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Puerto Morelos, Mexican Caribbean Fishing Capital in May

Fishermen from Cancun, Cozumel, the Riviera Maya and other parts of the Caribbean gather in Puerto Morelos this May to take part in one of the important annual tournaments in the Mexican Caribbean.

The fleet of boats heads out to the fishing grounds and each crew shares a common goal of landing the largest white and blue marlin, sailfish, swordfish and dorado.

Held the weekend May 4-6, the Don Andrés García Lavin Tournament is one of four fishing events in Quintana Roo to be endorsed by the Mexican Sport Fishing Federation; the others are in Cancun, Cozumel and Chetumal. The tournament winners will have the chance to go on to represent Mexico in the 2018 World Championship.

The catch and release policy is enforced as part of tournament regulations in order to conserve fish stocks.

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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.

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Grand Residences welcomes new chef Guido de la Mora

We have some Grand Residences dining news for you this month. Chef Yann Cozic has decided to return to France to pursue his dream of opening a bistro in his hometown Le Mans. Chef Cozic has been with us since the beginning at Grand Residences and presided over the opening of our three restaurants. We are sad to see him go and we are sure that you will want to join us in wishing him bon voyage and every success for the future.

We want to introduce you to your new chef Guido de la Mora. We are excited to welcome him to the Grand Residences family and are sure that he will delight you with his sublime flavors and attention to detail.

Originally from Toluca, State of Mexico, Chef de la Mora studied a degree in Ethnomusicology at the National School of Music before deciding to concentrate on his first passion: cuisine. He studied a two-year Diploma in Culinary Arts at the University of the State of Mexico and followed that with master class courses in vanguard cuisine and molecular cuisine at Michelin star restaurants in Spain, and in Mexican and Thai cuisine.

Chef de la Mora’s career has taken him all over the world and he has worked at top restaurants and luxury hotels in Barcelona, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Curaçao, Miami, Kuwait, Qatar and the Riviera Maya, Mexico. Additionally, he has travelled to France, India, Thailand and Philippines to study different cuisines and to California for wines.

He is a senior member of the Emirates Culinary Guild (Dubai) and a member of Les Toques Blanches Association. He was the runner up in the Dish of the Riviera Maya competition in Cancun and the Cornella Gastronomic Contest in Spain. He has also been a judge and exhibitor in cooking competitions held at universities in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Bridgetown, Barbados.

Stay posted for an interview with Chef Guido de la Mora in the next edition of this newsletter.

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Turtle Season 2018

Our turtle guardians report that there are currently 22 nests in the Grand Residences corral, 15 contain eggs laid by green turtles and seven by loggerhead turtles. To date, 432 baby turtles have been released.

It is a slow nesting season in Cancun too; there are 125 nests in the corrals at The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander with 15,141 eggs. The first 973 baby turtles of the season have already been freed.

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Viva Mexico! Independence Day 2018

If you are staying with us this month, we hope that you’ll join us on September 15, the eve of Mexican Independence to raise your glass in a toast to celebrate this beautiful country and its people.

Dine on tasty traditional Independence Night dishes. Sip premium tequila, a margarita or ask the sommelier to recommend a Mexican wine, there are some excellent ones to try. Listen to Mexican melodies and end the evening with the El Grito, the rallying cry “Viva Mexico.” 

Festive Mexican dishes to try this month

Here are some Mexican dishes that feature on Independence Night menus throughout the country and that you’ll want to try this month.

Chiles en Nogada

On the menu at Flor de Canela this month, Chiles en Nogada (Chilies in Walnut Sauce) is the Independence Day dish par excellence.

Chiles en Nogada dates from 1821 and was created by the nuns of Santa Monica Convent in Puebla for a banquet to honor General Agustín de Iturbide who was visiting the city after signing the Treaty of Córdoba, the agreement that gave Mexico its Independence from Spain. The recipe is based on Poblano chilies that are stuffed with a tasty mix of ground pork and beef, assorted dried fruit, spices, garlic and onion. The chilies are topped with a creamy walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, coriander and parsley, the colors of the Mexican flag, red, white and green.

