Back in late May, Mrs. Flametoad and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary by taking our first vacation sans-kids. After a lot of deliberation, we settled on Cancun. Our main criteria was that we wanted a vacation in which we didn’t have to “do” anything. It wasn’t a sightseeing trip or an adventure trip. It was a “spend 3 days doing as little as possible” trip. Mrs. Flametoad found an all-inclusive, adults-only resort with pretty good reviews, and we booked the trip.
Then in the coming weeks and months we started hearing the reports of gang violence down in Mexico. It was an all-out war between the drug cartels and the military. Thousands of troops were activated in border towns to quell the violence. We agonized over whether or not to go, but the violence seemed to mostly be higher north, closer to the border, so we decided to stay the course. Then, of course, H1N1 rears its head. The kids from New York who got the flu caught it while on a trip to Cancun! What to do?
Fortunately, Mrs. Flametoad had enough perspective on the health industry to understand that the scare was largely that– a scare. We again made the decision to stay the course—a decision made slightly easier by our trip insurance that would reimburse most of our expenses up to the time we got on the plane. Here’s where I’ll brag about American Express Travel. I’m glad that we booked our travel through them. Every step of the way was smoothed over for us. Weeks before we left, they mailed us a travel wallet with all our vouchers, hotel information, printed itinerary, and more. We stepped out of the Cancun airport and an American Express had shuttles waiting to take us to our hotel.
The Cancun area was directly hit by a hurricane back in 2005 and you can still see signs of the destruction today. Although the main highway running down the coast was in great shape, large piles of broken cement and debris are still piled on either side. Although I’ve been saying we went to Cancun, our resort was actually closer to Playa del Carmen. After a 30 minute ride in the van, we arrived in paradise.
The moment we stepped out of the van, we were greeted with champaign and cold towels. The entire stay, we were treated like royalty. The Imperial Valentine Maya itself was beautiful. I can’t describe it better than that. The architecture was grand, the grounds were well maintained, and the beach was beautiful. Our room, which was located near the beach, was fantastic. We had several different locations to choose from with regard to dining, and we thoroughly enjoyed every meal.
True to our plan, we never went sightseeing. We split our days between the amazing pool and the amazing beach. The most adventurous we ever got was going snorkeling on the beach one morning.
Basically, it was an incredible vacation. We benefited greatly from the swine flu. We were told that tourist occupancy over the entire region was at 20% while we were there. It’s normally at 80% at that time of year. We practically had the resort to ourselves. We never had to wait on a meal, nor did we ever have a bad spot at the pool. It was definitely one of those experiences that we could never repeat. As much as we loved the resort and loved the entire vacation, if we ever went back we’d only be up for disappointment. We’d never have the place to ourselves like we did that trip. The lowest occupancy they usually see during off season is 40%.