

More Playa Norte

Finally, for you guys out there who cancelled your vacation that was supposed to start in Playa del Carmen today, here’s a little taste of what you missed:

By the way, while we were writing this, we heard Keith Olbermann on MSNBC’s Countdown interview Dr. Roy Gulick, Chief of Infectious Diseases at New York Presbyterian Hospital, who said that at this point the swine flu seems to be no more dangerous than the standard influenza that we see each year. Is it time to start talking about overreaction???

For a link to other other blog entry on this topic, click here.


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25 Responses to “Playa is Open for Business…Still No Flu in Sight”

  1. Shammy said

    Great entry T&C! xoxo

  2. barbj050 said

    love the pics and i saw keith o tonite too…
    see ya in june

    thanks for the report
    hope that many people will read it

  3. […] Comments barbj050 on Playa is Open for Business…Shammy on Playa is Open for Business…G on Playa del Carmen, Is it Safe??…Mommentator […]

  4. Mel said

    the photos are really yesterday?

    • Yes they are photos from yersterday. We took them ourselves.


      • Mel said

        Hi thank you for reply:)
        thats strange..
        I have send a mail to the airport in Cancun, who thought me there were a lot of discos and bars closed up 06.05 (eg Coco Bongo)
        And they can not say whether they are after this date will be re-opened.

      • Yes Coco Bongo is closed as are all venues which hold over 1000 people. other than that the bars and clubs are open.

  5. Jenna said

    Thank you for this! My husband and I are leaving for Playa tomorrow (we really, really don’t want to go anywhere else!) and are desperately seeking some reassurance that everything will be open when we get there (we certainly aren’t afraid of the flu itself!. Your updates are perfect.

  6. Spaniard in MN said

    Hi. Great blog with great info. Thanks for that.

    I have a package purchased in Playa from May 6 -10th. I am not scared about going there, but my brother is visiting from Spain and he has a flight back to Spain the day after we’re supposed to return from Playa (Cancun). You see any possibility that flights between Cancun and the US can be suspended at any time? That’s my only concern, being “stuck” (stuck as in metaphor) in Playa?

  7. PlayinwitFire said

    Thank you Tony and Cheri for giving all of us an uplifting view into Playa Del Carmen’s “Flu” nightmare. I truly appreciate your posts on here as well as tripadvisor. Gives me something to look forward to with all the media hype going on. See you at the bar. May12th-18th.

  8. ahrcanum said

    Lovely! I was at Wal Mart in the States today and equally it was business as usual with long lines! Can you make recomendation for accomodiations on this lovely beach photo? I see no rocks as in parts of Cancun beach, and no litter.

  9. Angela said

    Thank you for this post. We have a trip to Playa planned for May 16-22, and while we had no plans to cancel anyway, I can at least cite your eyewitness information to the naysayers!

    How’s this for overkill: My husband’s employer has imposed a quarantine on employees returning from vacations to Mexico. He will not be allowed in the office for SEVEN days after we return. He will have to work from home, or take extra vacation time if working at home is not approved by his superior. Unbelievable.

    • That’s just UNBELIEVEABLE!! People pass the flu around every winter yet if you go to big bad Mexico on vacation, you’ll have to wear the Scarlet M! Hope you both have a really nice trip.

  10. claudiadeplaya said

    Thank you for posting this T & C I hope it helps people see that Playa is beautiful and open for business as always!!!!

  11. Chan Bahlum said

    My wife is there in Playa now with some friends and she says the same thing. Everthing is pretty normal and everything is open. For those of you heading to Playa, good for you! I would like to add, please tip very well. They have had a tough year.

    T & C thank you for all you do. Jan and her friends were at your bar Thursday but you weren’t there. She said “I swang on thier swungs aaahh I swing on their swangs..” I think she was there too long. Lyle

  12. JayceeLei said

    Wow, what a mess the media has made…

    I propose that the Luna Blue Bar invent a new drink/shot, the H1N1 Vaccine…strong enough to kill any swine flu germs ๐Ÿ˜‰ You could serve it in plastic test tubes!

    See you in a week!

  13. gil said

    Get my voucher for Mamita’s ready, I’ll be at Luna Blue soon!

  14. Tim & Ruth said

    Just re-read this entry again, and finally read through the comments.

    Isn’t it funny, that today I’ve read several headlines asking, “Did we over-react to the Swine Flu threat~?”


    Try and take it BACK now though…Try to replace the nights of empty stomachs from the children of those poor folks affected by layoffs, furloughs, what have you…

    I Hope the Ratings and the Circulation and the Site Hits were worth yet another portion of the black hole known as the Heart of the Media…and those who buy into every Sky is Falling scenario that comes down the fiber wire…
    When I heard Harry Smith from the CBS Early Show say the balance of mankind hangs in the balance, I quit watching TV and reading anything to do with the Flu and travel…so much poorly written and things said…and those who tried to quell the fear and panic were made to be selfish…I think I’ve had it…

    So well said T&C.

    God Bless The People of the Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Playa del Carmen.
    You did not deserve this.

  15. Maricela said

    I have been reading your forum posts on and truly appreciate you being so informative about the situation in PDC. I appreciate your honesty! That said I should be in PDC right now but couldn’t convince my travel companions that this was all blown out of proportion by the media. I’ve had to make myself feel better by looking at the background picture on my laptop of last year’s vacation. We rescheduled…Now I must countdown to the end of June….what an eternity! When i go back, Luna Blue will be the first I visit, I hope I can get to meet ya’ll! Oh what a wait!


  16. ScoobyRoo said

    Thanks Tony and Cheri for a wonderful Cinco de Maya party! Lisa and I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed your bar. I have recommended your hotel to quite a few people and I haven’t even stayed there. I saw how you treated the musicians, guests and staff and I must say you are a class act.

    Adam Crawford

  17. Denzaro said

    What’s happening in Playa NOW? Your webposts are quite a few weeks old! Thanks, Denzaro

    • Denzaro check out the last posts…one was written yesterday and the one before that was written only a couple of days ago. But to answer your question, Playa is beautiful (see the pictures on our last couple of entries); the weather great( high 80’s temps, occasional evening rain to cool things off); clubs, restaurants bars tours all open,; and no flu in sight. Come on down!


  18. Sara said

    Thanks for the info. See you soon

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