Mexico travel during Covid19
It had been six months since my last trip, which has to be a record for my three decades-plus in the travel industry, so it was with great anticipation that I embarked on a visit to Mexico earlier this month. Along with several of my colleagues from travel agencies in the upper Midwest, we booked reservations at two different resorts in the Cancun area and headed to the airport!The new "normal" at MSP. We had no problems at all, anywhere. It was different, of course; the Minneapolis airport was a lot less crowded than usual, masks were required for everyone, and the food court was shut down, along with some shops. When getting our boarding passes, we had to certify that we did not have COVID-19 or show any symptoms. Our Delta flights to Atlanta and then to Cancun were not very crowded, either, especially since middle seats in each row were blocked out. We flew coach, so we boarded from the rear of the plane forward, the reverse of the usual method. (First-class passengers and those with comfort seating still get to board first.) Snack and drink choices on board were extremely limited. (Do you like Cheezits? Learn to.) Upon arrival at the Cancun airport, our temperatures were taken, a very quick and non-invasive process. Everybody was masked here, too. We retrieved our luggage with no problems—no more red light/green light searches—and proceeded to the outdoor transportation area. Thankfully, this has been expanded. (The inevitable time-share hawkers were still there, but farther away. We liked that!)
We had chosen two resorts to stay at, and two more to visit. Our first couple nights were at Le Blanc Spa Resort, an adults-only all-inclusive property, and it was amazing. They are very focused on hygiene and safety, beginning with the welcome mat—it disinfects the soles of your shoes as you walk across it. All of the employees were masked, but guests were not required to wear them. Our luggage was disinfected upon arrival. Social distancing of five feet, a little less than our six-foot recommendation back home, was emphasized.
It was very relaxing, and even refreshing, to avail ourselves of the resort’s amenities, from dining to swimming to shopping. As much as we enjoyed Le Blanc, we were there to work—at least a little—and so we also spent time touring the Sun Palace, a place I’d visited a few years back. I was gratified to see that it has been extensively renovated. The Sun also had hygiene protocols in place, similar to Le Blanc, and indeed we would find them to be universal throughout the places we visited in Cancun.
After two nights at Le Blanc, we transferred to the Grand at Moon Palace, one of the largest properties in the Riviera Maya with over 1,300 rooms. Only about 30 percent are open for occupancy now, but they hope to expand that to 60 percent soon, on the way back to 100 percent. The Grand is a family resort, with a water park and other attractions for kids, plus one of the best beaches in the area. The food is fantastic, too. Menus are available online through an app guests can access on their phones, or you can order off laminated menus that are disinfected after each use. All guests are issued wristbands that have taken the place of room-key cards. (It’s hard to imagine that room-key cards are now old-fashioned.) We spent most of a day on Isla Mujeres, a popular offshore island, and toured the Palace property there, which is adults-only and much smaller (only 63 rooms) but very beautiful, designed for visitors who want more privacy than they’ll find on the mainland.
Way too soon, the time came for us to return home. The Cancun airport has now added free WiFi, and outbound travelers are asked to use it with their smart phones to fill out a questionnaire about their visit and any possible exposures to the virus. Paper forms are also available, but a completed questionnaire (or a barcode on your phone) has to be displayed at security in order to get on the plane. Overall, our experience in Mexico was wonderful. When we arrived at our first resort, it was as if great weights had been lifted off our shoulders. For at least a few days, we could largely put the fears and restrictions of COVID-19 behind us. (And keeping our TVs off played a big part in that. No newscasts!) It was truly a great time, and not just because we were with friends. We were able to travel again, and do so safely. We had re-discovered the joys of travel, and here at Travel Designers Travel Leaders, we’re ready to help you re-discover them, too!