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Adventures in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Photographs and Memories

Posted by Tony & Cheri on January 21, 2015

As we say goodbye to the Luna Blue Hotel and Bar after 10 years we can’t help but recall all the people–hundreds and hundreds of them–who stayed at the hotel, drank at the bar and offered support and friendship over the years.

If you were part of our lives as a friend, a customer, a guest or simply a kindred spirit, you were the reason for our success and made it all worthwhile. We will never forget you and will never be able to thank you.

As a tribute to the wonderful people who shared this adventure with us, we have put together a little slideshow (which we have a hard time watching through the tears). These are just a small number of the people who graced us with their presence over the last decade. Some of those pictured are strangers who passed through with a smile or a laugh. Others became dear friends whom we hold close to us as part of our family. And some sadly are no longer with us but are remembered still with great affection. (We will always miss you Keith, Rory, Tyra and Colleen.) Every single person shown is treasured by us.

Forgive us if your photo is not included. Limited resources and time required us to use only a fraction of the photos we collected over the years. But please remember, whether or not you are in the video, you are anchored in our hearts. The last ten years have been the journey of a lifetime. Sharing it with all of you made it that much more special.

For whatever time you spent with us at the Luna Blue, we truly hope that you had the time of your lives. We sure did.

Tony & Cheri

PS – Don’t forget our Farewell Party on Sunday January 25, 2015 from 1 pm to 9 pm at the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar on Calle 26 between 5th & 10th Avenue in Playa del Carmen Mexico. There will be music, food, fun, friends and surprises. Please come by. And remember–Tony & Cheri are leaving, but the Luna Blue continues. The new owners are nice people who will continue the tradition we have started while making some very special improvements, and we wish them much luck. Best of all, our awesome staff will continue to work at the Luna Blue, and it will continue to be one of the best boutique hotels in Playa.

Posted in Events & Happenings, Friends, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

The “Old” Playa del Carmen Just Keeps Getting Better

Posted by Tony & Cheri on March 25, 2014

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

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

2013 Readers Choice Awards – Go Playa del Carmen!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on February 21, 2013 Finalist - Luna Blue HotelWe just found out that our little hotel is a finalist in the 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.

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

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

Head to Mexico for Christmas…if only in song

Posted by Tony & Cheri on December 18, 2011

Photo by Ken Bartle.  Thanks to our models Mackenzie and AmandaWe love Christmas music. Over the years we have collected thousands of carols and songs on our ipod. We love it all, from traditional hymns to rock and pop standards. We even love the more esoteric music of the holiday, like Less than Jake’s punk rock version of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer, and Reggae star Eek-A-Mouse’s drugged out version of The Night Before Christmas.

Yet there is a small often overlooked genre of holiday tunes that is a favorite of ours: songs about running away to a tropical beach in Mexico and the Caribbean. We, and many others it seems, prefer our white Christmas to be made of sun bleached sand instead of snow. We like to hang our Christmas lights from our palm thatch palapas instead of storm gutters. Santa hats are worn with swimsuits, and on Christmas Eve we still remember to leave a little something for Santa… although we set out a margarita instead of cookies (the old boy seems to prefer them with a salted rim, over ice instead of blended).

Of course we know everyone can’t go on a tropical vacation at Christmastime, so as a present for our friends stuck in chillier climates, here are a few of our favorite “Christmas on a beach in Mexico” holiday tunes. We hope they bring a little Mexican-Caribe sun and warmth into your holiday celebrations.

Christmas in the Caribbean

First on our list comes from the King of the Tropical Troubadours, Jimmy Buffett. This song contains all the iconic images one expects from a holiday season in paradise: “snowbirds” filling the air, Santa on a dolphin, stockings hung from a boat’s mast. Most of all it reminds the listener why life, and Christmas, is better in the tropics: because down here “we don’t live in a hurry.”

All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan

Kenny Chesney convinces his girlfriend (and the rest of us) that two tickets to a tropical shore is the best present he can get. A new bikini, toes in the sand and grilled mahi-mahi are Kenny’s suggestions as the best way to celebrate the season.

Christmas in Mexico

Key West entertainer Brent Burns says the best way to get over a broken heart is to head south of the border for the holidays. Since he says, “I try never to offend anyone wearing a thong,” he fits right in. When Brent meets a “pretty señorita” he concludes that “dancing by the pool, it’s hard to go wrong.”

Santa’s Going South (to Mexico)

Toby Keith and Sammy Hagar let the secret out: Santa’s “too old to take this much cold.” He is heading to Mexico this year. It’s all about “jet skis, margaritas and palm trees” for Christmas. So the boys are joining him by grabbing a “first class non-stop down Mexico way.”

Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rhum

Jimmy Buffett again; this time he is telling the story of poor Santa who is “tired of the whole reindeer scene.” Santa wants to turn into a pirate and “dance with a sword in the sand.” He decides he needs rum, steel drums and the Caribbean… and so away he goes.

We hope these tunes help brighten your holiday. And we leave you with one more song: Mexico’s very popular singer Luis Miguel singing
“I’ll be Home for Christmas” in Spanish. Home of course is where we all spend our holidays if only in our hearts and dreams.

From our home here in the paradise of Playa del Carmen on the edge of the Caribbean Sea to all of you wherever you may be, we wish all of you the happiest of holidays and a Merry Christmas.

Posted in Friends, Living the Dream, Recommendations, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Friends, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Friends | Tagged: , , | 41 Comments »

Sons of Anarchy Stars Invited to Mexico

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 3, 2011

Katey Sagal, the baddest biker chick on TV - Sons of AnarchyBefore we ever moved to Mexico and bought the Luna Blue Hotel, we made a list one night over several bottles of wine, People Who Can Stay for Free. They were people who inspired us, who we admired, who turned us on or were our personal heroes.

The list has changed somewhat over the years. Some of the people on it sadly passed away. Others were dropped for personal reasons. (Sorry, but you just don’t steal Sandra Bullock’s husband. Enough said. LOL) And, we have added new people in the years since. Today we’d like to add a couple more.

We are addicted to the fictional televised exploits of a biker gang known as the the Sons of Anarchy. Sons of Anarchy’s fourth season premiere starts September 6, and to celebrate, we are adding two people from that show to our People Who Can Stay for Free list:

Kurt Sutter, Sons of AnarchyThe first is Kurt Sutter, the outspoken take-no-crap creator/writer/producer of the series (who also has a small acting part). Not only has he made one of the best shows on television, but his pain-in-the-ass, in-your-face media persona makes us want to invite him to dinner and open a couple bottles of tequila.

Second is his real life wife Katey Sagal, who plays Gemma Teller, the matriarch of the biker gang. Only Katey Sagal could play the baddest, sexiest, take-no-prisoners, leather clad biker chick babe on TV and also make her loyal, committed, loving and occasionally tender. Whether she loves you or hates you, you’re in for a wild ride.

We love this show and think it has the best writing/directing/acting on television since Deadwood went off the air. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

Actually, Cheri wanted to add several of the hot guys from the show to our Stay for Free List, but Tony said we had to draw the line somewhere.

So, Katey and Kurt, if you’re ever in Playa del Carmen, the Luna Blue is yours for free.

Posted in Friends, News & Politics, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Best of Playa Raffle & Fundraiser May 27 for the Peanut Pet Shelter

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 24, 2011

Our friends at the Peanut Pet Shelter here in Playa del Carmen have had a rough year. A local competing charity and various individuals with personal agendas tried in a malicious and underhanded way to discredit and close them down. It was an ugly campaign that caused rifts between various individuals and businesses. Fortunately, this small group was unsuccessful in their endeavor. However, the result of their effort was a reduction in donations to the Peanut Pet Shelter, which has since then been struggling to make ends meet.

We are big supporters of the Peanut Pet Shelter. Because of them, we have our dog Roxie (the star of the poster) and, indirectly, our dog Gypsy, both of whom entertain us and make us happy on a daily basis. Many of our friends here in Mexico and also in the US and Canada have adopted dogs that were rescued by the PPS. We have seen first hand the amazing work they do in rescuing and caring for the many, many abandoned animals of Playa.

As a result, we’ve decided to join together with other local business owners and sponsor a kick-ass raffle and fundraiser to not only raise a boatload of cash for the Peanut Pet Shelter but to show them that the people of Playa del Carmen and the nearby communities care about them and see them as a valuable part of life here south of the border.

We’re calling it the “Best of Playa,” because most of Playa del Carmen’s best businesses (as well as several businesses from the surrounding communities) are donating prizes to this worthy cause.

Raffle Details

From now until the Best of Playa Raffle Party on Friday, May 27, 2011, for every $10 donation to the Peanut Pet Shelter, you will receive one raffle ticket for the Best of Playa Raffle, where Playa’s best businesses have donated dozens of cool prizes to support this worthy cause. Tickets may be purchased via the link below until 4 pm the day of the event.

Before the event, tickets will also be available at the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar and at the Peanut Pet Shelter dog & puppy washes on Saturdays & Sundays. Tickets will also be available at the event up until the drawing.

You need not be present to win…but you do need to go to paradise to redeem. 🙂

Every 10 kilos of dog food donated to the Peanut Pet Shelter will earn the donor another raffle ticket. Food may be delivered to the Peanut Pet Shelter or the Luna Blue Hotel or brought to the event.

The drawing for prizes will be at the Best of Playa Raffle party at the Luna Blue Bar on May 27. We will have live music, drink specials, and some fun surprises. AND 50% of the bar proceeds will go to the Peanut Pet Shelter!

Click Here to Make a Donation/Purchase Raffle Tickets

There are dozens of raffle prizes available, including a private sunset cruise on the Catamaya for up to 80 people(!!), a seven-night stay at the Royal Oasis condos, and a five-night stay at our own Luna Blue Hotel! Prizes will be added daily up until the date of the event, so check back often.

And please patronize the many Friends of the Peanut Pet Shelter who have so generously donated prizes:

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, Friends, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

More Than Just Happy Hour….

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 15, 2011

It's 5 o'clock somewhereThings are starting to slow down a little bit here in Playa del Carmen. The fast pace and the large crowds of the high season are disappearing as many of the snowbirds head home (probably to late spring blizzards!!!).

The locals can now find a seat at their favorite bar and a place on the beach. And travelers in the know will find less crowds and lower prices. Spring is a great time to be in paradise.

To celebrate our favorite time of year we are starting our own version of happy hour at the Luna Blue Bar.

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 4-8 pm we will have $20 peso beers, 2 x 1 house margaritas, and free chips and salsa.

As usual we will have Radio Margaritaville playing via satellite. And as an added bonus, Jimmy Buffett’s live performances will be broadcast on many of those nights!

And as always, any chicas contributing a thong to the bar’s collection will receive a free shot of our best tequila. It’s a tradition. 🙂

Cheap beer and ’ritas, snacks and a front row swing to hear Jimmy’s concerts. We don’t call it happy hour…we call it the “Buffett Buffet at the Blue.”

It all starts next Tuesday, April 26, 2011 at the Luna Blue Bar and continues throughout the spring and summer.

Stop on by and you’ll say–in the words of Playa’s popular singer/songwriter Mike Grabow–the Luna Blue is “Where I Want to Be.”

Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, Friends, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sabor a Mexico, Another New Local “Joint”…And This One Healthy!

Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 2, 2010

Update 9/5/10: We’re sorry to say that this little gem of a restaurant is now closed, another apparent victim of the drop in tourism. We wish Karmen the best of luck in future endeavors and sure hope she opens another restaurant at some point in the future.

We had the pleasure of eating lunch yesterday at a new spot on the other end of town from us, but one we’re sure to return to again. It’s called Sabor a Mexico. Located on Calle 4 between Avenidas 20 & 25 (a block from Kalaka, another of our favorite spots), it’s a few blocks out of the tourist zone, but worth the stroll.

Sabor a MexicoOwned by a beautiful and energetic young woman named Karmen, Sabor a Mexico looks like many small Mexican eateries, but cuter and cleaner. We were introduced to Karmen over the phone by our friend Mayte (former owner of Bloody Chicas & current owner of local favorite watering hole El Bar) when we were trying to find someone to cater a private event we’re having in a couple of weeks. We decided to stop by Karmen’s restaurant and see if her food is as good as Mayte said it was.

Happily, we weren’t disappointed. Sabor a Mexico was opened by Karmen about four months ago and features food from central Mexico. What makes this spot different from many others is Karmen’s focus on her dishes. As she explained, her food is “saludable” or healthy. She uses a minimum of fat in her cooking and very little pork. Everything is prepared with a focus on healthy eating–or as healthy as Mexican food can be. 🙂

We both decided to try the comida del dia, or meal of the day. This sort of eating is often also called “comida corrida” and generally consists of a complete meal including starter, entree and beverage (and sometimes dessert) for one price. Sabor a Mexico‘s comida del dia started with a chicken noodle soup followed by our choice of four entrees and included rice, beans, tortillas and unlimited fruit water (first lemonade then later jamaica). Tony had the meatball soup, and Cheri had the picadillo de res. Both were delicious and obviously fresh and well-prepared. We ate a full meal yet walked away not feeling completely stuffed like we normally do after a Mexican meal. And the price of our lunch was only $90 pesos–about $7 US–for both of us. There are cocktails on 5th Avenue that cost more than that! There were other items on the menu as well that we’ll likely try our next time there.

After lunch we talked with Karmen a bit about what she could do for us for the event. She described some of her other specialties, was extremely organized, took notes, and said she would call us the next day with a price quote. She showed up at the hotel this morning with a list of all the different dishes she suggested as well as a “presupuesto” (or quote) that was very reasonable. She seemed like she’d been doing this forever, but when we asked if she had done an event like this before, she said it was her first, but that she had two more events later in the month. We were very happy, told her she had a deal and said we’d talk in a few days.

It was a delight to find such a pleasant little spot owned by someone who clearly cares about good food and good health.

Sabor a Mexico is open Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm. We’ll be returning soon to try breakfast.

If you’re looking for healthy but delicious food prepared with care, check out Sabor a Mexico.

Sopa de Albondigas

Sabor a Mexico

Picadillo de Res

Posted in Dining in Playa, Friends, Recommendations, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »