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Dining under the stars

Have you ever looked up at the Mayan heavens? Gazing up at the deep blue sky ablaze with myriad stars and listening to the waves break on the shoreline makes for a magical evening, the setting for an unforgettable meal, a bottle of fine wine or champagne. On your next trip, how about organizing a special dinner on the beach or in your residence, on your spacious open-air terrace?

Enjoy a tempting set menu or if you have something else in mind that you would like to dine on, the chef and his team will be happy to cook your favourite dish for you.

Beach dinners and catering can be arranged on request (additional charges) with prior reservations. Contact the Concierge for more information.

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Turtle News

Here is the latest news from our Grand Residences turtle guardians. Of the 37 nests registered to date for the season there are 21 nests in the corral with eggs still to hatch. Security staff have released 1,282 baby turtles so far, 511 loggerheads and 711 green turtles, and the eggs in three more nests are set to hatch in the next few days.
In Cancun, the tally of turtle nests to date in the corrals at The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander stands at 204 with 24,607 eggs. The number of hatchlings set free so far is 7,238.

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Grand golf

The Riviera Maya is gearing up for the its sporting event of the year, the OHL Mayakoba Classic PGA tournament at the El Camaleon course from November 5 to 11. However avid golfers know that great golf is to be enjoyed year-round in the Mexican Caribbean on a collection of superb courses designed by golf legends the likes of Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf and Nick Price. We caught up with William Scott, one of our fulltime and founding owners at Grand Residences, who is a longtime Royal Resorts member and a regular golfer. He has this to say about our growing golf destination.

Mr. Scott has been playing golf two to three times a week for the last 30 years. He says, “I started playing golf through friendship and was looking for a sport that I could continue as I grew older. Golf fit the bill and I play two to three times a week at home and when I am on vacation at Grand Residences. He reminisces, “The first course I played was Pok Ta Pok in Cancun in 1992-93 and then the Iberostar Cancun, both easy to get to from The Royal Caribbean where I was a member at the time. I later purchased weeks at The Royal Sands and The Royal Haciendas before buying preconstruction at Grand Residences and over the years I have played all the courses in the Cancun-Riviera Maya area and intend to play the newest, Puerto Cancun.

“Iberostar Cancun is a nice resort course,” he says, “and the undulating terrain at the Iberostar Playa Paraiso makes it challenging to play. You have to be patient at this Riviera Maya course and be careful not to outplay your game. The staff are second to none and really welcome you. They take great care of the fairways.

“For a long time the Iberostar Playa Paraiso course was the qualifier for the Mayakoba PGA tournament, “ he adds. “I have brought down a couple of PGA players to play several of the courses. To watch them play Hole 1 at Mayakoba, which has a cenote in the middle of the fairway, is amazing. And one of my PGA pros shot a 66 in the tournament at Iberostar Playa Paraiso.

“I love Playa Mujeres but it is a bit too far from the resort to play regularly. I occasionally play Grand Coral too.”

Players have many a story to share about their experiences and wildlife sightings at courses in the Mexican Caribbean and Mr. Scott is no exception. “ Back in 1993-94, I was playing a round at the Iberostar Cancun course where there are a lot of crocodiles on the shores of the lagoon. I was watching a 12-footer when my youngest boy grabbed me by the back of my leg and scared the dickens out of me! Incidentally, it was my son who introduced us to The Royal Caribbean,” he reminisces. “He was staying there and proposed to his girlfriend during the vacation. We ended up purchasing a week and then a second one a little later.

“I have played courses in Hawaii, Florida and all over the United States and I think that the Mexican Caribbean is now one of the top international golf destinations in terms of course quality, economics and cost, design and landscaping,” he says. “Take Iberostar Playa Paraiso and El Camaleon at Mayakoba, it’s hard to find better courses anywhere. The prices are good, the play experience excellent and the maintenance impeccable. I’ve been to the Mayakoba tournament too and it’s one of the best I have attended.

