The Mayan Riviera, Cancun and Chichen Itza Mexico
Date of Travel: October 10-14th, 2020
Method of Travel: Spirit Air booked on skyscanner
Ticket Cost: About $200 roundtrip plus $60 charge each way for one carry on = total of $360
Hotel: Grand Solaris - Jacuzzi Suite Ocean View
Hotel Cost: $140 per night.
Rental Car: Hertz
Rental Car Cost: $15 per day unlimited mileage. Paid $39 to upgrade to Premium so I would not have to wait in line. I paid the lady in cash and now have to review my credit card bill and file a dispute. They had no recollection of cash payment.
Reason for Trip and Arrival:
Practice my Spanish and try out an all-inclusive resort for the first time in my life. I must admit Spirit Air has taken advantage of Covid to prove themselves as a world class airline. Yes they may always lag in the areas of luggage and leg room however they have more than made up for it with: affordable airfare, newer fleet of airplanes, alcohol sales are allowed and the punctuality is amazing. The flight was scheduled to leave at 9:39am and the wheels on the final runway literally starting rolling the moment that the second hand hit 12 and 9:39. It was almost as if the pilot was trying to make punctuality his point by doing it to the second! Airport arrival was easy, they did not search my luggage and nor did they on the way back.
Rental Car Experience:
I arrived at the airport not planning to rent a car but a smooth talking Mexican salesman waved me over and sold me. He told me that a cab to the hotel alone would cost $50 and that he is running a special of $15 per day. Naturally I signed up. Another gentleman escorted me and a few others to a shuttle which brought us to the rental facility. The lines were so long that it would have been a 1.5 hour wait to get a car. An attractive young lady approached and offered "Premium Service" for $39 extra. I turned her down and after waiting in line another 15 minutes I decided to flag her down. She took my cash and did indeed get me to the front of the line. I left with the rental car, it was a compact Chevrolet Cruze Sedan, silver in color. The window switches are located on the center console so I drove around for the first day thinking that it was a cheap Mexican car with no roll down windows.
The rock in the shoe happened the day of Departure. On Wednesday I used my recently purchased Mexican Cell Phone (Telcel - Alcatel) to navigate to the rental car return only to be driven in circles. I finally arrived at Hertz and they explained they have a different drop off location even though they did not reflect that on the ticket I had purchased. I drove in two circles and finally found the location. I went to the window to turn in my keys and sign the bill and they wanted to charge me extra for the "Premium" service which I had already paid in cash upon arrival. I lost my temper and was not too friendly with them. Finally I left without signing the paperwork and had another of their employees drive me to departure gate. I thanked him and gave him a tip even though I was mad about the experience.
Driving in Mexico is fairly easy. They have "retornos" which make it easy to do a U-turn without having to break the law. They also have an interesting speed limit law on the autopista (highway) basically cars can drive 110, cargo trucks can drive 90 and passenger buses can drive 80. Before you get excited please realize these are Kilometers I'm referring too!!
I arrived and was greeted instantly! The staff were prompt and effective. At Hotel Grand Solaris they have a wristband program. They put a wristband on you and its permanent for the time that you are there. If you lose it they charge you a $75 USD fee. They explain that it is waterproof and is not going anywhere! No hefty deposits, room service is available 24 hours per day, all inclusive literally is all-inclusive!! The mini bar in the room is actually 6 coronas and several sodas. You can purchase liquor from the lobby bar ($13 for a bottle of Appleton Rum) or you can go to one of may bars and bring the mixed drinks back up to the room but room service is now allowed to bring alcohol. Cleaning service restocks the beers when you have your room cleaned in the morning. The room included of course the mini fridge, a semi-private patio which was great for suntanning and a hot tub which was a little aged but still functioned well. The hotel has 3 pools, the largest pool is a party scene with a swim up bar and popular music and a DJ speaking in English and Spanish all day to make the place lively. The swim up bar is 1990's concept yet one that people appreciate.
I only dined at the hotel and at a place in Chichen Itza called Los Pajaros. The hotel has several restaurants and buffets and the food is great. Even the media noche room service is great apart from the pizzas. The pizzas are about 5" inches in diameter and made of soft dough. I ordered the Margarita pizza. The hotel is certainly not owned by Italians!! They do have an authentic all you can eat buffet even considering covid!!! I enjoyed that and it made me feel like going back in time! The main dining experience was after driving from Cancun to Chichen Itza. I toured the pyramids and then went to a place called: Los Pajaros. Its a small restaurant with spatchcock style smoked chicken. Famous from Chef Jolly in Las Vegas but I did not know that prior too arrival. As I always do while traveling I ordered a Coca-Cola and in the bottle and it brought back nostalgia! Be sure to watch our video of Los Pajaros and see the photos.
The Flight to and from:
I originally founded the low price on skyscanner and then went over to Spirit direct to book it but they had a glitch on their website which would not allow me to purchase the ticket and forced me to purchase the ticket from another affiliate of skyscanner which does not offer the prepaid luggage option. I ended up wasting about $60 or $120 depending on how you look at it. Spirit does charge $60 each way for a "CARRY ON". The flight arrived early and it also did on the return flight to Fort Lauderdale.
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