Pozole

Mexico’s most famous traditional broth is another Independence night favorite. Choose between pozole rojo, verde or blanco with pork or chicken and hominy. The rojo or red variety is flavored with dried guajillo or ancho chilies and comes from Jalisco. The state of Guerrero is famous for verde or green pozole, made with jalapeño and poblano chilies, green tomatillos and coriander, and also for blanco or white pozole, which is the simple broth with meat and hominy.

Once your bowl of broth is served, you help yourself to the classic pozole garnishes: sliced radishes and lettuce, chopped onion, coriander, dried oregano, tostadas and chili.

Tacos

Be sure to dine on tacos this month. On Taco Tuesday in Flor de Canela you can choose your favorite ingredients from a mouthwatering selection that includes tender beef, pastor-style pork, cochinita pibil, chicken, fish, shrimp, cheese and vegetable fillings. Drizzle your tacos with chili sauce – check the heat factor with your waiter – and add a generous helping of guacamole and you are ready to tuck in.

Tamales

Tamales date from pre-Hispanic times and are dumplings made from masa or corn dough and stuffed with shredded chicken, pork, beef, mole, cheese and chili slices or even fruit and honey. The dumplings are then wrapped in banana or palm leaves or corn husks and are steamed or baked. The leaf wrapping and cooking method used varies from region to region. In the Yucatán, tamales are served with a chilmole tomato sauce.

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September Spa Relaxation

After the stress of summer in the city you’ll be looking forward to a well-earned break at Grand Residences. Check into the Spa for some luxury pampering and your favourite massage. After a delightfully fragrant herbal facial and a body wrap to cleanse and tone your skin and ease away your cares, you’ll be relaxed and ready to enjoy your Mexican Caribbean vacation.

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Every picture tells a story

This month we celebrate the beauty of the Yucatan, its landscapes and wildlife, ancient temples and colonial masterpieces, colorful traditional fiestas and vibrant folk culture.

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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Mayan masterpieces

Triangles of light and shadow spread down the side of the ancient Pyramid of Kukulcan as the sun sets over Chichen Itza. A giant serpent appears to be descending from the heavens. It is the fall Equinox and the god Kukulcan is returning to earth. This is the spectacle that visitors to the Mayan metropolis of Chichen Itza in eastern Yucatan will witness on September 22 as they explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, everywhere you go in the Yucatan and southeast Mexico Mayan masterpieces await in ancient cities, large and small. Why not explore some of them on your next visit?

Yucatan

Uxmal

An hour’s drive south of Mérida, Uxmal is one of the loveliest ancient cities in the Maya World. During the Late Classic period (A.D. 600-900), it was a regional capital, controlling southwest Yucatán and a chain of smaller cities referred to as the Puuc Route: Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak and Labná.

Apart from location, these sites share a unique architectural and artistic style called Puuc. In recognition of their outstanding cultural worth, UNESCO declared them a World Heritage area in 1996.

Highlights at Uxmal are the Magician’s Pyramid, the Nuns’ Quadrangle, a gracious courtyard surrounded by four palace-like buildings with magnificent friezes and the impressive Palace of the Governor on a mound and platform overlooking the site. Other buildings of note are the Temple of the Birds, the Great Pyramid, The House of the Turtles and El Palomar.

 

Puuc Route

Thirty minutes south of Uxmal, Kabah is the second largest site in the Puuc hills and was one of its vassals. It is famous for the Codz Poop, or the Palace of the Masks, a name that does justice to its magnificent façade consisting of 250 masks depicting Chaac, the Mayan rain god.

Seven kilometers south of Kabah is Sayil, which means “place of the ants” in Maya. The principal building on site is the three-tiered Palace, a long building containing 94 chambers, porticos, columns, Chaac masks and sculptures of the descending or diving god, also seen in Tulum on the Caribbean coast.

The smallest of the Puuc Route sites, Xlapak is best known for the Palace, a tiny but richly carved building in a forest clearing.

