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TRAVEL – Isla Mujeres, Mexico – you gotta go !

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I just back from the most incredible trip- probably the best vacation I’ve ever had- to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Where ??? Ya…I had never heard of it either. It is a small island, 8 miles of the coast of Cancun. We were looking for a place to have a belated Honeymoon/First Anniversary trip. You see, we did a Destination Wedding to St. Thomas, USVI exactly a year before. People said “but that WAS a Honeymoon!”. NO..it was a “Destination Wedding” with our 6 children, ages between 24 & 14. You see the difference. We were not alone for that trip and in fact, in the last 4 ½ years that we have been together, we were pretty much NEVER alone. We wanted….no- we NEEDED a Honeymoon !

We looked around at all the usual spots- Tropical and Beachy: Hawaii, Cabo, Tahiti. We really wanted Costa Rica but it takes a day and a half to get there and we didn’t want to spend that much time en route. We looked at Denmark because my Husband is of Danish descent but the cost of the plane ride alone was outrageous. I subscribe to lots of Travel websites and I must have forwarded dozens of emails with incredible deals from Groupon and Living Social to my husband over the course of this year, hoping to tempt him with the right place at the right price. FINALLY, I saw a deal for The Villa Rolandi in Isla Mujeres. THE top rated boutique hotel in a spot that neither one of us had ever been to. Exotic enough, different enough, intimate and romantic. Trip Advisor had unanimous good reviews and the Living Social Deal price was so amazing that we strung two deals together to get a full week.  I was excited !.

Isla Mujeres turned out to be an absolute gem. I had been to Mexico before- Acapulco, back in the early 90’s and although it was fun, there were elements I didn’t care for and I even got sick as a dog for a couple of days. This place was different right from the start. It was charming, clean, beautiful and it was just….. “friendly”.  The Hotel Villa Rolandi picked us up in Cancun – which seemed to me to be Vegas on the water- and transported us by private yacht across the bay to the island. Upon arrival, we were greeted with Mimosas. I love upscale, boutique hotels and this one was the perfect blend of luxury and beauty without any kind of pretentiousness. They are friendly and not in a butt kissing- tip me well please !- kind of way.  It had great rooms, great food, a great private beach, a really nice spa and cool people.   I heard that U-2 once rented the whole place out for a week- I can see why they felt it was the perfect place to decompress.  It’s like you took a lovely pill that puts you in a serene state of relaxation. Check it out if you too NEED that kind of experience.

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Isla Mujeres is a small island. You can see it all in a rented golf cart or by taking a taxi. The downtown area is a delightful, busy place lined with little restaurants and shops. Everyone beckons you to come and eat and to come and buy but it’s done in a friendly, easy-going way. You are not attacked the way you are in other tourist destinations and if you give them a polite “No, thank you”, you are left alone.  The food is mainly seafood and Italian and you are given generous portions. My husband went nuts for the Mariscos Chile Relleno  at Mininos, a small restaurant/bar that is right on the sand of Playa Norte.  You can sit there and watch the fishing boats bring in their daily catch. We went back another time and tried Conch…didn’t care for the rubbery consistency but the garlic/butter sauce it was cooked in was delish. I had some delicious lobster tails at Fayne’s, a cute place with sidewalk dining, live music and an incredibly animated, talkative Manager that made it fun. You can eat in a cool, different place every night. Although this is not a place with anything that can be labeled  as “raging night life”, you can have a fun evening pretty much anywhere you go.

Historically, the island was a place that Mayan women came to for a fertility blessing from the godess Ixchel. There is a small ruin on the south eastern tip of the island. Probably the most beautiful coast line you may ever see is there. The water is the most amazing shades of emerald and turquoise and the waves pound one side, while on the other side, the sea is gentle and shallow. You can hike along a rocky trail with pot holes and iguanas along the way. You really do feel as though you are on an adventure. The beauty of the land and sea coming together is exquisite. I sat there thinking of what it must have looked like all those years ago to a Mayan woman, coming across the water, hoping  and praying that the trip was worth it and that the godess would bless her with a child. How incredible it must have been to see nothing but green land and turquoise sea and nothing else. If it was amazing to me in this era of technology and money and politics, imagine what it was in pristine, natural beauty before all those things changed it forever. You can get lost in those thoughts for a bit but when you look across the water and see Cancun and all it’s high rises, you appreciate it so much more and drink it all in with reverence.

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Even though this is a small, tranquil little place it just makes you feel good. The whole time I was there, I just appreciated it so much. You know the “vibe” you get from places when you travel….. sometimes, you just feel right and you wake up feeling happy, and relaxed and like you are in the right place at the right time. It’s not for those of you that need non-stop excitement, raging night life, extreme sports or  constant action. If you can take it down a notch, tone down the glamour and just appreciate a little simplicity in a beautiful, friendly setting- Isla Mujeres is for you.

If you decide to take a trip to Isla Mujeres- give these spots a visit:

Hotel Villa Rolandi- check out my review on Trip Advisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g150810-d154002-r145781366-Hotel_Villa_Rolandi-Isla_Mujeres_Yucatan_Peninsula.html#CHECK_RATES_CONT

Dolphin Discovery- swim with the dolphins!  It’s a tourist spot for sure but you get full buffet and open bar included (yes!  can you believe it ?!). It’s fun and a really special way to spend the day

http://www.dolphindiscovery.com.mx/

Zama Beach Club- upscale beautiful beach club with a pool and jacuzzi as well. Yachts containing wealthy locals and their families pull up to hang for the day. They have amazing food ( the BEST Lobster Quesadilla ever!) and a full bar. The beach itself has lounge beds and chaises and the water is shallow and clear.

http://ikosweb.com/zama/

Mininos- excellent food on the sand in Playa Norte. They have live music and large portions.

Punta Sur, Mayan Temple and Sculpture Garden- See the small Mayan ruin and gorgeous coastline. Gift shop, snack bar and cool sculptures along the way.

http://www.yucatan-holidays.com/featured-articles/punta-sur-where-mexico-awakens-a-historical-overview/

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me any time.

Happy Holidays,

Erica

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