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Puerto Morelos 2019 turtle season 2019

Biologists, conservationists and hotel security staff watched over 2,606 turtle nests in the Puerto Morelos area during the 2019 nesting season and released more than 106,000 hatchlings.
In Cancun, 11,654 nests were protected in 51 corrals (including three at Royal Resorts) and 1,150,474 baby turtles were released.
In Cozumel, 5,423 nests were protected and 337,497 baby turtles released at nesting sites on the island’s beaches.
The Quintana Roo Sea Turtle Protection Committee published the final tally of nests and hatchlings for the 2019 season, a total of 57,155 nests protected and 3,809,438 baby turtles released on different beaches along the Mexican Caribbean shoreline:
• Green turtle 51,790 nests and 3,468,001 hatchlings
• Loggerhead turtle 4,133 nests and 259,573 hatchlings
• Hawksbill turtle 1,231 nests and 81,864 hatchlings
• Leatherback turtle 1 nest
[Sources: Galu, Comité Estatal Quintana Roo para la Protección de la Tortuga Marina]

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Cancun flight news

Here’s the latest Cancun flight news for January 2020. Starting February 16, Vacation Express will be offering a new flight from Kansas City to Cancun on Sundays. The flight will operate until April 5 and will move to Saturday on May 23 until August 1, 2020.
For Canadian travelers to Cancun, Sunwing is offering a new weekly flight from Hamilton and Air Canada has increased its Vancouver service from four to seven flights a week and has a weekly flight from Quebec City.
Starting March 10, Frontier Airlines will offer a new daily flight from Newark.
Viva Aerobus is now offering charter flights to Havana three times a week.
On March 7, Southwest Airlines will inaugurate a new Houston-Cozumel route with two flights day (new route subject to government approval).
[Source: Sipse, Riviera Maya News, Caribbean Journal]

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Riviera Maya beaches are looking beautiful

The beaches of Cancun, Riviera Maya and elsewhere in the Mexican Caribbean are looking beautiful. They are free of sargassum and have been for months. You can check on the Royal Resorts beaches every day by clicking on the webcams for the Cancun resorts, The Royal Haciendas and Grand Residences.
The authorities are planning for the spring and summer in the event that patches of sargassum approach the Mexican Caribbean shoreline. One of the six sargassum-collecting boats known as sargaceras commissioned by the Mexican Navy has already arrived in Cancun and will be deployed if needed.

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Mayan discoveries

Archaeologists working for the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have made several major discoveries at three of the Yucatan’s archaeological sites: Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Kuluba.
At Uxmal, archaeologists discovered a hidden passageway under the Palacio del Gobernador dating from AD 670 to 770 and built in the Early Puuc architectural style. Together with the remains of arches and three stairways, this secret tunnel changes the history of the building and the site and may have been used to conceal ancient rulers in times of strife.
During recent excavations at Chichen Itza and using Lidar sensing technology, archaeologists discovered five clusters of buildings in the forest between Las Monjas and Templo del Serie Inicial in the area known as Chichen Viejo. Four of the groups appear to be residential areas but the fifth is a small pyramid 5 meters high
They also found and restored a stone table in the Casa de los Caracoles depicting bound captives surrounded by warriors.
Additional restoration in the Temple of the Warriors revealed a rare pyrite disc that was part of an offering dating from the Early Post-Classic period (AD 850 to 1200).
This follows news of Chichen Itza discoveries earlier in 2019 when the Gran Acuifero Maya exploration team led by Mexican archaeologist Guillermo de Anda was exploring a cave system near the ancient city. As they explored Balamku, the Cave of the Jaguar God, they found seven chambers filled with offerings of pottery, including incense burners in the form of the central Mexican rain god Tlaloc.
The final discovery of 2019 was at the archaeological site of Kuluba in the district of Tizimin, eastern Yucatan. This site is not open to the public yet as archaeologists are still exploring and restoring the buildings that emerge as they clear the undergrowth. During their work in the C Group of buildings, they discovered a palace to the east of the plaza that is 55 meters long and 6 meters high. From the artifacts recovered in the building, it appears to have had two phases of occupation: during the Late Classic period AD 600-900 and the Terminal Classic period AD 850-1050.
Archaeologists think that Kuluba may have been conquered by Chichen Itza in the Terminal Classic period.
[Source: INAH]

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CANCUN, RIVIERA MAYA & YUCATAN EVENTS

Here’s our regular round up of festivals and events in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Yucatan in the next few months.

