Author Topic: Trip Report Cancun/South Florida 1/21/21-1/28/21  (Read 797 times)

Offline itreu001

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Trip Report Cancun/South Florida 1/21/21-1/28/21
« on: February 01, 2021, 11:10:52 PM »
We traveled to Cancun and to South Florida, I hope that this report can help people. We do this to pay it forward for all the help that we get on this site and others.

Originally we were supposed to travel only to Cancun, but the rules changed and required COVID tests for people returning to the USA so we switched our flight to get out early before the rules changed.

We flew from EWR-CAN on points on JetBlue, they had a great sale for 68k points for 6 people to fly rt. We took an 8am flight, we were TSA pre-check so we had no problems checking in at Newark. We used various credit cards end of 2020 travel credits to upgrade to extra legroom on the flight. The problem with that, is that unless you are Mosaic on Jet Blue, you now board last if you are in the front of the plane, and we barely had space for our carryons. The flight was uneventful. We got our luggage in CAN, and then the fun began.

If you look frum, or have a big family, they will tear apart your luggage looking for food. They know what they are looking for, and its ridiculous. They took away beef jerky (even though it should be allowed), and some other dried meat (even though it should be allowed). They did not take away sandwiches.

We then went to rent a car from Alamo. The process took about 90 minutes from when we went to the desk at the airport to when we got our car. At the airport, there is no computer at the desk, and the person has a list of people that rented cars. They then took about 10 minutes to confirm, and then walk you outside to another place to take their "shuttle" to the car rental place. Then you have to wait on line for the privilege to be upsold on the insurance (at about $50 per day) and they try to upsell you some more. For instance, Alamo claims there is no second driver fee, but when you get to Cancun they insist on it and refuse to budge. They also tried to increase our rental by a day.

We finally got our Kia minivan, which was in terrible shape, the doors didn't work, and the alignment was off. When preinspecting our car we made sure to have one of us point our ever single nick ding and scratch on the door and take pictures of all the dents as well. Make sure to do this, as the experience at the car rental agencies is not to rent you a car, but how to get as much money out of you as humanly possible.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Presidiente Cancun. We stayed there because we had IHG points, we needed to connecting rooms, and we didn't have to pay anything. We stayed 4 nights, and when paying on points, we paid for 3 on points, and got 1 free, for each room. It was 37,000 points per night. They also refunded us the points for the 3 nights for each room we did not stay. I strongly suggest when booking here, you book on the 800 number to request connecting rooms, and a fridge.

The hotel is a beach front 4 star hotel. It is not an all-inclusive resort. It is impeccably run, the beach is gorgeous, the pool is really nice, the gym was ok, but it is not full of amenities. The rooms are smallish and sparse.  Parking was free, with no charge. The hotel required masks whenever indoors, and claimed to limit capacity at the pool but capacity was never reached. We were very happy with the hotel. I cannot explain how gorgeous the beach was.

Our first night we went to the beach and pool. we ordered food from Chabad. They delivered to the hotel. The best way to Order is via Whattsapp. The food was very good. You need to make sure to visit their website for their latest menu, and to see if the hours have changed. Sometimes they request that you order before 5pm, but you can tell them to come at 630 or 700pm. In the evening we also went to Wal-Mart, they have allot of kosher food there with Mexican Hashgachos, including yogurt, cereal, soda, and we bought fresh vegetables and fruit for shabbos.

I am a Bank of America customer so I am able to use ScotiaBank ATM's with no added fee (although they still charge some fee).

Friday we drove to Puerto Morelos to the beach and snorkling. We did waze to Hotel Amar Inn and parked on the street free of charge, if you go any day but Sunday it is empty.  We went to the beach and some guy asked us if we wanted chairs and umbrellas for 300 pesos for the day and that he will watch our stuff. We paid him that amount. He was very helpful. Some other people from Dive Zone asked if we wanted to go snorkling for $20 a pop, we did. They were great, even though we had our own gear, they provided gear and flippers as well. It was about a 2.5 hour trip with a 3 man crew. We were very happy. We highly recommend them. The beach is really nice, the town is not developed by rich Americans yet, and it still has an authentic feel, and is safe. There is a supermarket close by where you can by stuff cheaply, and there is a section where they have all sorts of shops that sell all the souvenir stuff at prices much cheaper than Cancun and Playa. We went back here Sunday to shop a little on our way back from Tulum.

For shabbos we bought veggies and stuff at Walmart, we brought Challah rolls from the NYC area, and ordered from Chabad. We picked it up on our way back from Puerto Morelos. We went to Starbucks in Cancun (around the corner from Chabad), and a Drive thru on the highway form the Airport towards Playa Southbound. We brought shabbos candles (tea lights), grape juice kiddie boxes for kiddish, matches (need to be in carryon per TSA regulations). We did not go to shul on shabbos as Chabad did not require any masks or social distancing. We stayed in the hotel for shabbos.

After shabbos we went to the La Isla Shopping Center, we took the kids to Haagen Daaz and walked around. We then made the misfortune of going to Ember for dinner, where the service was non existent, and they didn't provide menus, or have anything that they claimed to have. What they did serve was good, but very overpriced. The various waiters claimed that there was no manager. We would never return.

The next morning we traveled to Tulum. It is about 2 hours south of Cancun. When you get to Tulum, everyone tries to sell you something or upsell you something. Parking is in pesos only when you leave. Ignore them all. Walk to the trolley and take it. It is 25 pesos per person. Mexican Pesos only. It seems like a waste when you go, but when you are done, you will be thankful. Do not pay for any upcharges. When you get to the historical site, its 80 pesos per adult 12/13 or over. Mexican Pesos only. If you want a guide, then hire one at the final ticket booth, and you can bargain with them. We paid 500 pesos for 6 people. We probably could have bargained more, but we had no patience. We were happy that we took the guide, so we could understand what is going on. The views and vistas are pretty, it will be hot and full with tourists. Make sure to bring lots of drinks with you. Mask wearing is mandatory.

Make sure to get there early in the morning, especially on a Sunday, because Sunday is free for locals. They open at 9am.

We were there about an hour, we then took the trolley back, and then they make you walk though a "shuk" that sells lots of overpriced junk. You can bargain with them. My son bought something that started at $40 for 200 pesos. (a little more than $10). There is also a Starbucks and Haagen Daaz there as well.

We then drove back, we stopped in Playa and ate at Moshe Kube. It is less than 5 minutes off the highway and the food is delicious. Better than most kosher restaurants in the nyc area in terms of quality. Its a simple israeli place. We then drove to Puerto Morelos to do some shopping for souvenirs, we then drove back to Cancun for the beach and pool. I made sure to drive at the speed limit the entire time.

The next day, we relaxed and were set to fly on a 420pm flight to FLL. We wanted to leave before the new rules kicked in, and didn't want to risk getting stuck in Cancun to quarantine. At the gas station filling up, our driver tried pulling the gas scam on us. He took cash from the customer before. I gave him exact cash. Make sure to do that or you will pay for the person in front of you, gasoline. Gas is about $4 per gallon.

Car rental return in Cancun is no less ridiculous than getting the car, the process took about 45 minutes in total.

When flying back, you are required to fill out a Covid form for EACH passenger, when still in Mexico. We then went through security, and through our Amex Platinum card, used the lounge which was social distanced. They gave us unlimited waters, drinks, bananas, and other stuff, which they begged us to take on the plane with us. We didn't need to buy anything for the flight. We then went to the gate, exchanged our last pesos, and took Jet Blue from CAN to FLL.

The flight is a 70 minute flight. Customs and immigration took 90 minutes, which is 20 minutes longer than the flight.

The flight was uneventful, but customs was a disaster, and for no reason, we just waiting at FLL from line to line, and then when we got our bags, there was only 1 person checking bags as well.

We used Alamo for a car from Costco, which we did precheckin and just picked up our car and left.

We stayed at the Marriot Beach Place Towers in Fort Lauderdale. We did it on CSR Points. It is about 10 minutes from the airport. When we returned it took 30 minutes from the hotel to the gate. It is that close.

The "Hotel" is really a time share for Marriot. Its on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. There is a "mall" downstairs with Haagen daaz, a gym, a CVS, and a nail salon. The hotel charged $14 a day for parking. It took a good 6-7 minutes to climb up the parking garage each time. We had a 2 room suite with full kitchen, two bathrooms, and washer dryer with unlimited soap, shampoo, detergent, and everything else. It was nice, but with no room service, it didn't get clean as we liked. They had a nice service that you could text the front desk, and they would bring all amenities you wished. The hotel claimed that because of covid there was no room service, and capped attendance at the pool. This really only mattered for the mornings, as all the retirees would sunbathe there. It opened up in the afternoon. Our first night we ate at Pita Express, it was good.  Our first day, we went to the beach across the street, rented chairs, umbrella and was there all day. We Uber Eats Lennys Pizza to the beach. For dinner we Uber Eats from Pita Plus, it was really good. The next day we rented a golf cart from the Fun Center in Fort Lauderdale, it fit 6 people, and we drove around, including to the Krispy Kreme drive through. Afterwards we went to HBK Burger for lunch, and everyone enjoyed including their $9.99 lunch special, we then went shopping at KC Market next door.

In the evening we went bowling on a Groupon in Fort Lauderdale at Manor Lanes, even though it seems creepy from the outside, it was spotless. If you want to go bowling there in the evening they only accept the groupon until 9pm, BUT they have bowling leagues form 6-830, so you must be there between 830-900 to begin. Go figure.

The next day we took our time and went to Toast Cafe in Hollywood for breakfast, the food was delicious. We then went to Whole Foods in Davie and got bread and pastries from Zack the Baker for our trip home. We went for dinner at Pita Plus, it was delicious as well.

We returned our car and flew out of FLL to EWR, we hit lots of turbulence, but thats what happens in the winter.

I hope someone found this helpful.

Offline Dan

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Re: Trip Report Cancun/South Florida 1/21/21-1/28/21
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2021, 11:18:45 PM »
Nice TR.
Pics?
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline itreu001

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Re: Trip Report Cancun/South Florida 1/21/21-1/28/21
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2021, 11:09:04 AM »
Tulum

Offline itreu001

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Re: Trip Report Cancun/South Florida 1/21/21-1/28/21
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2021, 11:11:54 AM »
Tulum beach