Cancun trip report
To begin with, this report is written in the mind of someone who is taking their first trip to Cancun and Blue Bay. We stayed at Blue Bay Getaway (BBG) and visited their sister resort Blue Bay Club (BBC) so we will try to report on both.
Upon arrival to the Cancun Airport, we deplane VIA jetway into terminal A. Those arriving by Mexicana and some other airlines arrive in terminal B. Getting off the jetway we enter a warehouse type terminal thats looks like it is still under construction. The ceiling is ripped up. Floor is lined with construction and safety cones. Wires are hanging. Air duct vents are just these big aluminum tubes hanging down from the ceiling. We follow the other passengers to the customs area because there are no signs telling us where to go. In fact, for those that arrive on International flights in the USA, you notice you are kept behind a solid glass wall the entire way until you get to customs and immigrations. In Cancun, your dividing wall is a three foot railing type fence with openings all around allowing in and out access to the terminal at anytime even before you clear immigration and officially enter the country.
We heard that when you get to immigration that there would be two lines. One for passports and one for birth certificates. When we arrived we found only one line and that lined weaved in and out, back and forth amidst a cattle trough type line similar to that used at your local bank or at many airport check-in lines. The area was jammed packed with people walking back and forth but we were impressed on how fast the line went. It took us about 45 minutes to clear immigration.
After immigration, the so-called fun begins. We try to make our way to the baggage claim area, even before we get to customs and we are besieged by a swarm of people who are calling us over and claiming it is a law, rule and other legal nessacitiy that they inspect our vouchers even before we pick up our luggage. To give you an example, think of the first big sale day for Christmas. The one after Thanksgiving. For those of you who ever had to stand in line for five or more hours waiting for the doors to your local toy store, wal mart or other store to open your door. Do you remember the mad dash to get in the door as soon as they opened to go after that furby doll, play station, cabbage patch kid or whatever the fad is this year? Well think of yourself as the store and these time-share people are screaming to get into your doors. The gauntlet begins here because after customs you are waylaid by more and more of these time share people, All of which insist it is Mexican Law or some other bull that they must inspect your vouchers. This goes on even after you get out of the terminal. MY ADVICE: STAY AWAY FROM THESE TIME SHARE PEOPLE. IGNORE THEM and your trip will be better off for it. If you still insist on doing the time-share thing, you can almost be sure your resort has these time share people too. Yes, they are even in the hotel zone!
The good thing I found in the baggage claim area was a currency exchange with the highest rates we saw. They were a wee bit higher than the banks and much higher exchange rate then the hotel. More on that later.
Our TA booked us with GOGO Travel. In Cancun, they use Olympus Tours. Therefore, when we fought our way out of the terminal, we looked for the orange shirts that Olympus is known for. To clarify, everyone who works for Olympus Tours wears an orange shirt with the Olympus logo. We gave our name to the tour employee because that was what it said to do on our voucher. Funny thing was the employee knew nothing about us. He checked his three sheets but could not find us at all. Oh well, welcome to Cancun. We said we had a voucher and he asked to see it. We handed him the voucher and he said, yes thats us. He looked again and found our names. He aid we were expecting you 4 hours ago. That was strange to us since we did not board our first flight until about 4 hours ago. Whatever, we were here and we were soon to be on our way.
The walk from the arrival area at the terminal to the Olympus bus area was a long, long way. I was walking with a cane and dragging two big bags. My wife had two smaller carry-ons she was dragging. We finally got to the entrance of the departure terminal area and the Olympus tour rep pointed out how much further we had to walk. He suggested we wait here while he calls for a bus to come and pick us up. We agreed. We stood off to the side where the buses, vans and taxis drop off departing passengers. By doing this were became forewarned of what was in store for us. There were a sea of baggage handlers here who would swarm upon each and every arriving vehicle, trying to get the unsuspecting tourist to allow them to carry their luggage to their check-in gate. I say unsuspecting tourist because what we saw was the baggage handlers loaded the luggage on their carts, wheeled it up the ramp, entered the door and dropped off the bags. A total of maybe thirty steps from car to door. We flew American and the check-in is just a few feet inside the door. The others are all quite close. There you take the bags and weave in and out of the roped off lines, with your bags, awaiting to have your bags inspected even before you get to the ticket counter.
Our bus pulled up. It was a 15-passenger van. Our bags were loaded and we were off, or so we thought. By the way, it is a good idea to have a stack of one dollar US bills ready to give as tips. Your travel company guide, the baggage handlers, the driver, etc all have a subtle way of demanding tips. We stayed at an all inclusive, which like most all inclusive pays for everything but unlike most all inclusive, the staff has no trouble requesting and accepting tips. Our trip from the departure terminal was all the way over to the Olympus bus staging area. We backed in and loaded a full group of other tourists. The trip to our hotel seemed to take the long way around. As luck would have it, we were first in on this bus but we would be last off. The bus made stops at five other resorts before ours and we saw many classes of resorts and most were resorts our TA talked to us about checking into.
