I have to admit, I have inherited a bit of a travel bug. This travel bug was passed down from my grandma and my mom, who spent nearly every summer of my childhood traveling to a new destination, making sure my sisters and I were brought up with the same travel experiences. Now it’s too late; I am past the point of no return. I have become obsessed with the new cultural experiences that come with traveling.
My most recent traveling experience brought me to The Royal Hideaway in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be sent (by his work) on this all-inclusive getaway. I was thrilled when they announced we would be going to Playa del Carmen, a place I had never been and had limited prior knowledge on. The idea of experiencing a destination that is relatively unknown to me is invigorating and satisfies the small portion within my soul that is a wild adventurer.
Playa Del Carmen is about an hour from Cancun. It is located on the Caribbean Sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The community of Playa Del Carmen is a gated community within another community.
The community is home to large all-inclusive resorts, luxury vacation homes, and upscale condominiums. Playa Del Carmen is truly a traveler’s destination. Many Europeans, Americans, and Canadians frequent its shores.
Although I have been to Mexico many times (and love it), Playa del Carmen is not the typical “Mexico” I know. The quality I loved so much about Playa del Carmen is that it was the perfect blend of Mexico and tropical Caribbean. It had many charming qualities of traditional Mexican villages, food, and culture, but its Mayan and Caribbean influences along with the tropical weather and landscape made it so different than the Mexico I have experienced.
First of all, Playa del Carmen, unlike Cabo or even Hawaii, is on the Caribbean Sea rather than the Pacific Ocean. The Caribbean Sea is nearly translucent and the water is much warmer and much
more turquoise in color than the Pacific Ocean. The turquoise waters contrast against the white sand of the beaches creating a picturesque view. Because the water is fairly docile and very clear, snorkeling is very popular there. My husband and I even went snorkeling twice while we were there! Twice is a lot for someone like me who is very apprehensive about sea animals, but the water was so lovely that I was able to get over my fear long enough to see a sea turtle, two manta rays, and many species of fish.
Another quality that distinguishes Playa del Carmen from other parts of Mexico is the history and culture of the Mayans that inhabited the area. There are many opportunities to go to some of the various Mayan ruins near Playa del Carmen We jumped at the opportunity to go on a tour of the well-known Tulum Mayan ruins. We were taken by bus to the ruins of the ancient Mayan city where our tour guide explained to us how the Mayan culture blended with the Mexican culture and how the Mayans were brilliant astronomers, architects, and engineers, but perhaps not the best at predicting the end of the world.
Playa Del Carmen has a blend of the Caribbean and Mayan culture as well as traditional Mexican culture. Our resort was a 30-minute walk to the local village where visitors can do some shopping and experience the typical Mexican village. There were many members in our group who had never traveled out of country and were very apprehensive about going into the Mexican town. These group members said that the salespeople were very aggressive, and insulting. They advised us not to look at or talk to anyone. While it is true the selling style in Mexican towns can be very aggressive, and the salespeople enjoy some banter, there are ways to make the process more enjoyable. While in town, my husband ignored the advice we received and was very polite to every sales person. He smiled, looked at them, said “No, thank you” or “Thank you,” and even did the occasional joking around with the sales-people. We did not have the same negative experience that our friends did.
My advice to anyone who is planning on traveling to Mexico is this. Understand that the Mexican sales style is somewhat aggressive; they want you to come in their stores and buy from them first. Treat the shop owners and sales people with respect. Use your please and thank you’s, say no if you need to, but be polite. Do not go alone, especially if you are a woman. The salespeople do banter and try to get under your skin as a tactic to persuade you. If it becomes more than casual banter and becomes insulting or aggressive, do not react. That is when you should ignore them and keep walking. We were able to avoid a negative experience by being understanding of the culture and utilizing the steps mentioned above.
We stayed at the luxurious Royal Hideaway Resort. The resort is large and elegant, with beautiful gardens, six pools, a pristine spa, and, of course, beachfront views. The Royal Hideaway is an all-inclusive resort, which also means all the food and beverages were included. We dined like kings and queens. Not only was breakfast delivered to our room nearly every morning, but we were able to order room service 24 hours a day, or go out to the pool/beachfront and order any drinks or food from “The Deck” or “The Grill” restaurants. Once evening came, everyone would get fancied up and go to one of the five upscale restaurants that they had made reservations for. The staff was so obliging to our group (my husband’s company), they even arranged private dining rooms for our group several nights. The meals were all four/five course meals and would take several hours to enjoy the rich flavors. The resort’s restaurants offered a variety of food from a typical Mexican/American meal out on the deck, to the five-course restaurant meals that offered high-end Italian food, Asian food, Spanish/fusion food, and an expensive steak house.
During our stay, the staff of the Royal Hideaway also arranged a dinner show at their “Club Royale” theatre located in the resort. The word around the resort was that they would be showing a “Circus Show” during dinner. My husband and I were both apprehensive of the show, growing up with dance backgrounds/influences and having friends in Cirque du Soleil and Vegas shows. However, our group all decided to go so we joined along. Like most of the evening meals, the meal at the theatre five-course meal featuring veal or salmon as the main entrée. The food was very good, but much to our surprise, the show was better. The acrobats were incredible and the entertainment staff even put on their own little comedy show (which was hilarious) after the circus acts were over. The acrobats and even the hotel entertainment staff had so much talent. It was a surprising and fun night.
The Royal Hideaway and Playa del Carmen offered so many opportunities for tours, exploration, and activities besides relaxation. The resort had hired a staff exclusively for the booking of tours and activities for guests. Not only could guests could enjoy kayaking, jet skiing, scuba, boating, and snorkeling right from the hotel’s beach, but the tour guide crew could book adventure tours, scuba, snorkeling, Mayan ruin tours, and endless other activities for the guests right from the main concierge. Besides relaxing poolside and swimming in the ocean, my husband
and I were able to see the Mayan ruins, go zip lining, jump off a cliff into the water, and snorkel. The opportunity to do and see a variety of things was just one of the many reasons why my husband and I fell in love with Playa del Carmen.
I have been blessed to have experienced so many unique and beautiful places at such a young age. I will always look back in fondness at our experience at the Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen. Like all of my travel experiences, there is not just one thing about this location that will remain with me. Instead, it is the blend of knowledge gained, culture experienced, food savored, adventures sought, relationships made, and sights seen, that will live in my memory forever. I highly encourage traveling to The Royal Hideaway in Playa del Carmen, but I also
encourage travel anywhere. Every destination is an opportunity to grow whether it is a new city, state, or country.
Micha Wilhoite is the social media and personal assistant to editor in Chief, Kris Costa. She has her bachelor’s ofscience in Marketing. Because of her European roots, she spent every other summer traveling though Europe with her family. She is a traveling enthusiast.
Contact Micha at firstname.lastname@example.org