So a lot has happened lately. In the past month, I’ve been to Rosemary Beach to get married, back to Tulum for a minimoon (which – for those who don’t know – means it was a quick trip away as newlyweds, but not the full blown “honeymoon” because we are both painfully low on PTO time J), out to San Diego and Orange County for work, to Danville (CA) for Thanksgiving, up to wine country (Sonoma), back to Atlanta for 12 hours, and then out in Northwest Arkansas/Tulsa/Oklahoma City for work.
Quite a mouthful, I know, and that doesn’t explain me being MIA on the blog for several months. My apologies for that. It’s been a busy (but very productive, very fulfilling) summer and fall at work. Then, adding in the stress related to the wedding – I just let it get away from me. I do have a lot of lessons learned though that I want to share as I reflect towards year end on personal and professional accomplishments in 2016.
Starting out, I will go ahead and do some quick and easy reviews on our trip to wine country. Then, I’ll follow up with more volumes of information and pictures from our minimoon. I know each of these will be the third time I’ve covered a spot (Wine Country, Tulum), but it’s exciting to write about because it takes me back to two of our “happy places”.
Rather than go through individual dining reviews like I did last year, I opted to go for the bulk upload this time. As such, this post will cover a wide array of places (with photos), including: Casa Jaguar (again), Hemingway’s, La Cocina de Corina, La Famiglia, La Oñda, La Suerte Del Coyote, and Mateo’s (again, duh).
Here are my thoughts:
Casa Jaguar: This place was as great as the last time. We heard a lot of other people in the area knocking it as “nothing special” – but we firmly believe this place is legit and checks all the right boxes for the area. The tuna tostadas are still out of this world!
Hemingway’s: I was actually fairly ill for this (I got food poisoning from a rogue piece of raw tuna on our second day down there), but the food and price were both definitely on point!
La Cocina de Corina: This place was a treat. We sat right next to the kitchen, and therefore got to watch the delicate preparation of all of our dishes (an added bonus). The food reminded us of Posada Margherita (fresh, surprisingly delicate Italian fare).
La Famiglia: This place was my favorite meal during this trip to Tulum. The server recommended we try the pasta sampler since Katy wanted to try gnocchi and I wanted to try bolognese. The gnocchi was as good as I’ve ever had, and the bolognese was out of this world good. The tuna appetizer and other accompaniments were delicious as well. I was surprised this place was not more crowded (perhaps a bad omen for long term success of this restaurant). I would absolutely recommend a trip here if you’re ever down that way.
La Oñda: They claim to have the “best pizza on Earth”. While that may be a stretch, we really did enjoy this spot. An added bonus was that they had live flamenco dancing and music that evening. The older gentleman who was playing/singing was delightful, and the lady who was dancing was fantastic!
La Suerte Del Coyote: We actually went here hoping to find our favorite place from last trip (MamaMuu) but were sad to find out it had changed ownership. The new place (La Suerte Del Coyote) was a great treat as well though! While they no longer do mezcal flights, they still do great drinks. And we only had corn to eat (mid-afternoon snack), but that corn was terrific – a lime corn with spices and a cotija cheese sauce.
Mateo’s: I have said enough about this place. It’s awesome, the food is great, the drinks are cheap, and the atmosphere is so chill. Sit back by the TV to catch futbol (soccer) or rugby, and get better bar service!
On our final night, we ended up at Mi Amor (again, because La Zebra had burned down). Let me be the first to say that I am truly saddened about what happened at La Zebra (fortunately – nobody was hurt!), but feel SO LUCKY to have gotten the opportunity to be put up at Mi Amor for no added cost. This place was MAGICAL.
Here’s the review:
Location: The location is off the beaten path, actually North of the majority of the other resorts – almost all the way back up to the Tulum ruins. Given that this was our final night and we just expected to basque in the luxury, we were totally fine with this. But be warned that if you’re wanting something that is pedestrian friendly and “in the heart of it all”, you’re going to have to trek a ways from here to get there. An oddity of the location is that there is no real beach in front of the property – rather, it is built into natural rock/cliff formations (again – a great change of pace and something that proved to be extremely majestic).
Facilities: The facilities are unreal. Everything from the dining room (pictured at the front of this post), to the rooms themselves, was top notch. You can tell the staff takes great pride in the level of quality in this property. While we did not partake in spa activities, those facilities looked unbelievable as well.
Amenities: The amenities were outstanding. It all started with our “welcome” cocktail (prosecco), and progressed nicely where it seemed like every turn – there was something waiting for us. First off, the property utilizes miniature hut/cabanas that are a huge upgrade from other properties that just have palapa roof huts and daybeds. This is the best of both worlds as it incorporates both (picture below). The restaurant was terrific as well. We opted to dine on site (a change from our usual pace of exploring other resorts/areas for food due to lofty prices in some resort facilities), and did a sampling of 6 or 7 of the appetizers which turned out incredible.
Staff: The staff were top notch. Even a level higher than we had come to expect in other areas.
Rooms: The rooms are stunning. We had our own private plunge pool that was jetted and heated. A great way to relax. At night, they brought around hibiscus tea to go along with turndown service, which was a phenomenal touch.
On Thursday, we ended up at El Pez because our original property at which we were set to stay (La Zebra) burned down the weekend before our arrival. More to come on that experience (ultimately, a great one) at another time. But now – on with the review!
Here’s the review:
Location: The location is great. It’s closer to the entrance/North end of the beachfront road, but still very accessible to many key attractions for us (including Mateos’s!).
Facilities: The facilities are a step up from others in my opinion. I believe this is probably related to the fact that this hotel is part of a professional hotel group (The Colibri Boutique Hotel chain). The service, the appointments, and the views were definitely a step up.
Amenities: The amenities were great. Aside from an expanded selection for our “welcome cocktail” (something each property does give), the inclusion of other elements (e.g. beach bag for towels, etc) were all nice touches. The included breakfast was by far the best here; the yogurt/fruit/granola plate was outstanding.
Staff: The staff were great. Check-in, Check-out were a breeze (perhaps even easier than Viento de Mar), and the service in the restaurant was a bit quicker than others.
Rooms: The rooms are spacious and comfortable. Each room has stunning ocean views, so it’s hard not to like.
For the next few days of the trip, we opted for a more central-beach spot closer to some of our previous favorites (Mateo’s, Posada Margherita, etc). The hotel was Viento de Mar.
Here’s the review:
Location: The location is very ideal. Right in the middle of the beach road – close to any and all types of food and neighboring resorts of differing vibes. We did a lot more biking this time, so having a central location from which to ride bikes (to get massages, or grab lunch or some drinks) was clutch.
Facilities: The facilities are on par with a Rosa del Viento. Very clean and well-kept. The breakfast area (with all-inclusive breakfast, similar to all resorts in Tulum of this caliber) overlooked the ocean with stunning panoramic views. The daybed setup was fairly extensive and allowed for everyone to have a great spot with a great view.
Amenities: The amenities are proper for the price. Bike rentals were in line with other areas (~$10/day to rent), and a nice added bonus was the plunge pool in the center of the property. You never really realize how nice a quick dip in a temperate pool is, but it’s definitely a relax in comparison to the choppy waves of the ocean plus the seaweed that interferes.
Staff: The staff are great. Check-in, Check-out were a breeze, and the service in the restaurant was in line with other areas (in other words, pretty slow and spotty for our liking – but that’s all part of the charm of the area that forces you to slow down and enjoy it).
Rooms: The rooms are well-appointed and the vaulted ceilings were a great touch. As with our other choices, the fact that there was AC is a huge plus for me (again, about half the resorts in this specific area are more “eco-resorts” which means they only have a fan and generally do not have AC at all, let alone electricity for most of the day).
For the first couple nights of my birthday trip, we opted to return to one of our previous favorites on the South end of Coba Sur/Boca Paila district, Rosa del Viento.
Here’s the (updated) review:
Location: The location is tucked away at the Southern-most end of the traditional Boca Paila district. Still not a ton of other developments (restaurants, hotels) down on the South end, which has its pros and cons. But, cabs to most places still run 50-70 Pesos (a couple bucks), so the seclusion actually is quite nice in this case.
