Category - Mexico

Cheap holidays to Mexico with Purple Travel

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Amazing Days Out: Chichen Itza Cancun
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Purple Pick: Mexico Honeymoons
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Learn about Mexico’s cenotes
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Purple Hearts: Playa del Carmen Mexico
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Amazing Days Out: Mexico’s Underwater Sculpture Park

Amazing Days Out: Chichen Itza Cancun

Chichen Itza from Purple Travel

Chichen Itza Cancun is one of Mexico’s biggest and most famous tourist sites. 125 kilometres from Cancun and Cozumel it is a major landmark on the Yucatan Peninsula. Filled with huge temples, ancient carvings and a fairly fatal football pitch, Chichen Itza was a place of trade, culture and history for the Mayan people.

The Temple of Kukulkan, or El Castillo, pictured above was built under specific astronomic specifications. The structure is one of a whole series of temples, pyramids and other structures sacred to the Maya people. There are 365 steps, one for each day of the year. Each side has 91, which with the top makes 365 again, a reference to the year. During the spring and autumn equinoxes, a snake shadow falls on the temple. As the sun sets the snake gradually slithers down the steps.

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Purple Pick: Mexico Honeymoons

Mexico is a firm favourite of honeymooners – its chic credentials even stretch to being featured in the SATC movie (where Carrie spent her post-wedding ‘Mexicoma’). But why has this seemingly unromantic location become such a honeymoon hotspot?

Honeymoon

The secret to a great value honeymoon is not just being entertained, but engaging in activities that allow you to work and play together. Very much a diverse travel experience, Mexico honeymoons fully cater to this need.

In Cancun, couples can tour through ancient Mayan ruins and bask on the palm tree-dotted beaches; in Riviera Maya, they can learn how to salsa dance and some discover some top luxury resorts; in Los Cabos, adventurous couples can dabble in water sports, lavish retreats and romantic beaches, and in Acapulco, couples can enjoy the bustling nightlife, excellent dining scene and stunning landscapes. And that is without even mentioning the remote islands that offer completely secluded getaways.

Whichever area you choose, you can rest assured that Mexico honeymoons have all the required tools to make your post-wedding holiday extra special – the people are wonderful, the food varied and superb, and its storied history has left momentous architectural and cultural pawmarks throughout the land. Expect ancient temples, white beaches that are out of this world and a rich cultural smorgasbord that provides for honeymooners of all dispositions. The only question is… where to stay? That’s why we’ve put together this guide to gorgeous hotels for Mexico Honeymoons. Enjoy!

Mandarin Oriental, Riviera Maya

Situated on a heavenly stretch of the Yucatan coast, set within 36 acres of jungle, mangrove reserves and natural lagoons, this super-cool hideaway feels private and exclusive although not far from tourist hub, Cancun.

Each of the 128 ultra-luxe, minimally-decorated villas comes complete with its own secluded garden bathroom and some offer individual plunge pools. A haven for total privacy, it is no surprise that the Asian-inspired guest rooms have been frequented by stars including Sir Paul McCartney and Christian Louboutin himself.

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental sets a new standard of holistic well-being that embodies the riches of Mayan philosophy, intermingled with traditional Asian healing rituals. Spend an afternoon enjoying its special Mayan Tzolkin Ritual for a quintessential renewal experience, or take some time to explore the second largest barrier reef in the world, or perhaps head to the Mayan ruins close by in Tulum, Chichén Itza and Coba.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Also on the Yucatan Peninsula, the Banyan Tree Mayokoba, which opened in 2009, is a five-star resort of 132 villas, set amongst the mangroves. Each villa is completely hidden from the next, making it a firm favourite romantic escape of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas – they can count on privacy when leaping out of bed and straight into the pool.

