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Adventures in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

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Posts Tagged ‘hotel’

What a Difference a Year Makes

Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 21, 2013

Jaime Garcia, our most senior employee, with our 2013 Travelers' Choice Award

What a difference a year makes!

It was just a year ago that our little place, the Luna Blue Hotel, was struggling to avoid being crushed by travel industry giant Expedia as it bulldozed over small hotels like ours throughout the world. Things looked grim. But here we are less than a year later still thriving and now receiving accolades from some of the biggest travel sites on the internet. Quite the turnaround, if we do say so ourselves.

Early this year the Luna Blue Hotel was awarded its second Travelers’ Choice Award for “Best Bargain Hotel in Mexico” by TripAdvisor. It is one of the most sought-after and prestigious awards in the travel business. Then not long after that honor, (one of the world’s most popular websites with 90 million visitors a month) named us the “<a title="Luna Blue Hotel named Favorite Bargain Hotel in Mexico by readers “Favorite Bargain Hotel in Mexico.” We are proud and pleased with these awards. It’s always wonderful to be named the “best” or the “favorite” on any list or in any category. To have it happen twice in the same year is a something very special.

What makes these awards even sweeter is the fact that both sites base their results on the opinions of actual travelers. It makes us happy to see that travel choices are not yet completely controlled by giant international mega-corporations but are still ultimately where they should be…in the hands of those who love to travel.

Of course we are also thrilled that these awards show that people recognize what an excellent choice our hotel is for travelers. Being a bargain…a great value…has always been our goal.

When we first started on this adventure we knew our hotel would never be a fancy, luxury property. That wasn’t our style. But neither did we want a bare bones “budget” place. We believe people want and deserve a little comfort when on vacation. We wanted a hotel for people like us…simply a nice place to stay that average travelers could afford. To us that is what “bargain” means: a good deal for a good price.

In keeping with that idea, we have always tried to keep our rates some of the lowest in town. For example, compare the nightly high season price of a standard hotel room (not the most expensive room nor the cheapest…just the basic mid-range room many people want) at the Luna Blue Hotel with some of the other popular small hotels in the area.

Luna Blue Hotel…$90.00
Aventura Mexicana…$188.00 Riviera del Sol…$176.00
Casa Tikul…$160.00 Hotel Cielo…$125.00
Acanto…$153.00 Hacienda Paradise…$122.00
Hotel La Tortuga…$139.00 Hotel Bric…$125.00


In fact, our most expensive room–the Garden View Deluxe room with a full kitchen sleeping up to 4 people–is less expensive than all of the other listed hotels’ “standard” rooms!

All prices were taken from the respective hotel’s website, are exclusive of tax and are for the same high season time period. Not all the well-known small “bargain” hotels in Playa are listed here. Some of Playa’s small hotels don’t publish their rates but require you contact them for a quote. This gives them the chance to increase the rate on a moment’s notice if they want. We don’t deal that way. Our rates are always published on our website. What you see is what you get.

Of course no two properties are alike. Each of these hotels offers its own type of atmosphere, amenities and extras. At the Luna Blue we offer amenities we feel certain will help our guests get the most out of their vacation. Each standard Tropical Hideaway room has a queen bed, unlimited free bottled water, a refrigerator, air conditioning, safe, private bath, ceiling fan, daily maid service, either a porch or balcony, free or discounted use of four local beach clubs, a free margarita at our very popular bar, daily free breakfast snack of coffee, teas and locally baked sweet breads and use of our garden and pool.

Luna Blue Hotel wins 2013 Certificate of Excellence Award from TripadvisorObviously, price and amenities don’t tell the whole story. The fanciest place in the world isn’t worth staying at if the service isn’t good. We are suitably proud of our own reputation for great service. Our multi-lingual hotel staff speaks English and is renowned for being helpful and friendly. And as owners who live here in Playa, we personally look to the comfort and safety of each guest…which may be why we have one of the highest “Excellent” rankings on TripAdvisor in all of Playa del Carmen.

We think our outstanding service is also one of the reasons we also were awarded a third major award this year, our second “Certificate of Excellence” by TripAdvisor…an award given to only 10% of travel businesses worldwide.

Yes, it’s been a wild 12 months…but in the end we are confident that there is still a place in the world of travel for the small independent property like ours. We are thrilled to be recognized for the value we offer to travelers who come our way, and we are happy to still be here in Playa del Carmen, wishing “Happy Travels” to all our readers and friends.

Come join us in paradise.

Posted in Events & Happenings, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

People Who Can Stay for Free

Posted by Tony & Cheri on May 8, 2008

The other day while digging through paperwork trying to catch up on our Mexican and US taxes, Cheri found a little notebook containing a list of names. At the top of the list was written, “People Who Can Stay For Free.” The list is dated October 24, 2004.

We remember that night like it was yesterday. We were several months into negotiations for the Hotel Zanzibar, the little hotel in Playa del Carmen that we would eventually buy and later rename the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar. And, unbeknownst to us at the time, we were four months away from signing the final docs. We were at the the dreaming, planning and imagining stage. What would a move to Mexico mean to us? How would it change our lives? Would we like living in Mexico? Would the deal really go through?