Anniversary of the Founding of Merida, January 5-6

On the evening of January 5 and on January 6, inhabitants of Merida, state capital of Yucatan celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the city in 1542 by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo, 478 years in 2020. Observed with serenades to their beloved city by local guitar trios, a procession and mass, it marks the start of the month-long City Festival, a gala event featuring concerts, dance performances, art exhibits and more.

Merida Fest, January 5 – 26

Merida is called the cultural capital of the Yucatan and the Merida Fest in January is one of its most important events. The program features 130 events celebrating music, dance and art in 30 different venues with the participation of 650 artists.

Feria de la Candelaria, Valladolid, January 22 – February 2

This traditional fair is dedicated to the patron saint of Valladolid, the Virgen de la Candelaria. Events include an agricultural fair, processions, concerts and dances.

Cozumel Carnival, February 19 – 26

More than 146 years of tradition come to the fore in February as islanders celebrate the Cozumel Carnival.

Equinox, Chichen Itza & Dzibilchaltun, March 19-21

The famous light and shadow serpent of Kukulcan appears on El Castillo Pyramid at Chichen Itza and descends from the heavens at sunset on the day of the Spring Equinox (March 19-21). It is also visible the day before and after, cloud cover permitting.
Elsewhere in the Yucatan, at dawn on the day of the Equinox the rising sun appears through the doorway of the Temple of the Dolls in the ancient city of Dzibilchaltun to the north of Merida.
The spring equinox officially falls on March 19 in 2020 but the largest gathering at Chichen Itza takes place on March 21, a national holiday in Mexico.

50th anniversary of Cancun, April 20

Cancun is gearing up to celebrate its 50th birthday on April 20 and City Hall is planning a series of events – including sporting events and music festivals – over the next few months. More details coming soon.

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Keeping your Resort home in tiptop order

As part of our resort-wide cleaning and maintenance projects carried out during Maintenance Week in September, for the safety of owners and guests, an anti-slip product was applied on the pool decks and around the private rooftop terrace pools.
As an additional safety measure, an anti-slip material was also applied in a one-meter perimeter around the lap, family and adult pools.

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Mouthwatering menus: new lunch dishes to try at El Faro

Chef Rafael Borbolla is cooking up some delicious new dishes for the lunch menu at El Faro so be sure to call in on your next visit.
Starters range from baked zucchini carpaccio and bruschetta topped with burrata cheese and drizzled with balsamic vinegar to Costa Alegre-style tuna tostada, Nayarit-style mixed ceviche, tiradito and salmon tataki. As an alternative, order a freshly made salad with a hint of Mexico, the Mediterranean or the Far East or a traditional Mexican soup.
You’ll find your favorite Angus beef burger on the menu, a tasty chicken focaccia or a seaman’s baguette for the hearty appetite. Of course, when in Mexico, a plate of shrimp, beef or pastor-style salmon tacos for lunch is always a good choice and a vegetarian filling of spinach, porcini mushroom and poblano chili is also available.
Are you in the mood for pasta? The menu selection includes linguine tutto mare with shrimp, octopus and scallops in white wine sauce or Ligurian-style spaghetti with zucchini, tomatoes, pine nuts, rocket, asparagus, white wine and a sprinkling of Emilgrana padano cheese.
New tasty main course dishes range from chicken parmesan and grilled Rib-eye steak with sliced potatoes with a hint of truffle oil to arrachera molcajete, a mortar filled with grilled skirt steak, chorizo and panela cheese, nopales and spring onions, served with salsa borracha chili sauce and guacamole so that you can make your own tacos. Stuffed Portobello mushroom and Teppanyaki vegetable stir fry with yellow curry sauce and coconut milk are delicious options for a vegetarian lunch. Or you can order the catch of the day, fresh local grilled fish marinated in achiote and served with mashed plantain, black bean sauce, fried tortilla and avocado. Chef Rafael’s grilled shrimp and octopus is seasoned with Cajun spices and paprika, sweet potato chips and sweet corn. And be sure to try the Ensenada mussels cooked with chili, onion, garlic, white wine and a dash of cream and served with rustic bread.
Buen provecho!

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Soothing, mind, body and soul, meet Arelli, our Spa Manager

Meet Arelli S.,our Spa Manager. Originally from Mexico City, Arelli studied English Language and Literature at the National University of Mexico. As a student she became interested in Spa therapies and holistic healing and took massage technique classes.

Her move to the Mexican Caribbean came 11 years ago and quite by accident. A strike at the university disrupted her study plans and she decided to visit relatives in Merida, Yucatan. During her trip she traveled to Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Playa del Carmen and fell in love with the Mexican Caribbean. She reminisces, “I liked Playa del Carmen and decided that one day I would like to live there. After I graduated, destiny brought me back to the Riviera Maya and a career in Spa Management.”

“I started as a Spa therapist in Riu Resorts before moving to Aventura Palace and then Secrets Maroma.” Arelli adds, “I then took time out to look after my baby girl. When she was old enough for me to go back to work, I started at Viceroy, Banyan Tree and then Fairmont as a Spa Supervisor; at Fairmont I also worked in Groups. After nine years working in the Spa world, I was more and more involved in administration and management and in September 2018, I joined Grand Residences.

“I have a team of five therapists to offer massages, facials, body wraps, manicures, make up and hair and I can also help out if needed. The fitness center attendant also reports to me,” Arelli explains.

Arelli’s recommendation for a morning at the Spa is to start with a 60 or 90-minute Hot Stone Massage for its therapeutic benefits. The heat emanating from the stones boosts circulation, calms, decongests and cleanses the body, giving you a profound feeling of wellbeing.

Follow it with the Timexpert Rights Facial from Germaine de Cappuccini, a product that will nourish and repair your skin, restoring vitality with visible results. The Vitamin C Body Wrap cleanses, revitalizes and relaxes your body, rolling back the signs of aging. She adds, “We use luxury spa products developed by two Spanish companies: Germaine de Cappuccini and Natura Bissé and Primavera oils and essences from Germany for our aromatherapy massage. They are the finest quality, certified as organic products and are made from pure plant ingredients, flowers, fruit and seeds from all over the world.”

“On your next visit to Grand Residences, you’ll find that we have added more therapies to the Spa collection,” says Arelli “These include a Milk and Melipona honey luxury bath experience. The Melipona is a tiny stingless bee that is native to the Yucatan and the Maya have been collecting its honey since ancient times for its therapeutic properties.”

Melipona honey moisturizes the skin, is a powerful antioxidant and is something of a super food, said to be more nutritious than the honey produced by European bees. The Maya use it to soothe scarred skin and in remedies to alleviate cataracts, colds and other ailments. To this day, beekeepers make offerings to Ah Mucen Caab, the ancient bee god, to ask for a good honey harvest.

Arelli continues, “We have more Villa Spa experiences and rituals for you to enjoy in the comfort of your residence. They include spa baths, a facial, body wrap and manicure and pedicure.”

The Spa is doing its bit to protect the environment by recycling and eliminating plastic. Arelli also explained that she always looks for natural products when choosing treatments to add to the Spa collection.

She says, “The size of the resort means that we can offer a more personalized Spa service attuned to the needs of each guest. We know that our repeat customers have favorite treatments and which massage, facial or body wrap they always ask for. We also look for ways of adding the wow factor to exceed their expectations.”

We asked Arelli why she thinks penciling in some vacation time for the Spa is so important and she had this to say: ”A visit to the Spa is all about setting aside some time for yourself for the pampering that you need and deserve to soothe your body, mind and soul. It is an intimate experience; you owe it to your body to say good-bye to stress, nourish your skin and restore your inner balance.”

Arelli Soriano

Arelli S. – Spa Manager

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Every picture tells a story

Mexican ceramics

This month we celebrate the color and creativity of Mexico expressed in folk art. Ceramics, wood carvings of animals, angels and creatures of fantasy, embroidered or hand-woven textiles, glass, metal, leather, bead work, palm and even bark paper, the list is endless. Here’s our gallery of artesanía for October.
Be sure to follow Grand Residences on Instagram @grandresidences to see more pictures from your home in paradise.
If you have a picture of Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos or a special place in the Yucatan or a vacation story that you would like to share with us, we would love to hear from you. Send 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 3 night/4 day 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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Time Travel: Exploring the Yucatan’s colonial towns

Merida, Yucatan

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.

Merida

Heading the list is Merida, state capital of the Yucatan. Steeped in history, Merida was founded in 1542 by the Spanish conquistadors amidst the ruins of a much earlier Mayan city called T’ho.
Delve into the past, exploring the colonial city center, its churches and former convents, squares and elegant mansions. You’ll soon discover that there is much to see and do in Merida in addition to history tours: museums and galleries, bustling markets and craft shops, a tempting dining scene 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 and now a museum, City Hall and Government House. Then walk along the surrounding streets. The colonial barrios or neighborhoods clustered around the main square constitute the second largest historic city center in Mexico.
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. 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.

Maní, Yucatan

The Convent Route

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, Teabo, Mani and Oxtankah. Many visitors combine this circuit with a visit to the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal and other archaeological sites along the Puuc Route. You can also visit haciendas and explore Loltun Caves,

Izamal

Izamal

Twin towns of tradition in the east: Izamal and Valladolid

Leaving Merida behind and heading east are the smaller colonial towns of Valladolid and Izamal. Both are classed as Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) by the Mexican Tourism Board and have 16th-century churches, sprawling former monasteries or conventos and restored mansions to captivate visitors.
Famous for its huge 16th-century Franciscan convent, Izamal is often called the “city of three cultures,” a reference to its pre-Hispanic and Spanish heritage and the traditions of today’s Mayan inhabitants.
Inhabited by the ancient Maya as far back as the 3rd century B.C., Izamal became a sacred site with shrines to two deities: Itzamná (the chief god, inventor of writing, medicine and agriculture) and Kinich Kakmo (the sun god). Archaeologists have unearthed more than 20 major Mayan buildings around town. The principal temple is the pyramid of Kinich Kakmo, the third largest building in Mesoamerica in terms of volume.
After the Spanish Conquest, Franciscan friars took advantage of Izamal’s religious importance by building a huge mission on top of the Pap-Hol-Chac temple. The Convento de San Antonio de Padua was founded in 1549 and completed in 1618. Home to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of the Yucatán since 1648, it is one of Mexico’s most important shrines.
The convent and the surrounding historic houses, arches, churches and civic buildings are painted yellow and are part of the charm of this Pueblo Mágico. Explore its tranquil neighborhoods, sample the traditional cuisine, watch artisans at work and call in at the Community Museum in the main square.

Valladolid

Valladolid

Known as the “Sultana of the East,” Valladolid is an interesting spot to spend the morning or afternoon exploring and shopping for crafts or to stop for lunch or dinner after a trip to Chichen Itza.
Stroll through the tree-lined main square where the 17th-century San Servacio Church and the Town Hall are located. Behind the Town Hall, the San Roque Museum has exhibits on the different periods of Valladolid history. You can also visit the Mexican Ethnic Clothing Museum (MUREM) on Calle 41.
Just a half block from the main square is Casa de Los Venados, a restored colonial mansion that is a private home with a collection of more than 3,000 pieces of Mexican folk art. There is a guided tour of the property at 10 a.m. and visitors are asked to make a donation in support of local charitable causes.
Next stop is Calzada de Los Frailes, a street lined with restored colonial houses that takes you as far as the sprawling San Bernardino Church and Sisal Convent. En route be sure to call in at La Casona to see the shrine to La Candelaria, the patron saint of Valladolid, a mosaic made from fragments of Talavera pottery.
There are more colonial churches in the town’s barrios or neighborhoods and you should also visit the Zaci Cenote, a huge sinkhole with cliffs covered with ferns, vines and tree roots. Bats, swifts, martins and other birds make their nests in the limestone and swoop low over the clear turquoise water
Before you leave Valladolid, call in at the Mayapan Distillery where the blue agave plant is harvested, cooked, crushed and the sugary sap distilled using traditional artisanal techniques to make a tequila-like spirit.

Plan your trip

Your Concierge will help you arrange a trip to Merida, Valladolid, Izamal and to southern Yucatan.

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PGA Tournament news

For those of you who travel to the Mexican Caribbean in November and who love golf, don’t miss the Mayakoba Golf Classic PGA Tour event at El Camaleon Golf Club. From November 11 to 17, this tournament brings together a field of golfers with names including Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and tournament winners from previous years. More players will commit to playing in the tournament in the weeks to come.
Up and coming player Abraham Ancer is leading the contingent of Mexican players. He is in the International team for the upcoming President’s Cup, the first Mexican player to participate in the biennial event.
Tickets are on sale for the Mayakoba Golf Classic. If you would like to attend, your Concierge will be able to help you plan a visit.

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Keeping Puerto Morelos beaches clean

On September 21, volunteers turned out in Puerto Morelos, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and other parts of the Mexican Caribbean to clean area beaches. They were participating in the annual worldwide Beach Cleaning Weekend organized by Ocean Conservancy and supported by other conservation NGOs, local authorities and citizens.
If you would like to help keep our lovely beach clean, ask for one of our beach trash bags to take with you on your morning walk. We appreciate your help.

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Protecting Cozumel’s reefs

The Cozumel National Park authorities have announced that they are closing Palancar, Colombia and Cielo reefs to visitors from October 7 for several months. This is being done to give the coral reefs a breathing space to recover from visitor pressure and Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease. The reefs will be constantly monitored and a report on their health prepared next year.
This disease was first detected on Florida reefs and is spreading through the Caribbean attacking 20 to 30 species of stony coral, including reef-building species such as elk horn and stag horn, brain and pillar coral. It is thought that rising sea temperatures, excessive algae and pollutants such as the chemicals in sun products and gasoline from boats could be contributing factors weakening the corals and making them vulnerable to the pathogen.
Divers and snorkelers who wish to go to Cozumel can still visit many other coral reefs in the national marine park.
Whenever you swim, dive or snorkel in the Mexican Caribbean, rinse before you enter the water. Wearing a t-shirt to protect your skin from the sun instead of applying sunscreen helps protect the corals and marine life.

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Xibalba, a new Cenote Park by Xcaret to open near Valladolid in 2020

Visitors to Valladolid will have a new cenote park to explore next year, Xibalba. The latest park from the Xcaret Group and its first in the Yucatan, Xibalba is a journey into the Maya underworld, the incredible labyrinth of caves and cenotes that lies deep in the limestone.
Park goers will have eight spectacular cenotes and caves to explore during their day at Xibalba and will enjoy swimming and snorkeling, zip lining and other adventures. They will also learn about Xibalba, the Maya underworld, home of the gods and the place that cenotes and caves played in ancient culture.
Xibalba Park is located between the villages of Yalcoba, X-tut and Sisbichen near Valladolid and is scheduled to open in the second half of 2020.

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Tulum gallery makes Time Magazine’s list of World’s 100 Greatest Places 2019

Time Magazine has included Sfer Ik Gallery in Tulum in its World’s 100 Greatest Places list for 2019.
This dreamlike space was built using locally sourced wood, stone and cement and its walls are festooned with tropical plants. It is a creative sphere to showcase the work of visual artists and for artisanal workshops.
There is no admission charge to the gallery but visitors must go barefoot. Open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tulum Hotel Zone. Visitors under the age of 18 are not permitted.

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CANCUN, RIVIERA MAYA & YUCATAN EVENTS

Artober Fest, Cancun, October 4 – November 3

A series of events featuring music, dance, art, film and cuisine in Cancun during October. Artober will culminate with representation of Day of the Dead traditions.

11th Cozumel Bird Festival, October 11 – 13

17th Annual Sea Turtle Festival, Xcacel, Akumal and Tulum, October 18-20

The 2019 sea turtle nesting season draws to a close with this annual festival held in Xcacel, Akumal and Tulum.

Fiesta de Santo Cristo Negro, Sitilpech, Izamal, October 18

A procession of local gremios or guilds carries the statue of Christ from the parish church of Sitilpech through the streets of Izamal to the sanctuary where it will remain for 27 days before being returned to the church. This traditional fiesta is celebrated with processions, masses, fireworks and a vaqueria.

Festival de las Animas, Merida, October 24 – October 31

This Festival celebrates Hanal Pixan, the Mayan Dia de Muertos traditions with altar exhibits in the main square, photography exhibitions, conferences, music, dances, the Pib Food Festival and the Paseo de las Animas (Procession of Souls) from the City cemetery through the streets to San Juan Park on October 31.

Festival de Vida y Muerte, Xcaret Park, October 29 – 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. Dia de Muertos is known as Hanal Pixan in the Yucatan.

Triathlon Xel Ha, November 16 – 17

This annual event draws triathletes from all over Mexico and overseas.

Mayakoba Golf Classic PGA tournament, November 11-17, 2019

A field of the world’s leading golfers competes for the OHL Classic trophy at El Camaleon Golf Club in Mayakoba.

Xoc Ch’ich Bird Watching Marathon 2019, Valladolid, November 23 & 24

The year-long Toh Bird Festival draws to a close with the Bird watching marathon in the Valladolid area. Teams see who can clock up the most bird species sightings over two days in this fun event.

Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepcion, Izamal, December 8

Thousands of pilgrims join processions to honor the Virgin Mary. There are masses and the traditional fair or vaquería with dances, food stalls and more.

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Master of flavors: Meet Chef Borbolla

We recently chatted with Grand Residences Executive Chef Rafael Borbolla about his inspiration and exciting new dishes to tempt your palate.
“How did I decide to become a chef?” muses Grand Residences Executive Chef Rafael Borbolla, “It was destiny, I thumbed the Yellow Pages directory and it opened right at the listings of cooking schools. I already knew how to cook, my parents were quite happy to let me loose in the kitchen to experiment. My grandmother used to take me to market with her when I was little; she taught me her secrets and how to choose the freshest fruit and vegetables.”
Rafael studied Culinary Arts in the Colegio Superior de Hoteleria y de Turismo Cesar Ritz and at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Turismo in Mexico City. He also took specialist diploma courses in Mexican and Italian cuisine at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana.
After training with acclaimed French chef Olivier Lombard and collaborating in the opening of Le Cirque, his Polanco restaurant, Rafael’s eyes turned to the Pacific coast. He was to spend years in Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Los Cabos working for several leading hotel chains and heading up a prestigious restaurant in Puerto Vallarta. “Everything that I am comes from the Mexican Pacific,” he explains. “I used to go out with the fishermen at dawn and help them bring their catch to market. The freshest seafood you can imagine. I learned cooking techniques and traditional recipes from coastal communities in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Baja California Sur and new ways of preparing fruits de mer shared by chefs from France, Italy and Canada who were competing in food festivals in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. I use all this experience and inspiration here, pairing the finest Pacific and Caribbean seafood with bold flavors to create a veritable feast for the senses.
“Mexican cuisine is my passion and I want to take Grand Residences guests on a culinary journey through the country, from the north to the southeast for an unforgettable evening of recipes and flavors,” says Rafael. “Mexico is so rich in ingredients, delicious dishes and culinary traditions, it is exceptional and for this reason it is on the World Heritage List.
“At Grand Residences I lead a team of 45 kitchen staff.” Rafael explains. “My responsibilities are menu planning, administration, costs, personnel management and above all, maintaining quality standards, constantly looking for ways to enrich the dining experience we offer our guests.
“ It’s been a busy few months since I joined the Grand Residences family in late 2018.” Rafael adds, “I introduced a new International theme night on Saturdays with Asian, Prime Rib, Italian and Mexican dishes to give diners more options. I have also been working on the El Faro breakfast menu, adding more kinds of fruit to the buffet and a wellness station. I incorporated a children’s area with a larger selection of kid-friendly dishes and another change is that we now serve jugs of juice on the tables with a variety of choices available.
“Our Grill Night has also changed and has more of a picnic theme and I have added the concept of a Fish Market. Diners choose the fish they want and we prepare their ceviche to order and serve it in a coconut. As soon as the annual Distintivo H kitchen and storage area inspections are over, I am going to continue making changes, focusing on the El Faro lunch menu and the Heaven Grill menu. I want to add new recipes so that diners always have something delicious and different to try on vacation.
“Alicia Guzman, our pastry chef, and I have been changing the dessert and cake selection too,“ Rafael adds. “I really believe that the more eye-catching the dessert, the more people want to try it. We have been working on the presentation of all our dessert stations and buffets to offer our diners a variety of new sweets.”
On the question of cooking influences Rafael has this to say, “French and Italian cuisine are definitely two of my greatest influences, but lately I have been drawn to authentic cuisine, the techniques of our ancestors passed down through the centuries, really fresh food, intense flavors and the smoky fragrance of a wood-burning range.
“Where do I seek inspiration? It’s hard to explain,” he says, “I celebrate food, pay tribute to my roots and when I make someone happy with a dish I have prepared, that makes me happy and inspires me to face the next challenge.”
“I think Mexican cuisine really is one of the world’s richest. A well- made black mole sauce competes with any Indian curry in terms of the complexity and depths of the flavors and the use of spices. It is a traditional dish that is also very sophisticated.
“Over the centuries Mexican cuisine has evolved, embracing ingredients introduced by settlers from all over the world and this has only made it even richer.” Rafael explains, “For example, in the 16th century, the Spanish brought over lard, milk, coffee, citrus fruit, herbs and many of the spices we use today. Our cuisine is a unique blend of native foods consumed by pre-Hispanic civilizations and ingredients from Europe and the Middle East. In turn, Mexico has shared its own gifts with the world: avocado, tomato, chile, corn, chocolate and vanilla, among others, enriching other cuisines. After all, where would French cuisine be without vanilla or chocolate, or Italian cuisine without tomatoes?
“If you ask me about Mexican chefs that have taken our cuisine on to the world stage, I would have to say that some of them are heroes, sharing a passion for our recipes and forging a path for the rest of us to follow. One of them is Enrique Olvera, who has gone back to his roots and uses locally sourced artisanal produce, which in turn boosts the livelihood of small farmers in rural areas. Chefs all over the country are now following his lead. Enrique Muñoz Zurita is another one – he is a food researcher and is rescuing traditional recipes before they fade from memory. Monica Patiño, the late Patricia Quintana and Alejandro Herredia are others. And turning to international chefs, I would have to say Massimo Bottura, not only for his cuisine, but also his charity work.
“I have lots of plans for the restaurants at Grand Residences, new dishes, menus and theme nights. And I’m offering cooking classes too, “ Rafel says. “I recently showed guests how to make tikinxic or Mayan-style barbecued fish, Ligurian-style pasta with mushrooms, rocket, toasted nuts, white wine, shrimp and grated grana padana cheese and miso soup with pork dumplings.
“My message to our Grand Residences owners and guests is to come hungry, open your heart and mind ready to try new dishes and flavors. A sensational dining experience awaits you.”

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Five dishes to try this September at Flor de Canela

Are you in the mood for Mexican cuisine this month? Here are five delicious dishes you won’t want to miss at Flor de Canela restaurant.

Mexican Snack Platter

Great for sharing, try the Mexican snack platter, a tempting spread of antojitos or Mexican finger food. Our selection includes sopes, quesadillas filled with Oaxaca string cheese, tlacoyos with tender nopal salad and crispy fried chicken tacos. Accompany your platter with a bowl of guacamole and lashings of salsa.
You might be tempted to order another plate, or try some of the other  appetizers on the menu. How about a plate of tacos, choose from duck, shrimp, rib-eye steak or barbacoa, lamb cooked in an adobo two-chile marinade? Or opt for Yucatecan panuchos, which are tortillas filled with beans and topped with cochinita pibil, pork marinated in a Seville orange and achiote (annatto) spice mix and slow roasted. And for a seafood snack, try the fish pescadillas or the tuna tostadas.

Tuna in a Mexican Seed Crust

The taste of the Mexican Pacific, yellow fin tuna cooked in an aromatic sesame, coriander and chia seed crust. This delicious fish dish is served with baby potatoes, nopales, onion, chayote sautéed with xoconostle prickly pear syrup and purslane salad.

Tikinxic

On Mexican Caribbean shores, you must try the Mayan-style grilled fish, tikinxic. Fresh fish is marinated in achiote and Seville orange juice, topped with sliced bell peppers and onion and charcoal-grilled. It is served with fried plantains, tortillas and habanero salsa.

Chicken in Oaxaca Black Mole Sauce

In Mexico, when food conversation turn to mole, the famous smooth, sophisticated chocolate-chili-spice sauce, you’ll find that people are split into two camps, those that prefer recipes from Puebla and those that love Oaxacan mole. The truth is that both are delicious and each state has a variety of mole dishes made to traditional recipes passed down from generation to generation. At Flor de Canela, we serve tender organic chicken breast in a black mole sauce from Oaxaca.

Chiles en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada (Chilies in Walnut Sauce) is the Mexican Independence 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.

Of course, these are just suggestions, there are many more tempting dishes to try on the menu. Order a margarita, tequila or mezcal, straight or in a red berry cocktail, or a bottle of Mexican wine and be sure to save space for dessert.

Buen provecho!

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September Spa Morning

Set aside some time this month for a Spa morning at Grand Residences. Here are some recommendations for you to try.
Why not begin your morning with a Hot Stone Massage? Inspired by an ancient Native American healing ritual, it is relaxing and therapeutic. It boosts your circulation, calms, decongests and cleanses the body, giving you a deep feeling of wellbeing.
Continue with a facial, the Germaine de Capuccini Timexpert Rides treatment aids cell regeneration, erases expression lines and fills in wrinkles. The end result: soft skin and a more youthful look.
The Vitamin C body wrap will revitalize and relax your body, rolling back the signs of aging. It moisturizes your skin and aids cell regeneration.
Finally, complete your Spa morning with a manicure and pedicure and you’ll be ready for a day in paradise.

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Kids Club

From party piñatas and guacamole, music and dance to lotería, Spanish classes, arts and crafts, your children will have a taste of Mexico this month at the Kids Club.
The fun program of daily activities includes games and workshops with a Mexican flavor. They’ll enjoy themselves so much they won’t want to leave!

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Every picture tells a story

This month we celebrate the beauty of Mexico starting here in the Mexican Caribbean and stretching the length and breadth of the country.
Be sure to follow Grand Residences on Instagram @grandresidences to see more pictures from your home in paradise.

If you have a picture of Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos or a special place in the Yucatan or a vacation story that you would like to share with us, we would love to hear from you. Send 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 3 night/4 day 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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Incredible September travel experiences

Want to go exploring this month? Here are three incredible September travel experiences to discover in the Mexican Caribbean and 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.

 

Mexican Fiesta

One way to celebrate Independence month is to enjoy a Mexican evening at Xoximilco Park. Located to the south of Cancun Airport, Xoximilco is a chain of waterways inspired by the ancient Aztec canals and world-famous floating gardens of Xochimilco on the outskirts of Mexico City.
You’ll board a colorful trajinera or Mexican-style canal boat to sail along the tree-lined waterways where musicians will serenade you under starry skies. The tequila flows freely and you’ll enjoy mouthwatering Mexican dishes for dinner during your voyage. This is a Mexican experience you won’t want to miss, vibrant and full of music and song.
The musicians that pop up at Xoximilco hail from all over the country. Guitar trios from the Yucatan play romantic trova ballads. Jarocho musicians from Veracruz strike up with La Bamba and La Cascabel. Ranchero tunes from northern Mexico will get your feet tapping and then the mariachis appear and you’ll soon find yourself singing along.
You’ll also see scenes representing daily life in Xochimilco: women paddling canoes filled with flowers and produce grown in the chinampas or floating gardens and handing up warm tortillas for your meal. There are traditional Mexican dances and you’ll even hear ancient Aztec legends.

 

Mayan mystery

The ancient cities of the Maya have an air of mystery whenever you visit them but for many travelers, a trip to the World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza in September to witness the Equinox offers even more wonders.
On September 23, the day of the fall Equinox, the Pyramid of Kukulcan or El Castillo that dominates the Great Plaza at Chichen Itza, reveals its secret. In ancient times, it was a solar clock and calendar marking the passage of the seasons.
The pyramid is aligned to catch the rays of the setting sun on the days of the spring and fall equinoxes in March and September. Triangles of light and shadow appear along the side of the north staircase forming the rippling body of a snake. It merges with the head of a stone serpent at the foot of the building, creating the illusion of a gigantic reptile coming down from the sky and slithering across the ground towards the Sacred Cenote.
The snake symbolizes Kukulcan (also known as Quetzalcoatl in central Mexico), the feathered serpent god, returning to earth to give hope to his followers and heralding the spring planting and fall harvest seasons for the Maya.
This year, the snake of light and shadow will be visible from September 21 to 23 and the day after the equinox, cloud cover permitting.

Ask your Concierge

To book these tours and many more exciting Yucatan travel experiences, ask your Concierge.

 

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Puerto Morelos coral project goes to Akumal

The National Fisheries Institute Research Center (INAPESCA-CRIAP) in Puerto Morelos is raising corals to be transplanted on reefs that have been damaged by storms or human activity and to replenish disappearing coral colonies. Biologists working at the center recently planted more than 3,500 fragments of elkhorn and staghorn coral and other stony corals on reefs in the Akumal area.

   The project goal is to transplant 265,000 corals on Mexican Caribbean reefs in six years. Biologists are focusing their efforts on species such as elkhorn and staghorn coral, which are the reef builders. 

   The technology developed by Inapesca and its strategic partners has the capacity to produce up to three thousand coral colonies per day. Project Director Claudia Padilla estimates that the laboratory will produce 48,000 fragments of 13 different species of coral in 2019, and 60,000 in the next three years. 

   The project has the support of the Quintana Roo State government and to date 12 reef sites have received coral fragments, including Manchones and Cuevones reefs in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres and Tanchacte in Petempich Bay to the north of Puerto Morelos. The center has also established four submerged coral nurseries in Contoy, Isla Mujeres, Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

   Coral reefs are under threat worldwide from rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching, pollution, overfishing and boat collisions. As coral colonies weaken they also become prone to illnesses such as the stony coral tissue loss disease, which has spread from Florida through the Caribbean and appears to affect 20 species of coral, including pillar, and star brain corals. 

(Source: Centro Ecológico de Akumal, Gobierno de Mexico)