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Messages - Mordechaigross

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1
Trip Reports / Re: short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 25, 2019, 01:19:15 PM »
Nice tr! $100 for a police bribe? Wasn't happy with $25?
I wasn't the driver so I didn't pay the bribe. I agree he overdid it. $25 would probably have worked just as well.

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Trip Reports / Re: short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 25, 2019, 01:17:21 PM »

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Trip Reports / Re: short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 25, 2019, 01:16:23 PM »
+1 ;D ;D ;D
LOL thats the reason i ended up specifically in the Banyan Tree. No regrets whatsoever. Only regret not staying longer.

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Trip Reports / Re: short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 25, 2019, 01:14:57 PM »
Great TR! How did you arrange with the hotel to eat your own food in their restaurant? Is that a common thing that people do? Do you need a "reservation"?
Hotel was the one who offered it to us when we arrived. We spoke to concierge to arrange. I believe there is a $25 charge. We weren't charged though for some reason. Does not have to be arranged in advance i believe, but is subject to seating availability in whichever restaurant you would like to eat. They have 3 restaurants in the resort.

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Trip Reports / Re: short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 19, 2019, 05:01:28 PM »
nice TR! ChefChaya special?

yes indeed  8)

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Trip Reports / Re: short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 18, 2019, 02:13:53 PM »
through their website directly

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Trip Reports / Re: short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 18, 2019, 12:56:18 PM »
Thanks for reading!
Makes all the effort writing it up worth it

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Trip Reports / Re: short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 18, 2019, 11:13:11 AM »
thanks. just repeating what we were told by the boat driver but i guess youre right

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Trip Reports / short trip to Playa Del Carmen
« on: December 18, 2019, 01:25:08 AM »
Its our first Trip Report so hope it isnít too much information. Please feel free to reach out with any questions. 

So we do event planning and can never really get away, However it so happened recently that we a few days were free of work (work never stops but no actual events happening) so decided to fly down to Mexico with my wife. We were debating between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen but DW wanted to go to Playa Del Carmen as she heard great things so I decided to go for it.

 I figured that Iím booking a last-minute flight off season, so there will be plenty of award availability. Tried looking into using points from AA, UA , BA etc and cheapest option was Chase Hybrid for 55k round trip business (which is a pretty good deal).

 Check in at EWR was amazing. We arrived an hour and a half before our flight, we breezed through check but security was a different story. They decided to give me a pat down as I am chasidish and wear G&G baggy pants. LOL 😊. But after a few short minutes they let us go. Was really convenient that Cibo Express carries a full line of kosher meat and parve sandwiches and salads. It really came in handy as United didnít accommodate us with kosher. (Was really upset how united treated us regarding kosher food. They claimed that being that we booked less than 24 hours before our flight, we canít have kosher food. Then when we asked about food for the way back, they said they donít have kosher food on this route at all. They did have Hindu and Halal though. Itís very disappointing as both on the flight there and back, half of business class was Jews.) We flew EWR to CUN on a united flight. It was ok. Sat in row 5 so wasnít able to really lean back but was ok. The only real perk to flying business is free meal which we couldnít enjoy anyways and the extra legroom which we would have gotten anyways as flight was 90% empty. There were more people in business than in economy

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Landed in CUN and obviously were pulled over to search suitcase as we look Jewish. We didnít even give us the option to push the button, they pulled us over right away and searched all our suitcases. We didnít take any dairy, chicken or beef so we were let through without a problem although we did have wine, tuna, mayonnaise and other essentials which were questionable. We made sure to put snacks on the top and they didnít search the suitcases thoroughly. The guy behind us wasnít too lucky. He claimed he was targeted because he was Greek and his wife was arrested for bringing over 20 packs of cigarettes in.  He was complaining about always getting pulled over. He tried reasoning with them just to take the cigarettes but they probably only wanted a bribe.

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We made reservations with Canada Transfers to get picked up from the airport and take us to Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Playa Del Carmen where we were staying. They waited for us at the end of arrivals with a sign with my name on it. When we spotted him, he greeted us nicely and went to get the van. He took all of our luggage and escorted us to the van. We were greeted by the driver who was very nice. He didnít speak much English but being that I am in the event planning business, I understand a lot of Spanish and speak the basics. He gave us cold hand towels to freshen up with and ice-cold water and soda, as the other attendant loaded up the van with our luggage. It cost us $109, including beverages, cigar etc. Paid in CAD. Thanks, DDFers for the tip. The ride was 40 minutes and very pleasant.

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When we arrived to the Mayakoba Resorts, they didnít let us in at first since we booked so last minute and our name wasnít on the guest list yet.

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After a quick chat between security and our driver they let us in. We then arrived to the Banyan Tree and wow where we impressed. The grounds are beautiful. The staff is so accommodating and really try to do everything they can to make your stay amazing. The chef even came over to us and was trying to help us with kosherÖ He offered to use brand new utensils and cook fish and vegetables to our liking. He was well informed with the rules and everything but we didnít feel comfortable.
 
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They upgraded us to a Bliss Villa with a pool and living room. Each villa is extremely private. The resort is huge so we relied on golf carts to take us everywhere. The lobby is breathtaking and rooms are definitely 5 stars. We took a golf cart ride down to the beach at sunset and wow was it amazing. The beach was totally empty and we got amazing pictures of sunset.

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We ordered in food from Chabad of Playa Del Carmen and food tasted very homemade. Nothing amazing but not bad. It was really expensive. Chabad Rabbi was very nice and helpful though.  We ordered the meatballs and spaghetti which were very good. Not restaurant quality but very heimish. Then we ordered Shnitzel with side of mashed potatoes and green beans. Dish was just passable. Potatoes were instant mashed potatoes which the Chabad Rabbi said he gets a lot of compliments but I guess Iím a really picky eater. Then we ordered tuna steak which was amazing. Probably the best dish we ate the entire vacation. We also got some salads which were very fresh and tasty. Then we ordered the poolside snack (guacamole and chips) which was good but nothing special. And of course, we ordered the famous babka which was amazing but pricey at $25. But definitely worth the splurge. One of the best babka I have ever tasted.

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While eating supper, we left the living room door open for a minute and a Coati (raccoon like animal) decided to join us and starting eating the food. My wife was screaming so I called security and housekeeping and they took care of it. In the mix of running from the living room to the bedroom, we accidentally spilled water on the bed and room service was more than happy to change the entire linen and matress pad and memory foam. Unfortunately, a lot of the food was not able to be eaten anymore as we were afraid of the contamination caused by the Coati, so we asked around some other jewish guest at the resort and we were told if we call Yummys right now they will still deliver. (one of the guest was really nice and offered us to come get some fruit and granola from them).

 Yummys Food was very good, cheap and came fairly fast, however they do not accept credit cards. We had to meet the driver in the lobby as due to security reasons they cannot come to the room itself. However, hotel staff was more than happy to notify us when the food arrived and took us to the lobby and back with the golf carts. Gave the driver a 10-peso tip which is about 50 cents. He was very happy and thanked us. We ordered as follows. Shawarma plate which was really good, nothing high end but real good Israeli food. We also ordered a falafel which was decent. Ate it the next day for lunch. We also ordered entrecŰte steak with a side of pasta. Steak was tough but what could you expect from Mexican beef. Pasta was good. We also ordered fries and salad which was delicious. Yummys sent along a lot of different sauces and disposable plates and cutlery.  Food came really nicely packaged with kosher seal. Overall was really happy with their service and quality of food. Definitely not a high-end place but would definitely recommend for someone thatís looking for good kosher reliable food.

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The next morning, we got up early, davened poolside, and went to Downtown Playa Del Carmen to explore. (5th avenue).  We took a taxi ride (20 minutes) for 350 pesos which was $18 usd. Driver told us the price is $25 usd and we told him we are paying in pesos. We pointed out to the sign with all the fare rates which said 350 pesos.  To get pesos we used our Chase Private Client Debit Card which gave us back the atm fee as well as didnít charge us a foreign transaction fee etc. Be careful to only use a reliable atm as there can be a lot of scam ones.  We used the one at the airport and our hotel. Any atms in a supermarket should be reliable. I wouldnít trust any of the street ones. Paying with pesos overall is much cheaper as everyone is trying to scam tourists. All the storeowners and workers stand and try to get you to come into their store. We avoided them and didnít make eye contact. We did go into some stores to look for souvenirs and drinks.  We then headed up to the street with all the kosher restaurants and Chabad. We ate at Mas Pan. The food was really delicious and very reasonably priced. They do not accept Credit cards as well. They were out of a lot of menu items, claiming that they werenít able to get Chalav Yisroel items. ( I found that to be a good sign of kashrus.) We ordered the shakshuka. We were warned that it is spicy but to my surprise it wasnít even close to spicy (unless Iím used to spicy food). We also ordered the Mexican Morning which was okay. All the breakfasts come with fresh homemade bread and salad  which are amazing and fresh. We also ordered a Greek salad (which was $1.50). They didnít have a few of the ingredients but the salad came out nicely plated and was quite delicious. While sitting in Mas Pan we actually met one of our customers so that was funny. As they say, ďyou can run but you cannot hideĒ.

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After walking up and down for about 2 hours we were tired and exhausted from the heat. It was 93 degrees and we were used to NY weather. (It was actually snowing in NY then). We bought some souvenirs and tequila.  We took a taxi back to Banyan Tree. Taxi was again 350 pesos ($18). We didnít have enough pesos as we didnít count on the restaurants not taking credit cards, (when asked the owner of Mas Pan as to why he doesnít accept credit cards, his response was why should I? people will anyways come)  so made the driver wait while I ran down to the atm in hotel business center to get some more cash as I didnít want to take out from atm on the street. Driver wasnít too happy but didnít have much of a choice. 

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When we got back to the Banyan Tree, we took the Mayakoba ferry for the 1-hour trip. It is included free in the hotel price. If you are staying at any of the Mayakoba resorts.  It was very nice and we got to see the Fairmont and Rosewood Residence lobbies. We met some people staying at the other resorts and all claimed that the Banyan Tree is one of the best and you get the most out of your moneyís worth.
The boat ride is really relaxing and you get to see wildlife. We saw an alligator and some interesting birds. The driver was more than happy to slow down so we can get nice pictures and was helpful in explaining the different types of wildlife.
The Fairmont looked very neglected and the Rosewood was spectacular.

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The Banyan Tree is definitely the nicest resort in the Mayakoba area, unless you want to spend a lot more on the Rosewood which isnít so much nicer. When we came back from the boat ride we went to the spa to order a couples massage but they had no spots left. They only had one half hour slot for one person so I made a compromise with my wife that while I go daven she will go to the spa. 


Then later in the afternoon there was a rainstorm so we did some work while we waited for the rain to clear up. For Dinner we really wanted to go to Cancun and explore that area, however being that it was an hour each way, it was too late to head out then. The Chabad Rabbi was really nice and invited us to come to his house for a grill. However, my wife wanted to stay in as she had a bad headache.  So we deiced to order in food from Platinum Grill (again they did not accept credit card). Ordering was really easy through Whatsapp. And again, came very fast. 35 minutes. (faster than when ordering through uber eats in Brooklyn).  We ordered Arayes, Eggplant Carpaccio, Shnitzel, Rice, Fries and Grilled chicken.  All the food was amazing. Very flavorful. We wanted a change of scenery so we arranged with the hotel to eat in one of their restaurants (the Cello) that overlooked the river. The restaurant staff was really nice and gave us all plastic dishes, cutlery etc. They knew that they cannot open any bags with the kosher seal.  They offered us bottled water. They came to light candles and kept coming to take the garbage and make sure we are okay. They made us feel as if we ordered food through them. They even came with containers and packed up the leftovers all free of charge. We went back to our villa and enjoyed the private pool and hot tub and got some more work done, as we had 5 jobs upcoming over the weekend.

