06 Aug My Trip to Cancun During Covid!
By Mark Faldmo, Jr.
VP-Marketing Columbus Travel
If you’re like me the last few months you may have been yearning to travel. I particularly wanted to visit a place where I could experience palm trees, sand and water all at the same time. Mexico has been open to U.S. tourists since July 1 and Cancun is one of my favorite vacation spots. I was invited by El Dorado Casitas Suites to learn about their COVID safety measures and experience their resort during this time. For several reasons this was one of the best trips I have had to Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
First, deciding if you want to travel is a personal decision. You should only travel if you feel comfortable making that decision. I recommend looking at the current government guidelines as they are constantly changing. I also recommend responsible tourism during your vacation. Follow the local health guidelines and do your part to stay safe and help others stay safe.
Why Cancun? The State Department recently lifted its global travel ban and Cancun was one of the first destinations to certify with the World Travel and Tourism Council’s “Safe Travels” certification program. Over 6500 destinations have applied and only about 300 have met the certification so far (including other destinations in Mexico like Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos). Cancun and the Riviera Maya were not particularly hard hit by COVID and COVID cases have remained low since the tourism restart on July 1.
Prior to departure
You should complete the customs form, immigration form and health form prior to arrival. You will need a health form for arrival and a health form at departure to get through security at the Cancun Airport (links are below). Also Cancun has instituted a new departure tax. The departure tax can be paid online anytime before arriving to the airport for your return flight (link is below).
The Airport and the Flight
You are required to wear a mask in the airports, on the flights, during your transfers and in certain areas of the resort. The process at the Salt Lake Airport seemed fairly normal. Other than masks and distancing protocols I didn’t notice much of a difference in the airport experience. For the flight I would recommend you purchase some drinks in the airport terminal as there currently is no drink service onboard. You may also want to get some snacks or food. On the flight we were provided a snack bag which consisted of a bottle of water, some crackers and cookies.
Arriving in Cancun and at the Hotel
If you have traveled to Cancun in the past you will see some changes in relation to the new health precautions. When traveling through the airport your temperature will be checked several times, usually by overhead thermal detectors. You will also notice that the transportation drivers and taxi drivers will have their temperatures checked whenever arriving and departing the airport and hotels. Drivers are also required to use hand sanitizer upon entering and leaving the resorts. The hotel staff are required to wear masks at all times and use hand sanitizer frequently. Resort guests will also have their temperature checked when arriving at the resort. When you arrive at the hotel your luggage will be taken to a room where it will be cleaned and sanitized before it is delivered to your room.
The Vacation Experience
With all the changes this is actually a great time to visit. Why? – Because the hotels are currently only allowed to operate at 30%. You feel like you have the whole resort to yourself. The first day I relaxed in a beach cabana for several hours and never saw another guest only seeing the beach butler when in need of a drink. The resort went out of their way to add little touches to help guests feel safe and comfortable. My vacation was relaxing and felt normal.
While at the resort, guests were not required to wear a mask. The resort is so spread out that I rarely encountered other guests. At the restaurants there were no more that 4-5 other couples at one time. Because of the low occupancy not all restaurants were open. There was a daily schedule of what restaurants open and the times of operation. Room service was available 24 hours. Entertainment at the resort was limited.
This was probably the most relaxing and unique vacation I have taken in recent memory.
The Number one tip for choosing a resort during COVID
Choose a resort that was good at social distancing before the pandemic. Some of my favorites are El Dorado Royal, Palifitos Overwater Bungalows, and El Dorado Seaside Suites. However, there are four resorts I highly recommend: El Dorado Casita Suites (adult only), El Dorado Maroma Beach (adult only), Margaritaville Island Reserve (family resort) and Generations Riviera Maya (family resort).
The El Dorado Casitas Suites
The El Dorado Casitas is a unique resort that has several enclaves that are U shaped. Each enclave has between 18 and 30 suites with its own pool, pool bar and dedicated beach cabanas. It’s like staying at your own little boutique hotel. Guests of the El Dorado Casitas Suites can dine at two neighboring resorts – El Dorado Royal and Generations Riviera Maya. My favorite room category at this resort is the Swim Up Suites or Private Pool Suites. You also have the option of having an individual Casista which is a few steps from the beach.
El Dorado Maroma Beach
El Dorado Maroma Beach resort is a small resort with about 150 rooms so at 30% occupancy there are about 40 other guests at the resort. Maroma Beach was ranked by USA Today as one of the top 5 beaches in the world and this resort was ranked as the number 3 romantic resort in Mexico. At this hotel I enjoy the Private Pool Suites where each room has its own private plunge pool. Another section that I like is the Mi Hotelito section which is a more intimate setting. This section is the 24 original rooms of this small boutique resort.
Margaritaville Island Reserve
Margaritaville Island Reserve is located on a beautiful beach. It opened in March of this year (2020) and was formerly the Azul Beach Resort. This small resort has fewer than 150 rooms and is perfect for a family getaway with fun kids activities, kid sized beach chairs and plenty of space for family bonding. Its relaxed Island themed atmosphere make for a great vacation. Each room of this resort is steps away from the beach. There are several restaurants to choose from and of course a 5 o’clock somewhere pool bar.
Generations Riviera Maya
Generations Riviera Maya is the perfect family vacation spot. This resort is designed for families with studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3-bedroom suites. Most of the rooms are swim out rooms that either connect to the main pool or on higher floors there is a pool that runs the length of the building where you step into the pool from your suite’s patio.
These resorts are 5-star resorts and do come at a premium, but that premium is 20-40% less than it was a few months ago prior to COVID. They each create a very relaxing vacation that is well worth the price.
Activities While in Cancun
You may be wondering what attractions are open. The archeological sites and many attractions were closed at the time of writing (UPDATE – Most activities are now open at limited numbers). You can find some interesting things to do. For instance you can visit Tulum by thinking out of the box. You can’t visit by land, but you can visit by sea. One of the companies I recommend for tours in Cancun is Alma’s LDS Tours (mention Columbus Travel when making a reservation). They can set you up to see Tulum in a unique way. You can hire a boat to see Tulum from the ocean where you see parts of the site that are closed and not accessible when visiting by land. If you take a swim suit they will also take you to snorkel on the nearby reef.
Another option is swimming at a cenote which is like a sink hole. These cenotes are connected through an underground river system in the Yucatan Peninsula. You can swim, snorkel and enjoy the atmosphere. Because of fewer visitors you can have some of these sites to yourself.
Cancun and the Riviera Maya are destinations that are taking all necessary precautions to safely allow visitors. I was impressed with my vacation experience and felt that it was like a normal vacation. If you’re looking to escape to the beach call one of the vacation specialists at Columbus Travel, 800-373-3328. Our agents can help you plan the perfect vacation to Cancun or anywhere in Mexico – Happy Travels!
All-Inclusive Mexico Vacations Specials – https://columbusvacations.com/tour-item/all-inclusive-mexico-packages/
Mexico Immigration Form (Tourist Card) – https://www.inm.gob.mx/fmme/publico/en/solicitud.html
Health Form (One for arrival and one for departure filled out on day of travel) – https://www.vuelaseguro.com/login
Cancun Departure (Should be purchased before arriving to the airport for your return flight – https://www.visitax.gob.mx//sitio/
Almas LDS Tours – https://www.almaldstours.com/
World Travel and Tourism Council “Safe Travels” Certificate – https://wttc.org/COVID-19/Safe-Travels-Global-Protocols-Stamp
BLOG: Where Can I Travel? (a look at the destination that are currently open for visitors) – https://columbusvacations.com/when-can-i-travel-again/
All photos in this blog were from the trip.