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Royal Resorts joins Ciudad de la Alegria Kings Day children’s toy convoy


 

Royal Resorts volunteers joined the Ciudad de la Alegria Dia de Reyes convoy on January 6 to give a Kings Day surprise of toys, sandals and candy to hundreds of children in Mayan villages in Quintana Roo and Yucatan.

In Mexico, children traditionally receive toys from the Tres Reyes Magos, the Three Kings, on January 6, many writing letters saying that they have been good all year and asking for a favorite toy. The convoy was planned to reach children in remote rural communities that might miss out on Kings Day events often organized in larger villages.

The meeting point for convoy volunteers was the Ciudad de la Alegria community center on the outskirts of Cancun at 6 a.m. to load trucks with huge bags of toys, soft toys for tots, footballs, bikes, sandals, boxes of food, clothing, candy and even piñatas. Then it was time to hit the road.

There were two routes and two convoys, one to communities in the Tulum-Coba area and the other following a route through northern Quintana Roo and Yucatan, which called at tiny hamlets and villages in the Xcan-Tizimin area, accessible by single lane roads. These are communities deep in the forest that are really off the beaten track; a few homes clustered around a church, a rural school and a small grassy park or square.

The sight of the convoy drawing up caught the attention of the villagers, the word spread and there was soon quite a crowd. The children met the Three Kings and had fun with volunteers who lined them up to receive toys, sandals and candies. There were piñatas to be broken, more candies to collect and some lucky children even took home bikes they won in a raffle.

Other volunteers distributed clothes and food and there were grocery boxes for elderly residents, some of who remembered the Ciudad de la Alegria staff from previous visits. One couple of helpers had even brought biscuits for the village dogs.

In total more than 2,900 toys and pairs of sandals were distributed. Many of the toys were donated by Royal Resorts members, guests and employees and a big thank you goes out to all those who gave generously and helped in spreading happiness to so many children.

Gracias!

Help the Royal Resorts Foundation

If you missed the Royal Resorts Christmas Toy Drive and would like to give to children in need, why not donate to the Royal Resorts Foundation or bring gifts of new toys, children’s clothing and school materials all year round? Learn more about the Royal Resorts Foundation and its causes: study scholarships for children, the fight against cancer, physiotherapy for children, employee emergency relief in times of serious illness, support for community programs and conservation.

 

 

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Shop organic, new products at The Royal Market

Shop organic on your Cancun vacation. By purchasing local products such as honey, salsas, organic coffee or chocolate on your Mexican Caribbean vacation you can help support sustainable development in the region’s rural communities. The Royal Market has a new sustainable product on sale for you to try: Pitahi pitahaya (dragon fruit) and papaya jam made in the Zona Maya, central Quintana Roo.

The preserves are made by a group of enterprising women who founded the Ulu Umil Beh cooperative in the Mayan village of Chumpon.

Chumpon and the neighboring villages of Chun-on and Chun-ya harvest 150 tons of dragon fruit a year and the women decided to make jam from the surplus fruit as a way of boosting income and employment opportunities in their community.

The Royal Market also stocks organic honey produced by beekeepers in the Yucatan, organic coffee from Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz, chocolate and salsas.

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New Government Environmental Fees for all Hotel Guests in Puerto Morelos and Cancun

Are you staying at Grand Residences in Puerto Morelos or will you be traveling to Cancun this year? If so, we would like to share information about two new municipal taxes that will affect you. As part of their work to protect the environment, the Benito Juarez (Cancun) and Puerto Morelos Municipal Governments will begin charging an Environmental Sanitation Fee to all hotel and resort guests in their districts.

In Puerto Morelos, the new environmental tax came into effect on January 1, 2019 and applies to owners and guests staying at Grand Residences by Royal Resorts.

The Benito Juarez municipal authorities will begin charging the new tax on March 1 and it will apply to members and guests staying at the Royal Resorts in Cancun.

In accordance with Municipal Finance Laws in Puerto Morelos, and to be implemented in Benito Juarez (Cancun) on March 1, the Environmental Sanitation Fee that will be charged to your account at check out is as follows:

Room:                                                $24.18 pesos per night
Suite:                                                  $24.18 pesos per night
Villa (2 or 3-bedroom):                  $48.36 pesos per night

This fee is not covered by the annual Club Service Fees for Royal Resorts or Grand Residences members or by All-Inclusive room rates.

What will the taxes be used for?

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

  • Beach cleaning
  • Water treatment
  • Waste collection
  • Reduction of carbon emissions with LED lighting
  • Reef conservation
  • Coastal wetland management
  • Reforestation and other programs geared towards making Cancun and Puerto Morelos more sustainable destinations

Why is an Environmental Tax needed?

The white sand beaches and coral reefs of the Mexican Caribbean are world-famous; its jungles and wetlands are home to rare species of birds and animals. Yet visitor numbers and population growth are outpacing public services and placing pressure on area ecosystems. More action is needed to improve water treatment and waste management for the health of the environment. The new Green Fees charged by the Benito Juarez and Puerto Morelos Municipal Governments 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 Isla Mujeres municipal government has also introduced an eco tax for hotel guests.

Worldwide, popular tourist destinations ranging from Barcelona to the Maldives have implemented similar green taxes.

 

 

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News about The Royal Caribbean

We would like to share some news about the future plans for The Royal Caribbean. Instead of closing for renovation at the end of April, the resort will now remain open for the summer and will close on September 2. The resort will be closed for the winter and spring season and will reopen on […]

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Cancun vacation ideas, six trips to try this year

Here are some Cancun vacation ideas for your next trip, make this the year that you discover more of the Mexican Caribbean and Yucatan. Thomas More Travel, the in-house travel agency at Royal Resorts will be your trusted guide as you embark on a journey that will take you to see ancient Mayan cities and the villages of their descendants, colonial cities, hidden beaches and cenotes, nature reserves teeming with wildlife and adventure parks for a fun day out with the family. Here are some ideas for your 2019 travel experiences:

Island hopping

Visit the four treasures of the Mexican Caribbean, its islands: Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, Contoy and Holbox, all beautiful and with their own charms.

If you are in Cancun, then Isla Mujeres is the easiest island to visit; it’s just a short ferry ride across the bay and is famous for picture-perfect Playa Norte. Eco trips are available to Contoy, a palm-lined island bird sanctuary north of Isla Mujeres and Cancun.

Ferries to Cozumel, Mexico’s largest inhabited island and world-famous dive destination, operate from Playa del Carmen during the day. In addition to its spectacular reefs, Cozumel offers lovely beaches, lagoons and jungles and the vibrant capital of San Miguel. With its Mayan archaeological sites and pirate past, it is steeped in history.

The fourth in the island quartet is peaceful Holbox, a place to leave the frenetic pace of modern life behind and reconnect with nature. Long walks on the beach, a rustic fishing village, fishing and birding trips, glorious sunsets, fresh seafood and the chance to see the whale sharks, manta rays and sea turtles in the summer are its charms. Located off the Gulf coast of northern Quintana Roo, it is a half-hour ferry ride from the port of Chiquila.

Go snorkeling or diving

From the Cancun Underwater Art Museum to the reefs in Puerto Morelos, Akumal and the coral kingdom of Cozumel, the Mesoamerican Reef has many marvels to show you.

And if you are due to visit Cancun in the summer and you love nature, don’t miss the chance to take an eco trip to see the whale sharks that gather in the waters east of Isla Mujeres, Contoy and off Holbox to feast on plankton.

Visit Rio Lagartos and Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserves

From sightings of flamingos and wood storks to exciting boat rides along canals winding through the mangrove forest, get ready for a day of natural wonders and adventure in these two amazing biosphere reserves. Rio Lagartos is located on the Gulf coast of the Yucatan and Sian Ka’an is in central Quintana Roo.

Discover Chichen Itza, Ek Balam and Valladolid

Spend the day exploring eastern Yucatan, a land of mighty Mayan cities, colonial towns and villages and mysterious cenotes deep in the forest.

Start at Chichen Itza, the ancient Mayan capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for the Pyramid of Kukulcan, the Temple of the Jaguars, the Observatory, the Ball Court, the Sacred Well and many other temples and palaces.

Ek Balam is a 20-minute drive north of the town of Valladolid and while smaller than Chichen Itza, is no less interesting. Climb the Acropolis to see the ornate stucco bas-relief depicting ancient rulers and nobles and take in the panoramic views of the forest.

After a refreshing dip in one of the area’s many cenotes you’ll be ready for lunch and a stroll through the streets and squares of historic Valladolid.

Take a Mexican Cooking Class

Want to know the secrets of the Mexican kitchen? Take a class at a Cooking School in Cancun or Puerto Morelos and learn how to make salsas and a range of delicious dishes from cochinita pibil and perfect guacamole to beef fillet in beer and frijoles charros.

Bacalar Bound

The Lagoon of Seven Colors is in southern Quintana Roo but it is definitely worth the drive. Seven colors, aquamarine, azure, turquoise and indigo, shimmer in the sun in this long lake set in the emerald green of the jungle and mangroves. There are boat trips and kayaks for charter in Bacalar village.

Built in 1729 to protect the village from marauding pirates, the colonial San Felipe Fort overlooking the lagoon now houses a Pirate Museum.

Book your Mexican Caribbean and Yucatan trips with Thomas More Travel

We hope these Cancun vacation ideas give you some inspiration. Visit www.thomasmoretravel.com to start booking your Mexican Caribbean and Yucatan trips online and for more ideas be sure to call in at the tour desk at your resort.

 

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Cancun flight news

Cancun flight news

Here’s your latest Cancun flight news round up with details of Cancun International Airport’s continuing expansion. On December 18, it welcomed passenger number 24 million on a flight from Paris and one week later it broke its own record by welcoming passenger number 25 million from New York.

As part of its expansion in Mexico, American Airlines is planning to make Cancun Airport its hub for the Caribbean region, making Cancun and Riviera Maya even more accessible for passengers in the US and Latin America.

Finally, this January, Canadian budget airline Swoop begins flying from Hamilton (Toronto) to Cancun three times a week.

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Events in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Yucatan

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

Anniversary of the Founding of Merida, January 6

On January 6, inhabitants of Merida, state capital of Yucatan celebrate the 477th anniversary of the founding of the city in 1542 by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo. The evening of January 5, a procession of city dwellers and local trova musicians makes its way to the main square to sing the traditional Mañanitas birthday serenade as a tribute to their hometown, followed by a fireworks display. The next morning there is a Mass in the Cathedral and a packed program of concerts, dance performances, art exhibits and more as part of Merida City Fest.

Merida City Fest, January 5-20

More than 150 dance and theatre performances, concerts, movies, art exhibitions and literary workshops to celebrate the 477th anniversary of Merida.

Valladolid Food Festival, January 12

Celebrating Yucatecan cuisine, the Valladolid Food Festival takes place on Calzada de los Frailes from 4 p.m.

Feria de la Candelaria, January 25 – February 10, Valladolid

This traditional fair is dedicated to the patron saint of Valladolid, the Virgen de la Candelaria. Events include livestock, craft, jewelry and food exhibitions, processions, concerts and dances.

Cozumel Carnival, February 2-13

Dating from 1876, Cozumel Carnival is the oldest Carnival in the Yucatan Peninsula and one of the oldest in Mexico.

Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Merida, Campeche and Valladolid will also be holding their own Carnival celebrations; the dates may vary slightly in each location. The Cancun Carnival is from March 1 to 5 and in Merida from February 26 to March 6.

Isla Blanca Kite Festival, Feb 24 and 25

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Isla Blanca north of Punta Sam.

Spring Equinox at Chichen Itza, March 19-22

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.

Elsewhere in the Yucatan, at dawn on the day of the Equinox the rising sun appears through the doorway of the Temple of the Dolls in the ancient city of Dzibilchaltun to the north of Merida.

The spring equinox officially falls on March 20 in 2019 but the largest gathering at Chichen Itza takes place on March 21, a national holiday in Mexico.

Visit the Royal Resorts blog for details of more events in Cancun, Riviera Maya and Yucatan during the year.

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More theme nights at Cayo Largo, The Royal Islander

Here’s some Royal Resorts dining news for members and guests. If you are due to stay at The Royal Islander in Cancun, you’ll soon be able to enjoy new theme night buffets at Cayo Largo restaurant in addition to the a la carte menu.

From January 16 Wednesday night will be Italian Night at Cayo Largo restaurant in The Royal Islander with a buffet full of tasty traditional dishes, pastas and pizzas. And there are more treats in store at Cayo Largo. On Saturday, January 26, it will start a Taco Night and a Fajita Night on Sunday, January 27.

On Monday February 4, Monday night at Cayo Largo will become Pizza and Pasta Night and on Thursday February 14, there will be a Mexican Night.

From February 18, the Cayo Largo dining week will look like this:

• Monday        Pizza and Pasta Night

Smoke BBQ lunch

• Tuesday        Poolside Cookout

• Wednesday  Italian Night

• Thursday      Mexican Night

• Friday            Shrimp Festival

• Saturday        Taco Night

• Sunday           Fajitas Night

 

In addition to Cayo Largo, The Royal Islander offers two more restaurants: El Conquistador, a classic favorite for prime steaks, seafood, Continental cuisine and flambées, with guitar music performed by gifted musician Jorge Duran. Open 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. Sunday to Friday. Reservations required. For casual Mexican dining, don’t miss Paco’s Tacos and its tasty traditional appetizers, tacos and other mouthwatering dishes. Open for lunch and dinner.

A nightly Pizza and Pasta special with soup and salad bar will be available at Tradewinds restaurant in The Royal Caribbean.

Information subject to change without prior notice.

 

Timeless Traditions: Day of the Dead in Mexico

It’s that time of year again when Mexican markets are full of orange marigolds and sugar candy skulls and trails of flickering candles lead to ornate altars laden with flowers, offerings of food and photos of loved ones. The whisper of prayers is carried on the breeze and people prepare to join a procession. In an outpouring of faith, the whole country is ready for Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead.

Celebrated on November 1 and November 2, Día de Muertos is the most famous of Mexico’s many colorful and rich traditions. It is a blend of ancient ritual dating back thousands of years to the days of Mesomerican cultures such as the Maya, Purepechas, Zapotecs and the Aztecs and Christian customs introduced by missionaries in the 16th century in the wake of the Spanish Conquest. In 2003, UNESCO included the festival in the World Heritage list in the Intangible Culture category in recognition of its importance.

This is a time for Mexicans to remember those who have passed on. They believe that at this time of year the souls of the dead return to earth for a brief visit. They welcome them back with joy, affection and a wealth of memories. All over the country, masses and graveside vigils are held and special altars or ofrendas decorated with flowers, fruit, candles, colored cut tissue paper and crosses are erected to honor the departed. Families prepare the favorite foods of their loved ones and serve a glass of the liquor they were partial to and place them on the altar, along with treasured personal belongings and photos. Toys and candies decorate the altars of children, music lovers are remembered with serenades and cigars might even feature on the altar of a former smoker.

According to tradition, the souls of children, the angelitos, return to earth on November 1 (All Saints Day), and adults on November 2 (All Souls Day).

Day of the Dead Altars and Offerings

Day of the Dead altars are intensely personal and vary from region to region, but they all share certain symbolic elements:

  • Flowers. Orange marigolds or cempasuchil represent the sun, earth, life and hope. With their color and scent they are said to attract the departed and lead them to the altar. Other blooms used include cockscomb, sweet-scented lilies, gladioli, calla lilies and gypsophila. Purple flowers are a symbol of mourning. A trail of marigold petals and candles is laid to show the way home and to the altar. A smaller offering may be placed outside the home to welcome lost souls.
  • Candles for light, love and the ascension of the spirit
  • A cross crowning the altar, also representing the four cardinal points
  • An arch decorated with flowers symbolizing the journey to the hereafter
  • A rosary and the image of a saint or the Virgin of Guadalupe
  • Water, a symbol of the purity of the soul, life, rebirth, served in a glass for thirsty souls
  • Copal, aromatic incense incense obtained from the crystallized sap of a tree for purification
  • Offerings of food such as oranges, tangerines and sugar cane, corn, salt, chocolate, candies, atole or corn gruel and candied pumpkin nourish the spirits that draw near
  • Pan de muerto, this sweet bread is a symbol of the Eucharist and an offering associated with the bounty of the earth
  • The deceased’s favorite foods such as tamales or mole
  • Photos of the deceased
  • Personal belongings of the deceased. In the case of children these may be much-loved toys or candies. Music lovers would be remembered with serenades, instruments or CDs and cigarettes might even feature on the altar of a smoker.
  • Colorful cut tissue paper, said to represent the wind and joy
  • Alcohol, such as tequila, mezcal and other drinks the person enjoyed in life
  • Sugar candy skulls with the name of the deceased. Skulls are a symbol of life, death and rebirth
  • Colorful sawdust carpets or made from flower petals, seeds, beans or rice portraying images of skulls, skeletons or other symbolic images are often laid at the foot of the altar.

Hanal Pixán, Day of the Dead in the Yucatan

The Mayan Day of the Dead is called Hanal Pixán, which means “feast of souls.” Throughout the Yucatán, families make the pilgrimage to the cemetery to visit the graves of their loved ones and erect altars to honor the souls of children and adults.

As night falls on November 1, the Maya believe that the dead draw near to dine and they prepare a feast for them. Tables laden with offerings of mucbilpollo, large chicken tamales wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a pib or pit and gourds of tan-chucua, a thick corn drink flavored with crushed cacao beans, pepper and aniseed are set up under the trees outside the house. Pumpkins, squash, corn, bread, fruit, sweets, honey cakes and flowers are added to the altar, candles are lit and incense burns. The family spends the night in prayer and vigil. The next day they eat the mucbilpollo, washing it down with gruel, chocolate or balche, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and the bark of a tree.

