FORGET THE SNOW – GO TO MEXICO

By now the holidays are complete and bank accounts depleted. I used to ask myself how on earth can I afford a vacation? I really need a rest. After the crazy joyfulness of the holidays I retreat to Puerto Aventuras, Mexico.

Here is the deal, there are no crazy parties, loud music and rowdy teenagers. Puerto Aventuras is a good hour south of all that racket.

About an hour drive south of the Cancun International Airport in Puerto Aventuras, Blue Caribbean is waiting to facilitate a great, safe, quiet winter getaway.

Curt and Rosa help pick out accommodations that will fit your budget from their inventory of dozens of clean, beautiful condominiums right on the beach or in walking distance.

Not only does Blue Caribbean help facilitate a great, safe Mexican getaway vacation, they also help with with your leisure activities.

About an hour south of Puerto Aventuras are the Mayan ruins, an historically rich ancient area that is a must-see. Curt and Rosa will recommend the various ways you can visit this historical area.

When you arrive at Puerto Aventuras you do not have to get in a car for your entire stay. Everything you could possibly need, want and desire is located within walking distance from your condo.

The coral reef is close and within swimming distance from the white sand beach that will not burn your feet regardless of how sunny and hot the days may be.

Blue Caribbean has it all: beautiful beach, coral reef within swimming distance, dive shops, fishing excursions, restaurants, gift shops, dolphin experience and wonderful people, all located in a safe environment.

Let Blue Caribbean host a beautiful Puerto Aventuras getaway this winter. Check out their condominiums and book your dates today. The first step in any experience is making the reservations.

http://bluecaribbean.com/index.asp

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Staying Safe In Mexico

For decades, Mexico has been stereotypically labeled as an unsafe vacation spot, due to few instances occurring in certain areas of the country. In Puerto Aventuras, however, safety is never an issue. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why many tourists visit the location each year. Puerto Aventuras is located roughly an hour south of Cancun, Mexico. Though fairly close to each other, the two locations are not alike in the slightest way.

Unlike Cancun, Puerto Aventuras has a relaxing resort called the Blue Caribbean Resort. This resort contains beaches, pools, and marinas full of friendly, drug-free people. The white powder beaches are full of sand that never burns your feet, no matter how hot the temperatures. The pools are as relaxing as the beaches, and the marinas are full of fresh fish available for purchase daily. 

When families go on vacations to other parts of Mexico, a major thing they don’t look forward to is the street vendors or children-sellers that bother you as you try to take a relaxing walk along the beach. In Puerto Aventuras, the Blue Caribbean Resort not only gives you the right to walk along the beach, but they also ensure that you won’t be bothered by annoying street vendors or children trying to sell cheap, unwanted items.

Puerto Aventuras is not part of the stereotypical, unsafe Mexico that many people believe it to be. The gated community and safe resort ensure families that they have nothing to worry about when it comes to safety. In fact, the Southern part of Mexico is known to see less violence than many U.S cities.

The only way to really know, however, exactly how safe and enjoyable Puerto Aventuras is, is to ask someone who has been there. Feel free to contact Ed Primeau, an experienced traveler who thoroughly enjoyed his stay on several occasions at the Blue Caribbean at Primeau@PrimeauProductions.com, or call at +1-248-853-4091.  Or call Rosa and tell her Ed sent you!

Recent trip to Puerto Aventuras

Recent Trip to Puerto Aventuras

Our family recently traveled to Puerto Aventuras for a Spring Break getaway and had a fantastic time. My husband and I had traveled there before 3 years ago but I really wanted to take my kids to experience the Tulum ruins and all the other adventures the city had to offer. The weather was absolutely beautiful the entire week and the great breeze off the ocean was just paradise. One of the best features is the general location and all the restaurants and shops right in the area and walking distance from the condo. The condo was roomy and beautiful-overlooking the pools and ocean-an amazing view. We enjoyed trying all the different restaurants and ate almost every meal in the area. My kids also swam with the dolphins on the property which they said was the highlight of the trip. We even enjoyed a little karaoke after dinner which was also fun.

Other exciting things were only a ride away-one afternoon we shopped and dined at the nearby Playa Del Carmen which was only a short 10 minute cab drive away. A lot of folks seemed to have the same idea that day because it was very busy and we had fun shopping for clothes and other unique items. My son enjoyed taking a picture with a monkey on his shoulder-this is now proudly displayed in his room.

Other highlights of our trip included a day at Xel-Ha Water Park which was truly amazing. My kids had lots of activities to enjoy including zip line, snorkeling, and the lazy river. Additionally we visited the Tulum ruins which were one of my favorites on my last visit. We hired a tour guide to truly understand the history and he was very informative. The best part about it though was going to the ocean area via the long steps and taking amazing pictures of the water and scenery. These breathtaking pictures overlooking the ocean I will treasure forever. I’ve attached one of my favorite shots-we had an amazing time.

We all felt very safe and the area, restaurants, and atmosphere couldn’t be better. I look forward to our return trip and so do my kids. It is exciting to visit new places and they thoroughly enjoyed the trip. I would strongly encourage anyone to visit and stay in these condo’s. The location is great and everything you need is in walking distance.

Lynn Holley

The Best Vacation and the Best Host

The Mayan Rivera is the best place for Vacation; Blue Caribbean is the best host in Puerto Aventures.

I just took a tropical vacation in paradise at one of Blue Caribbean’s properties in Puerto Aventuras, a secure gated community located about an hour south of Cancun. Unlike Cancun, Puerto Aventuras is relaxing and wonderful in its own right. No street vendors, no kids trying to sell you stuff as you walk the streets, no drugs, just relaxing white powder beaches that for some reason never burn your feet no matter how hot the air or water temperature.

Plus, PA is a gated community spanning about a 12 mine circumference around a beautiful bay where snorkeling is just a short swim away. You do not have to get on a boat to enjoy their great marine life and coral reefs.

You will save money in Puerto Aventuras over Cancun because all condos that Blue Caribbean offers have their own fully stocked kitchens equipped with everything you need to make a beautiful meal for your family or sweetheart. In fact, the marina in PA has fresh fish available for purchase every day. You can buy 2 pounds of any fish that is in season for about 80-100 Pecos.

In PA you are walking distance from dozens of restaurants and shops as well as the Dolphin Experience that is like no other dolphin experience on the planet! My fiancé was able to spend one hour with a dolphin, swim, play, and learn about her dolphin one on one with a well educated expert guide.

There are no bugs that bother you in PA during the winter months. This was another unexpected welcome to us as we have had bugs everywhere else we have been regardless of the time of year.

The fresh seafood has to be the best part about Puerto Aventures because it’s caught and prepared daily by old and new world chefs. PA is much more affordable than the expensive all inclusive resorts because you can purchase your own food, soda, liquor, fresh fruit and vegetables and cook in your condo.

Or you can order the absolute best New York style large pizza for $10 and eat it on their patio or yours. PA is about the most affordable vacation on the planet. The village is safe from crime and outside influence. Blue Caribbean is the best organization to rent your vacation property from because they know firsthand how to take care of their customers.

When you rent from other websites promising to give you the lowest prices, you have no local contact when you arrive. To me that is no way to spend a peaceful vacation. It is much better to have the staff and support of Blue Caribbean available to help guide your experience and answer any questions you have about bike rentals, gold carts, restaurants, shops, beaches, snorkeling, events and dolphins.

We rented a bike for $8 and spent the day riding around looking at all the condos in the village, then went to the far south side and snorkeled in the lagoon. I saw more rock formations and marine life than any other vacation destination I have even been to.

I highly recommend that you call Curt or Rosa today and find out more about how you can take the vacation of a life time! Please feel free to also contact us if you have any questions +1-248-853-4091 or Primeau@PrimeauProductions.com.

Things I like about Puerto Aventuras

There’s more than one thing to like about Puerto Aventuras, Mexico. In fact, there are a number of reasons why staying at Blue Caribbean might cause Puerto Aventuras to become your favorite getaway destination.

1. White sandy beaches
2. Excellent food (especially the local recipes)
3. The people
4. Coral reef right off the beach
5. Freshest tasting fish
6. Amazing fruit that you can smell before you eat
7. Peaceful surroundings
8. Snorkeling
9. Taxi drivers who know everything
10. Beautiful flowering hibiscus hedges
11. Birds
12. The pools
13. Golf carts to get around
14. Fishing
15. Massage experts everywhere
16. The tourists
17. Ceviche (seafood dish)
18. Most people speak English
19. Locals who love tourists
20. You’ll feel welcome
21. Watching the pelicans fish
22. The water
23. The breeze
24. The temperature
25. Low airfare to Cancun, then short taxi ride
26. Very inexpensive vacation
27. Tacos
28. Night clubs
29. Popularity growth
30. Dolphins

31. Different shades of blue in the water
32. No beer bottles on the beach
33. Architecture
34. Coffee
35. Occasional rain
36. Clean, unpolluted air
37. No crowded beaches
38. The Caribbean music
39. The Caribbean Sea
40. Local culture
41. Art

That’s just the beginning of things to like about Puerto Aventuras. We’re sure that you’ll be able to add to the list when you come to visit!

How safe is travel in Mexico? How safe is travel in Mexico? Mexican Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara talks about drug-related violence and its toll on travel and tourism.

I’ll be taking my first trip to the Yucatan in Mexico later this year, and I’m excited to delve into Merida’s music scene, explore ancient ruins and relax along the Mayan Riviera.

I’m also thrilled about the prices. I’m paying $60 for two, including breakfast, at the Hotel Julamis, a boutique inn with a garden and pool in Merida’s historical center. For a short stay in the beach town of Puerto Morleos, I found a studio apartment for $80, with free bikes thrown in.

I’ve traveled in Mexico for years, and I always look forward to going back. Mexico is cheaper than Hawaii and, to me, more interesting than Costa Rica. But with all the reports of drug-related violence and killings, people ask, “Is it safe to go Mexico?”

I put the question to Mexican Tourism Secretary Gloria Guevara, who was in Seattle recently for meetings with airline executives and travel agents.

Her answer: “Get a map.”

Misconceptions of Mexico

Surprisingly, Guevara didn’t sugarcoat the impact the violence among warring drug cartels has had on how people feel about travel to Mexico. How could she when I brought along a news clipping about a man’s torso and arm found on a street near a beachfront hotel in Acapulco? Mexicans are as upset about what’s happening in their country as anyone.

But Guevara points out that Mexico is a big country, with 2,500 municipalities.

“All of the problems you hear about have occurred in just 80 of these places, less than 5 percent,” nearly all outside the places most travelers go.

“Asking if Mexico is safe,” she says, ” is a little like asking if something happens in Atlanta, is it safe to go to Seattle.”

Fair enough. So what is the biggest misconception people here have?

“When they think of Mexico, they don’t think about specific places,” Guevara says. “They just say ‘Mexico.’ ”

It’s true that drug-related violence has left thousands of Mexicans dead in the border towns of Ciudad Juárez and Nuevo Laredo. The violence lately has begun to spread, and the country remains under a U.S. State Department travel warning (see http://www.travel.state.gov).

It’s also true that most American tourists go to a handful of destinations such as Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and the Mayan Riviera, all areas as safe as they look.

Tourism is hugely important, generating 22 million international visitors annually, 2.5 million jobs in 2010, and $11.8 billion in revenue, according to Mexican government figures. It’s Guevara’s job to promote travel. But I get her point.

I’ve never felt unsafe in Mexico. Not taking the subway in Mexico City. Not riding a long-distance bus to Mazatlan in the state of Sinaloa, home to one of the most powerful drug cartels. Not walking the streets of Guadalajara, Sayulita, Oaxaca or Guanajuato.

Most people who go to Mexico feel this way, Guevara said. Ninety-nine percent of travelers who responded to a recent government tourism survey said they had a good experience and would go back again, she said.

“The fact of the matter is that most of central and southern Mexico sees less violence than many U.S. cities,” writes Lonely Planet guidebook author Robert Reid.

The U.S. travel warning advises which areas to avoid. None include Reid’s top destinations — Mexico City, Merida, Todos Santos, San Miguel de Allende, Huatulco, Playa del Carmen, Guanajuato and Puebla. I’d add Oaxaca for food and art and Guadalajara for shopping.

Guevara says that the best way to judge what it’s like in Mexico is to ask someone who’s been recently.

If that’s you, send me an email describing your experience, or see this column online at http://www.seattletimes.com/travel”>www.seattletimes.com/travel and leave a comment. I’ll share responses in a future column.

Travel Wise runs Sundays in print and online at http://www.seattletimes.com/ travel. Questions welcome. Contact Carol Pucci at cpucci@seattletimes.com.

Twitter: @carolpucci

Mexico safer than headlines indicate

Christine Delsol, Special to The Chronicle

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quick – which national capital has the higher murder rate: Mexico City or Washington, D.C.?

If you answered Mexico City, you’d be in good company – after all, Mexico is a war zone, isn’t it? But you would be wrong, on both counts.

Based on FBI crime statistics for 2010 and Mexican government data released early this year, Mexico City’s drug-related-homicide rate per 100,000 population was one-tenth of Washington’s overall homicide rate – 2.2 deaths per 100,000 population compared with 22. (Drug violence accounts for most murders in Mexico, which historically does not have the gun culture that reigns in the United States.)

And while parts of Mexico can be legitimately likened to a war zone, drug violence afflicts 80 of the country’s 2,400 municipalities (equivalent to counties). Their locations have been well publicized: along the U.S. border in northern Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states, and south to Sinaloa, Michoacan and parts of San Luis Potosí, Nayarit, Jalisco, Guerrero and Morelos states.

The flip side is that more than 95 percent of Mexico’s municipalities are at least as safe as the average traveler’s hometown. Yucatan state, for example, had 0.1 of a murder for every 100,000 people in 2010 – no U.S. tourist destination comes close to that. Most cities in central Mexico, outside of the scattered drug hot spots, have lower murder rates than Orlando.

It would seem fairly clear – fly, don’t drive, across the border into the safe regions. Yet whenever people say they are going to Mexico, the invariable response is “Aren’t you afraid?”

Media sensationalism accounts for much of the wariness. “Gangland violence in western Mexico” “Journalists under attack in Mexico” and “Mexico mass grave toll climbs” sound as if the entire country were a killing field. The story might name the state, but rarely the town and almost never the neighborhood. And some reporters apparently are confused by the word “municipality” – some of the killings reported as being in Mazatlan, for example, actually happened in a town miles away from the city – akin to attributing East Palo Alto’s slayings to San Francisco.

But the biggest factor may be that travelers looking for a carefree vacation simply find it easier to write the entire country off than to learn what areas to avoid.

The Mexico Tourism Board is working to change that. Efforts so far have concentrated on getting accurate information to travel agents, who funnel the lion’s share of tourism to Mexico’s popular destinations. Independent travelers’ primary source of information is the State Department travel alerts (travel.state.gov), which are finally getting better at pinpointing the trouble spots.

“We are trying to work with U.S. authorities in making these travel alerts specific and not general,” said Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, the tourism board’s chief operating officer. “Unfortunately, they have projected a somewhat distorted image.”

In the meantime, we have done some of the work for you. The chart above recommends destinations for various comfort levels and travel styles. If you’re totally spooked, there are places that pose no more risk than Disneyland. If you’re open-minded but don’t want to take unnecessary risks, we have places safer than Miami, New Orleans or Washington, D.C. For fearless travelers, these sometimes dicey destinations are worth the extra caution.
Your most important tactic for traveling safe, in Mexico or anywhere else, begins before you even decide where to go. Get familiar with Mexico’s geography; it’s a big country, and your destination might be hundreds or even a thousand miles from violence-prone areas. Keep up on Mexico coverage in major dailies, then do some focused research. Some sources:

— The current State Department travel warning (travel.state.gov) and security updates make a good start.

— The travel agents trade publication Travel Weekly has created a map that puts the latest travel warning in easily digestible graphic form (travelweekly.com/uploadedFiles/MEXICOMAP4.pdf).

— The United Kingdom Foreign Office Travel Advisory for Mexico ( http://www.fco.gov.uk; “Travel advice by country”) provides another perspective.

— Stratfor, a global intelligence company that advises government agencies and international corporations on security issues, is a reliable, up-to-the-minute source. Membership is expensive, but the website ( http://www.stratfor.com) makes some reports available for free.

Assuming you’re not headed for northern border areas, normal safety precautions that apply anywhere in the world will suffice. These are particularly important in Mexico:

— Don’t pack anything you couldn’t bear to part with; leave the bling at home.

— Carry only the money you need for the day in a money belt (not a fanny pack), and leave your passport in your hotel unless you know you will need it.

— Get local advice about areas to avoid.

— Don’t get drunk and stumble around dark, unfamiliar streets. Drunk or sober, don’t walk beaches late at night.

— Stick with taxis dispatched from your hotel or a sitio (taxi stand); if you go out for dinner, ask the restaurant to call a taxi for you.

— Drive during the day; if nighttime driving is unavoidable, use the toll roads.

— Leave a travel itinerary and a copy of your passport with someone at home. If you’ll be traveling in higher-risk areas, notify the nearest U.S. Consulate.

A final note: Don’t get rattled if you see armed soldiers patrolling the beach or manning highway checkpoints. They are young men doing a difficult job. On the road they’ll usually just ask you where you’re coming from and where you’re going; very rarely they will ask to inspect your trunk or your bags. I’ve never encountered one who wasn’t cordial and glad for a smile or a brief conversation.

– Christine Delsol

Christine Delsol is a frequent contributor to Travel and writes the Mexico Mix blog at SFGate.com. E-mail comments to travel@sfchronicle.com.