Upon arrival to BBG, we saw a very drab, low scale front entrance. Nothing fancy but it looked well kept. The security and the bellmen greeted us. What we saw was security was all over the place. Moreover, I mean all over the place. In our minds that was good because we felt safe and the security almost blended in with the guests. The bellmen loaded up our bags on his cart and wheeled them up a three-step ramp and around the corner to the check-in desk. Better get your money out because the bellmen makes sure he gets a tip. Later on we saw this bellmen pull out a wad of bills, which they say was big enough to choke a horse and peeled off a couple US dollars to give change to an arriving tourist who gave him a ten and asked for change.
Check-in was swift. We were booked into the new section of BBG. This section used to be called Plaza Los Glorias. Our room was 1304, which has a balcony facing the steak house and the quiet pool. Be advised: BBG is all stairs. No elevators, just lots and lots of stairs. The staff saw my cane and moved us to a ground floor in this new section. We ended up in 1119 which is a few steps from the La Alternative bar and game room.
The room was very spacious and clean. The air conditioner was central air and the thermostat worked just fine. We heard horror stories about this so we were concerned. The bathroom did not have a tub but had a shower. The thing about this shower was that it had one showerhead but was big enough for two, could easily fit three and intimately fit four at a time. The closets were another thing, or should I say closet. It was next to the door and was about three feet wide. What gets better is the closet also contained the room safe, which by the way costs 3.50 USD a day, if you want to use it. The safe is about one foot wide and four inches high. It is anchored to the wall at the back of the closet. The location of our safe was about five feet off the ground and it took up almost half the closet. The closet only had three hangars in there anyway so we are glad we brought our own. Did you ever try to hang up and squeeze enough clothes for an eight-day stay, from two adults, one being a female, into a one and a half-foot closet space. Not a pretty site!
Before unpacking, we decided to check out the grounds and get something to eat. From one that has been around the world, these grounds were impressive. The BBG has three pools. One called the sexy pool, which is in the old section. This is a free form pool with four Jacuzzi style tubs and a swim up bar with stools. The lower part of the bar is the swim up section with about 10 or so seats. The upper section is the walk up bar. It has about 20 concrete round bar stools with about seven or eight swings that line the outside of this bar. On the west side of this pool is the boat dock where you catch the free boat to visit the Blue Bay Club (BBC). The other resort owned by the Blue Bay. On the north side is the beach where you find the beach volleyball, horseshoes and six blue hammocks that comfortably hold two people. Section D rooms grace the south side. These rooms are still on the older section and they are facing the waterfront. Behind section D are rooms in section E through L. Some are three stories and some are four. These have no view of the ocean. Next to these rooms is the outdoor theater and in the evening it does get loud when the show is going on. Next to there is a tennis court but no one seemed to know where to find a tennis racquet and balls so we never saw it being used.
Back to the sexy pool. On the East Side is the El Embarcado. This is where you find the daily breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. With the remodeling going on at the La Lagarta, the El Embarcardo is also where you can find the late night snacks, which basically are hot dogs and hamburgers. This resort advertises 24-hour food and they deliver. In the same building, you will find the video bar. This area is a small section in front of the El Embarcardo and is called Nice Shoes Video Bar. The bar is open from 7PM to 1AM. During the morning, this is also where you sign up for the specialty restaurants. The video bar contains one small bar, one long couch, a few tables but mostly standing room only. This is also where the nightly games are played which include contests for mens and womans sexy legs, best kissing, karaoke, dancing and the widely publicized anything goes. Be advised that some of these contests say they are an adult content so if you are embarrassed by naked men and or women than you should avoid the video bar at those times.
Out the door, next to the video bar is the open air dining of Las Margaritas. From-5 - 7 PM, they offer snacks which are hamburgers, hot dogs and some light Mexican snack. From 7 - 9:30PM they offer a daily Mexican grill. The bar here, called Margaritas Bar is open from 5PM to 11PM. Next to the Margarita Bar are the doors taking you back to the hotel lobby.
Walking back to the beach, on the right side of the El Embarcado, you will see the La Lagarta, which was undergoing remodeling. They did put a ping-pong table in there a few days before we left. Next to that is the sports pool. Here they have the water polo; water volleyball, water basketball and one day they had a game called crazy darts. The winner of the crazy darts game gets a certificate while the loser gets a hair shampoo with eggs, flour and whipped cream. After that, the loser parades around all the pools with a sign saying I am a loser. They then get a shower in front of everyone to rinse off the egg, flour and whipped cream. Dumping a bucket of ice water over their head does the shower.
Next to the sports pool is the activities office. It was closed most of the time and had a sign in front of it saying open soon, if you are lucky. Guess most of us were not lucky. On TV, they have a schedule of activities on channel 15. Also when checking in they give you a copy of the schedule. Be advised that schedule means almost nothing. They tell you to check out the activity board everyday to see the updated schedule. The only problem was that during our entire time there, they had no activity board anywhere.
Continue the walk to the beach, next to the sports pool is the Village Wok. We ate there and the food was good but the portions were extremely small. Be ready to order two or three entrees. We ended up ordering extra appetizers and entrees and still finished up with a small plate in the buffet. The Village Wok is directly on the beach and they offer dining inside and on the beach. Walking on the beach, behind the Village Wok is the watersports shed. They offered hobie cats and ocean kayaks. We tried two times to take out a hobie cat and both times were told no. No explanation, just no. On another occasion, I tried to take out an ocean kayak. Now I weigh 300 lbs, give or take a couple pounds. They had me fill out some waiver and then gave me a life jacket. Now I do not know why they gave me a small jacket but I looked at him and he said try it on. I laughed, put one arm in and could not even pull up the other arm. He went back to the door, picked up a bigger jacket that I got in but even after loosening all the straps found it extremely tight and hard to breath. He said that was the biggest they had. Then he picked out a kayak and started to drag it to the water. The kayak clearly was labeled as a weight capacity of 150 - 200 lbs. I laughed and said I weigh 300 lbs. That says 150 lbs. He said dont worry, it is good. I tried it and got about 50 feet out before it sank. I got it back. He was laughing and said I got bigger jacket and bigger boat for you. I said forget it.
Walking on the beach past the watersports shed is the old Plaza La Glorias resort. This is where you will find the new section of the Blue Bay Getaway. These rooms all have four numbers while the older section rooms all have three numbers. Next to the beach, in this new section you will find Bellavista. This is where you can also find a buffet breakfast, a healthy snack bar daily and in the evening, it becomes the specialty restaurant, the Steakhouse. During the day, this restaurant has been nicknamed the birdcage because if you do not keep an eye on your food, the birds that inhabit this area will take food off your plate.
Outside the Bellavista is the quiet pool. This is another free form pool with four Jacuzzi type sections and a swim up bar. Next to there is the IL Piacere. This is the Italian restaurant. We ate there and it was great. One thing not to miss here, an item that is not on the menu is called Sexy Coffee. Order it and see for yourself. Continue walking to the rooms you run into the game room which has two pool tables and next to that is the spa. Above the spa is the exercise room, which looks out over the ocean.
I am going to say a few words about the animation staff. They try hard but it seems they have been there so long that they tend to confuse fact with fiction. I will explain. We consider ourselves newcomers. Our first night there we entered the mens sexy legs contest. During the finals, in which I garnered third place, it was announced that the third place got a certificate and a 250-dollar voucher to be used in the logo shop. The second place got 500 dollars and the first place got 1,000 dollars. After the prizes were awarded, they announced that the dollars were Mexican dollars and not US dollars. We saw this during other contests during the week where they announce prizes as 100-dollar gift certificate for Wal-Mart along with other prizes. We tried to cash in our voucher only to find out the joke was on us. The resort manager came out and apologized to us telling us the prizes were an inside joke among the animation staff and they never meant to give any prizes other than the T-shirts and certificates. It seems others complained as well while we were there so the manager offered us a couple repeat visitor T-shirts to shut us up. We watched other contests during our stay and noticed that the animation staff still tells all that they are giving out prizes they never intended to give. We have them on videotape repeatedly doing and saying this. Our only conclusion would be is that the animation staff was pushing booze so much that they may have thought everyone was drunk and would forget what they said and never question where are the prizes they promised. Our videotape shows us that.
One activity the animation staff held at night was the Casino night. If you are looking for gambling, FORGET IT. We tried it and found out first hand what a farce it was. The deal is they escort you in and place you at a table. There were seven tables total and the most any table takes is six people. The games are only played for about one hour so if you do not get there first, you do not play. You do the math; seven tables, times six people equals 42 guests. With over 400 guests this led to some hot tempers. In addition, the games were a joke. I played blackjack. Our table all bets 10 dollars and the dealer hits on 20. Yes he busts. There were other times he stood on 12 or less. We bet 200 dollars and the dealer claims 21 eventhough we all told him he had 23. Yes we lost. Some people complained so they made an announcement that the games were only for fun, nothing serious so if you do not like it, get the hell out. We used play money that we would use for an auction at the end of the night. The prizes were a couple T-shirts from a local club, a couple tall plastic drink glasses and the grand prize was a cheap bottle of booze.