Mr. Scott explains: “When I’m at Grand Residences I play golf at least twice a week with friends I’ve made at the resort or friends that are staying with us. I also sign up for the Royal Golf tournaments.”

When asked if he has any golf tips to share, he adds, “I’ve noticed that playing at sea level means that I have to hit a club and a half longer than I do back home. Over the years I have only been rained out once, it usually rains for around 15 minutes and then you can resume play.” On the sea breeze as a factor, he says, “A couple of holes in Mayakoba nearer the water, there is always a breeze and you need to hit a hole and a half but usually the mangroves protect you. The best time to play is earlier in the morning, around 8 to 9 a.m.; the Royal Tournament is at 10 a.m., which is fine too.

“One thing I have noticed over the years is how expensive golf gear and golf balls are here though. Royal Resorts stands out by offering golf clubs that you can sign out at the Sports Desk at no charge [complete golf bags are also available for rent from the resort stores]. I don’t know of any other resorts that do that. And of course the golf program it offers with the discounted green fees and the tournaments. Some participating courses offer transportation and an all-inclusive green fee covering food and drinks.

“Why do I love golf so much? Mr. Scott explains, “I enjoy the exercise and being outside for three and half to four hours a day. It helps you keep flexible as you grow older. I’m going to be 69 this year and there aren’t a lot of sports you can keep up to the same degree at my age. I can’t carry on running but I can continue golfing.”

We would like to thank Mr. Scott for speaking to us and wish him many more happy golf-filled days in the Mexican Caribbean.

 

Plan a golf day

Would you like to play golf on your next visit? Ask your Concierge for assistance booking tee times and take advantage of special discounted green fees for Royal Resorts members at these courses in the Cancun area and the Riviera Maya: Iberostar Cancun and Iberostar Playa Paraíso, Playa Mujeres, Puerto Cancun and Grand Coral.

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Start your vacation planning with the Grand Residences App

Are you looking forward to your next visit? You can start your vacation planning now by downloading the Grand Residences App. It has some great tools that you can use to make the most of your vacation time:

    • Preregister guests staying with you
    • Review orders and vacation purchases
    • Look at resort activity schedules
    • Check restaurant menus and make reservations
    • Check past and future reservations
    • Make special requests prior to your arrival
    • Share trip reports and feedback with Resort Management
    • Pay your resort bill using your credit card

 

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Every picture tells a story

This month we take you on a photo tour of Yucatan’s twin pueblos magicos or magical towns, Valladolid and Izamal. Both rich in history and traditions, these colonial treasures are great day trip options from the Riviera Maya.

If you have a picture of a special place in the Yucatan, Puerto Morelos and Grand Residences or a vacation story that you would like to share with us, drop us a line. Send us your pictures to memories@royalresorts.com. A selection of the photos we receive will be published in this newsletter.

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Spread the Word about Grand Residences

If you enjoy telling your friends, relatives and associates about Grand Residences and showing them photos of your home in paradise, why not help spread the word by participating in the Grand Residences Referral Program?
We want your referrals to discover the Grand Residences luxury vacation experience for themselves and we are willing to offer them, on your behalf, a special stay in a luxurious Junior Suite at Grand Residences at a greatly discounted rate, so that they can do just that.
To take advantage of this special offer the only requirement is that during their stay, your referred guests must attend a personalized resort preview of our Private Residence Club. We will show them our new vision of luxury living and what it would be like to have a beautiful home in paradise. If your referrals choose to become owners, you will receive 2% of the net purchase price of their Fraction in Royal Resorts Rewards that you can apply towards your annual Club Service fees, use to pay your club bill on your next vacation or make a donation to Royal Resorts Foundation charitable causes.
Start thinking about the people you know and that you think would be interested in the Grand Residences lifestyle. We would love to hear from you and look forward to showing your friends your beautiful resort home.

If you would like to make a referral, click here or call +52 (998) 881-0100 ext. 65846.

