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Old 10-20-2011   #1 (permalink)
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The Reef - 2011

Ok, so this may seem odd that I just finished my previous trip report after getting back from our second trip. This second trip fought us tooth and nail but in the end...we won.



DAY 1 - The Fight
I had looked into booking a return trip around the same timeframe as our previous trip but the prices were too much (1600ish) and we decided to wait until '12. Being a researcher by nature, I kept hammering the internets for deals, flights, hotels etc. and in the end, I was able to find a vacation from 10/10-10/14 at the Reef Playacar resort for 1100 total (including transport).

So, with the deal locked in we had to get my wife's passport updated as she still had her old one with her maiden name. We fire off the expedited passport request and go about our lives. About five days before we were set to fly out we get a regular mail letter saying the picture we sent could not be used as it was used for her previous passport. So now we are panicked...so we scramble and get a new picture made and overnighted to Maryland. Katie started calling everyday to make sure they were working on it. Each time the person had a different story or did not want to help etc etc. and by the Friday before our Monday flight Katie finally reached someone that cares about our vacation. She tracked down the passport and verified that it would get completed and shipped VIA FedEx (next day for a Saturday delivery) She was our hero number one of the trip.

With the passport in hand we could try to start getting excited again as the whole fiasco stole our thunder as we narrowly missed our vacation. Now the flight out was from Chicago (ORD) at 6:25AM on Monday and we live three hours away. I arranged for a park and fly which meant a little more time in our pre-flight agenda. With the trip already fighting us we decided (ok so katie decided and made me go along) to leave earlier than necessary to fight the fight if we needed to.....and we did.

Sunday before our flight we had errand and jobs that needed doing so we just went about raking and bagging leaves, dropping of our son at my mothers, the dog at my brothers and figured we would just nap in the evening. There was no napping....we were busy until late and ended up just staying up.

On the road at 12:30AM




We got to the park and fly without issue, got shuttled over to the Continental terminal and that damned vacation tried to put us out with a knockout punch. I used Expedia for our first trip and again for our second and this turned out to almost be very painful. While signing up for the second trip the Expedia site kindly asked if Katie will be going again as my second traveler and I chose yes. This automatically filled out all of the fields for her itinerary as Katie Swanson...not Katie Tinney.

We got to the counter and the agent could not find Katie's reservation due to the naming error. She told us we would have to buy another ticket. She worked to try to fix it from her end and asked that I call Expedia to see if they can help. I called Expedia and worked with a very helpful agent and after several minutes she put me on hold so she could call Continental to try to fix it. After about 15 minutes she came back and said Continental refuses to allow anyone to alter travel arrangements this close to the flight and that we would have to buy another ticket or cancel the entire thing. Katie and I go back and to the counter agent and she was determined to save our vacation as Katie had already started to tear up. In the end, she asked her supervisor if she could go into their system and just change the last name to Tinney. The supervisor said she would have to call the Continental “helpdesk” in order to do that. Our agent called and asked if it could be done and the helpdesk agent gave her the code required to change the name and save the dayWe both know how easy it would have been to just say sorry...nothing can be done but she stuck with it and actually stuck her neck out a little to help us. . She was our hero number 2 and we sent her flowers.

After massive waves of relief we made our way through security with both of us half expecting some one to track us down and pull our tickets. That never happened and we made it to the gate without incident and on through to Cancun.

At 4:00AM the terminal was kind empty


Imagracion was a breeze with a 2min wait


After hitting the ATM we actually felt like we were safe


Cuatro cervezas por favor... The hour trip to the resort doesn't need to be uncivilized. They threw these in a bag with ice for the trip.


We really like Best Day...very polite and organized.


Good weather


The ride


Stopped again for another six pack at the Pemex - 7/11. These ice cold Sol's where fantastic.


Welcome back to the Reef....chocolate strawberry's, picture taken with frame, sparkling wine and t-shirts.


No more pictures of day 1. The remainder was spent at the swimup where we found Roberto had moved on and the new tenders were Felix and Santos. It felt like we never left and we enjoyed every second of it. This year we did not get blotto the first night...we meet a couple from Utah and had dinner then some more drinks and a quiet night. So damned happy to be back.
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The Reef Playacar-2011
The Reef Playacar-2010

Last edited by shivors; 10-25-2011 at 01:47 PM..
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Old 10-20-2011   #2 (permalink)
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Wow! That was fantastic that Continental was able to do the name change for you! You really lucked out.
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Old 10-20-2011   #3 (permalink)
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Wow! That was fantastic that Continental was able to do the name change for you! You really lucked out.
Yes ma'am. I was prepared to cancel it all, eat the 300 fees and go home to find a kitten to punch. She was not supposed to make the change but did it for us.
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Old 10-20-2011   #4 (permalink)
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I recognize that dashboard. You drive a Jetta?
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Old 10-25-2011   #5 (permalink)
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I recognize that dashboard. You drive a Jetta?

Correct! My wifes car.
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Old 10-25-2011   #6 (permalink)
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Excellent to find you doing another report! Carry on!
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Old 10-25-2011   #7 (permalink)
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DAY 2

There is a part of the Reef that many people are not equipped for and dislike. They are owned by a local company that is doing condominium development and they offer a vacation club. When you check in they request to schedule a time for their salesperson to walk your around to the club areas and try to pitch you on the idea. What they don’t tell you is this is not mandatory and you can opt out.

My wife and I do not opt out because if you take the tour you can get free stuff. I like free stuff. So this year for approx 90 minutes of our time we got a 100.00 certificate to the resorts spa and two T-shirts. Last year we had a couple’s message that was great but this year I had my wife take it all and get a 90-minute full body message.

So we met our sales guy that walked us around the property and took us ot breakfast were proceeded to talk for about an hour (our choice) about his native Canada and the current socio-political landscape of the US. The next series of pics kind-of lays out the day.

Waking up to this is ok by me.



Breakfast was good...omelet bar is very nice



Around the property...new construction on a new VIP lounge



Katie loves these


Between buildings


Looking into Playacar


Employee of the developer


So once we wrapped that up we ran down the Best Day travel agent that works at the resort. We scheduled our return shuttle for Friday and bought an excursion to Xel-He and Tulum. He was able to meet the best price I found. Once we were done with that we relaxed and went to lunch around noon.

Seafood soup (ungood...extremely fishy tasting) but the vegetable lasagna was awesome.


Hydration

Just realized that is Mark711 by the window...was nice to meet him.



After lunch we headed into PDC....hydration for the taxi ride


We challenged the bar tender to make us some cold fruity special drinks for the road. He obliged and damn they are good. We got them every time we went through the lobby.


TB





Katie and I got those cheesy henna tattoos as we thought that we would send pictures back home and playa joke saying we got inked. Joke was on us as we never sent the damned pictures.



So we walk up and down 5th, I got my Mexican Foakley sunglasses that I like and katie got her wide brim hat to protect her paleness from the sun. Once we got tired we headed back to the resort to cleanup and relax a bit before going back to 5th for dinner, drinks and dancing.

Our "for the road" drinks... Absolut shot and fruity special for me and Don Julio and fruity special for her.


Dinner




Salsa's and guacamole...Katie really liked it all.


Katie LOVED the guac.


The two of us



Bad Boys was closed around 9


So we walked up to Fusion

Cucumber something or another


Dirty Monkey


Our bartender looked a little like Dave Grohl


So Rihannas song Cheers was on our vacation playlist sooo...2 shots of Jameson to let them sink in




Once we finished our drinks we headed up the road a bit and found Dirty Martini. Unfortunately, this night was super hot and DM is not a large place so we were not digging it. I did pet the stools though.




After D Martinis we decided to check out the dance clubs and found the Blue Parrot and Coco Maya dead empty. We didnt know they start to pickup around 11:30 and not 10.




With some time I wanted to walk around and learn the area so we went and found Bar Ranita, Beer Bucket and looked for Mannes. Had a hard time finding Manne's Biergarten as I completely forgot that they close on Tuesdays....Katie did not find the humor in this. (but atleast we found it... )




We had to reenact the scene...most will get this.


Back to TB for a few more drinks to kill time


Around 11:30 we decided on Coco Maya




We danced until late and made it back to the resort in one piece. Tomorrow we hit Xel-Ha and Tulum as well as losing something extremely important.

Last edited by shivors; 10-25-2011 at 03:20 PM..
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Old 10-28-2011   #8 (permalink)
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No passport 5 days out??? Checking in for your flight under a different name???? Good thing you headed to Tulum to pay homage to the Mayan Gods.

We enjoyed our stay at The Reef. I think it get's a bad rap. No, it's not as over the top as a lot of the other AI's but you can usually get in there for under $100/nt. It's on a great stretch of beach and it's walking distance to Playa. Head into town to hit the restaurants and bars of PDC or grab a drink at the pool bar at The Reef and plop down in your lounge chair. Whatever you're in the mood for that day. Really liked the tropical landscape in there as well and Playacar is always a pleasant place to be.
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Old 10-28-2011   #9 (permalink)
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I like how you reenacted the webcam scene.
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Old 10-31-2011   #10 (permalink)
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We enjoyed our stay at The Reef. I think it get's a bad rap. No, it's not as over the top as a lot of the other AI's but you can usually get in there for under $100/nt. It's on a great stretch of beach and it's walking distance to Playa. Head into town to hit the restaurants and bars of PDC or grab a drink at the pool bar at The Reef and plop down in your lounge chair. Whatever you're in the mood for that day. Really liked the tropical landscape in there as well and Playacar is always a pleasant place to be.
Exactly.
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Old 10-31-2011   #11 (permalink)
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I like how you reenacted the webcam scene.
I told her that she had to stay there for a year without moving. She did not find the humor in that.
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Old 11-02-2011   #12 (permalink)
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I told her that she had to stay there for a year without moving. She did not find the humor in that.
more! more!
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Old 11-02-2011   #13 (permalink)
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makes me miss The Reef! And I agree... it gets a bad rap for sure.. Been to Gran Porto Real and to Sandos Beach Playacar, they are bigger and fancier no doubt. But definately way more expensive. We found the Reef to be very beautiful, relaxing and we got an opportunity to know the staff with it being smaller! The food was excellent in the buffet, i mean, it's buffet food! The restaraunts were fabulous and we had a lot of fun in them as well! The beds were a bit hard but i found out later that you could request other beds or pillowtops or something. heck i can't remember now lol. .but that would have made the resort perfect. Its within walking distance to 5th ave. and theres a beutiful little back road to fifth ave that we walked once or twice a day and just loved looking at the houses etc.. I know people will say they would never book the reef, and maybe it used to be bad i don't know, but i say give it a shot.. unless you are a food yuppie or something you will love it!! Love the pics! Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11-02-2011   #14 (permalink)
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DAY 3

Our third day was about Xel-Ha and Tulum combo excursion. We were very excited, had our biodegradable sunscreen and an early shuttle. One of the bad parts of being a Reef guest is the shuttles tend to pick you up last due to the resorts location in Playacar. Not a huge deal but make the return ride seem to drag.

Katie and I were up early to get some breakfast and make sure we have everything.

Funky shuttles from Xel-Ha. Kinda fun.


Jumping off briefing...our guys was barely bi-lingual and long winded...not the bets of combination. The park is good sized so we took a look and made some plans.




As we past the dolphin pools I saw this little guy just sitting and waiting...was a little depressing to be sure.


We ate the buffet breakfast and was not impressed. Some of the food was scary looking and the staff all wore surgical masks that had odd smiley mouths on them. It was freaky. Once we were done there, we put our stuff in our locker and checked out our gear.

The main building and were we did some snorkeling.




Before getting in we went about the processes of slathering on the biodegradable sunscreen from Mexitan. So katie starts first and doesn’t read the instruction where it says to shake vigorously. The result is quite funny....I will share this but know that I will catch hell when she reads this.

White gunky mess...I will refrain from the humor that I would typical go with here.



There is no coral to see as there are way too many swimmers but the fish were fun and very accustomed to people. We had bought a cheap waterproof camera for this trip and found later that it would not shoot anything in focus. Very irritating. This would be where I posted cool pictures from that camera.

Katie did not want to get her wedding set trashed so she put it in the locker in her shorts pocket.

I must say that Xel-Ha is very organized and efficient. From getting there, to the buffet, to the location of equipment it was all seamless and keep people doing more and worrying less. I very much recommend the park.

Once we got done snorkeling we wandered around and found the tram to the drop off for the lazy river. (a inner tube path) We get our tubes and both almost busted our butts getting in them but started drifting and relaxing. About 45 minutes later we reached a point where the channel opens up and realize that in order to get back to the turn in area and our stuff...we would have to paddle a little....then the wind picked up and we had to paddle A LOT. So, the lazy river ended up being a kickass workout that neither of us wanted. I digress.

Once we made is ashore we got our stuff and stopped for food. Again, it was not good and made us miss the Reef. We were recharged and decided to chill out and wait for the next shuttle that would take us to Tulum.

Some birds around the lounge chair area. One decided he didn't like me and started making a ruckus and puffing out his feathers.




As we started to make our way out of the park to the shuttle area we walked past the dolphin area as they were doing the swim.



The shuttle was uneventful and the next thing we know we are walking to the shuttle to take us to the ruins. We met a cool couple from Australia and chatted it up for a bit. I am not a social person by nature but tend to step out of the box a bit when I am on vacation. We walked through a small shopping area and saw the Los Voladores de Papantla getting ready to do their routine. It was cool to watch.





Once we got off of the shuttle at the ruins Katie realized her wedding set was not in her shorts pocket. It was touch as we looked through my bag that her shorts where sitting on in the locker and her pockets but no ring. With nothing we could to about that we tried to enjoy the ruins. My poor wife was very upset and there wasn't anything I could do to help.

Miniature model of Tulum




Luckily our tour guide was very good and really displayed a passion for the Mayan culture and the ruins of Tulum. This made us forget the rings...a little.


My large posterior can clearly stop an invasion in Tulum. NONE SHALL PASS...sorry.



The grounds




This little guy picked a great spot to sun bathe


The lady in the big hat






The falling god


Beach right behind the ruins...just beautiful.



So at my size I always get a kick of how small the Mayans were. I will take a picture of every short door or entrance I can find.


We search around the shuttle for her rings on the way back to the park with no luck. Once we get there, we hit up guest services and they jumped into action. They arranged for security to watch the locker and took all of our information. They really did everything they could.

We found that the locker had been reissued since we left earlier so I went and searched the area and waited for the new owner to return. Was a miserable experience just sitting in a humid locker room waiting and fretting.

The locker


The new owner returned and let us look in the locker....no ring set. They were gone and Katie was a very sad lady. Guest services followed up with us to make sure they had everything they needed and then we had to hurry to get to the shuttle. Not the way to end an excursion.

We got back to the resort and felt deflated and tired. So we hit up the snack bar and found that they had changed up their menu since our last visit and added some very good tacos. Beef, chicken, pork, and I have to say...these were amazing. The pizza was just north of sucking but the tacos were awesome.

Yum.


We ended the night quietly and drifted off to sleep. Day 4 was all about getting Katie and temporary replacement. She did not hate the idea of shopping.
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Old 11-02-2011   #15 (permalink)
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[quote=sharkbait;1832417]No passport 5 days out??? Checking in for your flight under a different name???? Good thing you headed to Tulum to pay homage to the Mayan Gods.

And let's not forget taking a picture in Immigrations! Living on the edge, huh?! LOL!
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