We met a great couple from England who spent 4,000 dollars on a JR. Suite. What they got was a room in the old section. The air did not work to well. The desk next to the bed was broken and when they opened the drawers, they found them lined with green fuzzy mold. The refrigerator was warm and not working. The Jacuzzi tub turned into being just a regular tub. Two days later, after much complaining, they were moved over to the newer section. They ended up with two single beds and a shower. Not what they paid for. Later they were told that the time-share group, the Blue Bay Premier has reserved all the Jacuzzi suites, all the time. So if you want a JR. Suite, you better be ready to give this time-share group 20,000 dollars or settle for a regular room.
As I mentioned, the Blue Bay Club & Marina is the sister resort of the BBG. To get there the resorts offer free bus and boat transportation. The BBC is a family type resort. Is is way off the beaten path. You will see this because to get there, you must travel through some seedy and impoverished sections of Cancun. The BBC has sections on both sides of the street with access through an underground tunnel. On the main side, we find the ocean side. This is where you find the lobby, one indoor and one outdoor bar and the buffet, which is downstairs, in the basement. The sundeck has three levels and holds about 50 lounge chairs. Next to the sundeck is a small pool, which turns into the sports pool. There is a ping pong table and fooseball table on the deck which is next to the watersports booth. On our two visits, there we never saw anyone using the watersports. The beach is awful. It is covered in seaweed, not only on the beach but all over the swimming area. Most of the beach area is about 15 feet from waters edge to the wall. This was at low tide. At high tide, the beach barely holds any lounge chairs.
We took a tour of the BBC and checked out the rooms on this side. They are very humid conditions in the halls and the rooms are dark and dank. We checked out every room type from the standard to the two-room suite. They were nice, clean and spacious but a one room, wall mounted, antique air conditioner just did not do it justice. The good part of this side was the specialty restaurant called Oysters & Ostras. This is an International Restaurant. They do serve fish and Oysters but so much more. This was five star dining with oceanfront views. If you stay at BBG, try to get a reservation here at BBC. It is well worth it. The only bad part of this All Inclusive restaurant was that they offer you a wine list where if you choose any wine, be prepared to pay extra for it, and by the prices we saw we do mean extra. Otherwise, try the house wine. We did and it was good. So did everyone else that was there when we were.
On this side of the street, you will find a childrens day care center, a very small exersize room, a section they called the spa which was two hotel rooms with massage tables. Outside you will also find one washer and one dryer, both coin operated for your laundry. Across the street is quad section of very old looking hotel rooms. In the middle of these rooms is a sun deck with about eight lounge chairs and a small pool that might hold four people. Next to this area is a childrens play area, a tennis court, basketball area and soccer field. Next to that is the indoor banquet and convention area where they hold the nightly entertainment.
That last day opened our eyes even more. We scheduled a pick up of our bags at 10:30 AM but the bellman never came. We ended up carrying our own bags all the way to the checkout desk. We complained and the bellman walked a few steps over to the desk and told us to put the bags by his desk because we still had about three hours before our bus would come to take us to the airport. We went to lunch and then took a final walk around. We ran into another guest. This was a big African American gentleman who you could tell was irate and told everyone around how he felt as he struggled to drag his three big bags from the old section and up and down all those steps. Seems the bellman did not pick up his bags either and his bus was waiting outside. Before we left, we noticed another young couple who looked like newlyweds. They were assigned rooms in the newer section but up on the third floor. The bellman helped them with the luggage to the stairs but told them they had to carry their own bags up the three flights of steps. He even demanded a tip from them for carrying the bags the few feet he did. They were beyond upset as well.
Upon departure from the resort were our bus was confronted by angry taxi cab drivers. Our driver tried to get us to the airport but the taxi drivers decided to stage a strike just as we were leaving. They parked their cabs in every direction in the only road to the hotel zone, got out and locked their doors. Our driver was able to get his bus near the downtown area where we were met by a sea of angry taxi cab drivers and at least 100 Federal Officers who were all dressed in black, attired in riot gear and getting ready to put down a violent uprising. We finally made it to the airport but we sure went the long way around.
At the airport we learned our flight was delayed about one half-hour. That was fine until we got to the terminal to find out the time was now one hour. We were leaving from the terminal A that was still under construction. If you want air conditioning here, forget it. One hour became two hours before we finally boarded. We finally landed at DFW at 8:30PM but our connecting flight took off at 8:10PM. The airlines had to put us up in a hotel. That is a whole another horror story, one that I would not believe if I was not there.
Overall, the trip was an experience. I know we left out many more things but I tried to hit as much of the highlights I could as to inform someone who has never been there before. We are considering on a return trip to Cancun but not sure about BBG. Only time will tell.
Bruce and Jacqueline
BBG Sept 7-14, 2002