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Eco trips to take this winter

If you are interested in nature, a visit to a biosphere reserve like Sian Ka’an or Rio Lagartos is an amazing eco adventure any time of the year to catch a glimpse of the wildlife that lives in the wetlands and jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula. However, this is even more so in the fall and winter when the area welcomes millions of migrant birds.

Falling autumn temperatures in Canada and the United States are the signal for more than 150 million birds to take to the wing and head south for the warmth of the Yucatan. They follow one of the world’s most important migratory routes for birds. Each winter the area’s coastal lagoons and salt flats and inland jungles welcome an additional 226 species of migratory birds, large and small, from birds of prey to waterfowl, waders and songbirds, a magnet for birdwatchers and nature lovers.

Some birds spend the winter season in the Yucatan or pause to feed and rest on the coast before continuing their journey south. Migrants include arctic terns, ospreys and wood storks. There are widgeon, teal, pintail, scaup and shoveler ducks, hawks and falcons, warblers and colorful seed-eaters like the painted and indigo buntings. The smallest migrant is surely the ruby-throated hummingbird that makes an incredible 30-hour journey across the Gulf of Mexico non-stop!

Birdwatchers and wildlife fans visiting the biosphere reserves of Rio Lagartos, Contoy, Sian Ka’an and Celestun and other good birding spots such as the archaeological sites are guaranteed plenty of winter sightings.

Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve
First stop for many migrant birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico, Ría Lagartos Reserve on the Yucatan coast protects 60,348 hectares of mangroves, salt marshes, dunes and tropical forest that is home to jaguars, monkeys, crocodiles and 365 bird species, including North America’s largest nesting colony of Caribbean flamingo.

Fishermen from the waterfront village of Río Lagartos offer boat trips along the ria or estuary and through the mangroves to the flamingo feeding grounds. Many of them are trained eco guides and carry checklists to help you identify the birds you see. Keep a lookout for flocks of white pelicans that migrate from as far north as the Arctic Circle, reddish and snowy egrets, roseate spoonbills, skimmers, peregrine falcons and kingfishers.

Contoy
A two-hour boat ride to the north of Cancun, the uninhabited island of Contoy is also known as la isla de los pajaros or “the island of the birds.”

A two-hour boat trip to the north of Cancun, Contoy has been a protected area since 1961, and was declared a national park in 1998. The island’s dunes, palm groves and mangrove forest are a refuge for 150 species of native and migrant birds, including one of the largest populations of brown pelicans in the Caribbean, a 5,000-strong colony of frigate birds and 3,000 double crested cormorants. Other residents include ten members of the heron family such as the great blue heron, snowy egret and the yellow-crowned night heron. During the winter months, the island is a refuge for migratory ducks, plovers, sandpipers, oystercatchers and other shore birds.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
Straddling northern and central Quintana Roo, this UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises 1.3 million acres of tropical forest, mangroves, Caribbean beaches and a 110-kilometer-stretch of coral reef. The biosphere reserve was established by government decree in 1986 to protect these fragile ecosystems.

Sian Ka’an is home to over 350 species of bird and you are bound to notch up a respectable tally of sightings during a visit. Sixteen varieties of heron and egret – including the boat-billed, tiger and agami heron – nest in the mangroves, along with ibis, roseate spoonbills, wood storks and frigate birds. Flamingos can also sometimes be spotted feeding in coastal lagoons.

Further inland in at the archaeological site of Muyil, parrots, motmots, laughing falcon, great curassow and ocellated turkey are some of the forest dwellers.

Sian Ka’an also has a large breeding population of ospreys and protects a tiny colony of the rare jabiru stork, the largest bird in the Americas, in the depths of the wetlands.

Ría Celestun Biosphere Reserve
Located on the west coast of the Yucatán, 92 km from Mérida, Celestún Biosphere Reserve protects 81,482 hectares of tropical forest, mangroves, marshes, cenotes, estuaries, islets and beaches, not to mention a prehistoric petrified forest and an area of ancient Mayan saltpans.