The Maya believe that the souls of the dead return to earth for eight days. During this time they abstain from certain tasks such as hunting with guns or sewing so as not to injure one of the wandering souls. Newborn children wear a black thread around their wrists to protect them from any evil spirits that may have also near. On the eighth day or ochavario, the dead prepare to depart this earth for another year and new offerings are placed on their tombs to bid them farewell.

Day of the Dead Altars at Royal Resorts

Many Royal Resorts departments erect their own Day of the Dead altars and you’ll see them in The Royal Market, restaurants like Hacienda Sisal and at The Royal Cancun, The Royal Sands, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander in Cancun and at The Royal Haciendas in the Riviera Maya. The Royal Resorts Training department organizes a Dia de Muertos Altar Competition in the Cancun resorts and this year 21 different departments took part. Judging is underway now and you’ll be able to see photos of the winners and all the entries on this blog in the coming days. A similar competition was held at The Royal Haciendas on October 30.

Altars may represent different states in Mexico and feature the photos of friends, family members and even workmates that staff have lost and wish to remember.

Flor de Canela, the signature Mexican restaurant at Grand Residences by Royal Resorts in Puerto Morelos also has a magnificent altar.

Where to see Day of the Dead Traditions in Quintana Roo and Yucatan

Traditional altars are on display in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Valladolid, Izamal and in the main square in Mérida.

Xcaret Festival of Life & Death Traditions

An unforgettable experience, the Festival of Life and Death Traditions at Xcaret takes place on October 30, 31 and November 1 and 2. The Festival celebrates Day of the Dead customs with traditional altars, art, music, dance and theater.

Mayan communities from Quintana Roo and Yucatan participate in the festival with music and dance performances, altars and traditional Day of the Dead dishes such as tamales and mucbilpollo.

Each year, a different Mexican state is invited to participate in the Festival and in 2018 it is the turn of the northern state of Zacatecas, rich in history and traditions and full of colonial churches built with the wealth from silver mining.

Festival de las Animas in Merida

The Festival de las Animas in Merida features several days of Hanal Pixan events. There is an exhibition of more than 250 altars in the main square of Merida and surrounding streets, the Paseo de las Animas procession from the City Cemetery to San Juan Park on October 27 and 31, music, theatre and dance.

In La Mejorada park (Calle 50-A, between Calle 57 and 59), the Camino de las Flores is a pathway of flowers made with more than 20,000 cempasuchil marigolds (known as x’pujuc in Maya), cockscomb, chrysanthemums and petunias among others. Plants are sculpted to form gravestones, angels, colonial arches and even hummingbirds.

Pixan Festival in Felipe Carrillo Puerto

In the heart of the Zona Maya in central Quintana Roo, the historic town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto is hosting its first festival de las Animas or Pixan. The program includes processions, altars, theatre, dance and music, including Mayapax, the ancient music of the Maya.

New in La Rotonda Bar, Wednesday Wine Tasting at The Royal Haciendas

It’s #WineWednesday in La Rotonda Bar at The Royal Haciendas, our Riviera Maya resort. Don’t miss the new Wine Tasting at The Royal Haciendas every Wednesday afternoon from 4 to 5 p.m.

Your host Alejandro Cruz is a mine of information on the world of wine and he will share his passion and knowledge with you.

You will be sampling wines from Mexico and learning about the history of wine production in the country, which dates back to the 16th century and the grapes grown by missionaries in the gardens of the first monasteries and on haciendas.

However, despite its long history, the Mexican wine industry really took off in the 1980s. The Guadalupe and Santo Tomás Valleys near Ensenada in Baja California and the Parras Valley in Coahuila have both produced international award winning wines in recent years and the number of wineries is growing. On this occasion you’ll be trying Mexican wines made from Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

The cost is US$20 per person and space is very limited. Reservations are required, ext. 66214.

#winewednesday

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New look soft furnishings at The Royal Haciendas

As part of the resort improvements plan at The Royal Haciendas in the Riviera Maya, the soft furnishings are gradually being replaced in all the villas.

The Soft furnishings replacement program comprises changing the upholstery of the sofas and chairs, replacing curtains, cushions, rugs and bedspreads with new fabrics in a color palette with rich tones that are soothing and elegant.

The 92 Deluxe villas (penthouse and beachfront units) were completed in September and work will now begin on 20 Standard villas assigned for 2018. In 2019, the soft furnishings will be replaced in a further 70 units and the remainder in 2020.

Take a look at the new color palette for soft furnishings in the villas at The Royal Haciendas.

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