January in the Caribbean-Cancun, Mexico

January in the Caribbean-Cancun, Mexico

Jan 2, 2010. 2:45 pm It's 24 degrees here at home in upstate New York. But we are on our way to Newark Interntational Airport to catch a 9:30 pm flight to Cancun Mexico via Continental Airlines. A little excited because we're flying first class. Whoo hoo!

5:00 Straight thru the gate. The place is packed here at Newark. We seem to have forgotten that this would be a big travel day as it's the end of the holiday week for most people. The lines are tremendous and people look a bit weary. Good thing I'm flying with my husband who is an Elite member. He travels a lot for business. Being an Elite member gives one a lot of perks. Today we get to zip right thru on the shorter line. Cool.

11:00 We're in the air. Just finished watching the in-flight movie. I've already taken off my sneakers and am now removing my second sweatshirt. It's warm in the plane. (Are we over the Caribbean yet?) Finished my Vanity Fair magazine, too. I'm going thru Twitter withdrawal right now, finding myself looking at other people's IPhones, wondering already if the Marriott has internet access. My husband is asleep. I'm too excited. It's been a while since we've been able to take a real vacation and not a trip tied to business of some sort. I already miss home, the dog, the cats, the loud hum of the furnace in the basement. Okay, maybe I don't miss that.

1:42 AM. We're finally in our room. It is the most luxurious hotel we've ever been in, at least together like this. I know the JW Marriott hotels are supposed to be nice, but, wow. Our 4th floor room, has a balcony, with sliding glass doors that, at this minute, are open to the sound of the ocean surf and balmy breezes. I'm too tired to write and be witty about the arrival and customs and the quick coach trip over from the airport. Right Now is all that matters. Instead let me read and fall asleep to the sound of the Caribbean. Buenos noches.

Sun Jan 3. Not sure what time it is but I think it's near to noon, maybe one pm? Time for a midday meal. Earlier we ate at the hotel's breakfast buffet: delicious green pepper, mushroom and cheese omelet that was made right in front of us. This is the most amazing array of foods I have ever seen offered up: a taco station, a pancake, waffle, and assorted toast station, fruits of every kind imaginable (LOVE the kiwi!), juices, teas, coffees, rolls, sweet breads. I may try the tacos tomorrow. If you ever go, get the Green juice. I don't know what is in it exactly, but it's yum.

We walked up the beach after breakfast, dipping our feet into the warm Caribbean, which is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Right now we're sitting on the sand, on hotel-provided chaise lounge chairs, facing the water. It's cloudy, windy but a balmy 72 degrees. I could stay here for hours and just people watch in between my reading and my nap. This is heaven.

Monday, Jan 4. Sometime after 1 or 2. I've no idea. I'm not wearing a watch nor looking at any electronic device with a time display. I only know it's midday. Though the hotel does offer internet access in its business center, we aren't interested. John and I are drinking these cherry red drinks with small triangles of pineapple wedged onto the glasses, called "Miami Vice"- half pina colada and half strawberry dacquiri...."to die fawh"!

6:14 pm. Dressed for bed. (Yes, I looked at the clock radio on the night stand. ) We're just relaxing. No TV (Though the room comes with this huge wide screen), and no dinner out which was nice. If you're not in the mood for the restaurants, of which there are several here, you can pick up panini sandwiches and any assortment of goodies downstairs at the deli shop. We're pretty tired, having gone swimming in both the outside and inside pools, and, later, enjoying the delicious waters of the huge hot tub down the hall in the Spa after an hour in the gym. Now to just do more of nothing. Ahhh.

Tues Jan 5. 9 am-ish. We're back down by the pool, overlooking the beach. The winds are still pretty wild coming in from the south. The sun is teasing us and is rumored to be making an actual full time appearance today. All I know is despite the cloudiness of yesterday, I do have a modicum of color on my face. And this is with an SPF lotion of 50!

Weds. Jan 6. (I almost wrote 2009!) I think it's around 9 am again but I'm not getting up off this perfectly situated chaise lounge overlooking the ocean to find out. Today is supposed to be the best day of the week. So far, right on course.

