Fall in the Riviera Maya

What’s it like in Cancun and the Riviera Maya this fall?

In a word, beautiful. Even though resorts have been hurt by closures due to Coronavirus and then struck by Hurricane Zeta, they’re quickly cleaning up, refreshing damaged areas and welcoming guests with a (masked) smile and friendly service. During the short time my friend and I were there, we noted impressively fast progress with getting debris removed and damage repaired.

We visited the Iberostar collection of resorts for 5 days. Since the resorts are not opening at full capacity, crowds are automatically controlled. It’s a wonderful time to enjoy the beaches, pools and public areas with plenty of chairs and space available.

Safety was the first priority, from the moment we were greeted by our transfer service through the check-in procedures at the resort and the strategies in place on site. Luggage is sprayed, hands are constantly sanitized and temperatures are taken. Entering the resort for check-in requires hand and feet sanitizing as well as a temperature check.

Once inside, check-in is done at spaced tables in the lobby bar, so there are no lines. We relaxed with a refreshing drink of our choice while our paperwork was completed and we were given our wrist bands.

Lobby bar

We were delivered by golf cart to our room with our sanitized luggage, though our bellhop wouldn’t enter our room, so that it would remain sanitized. All rooms are not only sanitized, but have a mandatory waiting period of 24-hours between guests.

Luggage has been sprayed & we are brought to our room.

Iberostar still has daily maid service. We could have put a “no service” sign in our key holder on the door if we preferred not to have them enter. However, we were content to have the beds made and the towels refreshed!

We enjoyed delicious meals in a variety of restaurants, from casual to more formal. Buffets are still available, but with a server dishing out food, rather than guests using the serving spoons or forks. Masks are required while walking around any public spaces, but may be removed when seated in dining areas.  (Note that many guests do not wear them when walking outdoors, but all employees do.) Menus are available using a QR code on your phone and most have indications for foods that are vegan or that contain various common allergens, such as gluten, shellfish or nuts. We received excellent service in all levels of the restaurants, and even at the beach on the lounge chairs. The only time it was difficult to know which foods contain which allergens was when eating at the buffet. Those labels did not contain any allergen indications.

Sargassum (seaweed) has not been bad in this area lately. Certain areas along the coast are very clear while others are relatively clear, though not completely.

So what’s it like to venture away from the resort? We took a small group tour to Tulum and then to a smaller, somewhat remote cenote. All of the typical precautions were required, such as wearing masks, sanitizing hands, and even spraying shoes. Even outdoors at Tulum, masks were expected to be worn. However, it’s impossible to keep everyone in intense heat outdoors wearing masks, so they were often removed unless standing in a group. Further, one can’t wear a mask while swimming in a cenote (fresh water underground caves), so they were removed for that entire part of the trip, and sometimes we did have to get pretty close to one another. The only way to truly mitigate all risk of catching a virus, or anything else, from someone on an excursion is to take a privately guided one.

Because of the reduced numbers and COVID-19 regulations, it’s important to know that some services, entertainment and restaurants are not always available. Traveling during this time is not the same as traveling a year ago. Expectations do have to be altered. However, if you go knowing that there will be some limitations, it’s still possible to enjoy a vacation with sunshine, beaches, pools, good food and kind service!

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