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LET'S GO TO MEXICO

Updated: Jan 22



AS OF JANUARY 26, 2021, THE USA WILL REQUIRE A NEGATIVE COVID TEST, WITHIN 72 HOURS OF TRAVEL BACK TO THE US, THIS INCLUDES US CITIZENS AS WELL AGES 2 AND UP. WITH THINGS CHANGING EVERYDAY, ALWAYS CHECK THE LATEST INFORMATION BEFORE TRAVELING! SEVERAL RESORTS IN MEXICO ARE ADDING FREE ON SITE TESTING FOR TRAVELERS TO HELP US CITIZENS FULFILL THIS REQUIREMENT.


A real life, actual vacation, during a global pandemic? Yes, you can do it and be as safe as possible. Mexico is welcoming American tourists to their sunny, beach lined country and they are doing an amazing job keeping everyone as safe as possible. And in the land of maracas and margaritas, right now, no Covid tests are required for Americans.


Before you head South of the Border, here's what you need to go before you go!


GETTING THERE:


From the ATL, it's a quick, 2.5 hour flight direct to Cancun on Delta. From now through April, ticket prices start around $248.00 RT and go up depending on your dates. If you are a fare stalker like me, you can score a ride with your Skymiles for as low as 13,000 miles per person!



THE FLIGHT: Flying the Covid skies is a whole new experience, especially if you have children. From the time you set foot in the airport, throughout your flight, and until you walk out the doors of the airport at your destination, be prepared to wear your mask. Kids too, everyone over two years old, no exceptions. If you plan to tote your mask protesting child, don't even bother traveling, you probably won't make it to the gate! If you are flying coach on Delta, you will be given a zip loc bag with a water, some snacks and hand sanitizer. Planning on sipping some Chardonnay as you relax on your flight? Forget about it, unless you spring for Delta Comfort or Delta Sky One. Beer and wine are served in these cabins but no liquor and nothing but water in coach! If you are flying coach, they do let you bring your own food and soft drinks on the flight but you cannot drink any alcohol you bring on.


The Sky Club in Delta is open for business! There is a limited selection of pre-packaged breakfast and lunch foods. The coffee is still self service and the bar is fully functioning!


MEXICO: Landing in Mexico was pretty uneventful. We collected our luggage, cleared customs, got our passports stamped and met our private driver to take us 18 minutes down the road to paradise.

And paradise could be found at Karisma's Azul Beach Resort in Riviera Maya, just outside Cancun, 18 minutes from the airport. With kids 13, 11, and 9 who can easily pack away a couple of adult entrees, we decided all inclusive resorts are our best bet to avoid the $500 dinner bills with a pizza on the way home for desert! This resort listed 12 restaurants, several pools, kids club, a teen club and tennis courts. When we arrived, our two bedroom family suite had tons of room for all five of us to spread out. It was on the ground floor and we could walk right out to the pool. Walking around the resort, we were lucky to see maybe, another person. We learned this resort had just re-opened and was operating at less than 20 capacity. We basically had the resort to ourselves. Everything was super clean, shoe sanitizers everywhere, masks required except when you are eating or swimming, temperature checks before you are seated at a restaurant, hand sanitizer before you are seated. You could see the crews in action constantly cleaning everything!




PROS:

* Big suites with adjoining rooms for families

* Small resort and easy to navigate

* Kids liked the teen club with ping pong tables

* Kids enjoyed the tennis courts, but you may want to bring your own racket if you are a serious player

* Pop up restaurants serving different lunches daily like ceviche and paella

* Nightly entertainment like a Beetles cover band, it was actually very good

* Close to the airport

* SUPER CLEAN

* Staff is working very hard


* Good food with upgrades like lobster and tomahawk ribeye available for an upcharge.



Sienna is the Italian restaurant. It was open a couple of nights but the menu is mostly pizza and pasta which are items we don't prefer so we did not eat here.


Tapaz is mostly tapas and the food was good. We enjoyed the French Onion soup, Ahi Tuna bites and the goat cheese and beet salad was very good.


Zavaz doubled as the only breakfast spot as well as dinner a couple of nights. The breakfast was good with Green Juice, omelettes, eggs benedict. The kids loved the nutella crepes as well as a never ending stack of bacon! One night in Zavaz, we did order off the menu and got the live lobster and filet which were both delicious. For lunch, the kids said the fried chicken sandwich tasted better than Chick Fil A and my youngest ordered the Tuna Carpaccio for almost every meal.


Zocolo was traditional Mexican food like chips and salsas, guacamole and tacos any way you can imagine. It was good but typical of any decent Mexican restaurant in the US. One night we did do lobster and the tomahawk ribeye and it was enough food for our family and then some. Probably our best meal at the Azul Beach Resort and we even got to compliment the Chef. Ours kids were sad we couldn't bring the steak bone home for our pups!

CONS:

* Only a small percentage of restaurants are open. It changed daily between 1-3 restaurants. This was very disappointing when they marketed 12 restaurants including an adult only one, and we are all about the food!

* At night, only one bar was open

* Swim up bar at main pool was closed. You had to get out of the water, and walk up stairs to order your drink.

* Drinks were very weak, but it's all inclusive so you can always get more!

* If you are a wine drinker like me, that's basically all I drink, the wine is TERRIBLE! I MEAN TERRIBLE! If you want to spend $50-$80 a bottle you can buy Kendall Jackson or La Crema Chardonnay, or you can legally bring six liters of wine per adult into Mexico which should keep you set for the week.


* With the resort at less than 20% capacity, that meant, the staff was at 20% capacity too. Breakfast was difficult, if you did not show up early, it could easily take up to two hours to eat. Drink refills took forever. To order food took forever. The staff was working super hard and we felt so bad for them, but more than three servers are needed when you have one restaurant open for breakfast!

* The beach is small and rocky. You need water shoes for sure. Workers are up early and working super hard with bulldozers to get the seaweed off the shores. There were plenty of cabanas available and they did have someone taking drink orders on the beach.

* While the resort was super clean, it could use an update for sure. It looked like one was in progress, with crews painting and pounding starting at 8am, which wasn't exactly the wake up we wanted on vacation!

Overall, I would rate the Azul Beach Resort a big OK, mainly because most restaurants, bars and activities were not open. During the pandemic, hotels are a little sketchy about what is open and what is not. I booked this resort Thanksgiving of 2019 and never did I once receive an email that the resort closed or it would be operating at less than 20% capacity. I received emails almost weekly about the resort and with offers to book again! Know before you go and don't depend on the resort. Check Trip Advisor or Travel Blogs and get reviews from actual people who have recently visited the same resort before you go. Before you book, make sure you are 100% familiar with the cancellation policy. Most businesses are flexible with Covid, but make sure you know if you will get your money back or a credit to use in the future.


WOULD I VACATION HERE AGAIN? Probably not, unless the resort was updated and all restaurants were open. It's a good basic resort for families but we prefer something with more amenities.

We spent the first four days at Karisma's Azul Beach Resort and the last four days at Karisma's Generations Resort about 15 minutes down the road. This is also an all inclusive property where most of the rooms have swim out suites. This resort also connects to two adult only resorts, Casitas and El Dorado, and as a guest, you are welcome to dine at any of the restaurants. This resort was much more high end. All of the restaurants were open and they were much better staffed. Still, this resort was operating at less than 20% capacity. We also had our own butler, Melissa, who took us anywhere we wanted to go on the golf cart and also booked our dinner reservations and beachside cabanas for us. The room was off the chains! We had a two bedroom, three bathroom family swim out suite on the 3rd floor overlooking the ocean. The room had our own kitchen, bar, family room, it connected to a kids suite with two queen beds, a pull-out couch, their own bathroom and shower. Our suite had a king bed, private corner balcony swim out pool, huge bathroom and an outdoor shower! It was hard to leave the room and explore the resort.


PROS:

* For adults, you are getting three resorts in one with access to adult only restaurants at neighboring resorts.

* Huge rooms with swim out suites

* While the resort is operating at 20% capacity, all restaurants and bars are open.

* A big, white sand beach with lots of cabanas. Not rocky like Azul Beach Resort

* Amazing food and fast, attentive service.

Chef's Market was open air and right on the water, we ate breakfast and lunch here everyday. For lunch, the Shrimp Aquaverde was amazing and so were the tacos. We like our sauce hot, but this was a whole new level of HOT!


Jade was one of our favorite meals. It's Asian and the kids all loved getting their sushi fix and trying new dishes like Pad Thai and the Shrimp Yum Yum soup.



One night, my hubby and I did go to one of the adult only restaurants at Casitas and it was amazing!


Wine Tasting one of our favorites at Generations - the soups were amazing, one of us had filet, the other had salmon, both were very good.



* Small resort and easy to navigate

* Having your own pool was super cool, but the water was chilly for me but kids didn't seem to find too much!



* Loved having a butler to book reservations and make sure you could get the time and restaurant you wanted!

* Resort was super clean and staff was working super hard, great service everywhere we went!


CONS:

* If you have young kids, swim out suites may be a little scary. There is a lock on the door, but a child can easily unlock it. Request a low suite, we were on the third floor and even though mine are older, I was still scared someone was going to go flying off!

* Kids club was not open when we were there because of Covid. If you have younger kids, you may want to check before you go otherwise you will not have access to the adults only restaurants.

* Not many activities for tweens and teens. There is a ping pong table but no tennis courts or teen club. My kids still had a great time, but geared towards younger families.



* As with the last resort, it's an all inclusive, the alcohol brands are basic, you can upgrade but then the wine and liquor gets expensive. I was pretty much drinking margaritas after I got cut off from buying bottles of wine!


WOULD I VACATION HERE AGAIN? Yes, great time for entire family, excellent food and service. During non global pandemic times would get off resort more and book more activities to make up for lack of tween/teens to do at resort.


LEAVING MEXICO:

Our private driver took us back to the Cancun airport, a 30 minute drive from Generations. Airport was more crowded than Hartsfield but did not take us long to clear security. Airport was spotless. Even in the restrooms, workers were cleaning each stall after every use. Restaurants and bars were open and were pretty packed (but this was Thanksgiving week!) Leaving Mexico, we had to fill out a Covid survey for each family member, we were asked questions about where we went, who handled our luggage, We hopped on our Delta flight and in less than 2.5 hours, we were back in the ATL! Customs was not crowded and we cleared it in less than 15 minutes. When you get to baggage claim, there is a cute little big eyed beagle waiting to sniff you out and bark up a storm if you brought any kind of illegal plant back from Mexico. So just don't, that cute little pup was just waiting to rat someone out!


So that's on Mexico! We've been home for more than three weeks and no one has showed a Covid symptom. We felt safe, like everything was super clean, and I would 100% go back!


COMING NEXT: Chichen Itza, Cenotes and Valloladid. Watch for my new blog on what it's like to leave the resort and take a tour of Mexico with The Custom Tour!




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