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Every Picture Tells a Story

Look around you, you may be basking in the warm Caribbean sun under a palm tree but you’ll still see all the trappings of Christmas and smiling people ready to celebrate the season together with alegria or joy. Nochebuenas or poinsettias, the festive plant that Mexico gave to the world, are everywhere you look. There are nacimientos or Nativity scenes in all shapes and sizes and glittering traditional Mexican tree decorations in clay, wood, tin and glass. Piñatas for the posadas hang outside stores and trees twinkle with lights.

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In Search of Flamingos in Rio Lagartos

Go somewhere new this season to restore your bonds with nature. Visit one of the Yucatan’s great wild places, Rio Lagartos. Witness one of its natural wonders, thousands of flamingos feeding in the salt flats or taking wing; there are so many of them that they literally turn the horizon pink. In addition, you’ll see flocks of white pelicans that fly south from the Artic Circle and many other species of waterfowl, waders, shorebirds, songbirds and even hawks that migrate south to the Yucatan to escape the winter chill of northern climes.


A Natural Treasure

Stretching along the coast of northern Yucatán, Rio Lagartos is a 60,348-hectare biosphere reserve of mangroves, salt marshes, dunes and tropical forest that is a magnet for bird watchers and nature lovers. It was the first area of marshland in Mexico to receive global attention and to be included on the UNESCO Ramsar list of internationally important wetlands and the federal government declared it a reserve in 1979.

The reserve’s biological diversity is incredible. Scientists have identified 365 bird species, 58 mammals, including the jaguar and spider monkey, the prehistoric horseshoe crab, 95 reptiles and amphibians, including four species of sea turtles and the crocodiles or lagartos that gave the reserve its name.


Pretty in Pink

Rio Lagartos is a refuge for the North America’s largest nesting colony of Caribbean flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber). You’ll see them everywhere you look, searching for food, preening their bright plumage or in flight formation. Flocks of these striking birds fan out from the reserve to feed in lagoons stretching along the coast from El Cuyo to Dzilam Bravo, Telchac, Uaymitun and Chabihau and a second colony inhabits the Celestun Biosphere Reserve on the west coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Flamingos feed with their heads upside down, underwater, moving their beaks from side to side in a sweeping motion as they walk forward. They stir up the mud, sieving it with their spine-covered tongues and extracting minute crustaceans. Sometimes they stamp their feet in a circle to stir the silt up. Biologists have discovered that they spend up to 70 per cent of their day feeding and believe that the vivid salmon pink plumage of the Yucatan flamingos is the result of a diet based on tiny brine shrimps and other crustaceans found only in this area.


Exploring the Wetlands

Fishermen from the waterfront village of Rio Lagartos offer boat trips along the ria or estuary and through the mangroves to the lagoons and salt flats where the flamingos feed. Many have been trained as bird guides and carry checklists to help you identify the species you see. Often spotted are reddish egrets, great white egrets, green and blue herons, wood storks, white pelicans and skimmers. Look out for ibis, roseate spoonbills, kingfishers, osprey and even hummingbirds.


Getting to Rio Lagartos

Ask your Concierge to help you plan a visit to Rio Lagartos. If you want to explore at your own pace, the reserve is a three and a half hour drive from Cancun via the toll road or Highway 180 to Valladolid and then Highway 295 to the coast, via Tizimin. You’ll see birds at any time of the day but remember that they are more plentiful at daybreak and also at sunset when they fly back to their roosts.


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Puerto Morelos, One of the 10 Coolest Places to Retire in the Caribbean

According to Caribbean Journal, your peaceful waterfront community Puerto Morelos is one of the 10 coolest places to retire in the Caribbean.

With a photo of the iconic leaning lighthouse and the sea, the editor had this to say about “PoMo”:

“This little fishing village a short drive from both Cancun and Playa del Carmen is a lovely, charming town that’s increasingly drawn interest from expatriates for its close-to-the-beach lifestyle. It’s a place for beach, culture and a developing food scene, buoyed by the launch of the nearby Grand Residences resort.”


We are sure that many of our owners would agree with Caribbean Journal.


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Alma Libre Bookstore is Open for the Season

Have you already run out of books for the beach? Call in at Alma Libre Bookstore on the main square in Puerto Morelos. Run by Canadian couple Rob and Joanne Birce, Alma Libre stocks an extensive selection of second-hand and new books ranging from thrillers and sci-fi to historical romance and the classics. You’ll also find travel guides and books on Mexican art, history, nature and traditions, maps, crafts and more. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. closed on Sunday and Monday.


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More Flights to Cancun from Four US Cities

American Airlines has announced four new Saturday flights between Cancun and Raleigh-Durham, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Kansas City to begin on March 5, 2016.

In other flight news, Lufthansa will start flying from Frankfurt to Cancun this month and Venezuelan airline Estelar is resuming flights from Caracas to Cancun. Iberia has long-term plans to expand its flight network from Madrid to Mexico to include Cancun, Guadalajara and Monterrey.

Work has now begun on the construction of Terminal 4, which has the potential to receive around nine million passengers a year, boosting the overall capacity of Cancun International Airport to more than 20 million passengers.

The forecast is that the airport will end the year at least 10 percent up on the record-breaking 17.5 million passengers it registered in 2014.

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Cancun wins at the World Travel Awards

For the fifth year running, Cancun scooped up a World Travel Award as the Best Beach Destination in Mexico and Central America. The Cancun Visitors and Convention Bureau was also a winner in its category. The awards ceremony took place at the World Travel Market in London, November 2-5.

Mexico was the guest country at the World Travel Market this year to mark the UK-Mexico Dual Year of cultural, commercial and educational ties. It is also a sign of the growing interest that the United Kingdom market has in Mexico and the rich travel experiences that it offers.

More than 400,000 visitors from the United Kingdom already travel to the Mexican Caribbean every year and the number is growing. In terms of international visitors, the United Kingdom now represents the third most important market for Mexico, after the United States and Canada.

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Quintana Roo Breaks World Record for Number of Cruise Ship Passengers

From January 1 to November 15, the cruise ship ports of Cozumel and Mahahual welcomed 3, 118,207 passengers on 1,013 ships, a world record in the cruise sector. This also consolidates the state’s position as the leading cruise ship destination in the Caribbean.

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New Water Park opens in Mahahual

An attraction for cruise ship passengers and families exploring the Costa Maya, the Lost Maya Kingdom is a new water park in Mahahual with a dash of Indiana Jones adventure thrown in.

Nine water slides down the side of a 112-foot pyramid, four zip line circuits, some with water splashdowns, a zip line coaster, rope bridges, pools, the lazy river, and jungle trails make this a hit with children.   For a spot of relaxation, visitors can drift along the Jaguar River or swim in the cenote.

From the slides to restaurants and gift stores, everything is decorated on the Maya theme with touches that look as they are straight out of an archaeologists’ base camp in the middle of the forest.


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Excavations Planned for 5 Mayan Sites in 2016

Archaeologists working for INAH, the National Institute of Anthropology and History will continue with excavation and restoration projects in Chichen Itza, Dzibilchaltun, Ek Balam, Mayapan and the Izamal area in 2016. They will be searching for more evidence that casts light on the lives of the ancient inhabitants of these cities.

In the case of Mayapan, In the case of Mayapan, cartographers from Morehead State University, University of Albany and St. Rose College, Albany, United States and archaeologists from the Regional INAH Center in Yucatan have been using Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) technology developed by NASA to map the landscape for traces of ancient buildings.

The sophisticated sensor is used during over flights of the study area and pulses of light penetrate the forest and undergrowth recording three-dimensional images of manmade structures such as buildings, artificial platforms, walls and paths. This enables the researchers to create a map of the area.

Since 2013, they have registered the existence of more than 6,000 buildings within the city wall and its hinterland in addition to 116 cenotes and now estimate that the city had a population of up to 20,000 people.

Mayapan is considered the last city-state of the Maya in the Yucatan. Settlers from Chichen Itza founded it around 1250 A.D., leaving their homeland, which was in decline by then.

Although much smaller than Chichen Itza, Mayapan shares certain similarities with its more powerful predecessor, for example it also has a pyramid called El Castillo and a circular observatory on a temple mound.

Archaeologists believe that Mayapan was abandoned around 1450.

(Source: Lidar technology, Novedades)

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Xcaret, Location for Black Knight Decoded, with Scenes Filmed from Space

Xcaret was one of the 10 locations around the world selected for the filming of Black Knight Decoded, a short movie featuring video, music, technology and a message of peace and unity for the world. What sets this film apart is that these locations were all filmed from outer space using Urthecast, the first ultra-high definition video system on board the International Space Station.

More than 1,000 volunteers gathered in Xcaret to participate in the sequence for the Mexican Caribbean.

British actor David Oyelowo (Selma, Lincoln, The Butler, Interstellar, Nightingale, Jurassic World, Jack Reacher, The Help, Spooks, Small Island) and Indian actress Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, You will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Trishna, Rise of the Planet of Apes, Jungle Book: Origins) star in the film, which also features music by Usher.

Black Knight Decoded forms part of a new Pepsi campaign https://youtu.be/exs5vopcESc

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Upcoming Events

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5988″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Anniversary of the Founding of Merida, January 6

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

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][dt_fancy_separator separator_style=”line” separator_color=”default”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5990″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Cancun and Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival, April 28 to May 1

Multiple venues t.b.a.



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Bali Bound with the President’s Circle

Discover one of the jewels of the East, the island of Bali. Your President’s Circle membership gives you exclusive reciprocal use privileges to stay at the award-winning Karma Royal property Karma Kandara.

“A land of a thousand temples,” the exotic island of Bali is a tropical paradise steeped in the romance and mystery of the Orient. An ancient legend says that Bali is the home of the gods and the islanders have a sacred trust to hold and preserve this heavenly creation.

Basking in the sun on a peerless white shoreline and diving and snorkeling some of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs are just the beginning of your Bali escape. Explore the mountainous heartland where rural farmers work impossibly steep terraced rice paddies in the shadow of towering volcanoes or wander forest trails in search of more than 500 species of orchid and birds of paradise with iridescent plumage. Shop for wood carvings, jewelry, art and ikat textiles in the bustling markets and sample the cuisine. Learn about island history, the cultures that have made their home here and visit the Hindi temples that dot the landscape. As you witness a colorful village festival or watch traditional dancers perform to haunting Indonesian gamelan melodies on a star-filled night, you’ll fall under Bali’s spell.

Crowning a limestone bluff on the Bukit Peninsula in the south of the island, Karma Kandara offers Balinese-style residences with every luxury and private plunge pools set in tropical gardens. Resort facilities include a beach club, infinity pool, gourmet restaurants, a wine bar, the Karma Spa and a kids club.

In Sanskrit, “Kandara” means “Holy Place” and the breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean from the cliffs are inspiring. Accessible only by hill tram, the white-sand beach at the foot of the cliff is secluded and the shallow crystal-clear reef lagoon is ideal for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking.

Contact the Presidents Circle Concierge if you would like to arrange a vacation at the Karma Kandara or its sister resorts in Bali, Thailand (Phuket and Chiang Mai), India (Goa, Jaipur and Shimla) and Germany (Bavarian Alps) available through the Karma Exchange program. An exchange fee applies and exchanges are subject to availability.

Accommodation options at the Karma Kandara in Phase V of the resort) range from one-bedroom pool villas (sleep 4 with or without plunge pools to two-bedroom pool villas (sleep 6). Blackout dates apply: Easter (April 4-9), Christmas & New Year (Dec 23-Jan 5) and August high season (first 3 weeks of August).


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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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If you would like to make a referral

Call +52(998) 881-0100 ext. 65846. or





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Your Daily Bike Ride

How about a bike trip the next time you visit Grand Residences? Sign up for the daily trip at the Activity Center and follow your guide along a route that will take you into Puerto Morelos.

You’ll cycle past the mangrove forest and your guide will tell you about some of the animals and birds that make their home in the wetlands. Then it’s on to the Puerto Morelos pier and a stop to cool off with an ice cream or fresh fruit. Learn about the history of our pueblito and the famous leaning lighthouse or faro and get a group photo on the dock.

On the way back to the resort, the guide will take you past the market and the craft shops and there’s time to stop if you would like to take a look.

The route is 8.7 kilometers and activity center staff will tell you how long it will take and how many calories you’ll burn off as you enjoy the ride. Bikes come with helmets, jackets, bottled water and a basket. This activity is not for children under the age of 12.

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Spa Pampering

Whatever the season, start your vacation in style at the Spa. A soothing massage will do wonders for tense neck and shoulder muscles and alleviate stress.

Indulge with a luxury facial or body wrap made with the purest natural ingredients and the healing properties of herbs to cleanse and rejuvenate your skin, restoring balance and harmony.

After a morning at the Spa you’ll be ready to unwind and enjoy some real Riviera Maya relaxation.

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Grand Golf

November is the month that PGA golf comes to the Riviera Maya and visitors have the chance to watch some of the world’s leading players battle it out on the El Camaleon course at Mayakoba. Yet avid golfers know that great golf is to be enjoyed year-round in the Mexican Caribbean on a collection of impeccably manicured courses designed by golf legends the likes of Greg Norman, Nick Price, Jack Nicklaus, P.B. Dye and Tom Weiskopf.

Ask your Concierge for assistance booking tee times and take advantage of special discounted green fees for Royal Resorts members at several prestigious courses in the Cancun area and the Riviera Maya: Iberostar Cancun and Iberostar Playa Paraíso, Playa Mujeres, Cancun Country Club, Puerto Cancun, El Camaleon at Mayakoba and Grand Coral.

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Every picture tells a story

Take a look at this month’s selection of photos celebrating the tropical flowers you’ll see in the Mexican Caribbean and wherever you go in the country. The colors are so vibrant, warm and cheerful it’s no wonder that they are reflected in everything from traditional shawls, dresses and crafts to the paint used to decorate homes.

If you have a picture of Grand Residences, Puerto Morelos or a favorite place in the Mexican Caribbean or the Yucatan that you would like to share with us, we would love to see it. Send your pictures to memories@royalresorts.com A selection of the photos we receive will be published in this newsletter.


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The Fegley Family

Grand Residences fans start at an early age and we wanted to share the words of seven-year-old Mara Fegley who had this to say about her home away from home for a school project. “You should go to Mexico, it is an awesome place. You can relax at the beach and get a spray bottle that has water in it. If you want to you can dive and see all types of sea animals. You can stay at the Grand Residences… it has a lot of pools and is one of the best places. If you want you can even put an iguana on your back for a photo. There are plenty of great reasons to visit Mexico.”

Mara vacations at Grand Residences with parents Andrew and Tami and her teenage brothers Connor and Aidan. The Fegleys are Grand Residences owners and Royal Resorts members since 2005.

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Cozumel, Island of Swallows

An underwater world of majestic coral walls and columns festooned with huge sponges and sea fans, home to endless species of colorful fish, large and small, Cozumel’s reefs are one of nature’s wonders, attracting divers from all over the world. Yet there’s more to Mexico’s largest inhabited island than coral reefs and it has a rich history.


Taking the plunge

First brought to international attention by Mexican diver René Cardona and French conservationist and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, the chain of reefs girdling the leeward side of the island offers adventures for divers of all levels. Visibility is as high as 200 feet, 300 species have fish have been identified in the area and the coral gardens teem with marine life of all shapes and sizes. The current enables divers to practice drift diving and literally fly past coral walls and drop-offs, keeping pace with sea turtles and schools of eagle rays.

Divers spend a lifetime exploring reefs like Paraíso, Chankanaab, La Herradura, San Francisco, Yucab, Santa Rosa, Colombia, Maracaibo and the largest of them all, Palancar, famous for its coral buttresses, caves and walls.

Some shallower reefs such as Chankanaab and Paraíso are also suitable for snorkeling and schools of blue tangs, sergeant majors and jacks and pairs of angelfish sail past swimmers. For visitors who would prefer to see the underwater world without getting wet, there are glass-bottomed boats and an unforgettable immersion on the Atlantis submarine, which dives to a depth of 100 feet.


Mayan Goddesses, Conquistadors and Pirates

In ancient times, Cozumel or Cuzamil, “land of the swallows,” as it was known was held sacred by the Maya as the site of a shrine to Ixchel, goddess of the moon and fertility. Ancient temples still dot the flat, forested landscape and there are lighthouses and lookout posts on the coast, testimony to the days of Mayan seafarers.

San Gervasio is the largest of Cozumel’s 25 archaeological sites and during the pre-Hispanic period it was a bustling city and a center of maritime trade. It was also visited by pilgrims who would travel hundreds of miles overland and then make the perilous sea crossing from Xaman-Há (Playa del Carmen) and Pole (Xcaret) to worship at the shrine of Ixchel.

In 1519, a Spanish expeditionary force led by Hernán Cortés landed on the island. From Cozumel, Cortes and his band of soldiers sailed westward around the Yucatan Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico, eventually landing on the coast of Veracruz. They made their way across the mountains to Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. By 1521, this ruthless band had defeated the Aztec army and overthrown a mighty empire, seizing its land and treasures.

During the Colonial period of Mexican history, Cozumel was uninhabited and became a haven for pirates such as Captain Henry Morgan and Miguel Molas. In the 1850s, refugees fleeing the Caste War settled the island.

Call in at the Museum in the island capital San Miguel for a glimpse of Cozumel’s history, traditions and natural heritage. There are exhibits on the ancient Maya, the coming of the Spaniards, pirates and the 19th-century colonization of the island. Other displays showcase local festivals such as the Carnival and the El Cedral Fair held at the beginning of May. Learn about the formation of the coral reefs and the island’s flora and fauna. The tropical forest and wetlands are rich in wildlife, including endemic creatures such as the pygmy raccoon.


Exploring the island

If you are not going straight out on a dive, snorkeling or fishing trip, why not rent a car, moped or a taxi for a tour of the island? The island’s sheltered swimming beaches are all on the west coast but the rugged windswept east coast has some beautiful, deserted stretches of sand for walking (be aware that strong currents and undertow make swimming dangerous on the windward coast).

Other island attractions include Chankanaab, a nature park with a crystal-clear lagoon and reef for snorkeling, a cenote or sinkhole connected to the Caribbean by an underground river, a botanical garden and dolphin swims. Punta Sur nature reserve on the southern tip of the island and Isla de la Pasión in the north are also worth a visit and are rich in birdlife. Arrange a boat trip to El Cielo, a shallow reef and calm stretch of crystal-clear water where the seabed is covered with starfish. Take photos but don’t disturb these living treasures.

If you would like to visit Cozumel, the Concierge will help you plan an unforgettable excursion, including the ferry crossing from Playa del Carmen, snorkeling or diving, and other island sightseeing adventures.

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Puerto Morelos welcomes Trova Music Festival

On November 7 and 8, Puerto Morelos played host to Trova Fest, La Trova y El Mar, a music festival celebrating the mellow sounds of traditional and contemporary Mexican guitar ballads. Evening concerts took place on the waterfront.

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Puerto Morelos to become Municipal District

Puerto Morelos becomes the 11th municipio or municipality in Quintana Roo. The motion was approved by the Quintana Roo State Congress and the first Municipal Council will start work on January 6, 2016.

Puerto Morelos was formerly part of the Benito Juarez municipality and Cancun City Hall was responsible for public works in the community. The new Puerto Morelos district will stretch from Petempich Bay to the south and inland to the communities of Central Vallarta and Leona Vicario.

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2015 OHL Golf Classic at MayaKoba

Several former U.S. Open and British Open champions have already confirmed that they will be competing in the 2015 OHL Golf Classic at MayaKoba, the Riviera Maya’s prestigious tournament and Mexico’s only PGA event. The tournament runs from November 9 to 15 and players have until November 6 to commit. To date the field of competitors includes Graeme McDowell (2010 U.S. Open), Angel Cabrera (U.S. Open, Masters Tournament), Justin Leonard (British Open), Steward Cink (British Open), Lucas Glover (U.S. Open) and Geoff Ogilvy (U.S. Open).

Seven of the eight champions of the tournament in previous years will be present: Fred Funk (2007), Mark Wilson (2009), Cameron Beckman (2010), Johnson Wagner (2011), John Huh (2012), Harris English (2013) and Charlie Hoffman (2014). The eighth champion Brian Gay (2008) is recovering from a wrist injury and may still be fit enough to play.

Some of Mexico’s leading golfers will be taking to the fairway. PGA Tour members Carlos Ortiz and Abraham Ancer head the list and Rodolfo Cazaubon, Yoshio Yamamoto and Oscar Fraustro are also expected to qualify.

With a prize purse of US6.2 million, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba is Latin America’s most lucrative tournament. With each year that passes, more players are committing to play the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleon course.

If you would like to watch tournament play ask your Concierge for assistance arranging tickets and transport to the course.

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Record-breaking Turtle Season at Xcacel-Xcacelito Turtle Sanctuary

The best nesting season ever, a record-breaking year is how biologists have rated the summer of 2015 at the Xcacel-Xcacelito Turtle Sanctuary in the Riviera Maya. More than 4,700 green and loggerhead turtles laid 376,000 precious eggs along this pristine 2.5-kilometer stretch of beach to the south of Akumal.

Cozumel, Cancun and Isla Mujeres are also reporting a significant increase in the numbers of turtle nests, eggs and hatchlings released during the 2015 season.

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Bridge over Bojorquez Lagoon in Cancun to Go Ahead in 2016

FONATUR, the government agency that manages the landscaping and upkeep of Cancun, has announced the building of a bridge in the Hotel Zone to reduce traffic congestion in the Punta Cancun area. The bridge will span Bojorquez Lagoon, which is part of the larger Nichupte Lagoon system, from Kilometer 7 to Kilometer 9 on Kukulcan Boulevard, providing an alternative route for vehicles.

Construction of the bridge will begin in 2016 and the project is slated for completion in 2017. With a span of 1206.6 meters, the bridge will be sustained by 28 columns and will have design features to help reduce its impact on the lagoon ecosystem, water circulation and the mangrove forest on the shoreline.

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Cancun visitor numbers up on 2014

The latest Cancun Hotel Association tourism figures for the period January – August 2015 show that Cancun has welcomed 3,714,599 visitors to date, 7.2 percent up on the same period in 2014. The forecast is that it will finish the year with a growth rate of between 3 and 4 percent in the number of visitors.