Ten kilometers to the east of Sayil, Labna is famous for its huge arch, which was the gateway between the ceremonial plaza and a courtyard surrounded by palaces in ancient times. The arch has an open work roof comb and its finely carved façade features Chaac masks, Mayan huts, nobles and geometric motifs.

 

Mayapan

Located 30 miles south of Merida, Mayapan was the last capital of the Maya in the Yucatan. Founded around A.D. 1250 during the post-Classic period of Mayan civilization, it was abandoned in 1450. Several of Mayapan’s most important buildings show similarities to those at Chichen Itza, leading archaeologists to speculate that it was settled by Maya from Chichen, which was abandoned around 1250.

 

Ek Balam

A 20-minute drive to the north of Valladolid is the ancient city of Ek Balam, which means “black jaguar or star jaguar” in Maya. The city flourished between A.D. 250-1200 and its crowning glory is the façade on the upper level of the Acropolis, the principal building, which features the magnificent stucco figure of an ancient lord thought to be the first ruler of the city. The figure’s ornate feathered headdress resembles wings and has led many people to refer to him as “el angel” or the angel.

Quintana Roo

Tulum

Crowning a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, Tulum is one of the Maya World’s most spectacular sites. “Tulum” means “wall” in Maya, a reference to the sturdy stone barrier that protects it on three sides, the fourth being the sea, but in ancient times the city was known as Zama or Dawn.

An inscription on a stela or standing stone found at the site reveals that Tulum was inhabited as far back as A.D. 564 although it reached its peak during the Post-Classic period (1250–1521) as a port on the sea and land trade routes.

The principal building at Tulum is a temple known as El Castillo; other important groupings are the Temple of the Descending God, Temple of the Frescos and the House of the Columns.

 

Coba

From Tulum on the Riviera Maya coast, head inland to the ancient city of Coba (25 miles/41 km from the coast), one of the Maya World’s largest archaeological sites.

Coba means “waters ruffled by the wind” in Maya and the pyramids and temples at this jungle site are clustered around four shallow lakes. The city reached its peak during the Mayan Classic period, A.D. 250-900, when it was an important trade center. Archaeologists believe that it may have had links with Tikal in Guatemala. The most recent discovery at the site is the identification of the ancient dynasty that dominated Coba and the names of 14 rulers through the study of hieroglyphic inscriptions carved on stelae and wall tablets.

The principal buildings or groups at Coba are Nohoch Mul, at 42 meters, the tallest pyramid in the northern Yucatán, the Cobá group, La Iglesia (another pyramid), Las Pinturas, the Ball Court, Xaibe and the Macanxoc group which has nine circular altars and eight stelae.

Cobá is also famous for the sacbes or Mayan roads that radiate from the heart of the city. The longest sacbe in the Maya World links the city with the site of Yaxuná, near Chichén Itzá and is 101 km long.

 

Kohunlich

The most famous archaeological site in southern Quintana Roo, 60 kilometers to the west of Chetumal via Highway 186, Kohunlich was first reported in 1912 by Raymond Merwin. The name “Kohunlich” is derived from the English words “cohune,” a native palm tree, and “ridge.”

Excavation work has revealed that the city was founded around 200 B.C. and reached its peak during the Classic period of Mayan history (A.D. 200 – 1000). Building work appears to have ceased around 1200.

Kohunlich is famous for the huge stucco masks that flank the staircase of the Temple of the Masks. Archaeologists believe that they depict the city’s rulers who chose to identify themselves with the sun god, Kinich Ahau, to legitimize their rule. Other important groups of buildings are the Acropolis, the Courtyard of the Stelae, the Palace of the King, Merwin Plaza and the elite residential areas known as the 27 Steps Complex and Pixa’an.

 

Dzibanche

Located in the jungle 81 kilometers northwest of Chetumal via Highway 186, Dzibanche is an ancient city that is still revealing its secrets. Discovered in 1927 by Thomas Gann, Dzibanche means “writing on wood” in Maya, a reference to the calendar inscriptions found on the carved lintel of zapote wood above the doorway to Temple VI.