Aside from unparalleled luxury and a staff that brings a sense of Asian hospitality to the Mexican Caribbean, the resort’s Romance Manager is its real selling point. On hand to arrange one-off romantic experiences, whether it is a candlelit dinner on the beach, a private cruise at sunset or a couple’s spa treatment at your villa, the Romance Manager adds that little bit extra.

And with a seven-course tasting menu available from the Tamarind restaurant, Banyan Tree Mayakoba feels as if it were created just for honeymooners.

Las Alamandas

With the slogan ‘paradise found’, Las Alamandas, a luxury boutique hotel in Costalegre, forms its own lost world of seven sorbet-hued villas and 1,500 acres of unspoilt tropical bliss.

Each of the fuchsia and orange-coloured room has its own theme that incorporate a pleasing mix of designs, fabrics, and crafts, selected from all over Mexico, including Rattan sofas upholstered in canary yellow or shocking pink and Mexican folk art hand-painted artifacts.

The candlelit Oasis restaurant serves fresh and healthy cuisine including sushi, vegetables picked from their own garden and guacamole and huevos rancheros for breakfast, but any wish is the kitchen’s command. In fact, the hotel can organise almost anything. In response to anything you request, the staff will simply say, ‘Of course, this is your home.’ From horse riding and hiking to an ocean-side massage, this is the most relaxed you’ll ever be.

Rosewood San Miguel

Tucked away on a cobbled side street, the Rosewood San Miguel appears to be a beautiful old haçienda, although it is actually brand new. You’ll drive through real cowboy country to get there and be greeted with a margarita at the door, to aid your step into the past.

Situated in the enchanting artists’ village of San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World heritage site, the hotel is decorated with a fusion of traditional Mexican artwork and furniture, complemented by modern luxuries such as Frette linen and poolside cabanas.
The world-class Sense spa sanctuary follows a similar theme, offering a full range of therapies that integrate Mexican healing traditions and indigenous ingredients, with state-of-the-art facilities and an extensive treatment list.

The high altitude slows the pace, so fill your days with Pilates classes, Mexican cookery class or watch the sunset on a star-studded sky while enjoying amazing cocktails and moreish nibbles at The Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar.

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso

As its name implies, Las Ventanas is a window to paradise. Perched on the Baja California peninsula on the west coast of Mexico, the desert beach hideaway in Los Cabos mesmerises couples with huge suites, inspired cuisine and a fantastic spa that’s a sanctuary of renewal and revitalization.

The huge bedrooms all have a plunge pool and a wealth of famous fans (Kate Beckinsale honeymooned here and Jennifer Aniston is a regular).You will be greeted by an in-room tequila welcome and fresh fruit that’s replenished daily.

Las Ventanas offer some innovative honeymoon services, in fact, they have a whole ‘romance department’ dedicated to meeting your needs. Services include requesting a handwritten love letter that would be discovered amongst household bills telling your intended about a surprise getaway, an Aphrodisiac Dinner menu for private diners, salsa classes for two or even a message in a bottle to appear whilst bathing at the beach.

From a dinner by the sea to a movie for two on the beach, Las Ventanas makes romance happen.

Image via @ Aplomb

Purple Hearts: Playa del Carmen Mexico

Daydreaming about holidays is one of our favourite things and there might not be a better place than Playa del Carmen Mexico.

Found on the stunning coast of Riviera Maya, just a stone’s throw from the (in)famous resort of Cancun, Playa (as it’s known locally) is a haven for honeymooners, families looking to relax, couples who need a break and cruise ships that dock nearby. Temperatures are generally above 20 all year round, reaching a height of the mid 30s in the Summer. Playa del Carmen Mexico is number two on TripAdvisor’s Traveller’s Choice for Mexico, and features in the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards this year . While the beaches are simply to die for, regularly topping the top 25 in the world lists. Playa comes at number 12, while nearby Tulim is third on TripAdvisor’s yearly ‘Top 25 Beach Destinations in the World for 2012.’

