Royal Care Standard

NEW STATE TAX FOR INTERNATIONAL VISITORS COMES INTO EFFECT IN THE MEXICAN CARIBBEAN ON APRIL 1, 2021

NEW STATE TAX FOR INTERNATIONAL VISITORS COMES INTO EFFECT IN THE MEXICAN CARIBBEAN ON APRIL 1, 2021

We would like to share information from the Quintana Roo State Government about a new Visitor Tax or Tourism Use Fee which comes into effect on April 1, 2021. The fee will be charged to all international visitors to the Mexican Caribbean over the age of 15 and is approximately US$10 per person, depending on the exchange rate.

Visitors will be able to pay the fee before traveling to Cancun, Puerto Morelos, the Riviera Maya or other destinations in the Mexican Caribbean, upon arrival in the state or during their stay.  To facilitate online payments, the State Government Tax Office has developed the VISITAX system. When accessing this secure website, visitors will complete a form with the following information:

–       Number of people traveling

–       Name, age and passport number of each individual in the group

–       Departure date

–       Payment information

 

Families and groups will be able to pay for all members in one transaction providing that each person’s information is included on the VISITAX form. Separate receipts will be provided for each person.

As an alternative to using the VISITAX website, visitors will also be able to pay the tax in cash in airport terminals.

International travelers departing the state of Quintana Roo need to show a receipt of payment for the fee at airport checkpoints prior to boarding their flight.

Further updates will be published when we receive more information from the Quintana Roo State Government about this new visitor fee.

 

Grand Residences is No. 1 in the Puerto Morelos area in Tripadvisor

Grand Residences has climbed back to the No. 1 position on Tripadvisor among hotels and resorts in the Puerto Morelos area, beating resorts with 600 rooms. The beautiful setting, attentive service, the warm hospitality offered by every Grand Residences host and The Leading Hotels of the World® standards receive glowing reviews.

This follows a Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best 2020 award and a listing in the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Top 25 Hotels in Mexico for Families.

Guests love the Grand Residences luxury vacation experience, dining, amenities and activities and the attention to detail they see from the staff.

Meet the Grand Residences team: Julio César Escandón, Guest Relations Manager

Many of you will already have met Julio César Escandón, our Guest Relations Manager. Friendly, caring and very professional, he is passionate about service, and dedicated to offering you a luxury hotel experience.

Originally from Mexico City, Julio César grew up in Cancun and attended the Universidad Tecnológico. He has a Technical degree in Tourism, Travel and Hotels and an honors degree in Tourism Management and Development from this university. He has been with Grand Residences for almost five years now.

After graduation from college, he worked for Dolphinaris and then as a Butler in Excellence Playa Mujeres and Karisma El Dorado Royal Casitas in the Riviera Maya, both Four Diamond Resorts. Julio joined Grand Residences in 2016 when General Manager Carlo Bicaci created Butler Services. He says, “Mr. Bicaci insisted that the hotel needed a Butler department to give personalized service. He has had a long and distinguished career in luxury hotel management, and I was able to learn a lot from him during his time at the resort.”

In 2018, Resort Manager Daniela Trava appointed Julio César as Guest Relations Manager after Alberto Monzón left the company. He explains what his job entails. “I am in charge of Reception and the Bellboy and Butler departments and I am in close contact with the Concierges coordinating all services with them for a seamless guest experience.

“My job is to anticipate the needs of every owner, member and guest and ensure that the service they receive is of the highest standard and that it exceeds their expectations.” Julio adds, “I attend to any issue that may arise during their stay personally, following up with different departments. As a team we want our guests’ vacation experience to be unforgettable, something that they will treasure.

“With the Concierges, I follow up on requests we receive from owners and members prior to their arrival. In some cases, they ask for bathroom railings for the shower, high chairs or cribs, a favorite bottle of wine, or for the belongings they have in storage to be placed in their Residence. Others ask for sun loungers to be moved to their favorite position on the beach or pool deck. Depending on the request, I see what can be arranged.

“When we host weddings at the resort, it is my responsibility to assign a butler to the bride and groom to take care of their needs and pamper them so that their special day at Grand Residences is magical.

“I do the rounds of the resort several times a day, checking that everything is running smoothly in the pool and resort areas and that our owners, members and guests have everything they need. I’m in constant contact with different departments to review response times, the check-in and checkout process, and I work closely with Housekeeping, Restaurants, the Weddings and Event Manager and the Activity Manager. The support that I get from everyone in the Grand Residences team is tremendous.

“We have returned to the No. 1 spot in the Puerto Morelos area on Tripadvisor, which is immensely satisfying and a sign that we are making progress.” He explains, “I am also the Service Champion for the resort and part of my job portfolio is to look for additional ways in which we can enhance the vacation experience that we offer owners, members and guests in different areas of the resort, from the units to dining and activities. I also work closely with Daniela Trava to ensure that we are complying with all The Leading Hotels of the World standards. As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LHW rolled out new health and safety standards that all its affiliates must implement. These are in addition to our own stringent Royal Care Standard protocols.

“I want our owners and members to know that we will always take care of them and their families and that their health and wellbeing is our top priority.” Julio César adds. “As part of the Grand Residences Royal Care Standard, we have added extra steps in our unit cleaning procedures. It now takes staff three hours to clean each Residence instead of two and they are using new EPA-approved products to sanitize all surfaces.

“I review all comment cards, guest satisfaction surveys and online reviews and follow up on guest suggestions and any complaints we may receive, striving to make amends with exceptional service.

“Our owners and members come first in everything we do and for me each one of them is a VIP. We are always looking for ways to pamper them. We listen to them and we act upon the feedback they give us to improve our service. As an example of this, I had to talk to a guest and caution him for behavior that did not live up to our peaceful family ambiance. Owners congratulated me for the action I took to enforce the resort rules.

“Last October, when Hurricane Delta advanced towards the Mexican Caribbean coast and a mandatory government evacuation order for Puerto Morelos meant that we had to move all owners and guests to The Royal Haciendas. Daniela Trava sent me to the resort to stay with them during the storm. The team I headed up continued to look after the needs of our guests and keep up our resort standards as far as possible under challenging circumstances. We received several letters from owners and a member of the Advisory Council who was staying at the resort at the time thanking us for our care.”

Julio César explains, “I like new challenges and I love my job and the chance it gives me to learn and grow professionally. I’m very service-oriented and I’m also a teacher, I love to share what I have learned with other members of my team. My goal is to eventually become a General Manager one day and I’m already taking courses in the Room Management Division to gain more experience.”

Finally, as a local, we asked Julio César about the places and vacation activities he would recommend to owners, members and guests and this was his reply. “Spend time exploring Puerto Morelos, it is a peaceful place with good restaurants if you want to go out of the resort one evening. Try the local seafood in beachfront eateries on Javier Rojo Gomez and local cuisine such as cochinita pibil and lechon or roast suckling pig. For sightseeing, in addition to Tulum and Xcaret, I recommend Akumal and the Ruta de Cenotes. My favorite cenote park is Kin-Ha, the cenote is beautiful, there are jungle trails, a zip lining circuit and the food is good.”

Friendly and caring, Julio César pays attention to every detail, going above and beyond to make the vacation experience incredible for all our owners, members and guests.

A Week of Grand Dining, Try our Tempting Theme Nights

At Grand Residences we want every meal to be an unforgettable dining experience and in addition to the a la carte menus for El Faro, Flor de Canela and Heaven there are tempting theme nights with live music for you to enjoy during the week.

Here is the current line up of theme nights and live music. As one of our Royal Care Standard health and safety measures, all theme nights have special a la carte menus instead of buffets at this time.

Monday Italian Night

Dine on a selection of antipasti, pastas, traditional dishes, pizzas and tempting desserts in El Faro.

Wednesday Argentinian Grill

Dine under the stars on prime grilled beef with lashings of chimichurri at Heaven Beach Bar.

 

Thursday Seafood Night

An evening in El Faro enjoying the catch of the day, shrimp, Caribbean lobster and other fruits de mer from the Pacific coast of Mexico prepared to traditional Mexican recipes, or with a Mediterranean or Asian twist.

 

Friday French Night

A selection of classic French dishes to savor with a fine wine in El Faro. Ask your Sommelier Javier Moreno for recommendations. Live music with Jeriko.

 

Sunday BBQ

This is a Grand Residences family favorite, tasty burgers, ribs, steaks and more cooked to perfection on the grill at Heaven Beach Bar. Don’t miss it!

Live music

Tuesday: Live Mexican music by a Jarocho band from Veracruz, dinner, Flor de Canela
Wednesday: Live Mexican music by Cielito Lindo, dinner, Flor de Canela
Thursday: Salsa music by V Trio, Heaven Bar
Friday: Jeriko Duo, El Faro
Jazz Night with The Two, Lobby Bar
Saturday: Live guitar on the pool deck, lunch time
Sunday: Live harp music for breakfast and saxophone at lunch time

Ask your Concierge for more details.

Sign up for a Chef’s Cooking Class

Last year, during lockdown, many of us sought solace in the kitchen, discovering a talent we didn’t know we had and that soon became a passion. If you would like to continue learning new culinary skills or simply try your hand at a new activity, sign up for a cooking class during your stay. Watch how to prepare classic Mexican dishes, become a pasta expert and get plenty of insider tips from Executive Chef Hector Rentería.

He will show you how to make the perfect guacamole, ceviche or a spicy salsa made in a volcanic stone mortar and pestle called a molcajete; Mexican and Mediterranean seafood dishes, beef dishes, delicious pasta sauces, desserts and much more.

Do you have a pet peeve about your cooking technique? Perhaps your bread dough won’t rise or you want to be able to prepare a pizza with true panache, throwing it up in the air and catching it with confidence? Ask Chef Hector for his advice and recommendations if you don’t know which sauce to serve with fish or chicken or are looking for a showstopper dessert to prepare for your family.

Sign up for the Wednesday cooking class with your Concierge. This is a fun activity to enjoy with children and grandchildren or with friends.

 

Recipes from the Grand Residences Kitchen

Prized for their fresh flavor and mild spicy factor, Poblano chilies are the basis for Mexico’s classic Independence Night recipe, Chilies en Nogada. You’ll also see them on local menus as the tasty chiles rellenos filled with ground beef, melted cheese or seafood and in a dish called rajas con crema, which consists of chili slices cooked in a creamy cheese sauce. Chef Rentería uses them here in a silky smooth soup with another traditional favorite on the side, esquites. Esquites or corn kernels are cooked with epazote and served with lime juice, mayonnaise, chili powder and crumbled cotija cheese.

 

Crema Poblana con Esquite

Serves 14 people

1 onion
2 liters of chicken stock
5 cloves of garlic
¾ liter of heavy cream
5 Poblano chilies
1 leek
50 ml corn oil
1 potato

For the Esquites

250g mayonnaise
2 limes
100g powdered chili
50g Cotija cheese
1 bunch of epazote
1kg raw sweet corn kernels
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Slice the onion, garlic, leek and potato.
Sear the poblano chilies over the gas flame and leave in a plastic bag for a few minutes to sweat so that you can easily remove the skins and the seeds. It is a good idea to wear gloves when handling chilies. Slice the chilies into thin strips.
Fry the onion and add the garlic, potato, leeks and chili slices. Fry for 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer until it reduces by half, then add the cream. Continue cooking over a low heat until it reduces by half again and then blend and season.
Cook the sweet corn kernels with the epazote in water, drain and add mayonnaise, cheese and lime juice, sprinkle with chile if desired (you do not have to use the amount indicated in the recipe). Serve in a bowl to accompany the soup.

Is there a Grand Residences recipe you would like to see here? If so, we would love to hear from you.

 

Cool Cocktails

Here are two refreshing cocktails from the Grand Residences bar staff for you to prepare. We hope that they will put you in the mood for your next visit.

Springtime Mojito

2 lime wedges
2 orange wedges
10 mint leaves
1½ oz white rum
1 oz strawberry mix
1 oz lime juice
4 oz mineral water

Preparation
Pour the rum, lime juice, strawberry and mineral water in a glass on the rocks. Add the mint leaves and lime and orange wedges.

Yucunaí Cocktail

11/2 oz Tequila
1 oz pomegranate liqueur
2 oz cranberry juice
1 dash of agave honey
Orange slices
Tajin chili powder

Preparation
Macerate 1 tablespoon of fresh pomegranate (only the seeds) in a shaker until the juice is extracted. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Serve on the rocks with a slice or orange, Tajin chile and pomegranate.

Do you have a favorite Grand Residences cocktail? We would love to hear from you.

 

Springtime activities

Are you staying with us this month? Check the Activity program to see what we have lined up for you. Join in the yoga sessions, play tennis, learn Spanish and practice your Latin dance steps on the pool deck.

There’s plenty of fun in store for the little ones too at the Kids Club, with games, arts and crafts and beach and pool fun just for them. They’ll love the piñata party too!

Special family activities this month are planned for Earth Hour 2021. Stay posted for more details.

Spring Wellness at the Spa

It’s time for some Spa pampering after months of stress and winter chill. The Grand Residences Spa has a new collection of treatments for you to try this month or on your next visit. Grand Residences Essentials are 90-minute treatments created exclusively for you by leading Spa skincare company Natura Bissé.

The Grand Residences Essentials treatment comprises a relaxing massage with a dry oil preparation that blends essential essences that have healing properties. The oil has a prolonged effect and is shower-free, meaning that it does not have to be washed off at the end of the session. It is hypoallergenic and the gentle, nut-free formula uses only natural colorants and preservatives, making it suitable for sensitive skin.

The massage is followed by a deliciously smooth and fragrant facial selected for your skin type.

There are four Grand Residences Essentials to choose from:

D-Stress
Relaxing
Calming
Purifying

Vitality
Decongests
Anti-inflammatory
Energizing

Comfort
Antioxidant
Cleansing
Nourishing

Firmness
Firming
Tones
Revitalizes

Your Concierge can help you make a Spa appointment.

Travel Back in Time

Take a journey in history on your next trip to the Mexican Caribbean by exploring some of the ancient Maya cities that pepper the Yucatan landscape. See temples where priests once performed rituals to honor the gods, observatories where astronomers scanned the night skies looking for portents in the stars and ancient palaces inhabited by mighty rulers. All are wonders of art and architecture, rich in stucco carvings and built to endure the centuries. Here are some of our favorites.

In the state of Yucatan

Chichen Itza

Yucatan’s most famous archaeological site, Chichen Itza is a vacation must. Once a powerful city state, controlling much of the Yucatan Peninsula, it was a vast metropolis and is known to stretch for 20 square kilometers. Only three percent of this historic landscape is open to the public: the area comprising the Great Plaza, the Observatory and Las Monjas. Archaeologists are excavating and restoring many more temples in the surrounding forest.

The Great Plaza is the site of the Pyramid of Kukulcan (famous for the light and shadow spectacle that creates the the figure of a serpent on the day of the spring and fall Equinox in March and September), the Temple of the Warriors, Temple of a Thousand Columns, Tzompantli, Temple of the Jaguars and the Ball court, the largest discovered to date in Mesoamerica. From this sacred square it is a short walk to the Sacred Cenote, the Ossuary, the Observatory and Las Monjas. These majestic temples have earned Chichen Itza a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

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 palaces with magnificent friezes, and the impressive Palace of the Governor which crowns 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 Pop, 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.

 

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.

 

In the state of Quintana Roo

Tulum

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 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

 

In the state of 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.

 

In the state of Chiapas

Palenque

Nestled in the forest-shrouded foothills of the northern mountains of Chiapas, the white citadel 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.

The Travel Gallery

Here are more of the natural wonders and historic monuments in store for you in the Mexican Caribbean and the Yucatan.

 

Rio Secreto

Explore the Mayan underworld. Deep in the limestone rock lies a labyrinth of caves and cenotes that the ancient Maya believed were doorways to the realm of the gods. In the jungle, just south of Playa del Carmen, Rio Secreto is one such place.

Take a guided tour of this beautiful cave system with its still clear pools that mirror the columns, stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over millions of years.

 

 

Cenote Kin-Ha

One of the most popular cenote parks on the Cenote Route near Puerto Morelos, Kin-Ha actually comprises 12 jungle sinkholes, the most spectacular of which are Kin-Ha and Blanca Flor. There is a zip lining circuit, and other activities available in the park are horse riding and ATV drives.

 

Paamul

This pretty bay between Playa del Carmen and Puerto Aventuras in the Riviera Maya is a good spot for snorkeling. There are coral formations in the shallow waters and an offshore reef teeming with colorful fish and other marine life.

 

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.

Your Concierge can help you arrange unforgettable excursions throughout the world of wonders that is the Yucatan Peninsula.

Beach Reads

Here is our beach book recommendation for March. Why not write to us and let us know what’s on your bookshelf or Kindle right now?

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey
The Costa Book of the Year 2020 is a tale woven from Caribbean legend and lore by Trinidadian author Monique Roffey.

Centuries ago, a beautiful maiden called Aycayia was cursed by women of her tribe jealous of her beauty and fearful that she would bewitch their husbands. The spell they cast transformed her into a mermaid and she was doomed to swim the Caribbean alone through the ages until she hears a young fisherman called David singing to himself as he waited for a catch off the coast of the island called Black Cove. The year is 1976.

She appears before him several times and he blames himself when she gets too close to another fishing boat and is caught and reeled in by two American fishermen, father and son. The father is determined to sell her to a museum and she is strung up like a billfish and left to die.

In the dead of night David decides to rescue her. She is too badly wounded to release back into the ocean so he hides her. Over time, an extraordinary change takes place as she becomes a woman again.

This is a haunting love story set against a backdrop of island life, of families, friendship, reunions and of loss. Aycayia, David and local landowner Miss Arcadia Rain tell their stories and the narrative is compelling.

If you run out of books there is a bookstore right on the main square in Puerto Morelos. Alma Libre stocks new and secondhand books and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Preparing for your flight home: use Mexico Vuela Seguro App to do your health questionnaire

At the end of your stay, before your flight back home you must complete a mandatory health questionnaire. This was previously a printed form, however the Mexican civil aviation authorities have launched a new bilingual App called Mexico Vuela Seguro for passengers to use.

Simply scan the QR code displayed at the Front Desk with your mobile phone or tablet to access the App, register with your email and a password and complete the health questionnaire online. It is quick and easy to use.

Please complete the questionnaire within 12 hours of your flight and before you travel to the airport.
Printed forms are no longer available. You must use the App to complete the questionnaire.

If you have any questions ask your Concierge or at the Front Desk.

COVID-19 tests now available at Grand Residences

As another measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the United States and other countries are requiring a negative COVID-19 test for all inbound travelers.

To help guests traveling to the United States comply with the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order, Grand Residences, through a certified independent laboratory, is now making convenient onsite COVID-19 antigen testing available at no cost. This policy is valid until July 17, 2021.

The PCR test required by Canada, United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia is also available (fees apply).

See our COVID-19 Travel Update for more details and a FAQ section.

Advisory Council Meeting Report 2020 online

The 2020 Advisory Council meeting report and financial statement is published in the Owners Area of grandresidencesbyroyalresorts.com (member log in required) and printed copies will be available on request from the Manager’s office at the resort.

The meeting report includes information on operations projects completed in 2020 and those planned for 2021, the resort’s 2020 financial performance, and the resort budget for 2021. The Club Service Fees remain unchanged for 2021.

Tempting Dining Experiences to try in 2021

Whether you are craving Mediterranean or Mexican cuisine, prime steaks or fresh seafood, gourmet dining awaits you whenever you stay at Grand Residences. Be sure to try something different this year, a classic Mexican dish, one of the theme nights, fresh local lobster and for something really special why not arrange to have dinner of the beach? Chef Hector Renteria and his team will make every meal a memorable experience.

Enjoy a romantic dinner by candlelight in El Faro Grill with menu choices including lobster, the catch of the day, steaks, Mediterranean-inspired dishes and more. Sommelier Javier Moreno will help you choose the perfect wine pairing for your meal and we recommend that you save space for dessert.

Discover dishes from all over Mexico at Flor de Canela restaurant. A celebration of flavors, fresh ingredients, colors and textures, Mexican cuisine is diverse, vibrant and exciting. It is the product of a blend of cultural influences that have shaped the country through the centuries. It is such a rich tradition that you’ll soon see why UNESCO added it to the World Heritage list in the intangible culture category.

The Flor de Canela menu includes a selection of popular appetizers or antojitos such as tacos, sopes, tlacoyos, quesadillas and guacamole. Fish dishes range from ceviche and tostadas to tikinxic (marinated Maya-style grilled fish), lobster, shrimp flambéed in tequila sauce and tuna cooked in a sesame, coriander and chia seed crust. Duck is cooked to perfection in a mole sauce known as manchamanteles (tablecloth stainer) or you can try free range chicken in Oaxaca mole sauce. Order the grilled beef fillet in red pipian sauce, lamb in salsa borracha or the all-time Yucatecan favorite, cochinita pibil, which is suckling pig marinated in achiote and Seville orange juice and slow roasted pibil-style.

Fresh shrimp and fish tacos are always a winner at Heaven Beach Bar or snack on a burger, sandwich or salad as you enjoy the spectacular view from your front row seat in paradise.

Unwind with traditional afternoon tea with freshly baked scones and cakes on the terrace at the Lobby Café.

For breakfast in bed, a casual lunch or a romantic candlelit supper on the terrace, call Room Service. If you are celebrating a special occasion, ask about the private catering service and ask the chef to cook for you (prior reservation required).

In addition to the a la carte restaurant, beach bar and in-room dining menus, there are more delectable dining options for you to try during the week with our theme nights with special a la carte menus. They range from Seafood Night to French and Italian Nights. Ask your Concierge for more delicious dining ideas.

 

 

Celebrating love and romance at Grand Residences

February is the month of love and renewing vows with that special someone and Grand Residences is a truly romantic spot to do so, whatever the season.

The beautiful secluded beach is the perfect place for a romantic dinner under the stars at any time of the year, but in February it is all the more special. Ask your Concierge about arranging a dinner with a sumptuous menu and a bottle of fine wine or champagne.

Dream weddings at Grand Residences
If someone in your family is planning to get married, why not choose Grand Residences? The beach is a wonderful spot in which to exchange the vows of eternal love and the luxurious surroundings make the resort a spectacular setting for a fairytale wedding in paradise with family and friends.

The happy couple and their guests will love the elegant suites, gourmet cuisine, world-class amenities, unique touches of luxury and the attentive service that is a hallmark of The Leading Hotels of the World®.

Whether the bride and groom have an intimate sunset ceremony on the beach in mind or a formal wedding bringing together family and friends for the occasion, the Grand Residences Wedding Planner will help them. The resort hosts one event at a time meaning that staff can give it their undivided attention, going above and beyond to make it unforgettable.

After the ceremony, the celebrations may continue with a cocktail reception, a formal sit-down dinner in one of the restaurants or a party on the deck with a buffet and music for dancing. From the menu and décor to music and flowers, the Grand Residences Wedding Planner takes care of all the details making dreams come true.

The Grand Residences Weddings collection of packages offers a variety of options. In addition to everything they include, there are exclusive perks and gifts for the bride and groom. https://grandresidencesrivieracancun.com/wedding-and-groups

Whatever the Occasion or Event
Have you considered hosting a special family occasion in your home away from home? Contact the Event Coordinator if you are thinking about a reunion, vow renewal, anniversary, engagement or graduation party or any other special occasion, including corporate events such as meetings and incentive trips.

For more information about event and wedding services or to receive our special wedding offers please email mmoya@grandresidencesrivieracancun.com

 

Spa Experiences for Wellness

Make this the year that you add the Spa to your Grand Residences vacation experiences for a morning of relaxation, restoration and renewal.

Whether you choose a massage, a facial or a body wrap, the collection of luxury treatments has everything you need to nurture body and soul and boost your wellbeing.

How about a relaxing massage on the beach, aromatherapy or a sport massage to soothe tense muscles? The massage collection also includes techniques harnessing the ancient wisdom of Native American cultures, the Far East and Hawaii. Choose a Hot Stones, Thai, Shiatsu or Lomi-Lomi massage for purification and energy balance.

Pamper your body with a fragrant facial or cleansing body wrap to leave your skin silky smooth.

For the ultimate in relaxation, ask about the Pampering in your Residence massages and luxury tub baths with milk, marine salts and grape essence.

Cool Cocktails

Are you dreaming of the taste of the tropics? Here’s a cocktail for you from the Grand Residences barmen that is brimming with Caribbean flavors. We hope that you will soon be back here with us in your favorite poolside or beachfront seat enjoying it. In the meantime, why not prepare it for a special dinner.

Cancun Tropical
½ oz gin
½ oz tequila
½ oz white rum
3 oz pineapple juice
1 oz coconut cream
¼ oz grenadine
Blend, serve and enjoy.

Wine of the Month

wine

Your Sommelier Javier Moreno has a red wine from Mexico for you this month. Why not try it with the Beef in Pipian Sauce recipe we shared?

Megacero, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz 2017, Encinillas, Chihuahua
A full-bodied red with all the fragrance of black fruit and subtle notes of wood and vanilla due to the ageing process, which entails it being stored in barrels of French oak. It is a dry, well-balanced wine with mature tannins. It has lingering flavors of chocolate and spices and is the perfect accompaniment for prime steaks and other meat dishes.

Beach Reads

If you are staying with us immerse yourself in a book on the beach or your terrace. If you are dreaming of your Grand Residences home curl up on the sofa with a good read and let your imagination take flight. You’ll soon be here. In the meantime, here are some recommendations. Why not write to us and let us know what’s on your bookshelf or Kindle right now?

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory
The second book in the Tidelands trilogy follows the fortunes of Alinor and daughter Alys who are now London merchants with a small warehouse on the banks of the Thames. They keep up correspondence with Ned, Alinor’s brother who fled Restoration England for a homestead in New England, and anxiously await news of Alinor’s son Rob who is in Venice.

They receive two visitors, one from the past, James Avery, Alinor’s long-lost lover who wants to make amends for leaving her so many years ago, and Livia, a mysterious Italian beauty who claims to be Rob’s widow and the mother of his child. Alinor, who has the second sight, feels that something is not right and that Livia is not what she seems. She refuses to accept that her son is lost forever and her granddaughter Sarah shares her belief.

The family is plunged into confusion as Livia weaves a web of intrigue and entrapment in London and Ned tries to keep the peace between the settlers and the First Nations tribes that had welcomed them and now complain that their lands are being seized.

Sarah makes a dangerous journey to Venice to look for answers carried on the dark tides.

Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes
From the author of A Thousand Ships, this is a retelling of the Oedipus and Antigone myths from the perspective of two female characters Jocasta and Ismene. They have powerful voices in this atmospheric story of the cursed House of Thebes.

If you run out of books remember that you have a neighborhood bookstore right on the main square in Puerto Morelos. Alma Libre stocks a good selection of new and secondhand books and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Exploring the Mexican Caribbean and Yucatan, some great trip ideas

Sian Kaan

Have you thought about what you would like to do during your next vacation? How about a spot of sightseeing and visits to places you have never seen before? The Yucatan Peninsula has countless natural wonders and historical sites awaiting discovery and your Concierge will arrange unforgettable tours for you. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Explore the Underwater World
There’s an incredible world below the surface! Take the plunge and discover the underwater world of the Caribbean and come face to face with the shimmering creatures that inhabit the reefs. Learn how to snorkel or dive during your vacation and you’ll soon be ready to explore the Mesoamerican Reef, the second longest reef system in the world.

Start your underwater odyssey on the Puerto Morelos Reef, one of the most pristine parts of the Mesoamerican Reef, and then explore other reefs in the area such as those offshore from Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Paamul and Akumal. Take the ferry from Playa del Carmen to the island of Cozumel, a world-famous scuba paradise with magnificent reefs offering dive sites for snorkelers and novice, intermediate and expert divers.

Spend some time admiring the sunken statues in Cancun’s Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA), the largest of its kind in the world.

Other underwater highlights not to be missed during the year are encounters with sea turtles or the gentle giants of the deep, the whale sharks and manta rays that gather during the summer to feed on plankton in the warm waters to the east of Holbox, Contoy and Isla Mujeres. From January to March, experienced divers can also swim with sailfish, the ocean’s fastest predators.

 

reef

 

Time Travel
Plan a day or two-day trip to one of the Yucatan’s colonial towns or cities for a glimpse of history and rich traditions.

Heading the list is Merida, state capital of the Yucatan, which just turned 479 in January. There’s so much to see and do there: history, traditions, a tempting dining scene, museums and art galleries and a different cultural event somewhere in the city every night.

Start your Merida tour in the main square, which is dominated by the 16th-century Cathedral, Casa de Montejo, the home of the founding father Francisco de Montejo, City Hall and Government House. Then stroll along Calle 60, which will take you through leafy squares past more colonial churches, the University of the Yucatan, one of the oldest in the Americas, and the belle époque Peon Contreras Theater. The colonial barrios or neighborhoods clustered around the main square constitute the second largest historic city center in Mexico.

Heading north along Calle 60, you’ll eventually make your way to Paseo Montejo, Merida’s famous boulevard. Inspired by the Champs Elysees, it is lined with mansions built at the height of the henequen boom in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Leaving Merida behind, the smaller towns of Valladolid, Izamal and Mani, all classed as Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) by the Mexican Tourism Board, have 16th-century churches, sprawling former monasteries or conventos and restored mansions to captivate visitors.

South of Merida, the Ruta de Conventos or Convent Route is a chain of traditional Mayan villages each one with its own colonial church of monastery to visit. They include Acanceh, Mani and Oxtankah and many visitors combine this circuit with a visit to a hacienda, Loltun Caves, Uxmal and the archaeological sites along the Puuc Route.

Further afield, a one-and-a-half-hour-drive from Merida the colonial port of Campeche is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its impressive fortresses were built to protect the local population from pirate attacks.

Maya mystery revealed
The whisper of the wind in the trees, the flash as a colorful bird takes flight and a glimpse of ancient temples, the Maya city of Coba has an air of mystery that appeals to the adventurer in all of us.

One of the largest Maya cities discovered to date, Coba is slowly revealing its secrets. A regional capital and trade center, it reached its peak during the Mayan Classic period, A.D. 250-900 and was still inhabited at the time of the Spanish Conquest. After its decline, the jungle engulfed the abandoned temples and palaces and archaeologists estimate that only around 10 per cent of the buildings have been released from its grip.

Experts have deciphered the hieroglyphic inscriptions carved on temples, stone tablets and standing stones or stelae to discover that Coba was ruled by a dynasty of at least 14 kings and queens. They have even identified the names of some of the rulers.

You can explore Coba on foot or hire a bike at the entrance. Follow the paths through the jungle to the different clusters of buildings. The most famous building at Coba is Nohoch Mul, a 42-meter-high pyramid that is the tallest in the northern Yucatán. Other buildings of note are the Coba group, the oldest at the site, La Iglesia, another 24-meter-high pyramid crowned by a temple, the Ball Court, Las Pinturas, Xaibe or the Crossroads Pyramid and the Macanxoc group which has nine circular altars and eight stelae.

Coba is also famous for the sacbes or Mayan causeways that radiate from the heart of the city. To date, 45 of these roads have been detected, including the longest sacbe in the Maya World, which links the city with Yaxuna, near Chichen Itza, a distance of 101 kilometers.

As you explore this jungle site keep a look out for birds such as parrots, toucans and motmot. Agouti, shy, deer-like foragers that are the size of a large terrier scuttle through the undergrowth and families of coatimundis, agile and engaging animals related to the raccoon that have distinctive white snouts and long tails may cross your path. Look at the position of the tail of the lead animal, the matriarch, and you’ll see that all the others are imitating her. Spider monkeys move through the jungle canopy in search of wild figs and zapote fruit and huge blue morph butterflies flutter through forest clearings.

Don’t stop your Maya discoveries with Coba, if you have already visited Tulum or Chichen Itza, why not plan a trip to Ek Balam or Uxmal and the Puuc Route sites (like Chichen Itza, Uxmal has World Heritage status) in the state of Yucatan. You could even organize a private tour and venture south to Kohunlich, Oxtankah and Dzibanche in southern Quintana Roo and Calakmul in southern Campeche, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

uxmal

 

Nature’s wonders
For a glimpse of the Yucatan’s animals and birds you don’t have to venture very far from the resort to see iguanas, coatimundis, crocodiles, parrots, pelicans and osprey. Go exploring the jungle on the Cenote Route and you’ll spot a variety of colorful birds, spider monkeys and deer.

Further south in the Riviera Maya, 10 to 15 minutes north of Coba, is the community-run reserve of Punta Laguna. This pristine area of jungle on the shores of a lagoon is home to spider and howler monkeys, toucans, parrots and turquoise-browed motmots. Ocelots, pumas and jaguars are also said to roam in the remoter parts of the reserve. Villagers act as nature guides and will take you along jungle trails to see the families of spider monkeys feeding in the trees.

For an unforgettable Yucatan wildlife experience, sign up for an eco trip to Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. Fishermen from the village of Rio Lagartos are trained as bird guides and will take you along the ria or estuary and through the mangroves to the coastal lagoons and salt marshes where thousands of flamingos feed. You’ll also see herons, kingfishers, crocodiles, raccoons and more.

For more wildlife watching, visit Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve south of Tulum, it’s one of the largest reserves in Mexico and a wonderland of jungle, wetlands, beaches and coral reefs teeming with wildlife. Other area reserves to visit if you are interested in nature include the island bird sanctuary of Contoy, the coastal lagoons and wetlands of Celestun (west coast of Yucatan), Yum Balam (accessible from Holbox) and the jungle biosphere reserve of Calakmul in southern Campeche.

Sian Kaan

 

Something New
Discover Bacalar, the spectacular Lagoon of Seven Colors, go bird watching or kayaking in Sian Ka’an or visit one of the Mayan communities in Maya Ka’an. Arrange a private tour to the historic city of Valladolid and combine it with a look at some of the area’s most spectacular cenotes. Swim with the whale sharks in the summer; visit the island of Holbox or even sign up for Mexican cooking class. The Mexican Caribbean and the Yucatan are full of things to do, so start exploring.

 



Contact your Concierge for help with travel plans.

Mexican Caribbean Update

Read our COVID-19 Travel Update for information from Royal Resorts and on the Mexican Caribbean and travel assistance if your trip plans are disrupted.

The Quintana Roo State Government recently passed a law making the use of face masks mandatory in public and stringent health and safety standards are in effect wherever you go, starting with the airport and in resorts, restaurants, malls, parks and on tours.

Public beaches, marinas, golf courses, parks and archaeological sites are all open for visitors to enjoy. The flight network is expanding once more and Cancun and the Riviera Maya are the most sought after destinations by Expedia customers in the United States.

Stay in touch with Grand Residences

Check the Grand Residences webcam for a daily glimpse of your Mexican Caribbean home. Visit Grand Residences on Facebook and Instagram for photos and the latest news from your home away from home, exercise and activity ideas, trips to do, recipes and much more.