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The next morning the Chabad Rabbi picked me up for Shachris and meanwhile my wife enjoyed the spa. Chabad shul is very nice and welcoming. They had free coffee and cake as well as a full breakfast after davening.
I bought breakfast again in Mas Pan to take back to my hotel room as we were leaving to the airport shortly. Going back to the resort, I got a ride back with one of the other guests at the hotel. He had rented a car and of course to no surprise he was pulled. The police was quick to accept his $100 bribe and let him go. (It came out way cheaper for me just to take taxi and shuttle as I didnít have to deal with police bribe, rental, insurance, parking, gas etc)
Took Canada Transfers to the airport. They arranged to pick us up 3 hours before our flight. We arrived to the lobby a half an hour late being that we had a lot of suitcases and everyone was checking out then and resort staff was really overwhelmed.

Canada Transfers called us and tried asking for more money as driver waiter a half hour but I explained that the wait was due to hotel and not us so they let us off the hook.  When we arrived at the airport, check in and Security was fairly quick. It took us less than 15 minutes. That is including having to go through security as second time as we forgot about a soda that was left in one of the bags by mistake. Cancun airport Terminal B is really small with only 26 gates. We didnít receive a gate number until 15 minutes before boarding.

When we got to our gate the plane wasnít even there yet but to our surprise we actually boarded on time.  The flight back was really disappointing as it was an older model airplane. The seats were ripped and there was no in flight entertainment. Entertainment was only through united mobile app however the wifi was down for most of the flight. Although flight attendants were really nice and looked for kosher snacks and found Pringles with good hechsher on it.

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We landed in EWR which again was a breeze. They didnít even ask for our immigration forms and let us through. We did have issues taxiing to our gate as there was an issue with a different international airline being stuck at our gate. We arrived back to Brooklyn, picked up some Chinese for dinner and went right back to work.

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All in all, was really an enjoyable albeit short but much needed vacation.

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Credit Cards And Finance / Re: NEW Chase Ink Business Preferred in 2017
« on: February 09, 2018, 01:19:37 AM »
Got one today in branch

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Credit Cards And Finance / Re: Credit Card Retention Bonuses
« on: July 16, 2017, 02:56:14 PM »
Nice. Do you use it heavily ?
4-5k monthly

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Credit Cards And Finance / Re: Credit Card Retention Bonuses
« on: July 16, 2017, 01:31:22 PM »
Csp $60 statement credit no spend required

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K'nex 70 Model Building Set, 13419, 705 piece 16.98 at amazon for Prime Members https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00HROBJXY/

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Deals/Deal Requests / Re: Sign up for Car2go for only $5
« on: October 18, 2015, 12:43:11 PM »
Even with free minutes, you'll still pay $1.20 ($1 plus tax) each time you rent; as a "safe driver fee".
still cheaper than a parking ticket

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Deals/Deal Requests / Re: Sign up for Car2go for only $5
« on: October 18, 2015, 12:35:37 PM »
That is the best reason I've heard of to sign up .

Takes talent to use a smart car to fill up 2 spots.
I guess you don't live in Brooklyn. We have a lot of talented ppl here especially with parking  ;)

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Deals/Deal Requests / Re: Sign up for Car2go for only $5
« on: October 18, 2015, 12:29:22 PM »
Thanks I  signed up.  I have  my own car but a lot of times a car 2 go is parked in front of my house taking  up two spots and I always wish I can move it up to park. 

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I got the same letter about my no-af arrival, except that there is no minimum redemption amount.
+1

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Credit Cards And Finance / Re: Credit Card Retention Bonuses
« on: October 07, 2015, 12:43:42 PM »
My a/f on United Explorer posted called in and wasn't offered anything

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Credit Cards And Finance / Re: Amex F/R Master Thread
« on: October 04, 2015, 02:43:35 AM »
How much were you and AU spending? Just curious.
We where doing about 12k-18k a month for the past year

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