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Luna Blue Then and Now…Four Years and Counting

Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary to us!

It was four years ago today that we arrived in Playa Del Carmen, completing the ultimate road trip: a 4000+ mile journey that began when we left our home in San Francisco to start a new life in Mexico.

To mark this occasion we have been looking at old photos of the hotel the way it was when we arrived, and comparing it to the way it is today. There is quite a difference. We thought people might enjoy knowing of the changes that have taken place over the years.

When we moved into the empty Hotel Zanzibar (with our four cats and Huggybear our faithful English Bulldog) in August of 2005, the eighteen rooms of the hotel were in pretty bad shape. Floors had been tiled in whatever had been cheap and available resulting in a rainbow of different colors, sometimes even in the same room! Cheap worn out bathroom fixtures like toilets, sinks and showers didn’t match and often didn’t work.

Most of the rooms had no furniture to speak of other than worn wood platforms holding broken mattresses and a few planks nailed together as shelves. Only about half of the rooms were air conditioned, and most of those units were failing. Rusty, noisy industrial ceiling fans were the way the rooms were cooled. And the rooms advertised as having “kitchen facilities” turned out to contain a gas tank hooked up by a hose to a hot plate!

The electricity was spotty, the water was often unheated and the sewage had a nasty tendency to overflow the tanks and spill into the yard. The walls, inside and out had not been painted in years, and the cenote “garden” was a swampy pile of rocks and a non useable pool of black water.

We knew we had our work cut out for us, and we jumped right to it. Truthfully the work and the changes have been non-stop ever since.

After repairing or replacing most of the water, electrical and sewage systems, we attacked the rooms. We stripped walls and floors bare. We put down new matching tiles; retiled the bathrooms; replaced the fixtures; put new air conditioning in every room; built entire kitchens in our deluxe rooms; hung new doors; bought new hand built furniture from Guadalajara; bought new mattresses, linens and towels; designed our own shelving and storage units and had them built and installed; painted and repainted; had special lamps and lighting fixtures made; redesigned the reception area; built new palapa awnings on the decks and porches; put down outdoor tiles; rebuilt stairways; installed four new water heaters; enlarged the on site laundry; joined two of the rooms with an interior staircase; arranged for two beach clubs for our guests; cleared out the old cenote and built a garden with walkways, decks and a waterfall. Let’s see… was there anything else? Oh yes, we built a bar.

And we aren’t finished yet. We take pride in the fact that we are constantly looking for new ideas to improve our hotel. There are many plans for more improvements in the future which we think will make a stay at the Luna Blue Hotel the best experience possible for our guests. But for today we wanted to take just a moment to reflect on all the we have accomplished and to offer our thanks to the many, many friends and guests who have had a part in making our little hotel such a giant success. Thank you all. We promise in the future to maintain the high standards you have come to expect at the Luna Blue Hotel.

And now here are some “before and after” pictures which you may enjoy:

The Bathtub in Room 9 Before:

The Bathtub in Room 9 After:

A Typical Kitchen in the Garden View Deluxe Rooms Before:

A Typical Kitchen in the Garden View Deluxe Rooms After:
Room 9 Before:

Room 9 After:
Room 31 Before:

Room 31 After:
The Deck Outside Room 36 Before:

The Deck Outside Room 36 After:
The Sundeck Before:

The Sundeck After:
The Reception Area Before:

The Reception Area After:
Treetop Terrace #36 Before:

Treetop Terrace #36 After:
The Cenote Garden Before:

The Cenote Garden After:
Garden View Deluxe Room Before:

Garden View Deluxe Room After:
The Bar Before:

The Bar After:
A Typical Bathroom Before:

A Typical Bathroom After:
Courtyard Nook Room #2 Before:

Courtyard Nook Room #2 After:

14 Responses to “Luna Blue Then and Now…Four Years and Counting”

  1. Jim Marchetti said

    Looks Great!!! Wow, 4 years? So fast, but it looks like you’ve had fun along the way.


    — Jim

  2. Bren Orzen said

    I remember some of the before picture …you both have done a wonderful job of making the Luna Blue a home away from home for a lot of people. Keep up the good work and happy anniversary.

  3. claudiadeplaya said

    Muchas felicidades!!!!! I remember Zanzibar, amazing difference.

  4. Michelle said

    Happy anniversary, Luna Blue!!

    T & C, you guys have done a great job with the hotel…and this post makes me miss Playa, the Luna Blue & YOU even more!!!

    Can’t wait to get back to Playadise soon!

  5. Allan said

    Tony and Cheri,

    Congratulation to you both, no one knows but I can imagine what you have been through these last four years. You have done a fantastic job in renovating the hotel and do an even better job in running it.

    We can only hope that we will be as successful as you.

    Best wishes for the future.

    Allan Matt

  6. Rebecca Hecker said

    You should be very proud of the improvements. We love it so much and looking forward to stay #3 in November!

  7. Jan said

    It’s beautiful! The difference is amazing! Congratulations on your anniversary.

  8. Hey guys..Congratulations!We first saw The Luna Blue when it was under heavy construction so can really appreciate the miracle that you have created. Can’t wait to return in November…until then,hugs to you both! Laurel and Cliff

  9. micheleinplaya said

    Wow! I never saw the old Zanzibar but those pictures definitely tell the story! You both should be so proud of what you have built, not just the hotel but the community you have created as well. Luna Blue is more than just a hotel. It’s a home away from home and a place where everyone feels like family. Kudos to you both!!


  10. Bill and Cindy said

    Nice job on the hotel- interesting history. We sure enjoyed it on our visit. Sorry to hear about Blue!

  11. Kelson & Susan said

    You really had your work cut out for you. The transformation from Zanzibar to Luna Blue has been tremendous — a tribute to your hard work and creativity. Congratulations on your four-year anniversary and best wishes for many, many more years of continued success. See you in December.

  12. Darlene said

    Congratulations on your 4th Anniversary! You obviously had a vision and have done an incredible job in creating the Luna Blue. Wishing you continued success in the future. We are so glad we found the Luna Blue and look forward to staying there again in February and in years to come.

  13. Larry and Carole Evanoff said

    Our first visit was shortly after you bought the hotel. Your friendly hospitality brought us back for the second visit. I was pleasantly surprised to see all the great renovations that you undertook in the first year. Our third year was the most surprising of all. Everything looked great! Great job! Wish we could stay with you again, but we now own our own place.

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