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When people hear me say, “I’m going for a ride…” This is what I mean.
Kim and I dropped in on the drag racing at Mission Raceway on Sunday and had a blast watching all the cool cars!
Kim and I had an amazing time at the Grand Sunset Princess Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico!
The first thing that stands out in my mind was the heat and the humidity. The Friday we were there, it was 37 degrees C (98 F) with *100%* humidity! For this poor Canadian, that’s “center of the earth” hot! But I was smart enough to drink lots of water (and certainly my fair share of beer!) and stay out of the sun for the most part.
The two most memorable things were the beautiful grounds and the wonderful, friendly staff. The grounds were immaculate. Everywhere I looked, there was something beautiful I wanted to take a picture of. Not just the plants but all the animals wandering around too.
We were really worried about the weather reports for our week there, both before we left and while at GSP but, even though “rain/thunderstorms” were predicted for every day of our stay, we couldn’t have had better weather. Although it did seem to be cloudy over the island of Cozumel for our entire stay. We even saw lightning!
Neither Kim or I are particularly social (it’s the Brit and Canuck in us respectively) but we did talk to a few people and everyone else seemed to be having a wonderful stay. GSP had a lot of Brits from north of London, we heard a lot of Southern US accents, particularly from Texas, and there were quite a few Russians, too. Interesting mix of people.
The restaurants seemed a bit hit and miss and their limited selection was a big downside. Having to make reservations in advance was a minor annoyance – after all, I have no idea what I’m going to want to eat two days from now nor at what time I’m going to be hungry! – but we managed just fine.
Neither of us like the Miso restaurant (we didn’t sit to watch The Show), feeling the food was too salty and not particularly interesting. The Fondue place was OK (NEEDED MORE CHEESE!) and we really liked the Italian and Steakhouse restaurants.
But for romantic ambiance, you can’t beat the (poorly named) Chill Out Bar. You have to pay for your meal (about the price of a nice meal in Canada) and, while their menu is as limited for selection as the others, they really made it worth it. We were offered a complimentary mixed drink (some kind of champagne cocktail) and then, after we ordered, cute little “amuse bouche” (hors d’oeuvres). The food was delicious and they followed dinner with another complimentary cocktail.
For the nerd in me, the biggest advantage was, now that we had eaten at the COB, we had free access to it for the rest of our stay which meant not only another private section of the resort, but also the same kind of beach chair waitress service (but not the food) of the Platinum Beach and FREE WIFI! Sadly, it was about as good as the free wifi you get in other hotels which is to say, pretty slow and spotty. But you’re not there to work, are you!? (well, *I* was but you shouldn’t be!)
Another downside was the snorkeling – there really wasn’t a whole lot to see. There is no coral reef easily accessible from the hotel’s beach.
That being said, the hotel offers (for an hour at a time) free snorkeling gear and free use of the sailboats and kayaks. Jet skis are $50/30 mins.
I never did find out how much parasailing was.
There was a wonderful variety of birds and animals for me to photograph – Pelicans and terns were fishing in front of us, Coaties by the dozens, turtles, iguanas, lizards and even the occasional monkey, crocodile and capybara!
Another (very minor) downside were the folks walking by all day trying to get you to buy silver or jewelry or, and this guy was the worst, sunglasses. DUDE! I’m looking at you – THROUGH SUNGLASSES! Stop asking me if I want to buy your cheap ones! :) But they weren’t as (mildly) aggressive as the vendors in Playa del Carmen and they were nowhere near as bad as the very handsy vendors in Egypt. A polite, “No gracias” and they were on their way. But you fended them off all day long.
Some of us were less successful in the “fending off” area. :)
The other downside, and this was a huge one for us, was the almost complete lack of tipping by hotel guests. That was very disappointing. The staff were wonderful and friendly and obviously worked very hard to make our stay as enjoyable as possible and yet, it seemed as if no one but us ever offered the waiters and waitresses a couple of bucks for their service.
On our last day, Kim and I talked about the resort – was the Chill Out Bar worth it? Yes – for the ambiance and the convenience (access was right next to our room) and, for me, the wifi, spotty and slow though it was.
Was Platinum worth the upgrade? That’s harder to quantify. The room was undoubtedly lovely and right on the beach with easy access and having a concierge to help with any questions was wonderful. But it was a long way away from the restaurants (we walked 75+ kms (46 miles) the week we were there – our average here at home is about 4km a day). The Platinum Gala Buffet on Thursday evening was nice too. If you’re like us and want the peace and quiet of being far away from the action (and by that I mean possibly noisy drunks) and want/need the waitress service at the beach (along with the larger room), go for the upgrade.
Kim adds that she really enjoyed the private section of the beach with the waiter service and the food right on the beach – no need to go anywhere for lunch! And, while we never took advantage of it, there where masseuses right on the beach if you needed a rub down.
Overall was the Grand Sunset Princess worth our hard earned money? An unequivocal YES. For the price we paid, we could have barely gotten a hotel *room* in any major city in the world, let alone free food and drink. I would have absolutely no reservations in recommending the Grand Sunset Princess Resort to anyone who was thinking about going. We had a fabulous time and couldn’t have had a nicer seven days away from home. And if you knew how much I loved my motorcycle and how much Kim loves her dog Grommit, you’d know how big a statement that is! :)
I promised my fellow GSP Facebookers I’d post this so here it is!
First of all, Sunwing Holidays are a bunch of morons. I’ve got an app that told me on Saturday, 18 hrs before we were to depart Vancouver, that our flight would be delayed until 1:25pm (instead of 8am) on Sunday. I called Sunwing and they told me everything was fine.
Because we live in Chilliwack, we are 90 mins away from VYR. So we needed to be at the airport by 5am. Wisely, we went to bed at 9pm and got up at 3am only to find a message from Sunwing that our flight had been delayed to – you guessed it – 1:25pm. I asked the gate agent why the delay. She said, mechanical problems. Another gate agent said it was because they were waiting for crew. On board, the pilot told us it was because of a broken plane *2* days prior that messed with their schedule.
Regardless of the reason, Sunwing’s lack of timely communication and delays put us eight hours behind on our vacation and started us off on the back foot. There seeming indifference to the inconvenience was also alarming. But the staff on the plane, especially Adam, and Dee here at the resort have been exemplary.
But, once we got to the resort, all was forgotten. What an utterly lovely place! Even last night at midnight, we could see how pretty the resort was. All the staff were friendly and helpful and our Platinum room is *gorgeous*! here is our view off the balcony:
That’s what we woke up to this morning. What a great way to start your day. :)
This guy wasn’t the least bit shy. He’s hanging out by the bridge at the Chill Out Bar – don’t fall in!
There’s no doubt there’s a seaweed problem:
Seaweed is piled up on the beach for 4ft to the waterline, there’s another 20-30ft of thick seaweed in the water, then 30-40ft of moderate seaweed and then mostly clear.
But there were lots of people, myself included, in the water. The beach is lovely and it’s OMG SO HOT AND MUGGY!! But does this look like the face of a guy unhappy with the seaweed? :)
My girlfriend Kim is the sun tanner of the family and she was right in her element:
We’re in the Platinum section on the beach so we get bar service right at our “huts”:
Where we lay down to relax and watch the world go by:
There is all kinds of wildlife! Not just the “Coaties” but birds, hard to see spider monkey and quite a few lizards/iguanas!
It must be said – the grounds are *beautiful*. Immaculately maintained.
If you don’t like cats (I love them!), keep an eye out – they’re everywhere!
As you can see, it really is a lovely place. The food has been just OK but, to be fair, we’ve only had the buffet (and I’m never a fan of those) and some beach front food. But I will say the coffee at the buffet was *delicious*!
Tonight, we start in on the resort’s restaurants – Miso up first.
If you have any questions or want me to check something in particular out, please don’t hesitate to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or comment here or on Facebook.
Until we take our (sadly) much needed vacation to Mexico! Kim has us already packed (that suitcase has been packed for *two* days now!):
And yes – that *is* a penguin suitcase – got something to say about that!?
Actually, it’s kind of practical – it’s not the usual black suitcase that gets confused with others and no self-respecting thief would ever try to steal it. Plus, I really like penguins. :)
I was musing about taking my Libratone ZIPP speaker to Mexico with us.
It’s fairly portable (if a bit heavy) and sounds great. I got to think what other electronics I was going to have to bring and realized – I have way too much gear.
1) Macbook Air – I’ll still need to do some work in Mexico
2) iPad – Reading on the plane and beach
3) iPhone 6 Plus – photos, Twitter, Facebook, Periscope
4) Olympus TG-860 – “beach” camera for sand and underwater
5) Olympus M1 – better photos
6) Nikon D600 – best photos!
7) Tascam Dr-1 – recording device for podcasting
8) Intocircuit 11200mAh Dual USB Portable External Battery Charger – something has to charge all this stuff while we’re beachside!
9) various cables and chargers for all of the above…
10) I’m sure there’s more I haven’t thought of. I’ll update as I do. :)
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Looking for a way to broadcast and share video while we are in Mexico in a couple of weeks. I’m testing out the Twitter video broadcast app, Periscope. One of the downsides is it’s impossible to save the video and keep the live Periscope comments and Periscope videos get deleted 24 hours after broadcast. One one of our listeners, Kinny, suggested using the Katch service. Here is the result:
For some reason, Katch’s embed code doesn’t seem to work here: