Grand Recipes: beef in red pipian sauce


Here’s a recipe from Chef Hector Rentería for you to try back home, we hope that it will put you in the mood for an evening of delicious Mexican cuisine at Flor de Canela. Learn how to make pipian, a classic Mexican sauce that blends seeds, nuts and chilies for a rich but mild flavor.

Beef in Red Pipian Sauce
Serves 4 people

For the sauce
200g onion
20g garlic
10g dried chili ancho
50g almonds
20g white sesame seeds
50g shelled unsalted peanuts
10g epazote
20g green pumpkin seeds
300g plum tomatoes
600ml chicken stock
5 guajillo chilies
5g sea salt

Heat the pan and toast the almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.
Lightly cook the onion and tomato. Clean and devein the guajillo chilies and toast them. Return all the toasted ingredients to the pan, add half the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Add the epazote and garlic. Set aside to cool and then blend. Season with salt and pepper. Strain the sauce so that it is smooth.

Beef fillet
200g beef fillet
3g sea salt
2g black pepper
100ml olive oil
30g baby zucchini
30g patty pan squash

Preheat a frying pan, add the beef and seal, cook to taste and leave to rest. Sautée the vegetables in the same pan. When you are ready to serve the dish pour the sauce onto a plate and cut the beef in half to show that it is cooked to taste and place on top. Add the zucchini and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Buen provecho/Bon appetit


Grand Residences is seven years old this December

How time flies! It doesn’t seem a day since Grand Residences by Royal Resorts opened and now your home away from home turns seven this December.

How many blissful hours have you spent on the beach or relaxing on your terrace gazing out at those sparkling turquoise waters? All those long leisurely lunches of shrimp tacos and ceviche that you have enjoyed at Heaven Beach Bar and magical evenings of gourmet cuisine at El Faro or Flor de Canela with wines recommended by the Sommelier.

Children look forward to seeing their Kids Club friends every time and there’s always a fun-packed program of activities in store for them. Whether it’s pool fun, making piñatas and paper flowers, nature walks or cookie classes, they never want to leave and back home they talk about their vacation memories all year round!

And when it comes to activities for adults, many of you enjoy a walk on the beach to start the day, a yoga class, gym workout or a game of tennis. The daily beach volleyball game is a must and the bike tour is a favorite for many. For more vacation experiences there are cocktail, cooking and dance classes to try your hand at. After a day’s activity a massage at the Spa is just the thing. However you spend your days you’ll always enjoy our family ambiance, pampering and the hospitality standards of The Leading Hotels of the World®.

Think back over seven magical years of Grand Residences and all the incredible places you have visited in the Mexican Caribbean. Close encounters with colorful fish and sea turtles among the reefs in the Puerto Morelos National Park, jungle adventures on the Ruta de los Cenotes and fun-filled days in the Riviera Maya. There’s the exciting prospect of many more magical days in the years to come. Your Concierge can help you plan everything from a getaway to Merida and Uxmal, Rio Lagartos, Holbox to a swim with the whale sharks and many other unforgettable travel experiences.


Master of Flavors, Meet Chef Hector Rentería

Originally from the state of Michoacán, our new Executive Chef Hector Rentería went to college in Mexico City and has Bachelor’s degrees in Gastronomic Management and Food & Beverages from Universidad de Norteamérica and the Instituto Culinario de México. When asked why he decided to become a chef, he explains, “I love to travel and this was what drew me into the world of cuisine in the first place. You learn about food on the journeys you make as you visit different places and explore different cultures. When I was a student the culinary boom was happening in Mexico with the emergence of great new chefs, but none of us students really knew what the food scene was all about. I began to investigate and realized that it was a beautiful craft and that I wanted to be part of this world, a world of true artists.”

Hector’s career has taken him to leading luxury resort groups in Mexico and beyond its borders, including Four Seasons, Banyan Tree, St. Regis and Karisma. He says, “I have been cooking for 18 years now, working my way up through the ranks. I was appointed Executive Sous Chef at Azul Sensatori by Karisma in 2015 and then Executive Chef in 2018 at Generations Riviera Maya, another Karisma resort. Here at Grand Residences I have a team of 46 and part of my job is to inspire and encourage them in the pursuit of excellence.” He adds, “I believe that any cook that is passionate about the food they cook becomes a chef. It is the power to express themselves through the dishes they serve to diners.

“My travels and career moves have taken me to many countries and you learn about the cuisine, ingredients and the techniques used as you explore the culture.” Hector explains, “Every chef has a different way of working and way of expressing themselves in their art, you can learn from them all, as I did.

“I was with Karisma Group for four amazing years as a Chef in the Resort Opening Team. I opened restaurants at their Punta Cana Nickelodeon Resort with Chef José María. Then they sent me to Holiday Villages in Montenegro, followed by Serbia. It was an intensive year with three new resorts opening in one season!

“In 2012, a job opportunity with Four Seasons took me to Doha and after three months I joined the St. Regis there, where I had the chance to work in an incredible fine dining grill restaurant. However, the Doha immigration system dictates that after your second permit you must stay for two years without leaving the country and I didn’t like the sound of that so I decided to move on. I spent a month in London exploring and working. I even did a stint in a fish and chip shop as I planned my next trip. I had two choices, return to Mexico or go to Thailand. As money was running short by then and I didn’t have enough for a full-on journey through southeast Asia I took the inaugural British Airways London Gatwick flight to Cancun, so you could say I ended up here in the Mexican Caribbean by accident!

“The Slow Food concept of cooking with time-honored methods that go back to our roots and use local ingredients is part of my philosophy. I spent some time working in St. Louis at a superb Italian restaurant and also one that showcased upscale country food, show cooking, the art of grilling and smoking food. It gave me an insight into traditional American recipes. I like the open grill, using smoking techniques and preparing food to be shared with friends and family. I love the family ambiance here at Grand Residences and I already feel at home.

“I want our guests to discover Mexican cuisine during their stay, it’s so much more than a dish, it’s an experience, a culture. The art of making sauces that are the high point of a dish, the warm, freshly made tortilla you are served with your meal, soups, even a pot of beans. We don’t just serve food, it’s much more than that, we share the table and our heritage. Each region of the country has its own culinary culture. We become chefs offering an experience, it’s wonderful, the idea that each thing you eat should be a delightful memory.

“Mexican chefs that have been an inspiration to me?” Hector muses, “Ricardo Muñoz Zurita is more than a chef, he is a historian, Enrique Olvera spearheaded the food boom here in Mexico, the idea of going back to our roots and using artisanal, locally sourced ingredients and traditional techniques. He believes dining should be an experience. And then there’s Eduardo Marin Anaya at Mundo Cuervo. On my list of international chefs I would include Michael Mina and Gerald Sombright.

“I create experiences when I cook and guests will have different dining moments to look forward to at all our restaurants. From its name and iconic lighthouse emblem to the stunning view, El Faro evokes the sea and so the dishes we serve there will showcase the catch of the day and other fresh seafood. Flor de Canela is romantic; its name means “cinnamon flower” and pays tribute to the fragrance of tropical flowers and spices. It is full of intriguing flavors. One of my projects for the future is to offer an authentic Mexican fiesta when it becomes possible to commemorate an important date such as Independence or Dia de Muertos once more.

“My message to our owners and members is that a gourmet experience awaits you, full of exquisite flavors, synonymous with excellence and prepared by a team ready to serve you like nowhere else.”

Cuisine and cooking classes
We are sure that you will love Chef Hector’s gourmet dining experience and creativity. For more great recipes, kitchen stories and tips don’t miss his cooking classes. Sign up with the Concierge.

Festive Yuletide Flavors

Are you joining us for Christmas or New Year? There’s a tempting spread of festive fare lined up for you for an unforgettable gourmet experience.

First up is the Noche Buena or Christmas Eve dinner. The menu includes a warm turkey salad and ravioli filled with veal, duck, nuts and dried fruit followed by main course choices of Beef Tournedos Rossini or Biscayan-style sea bass. Dessert is a sumptuous fruits of the forest mousse with ruby red chocolate.

New Year’s Eve dinner is a celebration of fine dining. Start the evening with foie gras, spiced brioche and grilled peaches followed by an Asian-Caribbean fusion salad of scallops, sea bass, caviar and coconut. Main courses are fresh lobster or a short rib bourguignon and lobster Thermidor medley. A heavenly hazelnut praline cake with chocolate mousse filling and a hint of Baileys is the perfect ending to your meal.

The New Year’s Day Brunch is a meal to be enjoyed with your family. The menu includes seasonal fruit, smoked salmon, fruits de mer, roast leg of pork, chilaquiles, waffles, nut tart, éclairs and more.
For more information, prices and reservations, contact your Concierge.


A Child’s Christmas

The Kids Club has a fun-filled program lined up for the little ones this December. There will be special Christmas activities, including making decorations, the Christmas tree lighting and the traditional letter to Santa, cookies, candies, face painting and piñatas galore.
For more information ask your Concierge or Kids Club staff for the program.


Christmas Cocktail

Here’s a festive bubbly cocktail for you to try this Christmas.

4oz sparkling wine
1 oz De Kuyper Sour Apple Pucker liqueur
1 oz Sprite soda
1 mini skewer of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries

Pour the chilled sparkling wine into a goblet, add the apple liqueur and then the soda. Garnish with the fruit and mint leaves.

Grand Wine recommendations from the Sommelier
Your Sommelier Javier Moreno also has some wine recommendations that are the perfect pairing for the traditional roast turkey Christmas dinner or lunch.

Cava Quintanilla Syrah Reserva, San Luis Potosí, Mexico 2017
A well-structured wine with intense color, fragrance and notes of blackberry, spices, lavender and a hint of roast coffee beans. It is a dry wine with bold flavors, and a hint of smoke that lingers as an afterthought and excellent acidity.

Bodega Los Cedros Fusión, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec, Coahuila, Mexico 2017
A medium-bodied wine full of fruit flavors and a fragrance of black and red berries, a hint of black pepper and smooth chocolate notes. The fruit flavors really come through and it leaves you with a delightful lingering taste of stewed black fruit, perfect for the season.

Grand Recipes

This traditional Mexican recipe is easy to prepare and very tasty. If you like it you’ll want to plan an evening at Flor de Canela during your next trip and remember to ask the waiter about the dish of the month, which showcases classic recipes from different parts of Mexico. For more recipes and cooking tips sign up for a cooking class too.

Enchiladas Mineras
Makes 4
126g potato
72g carrot
90g shredded cooked chicken breast
80g cotija cheese
120g lettice
4 corn tortillas
20ml oil
100ml of guajillo chili sauce
Guajillo sauce
44g guajillo chili pepper (dried chilies)
62g onion
10g garlic

Clean the chilis and remove the veins (along with the seeds they are the spiciest part of the chili). Quarter the onion and half the garlic. Boil in half a liter of water and blend. Preheat a frying pan and gently cook the sauce until it has a smooth consistency. Season and set aside.
For the enchiladas, dice the potato and carrot and cook in a pan with the shredded chicken. Season. Heat in oil and fry the tortillas. Remove from heat before they become crispy. Coat the tortillas in sauce, add the filling and fold in half. Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce, sprinkle with cotija cheese and a dash of sour cream. You can also garnish with avocado slices or asparagus spears.

Splendid solitude

A walk along the beach at dawn enjoying the fresh air and warm sunshine puts you in the mood for another great day in paradise. If you are up for a spot of exploring but want to avoid the crowds, here is a tour idea for this season.

Wildlife watching in Sian Ka’an
Seek solitude and renew your ties with Mother Nature with a visit to Sian Ka’an, the huge biosphere reserve protecting swathes of jungle and wetlands, beaches and coral reefs in northern and central Quintana Roo.

Protected by government decree since 1986, Sian Ka’an is home to 103 different mammals including the jaguar, ocelot, peccary, tapir, howler and spider monkeys, and the West Indian manatee. It also has one of Mexico’s largest crocodile populations and is an important nesting area for sea turtles. However, you are most likely to see birds on your trip: over 350 resident and migratory species have been registered here in the jungle and wetlands and their numbers are swelled at this time of year by wintering migratory species of waders, ducks, birds of prey, finches and songbirds.

Your Sian Ka’an day starts by exploring the jungle archaeological site of Muyil, the largest Maya city discovered in the reserve to date. A 20-minute drive to the south of Tulum, Muyil is located on the shores of the lagoon of the same name, also known as Chunyaxche. In ancient times it was a trade center, the shipping point for goods bound for inland cities throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

As you walk through the forest past the crumbling temples you may see woodpeckers, chachalacas, the exotic turquoise-browed motmot and trogons with their distinctive yellow breasts and white and black-barred tail feathers. Look out for the flash of emerald green hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower and clouds of butterflies settling to lap up minerals from the damp salt-rich earth.

The members of a local ecotourism and fishing cooperative offer boat trips through the Muyil lagoon and wetlands to Boca Paila on the coast. During the journey you are likely to spot different species of herons and egrets, ibis and roseate spoonbills taking flight, wood storks, kingfishers and hunting osprey. Pelicans, frigate birds and cormorants nest in the mangroves around Boca Paila.

You’ll be following the route taken by ancient Maya merchants. Over 1,000 years ago, they dredged and widened a natural channel in the mangroves so that their trading canoes could reach Muyil and a tiny temple is testimony to their presence.

After you have visited the temple your tour guide gives the signal for everyone to jump into the channel. The water is clear, shallow and you are wearing a life jacket. It’s time to lean back, forget your cares and drift with the gentle current.

Another Muyil trip offered as part of the Maya Ka’an community tour collection includes a visit with the villagers of Muyil. They show you how the white sap of the chicozapote tree is tapped and cooked to make chicle, the natural gum that is the original raw material for chewing gum.

For more Sian Ka’an adventures, you can also take the coast road south from Boca Paila to the fishing village of Punta Allen on the shores of Bahia de la Asuncion. Punta Allen is the largest community in the Sian Ka’an Reserve and inhabitants earn their livelihood from the sustainable capture of lobster and ecotourism. They offer birding, fishing and diving trips, nature walks, kayaking and bike excursions.

Ask your Concierge about tours to Sian Ka’an, Rio Lagartos and other nature reserves in the area this winter.


The Travel Gallery

Glorious turquoise waters rimmed by mangroves and jungle, Xel-Ha inlet is an immense natural aquarium, a refuge for multicolored reef fish to feed and breed among the mangrove roots. The lagoon system also includes several cenotes in the forest and is fed by underground rivers. Whether you spend the day snorkeling or just admire the view, Xel-Há is a Riviera Maya must.

If you ever visit Uxmal and explore the Puuc Route in southern Yucatan, call in at the small colonial town of Mani, designated as one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos on December 1. Visit the restored colonial convent, embroidery workshops and sample the tasty local dish poc chuc, grilled marinated pork.

After the Spanish Conquest, Mani was the site of Friar Diego de Landa’s auto da fe in which he burned Mayan codices and idols in an attempt to eradicate their history and religion. Fortunately, some codices survived and ancient beliefs endured.

Miles of spectacular white sand, endless turquoise waters, coral reefs close by and being the gateway to a world of natural and historical attractions have made Cancun one of the world’s leading travel destinations. While 2020 didn’t turn out to be the year of 50-year celebrations we had all hoped for, the news is better for next year. Expedia reported that Cancun and the Riviera Maya are top destination choices for its US customers in 2021.

Long walks along the shoreline, nature and fishing trips, glorious sunsets and fresh seafood are some of Holbox’s charms. This island just off the Gulf coast is well worth a visit. Be sure to order the shrimp ceviche, conch and lobster pizza!

Your Concierge can help you arrange tours to all these places and many more during your next visit.

In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that we share news of the loss of a much-loved member of our Royal Resorts family.


Tyrone Ukaegbo Magaña

Originally from Dallas, Tyrone Ukaegbo joined Royal Resorts in 2003 and worked hard over the years to become one of the leading sales executives. At the time of his passing he was an Assistant Manager at Grand Residences. A gentle soul, Tyrone will be remembered for his intelligence, kindness and compassion. Everyone loved and respected him and he will be greatly missed.


Some of Tyrone’s workmates added their own tributes:


Words cannot express how sorry we are for the loss of Tyrone. God must have needed another angel.

Tyrone was loved and respected by all his coworkers and all the owners at Grand Residences. He has left us too soon. Tyrone will be greatly missed, may he rest in peace.

Catherine Duda


Tyrone, thank you for your friendship, your charisma, generosity, intelligence and joy. Rest in peace. I am going to miss you.

Claudia Ramirez


For me he wasn’t just a great man but a mighty heart, he was my friend. May he rest in peace.

Marcela Azcorra Trejo


Because when I needed you, you were there, you listened to me, you advised me, you protected me, you shared, you encouraged me, you believed in me, you accepted me, you fulfilled me, we had fun together, always wise and always generous, you went ahead in everything and again went ahead. Wait for me there in Valhalla so we can have some Guinness together and cry with laughter turning to see all the stupid things we did here… you will always be my soul brother.

Alejandro “Patrick” García


Tyrone was a friend before anything else; I had the fortune to work with him for many years, I have known him since he started working at Royal Resorts, always with the best attitude and a great personality, we shared many great moments and he will live forever in my memory. We lost an incredible person and for sure we are all going to miss him.

Gerardo Flores


Tye, you were and will always be a part of the Royal Resorts family; you will always be in my heart.

Rosalía Cantú


Ty, you won’t be able to read this but fortunately it is something I was able to tell you myself.


Thank you for your friendship and your love for my family and me.

You are one of the greatest people that I have ever known, so generous, always ready to help others. 

I can’t remember a single moment when I didn’t have a good time with you (unless it was when we were roomies and your snores kept me awake!) 

Thank you for your unstinting support when I was at my lowest ebb, financially and emotionally. I’m going to miss you so much. I’ll miss all those moments when we laughed so much that we cried, and I know that we will meet again for one more laugh!

Jorge López


Tyrone will be greatly missed. He was not only a great asset to Royal Resorts, but a wonderful friend, human being, son and brother.  He seemed tough on the outside but he had one of the warmest hearts I’ve ever known. Always willing to help, always being positive, and he made everyone around him laugh with the funniest jokes.  We will keep him in our hearts forever.

Paola Shouse


All of us at Royal Resorts will treasure our memories of Tyrone. We are sure that you will want to join us in sending your thoughts and prayers to his family and friends during this difficult time.




, ,

No change in the Club Service Fee for 2021

We have some great news from your home away from home. There will be no change to your annual Club Service Fee for 2021. This applies for Fractional and Points contracts. This decision was made at the Advisory Council meeting at the resort on the basis of a recommendation by Royal Resorts Management and unanimously approved by your Advisory Council representatives.

The Grand Residences Advisory Council meeting report and financial statement will be published in the Owners Area of (owner log in required) in the weeks to come.

, ,

Grand Residences has a New Chef

We are sure that you will want to join us in welcoming our new chef to the Grand Residences team, Hector Rentería. Rafael Borbolla left in September to take up a position as Executive Chef in a large all-inclusive resort and we wish him every success in his future career. Chef Rentería joins us as Executive Chef.

Originally from Michoacán, Chef Rentería has Bachelor’s degrees in Gastronomic Management and Food & Beverages from Universidad de Norteamérica and the Instituto Culinario de México, respectively.

He has worked for luxury hotels in Mexico, Doha and United States and was the chef heading up teams for the opening of restaurants in new resorts in Dominican Republic, Montenegro and Serbia. He moved to the Mexican Caribbean in 2015 and has been an Executive Chef since 2018.

We are sure that you will love Chef Hector’s cuisine and creativity and will enjoy meeting him in the weekly cooking classes. Stay posted for an interview with Chef Rentería in the December edition of this newsletter.

, ,

Enjoy Even More Great Dining with the All-in Grand package

If you opt for the All-in Grand package on your Grand Residences vacation in order to enjoy all-inclusive gourmet dining then you’ll love the new, expanded version of the package with more dining choices. In addition to meals and drinks at El Faro Grill, Flor de Canela and Heaven Beach Bar, Room Service and more at Grand Residences, you can now dine at Captain’s Cove, El Conquistador, Hacienda Sisal and restaurants at The Royal Cancun, The Royal Sands and The Royal Haciendas.

If you are in the mood for Italian food, La Trattoria at The Royal Cancun fits the bill and Captain’s Cove is an all-time favorite for fresh seafood and sunset Happy Hour. Book a table for dinner at Los Murales and sample the new menu or try Kinoko, the Asian restaurant, which opened this summer at The Royal Haciendas.

The All-in Grand package now includes:

In Cancun
• Captain’s Cove
• El Conquistador, The Royal Islander
• Hacienda Sisal
• La Trattoria, The Royal Cancun
• La Palapa, The Royal Cancun
• La Veranda, Char Hut, Sand Dollar and Sidelines Bar at The Royal Sands

Riviera Maya
The Royal Haciendas
• Los Murales
• Kinoko
• La Palapa del Sol
• Sol Grill & Luna Grill
• La Rotonda Bar

The All-in Grand dining package is optional for Grand Residences owners and members. For more information and rates contact your Concierge. Reservations are required for El Conquistador, Captain’s Cove, Hacienda Sisal, La Trattoria, Los Murales and Kinoko.

, ,

Seasonal Treats in Store

Will you be joining us at Grand Residences for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year? There are tempting festive menus in store for you as always, starting off with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. This year the chef has created a set menu featuring roast turkey and all the trimmings or tender prime rib, Autumn salad, sweet corn soup and a dessert bursting with rich fall flavors. Delicious dishes for an evening with family and friends as we give thanks for the important things in our lives.

For those owners and members who will be joining us for Christmas, the Noche Buena or Christmas Eve dinner menu also includes a selection of exquisite dishes. Warm turkey salad and raviolis filled with veal, duck, nuts and dried fruit are followed by Beef Tournedos Rossini or Biscayan-style sea bass and a sumptuous fruits of the forest mousse with ruby red chocolate.

New Year’s Eve dinner is foie gras with grilled peaches and spiced Brioche followed by a celebration of seafood with an Asian-Caribbean fusion salad of scallops, sea bass, caviar and coconut. Main courses are fresh lobster or a short rib bourguignon and lobster Thermidor medley. A heavenly hazelnut praline cake with chocolate mousse filling and a hint of Baileys is the perfect ending to your meal.

Sit down with the family and enjoy the New Year’s Day Brunch. The menu includes seasonal fruit, smoked salmon, fruits de mer, roast pork, chilaquiles, waffles, nut tart, eclairs and much more.

For more information, prices and reservations, contact your Concierge. A Thanksgiving menu is also available through Room Service if you prefer to dine in your unit.


News for Grand Residences Golfers

If you like to include a round of golf or two in your Grand Residences vacation, check out the latest news about the Royal Golf program. Grand Residences owners, members and guests are entitled to special rates for play at these courses in the Cancún area and the Riviera Maya and there are weekly tournaments too.

Puerto Cancun
Designed by Tom Weiskopf, Cancún’s newest course stretches for 7,241 yards between the bay and Puerto Cancun marina. Holes 15 and 16 overlook the beach and Hole 18 is the most challenging. Marina Town Center mall is nearby.

Iberostar Cancun
Located in the Cancun Hotel Zone, Iberostar Cancun is a 6,734-yard par 72 course between El Rey archaeological site and Nichupte Lagoon. The most challenging hole is the 14th hole par three.

El Camaleón Mayakoba
Designed by Greg Norman, this 7,024-yard par 72 Riviera Maya course has a jungle and mangrove setting with cenotes, canals, rock outcrops and beach views. It hosts the annual Mayakoba Golf Classic PGA Tournament; in 2020 the dates are November 30 to December 6 and it will be played without course spectators.

Gran Coyote
Designed by Nick Price, Gran Coyote (formerly Grand Coral) is located behind The Royal Haciendas in CoraSol, Riviera Maya. This 7,050-yard course has challenging bunkers and water features. Hole 7 is the most difficult one to play.

Iberostar Playa Paraíso
Designed by P.B. Dye, this Riviera Maya 6,800-yard par 72 championship course has features including a river of rocks and a replica of Chichén Itzá’s famous El Castillo pyramid. The 18th hole par 5 is the most challenging.

Tournament Days
We hope that you will join us for the weekly tournaments at these courses: Monday at Gran Coyote; Wednesday at Iberostar Playa Paraíso, Thursday at Iberostar Cancun; Friday at Puerto Cancun (at least 12 players) and Sunday after 12 p.m. at El Camaleón (at least eight players).

Booking Tee Times
Your Concierge will help you to book tee times (reservations one day before), ask for information about transportation to the courses.

, ,

Discover the Natural Riches of Puerto Morelos

With the Mesoamerican Reef offshore, white beaches stretching for miles and a jungle and wetland reserve on your doorstep, Grand Residences is in the perfect spot for reconnecting with nature in the Puerto Morelos area. The Ruta de los Cenotes is home to deer, spider monkeys and a wealth of bird species and as you enjoy a refreshing dip in a limestone sinkhole, explore jungle trails or fly through the trees on a zip line, you’ll see iridescent blue morph butterflies, orchids and much more.

Beach Walks
Start your day in paradise with a stroll along the beach at dawn. Watch pelicans, gulls and terns diving into the sea in search of fish and frigate birds on high ready to swoop down and steal their catch. Busy along the shoreline foraging for food are smaller birds such as turnstones, sandpipers and plovers known collectively in Spanish as playeritos. And as it is still turtle season, you may see the tiny tracks of baby turtles in the sand heading towards the waves.

Puerto Morelos Reef
Dive right in and marvel at the reef that you can see just offshore. Part of the Mesoamerican Reef, the world’s second longest, Puerto Morelos Reef is rich in marine life, ranging from colorful fish dwelling in the coral gardens to sea turtles and eagle rays.

Puerto Morelos Botanical Garden
Did you know that Puerto Morelos’ Yaaxche-Alfredo Barrera Marin Botanical Garden is the second largest botanical garden in Mexico? Not only that, in addition to showcasing the trees and plants native to the Yucatán Peninsula, it is a nature reserve protecting 65 hectares of jungle and marshland rich in wildlife.

Although the entrance to the botanical garden is next to busy Highway 307, birdsong and the sigh of the breeze in the trees soon replace the distant hum of traffic. As you walk along paths through the forest you may spot orange and yellow orioles, great kiskadees, green jays and woodpeckers. The park is also home to families of spider monkeys, grey fox, coatimundis or tejon and the shy agouti, a rodent the size of a terrier.

Follow the trail to the herb garden where you’ll see familiar plants such as basil, rue, chamomile and spearmint growing with native species traditionally used by the Maya as remedies for ailments ranging from the common cold or fever to stomach bugs and arthritis.

In a jungle clearing there is a rustic exhibition about chicle, the original natural ingredient for chewing gum that is actually the milky white sap or resin from the chicozapote, a native forest tree found throughout southeast Mexico. You can identify chicozapote trees in the park and along jungle trails on the Ruta de los Cenotes by the crisscross scars on their bark, a sign that they were once tapped by chicleros, bands of chicle harvesters.

The Botanical Garden is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Take eco-friendly bug spray with you.

Exploring the Ruta de Los Cenotes
The jungle bordering the Ruta de los Cenotes is even richer in wildlife and opportunities for adventure. Take the road to the west of Highway 307 to the village of Central Vallarta and the small town of Leona Vicario. Along the route you’ll see many wooden signs marking the turn off for cenotes deep in the forest. Formed over millions of years by the erosion of the limestone, these natural wells or sinkholes have crystal-clear waters that look turquoise or emerald, depending on the light, stalactites and stalagmites. Some are open and others are hidden in caves. They include Cenote Las Mojarras, Zapote, Siete Bocas, Boca de Puma, La Noria, Kin-Ha and Verde Lucero and many of them have zip lines and nature trails in the vicinity of the cenote.

The Xenotes Oasis Maya trip offered by Experiencias Xcaret gives you the chance to explore four very different cenotes in one day and includes swimming, snorkeling, zip lining and time for kayaking.

For a day of jungle adventures, Selvatica Park also fits the bill. Fly through the jungle canopy on a series of thrilling zip line circuits, then swim in a cenote. ATV jungle tours are also available.

Bird watching
If you are interested in wildlife, how about an early morning Puerto Morelos birding trip? Accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide you’ll walk along jungle trails alive with the sounds of birdsong. Woodpeckers, hawks, flocks of parrots and Yucatan jays, trogons and keel-billed toucans make an appearance. You’ll hear the distinctive call of the pygmy owl and the raucous rattle-like sound of the chachalaca, a bird the size of a large hen.

Look out for the flashes of color that are the tanagers, orioles, hummingbirds and the Yucatán’s own bird of paradise, the turquoise-browed motmot, which nests in the walls of cenotes.

The forest is also home to spider monkeys, brocket and white tail deer, peccary, margay, ocelot, puma and the elusive jaguar that park wardens occasionally see at night drinking water from cenotes.

Ask your Concierge to help you arrange nature tours and jungle adventures in the Puerto Morelos area.

, ,

Meet Puerto’s Bird Man: Luis Ku

One man knows the forest trails of the Ruta de los Cenotes like the back of his hand and that is Luis Ku, a famous birding guide who lives in Puerto Morelos.

Originally from Temax, a small village in Yucatán, Luis explains that his love of nature dates back to his youth. “Our village was surrounded by ranches and forest and there were many species of birds.” He explains, “I was always interested in nature and the wild creatures and plants I saw around me. I would go looking for them, right up until I went away to university in Merida.”

Luis studied Administration and then moved to Cancun in search of work. He spent 17 years managing the Puerto Morelos Botanical Garden and it was there that he rediscovered his love for nature, learning more about birdlife. He says, “I noticed that the park was a magnet for ornithologists and I would talk to them, learning about the species they were searching for. They invited me to go birding with them. Little by little, I began to give guided tours on request to the Ruta de Los Cenotes, Rio Lagartos, Sian Ka’an and further afield. Eventually, I had so many birdwatcher clients that it became impossible to keep both jobs so I left the Botanical Garden.”

Mexico is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and more than half the country’s 1,080 bird species are found right here in the Yucatán Peninsula (550). They include tropical birds such as the keel-billed toucan and temperate species from cooler climates and there are many endemic species, found nowhere else on the planet. Such riches give it great, hitherto untapped, potential as a birding destination for the world’s 80 million birdwatchers. Luis explains that there are a number of great birding zones within easy travel distances of Cancun, including the Ruta de los Cenotes, Coba, Cozumel, Sian Ka’an and Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserves. Further afield, the archaeological sites of Kohunlich in southern Quintana Roo and Calakmul in Campeche are also worth a visit, along with reserves in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

Luis says, “The Ruta de los Cenotes offers three to five days of fantastic birdwatching, visiting different cenotes such as Boca del Puma, Siete Bocas, La Noria and Kin-Ha and exploring trails through the jungle. Between 250 and 300 bird species have been registered in the area and they are most active early in the morning. Birders can catch a glimpse of keel-billed toucans and collared aracaris, chachalacas, several varieties of trogon, turquoise-browed motmots, flycatchers, colorful tanagers and hummingbirds. He says, “The motmot nests near cenotes, there are pygmy and black and white owls and I know one ramón or breadnut tree that attracts up to 12 toucans to feed at dawn.”

A visit to Sian Ka’an Reserve offers the chance to see jungle dwelling birds such as wood creepers, trogons, black-faced ant thrush and tinamou and wetland species such as herons, jacana and wood storks.

While the incredible sight of thousands of flamingos at Rio Lagartos is the highlight of a visit, Luis explains that bird watching begins along the route through Quintana Roo and Yucatan to the reserve with sightings of hawks such as peregrine and laughing falcons, short-tailed hawk and American kestrel. “It’s an open area with scattered trees, perfect territory for birds of prey.” He adds, “The wetlands of Rio Lagartos are also a haven for endemics such as the Mexican sheartail hummingbird and the Yucatan wren and it is a major area for migratory birds escaping the winter chill of the US and Canada. Migrations actually start in July and August for some species and reach their peak in September and October and the birds leave in March and April. Migratory species include white pelicans, ducks, waders, birds of prey and songbirds.”

Coba and Punta Laguna attract birdwatchers eager for a sighting of the spotted rail and ruddy crake that live in the reed beds surrounding the lagoons and nocturnal birds such as the endemic Yucatan poorwill and the Yucatan nightjar.

Cozumel has its own endemic Cozumel wren and warbler and a shimmering green hummingbird called the Cozumel Emerald.

When asked about his most memorable experience, Luis says, “There have been many, for example in the jungles of the south you see tropical birds such as the endemic ocellated turkey, great curassow, crested caracara, ornate hawk eagle and the largest of them all, the king vulture, but smaller birds such as the white-collared and red capped manakins are also spectacular.

He says, “The thrill of birding in the Yucatan is walking the trails, visiting reserves and seeing a variety of birds every day. It isn’t like Costa Rica where bird watchers are very often confined to a hide waiting for an individual species to appear.”

So the next time you visit the Ruta de los Cenotes keep a lookout for birds and you may even spot Luis Ku with his camera. You can also see his beautiful photos of Yucatan’s birds on Facebook.

Your Concierge can help you arrange unforgettable day trips in the Mexican Caribbean and Yucatan.


Back on the Maya Trail

After months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, archaeological sites in Quintana Roo and Yucatán are open.

The first sites to open in Quintana Roo in mid-September were Tulum, Coba, Muyil and San Gervasio. Sites in southern Quintana Roo including Kohunlich, Dzibanche, Oxtankah and Chacchoben opened in October. In the Yucatan, Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Uxmal, Dzibilchaltun, Mayapan and Kinich Kakmo in Izamal are all now admitting visitors.

New guidelines are in place for visiting the sites, for example masks are mandatory, social distancing is respected and there are limits on the number of visitors admitted per day, at Chichen Itza it is 3,000 and groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people. The evening shows at Chichen Itza and Uxmal are suspended until further notice.

With their ancient grandeur, air of mystery and jungle settings rich in nature, the Yucatan’s archaeological sites invite a moment of reflection. Breathe in the fresh air, close your eyes, listen to the sounds of nature and soak up the energy.

For more information on trips to the area’s archaeological sites contact your Concierge.

, ,

Cocktail Time

Unwind with a Caribbean cocktail to get you in the mood for your next Grand Residences visit. Here’s a drink to ask for poolside or at Heaven Beach Bar.

Mango Tango
¾ oz white rum
½ oz grenadine
2oz fresh strawberries
3oz ice
¾ oz white rum
½oz sugar syrup
2oz tinned mango
3oz ice

Blend the rum, grenadine and strawberries with ice and then the rum, mango and sugar syrup separately and then pour them into a glass in turns to achieve the swirl effect.

, ,

Grand Recipes

This month we are sharing a traditional recipe from the Yucatecan kitchen, a classic dish that you must try on vacation and that is served at lunchtime in El Faro Grill. Sopa de Lima is a light chicken and vegetable broth that is perfumed with lima, a variety of aromatic sweet lime used in the area.

This recipe makes a large amount of soup so you may need to reduce quantities proportionally.

10 oz. sliced green pepper
7 ½ oz. of sliced red pepper
7 oz. sliced onion
9 ½ oz. sliced celery
5 ½ oz. of lima
7 oz. chopped tomato
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt & pepper
2 oz. chicken stock powder
½ oz. chopped garlic
2 oz. mixed vegetable oil (20-80)
7 1/2 oz. chopped carrot
1 gallon chicken stock

Heat 2 oz of cooking oil, add onion and garlic and fry lightly, stirring from time to time to prevent burning. Add carrot, celery, tomato and bay leaves. Pour in chicken broth, lima juice and slices. Season to taste with chicken stock powder, salt and pepper. Finally, add the sliced green and red pepper and bring to the boil and then simmer.
 Add cooked, shredded chicken breast and crispy fried tortilla strips before serving.

Fresh limas are available in markets and supermarkets in the Mexican Caribbean and the Yucatan and are sometimes stocked by Latin American grocery stores in the United States.

, ,

The Travel Gallery

Some of you still cannot be with us right now but we can bring the beauty of the Mexican Caribbean and the Yucatan to you. Here’s our monthly gallery showcasing some of the region’s many natural and historical attractions. How many have you visited? Which ones would you like to explore on future visits to Grand Residences?

A track through the jungle and a palm grove leads to the pristine crescent-shaped beach of Xcacel, a hidden secret. Designated a protected area and turtle sanctuary by the Quintana Roo government, Xcacel-Xcacelito is one of the world’s most important nesting areas for the green turtle.

Aktun Chen
The Aktun Chen cave system lies in the jungle just south of Akumal. There are spotlights in the galleries to show the turquoise waters of cenotes and the delicate beauty of the stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones sculpted by water and calcite over millions of years.

The gateway to the Gran Costa Maya in southern Quintana Roo, Mahahual is a traditional Mexican Caribbean fishing community that is also a cruise ship port of call. Relax on palm-lined beaches, go snorkeling and if you are a diver book a trip to Banco Chinchorro, a spectacular atoll rich in marine life.

An easy one-and-a-half hour drive from Cancun, the colonial town of Valladolid is the perfect spot to spend the day learning about the history and traditions of the Yucatan. Stroll through the center visiting colonial churches and admiring restored casonas or houses. Shop for crafts and sample the local cuisine, visit cenotes, museums and even a distillery making a tequila-like liquor from agave azul.

Your Concierge can help you arrange trips to all these places.

, ,

Beach Reads

Here are some of the books we are reading right now if you are looking for something for the beach. Why not write to us and let us know what’s on your bookshelf or Kindle right now?