The reserve is rich in wildlife: over 300 species of bird have been recorded, including thousands of flamingos, the elusive boat-billed heron, pygmy kingfisher, sandwich tern and the osprey. Local fishermen offer boat trips along the estuary to see the flamingos feeding, but you’ll see many more species during your voyage through the mangrove forest.

El Palmar reserve borders Celestún to the north and the Los Petenes Biosphere Reserve in Campeche to the south.

 

Whether you visit archaeological sites like Chichen Itza or Uxmal or go on a jungle birding tour on the Ruta de los Cenotes, you’ll catch a glimpse of the spirit of the jungle, the Yucatán’s own bird of paradise, the turquoise-browed motmot. Follow its soft whooping call and the flash of russet and blue and you might find its nesting site in the limestone cliff of a cenote or the crumbling wall of an ancient temple. Other jungle dwellers include flocks of parrots, Yucatan and green jays, oropendulas, chacalacas and three species of toucan, the collared aracari, emerald toucanet and the keel-billed toucan.

 

Book your eco trips
Your Concierge can help you book trips to Sian Ka’an, Rio Lagartos and Contoy, a Puerto Morelos birding trip and other reserves in the area.

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Xavage: New Adventure Park for Cancun

A new attraction is coming to Cancun this December. The latest adventure park from Grupo Experiencias Xcaret, Xavage offers visitors a day of thrills on land, water and in the air.

Built with an investment of more than 50 million dollars, this new park is located to the south of Cancun Airport in an area of old limestone quarries near Xoximilco. There are six different activities for park-goers to try, all named after different wild creatures and with varying degrees of difficulty, from soft to extreme adventures.

  • Barracuda – White water Rafting
    Board a raft for a white water raft descent against a strong current that will test your resistance and teamwork.
  • Puma – Rock Crawler
    Drive a rock crawler vehicle across rugged terrain and a thrilling obstacle course to test your driving skills
  • Dragonfly – Fierce Jet Boat
    Board a fast jet boat for a top-speed ride full of twists and turns
  • Hawk – Flight
    Spread your wings and take flight on a horizontal zip line ride
  • Howler Monkey – Intense Rope Course
    Climb into the treetops and swing from branch to branch on a hanging rope circuit that will test your strength, agility, balance and coordination
  • Crocodile – Ultimate Kayaking
    Hop into a kayak and paddle your way to adventure through lagoons and canals
  • Serpent: Tough Cubs
    An adventure playground for children aged between five and 12 years. As they go round the course they’ll face challenges such as slides, rope bridges, water jets and a wading pool

Xavage is the seventh park by Experiencias Xcaret and complements the activities offered in Xplor Park and the Xplor Fuego evening adventure. Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, Xavage also has shaded rest areas with hammocks, lockers and rest rooms, a restaurant and store.

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Cancun flight news

Mexican budget airline Viva Aerobus has announced three new weekly flights to Cancun from cities in the United States. On December 1 it will start flying the Cincinnati-Cancun route and will inaugurate two new routes: Cancun –Charlotte and Cancun-Nashville on February 16, 2019.

[Source: Sipse]
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Costamed Hospital opens in Puerto Morelos

On September 27, private health care company Costamed opened a hospital in Puerto Morelos. This is the municipality’s first hospital and Costamed’s fifth, it also has hospitals in Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Mahahual and Tulum.

The new Puerto Morelos facility has an ambulance station, emergency room, operating theatre, wards and laboratories, x-ray, tomography and ultrasound technology. It also has six consultancies specializing in women’s health, nutrition, paediatrics, orthopaedics, general medicine and orthodontics.

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New Metro bus project linking Cancun and Tulum

To meet growing passenger demand, four local bus companies have joined forces to offer a new Metro bus service linking Cancun and Tulum. They will operate a new fleet of larger buses (16 to 18 meters long) with a capacity of up to 160 passengers, Wi-Fi and comfortable seating.

The metro buses will cover the Cancun-Tulum route and some will go through the Hotel Zone before continuing to the Airport junction and south along Highway 307. There will be designated stops in major Riviera Maya towns. They will be a convenient transportation option for visitors and people who work in the Riviera Maya and may help reduce the number of cars on the road.

The buses run on natural gas and meet environmental standards on vehicle emissions. The initial investment is $250 million pesos for a fleet of 100 buses based in Cancun and 40 in Tulum.

The service is set to begin later this year although no date has been given.

[Source: Sipse]
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EVENTS IN CANCUN, RIVIERA MAYA & YUCATAN

10th Bird Festival, Cozumel, October 12- 14

Bird watching tours, conferences, environmental education workshops and the 2nd National Meeting of Coordinators of the CONABIO Urban Bird Program.

6th Cancun International Festival of Music, Cancun, October 18 to 27

More than 300 musicians of 12 nationalities will take to the stage during the festival. Different musical genres and venues.

Hanal Pixán, Dia de Muertos in Yucatan, November 1 and 2

The Maya Day of the Dead is called Hanal Pixán, which means “feast of souls.” Throughout the Yucatán, families make the pilgrimage to the cemetery to visit the graves of their loved ones and erect altars to honor the souls of children and adults.

You can see traditional Mayan altars on display at the Cancun Maya Museum and Las Palapas Park in Cancun, in Playa del Carmen, Valladolid, Izamal and in Mérida. In Merida there is also a procession to the city cemetery called Paseo de Las Animas.

Festival de Vida y Muerte, Xcaret Park, October 30 – November 2

Hosted by Xcaret Park, the Festival of Life and Death Traditions showcases one of Mexico’s richest and most colorful customs, the Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos, which takes place on November 1 and 2. At this time of year, Mexicans believe that the souls of the departed come back to the world of the living for a short time. They welcome their loved ones with altars laden with flowers, food, treasured possessions and other offerings, and with candlelit vigils, masses and serenades.

The Festival program features processions, altars, traditional cuisine, art exhibits, music, dance, theater, children’s events and a visit to the colorful Mexican cemetery. Each year, a different Mexican state is invited to participate in the Festival and showcase its Day of the Dead traditions and this year it is the turn of Zacatecas. Located in the northern uplands, Zacatecas is a state rich in history.

Wine & Food Festival, Cancun & Riviera Maya, October 31-November 4

More than 15 star chefs from Mexico and leading sommeliers gather for the 10th Wine & Food Festival. The guest city is Montreal. Events include gala dinners, wine tastings, BBQs, yacht cruises and parties. For more information on the program, venues and event pricing, visit wineandfoodfest.com

OHL Classic at Mayakoba, PGA golf in the Riviera Maya, November 5 -11, 2018

A field of players that includes some of the PGA’s leading young players and former champions gathers for the OHL Classic at El Camaleón Golf Club in Mayakoba.

10th Xel-Ha Triathlon, Xel-Ha, November 17-18

Over 2,000 triathletes are expected to compete in this year’s Xel-Ha Triathlon. The money raised from this event is donated to Flora, Fauna y Cultura de Mexico, A.C. to support conservation projects.

Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, Playa del Carmen, November 29 – December 1, 2018

Playa Mamitas in Playa del Carmen will be the venue for one of the year’s most popular events, the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival. The festival program has yet to be announced. The festival line up includes Norah Jones and Bobby McFerrin.

Noche Blanca Museum Night, Merida, December 8

Merida’s many museums and art galleries will be open late during the Noche Blanca and there will be concerts and other cultural events for city dwellers and visitors to enjoy.

Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, throughout Mexico, December 12

The patron saint of Mexico is honored nationwide with serenades of “Las Mañanitas,” the traditional birthday song the evening of December 11, offerings of fragrant flowers, pilgrimages and masses.

Anniversary of the Founding of Merida, January 6

On January 6, inhabitants of Merida, state capital of Yucatan observe the anniversary of the founding of the city in 1542 by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo. Observed with a procession, mass and serenade to the city, it marks the start of the month-long City Festival, a gala event featuring concerts, dance performances, art exhibits and more.

Check during the year for more information on upcoming events in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Yucatan.