Even more comfortable than the Las Vegas experience was a very impressive trip to Cancun, Mexico this July. Again, we flew Spirit after our original booked flights were cancelled. The rate was exceptionally low at about $170 per nonstop roundtrip ticket. The flight experience on Spirit was remarkably similar to the last but we noticed even fewer people took advantage of the drink and snack service which allowed masks to stay on longer. It was the fastest cart service I have ever seen on a flight. Flight attendants seemed to spend deliberately less time in the aisles as would have been typical pre-covid. Upon arrival at the airport in Mexico we were greeted with a host of cleaning protocols as well as proper mask and shield use. Mexico does not require a negative covid test to be presented to enter their country. You are guided through an area where you are screened with thermal imaging cameras. If your body temperature is higher than normal you may be pulled aside for additional screening.
After passing through customs and immigration, we located the private transfer company we had contracted for the ride to the resort, limiting our contact with other people. I was greeted, given hand sanitizer and my luggage was disinfected with a spray. Our driver was wearing a mask and the inside of the vehicle was cleaned to a polish. It almost appeared that it was a new interior. Once the transfer arrived at the resort, the driver was temperature checked and the wheels of the vehicle were sanitized.
Mexico has implemented a color system for their resorts. At the time of my trip to Cancun and Riviera Maya in the state of Quintana Roo resorts were at the orange level. This meant that they could only fill the resort to 30% occupancy. Once they graduated to yellow in September they were allowed to have 50% occupancy.
All staff at our resort, The Iberostar Selection Cancun Coral Level, wore masks and hinged shields. At no time did I see a member of the staff wearing their mask improperly. Shields were in place at all times. Even the entertainment staff while in the pool kept their shields on but masks off. It was impressive to see a group of employees so thoughtful and dedicated to guest safety and resort policy.
As I stepped into the hotel I noticed that there was a sanitizing pad that I stepped through to wash the bottoms of my shoes, then another mat to dry my shoes–a measure I have not seen in the US.
Staff are behind plexiglass where possible as they check you in or discuss excursions with you.
Near the elevators I found additional protocols and guides for best practices while using the elevator to limit contact with others.
Our room was cleaned with protocols guided by the World Travel and Tourism Council. These protocols combine the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the CDC. It also included fogging our room with hospital grade disinfectant prior to our arrival. It was very impressive to see the way that resorts in Cancun and Riviera Maya quickly implemented these new and different measures to be certified with the “Safe Travels” stamp of approval.
During my stay, I dined at two restaurants outside of my hotel. One was an indoor outdoor casual café and the other a fine dining restaurant. Again, I was extremely impressed with the cleaning protocols and the sincere care the employees displayed for their guests. Masks and shields were worn by all. At both restaurants you entered with mats to clean and dry the bottom of your shoes, while staff cleaned the table and the chairs (top to bottom including the legs) in front of us for added reassurance. All utensils and napkins were in sealed containers. Menus were either single use paper or a QR code was provided. At the fine dining restaurant, we walked through what looked like a metal detector to realize that a light mist was sanitizing us. Both restaurants, while quite different offered every protocol one could think of to ensure a safe experience.
I participated in a private excursion with my group with the opportunity to discuss protocols and provide feedback on what an excursion felt like with the measures that are in place during this time when COVID is a concern for all. Excursion companies must also follow the 30% rule to allow for social distancing. For example, if you are taking a catamaran tour that typically holds 60 people, only 18 will be allowed on the vessel during this time.
I didn’t have one negative experience during my travels. Honestly it felt amazing to vacation. If there was a downside, it was that due to lower occupancy, different amenities and activities were not available. This was to be expected. The low rates for flights and resorts more than made up for any lack of open restaurants or amenities.
I strongly encourage anyone interested in traveling to contact a reputable travel professional. One that has experienced travel during this unique time is a plus in terms of setting your expectations. Each country that is receiving visitors from the United States has slightly different requirements so it is important to have an expert, advocate and guide alongside you as you plan your vacation.
New travel plans are a wonderful way of forging ahead. Not only does it give you something to look forward to, but it also gives businesses such as airlines, hotels, restaurants, and shops some much needed HOPE. It’s time to plan our futures in an optimistic light. The experience may be different, but the destinations remain incredible!