Thursday, November 15, 2012

RIU Palace Las Americas

Elizabeth: So that's it, then? That's the secret, grand adventure of the infamous Jack Sparrow. You spent three days lying on a beach drinking rum.
Jack Sparrow: Welcome to the Caribbean.
(Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

Those are my favorite movie lines ever and pretty much summed up our plans for the weekend at RIU Palace Las Americas. No tours, no schedules, just relaxing, exploring a new hotel and enjoying the sun and beautiful water.

This was our second trip to Cancun and our first at RIU Palace Las Americas. The hotel was gorgeous. It was located along the bend at the top of the Hotel Zone’s 7, and although it was built in 2003, it felt more like a historic old hotel. The exterior was gleaming white with wide porches and balustrades. The huge lobby had faux marble pillars, a stained-glass ceiling and a bar with dark wood walls. The lobby opened out to an infinity pool circled by Greek-style statues and arbor-shaded sunbeds. I kept thinking that Mama would really love the hotel because of all the quiet, shady spots and couches for reading or sipping a cup of coffee. There was also an activities pool, where all the games took place during the day.

RIU Palace Las Americas

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sarasota Chalk Festival

You don’t always have to go far away to have a “getaway”. Now that the weather has finally cooled off here in Florida, there is some kind of local event almost every weekend. Yesterday Ron and I drove to Sarasota for the Sarasota Chalk Festival, an outdoor festival celebrating street painting. For 10 days, several blocks of Pineapple Avenue are closed to traffic while artists from around the world cover the street with colorful masterpieces. We discovered the chalk festival last year and I was amazed by the bright designs and the talent of the artists.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How To Read Trip Advisor Traveler Reviews (Without Freaking Out)

One of the best parts of vacation is the planning. I love deciding where to go next and then reading everything I can about the place. But when Ron and I first discovered websites like Trip Advisor, we would worry about every negative review. Then we decided to read the reviews on places we had loved, and guess what. Even our favorites had some bad reviews.  No resort can be everything to everyone. Here are a few tips on using reviews to find a resort that’s right for you.

1. Look for trends:
Don’t get hung up on a single review. If one person says a hotel is noisy, maybe that person was just there on a bad week. But if 100 people say it’s noisy, then you’d better bring ear plugs. Look for common themes that show up over and over and you’ll get a pretty good idea about a hotel’s strengths and weaknesses.