Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!! - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 28 Old Jan 8th, 2010, 9:33 pm Thread Starter
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Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

This is a public service announcement for those of you on the forum. Just returned from the Riviera Maya last Saturday after a very troublesome and frustrating week and thought that I would share some of our bad experiences with everyone. This is not a general statement about the entire area or any particular resort, but about our experiences with the Grand Oasis Riviera Maya.

My wife's parents decided to take all their kids and grandkids on a family vacation over Christmas Break a total of 18 people in all ranging from age 9 to 76. They did this once before and took everyone of a Disney Cruise where there was something for everyone of all ages to do. This time a family member did not want to take a cruise, so they asked a travel agent to recommend something just like a cruise without the ship. She recommended the Grand Oasis Riviera Maya 100 kilometers or so south of Cancun as a family friendly resort with activities for everyone of all ages. In May of 2009 she scheduled the trip through Apple Vacations at which time my mother-in-law and father-in-law paid for the trip and then we waited.

On December 28th we all eagerly arrived in Cancun, took the 2 hour bus ride to the resort arriving at 1:00 p.m. to check in. We checked in found out that we would not have rooms until the 3:00 p.m. check-in time. We ate and then sat in the lobby looking at the beach and waiting until 3 to get our rooms while our luggage sat in a pile on the front steps of the resort. At three we learned from our Apple Vacations resort representative that not only did they not have 7 oceanfront rooms as reserved, but that they had no rooms at all. And that was just the beginning.

Around 4:30 we finally ended up with rooms that were scattered all over the resort with 2 that were oceanfront. We were told that we would be in the same area with each other, but far from it. During the room problem they offered to move us to another resort, but did not say where or when and given the current state of affairs we were unsure what we would get and did not want to lose anymore vacation time. From there things did not get better. To make an already long story shorter here is a list of the problems we had.

- 2 rooms bug infested (mosquitoes and spiders).
- 1 room with water or sewer running down the shower wall from pipe in ceiling
- Same room with water leak had sewer smell from water or loose sewer cap in floor.
- Would not seat family in specialty restaurants as promised due to large number, required to eat in buffet restaurant only. (After much arguing and debate relented on 3 nights.)
- Topless beach was educational for 13 & 14 year old boys.
- Beach beds with couples having sex on beach at night educational for boys as well as the 9 & 10 year old girls.
- The two 14 year old boys were given black wristbands allowing them to get alcohol from bar (not a total problem since it allowed one to retrieve beer for his father).
- Beach was on coral reef which was interesting for snorkeling, but no warning as to the fire coral and sea urchins. Result two family members ended up with sea urchin spines in their feet after a sea kayak overturned on the reef. They say the spines are still painful, especially the one with around 20 in his foot.
- There was only one store at the resort where souvenirs and $35 sun screen could be purchased, but nothing useful such as toothpaste or shaving cream if you need it.
- The resort only provide 2 bottles of water per room per day, which can be problematic in Mexico.
- Finally, at the New Years Eve party a resort employee offered cocaine to our 18 year old son.

There were a few other things, but this should give you an idea. We witnessed other guests have the same problem as we had when they arrived and we were told by others that from what they had seen that appeared to be a common practice. Their limitation on the use of the specialty restaurants appeared to apply to everyone. They never seated more than 10 or 12 per seating so as to limit the number of nice meals they prepared in their all expense paid resort.

The Oasis has a large resort in Cancun and 2 or 3 others in the area. I the problems I am relating only occurred at the Riviera Maya resort. Our travel agent tells us that Apple Vacations is investigating our complaint. We, however, hold the local travel agent responsible, since they were to act on our behalf and in our best interests. They new nothing other than what they read in a brochure.

This is a public service announcement for those of you on the forum. I am not telling you not to go there, but I am saying buyer beware!!! If you are planning a trip to this area check carefully, get everything promised in writing, and be prepared to fight for what you were promised, if necessary.

One positive: It was 85 degrees every day and sunny. Fortunately, Grand Oasis Riviera Maya was not in control of the weather.
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post #2 of 28 Old Jan 9th, 2010, 7:55 am
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

I don't get it...

From your description your trip pretty much sounds like a nightmare - starting with the TWO HOUR bus ride which should have been fair warning. There is no question the hotel was a loser and better suited for rock bottom budget travelers since it is advertised by Apple as a "VALUE" (translation: dump) property. Something as important as Christmas family vacation is not the time to go cheap.

You obviously have the financial means and could have stayed right down the road at the Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita - which recently earned a spot on the esteemed 2009 Condé Nast Traveler's Gold List. So, for another couple of thousand dollars for the whole group - you could have stayed at a 5 star resort where no doubt you would have nothing but praise for the hotel and staff.

20 years ago I was a Regional Sales Manager for Adventure Tours USA - similar to Apple except we owned our hotels so had a vested interest in making sure there was good quality and value. I had 9 sales reps working for me and over 2000 travel agencies in my territory. Travel agents will sell anything to earn a commission - they are kind of like cock roaches scurrying around for crumbs. Tour wholesalers - that don't own their hotels like Apple - are cock roaches also, they just deal in bigger piles of rotten food. There is not a chance that the travel agent who booked your trip can be held responsible for what the hotel or Apple did not deliver.

Your beef is with Apple, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts (how's that for a food segway? ) the best you'll get out of the situation is a partial voucher good for another vacation with - you guessed it - Apple!

The travel business is full of Charlatans and liars - the lure of white sand beaches and gentle breezes is powerful. The choices are overwhelming. Value vacations - also known as all inclusives (Apple, Sandals, Couples, ANYTHING you see advertised on TV) pretty much ALWAYS suck. About the only exception to the rule is Club Med (they own their hotels also) which is run by the French, however their top end properties are not inexpensive either...

You may want to consider a subscription to Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure, The Robb Report and Zagat before planning next year's vacation to get the straight poop on travel. Even the New York Times travel section - which used to be an excellent and reliable source of information - has sold out to the tourism bureaus. Nothing but pablum.


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post #3 of 28 Old Jan 9th, 2010, 7:56 am
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

We took a cruise two years ago and one of the POC was close to where you were at (we were at Playa Del Carmen). Even though Playa Del Carmen is one of the top 10 beaches in the world, I would not want to spend any more time there than what we did when we visited via "the big ship" (per the locals!).

Mexico is Mexico, it'll never be clean and will never be up to US standards.

Sorry you all had a bum trip, but maybe your relative will stick with the cruise next time and you will be guaranteed a good time!

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post #4 of 28 Old Jan 9th, 2010, 8:05 am
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

The travel business is full of Charlatans and liars - the lure of white sand beaches and gentle breezes is powerful. The choices are overwhelming. Value vacations (Apple, Sandals, Couples, etc. ) pretty much ALWAYS suck. About the only exception to the rule is Club Med (they own their hotels also) which is run by the French, however their top end properties are not inexpensive either...


Ron, from what I have heard, Sandals isn't all that bad! But again, I have never used a travel business as I DO NOT trust them for reasons as stated in lawriders original post.

I figured that if you are going to travel abroad, ask someone who you know has been there before so you can get you "skinny" on the area and lodging and if you must go through a travel company, get a well-recognized agent.

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post #5 of 28 Old Jan 9th, 2010, 8:22 am
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pkpr1998
The travel business is full of Charlatans and liars - the lure of white sand beaches and gentle breezes is powerful. The choices are overwhelming. Value vacations (Apple, Sandals, Couples, etc. ) pretty much ALWAYS suck. About the only exception to the rule is Club Med (they own their hotels also) which is run by the French, however their top end properties are not inexpensive either...


Ron, from what I have heard, Sandals isn't all that bad! But again, I have never used a travel business as I DO NOT trust them for reasons as stated in lawriders original post.

I figured that if you are going to travel abroad, ask someone who you know has been there before so you can get you "skinny" on the area and lodging and if you must go through a travel company, get a well-recognized agent.
Yep, word of mouth is about the best you can do. TripAdvisor.com is also worth taking a look at.


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post #6 of 28 Old Jan 9th, 2010, 12:52 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

JM2CW on this as I have used Apple Vacation for the last 15 years. I started using them back when I was a young guy and couldn't really afford to take a "good" vacation. They were/are a good value for the money type of vacation. Now I still use them because I'm a cheap bastard who likes to roll around naked with my money at night

I've always had pretty good luck with Apple overall, although I've never been on a Caribbean or Mexican vacation with them where there wasn't small stuff that didn't work or get fixed. The little fridges in the rooms not working, TV not working, food being kinda sucky, only cheap liquor available, etc. but honestly, I've traveled enough to take that stuff in stride and besides the room is just for sleeping/showering anyway.

Typically I ALWAYS read Trip advisor before I book, as it's helpful to know little things like the topless beach (I thought that was WHY people went there! ) and stuff about the hotels, etc. What's weird is that I took a look at this hotel: Reviews and right there is a review which almost mirrors your feedback. Then, it's followed by the most glowing review EVER from the DAY before! That, is strange! I'm not sure what I would think about that hotel by what the site had on it, but I can say, after reading your review I will NEVER stay at the Grand Oasis.

And I will start watching for more reviews about Apple too. They've done well by me for years, but how many companies can keep a good thing going for 15 years or more? It could be that management at Apple has changed, or maybe the economy is making them pinch pennies?
At any rate, we just booked a trip to Cancun for Feb. with them as a long weekend getaway and now you've got me nervous! (NOT at the Grand Oasis though - something even cheaper! )

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post #7 of 28 Old Jan 9th, 2010, 3:22 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Nude Beach and booze. Sounds like a horrible vacation


I like to take my vacations to Mexico on the bike. If you don't like the beach, food, hotel etc there's always another option just up the road....

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post #8 of 28 Old Jan 11th, 2010, 1:40 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Hey everyone thanks for your responses to my post. I made the post and then had to head out to Cincinnati over the weekend. The weather sucked but the stay much better than the Grand Oasis resort. (By the way I highly recommend the Garfield Suites anytime you are in Cincinnati.)

Just to clear up a couple of things. My in-laws who are in their 70's booked the vacation. Cheap was not the motivating factor. They knew nothing and trusted the local travel agent to make recommendations. Also, they are not very computer savvy about looking up reviews. Although us "kids" are and we were kind of concerned going in, but it was booked and we did not make the arrangements. If they had known that there were going to be problems they would have spent more money. That was where they were depending on the local travel agent to give them advise and make recommendations. I am afraid that commissions ruled the day in making recommendations.

I also agree that we most likely will never get anything out of this mess, but I wanted to spread the word to save others from the problems that we had. However, if all you are concerned about is sun and sand there is not much of a problem. The topless beach can be rewarding. Although your wife may not think so, and then there is always that overweight 70 year old lady that walks down the beach topless while wearing a thong (I have pictures taken by my wife to prove it).

Ron: I appreciate your education on the subject. This was a learning experience for the future and thus the reason for the post. So that others can learn as well.
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post #9 of 28 Old Jan 11th, 2010, 4:06 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

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Although your wife may not think so, and then there is always that overweight 70 year old lady that walks down the beach topless while wearing a thong (I have pictures taken by my wife to prove it).

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post #10 of 28 Old Jan 11th, 2010, 4:50 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

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Originally Posted by lawrider
The topless beach can be rewarding. Although your wife may not think so, and then there is always that overweight 70 year old lady that walks down the beach topless while wearing a thong (I have pictures taken by my wife to prove it).
Hmmm... Just wondering why your "wife" is taking these pictures.
Sounds like [a "friend" got busted for solliciting] to me...!

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post #11 of 28 Old Jan 11th, 2010, 8:18 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Quote:
Hmmm... Just wondering why your "wife" is taking these pictures.
Uh...believe it or not my wife volunteered. She thought I would get in trouble if I took the picture, but she would not. I wanted the picture, so I was NOT going to argue with her logic. I just wish I could post it. Really I wish I could post them: One coming and one going. Actually, it just goes to show that there can be a silver lining in almost any misadventure. Although I think it may have caused some longterm psychological problems for my young nephews.
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post #12 of 28 Old Jan 11th, 2010, 8:29 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

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Although I think it may have caused some longterm psychological problems for my young nephews.


Not only is this thread educational - it's quite entertaining!

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post #13 of 28 Old Jan 12th, 2010, 5:52 am
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Somebody Remove The Above Thread!

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post #14 of 28 Old Jan 12th, 2010, 9:49 am
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Why? They promise FREE stuff!

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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Yes, wait, I haven´t finished downloading the links.
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

If you are FOOLISH enough to click on any of the links posted ... you will get what you deserve

Posts like that are a spam and pirate ware smorgasbord .... what a load of crap, delete it before we all get infected !!

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post #17 of 28 Old Jan 12th, 2010, 3:31 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Quote:
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Somebody Remove The Above Thread!
I removed it. Ya'll need to report this damn things. Click on the triangle warning sign next to the post # and we'll take care of them...

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post #18 of 28 Old Jan 12th, 2010, 6:57 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

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I removed it. Ya'll need to report this damn things. Click on the triangle warning sign next to the post # and we'll take care of them...

I never paid attention to the little triangle

Now I know what to do!

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post #19 of 28 Old Jan 12th, 2010, 7:01 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

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I never paid attention to the little triangle

Now I know what to do!
The SPAMMER/GUESTS usually start new threads and you can report those too. I hope there's a special place in hell for them people LOL

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Talking Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

There is a little triangle in Brett's post. Should I report it???

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post #21 of 28 Old Jan 12th, 2010, 8:55 pm
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The SPAMMER/GUESTS usually start new threads and you can report those too. I hope there's a special place in hell for them people LOL
There is such a place... It is called corporate America!

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post #22 of 28 Old Feb 17th, 2010, 12:51 pm
 
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Hello,

I normally just lurk but I figured I'd take the plunge and make a post. I've been on quite a few cancun vacations. We normally book them through a company called bookit.com as they have videos tours of a lot of there accommodations on you tube. Also, I rely heavily on tripadvisor.com for any hotel I book. There will always be some people who aren't happy with something the hotel has to offer but it let's you know the important stuff ... like if the hotel has bedbugs...etc. I'm sorry to hear your trip was a bust! I can't imagine having to explain to the kids what was going on!! Perhaps for the next trip (if there is a next trip) tell your in laws to give you a list of places that the travel agent has recommended and do some research. A lot the travel agents who review these resorts go by themselves ( I had a close friend who was a travel agent.) Therefore wouldn't experience all of the stuff you had to go through ...in regards to the rooms anyways.