We went to dinner last night at the JW Marriott's Italian restaurant-Gustino's. What a wonderful dining experience. The food was exquisite and the price to value as my husband says was the best. A saxophone player treated us to some Kenny G during our meal which made for a very sexy ambience. But what stands out in my mind is the dessert I had: this adorably plated chocolate mousse with raspberries. Chocolate in Mexico tastes different than it does in the US. More cocoa , less milk and sugar maybe? I like it but I won't lie. I like things pretty sweet. John had the Chiliean Sea bass which is cooked in parchment and steamed with this array of wonderful herbs and veggies. Yum.

This hotel is staffed with the nicest bunch of people-most speak English and they seem to be very tolerant of the fact that so few of us "gringos' speak much Spanish. I try where I can but the truth is that my Spanish sounds more like bad Italian. I have trouble losing that lazy Tuscan accent I gave myself.

Anyway, am really impressed with how the staff takes the time to know your name and that they actually remember it. To me, that's amazing as I'm the numero uno name-forgetter. I also love the all-you-can-use towel policy-big thirsty green towels that are magically picked up or delivered to you. There must be some secret room hidden somewhere in this complex where they keep this incredible stash of absorbent, plush cotton. With over 400 rooms and about a thousand chaise lounges to outfit, there has to be at least 3 times that many beach towels in circulation during the day here. I don't know why I think of these things.

Thurs Jan 7. Well there's the first wrinkle in the nearly perfect stay. Last night a crowd of people arrived from somewhere about 12:30 am, their voices and doings breaking up the tranquility we have enjoyed since Day 1 here in Cancun. They were right above us maybe, I couldn't say. They woke us up. Well, me anyway. They were having a rather loud and annoying time, screaming, singing, dancing and yelling out over their patio. I was willing to close my patio doors and forgo a night of the ocean lulling me to sleep but that didn't help tone down the party very much. However, one quick call to the front desk and security was right on it. Our peace and quiet was restored. I like a hotel that takes care of problems so quickly.

This is mostly forgotten now. I'm back on the beach. It may only be morning but once those clouds part that sun is really very, very hot. Time to nap.

12:45 pm. Same day, after lunch. We've moved to the beach, yet we can still hear the metal sanding that maintenance is doing to clean the patio railings way up on high on the fifth and sixth floors. I suppose that's to be expected. Work always has to be done to keep a hotel running and looking beautiful. I find it annoying but I do remind myself that the island of Cancun is still healing itself after the devastation of Hurricane Wilma three years ago. The beach isn't all that pristine just yet but they are working round the clock to repair it as best they can. I can forgive a little inconvenience to restore paradise.

10:40 pm In bed, the patio doors open to the ocean air and evening breezes. It's glorious. Had dinner at the Argentinian restaurant at the Casa Magna, the sister Marriott property next door. Shared a gi-normous Chateau Briand, which said to be for two could feed a family of five or six. No lie. It was melt in your mouth delicious, cooked perfectly. Some red wine and creme brulee for dessert and we went on our way, stuffed and happy. After a stroll along the beach and around the pool grounds, my husband and I pulled up a couple of lounge chairs and looked up at the night sky which tonight is speckled with stars. You just can't DVR stars.

Got a lot of sun today. It wasn't consistently sunny, believe it or not, but man, when those clouds parted, the heat was intense. I've never been so far south before and the heat surprised me. But I'm being careful. Got a baseball cap for the sun at the gift shop earlier. Bring it on!

Fri, Jan 8. The most perfect day of our vacation so far this week. There is barely any wind and just enough clouds to keep it comfortable. The locals are complaining it's too cold. Are you kidding me? Anyway, we're staying poolside. The ocean looks fantastic but I'm not too keen on the never ending parade of hawkers selling goods up and down the beach-necklaces, silver bangles, hair braiding, sarapes, hats, bags, you name it. I understand it's a hard way to make a living. Believe me I appreciate that. But I hate being pestered, and every five minutes no less. Maybe I'm just a tad grouchy because we only have two full days of vacation left.

