Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Mexico 2008 Trip Report (Sandos Playacar)
It’s the 10th of September 2007 (well, possibly, my memory is a little hazy and I have made an educated guess at that date! ) after our flight from Mexico to Manchester made it’s (somewhat terrifying) landing, we had one thing we had to do straight away…
What was it you ask? Go and see our friends and family? Unpack? Sleep? No…we headed straight for the nearest Travel Agent in order to (hopefully) book Mexico 2008 . Well you need to do something to get over those returning home blues don’t you! Unfortunately the prices that came up were ridiculous and it took us a bit of scouting about before we did book our holiday, but soon enough Mexico 2008 was booked.
We originally booked for the Iberostar Quetzal as we had such an amazing time at the Tucan the year before there was nowhere else we’d rather go. Well I say that, we were tempted by La Tortuga and did deliberate for quite some time and would have booked at La Tortuga but my boyfriend couldn’t get the dates off work that we had found good prices for which left us having to go in hurricane season and with this in mind we wanted the security blanket of a Travel Agent, after the stress we went through when Hurricane Dean was supposedly coming! So out of the all inclusives, there was no other choice for us than the Quetzal/ Tucan and off we went and booked it, the Quetzal side being £200 cheaper than the Tucan, for the same dates with the same Travel Agent – and it’s the SAME HOTEL! Crazy!!
Anyway…on life goes and unfortunately so does the beach. Go that is. Photos of boarded up fronts to the Quetzal and 6 foot drops from the hotel to the water fill up the message boards and my nightmares and we begin to panic.
After deliberating for quite some time we decide to pay £100 MORE to change to the Sandos Playacar, which by all accounts isn’t quite as good as the Tucan/Quetzal but we figure there is far more beach there for them to keep raking it back so we make the decision, whilst all the time knowing beaches change and we may possibly live to regret it.
Then I get to reading a few trip reports of the Shangri La Caribe and can’t quite believe I never knew this place existed! The place looks like heaven on earth and unbelievably after working out our money, even with what we’d lose on what we’d already paid on the Tucan/Sandos etc we could still afford it. Very excited we try to change but due to the crazy exchange rate and charges for paying on our debit card it works out just a few hundred pounds too expensive. Very disappointed as I doubt we’ll be able to get there before it closes in May.
So we decide to stick to the Sandos and spend the most part of a year tracking the beach progress and hoping for the best.
Alongside all this, we also find the time to have a life and quite an eventful one at that this year! In January we sold one of our cars and paid off all our debts and went to sharing a car between us. We don’t even live together so whilst this may seem entirely in practical at first, it’s actually worked out brilliantly well and it was great to pretty much obliterate 70% of our monthly outgoings. With this done we are finally able to take the plunge to change our lives. My boyfriend finally quits his job and takes his LGV test (Truck/Lorry driving for those not in the UK) and passes first time! So proud!
After a month or two of trying to get jobs, all of which want experience, which you can’t get if no one will give you a job in the first place, and doing temp jobs involving putting up giant inflatable cereal boxes (don’t ask) my boyfriend manages to land himself a great job! Again so proud!
What a huge change to our lives though! Gone are the days where we laze about cuddling up in bed for hours every single evening, and in are the days of 15 hour shifts and literally a work/sleep/work/sleep life pattern!
Big change but feels great for him to now have a career, and not just that but the one he’s always wanted, rather than just a job.
With one of us having followed there dream it only makes sense for the other to too, and with my daughter starting school in September came my opportunity. After successfully getting onto a college course which I had been told was almost impossible to get a place on, I was so excited!! I’ve wanted to do this since I was 14 and then life happened, and if it wasn’t for my boyfriend reminding me that I’ve got a second chance to just go for it now, and encouraging me all the way I probably wouldn’t of even thought I could do it, so to get on the course is brilliant for me. Not only that but I’ve been fast tracked so I can do a two year course in just one year!! Eeek! Scary but exciting!
Just one thing needed doing after my interview. An assignment. “You’ve a month to do it, will that be enough time?”. Of course I nod excitedly, remembering how I used to do assignments really quickly. Wow was this a HUGE assignment though, I had underestimated it big time! The problem being? I was off to France, and then Mexico a week after being given it, so I had a week not a month! Cue 18 hour assignment writing sessions each day and copious amounts of coffee.
The day before France I manage to by some thread of a miracle finish and hand the assignment in. Now you would think is the time to relax, for a month of holidays but France was anything but relaxing! I had initially thought I may combine the two trips in my trip report and write a bit about France before Mexico and whilst part of me is tempted to show off my gorgeous daughter, the other half is wary of putting photos of her up on the internet (paranoid mum – is there any other kind??) and since the photos nearly all feature her, it wouldn’t make much of a report so instead I will condense it to this: France is like England, but worse in every way!
By day 5, the day we were due to come home we were all more than ready for it. We get to the ferry dock and there’s not another car in sight. Are we there on the wrong day? Are we at the wrong place? Confusion washes over us but never for one second does what actually has happened cross our mind. We have had our watches set 1 hour back the whole trip, and they should have been set 1 hour forward! We’ve missed the Ferry by 2 hours. This is of course, entirely my fault…
Off we trot to spend ridiculous amounts of money to stay in a hotel resembling something out of Psycho, or more recently Vacancy. The room looks identical to that off Vacancy, and none of the lights down the corridor to our room work. We have no money left to do anything other than drive the 20 miles to the nearest Mc Donalds for tea, as we don’t have enough to eat anywhere else! The next day we get to sit in our car waiting for the Ferry for 5 hours as we have no money to even sit in a café. After feeling sick for 6 hours on the Ferry we eventually arrive back on English soil, and if France has done one thing for me, it’s made me appreciate England a lot more!!
So here are the few photos of France I can include:
Nothing but sea (taken from the Ferry):
Beach at Beg-Meil, Brittany:
Between the three of us we can't muster up one decent sandcastle so in the end we give up and build a sand man instead :
And a hole:
Proving that qualifications aren't worth the paper they're written on, my A in GCSE French, leads me to accidentally ordering a Mussels Curry Needless to say, I saw this all again an hour or two later!:
It’s nice to be home, but no rest for the wicked as I have to unpack, wash all my clothes, pack for Mexico, shop for last minute bits, get my nails done, and fit in going to a party for my boyfriend’s dad’s birthday in the few days between France and Mexico…
Soon enough it’s time to go to Mexico. It’ll be nice to spend that time together after having had to get used to spending so much time apart with his new job, and after France we need a holiday more than ever! We felt a bit like it had come around too soon though, with normally going at the end of August, and could have waited until then, so come the 26thof August, we no doubt will be regretting going so early!
So here comes the Trip Report!
My 2007 trip report here
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: North of Boston, Mass
What a great start Missixty! Congratulations to you and your boyfriend for all the great things you've done this year! Talk about changing your lives! Love your France pictures! Prologue was fantastic...now on to Mexico!
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
There we are drinking merrily away to celebrate the boyfriend’s dad’s birthday when I for the first time am shown the holiday tickets. “You have not booked seats together”. The world stops turning. Panic sets in.
We paid £60 (roughly $120) to not only sit together but choose the exact seats we wanted on the plane, we did this about eight months ago. This can’t be happening, if they’ve not got our booking down, by now, the best seats will be all booked up. Off we toddle to find a phone and phone the number on the tickets…
“As it is outside office hours we are now shut. Office opening times are Monday to Saturday, 9-5pm.”
It’s Saturday, 7pm, we go on Monday first thing in the morning. Chuffing wonderful.
After several hundred more phone calls to any phone number I can get my hands on, I finally get through to a human who tells me don’t worry just take your print off to the airport proving that you have booked the seats. I hang up, and proceed to still worry, as if they haven’t got our booking down, someone else will have already booked those seats, and what good is a piece of paper going to be then.
Also the tickets inform us that check in is 75 minutes before depature, which sounds somewhat ridiculous, being that it’s always been 3 hours before, and that my mum went on holiday only the week before and it was 3 hours before then, so we decide to ignore this and go three hours before, especially due to us needing to sort out the seat fiasco.
Ste+packing to be done=not a pleasant atmosphere. I’m aware of this from past years and make the educated decision to vacate his house and vow only to return once he has packed his case.
Cases packed, I decide it’s time for the pre holiday diet to come to an end (I lost 1 stone and 2lbs) and order possibly the nicest burger in the world, a pizza between us, chips, onion rings and garlic mayo. Yum yum. The only food my body has known for the past month is ryvitas, salad and pitta bread.
Update my ipod (it chooses tonight of all nights to go crazy on me so takes longer than expected) and add some more music to my boyfriend’s phone, pack the hand luggage and we’re all ready to go so we try to get some sleep!
Our flight leaves at 9:30 so we decide to get to the airport for 6:30, luckily we live like ten minutes away, so I get up at 5:30, do my hair and make up even though I know it won’t endure a long haul flight (I can but try!) have a cup of tea (the last I’ll have for two weeks!) and off we go. We used to think it was early getting up at this time for the airport, but since my boyfriends crazy shifts have started this is in fact a lie in for him!!
We get to the airport and the seats show up on the system…sort of. We had booked seats 43A and 43B – the very two back seats on the plane. Since I am a decent human being , I have not, and will not recline onto people even on a longhaul flight, as I could never be so selfish to the person behind me to do that (unfortunately, the people sat in front of me on every flight I've been on, do not live by the same mentality ). With the back two seats I was looking forward to reclining and possibly for once getting a little comfortable. We are told there is no row 43, but we are booked for 40A and 40B. The back ten rows or so of the plane are 2-3-2 formation, rather than 3-3-3 so we are glad that we are still at the back (no one next to us) and that we are together but a little disappointed that we didn’t have the back row (we were second to back) since that’s what we paid for before I doubt anyone else had even booked the holiday let alone seats (we did it early!). Anyway, never mind, we’re together, and after experiencing a long haul flight apart once, that’s all that really matters!
Onto the airport routine of having a wander around the shops and getting a full English brekfast, and before we know it it’s time to get on the plane.
Last year we went with First Choice for the fancy flights, this year we couldn’t afford to so went with Thomas Cook (same holiday £1000/$2000 cheaper!) and I was pleasantly surprised by the flight. The seats weren’t leather but that is neither here nor there (my boyfriend doesn’t like leather seats) but other than that it was largely similar. Seat back tvs, identical to that on the First Choice flights. The meals were actually a little better (although let’s not go over the top now!) and we got two meals rather than one and a snack, as well as a free Mars Icecream. To upgrade the TVs for more choice in films and for games etc it was £10 which is a bit cheeky and we didn’t end up doing. I was going to but I ended up watching Juno (one of the free options) and a few of the free programmes (Victoria Beckham goes to LA – well there wasn’t an abundance of choice okay??, Friends and How To Look Good Naked – or as I like to call it, “how to look good with a sheet/wall/bed covering you up”), and with all the pausing you have to do for them coming around with food/drinks/your boyfriend rudely interrupting you etc it took forever to watch them. Add to that reading our last English trash newspapers (I mean this in a positive way, I love a bit of trash) and doing a few puzzles together and the flight actually went really quick, I for once, on a longhaul flight can say I wasn’t bored!
The airport at Mexico has all changed since last time. I don’t know if it was due to it being a busier time of year or if it was due to the change in the airport but after the flight we got into a queue that rivalled that of something at Alton Towers (UK Theme park for those of you who don’t know) only with something less exciting than Nemesis at the end, instead, someone looks at your passport for a few seconds. Long, long queue. At times I wonder if I’ll reach my next birthday stood in it. Eventually we make it through and get to press the dreaded button. We’ve “passed” the button test every year so I figure this will be the year our suitcases get rifled through, but luckily we pass again (actually my boyfriend passed, I just walked past it un noticed ). Speaking of suitcases ours came of the carousel pretty quickly so I was able to breathe again knowing my precious clothes, and more importantly make up (there’s shows telling us how to look good naked, but none telling us how to look good without make up!) have arrived safely.
Onto the coach and we are surprisingly the first drop off. We decide that it feels like longer from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen than it does to drive the 4 hours to London from Manchester back home, and swear we are not going to Cancun this trip (hmmmmm) and eventually we arrive at the hotel.
Check in is at the Sandos Riviera lobby and I am almost stunned by how much nicer it is than what I have seen photos wise on the internet. Blame the tiredness, in the face that I didn’t take a photo, so you will have to take my word for it, but it was lovely.
Whilst checking in I’m approached by a lady who asks if I am “missixty”, this is my first ever case of “internet fame” and I realise it is “ellesmere” from the playa.info forum who had said they would be on the same flight as us.
At check in it suddenly dawns on me I never brought my Sandos4U card which could have entitled us to a free upgrade “subject to availability” but since the upgrade would be to a Hacienda building, further away from the beach, we hadn’t been sure whether we’d want to or not. I had figured I’d take the card and take whatever we were given as I couldn’t make the decision myself. As we’d forgot it we were in the main Sandos Beach area, and we hadn’t requested any particular room as they all surround the pool and are close to the beach, so we didn’t really mind which room we were in.
After check in we are taken on a golf buggy thing to our room, and I take this photo:
When we rented one of these buggys on Isla Mujeres last year the sign had tickled me, especially since we nearly did get ourselves killed on it but at the time I forgot to take a photo so was glad to see this.
On the way to the room we pass a peacock who lost a tail feather, the man driving the buggy picked it up and gave it to me, and I risked the bird flu (do they have that over there?) and decided to have it since it was so pretty. I did plan to keep it and bring it home but our room quickly became quite a mess and it got pretty damaged so I ended up leaving it behind.
The room itself is lovely. Probably bigger than the Tucan, definitely bigger than the Allegro. All the rooms we’ve had have been lovely but at the time I think this is “definitely the nicest one” but then, I always think that!
Despite not having requested a particular room, the one we are given has these views so we are more than happy:
The bathroom is without a doubt the nicest, with a funky modern sink, huge wooden worktop(?!) area, perfect for all my girlie stuff, and with a huge glass shower with wooden floor and even a seat in it. Despite there being not much reason to sit down in the shower, we do anyway, just for the excitement of it having a seat!
I proceed to take photos of the room, to which my boyfriend soundtracks “Look; we had a bed! Look; we had a table! Look; we had a shower! Look; we had a sink!” His teasing distracts me and I forget to take a picture of the inside of the shower, which really was lovely.
We have a quick wander around and I jump on one of the beds by the pool for a quick photo, as I did this last year under the assumption that it would be my only chance to (and I was right). This year however, there were some of these beds free all day every day so I needn't have bothered!:
We are told there are four buffet restaurants at the hotel, which initially sounds very good, since in the past there has been just one at the Allegro and two at the Tucan/Quetzal. We go to the main one and are shocked at how little food there is there. At the Allegro and the Tucan there was SO much choice we had always wondered at how people could say there wasn’t much choice and the food got boring after a few days etc. Here there were 8 dishes, 2 of which contained chips, and then a brief selection in the other 6 of things like veg, beef etc.
The food we did get was nice enough but there simply wasn’t much choice. I reasoned that the choice in the one buffet resteruants at the other hotels, was probably split between the four here. The choice of desserts was great and all the desserts I tried all holiday were delicious (although many times with a few complimentary flies garnishing them).
After tea we went for an early night, all that travelling takes its toll!
Join Date: Sep 2003
Great start!! They've made some nice changes at Sandos since they've taken it over from Gala. The bedding is the same as when we were there a few years ago! I remember my son sleeping on the little couch. They made it up into a bed for him and it was the perfect size!
The bathrooms have been completely renovated and look lovely! We had the bench in the shower too and I used it to put my foot on while shaving my legs! We liked that so much when we renovated our master bath we put in a shower w/ a seat!
We didn't care for the food there the second time we stayed. The first time it was much better.
More, por favor!!
Ha! We made you feel so guilty, you HAD to write a trip report!
I'm so glad you did. I look forward to reading it, and also, friends of ours are staying there for their honeymoon in October and I'm forwarding this to them!
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Funny you should say that, we commented that when we get our own place we are going to get a shower just like it
The food was a huge let down but the rest of the hotel was great