There’s a big focus locally on keeping the area’s charm of a small fishing village and colony for artists. Basically it’s a smaller, less touristy version of Cancun. There is a Fifth Avenue where you can stock up on Louis Vuitton or Chanel, but there are also unspoiled beaches, hammocks swaying in the breeze under coconut trees, stunning sea views, great Mexican food and history by the bucket load. Don’t knock Playa ‘til you’ve tried it.

Things to do in Playa del Carmen

Snorkelling/Scuba The offshore Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, (the second biggest reef in the world) is right there on your doorstep in Playa del Carmen. You’ll find lots of dive shops throughout the resort, while there’s open water scuba a little further down the coast in Cozumel.

Get married or go on honeymoon Mexico might actually be the most romantic place ever. They make weddings and honeymoons an art form. Take all the hard work out of it and simply enjoy the ultimate beach wedding or the most luxurious romantic honeymoon you can image in Playa del Carmen. We’ve even put together this Mexico Honeymoon guide to help you get started!

Meet some monkeys The Jungle Place is a spider monkey sanctuary where you can go and meet these adorable little animals. Although a little out of the way, according to TripAdvisor, it’s well worth the trip.

Splash some cash on Quinta Evenida Playa’s fifth avenue has become a firm tourist favourite, with 20 blocks of cobblestone streets to explore. It’s got tonnes of shops if spending is your thing. Even if it’s not, it’s a great place to have some delicious local grub and is a safe place to spend an evening out.

Nightlife Not as wild as Cancun, but still with plenty on offer, most clubs in Playa stay open all night, and some of the best ones are actually on the beach, so you can enjoy a cocktail and sunset as well as sunrise views.

See the cenotes these are huge naturally occurring spring water sinkholes. Historically they were very important to the Mayan people as they were a channel to communicate with the gods. Found all over the Yucatan peninsula, the clear water, which is around 200 feet deep in some, is perfect for swimming or diving, in fact you might not have a better swimming experience in your life. Read more about cenotes in our Purple Picks: Mythical Hotspots.

BPM: Or beats per minute. The BPM Festival is a trance lover’s dream and is taking place in January, 2013 in Playa. It’s got everyone from Carl Cox, Sasha, and John Digweed on the lineup. Click here for more details.

Get close to nature at the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve just an hour or so outside of Playa you’ll find a great day out for the ecologically minded. Locally run, it offers tours of the Mayan ruins at Muyil or a float down the river through mangrove trees. There’s also a local nature guide pointing out the local flowers and animals. They’ve just introduced a chewing gum tour too.

Go to this amazing beauty salon (in Mexico City) It might be a little out of the way for a Brazilian, but we just had to include this beautiful beauty salon. The amazing colours are soothing and beautiful and certainly enough to distract while you’re getting seen to.

Visit Tulum The nearby resort is a history buffs paradise. The pre Christopher Columbus walled city is right on the water and is easily the number one attraction in the area. The big temple on the site, and the many smaller buildings and huts give a good glimpse into life hundreds of years ago.

Go in the dark: How amazing does this sound? Xplor is an adventure park, where you can go ziplining or go in all terrain trips under the moonlight. It’s an exclusive after dark experience especially for meetings and groups form 8 to 11.30 at night.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen

Stess buster Bluebay Esmerelda an onsite spa, spacious rooms, snorkelling and windsurfing just down at the beach, and 15 minutes from Fifth Avenue. All inclusive at the Bluebay Esmerelda is the ultimate in stress free holidays.

Couples getaway Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Hotel & Spa If we could use one word to describe the Sirenis it would be gorgeous. The modern hotel is right on a picture perfect sandy beach, the crystal clear water is home to a coral reef, and the palm trees are the perfect shade from the hot sunshine.

Family favourite Sandos Caracol Eco Resort & Spa Just a look at the brige rooms, great gardens and exotic surrounds and you can tell the 5* Sandos Caracol is a fantastic choice for all the family. The watersports centre offers something for everyone, while a kids club and teens club means everyone is catered for, as mum and dad chill out in the hot tub.

Best Budget Hotel Bananathis is right on the famous fifth avenue, so it’s a great choice for sampling the local nightlife and culture. With an outdoor pool and the beach just a stone’s throw away, as well as tonnes of eating options nearby, it’s a great choice for you and your pocket.

Best for the beach Ocean Maya Royale this one is so close to the beach, its pools are built into the sand. The recently refurbished hotel offers a little bit of luxury, with its Despacio Spa Centre and sea view rooms. Perfect for going from beach to bed in no time.

You Should Read… Our top 6 hotels in Jamaica right now.

What to eat in Playa del Carmen

There are around 75 restaurants throughout Playa, so make sure you get on that plane with an empty belly! From the pizza in the street places that are open until 6am, to the super fancy, delicacy serving delights of Quinta Avenida, here are some of the top places to eat and the top dishes to try.

Stuffed tacos You can pick these up on practically every street corner, whether it’s seafood, chicken or chorizo, these traditional lunchtime meals are usually around two or three dollars, so stock up.

Chocolate Mexico is famous for it. What did you mean you didn’t know that ? Try the most amazing brownies at the Ah Cacao Chocolate Cafe on Fifth Avenue.

Breakfast The family owned Kaxapa Factory between 10th and 15th Avenues does a tasty breakfast or brunch and its Venezuelan inspired dishes are to die for.

Birds We don’t mean to eat! The parrots on the balcony create a wonderful atmosphere at the Xulam, Mayan Fisher on 10th Avenue. A great choice for traditional Mayan fare.

Fish Kool Fish Restaurant on Fifth Avenue is a seafood lovers dream. It’s great value and offers wonderful fresh seafood with that traditional Mexican twist.

Although it’s in Mexico, there are also plenty of well known chain stores including a Cheesecake Factory. Now, we’re not saying it’s worth a trip to Mexico just for some cheesecake, but ‘when in Rome…’

You Should Read…  Mexican foodie dictionary

Images courtesy of Riviera Maya DMO.

Amazing Days Out: Mexico’s Underwater Sculpture Park

‘Museum’ probably isn’t the perfect word for the combination of art and nature you’ll find just off the Cancun coast. Holidays here are of course the stuff dreams are made of and for something really special we love a day at Mexico’s Underwater Sculpture Park. Sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor has installed hundreds of natural clay statues that will act as a reef to encourage coral and sealife growth.

The Cancun Underwater Museum acts as a restoration project, the statues have been built as artificial reefs to attract marine life and improve the natural reef that’s been damaged over the years. The displays are perfectly placed to attract glass bottomed boats, divers and snorkelers. Now 450 permanent life size sculptures make up one of the most ambitious and attractive underwater art works in the world.

Here are some of our favourites:

Man on Fire: This eerie sculpture was one of the first installed in 2009. It’s been cut with 75 holes, to allow fast growing fire coral to thrive. As the coral grows it will begin to bloom red, hence the name Man on Fire. It’s actually been cast from a local fisherman named Joachim and is meant to reflect the current world environmental situation.

The Banker: The meaning of this one is fairly clear cut. A suited man has his head buried in the sand. What’s that phrase, a picture paints a thousand words? Well this sculpture paints a lot more. It symbolizes the current economic crisis and the accountability of banking institutions. The sculpture itself is made for crustaceans and young fish to grow and breed.

The Silent Evolution: In the shape of an eye and the newest addition, this is an underwater village of hundreds of life size sculptures, all cast from local people. The silent museum takes you up, close and personal to view art in a way you may never have imagine. Like the others they’re made from special PH neutral clay to promote coral growth and life.

For more information visit the Aqua World Cancun website. You can find regular diving trips, including for beginners or certified.

All images courtesy of Aqua World Cancun.

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