Facilities: The facilities are still top-notch and the resort is laid out on pristine sand. The beach area, still loaded with tiki huts, cabanas, day beds, and hammocks, ensures you always have a spot to park yourself. The views (both out towards the ocean as well as back in towards the property) are still incredible, and are even a bit better when you consider that this resort is fairly secluded, so you don’t feel like you’re spilling over into other neighboring resorts.
Amenities: There aren’t too many amenities here (it’s Tulum – you really wouldn’t want to waste your time watching TV anyway), although the resort does have a great collection of games and a huge lot of subscriptions to all sorts of international trashy gossip mags.
Staff: The staff are still, not surprisingly, super friendly and accommodating. Some of the bartenders and servers go out of their way to try and earn a solid tip (e.g. bringing you free tequila shots, etc), but not in a way that feels pushy.
Rooms: The rooms are great, and the fact that there was AC is a huge plus for me (about half the resorts in this specific area are more “eco-resorts” which means they only have a fan and generally do not have AC at all, let alone electricity for most of the day).
So I’ve clearly been slacking lately. No posts, no material, not even any good infographics. Well, there’s a reason…
About a month ago (one month to the day in fact), I turned 30. In Mexico. Back in Tulum. So I know I have a ton of posts and pictures to update from that trip. Again – not that it is directly related to “Corporate America” – but it’s a close enough tangent to have a space in this blog. I think?
Then – about two weeks ago – I closed on a house with my fiancee. Needless to say, it has been a whirlwind with loads of stress, a severe lack of “free time” to blog, and a ton of clean up and renovation work to make the place HOME. But, the great thing about it is that I’ll have plenty more material to share here. I think that documentation of our polish/renovation duty will add a different layer to this blog. It’s more of the “life” side of the “work life balance”, but really puts into perspective some of the skills and lessons I’ve learned over time.
We struggled finding a place on Boca Paila for our final night (long story short – we extended our trip two days while we were there because we loved it so much – and the final night pretty much everywhere was sold out), so we opted for something in Tulum Centro: Livetulum. It was pretty reasonably priced and it put us closer to the main road to get back to CUN airport Sunday morning anyway.
Here’s the review:
Location: The location extremely convenient to the main road in/out of town. However, the hotel is situated on a fairly busy street that is fairly heavily trafficked by motorcycles and cars at all hours of the night.
Facilities: The facilities are surprisingly nice, considering it’s on a block that otherwise feels a little sketchy and abandoned.
Amenities: There aren’t too many amenities here, but I will say that having TV in the room was actually quite key for this stop (we didn’t have TV anywhere else), as we stayed here on the night of the “Fight of the Century” (Mayweather/Pacquiao), and Mexico apparently broadcast the fight for free on local television.
Staff: The staff was incredibly helpful. They even assisted with getting us a reservation at Cetli, which I thought was a very nice thing for them to do.
Rooms: The rooms are very spacious and clean (the hotel actually advertises itself more like condos than hotel rooms – which is accurate), and each have their own kitchenette and refrigerator (a huge plus that we didn’t have anywhere else). Also, our room happened to open up in the back right to the pool, where we had out own little cove for ease of access. All in all, I was pretty impressed considering I entered with average expectations.
We spent our last night in Tulum Centro (the actual town), and Cetli was another TIG recommendation we wanted to try. It didn’t knock our socks off, but the bar had been set so incredibly high by some of our prior meals that there was no way it could really live up to the hype. Not a fair fight (coincidentally, speaking of fights, the night we dined here was the same night as “the fight of the century” between Mayweather/Pacquiao – Mexico was going NUTS for this event; it was awesome to be there and witness the fandom and general enthusiasm for boxing).
Here’s the review:
Pros: Quaint atmosphere, reasonably priced
Cons: Limited menu selection, much more “authentic” Mexican cuisine (which – truth be told – isn’t totally my thing due to my indifference towards things like black beans)
Must Try: Anything with mole
Know Before You Go: You will be given some wonderful chef’s selection appetizers prior to the meal which will be a great way to start your dining experience