Experts believe that Dzibanche was the largest and most important city in southern Quintana Roo in ancient times and may have been involved in a power struggle with other city-states in the region such as Calakmul in Campeche. The city reached its peak between A.D. 300 and 1200.

The most important groups of buildings are the Temple of the Lintels; the Gann Plaza, which is flanked by the Temples of the Cormorants, Captives and Toucans; Xibalba Plaza, the site of the Temple of the Owl and the North and South Palaces.

An outlying district of the city, Kinichna (“House of the Sun” in Maya) is located about two kilometers north of Dzibanche and is dominated by a temple called the Acropolis

 

Campeche

Calakmul

Deep in the jungle of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in southern Campeche, close to the Guatemalan border, the ancient city of Calakmul was a major Maya power in the Classic period of Maya history. Its rulers had a bitter rivalry with the city of Tikal and were at war with it for almost a century. The study of hieroglyphic inscriptions carved on Calakmul’s many stelae or standing stones has revealed events including battles, victories, alliances and successions.

Climb the twin pyramids for panoramic views of the forest with the Danta Pyramid at the Guatemalan site of El Mirador visible in the distance.

The huge site of Calakmul is also famous for the jade masks found in the tombs of ancient rulers buried deep in temples and palaces.

Calakmul is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the surrounding jungle is a haven for wildlife, including spider and howler monkeys, deer, jaguar and puma, ocellated turkey, toucans and the rare king vulture.

Due to its remote location, guided tours are the best way to explore Calakmul.

 

Chiapas

Palenque

Nestled in the forest-shrouded foothills of the northern mountains of Chiapas, the white city of Palenque is one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the Maya World.

A major power during the Classic period of Maya history, it reached its peak during the reign of its most famous ruler Pakal (AD 615-683) and his heir Chan B’ahlum. Carved wall panels, bas-reliefs, masks and memorial tablets have provided archaeologists with a wealth of information about their deeds, the city’s history and the Maya universe.

In 1952, archaeologists working at the site announced a major discovery, the tomb of Pakal deep in the heart of the Temple of Inscriptions. The carved lid of the sarcophagus can still be viewed today in the burial chamber. In 1994, another amazing find made the headlines, the tomb of a woman with a burial mask and a hoard of jade covered in cinnabar dust in Temple XIII, next to the Temple of Inscriptions. The Red Queen as she is known is thought to be Tz’ak-b’u Ajaw, the wife of Pakal.

Other important buildings in Palenque include the Palace with its distinctive tower and a courtyard with tablets depicting captive rulers, the Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Foliated Cross, Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Skull and Temple of the Count.

Jungle paths take visitors through the archaeological site and the trees echo with the cries of howler monkeys and the squawks of parrots.

Flights are available to Palenque and to Villahermosa from Cancun. The nearby village of Palenque is a good base for exploring the area and sites of interest such as Agua Azul and Misol Ha waterfalls and the archaeological sites of Yaxchilan and Bonampak in the Lacandon Jungle.

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Cancun Airport News

Cancun International Airport continues to grow with the planned construction of a fifth terminal as part of its development project for the next six years. Building is slated to begin in 2019. The new facility would enable the airport to handle an additional nine million passengers each year.

In more airline news, Frontier Airlines has announced a new flight to Cancun from Raleigh, North Carolina, starting mid-November and operating on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

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Train travel may be coming to the Maya World

Mexican President elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador recently announced a number of national development projects, including the Tren Maya, a railway that would link parts of southeast Mexico and enable tourists to discover some of the Maya World’s most important archaeological sites.

The proposed route includes Cancun and Tulum and continues south to Bacalar before turning westward to Xpujil, the stopping off point for Calakmul, Becan, Chicanna and other archaeological sites in southern Campeche. It would then continue west to Palenque in Chiapas and complete the circuit passing through Tabasco and Campeche to Merida and Valladolid, Yucatan. In the Yucatan it would follow a pre-existing rail route from Palenque to Valladolid.

A Tren Maya project linking Merida with Cancun and Playa del Carmen had been discussed by the previous administration but the new proposal is much larger and would spread the economic benefits of tourism to areas that have been off the beaten track to all but a few visitors.

The railway would carry passengers and cargo and the definitive route and financing are still under discussion. If it goes ahead, the project would take about four years to complete.

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Seaweed Update

It is natural for seaweed to wash up on the beach from season to season, after storms and in the summer heat. However, this summer large quantities of two species of seaweed known as Gulfweed or Sargassum (Sargassum natans and Sargassum fluitans) are coming ashore from time to time in the Riviera Maya, Cancun and other parts of the Mexican Caribbean. These landings occur periodically, the amount of seaweed varies and not all beaches are affected.

Similar landings are occurring in the Caribbean islands and along the Gulf coast of the United States, including Florida.

Based on the recommendations of marine scientists, the authorities are now implementing a second phase of the program to prevent the sargassum from coming ashore by installing barriers in the sea. The first barrier has already been installed in the Punta Nizuc area and will be followed by additional barriers in Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Mahahual and Puerto Morelos.

The barriers are anchored to the seabed but float on the surface of the water perpendicular to the coast. Each one is 30 meters long and they can be connected to form a chain two kilometers long. They will be located in areas where sargassum landings are the most frequent, taking into account the circulation of ocean currents and wind direction. They do not trap the sargassum but are designed to deflect it so that the currents move it away from the shoreline. The authorities expect that the amount of seaweed reaching the coast will be significantly reduced.

The barriers will not impede the movement of marine creatures nor trap them. Similarly, they will not affect coral reefs or the sea grass beds and they can be dismantled at the end of the season.

Specially equipped vessels will also be used in the future to collect patches of seaweed before they make landfall.

Beach cleaning brigades dispose of the seaweed that comes ashore on public beaches and hotels and resorts have their own cleaning programs.

In September and October, water temperatures begin to fall with the approach of cooler weather and periodic cold fronts (nortes) and the amount of sargassum is expected to decline.

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EVENTS IN CANCUN, RIVIERA MAYA & YUCATAN

Mexican Independence, September 15 &16

Mexico celebrates the anniversary of its Independence from Spain with delicious food, music and colorful festivities the night of September 15 and processions on September 16.

Equinox at Chichen Itza, September 22

The light and shadow serpent that appears on the Pyramid of Kukulcan in the Great Plaza at Chichen Itza as the sun goes down on the Equinox, September 22, is also visible the day before and the day after (cloud cover permitting).

Merida Restaurant Week, Merida, September 24-30

300 of the city’s restaurants are participating in this annual event offering set menus for a special rate.

Fiesta del Cristo de Las Ampollas, September 27, Merida

The patron saint of Merida is honored with masses, pilgrimages, processions and traditional dances.

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.

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.

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.

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Meet the team

Meet your new Guest Relations Manager, Julio César Escandón. Julio takes over from Alberto Monzón who has left Grand Residences to pursue new career opportunities.

Many of you already know Julio. He has been with Grand Residences for two years now as one of the Butlers and his hospitality and outstanding service have earned him the most guest mentions on TripAdvisor this year. Julio’s friendliness, dedication and attention to detail will be an asset for this key post in our Resort Management team.

Julio will be on call to assist you and your guests during your stay at Grand Residences and will also be coordinating the Butler department.

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Turtle season 2018

How are the turtles doing this summer? It’s a slow season so far with 10 turtles coming ashore to lay eggs on the beach in front of the resort to date, and the eggs in two nests set to hatch in the next few days.

The number of nests at the three Royal Resorts in Cancun where turtles come ashore is also lower than 2017 and stands at 60 nests as of July 24. All are green turtle nests with the exception of six containing eggs laid by loggerhead turtles and one with hawksbill turtle eggs.

Turtle nesting is cyclical; a busy turtle season like 2017 is invariably followed by a slower year. This seems to be the case in the Mexican Caribbean so far this summer with the numbers of nesting turtles reported at different locations along the coast being lower than last year.