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Play a round of golf, or two, during your Royal Resorts vacation

Head for the golf course during your next Cancun vacation. Royal Resorts members and guests are entitled to special discounted rates for play at these prestigious courses in the Mexican Caribbean:

Cancun area

Iberostar Cancun Golf Club
Designed by the Aoki Corporation and Pedro Guereca
6,734 yards

Puerto Cancun
Designed by Tom Weiskopf
7,241 yards

Playa Mujeres
Designed by Greg Norman
7,218 yards

 

Riviera Maya

Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club
Designed by P.B. Dye
6,800 yards

Grand Coral Golf Riviera Maya
Designed by Nick Price
7,050 yards

 

Don’t miss the weekly Royal Resorts golf tournaments

Get out on the fairway for the weekly Royal Resorts Golf Tournament and pit your golfing skills against those of fellow guests. Each golf club has its own tournament and the current schedule is Monday at Grand Coral, Tuesday at Playa Mujeres, Wednesday at Iberostar Cancun, Thursday at Iberostar Playa Paraiso and Friday at Puerto Cancun. A minimum of 12 players is required for the tournament to take place at the Iberostar Cancun and Iberostar Playa Paraiso courses.

Booking your tee times

Call the Golf Reservations Center at ext. 165 or ask your Concierge to help you book tee times and sign up for the Royal Resorts Golf tournament.

Golf gear rentals at The Royal Market

If you don’t want to bring your golf gear with you, golf clubs and bags are available for rent at The Royal Market.

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All roads lead to Merida, Yucatan’s historic cultural capital

Looking for something different to do on your next trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya? Spend a couple of days in Merida, one of Mexico’s oldest and loveliest cities. Known as “La Ciudad Blanca” or the “White City, Mérida boasts colonial churches dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, 19th-century civic buildings, and gracious old mansions imbued with all the opulence of la belle époque. Architectural splendor is only half the story: museums are many, concerts are staged every night and the traditional cuisine is a sophisticated blend of ingredients from the Old World and the New.

Merida experiences are many: dine under the trees in a gracious old square, listen to a traditional serenade, shop for colorful handicrafts and art or stroll through the different barrios or neighborhoods. As befitting its reputation as a cultural center, there is something different on every night somewhere in the city, from open-air concerts and dance performances to art exhibitions and even street theatre.

The Main Square

Center of civic life, the Main Square or Plaza de Armas should be your first stop. It is dominated by the San Ildefonso Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas (1562-1599). City Hall is across the park from the Cathedral, Palacio de Gobierno, the State Government building is on the north side of the square and Casa de Montejo, the home of Francisco Montejo, the Spanish grandee who founded Merida in 1542, is to the south. Visit the Casa Montejo Museum for a glimpse of Merida history and the impressive Banamex exhibition of folk art from all over the country, including some magnificent trees of life sculpted from clay.

The work of local artists is on display at the Macay Gallery (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Yucateco) and the Palacio de Gobierno, where a series of murals by the late Merida artist Fernando Castro Pacheco relate the creation story of the Maya, the Spanish Conquest, the Caste War, henequen boom and other episodes in the history of the Yucatan.

Visit the main square in the evening to see the magnificent cathedral lit up with a video mapping display and linger for a while for an ice cream or a marquesita, the Yucatan’s super sweet take on a waffle, and watch the world go by. Listen to local musicians, buy a bunch of flowers and even bargain for a locally made hammock or Panama hat. There’s a folk dance show every Monday evening in front of City Hall and the entire area is cordoned off on Sundays for Merida en Domingo, a gala event featuring craft and food stalls, live music and folk dances.

From the main square it’s a short walk to Merida’s bustling markets and the Yucatan Handicrafts Center in the former Las Monjas Convent.

Exploring Merida’s Historic Heart

Leave the main square behind and walk north along Calle 60 to Parque Hidalgo, you’ll soon see the 17th-century Church of the Third Order, the University of the Yucatan, one of the oldest in Mexico, and the opulent Peon Contreras Theater, home of the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra.

On Fridays, the theatre is the departure point for Noches de Leyendas, a street theatre tour of the historic city center.

With its 16th-century church, Plaza Santa Lucia is a gathering place for the guitar-strumming trios who play romantic ballads called trova and a free concert is staged in the square every Thursday night. There are a number of galleries, boutiques and craft shops around the square that are worth visiting if you are looking for Mexican folk art.

If you want to explore more of Merida’s barrios, head to Santa Ana or La Mejorada, site of the colonial convent of the same name and the Popular Art Museum. Both neighborhoods have many old houses that have been restored and are now homes, galleries and cultural centers, restaurants and boutique hotels.

Paseo Montejo

A trip to Merida isn’t complete without a visit to Paseo Montejo, six blocks north of Santa Lucia and one block from Santa Ana church. Inspired by the Champs Elysées in Paris, this wide tree-lined boulevard is a magnificent setting for the opulent homes of the henequen barons who became wealthy from the cultivation of henequen or sisal in the late 19th century and early years of the 20th century. Resembling chateaus, European town houses or even mosques, they are the legacy of the heady days when money flowed like water in Merida.

Start your walk in the small park at the beginning of the avenue, the venue for a Mexican evening of music and dance on Saturdays. If you are shopping for souvenirs, the FONART shop in the boutique hotel next to the square has a fine collection of Mexican folk art.

The twin houses called the Casas Gemelas start Paseo Montejo’s parade of palaces; others include Casa Medina and the beautiful Quinta Montes Molina, a home which still has the original 19th and early 20th-century furniture and art of the owners and is open to the public. The largest of all the mansions in Paseo Montejo is Palacio Canton, home of the Regional Anthropology and History Museum where ceramics, figurines, jewelry and other artifacts unearthed at the state’s many archaeological sites are on display.

For more Mayan culture, visit the Maya World Museum on Prolongacion Montejo. This vanguard museum has fascinating multimedia exhibits on the Maya World landscape, different aspects of ancient Mayan culture and society and the traditions that survive to this day. Other museums worth a visit in Mérida are the Museum of Popular Art and the Museum of Yucatecan Music, a tribute to trova songs.

Plan your Merida visit

Thomas More Travel offers Merida day trips and overnight stays that include a visit to the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal, and can assist you with accommodation and a sightseeing itinerary if you would like to stay longer. Merida is a three-and-a half-hour drive from Cancún via the toll road.

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Discover the secrets of traditional Mexican cuisine with a Cancun cooking class

Have you always wanted to learn how to prepare traditional Mexican cuisine? If so, why not sign up for a Cancun cooking class on your next trip? You’ll have a fun morning discovering the fascinating history of one of the world’s richest cuisines and you’ll soon appreciate why it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. After the session, you’ll sit down at lunchtime to eat the tasty dishes you helped prepare.

Cancun cooking schools

Spend the morning at Yum Cooking School in Downtown Cancun and learn about fruit and vegetables native to Mexico, dishes and cooking techniques that date back to the pre-Hispanic period.

Following the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, waves of settlers introduced new ingredients such as herbs, spices, sugar, coffee and citrus fruit from Europe and the Middle East. A Cordon Bleu-trained chef will show you how to make dishes from the pre-Hispanic and Colonial periods and contemporary Mexican recipes.

Chef Claudia Garcia and her husband are your hosts at Mi Cocina es Tu Cocina in the leafy Los Alamos neighborhood on the outskirts of Cancun. Claudia begins the class with an introduction to the staples in the Mexican diet, such as corn, beans, avocado and chili and continues with a demonstration of salsa and tortilla preparation.

A menu of starters, soup, a main course with side dishes and a dessert is prepared during the session. Claudia divides the country into five gastronomic regions and chooses a different one for each class.

Cooking school in the Puerto Morelos jungle

Spend the day at Mexico Lindo Traditional Kitchen, Workshop and School, a bright yellow jungle casita on the Ruta de los Cenotes, six kilometers inland from Puerto Morelos. With Chefs Alejandra and Tomas you’ll learn how to make traditional dishes from the Yucatan, Central Mexico or Veracruz and a selection of Mexican classics.

After a light breakfast of Mexican pastries, hot chocolate or café de olla, you’ll visit the organic garden to gather some of the vegetables, fruit and herbs that you’ll be using during the class.

There’s plenty of space in the cheerful yellow and pink kitchen for you to try your culinary skills cooking seven different recipes. There are five different class options ranging from Yucatecan specialties or seafood from the coasts to Mexican finger food and some of the country’s most famous dishes. You’ll also learn the secret of a good salsa; enjoy a pre-lunch botana or snack and a tequila tasting.

Lunch is served in the thatched palapa and there’s time to visit the little store and stock up on salsas, local honey, community products and Mexican crafts.

The other famous Puerto Morelos cooking school, the Little Mexican Cooking School is currently closed but private cooking classes with Chef Cristobal are still available through its website.

 

Booking your Mexican cooking class

Thomas More Travel offers Mexican cooking classes, visit www.thomasmoretravel.com or call in at the tour desk during your next Royal Resorts visit.

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Cancun flight news

In preparation for the winter season many airlines are expanding their Cancun flight networks, adding routes or extra departures. Frontier has new routes from Raleigh-Durham and Las Vegas, and Southwest Airlines from Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Raleigh-Durham and San Antonio.

Canadian visitors can take advantage of WestJet’s new flights from Calgary, Saskatoon and Vancouver. Low cost carrier Swoop also recently announced new three flights a week from Calgary to Cancun, starting on January 14, 2019.

In Latin America, Aeromexico has a new service from Medellin, Colombia, GOL Airlines is flying from Brasilia and Copa Airlines is upgrading to 737 aircraft on its Panama City – Cancun route due to growing demand.

Air France also has plans for expansion in the years to come.

In more flight news, Cancun Airport expects to receive 25 million passengers by year-end, a new record. The number of passengers for 2018 is six percent up on 2017.

(Sources: Travel Pulse, Carib Journal)

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Xcaret’s macaw success story

Over the past few years we have reported on Xcaret’s remarkable mission to bring the scarlet macaw back from the brink of extinction in Mexico. To date, 242 macaws raised in the Riviera Maya park have been transported to jungle reserves in the Palenque region of Chiapas and Los Tuxtlas in southern Veracruz, where they have been released into the wild after a period of adaptation. Thanks to this project, the wild macaw population in Mexico is now almost double what it was in 2013 and in Los Tuxtlas flocks of these beautiful birds are now seen where they had been extinct for 50 years.

There’s more good news. The released macaws are beginning to form breeding couples and the first chick was born in Nanciyaga Reserve in Veracruz during the summer and is doing well. Hopefully it will be the first of many.

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Xcaret named World’s Best Park 2018

At IAAPA Expo Attractions, the entertainment industry’s largest trade fair held in November in Orlando, Xcaret Park received the Liseberg Applause Award as the Best Park in the World 2018. It beat other finalists such as PortAventura World in Spain and Universal Studios in Japan.

Presented every two years, the Liseberg Applause Award is considered the Oscar of theme parks and it is given to parks that excel for creativity, originality and commercial success. Xcaret was honored for the experiences that it offers visitors, based on a celebration of Mexico’s natural and cultural heritage, its sustainability projects and its commitment to the local community.

 

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Holbox bans single-use plastics

The island of Holbox has taken the lead in banning single-use plastics from its shores. The new management plan for the Yum Balam reserve, which includes Holbox, prohibits the entry of plastic bottles and containers, PET, polystyrene and plastic bags.

Holbox is the first island in Mexico to implement this important environmental legislation.

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Seaweed update

For those of you wondering about the seaweed that has been washing ashore from time to time along parts of the Quintana Roo coast during the summer, we are happy to report that it has disappeared and our turquoise waters have returned.

The decline in the amount of sargassum is due to cooling sea temperatures that come as the first cold fronts begin to affect the Yucatan. Floating patches of seaweed may also be blown off course and prevented from making landfall by northerly winds.

The authorities and a committee of marine scientists continue to study the sargassum, monitor its movements through the Caribbean and look for better ways of disposing of it should it return in the future.

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New security initiatives in Quintana Roo

Millions of tourists visit the Mexican Caribbean each year and the authorities work closely to ensure the safety of visitors and residents. Security is being boosted further in the state of Quintana Roo with the implementation of additional monitoring measures, extra police for the cities of Cancun and Playa del Carmen and increased coordination between municipal, state, federal police and military police.

In October, 3,200 military police arrived at a new base located to the north of Cancun in the Isla Mujeres municipal district. They will be working with the different police forces in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and other parts of the state and will carry out surveillance and intelligence gathering.

An additional 2,400 security cameras will be installed in the state’s cities to improve existing monitoring systems.

The Cancun city police force will soon have 50 additional patrol cars and more police on patrol, including extra English speaking Tourist Police in the Hotel Zone to assist visitors.

   Mexico welcomed more than 39.3 million international visitors in 2017 and climbed to position No. 6 in the World’s Top Tourism Destinations.

The current US State Department travel advisory for Mexico places no restrictions on visiting Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta or Los Cabos, some of the world’s most popular vacation spots.

The US travel advisory system classifies threat levels in countries around the world from 1 to 4, with 1 being the lowest threat level and 4 the highest. Mexico is in the Level 2 category, which is the same as many European countries such as Germany, France, United Kingdom, Spain and Italy.

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CANCUN, RIVIERA MAYA & YUCATAN EVENTS

Here’s our regular round up of festivals and events in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Yucatan in the next few months.

Fiesta de la Purísima Concepción, Izamal, December 1-12

The faithful gather to honor the patron saint of Izamal, the Virgin de la Concepción and the town celebrates with processions of the gremios or guilds and neighborhoods, masses, fireworks, flowers and the traditional vaquería or villa fiesta featuring live music, dances and cuisine.

Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, throughout Mexico, December 12

The patron saint of Mexico is honored nationwide with serenades of “Las Mañanitas,” the traditional birthday song the evening of December 11, offerings of fragrant flowers, pilgrimages and masses.

Anniversary of the Founding of Merida, January 6

On January 6, inhabitants of Merida, state capital of Yucatan observe the anniversary of the founding of the city in 1542 by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo. Observed with a procession and mass, it marks the start of the month-long City Festival, a gala event featuring concerts, dance performances, art exhibits and more.

Feria de la Candelaria, January 22 – February 2, Valladolid

This traditional fair is dedicated to the patron saint of Valladolid, the Virgen de la Candelaria. Events include an agricultural fair, processions, concerts and dances.

 

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