There’s a little something awesome about heading to Mexico for two weeks for work when there’s still snow on the ground… and while I wasn’t getting paid to be there (that’s just not how it works as an independent agent), we do get agent discounts and it was an invaluable chance to see many resorts at once.
It was another wee hours of the morning departure with no real sleep beforehand, Montreal airport was nearly deserted when I arrived… ate, worked… boarded Transat plane disguised as an Air Canada flight… and arrived in Cancun around noon. It took 30 mins or so to clear customs and I was at the first resort of my trip – the Grand at Moon Palace – about an hour after I landed. Still dressed for Canada, a shower and a change of clothes were definitely on the priority list once I arrived, so I was thankful my room was ready within the hour.
The Grand at Moon Palace is really nice and I enjoyed my time there. Admittedly, I really was working quite a lot while I was there – my jobs are mostly portable, so the laptop travels too and work happens (I was the #3 selling agent at my agency the first week I was in Mexico). But it is a lot easier to work when you can see palm trees! We did have some free time scheduled throughout the days – I loved having a lot of the grounds to myself first thing in the morning to walk along the ocean. Food was good, even with restrictions. The Mexican people are always so lovely… it was great getting to work on my Spanish with them.
Palace Resorts (thank you Sharon) was hosting us for the first week we were there, so we toured all of their properties in the area – the Grand at Moon Palace, Moon Palace, Cozumel Palace, Playacar Palace, Isla Mujeres Palace, Beach Palace, and Sun Palace. We also did some general training on their products. At each resort, we toured the property and had a chance to talk to some of their staff members. At Cozumel Palace, we had a bit of free time… after some time at the resort, Leanne (my awesome colleague from Newfoundland) and I explored downtown Cozumel a little bit (we may have hid in a Starbucks for a bit in the air conditioning). We also had several hours to kick back and enjoy ourselves in Isla Mujeres (and with no laptop, I did just that).
After four nights at the Grand, we moved to Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun. This is a smaller, luxury property and it really is stunning. I loved how bright and airy it is and the infinity pool is beautiful. We even had a personal butler! The beach is lovely, and the seaweed wasn’t too bad when we were there – but too rough for playing in the ocean for me (because drowning). Really, stick me by an ocean, give me some shade to hide in, and feed me once in a while and I’m good.
Palace week highlights include time spent with some amazing colleagues that I don’t get to see very often, ridiculous conversations over ice cream (sorry I never wrote your song Gloria), some delicious eats, and a conversation with a local on the ferry to Isla Mujeres where we were both practicing the other’s language (though really, this was a “the water is very blue” and “I’d like to visit Canada one day” level convo… but we kept it up for most of the trip).
Saturday saw us packing up and heading back to the airport to pick up some new agents and a new host – Carlos from Melia. From here, we headed to the ferry terminal in Playa del Carmen and over to Cozumel for our stay at the Melia Cozumel. If you are not a light packer, you likely wouldn’t enjoy this very much (as a big group, a van can only get so close, so there’s some walking dragging your stuff involved).
This is a resort that has a lot of heart. It wasn’t as luxurious or as big as the ones from the previous week, but I spoke to several people staying there and they were all repeat guests. They loved how casual and fun it was there. Employees at this resort have worked there forever, and you can tell it’s more of a family atmosphere for them. They really went out of their way to make our stay outstanding, and it didn’t feel like they were doing it just because we were travel agents. Touring the property with the general manager, he stopped to talk to both employees and guests at every turn. They treated us to a boat trip out to the reef and a sand bar the first day we were there, which was a gorgeous day on the water and a really nice touch (including the best guacamole I had the entire trip). This property also had the best swimmable beach, by far. We had roommates for this second week and I ended up with an awesome one (which is always nice when you have to live with strangers).
After three nights in Cozumel, it was time to move back to mainland again. Next up – Paradisus Playa del Carmen. This is another beautiful property – we stayed on the adults only side in the Royal Service section. Our room at this property was huge! Again, we had private butlers (a nice touch, but not one I personally use)… really nice pools here (great because they were hit hardest with the seaweed issue from all the resorts we visited). Lots of restaurant variety, so they definitely didn’t starve us. We had several group dinners here that allowed us to also dine with some representatives from the property, which was another nice touch (Palace did this as well).
One more move to round out the trip – to the Paradisus Cancun. This is a neat property in the hotel zone in Cancun, and I like the pyramid design and all the greenery inside. Rooms were smaller but still lovely (but they were lacking in the privacy department, since the shower had glass walls and were only separated from the room with a sheer curtain) – fine when traveling with your partner, but Terri and I had just met a few days before (so we coordinated). We had a lovely dinner overlooking the ocean here with live music, and wrapped up our training at this property as well (we had sessions and tours at each property, and also took an exam at each property).
Highlights from Melia week (thank you Carlos!) include meeting some more fantastic colleagues, some time on and in the ocean, another week of beautiful weather, laughs over drinks in the night club, watching the birds at the buffet, and more delicious eats (Melia was very good at accommodating restrictions, though I did max out on zucchini).
I’m very thankful to work in an industry that does reward hard work with these kind of opportunities, and getting to tour all these beautiful properties (and pilot the new Melia training program) is so helpful in my travel agent role. Team NB for Go Travel is very small (but mighty!!), so it’s nice getting to spend time with colleagues… and the ocean views never hurt.
PS: Follow my more “official” travel agent blog for resort reviews.