The Salt Path
Raynor Winn
Ray and her husband Moth met as teenagers and fell in love. They raised two children and renovated a rundown farmhouse in mid-Wales. They were living their dream when disaster struck. An investment opportunity with a friend went sour and they were sucked up in the ensuing court case, eventually losing their house. Worse news followed when Moth was diagnosed with an incurable disease.

With no jobs and faced with the prospect of homelessness, and mortality, they decided to put their beloved house behind them and walk the coast path from Somerset to the tip of Cornwall in southwest England. The Salt Path is the story of their adventures.

Funny, sad, moving and packed with evocative descriptions of dramatic cliffs and bays, the characters they meet on the way and the challenges of the ever-changing British weather, this is a story of hope. Walking seemed to help Moth and he grew stronger, even though the couple were wild camping and exposed to the elements.

Wherever you are, when you put this book down it makes you want to put on your walking boots and head for the trail.

Ray Winn has just had her second book published. The Wild Silence continues her story with Moth.

If you run out of books remember that you have a neighborhood 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 3 p.m.

, ,

Stay Connected with Grand Residences

Check the Grand Residences and Royal Resorts Facebook pages for photos and updates from your home away from home, recipes, wellness tips, activity and tour ideas in the Mexican Caribbean and much more.

Watch your friends from the Activities team and Kids Club give keep fit, dance and craft classes via Facebook Live. If you miss them don’t worry, you can watch the videos later.

Check the Grand Residences Instagram page for more pictures from paradise.

, ,

Beware of suspicious offers from online companies

It is Royal Resorts policy to alert members of scams attempted by companies or individuals operating online. Several members have reported being contacted by a company called 118 International Realty.

Other members have reported emails and dubious phone calls from a company called Commodity Consultants International Ltd.; one of the representatives they have mentioned is a woman called Amira B. Williams.

A company called Blue Marlin Realty or Blue Marlin Realtors operating out of Chicago has also contacted some members. The name of the Qingjan Realty Group Pte Ltd and of a broker called Victor Santiago also appears in the documents that the member received.

Another member recently reported a phone call she received from a woman identifying herself as a federal prosecutor in Mexico City. This person claimed to be investigating a case against Royal Resorts but her questions were suspicious and alerted the member to a possible scam. We recommend that you watch out for calls of this nature. An official federal prosecutor would not carry out an investigation in such a manner.

In June, several members reported receiving unsolicited calls and emails about title changes from an individual called Marco Deleon operating out of Las Vegas and a company called Administración Hotelera Corporativa Columbus SA de CA. This individual claimed to represent CIT but is not associated with Royal Resorts, CIT or Interval Servicing in any way.

Other members also contacted us about calls from a marketing company agent operating out of Cancun who offered them special stay rates at The Royal Sands and The Royal Caribbean. This is not a Royal Resorts promotion and neither the company nor its agent has any business relationship with us. The fact that this individual mentioned The Royal Caribbean, which is closed and currently under renovation, should be a warning sign not to proceed.

In summary, Members have reported suspicious calls and emails from all of these companies:

• Commodity Consultants International Ltd.
• 118 International Realty
• Blue Marlin Realty or Blue Marlin Realtors
• Administración Hotelera Corporativa Columbus SA de CV
• Network Realty
• Network Real Estate
• Atlantic Realty
• New York Escrow Services
• Black Diamond
• Realty Alliance
• The Brokerage Group
• 123propertyserviceslic
• Realty Consultants
• Safran Group
• Zicasso

Atlantic Realty and Realty Alliance operate out of Boston. The Brokerage Group, Network Real Estate, Black Diamond Group and New York Escrow Services have New York addresses. Zicasso is a Mexican firm supposedly with a parent company in Mountain View, California.

Royal Resorts has no business relationship with any of the aforementioned companies or their representatives. The Legal department has contacted them with a cease and desist notice.

We recommend that you do not engage with these companies or their representatives. Do not submit the membership information requested, and above all, never send money if they mention a processing fee.

When such companies contact you via email or phone to offer unsolicited broker, resale, title change, exchange or rental services and ask for cash in advance to cover “administrative fees”, “processing fees,” “commissions”, “guarantees” or “deposits” it is generally a good indication that they may not be genuine and if you pay it is very possible that you will not hear from them again.

Protecting your personal information
Royal Resorts has a rigorous privacy policy and is in full compliance with privacy laws. Our members’ personal information is confidential and we do everything possible to protect it. We do not sell and have never sold personal information to third parties.

Always follow these steps if you receive a suspicious email or phone call:
• Check the source of the email if the company or individual claims to be associated with Royal Resorts. All Royal Resorts communications are sent from an official email address, if this is not the case, then the email is not from Royal Resorts.
• Disregard the email or phone call if money is requested in advance for resale or other timeshare-related services.
• Do not supply personal data or the contact details of friends if referrals are requested.
• Do an online background check on the company to see if it is legitimate.
• Ask Royal Resorts if you are in any doubt, we are here to help you.
• Above all, do not send any money.
• If you receive an unsolicited call about title changes, contact Royal Resorts or Interval Servicing. Title changes must always be handled through Interval Servicing, your membership services company.

Cyber crime is on the rise and hackers and scammers appear to be more active than ever during the global pandemic. Take care when using the Internet. We recommend that you avoid disclosing your personal information on forums, blogs and other open media venues and participation in online referral schemes that ask you to send the names and details of friends. When you provide your contact information to others in order to rent, sell or lend your unit please ensure that it will be protected.