I'm guessing it's 11 am something now..the wait staff is circling. They seem to anticipate everything you could possibly need- drinks, quesidillas, nachos, fresh towels, a glass of water, extra ice. "Can I move your umbrella for you, miss?" I love that they call me "miss". LOL. It's really quite fascinating to observe the army of people who keep things going here at the Marriott. There's the waitstaff of course, the gentlemen working on the grounds, cleaning and backwashing the pool, mowing the lawn, tending to the plants and palm trees, staff providing fresh towels, giving directions, making sure there are no spent light bulbs, keeping the bathrooms (inside and out) cleaned and stocked with clean hand towels, arranging the chaise lounges, picking up the spent remains of lunch and alcoholic drinks, emptying the trash. All the uniforms are clean and pressed and everybody seems to be efficient and motivated. And each has an "hola" on their lips. I know it's very hard work and I respect each and every one who makes my vacation feel effortless.

Sat. Jan 9, almost 2 pm. It's the first and only day we've spent totally inside since being here in Mexico. Rain has been coming down since morning, hard and with furious winds, whipping the palm trees to and fro. Not a good day for guests or staff I imagine. But lucky for us, we scheduled our couples massage for this afternoon. Can't wait.

Earlier we strolled through the hotel lobbies, peering into the ballrooms and meeting rooms. These are sumptious spaces, gorgeously decorated. What a great place for a wedding! I love to look at the architectural flourishes, the arches, molding, columns, the tile work, the windows, the attention to detail and craftsmanship, even the placement of furniture and art. There is a clean efficiency about the public spaces yet it all feels warm and inviting. I love the choices of carpeting, the drapery, the upholstery. It is modern yet with a cultural nod. And the private rooms, well at least ours and in other Marriott properties, the beds are incredibly comfortable, plush with pillows and crisp cozy sheets that my skin adores. For this trip, my all-time favorite amenity is the adjustable wall magnifying face mirror in the bathroom. If they carried these in the gift shops as souvenirs, I would buy two!

Same day, 9 pm. Just came back from our second dinner at Gustino's- duck special for John, grilled chicken for me. Dessert was this incredibly fun pistachio mousse. And our waiter, Jose, what a doll. After John mentioned he didn't want dessert because the kitchen didn't carry the strawberry ice cream he wanted, Jose went and found some, bringing it right to the table. Now who goes and does that? After letting us know that he was Mayan, I asked him about the 2012 prophecy of doom and gloom. He smiled, said, it's nothing, don't worry about it. His wise Mayan grandfather said it's more about the change for the better coming, where people will come around to being and doing more helpful positive things, he assured us. I'll go with that. Thanks, Jose.

Now I have to mention the couples massage we had today at the Spa. First of all, you have to experience the Spa itself...multi-floored with pools, hot and cold jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, full gym and spinning room. Did I mention the inside pool again? Huge! And the services are top drawer. The massage we had incorporated "loomi loomi, aromatherapy oils, stressing Mayan culture and sounds also combining Thai, Swedish, Deep Tissue, Limp drainage and Shiatsu". Something like that. All I know is that it was divine- the best massage either of us have every had, all in this serene room, with shaded windows overlooking the indoor pool and out over the ocean. Afterward, cucumber water, teas, almonds, fresh robes, a clean locker room and a quiet rest area to help you ease back into reality. I hated to leave! Thank you, Norma and Barbara.

Sun Jan 10, 9 am. John and I are fully dressed, wearing shoes once again, packed, our luggage waiting in the lobby. We are outside, laying in the sun for just a few minutes longer. And even though we cleaned up our room, we made sure to leave a tip for the maid Luisa, whom we hardly ever saw. I'd have liked to have thanked her personally but that is not to be. There's this feeling that you want to give everybody a hug goodbye, a hug to thank them for being so accommodating, so nice. Oh, and Gina, we will miss you the most.

This trip was meant to provide some much needed downtime. We didn't take advantage of the water activities, the excursions out to see the Mayan ruins or the jungle tours. We didn't do any shopping save for the t-shirts we are bringing back for my sister and brother-in-law to thank them for watching our cats while we've been away. We didn't get out to the lagoon nor take advantage of the rich night life either. Perhaps next time. Because we are definitely coming back. We fell in love with Cancun, we really did. It's the real thing.

Written and contributed by paintboxgirl