We were having dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco, sharing a bottle of red wine, and one of us said, “We should have a list of people who can stay for free.” “That’s a great idea!” the other replied. We were just tipsy enough to take the idea and run with it. We went back and forth with a bit of “Who is that??” and some “You want who?!” and a couple “Well, if you picked him/her, then I want ____!” After a lot of laughter and wine, here’s the list we came up with. This list is people who, if they ever were so inclined to visit us in Playa del Carmen, would not pay a peso at our little Mexican hotel, the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar. They are listed in the order we came up with that night. A few were added today, three and a half years later, because…well…because we are different people today than we were then. The list is filled with people one or both of us respect, admire, lust after or would just really like to meet. Here it is.

BTW, every name is a link, just in case you’re curious about someone. We have a personal bet on whose name will be clicked the most often. 🙂


Muhammed Ali
Bill Clinton
Aaron Neville
Cyril Neville
Art Neville
Charles Neville
Ivan Neville
Daniel Day Lewis
Salma Hayek
Denzel Washington
Pat Conroy
Jimmy Buffett
Jimmy Carter
Keith Olbermann
Isabelle Adjani
Michael Moore
Hillary Clinton
Christopher Moore
Gene Hackman
Vicente Fox
Susan Sarandon
Tim Robbins
Bob Dylan
Gordie Howe
Anthony Bourdain
Bonnie Raitt
Gary Snyder
John Cusack
Nancy Pelosi
Royce Gracie
Anderson Cooper
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
Cheryl Strayed
Tom Hanks
Kurt Sutter
Katie Sagal
Oscar de la Hoya
Robert Stone
Chip Davis
William Shatner
Michael McCloud
Aretha Franklin
Hank Williams, Jr.
Seymour Hersh
Brooke Burke
Al Gore
Mark Burnett
Jeff Probst
George Clooney
Jenna Jameson
Fidel Castro
Richard Cohen
Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Dalai Lama
The guys from Sons of Anarchy
Big & Rich
The Dixie Chicks
Stevie Wonder
Anne Lamott
Barack Obama & family
Rachel Maddow
Christina Aguilera
Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberg III
Isabel Allende
Keb’ Mo’
George Takei
Tom Selleck
Katey Sagal & Kurt Sutter Royce Gracie
The Dalai Lama Stevie Wonder

So….if you find your name on this list and are in the mood for a quick trip to paradise, give us a call. 🙂 The room’s on us, and we might even throw in margarita or two.

Who would YOU put on this list??

Posted in Friends, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 20 Comments »

Some Bragging Rights

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 6, 2008

April 2008's  Outside MagazineHello everybody. We’re sorry we haven’t blogged for a while, but it has been pretty busy here in Playa. With Easter coming early this year and March being the high point of the spring break season, we really haven’t had much of a chance to sit down and blog. The hotel has been and is completely full of people. We also spent a couple of weeks doing some fundraising for our local fire department, the Bomberos of the Riviera Maya. And of course we have the new bar to watch over. We have gotten away on some day trips with friends visiting from out of town, and we will be blogging about that in the very near future. But tonight we have a little bragging to do.

First of all, within a year of starting our blog, we now have had over 100,000 hits! We’d like to thank everybody who has visited us here at PlayaZone and especially those who have left their comments, opinions and ideas. We really enjoy hearing that the information we write about brings people to our adopted home of Playa del Carmen or helps them enjoy their vacations more. We’re going to keep blogging, and we hope you’ll keep reading.

Other big news is our latest award. The April edition of Outside Magazine contains its 2008 Travel Awards. Our own Luna Blue Hotel & Garden was named the “Best-Beach-For-Cheap Hotel” in the world. As part of their Trips of the Year 2008, Outside Magazine suggests people wanting a cheap beach vacation should come to Playa del Carmen and stay at the Luna Blue! We are very honored. Outside Magazine is America’s leading active-lifestyle and adventure-travel magazine and has a readership of over 650,000 people.

In the past, we have received awards from and been recommended by such respected travel writers and publications as the Today Program’s Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, the New York Post and USA Today, among others. This latest award came as a complete surprise. When the magazine called us over a month ago to tell us that we were a recipient, we were thrilled. Unfortunately, this being Mexico, we had no way to get a copy of the magazine announcing our award. At the time, we weren’t even sure what we had been commended for. We sent out the word to family and friends to please be on the lookout for the April issue and call us if and when they had a copy in their hands.

Luna Blue Hotel and Garden - Best-Beach-For-Cheap-Hotel, April 2008 Outside MagazineOur good friend Tim Smith, who lives in snow covered (at least at this time of year) South Dakota, braved the chilly weather to hunt a copy up for us. He not only called us to let us know the exact nature of our award but sent us photographs of the magazine which we’ve included here. Since there we have gotten our hands on a couple of copies. The plan is to frame them and display them prominently. 🙂

It really is very gratifying for us to have the work we’ve done at the Luna Blue recognized by others in the travel industry as well as by our friends and guests.

That’s all for now. We will be back very soon with stories of some adventures up and down the coast and life in Mexico. And if you’re going to be traveling in Playa del Carmen anytime in the near future, please stop by and say hi.

Posted in Friends, The Hotel & Bar, The Love of Travel, Uncategorized, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »