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More theme nights at Cayo Largo, The Royal Islander

Here’s some more Royal Resorts dining news for members and guests planning a vacation at The Royal Islander. Cayo Largo restaurant has new theme night buffets for you to enjoy during the week in addition to the a la carte menu.

  • Monday                      Pizza and Pasta Night
  • Tuesday                    Poolside Cookout
  • Wednesday                Italian Night
  • Thursday                   Mexican Night
  • Friday                         Shrimp Festival
  • Saturday                    Fajitas Night
  • Sunday                       A la carte dining

You can also plan an evening of fine dining at El Conquistador during your stay (open every evening except Saturdays, reservations required) or snack on Mexico’s favorite finger food, tasty seafood or steak tacos, for lunch or supper at Paco’s Tacos. And don’t miss the Smoke BBQ for lunch at Cayo Largo on Mondays.

Dining at The Royal Caribbean

There are also changes at Tradewinds restaurant in The Royal Caribbean. A Pizza and Pasta special with soup and salad bar is available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Taco Night is on Tuesday and Thursday; Steak Night is on Saturday and Sunday is BBQ Night.

Schedule may change without prior notice. Check with your Concierge upon arrival at Royal Resorts or read the Welcome Home Guide.

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March Madness at the Royal Resorts Bars

If you are going to be in Cancun or the Riviera Maya this month, don’t miss out on March Madness at the Royal Resorts Bars and all the other activities lined up for you. Catch the season’s major sporting events and celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Sports fans will want to follow March Madness at the Royal Resorts Bars. All the action from the NCAA College Basketball playoffs will be broadcast live in Sidelines Sports Bar at The Royal Sands, La Cabaña at The Royal Caribbean, the Sports Bar and La Trattoria at The Royal Cancun and La Rotonda at The Royal Haciendas.

Other March sports events include the NBA, European soccer, PGA golf and the ATP Masters tennis tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami.

St. Patrick’s Day

Don’t miss St. Patrick’s Day in the Royal Resorts bars this March 17. There will be traditional green beer, cocktails, bar snacks and lots of fun.

Karaoke Night 

If you like to sing with the stars, don’t miss karaoke night. The schedule is:

• La Cabaña Bar, The Royal Caribbean Sunday and Thursday, 7 p.m. – midnight

• Sidelines Sports Bar, The Royal Sands Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. – midnight

• La Palapa, The Royal Cancun, Wednesday

• Pancho & Willy’s Bar next to Captain’s Cove, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 p.m.

• La Rotonda Bar, The Royal Haciendas, Riviera Maya, Monday and Thursday evenings

Schedule may change without prior notice. Check with your Concierge upon arrival at Royal Resorts.

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New executive Chef at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

Grand Residences Riviera Cancun has a new Executive Chef, Chef Rafael Borbolla who will be responsible for the gourmet dining in the resort’s three restaurants: El Faro Grill, Flor de Canela and Heaven Grill; the lobby bar cafe and the 24-hour room service menu.

Originally from Mexico City, Chef Borbolla studied Culinary Arts in the Colegio Superior de Hoteleria y de Turismo Cesar Ritz and at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Turismo, both in Mexico City. He also took specialist diploma courses in Mexican and Italian cuisine at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana.

He trained with the acclaimed French chef Olivier Lombard and collaborated in the opening of Le Cirque restaurant in Polanco before his love of the sea took him to Puerto Vallarta. He later moved to Los Cabos and Riviera Nayarit to work in hotels and then back to Puerta Vallarta.

Chef Borbolla’s first job as Executive Chef was at Le Bistro, a gourmet restaurant in Puerto Vallart,a and he then returned to Riviera Nayarit as Executive Sous Chef at the Grand Velas Resort where he was responsible for maintaining AAA Five Diamond and The Leading Hotels of the World® quality standards in the resort’s restaurants.

After many years on the Pacific coast, his sights turned to the Mexican Caribbean and he joined Secrets Maroma Beach as Executive Sous Chef before moving to Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita & Impression as Executive Chef.

Chef Borbolla also taught gastronomy at the Technological University in Bahia de Banderas, Nayarit and at the Instituto Franco-Mexicano de Artes Culinarias in Puerto Vallarta. He has participated in a number of Food Festivals in Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Maya, the 2012 World Economic Forum and the Tianguis Turistico Travel Fair co-hosted by Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit.

A member of The Leading Hotels of the World®, Grand Residences Riviera Cancun is located on a picture-perfect beach to the south of Puerto Morelos, a short drive from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

Dining at Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

Call (998) 872-8130 ext. 67104 & 67105 if you would like to make a reservation at El Faro Grill (seafood, steaks, International and Mediterranean-inspired dishes) or Flor de Canela (Mexican).

 

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Welcome the spring Equinox at Chichen Itza

As the sun sets on the day of the spring equinox in March and the shadows fall across the Pyramid of Kukulcan in the ancient Maya city of Chichen Itza, the mysterious shape of a serpent ripples across the stone. This is the symbol of Kukulcan, the feathered serpent god, returning to earth.

Ancient temple builders aligned the pyramid so precisely that it catches the rays of the setting sun on the days of the spring and fall equinoxes in March and September. Triangles of light and shadow appear along the side of the north staircase forming the shape of a snake, which merges with the head of a stone snake at the foot of the building. The illusion is created of a gigantic serpent slithering down from the heavens and across the ground towards the Sacred Cenote.

The snake symbolizes Kukulcan (also known as Quetzalcoatl in central Mexico), the feathered serpent god, who returns to earth to give hope to his followers and it also heralds the spring planting and fall harvest seasons for the Maya, thus acting as a solar calendar.

The spring equinox officially falls on March 20 in 2019. The light and shadow snake is visible the day before and after the equinox, cloud cover permitting.

Of course, there’s much more to see at Chichen Itza than the pyramid. As you explore this huge site, which is still being excavated, you’ll see why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Making a day of it in eastern Yucatan

If you would prefer to explore Chichen Itza at your own pace, why not rent a car and visit other  sites of interest in the eastern Yucatan? They include colonial towns, cenotes and caves, nature reserves and archaeological sites.

Spend the morning in the colonial city of Valladolid. This peaceful pueblo magico is full of history and traditions. Start with the spectacular Zaci Cenote then stroll through the main square to the Cathedral. If you are interested in Mexican handicrafts, take the 10 a.m. guided tour of Casa de Los Venados, a 17th-century restored mansion that is a private home with a collection of more than 3,000 pieces of folk art from all over the country. For a glimpse of the colorful world of traditional Mexican garments, visit the MUREM Mexican Ethnic Clothing Museum nearby. Then walk along Calzada de Los Frailes, the street leading to San Bernardino Church and Sisal Convent. You’ll pass more restored mansions, craft shops, a workshop where cacao is transformed into chocolate using traditional techniques, and a perfumery.

To the north of Valladolid, a side trip to an artisanal distillery will show you how the blue agave plant of tequila fame is harvested and processed to make a liquor, in this case it is called Mayapan.

Mayapan is not the only spirit produced in Valladolid, the town is also famous for Xtabentun, the fragrant anise-flavored liqueur of the Yucatan, which is made from honey and a native flower.

As an alternative, you could visit two ancient Maya cities in one day, Ek Balam in the morning and Chichen Itza in the afternoon, staying on for the evening video mapping show.

Ek Balam Maya Ruins in Yucatan

Located 20 minutes to the north of Valladolid, Ek Balam (“black star jaguar in Maya”) was inhabited from 600 B.C. and reached its peak between A.D. 600 and 900.

Excavation is still underway at the site and in an area of 12 square kilometers archaeologists have already unearthed over 60 structures ranging from temples and palaces to a ball court and tiny shrines. They have discovered hieroglyphic inscriptions, a royal tomb with offerings of jade, pottery and copal incense and proof of the links Ek Balam once had with rival city states in the Yucatan such as Chichen Itza, on the coast of Quintana Roo and the Peten region in northern Guatemala.

The central plaza is dominated by the Acropolis, a multi-tiered building of palaces and temples. Its crowning glory is an intricate frieze of stucco masks and the statues of richly attired nobles in feather headdresses.

After your Ek Balam visit, a dip in the cold, clear waters of a cenote is a great way to cool off. There is a sinkhole just down the road from the archaeological site or you can drive to Hubiku Cenote outside the village of Temozon. There are more cenotes on the outskirts of Valladolid including Dzitnup or Xkeken, the Yucatan’s most famous sinkhole. En route to Chichen Itza you can also call in at Ik-Kil Cenote and Balancanche Caves.

Ready to visit Chichen Itza?

Thomas More Travel offers several day trips to Chichen Itza. Choose the one that suits you best. An alternative is to rent a car or arrange a private tour with Thomas More Travel and explore the eastern Yucatan.

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Sport fishing season in the Mexican Caribbean

Calling all fishermen out there, mark your calendars. March is the start of the sport fishing season in the Mexican Caribbean.

The fastest predators in the sea, reaching speeds of over 68 miles an hour, sailfish and marlin move through area waters in the spring and summer in pursuit of huge shoals of migrating sardines, anchovies and mackerel. Tuna, dorado (mahi-mahi), bonito and wahoo, pompano, snapper and barracuda are also abundant and your captain and crew will take you right to where the fish are running.

Setting sail from Cancun

Sport fishing charter boats set sail from Cancun and head towards the east, beyond Isla Mujeres and the island nature reserve of Contoy. Some venture as far as the Yucatan Channel, an ocean trench between Mexico and Cuba that reaches depths of nearly 9,200 feet, where marlin, sailfish, manta rays, dolphins and even migrating whales can sometimes be seen. Others head for the Arrowsmith Bank east of Punta Cancun, an underwater plateau rich in marine life.

Puerto Morelos and the Cozumel Channel

Moving south, there are more good fishing grounds offshore from Puerto Morelos and along the Riviera Maya coast. Marked by a line of indigo-colored water, another ocean trench called the Cozumel Channel runs between the mainland and the island of Cozumel and is used by migrating billfish.

Holbox

Just off the north coast of Quintana Roo in the Gulf of Mexico, the island of Holbox is another good place for fishing enthusiasts and local fishermen are happy to sit on the beach at the end of the day and share stories of their lifelong quest for the biggest fish.

Costa Maya

Further south along the Costa Maya in southern Quintana Roo, the fishing villages of Mahahual and Xcalak also attract sport fishermen.

Flat fishing

Hidden in the mangroves, the shallow lagoons that stretch along the Quintana Roo coast offer a different challenge – they are rich in bonefish such as tarpon, permit and snook and attract fly fishermen from all over the world. There are fishing lodges in the Boca Paila area and Punta Allen in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Holbox and the Isla Blanca wetlands around Laguna Chacmochchuc to the north of Cancun are also good spots.

Catch and release fishing

Local marinas adhere to the catch and release policy to help conserve fish stocks and we urge you to join their campaign. The thrill of being out on the waves should be enough and we hope that you will release any billfish that you catch.

Planning your fishing trip

If you enjoy sport fishing and are looking for your own unforgettable encounter with the big fish of the sea, contact Thomas More Travel for fishing trips and boat charters.

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Check out the latest Cancun news

What’s new in Cancun? There’s always something new to see and do in the Cancun area and here’s a look at some of the latest Cancun news.

Cancun to become a plastic-free zone

Cancun City government unanimously voted to ban the use of plastic bags, cutlery and straws and polystyrene glasses and containers in local businesses. Once the initiative is approved it will be published in the Official State Gazette and will become effective 90 days after that, giving local companies a chance to switch to eco-friendly alternatives.

Cancun flight news

Quintana Roo state tourism officials announced that Cancun Airport will receive new flights from Turkey, Quebec and Russia this year. Additionally, Spanish airline Evelop is boosting the number of summer flights from Madrid to five a week on larger planes with 432 seats.

Tennis fans, new Rafael Nadal tennis center now open in Costa Mujeres

Tennis star Rafael Nadal was in Cancun on February 19 to inaugurate his first international tennis center. Located to the north of Cancun at a Costa Mujeres resort this new facility takes the original Rafael Nadal Tennis Center in Mallorca global.

Playa Norte in Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice World’s Top 25 Beaches 2019

With its palm groves and breathtaking vistas of crystal-clear turquoise waters, picture-perfect Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres has been included in Trip Advisor’s Travelers’ Choice 2019 World’s Top 25 Beaches, coming in at No. 9.

In the Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice 2019 listing of Top 10 Beaches in Mexico, the Mexican Caribbean fared very well. Playa Norte is No. 1, Playa Delfines in Cancun is No. 3, Maya Chan Beach in Mahahual No. 4, Playa El Cielo on Cozumel No. 6 and Playa Paraíso in Tulum No. 9.

In the Travelers’ Choice 2019 World’s Top 25 Destinations, Playa del Carmen is No. 15 and No. 1 in the Travelers’ Choice 2019 Top 10 Destinations in Mexico. In the Mexico listing, Cancun is No. 3, Tulum No. 5 and Cozumel No. 8.

Xavage Adventure Park to open near Cancun in April

A new attraction is coming to Cancun this April. The latest adventure park from Grupo Xcaret, Xavage opens on April 15 to offer visitors a day of thrills on land, water and in the air.

Built with an investment of more than 50 million dollars, this new park is located to the south of Cancun Airport in an area of old limestone quarries near Xoximilco. There are six different activities for park-goers to try, all named after different wild creatures and with varying degrees of difficulty, from soft to extreme adventures.

• Barracuda – White water Rafting

• Puma – Rock Crawler vehicle

• Dragonfly – Fierce Jet Boat

• Hawk – Zip line flight

• Howler Monkey – Intense Rope Course

• Crocodile – Ultimate Kayaking

• Serpent: Tough Cubs adventure playground for children

Xavage is the seventh park by Grupo Xcaret and complements the activities offered in Xplor Park and the Xplor Fuego evening adventure. Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, Xavage also has shaded rest areas with hammocks, lockers and rest rooms, a restaurant and store.

New mall south of Cancun Airport

Expected to open for the winter season in 2020, construction is beginning on a new mall to the south of Cancun Airport en route to Puerto Morelos. Grand Outlet Riviera Maya. In addition to a selection of stores featuring some of the world’s leading brands, the plaza will have the concept of “mall entertainment” and will offer a variety of restaurants, an aquarium, a go kart track, manmade lakes for water sports, an auditorium with capacity for 7,500 people, a hot air balloon, and more. Source: Novedades

Check the Royal Resorts blog for more Cancun news during the year.

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New Benito Juarez Municipal Government Environmental Fee for all Hotel & Resort Guests in Cancun

On March 1, 2019, the Benito Juarez Municipal Government began charging an environmental tax to all hotel and resort guests in Cancun.

It will apply to members and guests staying at Royal Resorts and in accordance with Municipal Finance Law, the Environmental Sanitation Fee that will be charged to your account at check out is as follows:

Room:  $25.34 pesos per night
Suite:   $25.34 pesos per night
Villa:    $50.68 pesos per night

This fee is not covered by the annual Club Service Fee for Royal Resorts members or by the REFINE All-Inclusive room rate.

What will the tax be used for?

The proceeds from this new Green Fee will be used to contribute to environmental protection and sanitation initiatives in Cancun, such as:

• Beach cleaning
• Water treatment
• Waste collection
• Reduction of carbon emissions by installing LED lighting in public areas
• Reef and wetland conservation
• Reforestation and other programs geared towards making Cancun a more sustainable destination

Why is it needed?

Cancun’s white sand beaches and coral reefs are world-famous and the jungles and wetlands of the Mexican Caribbean are home to rare species of birds and animals. Yet visitor numbers and population growth are outpacing public services and more action is needed to improve water treatment and waste management for the health of the environment and area ecosystems. The new Green Fee charged by the Benito Juarez Municipal Government will be used for such programs.

In the Riviera Maya, the Solidaridad Municipal Government began charging an Environmental Sanitation Fee to all hotel guests in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding area in the fall of 2017. The Puerto Morelos municipal government introduced a similar eco tax for hotel guests on January 1, 2019.

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Two new museums to visit in Yucatan

Are you planning a trip to Merida or Valladolid on your next vacation? If so, here are two new museums to visit in Yucatan.

First up in Merida is the Museum of Yucatecan Cuisine (Museo de la Gastronomía Yucateca). This restaurant and museum is a tasty introduction to the flavors of the Yucatan and the history of regional cuisine, from the days of the ancient Maya to the coming of the Spaniards and Caribbean and Middle Eastern recipes introduced by later settlers.

The museum is set around a beautiful old courtyard and has exhibits of ingredients, traditional kitchen utensils and a replica of a Mayan village with its thatched homes and a pib or cooking pit used to cook the classic Yucatecan dish cochinita pibil, marinated roast pork.

The museum is located on Calle 62 No. 466 x 55 & 57 in Merida. There is Jarana folk dancing on Thursdays and live music on Fridays.

The colonial town of Valladolid also has a new museum, which is a must if you are interested in Mexico’s rich culture. The Mexican Ethnic Clothing Museum (Museo de Ropa Etnica de Mexico) or MUREM showcases traditional clothing worn by Mexico’s indigenous groups in 12 different regions of the country.

There are over 60 traditional outfits from Yucatan, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo and other parts of central Mexico, Chihuahua and Nayarit, on display and more than 14 of the country’s indigenous groups are represented.

Embroidered huipiles for daily use stand next to colorful ribbon-bedecked ceremonial tunics, a jaguar fighter mask and costume and the famous china poblana dress.

Some garments date from the pre-Hispanic period and haven’t changed much in a thousand years, reflecting ancient beliefs and symbols of the natural world. Other dresses have a European design, lace and frills and were introduced during the Colonial period. Each garment has a fascinating story and the museum guides are on hand to tell them as they show you the collection.

MUREM is located on Calle 41 in Valladolid and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Of course there are many more museums to visit in Yucatan. When in Merida don’t miss the Regional Anthropology and History Museum in Palacio Canton (closed on Monday) on Paseo de Montejo, the Museo del Mundo Maya on Prolongacion Montejo, the City Museum in the old Post Office on Calle 56, Casa de Montejo on the main square, Casa Museo Quinta Montes Molina on Paseo de Montejo and the Museum of Popular Art on Calle 50, among others.

The archaeological sites of Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Dzibilchaltun also have museums and you can start delving into Maya history right here in Cancun at the Cancun Maya Museum (closed on Monday).

Cancun is also the site of an extraordinary underwater art museum, MUSA, the largest of its kind in the world. And there are many more museums to visit in Yucatan if you go further afield in the peninsula. Traveling south of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, visit the Caste War Museum in the village of Tihosuco in the Zona Maya; San Felipe Fort on the shores of the Bacalar Lagoon is home to a Pirate Museum and in Chetumal, capital of Quintana Roo there is a Museum of Maya Culture.

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Events in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Yucatan

Here’s our monthly listing of upcoming festivals and events in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Yucatan.

Carnival, March 1-6 (dates vary slightly according to location)

From Cozumel, Cancun and Playa del Carmen to Merida and Campeche, it’s Carnival season.

Cozumel                     February 27 – March 6

Cancun                       March 1 – 5

Isla Mujeres               March 1 – 5

Playa del Carmen      February 28 – March 5

Merida                        February 26 – March 6

Valladolid                  February 23 – March 6

Campeche                  February 25 – March 5

Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza, March 20-22

The famous light and shadow serpent of Kukulcan appears on El Castillo Pyramid at Chichen Itza and descends from the heavens at sunset on the day of the Spring Equinox (March 20-22). It is also visible the day before and after, cloud cover permitting.

On the day of the Equinox the rising sun also appears through the doorway of the Temple of the Dolls in the ancient city of Dzibilchaltun to the north of Merida.

Holbox Fishing Tournament, Holbox, April 12-13

Easter Week, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Merida, Valladolid and elsewhere in Mexico, April 15 – 21

Masses, processions and reenactments of the Crucifixion, masses, floral carpets in the streets and more on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday.

49th Anniversary of the Founding of Cancun, Cancun April 20

Masses, processions, exhibitions and more in Downtown Cancun to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the founding of Cancun.

Copa Capitan Ferrat Fishing Tournament, Cancun, April 19 – 21

One of the most important fishing tournaments in the Mexican Caribbean.

Volando al Paraiso Hot Air Balloon Festival, Cancun, April 19-21

Pok Ta Pok Golf course in the Cancun Hotel Zone will be the site for this Hot Air Balloon Festival and there will also be kite flying, cuisine, music and more.

Fundadores 2019 International Riviera Maya Fishing Tournament, Playa del Carmen, April 26-28

This fishing tournament attracts fishermen from all over the state and the Caribbean. Competitors are asked to follow catch and release policy to help preserve fish stocks.

Challenge Cancun Triathlon, Cancun, April 28

1,500 top triathletes gather in Cancun for this international triathlon. The swimming course is in the bay between Cancun and Isla Mujeres; the bike race circuit is from Casa Blanca Sports Club in Bonampak Ave to The Royal Sands in the Hotel Zone (two laps) and the running event will take place on Bonampak Ave.

Don Andres Garcia Lavin Tournament, Puerto Morelos, May 3-5

Sport fishermen make their way to Puerto Morelos in early May for the town’s popular fishing tournament.

Other May tournaments take place on Cozumel from May 10 to 12, Isla Mujeres from May 17 to 19 and in Playa del Carmen from May 24 to 26

Travesía Sagrada Maya 2019, Xcaret and Cozumel, May 17-18

The Sacred Mayan Crossing is the reenactment of an ancient pilgrimage. Oarsmen set sail from the port of Pole (now Xcaret) in wooden canoes bound for the island of Cozumel where they will worship at the shrine of Ixchel, the Maya goddess of the moon and fertility.

 

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