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Searching for a City of Gold in the Yucatan, Izamal

If you like to go somewhere different each time you visit the Mexican Caribbean, how about a trip to Izamal, the Yucatan’s very own “city of gold?”  This peaceful little town famous for its bright yellow buildings 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. On August 15, it honors its patron saint Our Lady of Izamal with processions, masses, dances, a fair and the traditional vaquería.

 

Pueblo Mágico

Izamal is one of Yucatan’s two Pueblo Mágicos, a distinction it shares with Valladolid. The Mexico Tourism Board launched Pueblos Mágicos to promote communities with their own brand of magic and colorful traditions.

Izamal has been inhabited since the days of the ancient Maya, in fact the earliest traces of human occupation date back to the third century B.C., making the site older than Uxmal and Chichén Itzá. Izamal later became a sacred place, attracting Mayan pilgrims from all over the Yucatán, who worshipped Itzamná or Zamna, the chief god, inventor of writing, medicine and agriculture.

Over 20 major Mayan buildings have been found in and around Izamal, along with a network of sacbes or roads, house mounds and tombs. The Mayan sun god, Kinich Kakmo was also venerated here and the pyramid erected in his honor still dominates the skyline. Standing 35 meters high, it is the third largest building in Mesoamerica in terms of volume.

 

The Convent

After the Conquest, Spanish friars took advantage of Izamal’s religious importance by building a huge Franciscan mission on top of the Pap-Hol-Chac temple. The San Antonio de Padua mission 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 ten most important shrines. The fortress-like building is also said to have the largest closed atrium in Mexico and one of the largest in the world, with no fewer than 75 arches!

Just outside the convent walls is a statue of Friar Diego de Landa, the Spanish missionary who oversaw its construction. He also undertook a dangerous journey to Guatemala to bring back a statue of Our Lady of Izamal. He is more famous, however, for the auto de fe in Maní in 1562 in which he ordered thousands of Mayan codices or books to be burned. In a later act of remorse he wrote an account of Mayan life at the time of the Conquest.

Wherever you turn in Izamal you’ll see cheerful yellow paint and a white trim, this tradition dates from the Colonial Period and started with the convent. Nowadays most of the historic houses, arches, churches and civic buildings sport the Izamal colors.

Explore the streets and squares surrounding the convent on foot or hire a horse-drawn carriage or victoria. Apart from the convent and the Mayan pyramids, other local landmarks include the Town Hall, the Community Museum in Calle 31, the colonial churches of San Ildefonso, Los Remedios, Carmen and Santa Cruz and a number of restored houses that now operate as restaurants or hotels.

If you are feeling hungry, the Kinch Kakmo restaurant in the shadow of the pyramid of the same name, is famous for its Yucatecan cuisine.

 

Craft Creations

You may be lucky enough to visit a craft workshop during your visit. Local artisans produce embroidered cotton dresses, hammocks, wood carvings, silver, henequen and seed jewelry and colorful papier mâché butterflies. There are several walking tours that will take you past workshops in different neighborhoods; ask for a map in the Tourist information booth in Izamal Town Hall on the square.

Folk art can also be purchased in the plaza, at several craft shops and galleries and at the Izamal Cultural Center. Funded by the Banamex Foundation and managed by a cooperative of enterprising young Izamaleños, the Cultural Center also has an exhibition of fine handicrafts from all over the country, an informative display on the history of henequen, a café and a mini spa.

As the sun goes down, spend some time people watching in the peaceful main square and stay on after dark for the La Luz de los Mayas Light & Sound Show staged at the Convent at 8:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

The landscape around Izamal is dotted with henequen haciendas and the fields of the sage-green plant that played such an important role in the Yucatecan economy in the late 19th century. Most are abandoned but small-scale cultivation still continues at Chichihú. Haciendas Tzalancab and San José Tecoh are open to the public from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and offer bird watching trails. Guides are available at the Tourist Information booth.

 

Getting to Izamal

If you would like to visit Izamal, why not ask your Concierge to arrange a private excursion for you? If you decide to rent a car and explore at your own pace, Izamal is 158 miles from Cancún and 43 miles from Mérida, take the turnoffs signposted on the toll road or Highway 180.

 

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Red Cross in Puerto Morelos

Puerto Morelos now has a small Red Cross Clinic at the service of residents and visitors alike. This will improve health care in the community and help reduce response times to emergencies.

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Beach Cleaning

In our May newsletter we reported on the unusual amounts of seaweed that are washing ashore on beaches throughout the Mexican Caribbean. This is still occurring and is not confined to the state of Quintana Roo. The Caribbean islands and the Gulf coast of the United States are having similar experiences.

Beach cleaning is being carried out on a daily basis in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and other resort areas such as Akumal, Tulum and Mahahual. In the third week of July, the Federal Government authorized additional funds for Municipal governments to hire more people to clean the beaches and conservation groups, soldiers and people from all walks of life are also volunteering to help remove the seaweed that washes ashore.

As it is sea turtle nesting season seaweed is being removed manually on beaches where there are nests in situ. There are restrictions on heavy machinery that could damage nests and crush the eggs. Most of the hotels in Cancun participate in the turtle protection program and transport the eggs further up the beach to special enclosures or turtle nurseries, diggers are permitted during the morning and not at night when turtles are emerging to lay their eggs. In Puerto Morelos, diggers are also operating on beaches that are not turtle nesting sites.

Municipal authorities are working with local biologists on a cleaning and disposal plan for the seaweed. Once the salt has leached out it can be composted and used as a fertilizer. In Puerto Morelos, some of the seaweed removed from the beaches is being deposited in an old quarry and it will eventually be used in the parks and gardens. In other areas, the seaweed is being buried in the dunes and the soil formed will boost plant growth and help protect the shoreline from erosion.

Government officials are also in contact with experts from universities in the United States who are monitoring floating patches of seaweed and the ocean currents that transport them north through the Caribbean. As yet the origin of this year’s bloom is still unclear.

There are several theories about what is causing so much seaweed. Increasing sea temperatures due to climate change and excessive nutrients in the water from fertilizers and waste water may cause seaweed to proliferate. Other scientists believe that it may be one of the environmental impacts of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is important to note that the seaweed is completely harmless and it is also a haven for many creatures such as shells, tiny crabs, baby turtles and fish.

We will keep you posted on the seaweed and plans to clean the beaches.

 

Cancun seaweed

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Restoring the Puerto Morelos Wetlands

The State Government is preparing a project to restore the wetlands of Puerto Morelos. The first stage is an in-depth study of the ecosystem and its health, identifying problem areas. This analysis is likely to take between five to seven months and once complete will dictate the measures to be taken.

This period will be followed by the rescue period of five to seven years. Actions will include reforestation with mangrove plants and other wetland plants. Water channels may also be opened in areas of the wetland that are now completely dry or where there is little or no circulation. In other areas where roads are planned, alternative routes may have to be proposed.

Source: Novedades

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Cancun Maya Museum Hosts To’on Exhibition on the Maya of Today

The Cancun Maya Museum is hosting a seasonal exhibition of photos and videos on the Yucatan Maya of today, their lives, culture and traditions. Through videos, they tell their own stories, relate the history of their people, their beliefs and their legends.

Located opposite Captain’s Cove restaurant, the Cancun Maya Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Monday. Admission is $59 pesos per person, which includes the tour of the museum, seasonal exhibitions such as this one and a visit to the adjacent San Miguelito archaeological site.

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Cancun Airport Expansion

Good news for Cancun visitors, the renovation of Terminal 3 at Cancun International Airport will be completed this year and work will begin on a fourth terminal.

Terminal 4 is scheduled to be finished by 2017 and will boost the airport’s passenger handling capacity to 25 million people per year. In 2014, 17.4 million international and domestic passengers used the airport, a 9.35 percent increase on 2013.

In other airport news, the Mexican Immigration Institute has announced that it will be adding more personnel and booths to the Immigration Area at Cancun and Mexico City airports in order to speed up the entry process for arriving passengers. To date, no time frame has been given for this upgrade.

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Flight News

Mexican carrier Interjet is offering two new daily flights from Cancun to Havana and Miami. Avianca will start flying from Lima, Peru to Cancun on July 26. In October, Sun Country Airlines will begin flying from Fort Myers, Spirit will cover the Houston –Cancun route and on December 18, Delta will launch a Seattle-Cancun service. Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines will also be adding Cancun to their flight network in 2016.

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Blue Flag for Cancun’s Beaches

Six of Cancun’s beautiful white beaches received Blue Flag certification in early July in recognition of the cleanliness of the sand, the quality and transparency of the water and the facilities offered for beachgoers. The international blue flag is now flying at Playa Delfines, Playa Ballenas, Playa Marlin, Chac Mool, Las Perlas and Playa El Niño. Elsewhere in the state, a popular bathing spot in Bacalar and Playa Posada del Mar on Isla Mujeres were also awarded Blue Flag status.
In terms of Blue Flags Cancun is the undisputed leader in Mexico and more Mexican Caribbean beaches, including Puerto Morelos, are preparing for the rigorous inspection process in 2016.

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Tourist Numbers on the Rise

In the first quarter of the year, Cancun welcomed 1,624,270 visitors, 5.8 percent up on the same period in 2014.
The countries showing the most significant growth rates in terms of numbers of visitors were:

Argentina 15%
Brazil 9%
Mexico 8%
Colombia 7%
United States 4%
Canada 3%
United Kingdom 3%
Chile 1%
Costa Rica 1%

Tourism earnings also rose and overall, the state of Quintana Roo received 3,740,497 visitors, a 5.9 per cent rise on 2014. The Mexican Tourism Board is also reporting that 10,482,000 international visitors traveled to Mexico during the first three months of the year.
In other news, the American Society of Travel Agencies (ASTA) announced that Cancun is one of the top four travel destination for US tourists this year, along with London, Rome and Paris.

 

tourist

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Museum of Prehistory Opens in Dos Ojos

Dos Ojos Cenote in the district of Tulum will have a new attraction for visitors this month, the Museum of Prehistory. The Museum will have exhibits of fossils found during dives in the cenotes and underground rivers in the Tulum area and replicas of some of the most famous finds such as the Woman of Naharon, a skeleton of a woman who died more than 10,000 years ago and was one of the earliest inhabitants of the Yucatan Peninsula. There is also a history of three decades of dive and archaeological explorations in the area.

Admission: $50 pesos per person

museo-prehistoria-en-dos-ojos

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Flamingo Conservation Group wins Mexican Ecology Award

Yucatan conservation group Niños y Crias A.C., has won the National Award for Ecological Merit 2015 for its 16 years of work with flamingos in Río Lagartos and Celestun.

Niños y Crias studies the flamingo colonies, monitors the health of the wetlands and works with coastal communities, giving environmental education seminars and organizing clean ups to remove garbage that may harm the birds and other species.

Thanks to its efforts and those of biosphere reserve staff, other conservation partners and the communities themselves, they have seen the flamingo population in the Yucatan rise from 4,500 to 22,000 in 2014.

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Amazing Mayan Discoveries in Tonina

Archaeologists studying the ancient Mayan city of Tonina near Ocosingo in Chiapas have released their latest findings. The city is twice as large as originally thought and they have identified several districts outside the royal palaces and priests quarters, including residential neighborhoods and administrative buildings. More than 300 hieroglyphic inscriptions have also been recovered and will help cast more light on the city’s history and its relations with rival cities in northern Chiapas, Campeche and Guatemala.

They also discovered that the Acropolis, a sprawling complex of temples on a hillside is actually much taller than originally thought. The hill is not a natural earth mound but is in fact a 240-foot-high pyramid with stone steps leading from the base to the summit. Later Tonina rulers chose to build over the structure, believing that they were consolidating their power by doing so.

This discovery now makes the Acropolis one of the tallest ancient buildings in the Americas.

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Upcoming Events

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5584″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Izamal, August 15, Izamal

Masses, processions, traditional dances and music.[/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=”5586″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]165th Anniversary of the Settlement of Isla Mujeres, August 17

The fishing village of Dolores on Isla Mujeres is celebrating the 165th anniversary of its foundation with processions, dances, music 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][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5588″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Fiesta del Cristo de Las Ampollas, September 27, Merida

The patron saint of Merida is honored with masses, pilgrimages, processions and traditional dances.[/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=”5423″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Second Festival of Mexican Wine, Riviera Maya, October 15,16 & 17

Conferences and workshops, wine tastings, art, music, wine dinners and the vendimia or wine harvest evening.[/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=”5424″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]International Festival of Maya Culture, Merida, October 16-25

In October, Merida will be hosting FICMAYA, an international festival celebrating Maya culture and the arts.

The theme of the 2015 festival is Science reflected in the Architecture, Time and Landscape of the Mayab. It brings together researchers, artists and the representatives of Mayan communities from Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco and Chiapas, the Central American countries of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador and other countries. All share a love of Maya culture. This year, Quintana Roo is the guest state and Cuba the guest country, chosen for its strong ties to the Yucatán through history.

Details of the festival program will be revealed in July and will include academic seminars on aspects of the Maya culture and the latest discoveries made by researchers; theater, concerts, dance, art exhibitions and movies. A selection of events from the famous Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato will also be featured.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][dt_fancy_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5425″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Xcaret Festival of Life & Death Traditions, Xcaret, October 30, 31, November 1 & 2

Hosted by Xcaret Park, the Festival of Life and Death Traditions showcases one of Mexico’s richest and most colorful customs, the Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos, which takes place on November 1 and 2. At this time of year, Mexicans believe that the souls of the departed are permitted to return to the world of the living for a short time and they welcome their loved ones back with altars laden with flowers, food, treasured possessions and other offerings, and with candlelit vigils, masses and serenades.

The Festival program features processions, altars, traditional cuisine, art exhibits, music, dance, theater, children’s events and a visit to the colorful Mexican cemetery.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][dt_fancy_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5379″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]OHL Classic at Mayakoba PGA Golf Tournament, November 9-15

Some of the world’s top golfers, including legendary PGA champions and up and coming players will be gathering in the Riviera Maya this November for the OHL Golf Classic at El Camaleon Golf Club in Mayakoba.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][dt_fancy_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5590″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Caribbean Culture Festival, November 11-16, Cancun, Chetumal, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen

The Caribbean Culture Festival is set to take place November 11-16 in multiple venues throughout the state. Cuba is the guest nation and 15 countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America have already confirmed their participation, including Jamaica, Panama, Costa Rica Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Venezuela. Events will include concerts, dance events, theater, film, art exhibitions and academic seminars on Caribbean history and culture.[/vc_column_text][dt_fancy_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5428″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, Playa del Carmen, November 26, 27 & 28

The line up for the 2015 Riviera Maya Jazz Festival includes Gino Vanelli in his second appearance at the event, Dweezil Zappa, son of the legendary Frank Zappa, the Zawinul Legacy Band founded by a former member of Weather Report, Dirty Loops and Mexican band Resorte, among others.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][dt_fancy_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”5591″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Danxica International Dance and Arts Festival, Cancun, December 2-6

Dance groups from the state, other parts of Mexico and abroad gather in Cancun for the Danxica Festival.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Your own Exclusive Shopping Portal

As one of the benefits of President’s Circle membership, you have an exclusive online shopping portal at your fingertips with which to take care of all your travel needs and purchase thousands of products ranging from designer brands, fashion accessories and household appliances to wine and gifts.

Whenever you are booking hotels or cruises or looking for electronics or even stocking up your wine cellar, it’s a good idea to make the Signature Lifestyle Collection your first stop. There are powerful reasons to use it for shopping and travel needs instead of looking at other discounted sites.

For starters, you have 50,000 hotels to choose from worldwide, including top brands and many iconic hotels in famous destinations; all the major cruise lines are listed and offer 20,000 different cruises and departure dates. Book tee times with discounted green fees at 3,000 golf courses in the United States and browse an impressive collection of packages and getaways in places you have always dreamed of visiting.

Signature Lifestyle Collection offers thousands of products and services, all with Best Value Guarantee. To give an example of travel services, in most cases the starting prices you see listed match the lowest rate found on other travel sites, and that is before taking into account the cash back that you also earn on qualifying purchases.

You can book a cruise, hotel or vacation package at prices that are already at the lowest rate you could book elsewhere and then on top of this you receive cash back! You can use the cash back you accumulate in your account to pay your Club Service Fee, settle the bill at the end of your Grand Residences stay and to continue shopping in the Signature Lifestyle Collection.

Just imagine the possibilities. With the cash back you earn from hotel reservations and cruise reservations, wine purchases and more, you’ll soon have enough to purchase a gift for someone special, book a weekend getaway or take care of your annual dues.

And remember that President’s Circle members earn 4.5 times as much cash back as Signature Club Silver members.

When you are browsing the Signature Lifestyle Collection you’ll see the rate and the amount of cash back clearly displayed for each product* and when a package or cruise offers even greater savings it will be highlighted as an Undeniable Deal.

Ask your President’s Circle Concierge for more information about Signature Lifestyle Collection and all the other benefits you are entitled to as a President’s Circle member.

* Cash back does not apply for flights and car rentals

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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, we will apply 2% of the net purchase price of their Fraction towards your annual Club Service fees.

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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SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT GRAND RESIDENCES

If you would like to make a referral

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

CLICK HERE

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Family Fun

We have a fabulous activity program lined up for you and your family this summer. There’s something for everyone, from tennis, zumba and yoga sessions to help you stay in shape to snorkeling, beach walks, bike rides, salsa and Spanish classes. Take a cooking class, watch the bartender prepare your favorite cocktails and join us on the beach for volleyball.

Your children will have so much fun at the Kids Club and Teens Club that they won’t want to leave. Children’s activities include sand castle building, face painting and a treasure hunt, art sessions, piñata making, video games and movies.

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Tempting Dining

Our award-winning chef Yann Cozic has plenty of tempting treats in store for you on your next visit. Join us for breakfast or order your favorites from Room Service and start the morning in style on your terrace. Snack on freshly made shrimp and fish tacos for lunch at Heaven Beach Bar and enjoy the spectacular view. Unwind with traditional afternoon tea on the terrace and enjoy a romantic dinner by candlelight in El Faro Grill with menu choices including lobster, seafood, prime steaks and more. Your waiter will help you choose the perfect wine pairing for your meal and be sure to save space for one of Chef Cozic’s desserts!

In addition to a la carte restaurant, beach bar and in-room dining menus, there are more delectable dining options for you to try during the week. On Sunday, tuck into steaks, ribs, fish and burgers at the beachfront BBQ Night and choose your favorite pastas and other traditional Mediterranean dishes from the Italian buffet on Monday evening. Wednesday night is Mexican Night and steak lovers will enjoy Prime Rib Night on Friday.

For more dining details ask your Concierge.

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Grand Residences Turtles

Turtle season is underway at Grand Residences and the July 15 tally of nests was 33. We hope that many more turtles will come ashore to lay their eggs in the weeks and months to come.

At the Cancun resorts, as of July 15, there were 77 nests with 9,315 eggs at The Royal Sands and 141 nests at The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander with 16,864 eggs. All the turtles that have nested to date at Grand Residences and Royal Resorts have been green turtles, tortuga blanca or verde in Spanish, with the exception of five loggerhead turtle nests or caguama and two hawksbills or carey.

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Every Picture Tells a Story

Many Grand Residences owners tell us that they fell in love with Mexico and decided to make Puerto Morelos their home for the endless experiences it offers, the warmth of the local people and also because of the colors. A vibrant palette of colors is everywhere you look, from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean and the emerald green of the jungle to hot pink and orange flowers, a bright yellow wall, multicolored fish and the iridescent shimmer of a hummingbird’s wing. One of our owners Allan McCrum has been kind enough to share his pictures of Puerto Morelos, the community he loves so much. We hope that you enjoy them.

 

Photos courtesy of Allan McCrum

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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Francisco Aleman, Head of Security

Meet Francisco Alemán, your Head of Security. Originally from Loma Bonita, Oaxaca, Francisco has lived in Cancun for almost 30 years and celebrated 21 years with Royal Resorts on June 21.

Francisco started his Royal Resorts career at The Royal Mayan and The Royal Caribbean and then spent three years at The Royal Cancun before moving to The Royal Sands in 2001 where he was Head of Security until 2012. He then moved to The Royal Mayan, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander as Assistant to the Royal Resorts Security Manager and was promoted to lead the Grand Residences security team in 2013.

“I have a team of 26 guards to patrol the resort and the beach, Francisco says.” “That’s 800 meters of shoreline and the vacant lot next door, it’s a large area to watch over. In addition to watching over the grounds, we are always on hand to assist our owners and guests with anything they need, from helping them with the stairs, luggage or moving loungers for them to giving them information about the beach and pool, sea and weather conditions, and more. I think that the service we offer here is much more personalized in keeping with The Leading Hotels of the World® standards.

“We also help guests who may have mislaid something and we handle all Lost and Found reports and items, guest parking and we provide assistance in the event of an accident. We are trained to give first aid and have equipment on site and, depending on the nature of the incident, we call the doctor and report to management, Francisco adds.” “And thanks to the register we have of all the vehicles coming to and from the resort we have been able to recover items left in taxis and return them to guests.”

During their patrols, Francisco and his team regularly come across some of the wildlife that makes its home in the mangroves behind the property, such as raccoons, coatimundis, iguanas and crocodiles of all sizes, the largest seen to date was two meters long. They do not patrol the wetlands or further south along the beach as the Puerto Morelos municipal force polices the area.

Francisco and his team are even busier than usual on night watch during the summer months as they keep a look out for nesting sea turtles. A turtle pioneer, he has been involved in the Royal Resorts conservation program since 1998. He says, “It’s a wonderful job, tiring, but very rewarding.”

“Before the season begins, we attend a refresher course given by the biologists from City Hall who coordinate the Turtle Protection Program in Cancun and Puerto Morelos, he explains.” “They give seminars on turtle biology and behavior, species identification, show us how to dig nests in the corral or turtle nursery, handle the eggs, the hatchlings and more.

“When we come across a female turtle on the beach we need to be very careful so as not to startle her otherwise she could return to the sea without laying her eggs. We watch over her while she digs her nest and lays her eggs and then we move them to the corral where they will be safe from the waves, predators such as birds, crabs, raccoons, dogs, and from poachers. We keep a record of the date and time of nesting, the species and the number of eggs. The nest that we then dig in the corral has to be identical in depth and shape as the one the turtle digs and the eggs literally have to be handled with kid gloves, they are so fragile.”

Forty-five to 60 days later, the eggs hatch. Francisco says, “I love seeing the joy on the faces of our owners and guests when they see the baby turtles being released. I feel very proud that we are helping to protect this ancient creature and also doing something to make our visitors happy. Many of them have never seen a turtle before, only on TV, and they are witnessing something precious, an experience they will treasure for the rest of their lives.”

This dedicated turtle guardian has rescued nests on a number of occasions as hurricanes advance towards the Mexican Caribbean coast, moving the eggs out of harm’s way and saving them from the storm surge. He has watched over the nests in basements and storerooms as miraculously, against all the odds, the tiny storm survivors are born in coolers filled with sand.

Francisco and his staff are often approached by owners and guests who want to accompany them on their nightly turtle patrols. “It makes me happy to think that they want to help us and that we will witness this amazing spectacle together, it is one of nature’s wonders, he says.” “This year the Mexican Environmental Agency (SEMARNAT) has changed the rules relating to turtle releases in an attempt to reduce the amount of handling that the baby turtles are subject too, so our guests will no longer be able to hold them, nevertheless, watching them scuttle down the beach towards the waves and a new life at sea is still an incredible experience.”

Francisco has seen an increase in the number of turtle nests, eggs and hatchlings at Royal Resorts over the last five years. Turtle nesting seasons are cyclical with a good year being followed by a slow year. As 2013 was a record season and 2014 was slow, he hopes that 2015 will be a good year. Indeed, the number of nests in the Grand Residences corral has already overtaken the total for last year.

In his 21 years at Royal Resorts and now at Grand Residences, Francisco has met many members and says that it is always a pleasure to greet them at Grand Residences. “I feel very proud that they remember me, he adds.” “My message to all our owners is that we will always keep them safe and look after them in their home away from home. They can count on us for anything they need during their stay. We hope that they enjoy their vacation and that they come back soon. I would also like to invite owners who will be staying with us during the summer and early fall to join us when we release the baby turtles.”

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Set Sail to Adventure

Mirror-calm seas and cloudless skies are perfect conditions for a summer day of sailing in the Caribbean and if you would like to plan a boat trip with family and friends you have several exciting adventures to choose from.

Go in search of nature and plan a trip to the island of Contoy, the palm-fringed desert island of Caribbean legend and lore and an important bird sanctuary for over 150 species, including pelicans, frigate birds, cormorants, roseate spoonbills, ibis and herons.
Contoy is a two and a half hour boat trip north of Cancun and the shades of turquoise and blue water that you’ll pass through en route are breathtaking. Spend the day watching the birds, relaxing on the beach or snorkeling and swimming with rays and other fish in the sheltered bay.
Eco cruises are available to Contoy during the week, ask your Concierge for information.

For a once-in-a-lifetime nature experience this summer, board a boat for a whale shark trip. From mid-May to mid-September, these gentle giants gather to feed on plankton in the waters to the east of Contoy and Isla Mujeres and also off Holbox Island and Cabo Catoche. Your eco trip will take you out to the whale shark feeding grounds where you can swim with the world’s largest fish. You may be lucky enough to see giant manta rays, sea turtles and dolphins too.

Charter a luxury yacht and set sail from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. You can stop for a spot of snorkeling on the way and after exploring Isla, sit down for a seafood lunch at one of the restaurants along the waterfront.

If you want to extend your voyage, why not sail along the Cancun shoreline and through the Nichupte Lagoon before heading for Isla Mujeres?
Yacht cruises along the Riviera Maya coast are also available from the marina near Grand Residences and sportfishing fans can book half-day and full-day fishing charters.

After a leisurely day on the beach or by the pool, board our catamaran for an unforgettable sunset cruise. Sip champagne and nibble hors d’oeuvres as you enjoy the view and the rose, red and gold tints of a Caribbean sky at sunset.

For information on cruises, fishing trips and yacht charters ask your Concierge.

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Maya Ka’an, to the Heart of the Maya Land

Are you looking for new places to visit and different activities for your next trip? How about something that enables you to meet the Maya and see nature and is that is both rewarding and helps rural communities? Go off the beaten track and discover Maya Ka’an, the Mexican Caribbean’s new eco destination.
Maya Ka’an is a large expanse of central Quintana Roo comprising the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the traditional Mayan heartland known as the Zona Maya. Formed by the districts of Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto and José María Morelos, the Zona Maya is rich in natural beauty, history and traditions.
Venturing deep into the jungle in search of rare wildlife; floating along clear canals winding through the mangroves; learning about Mayan culture and witnessing timeless rituals, all these and more unforgettable experiences await visitors in Maya Ka’an.
Visitors can choose between 16 different tours and activities taking them to nine different communities in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and the Zona Maya. Community tour operators handle all the trips, thus ensuring that local inhabitants benefit economically from tourism. With a master plan developed by Cancun-based conservation NGO Amigos de Sian Ka’an and funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, the goal of the Maya Ka’an project is to protect Sian Ka’an, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and bring sustainable development to villages in the Zona Maya.
The core Maya Ka’an communities are Punta Allen, Muyil and Punta Herrero in Sian Ka’an, historic Felipe Carrillo Puerto, capital of the Zona Maya, and the villages of Tihosuco (site of the Caste War Museum), Señor, Chunhuhub, Noh Bec and Kantemó. They all offer a range of activities, some showcasing natural attractions and others a glimpse of Mayan life.
Visitors can watch craftsmen at work and traditional cuisine being prepared, find out about Mayan farming techniques and the healing properties of native plants used since time immemorial. They’ll listen enthralled as village elders tell stories of the mythical Xtabay, a temptress part woman, part serpent who lures men to their doom deep in the jungle, and the Aluxes, the mischievous guardian spirits of the corn fields.
On trips to Muyil, Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Tihosuco, visitors learn about the history of the area from the days of the ancient Maya to the coming of the Spaniards and a series of Mayan uprisings against social injustice that culminated in the Caste War in 1847. In Muyil they’ll also see men climb the chicozapote tree armed with machetes that they use to slash the bark and harvest the white sap as it begins to weep from the deep v-shaped gashes on the trunk. This latex-like resin is collected, heated and processed to make bricks of chicle, the natural source of chewing gum.
Eco adventures include bird watching safaris in search of more than 350 species of birds that make their home in the jungle and wetlands, nature walks, boat and kayak trips through the lagoons and bays of Sian Ka’an and visits to the famous Cave of the Hanging Snakes in Kantemó.
Ask your Concierge about Maya Ka’an and the community tours available.

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Puerto Morelos Beach Bar in Caribbean’s Top 50

We know that you love your own slice of paradise at the Heaven Beach Bar and can’t wait to sink your toes into the soft sand, order your favorite cocktail or beer and enjoy the view. Yet if you enjoy beach hopping and visiting some of the other beach bars in the Mexican Caribbean, you might want to try two bars that have made it into the Caribbean Journal’s Top 50 Caribbean Beach Bars: Que Fresco in Tulum and La Playita in our own Puerto Morelos.

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More Palm trees for Puerto Morelos and Cancun beaches

The beach reforestation program that began in Cancun in 2014 has now been extended to Puerto Morelos where 8,000 palms will be planted on the dunes and beaches this year. Palm trees and other shoreline plants anchor the sand with their roots and help reduce coastal erosion.
The second phase of the reforestation project in Cancun is set to begin in August with the planting of an additional 4,500 palm trees along the shoreline.

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Merida Bound

On your next visit to Merida, capital of the neighboring state of Yucatan, you’ll probably notice that more dilapidated or abandoned 19th-century and early 20th century houses and civic buildings in the historic heart of the city are being restored to their former glory. In the last three years, almost 150 buildings have been given a much-needed facelift, 925 since 1995, and the city government has plans to restore many more.

The famous classical style Peon Contreras Theater is currently being refurbished and the MACAY Art Gallery on the main square recently reopened after extensive renovations.