Cheers
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post #23 of 28 Old Feb 18th, 2010, 6:23 am
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

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There is a little triangle in Brett's post. Should I report it???

Go ahead, I triple dog dare 'ya!

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post #24 of 28 Old Feb 18th, 2010, 9:58 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

I saw some new posts and thought that I had better update everyone who is interested on the end result. Just this week we were offered the following:

Apple Vacations: $100 credit for a future trip for each adult and $50 for each child.
Riviera Grand Oasis: $2400 refund
Travel Agent: $600 refund

So they have offered a $3000 refund for the trip, which it looks like we will accept. Lesson learned. I just wanted to share this with others so they did not make the same mistake that we made. Also, if it cost Apple Vacations and Grand Oasis a little bit of money that's fine with me.

If you want to visit an beautiful unspoiled part of Mexico, I would recommend the State of Oaxaca. I have been to the capital city of Oaxaca and the surrounding mountain area. The people are friendly (they don't particularly like the government) and once you get there it is relatively cheap. Although I am not sure if the coast has topless beaches, but I hear it is nice. Oh, and I planned the trip myself without the aid of a travel agent.
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post #25 of 28 Old Feb 19th, 2010, 9:34 am
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lawrider
I saw some new posts and thought that I had better update everyone who is interested on the end result. Just this week we were offered the following:

Apple Vacations: $100 credit for a future trip for each adult and $50 for each child.
Riviera Grand Oasis: $2400 refund
Travel Agent: $600 refund

So they have offered a $3000 refund for the trip, which it looks like we will accept. Lesson learned. I just wanted to share this with others so they did not make the same mistake that we made. Also, if it cost Apple Vacations and Grand Oasis a little bit of money that's fine with me.

If you want to visit an beautiful unspoiled part of Mexico, I would recommend the State of Oaxaca. I have been to the capital city of Oaxaca and the surrounding mountain area. The people are friendly (they don't particularly like the government) and once you get there it is relatively cheap. Although I am not sure if the coast has topless beaches, but I hear it is nice. Oh, and I planned the trip myself without the aid of a travel agent.
Wow, excellent results! You are obviously very - ahem - persuasive. The travel agent gave up his commission and Apple had enough juice - (I just love puns) since they are an 800 lb. gorilla in the travel biz - to force the hotel to cough up. Exactly as it should be. Apple done you right and good on them for sticking up for a customer.

I think they owed you EVERY penny on the refunds considering the hell you went through. What a disappointing get away.

I've been all over Mexico - including a couple of stays at a private villa in Acapulco next to former President Fox's home - but it is still *Mexico*.

My favorite warm weather destination is - and always will be - Hawaii. It's the only place I've been back to three times. It might be a *bit* on the expensive side for restaurants, etc., but for me worth it. The Big Island has enough things to do and see to keep you busy and entertained for a couple of weeks - which is important for me since I can only sit on a beach for a few days max. At this point there are some tremendous airfare deals available - prices that have not been seen since the 1980's.

Renting a house on the beach http://www.vrbo.com might be an excellent way to go for your family versus using a travel agent for condos or hotel. Have a personal chef prepare meals in advance and stock the freezer and fridge BEFORE you get there. About the same cost as eating at out but no tax and tip, better and healthier than restaurant fare and much more convenient. http://www.uspca.com.

You can rent a Harley in Kona and the roads (slow, scenic and perfect for a cruiser) are incredible. I think you can now drive entirely around the island - last time I was there a landslide took out part of the loop.

Aloha!


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Last edited by RonKMiller; Feb 19th, 2010 at 9:59 am.
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post #26 of 28 Old Feb 19th, 2010, 2:49 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lawrider
I saw some new posts and thought that I had better update everyone who is interested on the end result. Just this week we were offered the following:

Apple Vacations: $100 credit for a future trip for each adult and $50 for each child.
Riviera Grand Oasis: $2400 refund
Travel Agent: $600 refund

So they have offered a $3000 refund for the trip, which it looks like we will accept. Lesson learned. I just wanted to share this with others so they did not make the same mistake that we made. Also, if it cost Apple Vacations and Grand Oasis a little bit of money that's fine with me.

If you want to visit an beautiful unspoiled part of Mexico, I would recommend the State of Oaxaca. I have been to the capital city of Oaxaca and the surrounding mountain area. The people are friendly (they don't particularly like the government) and once you get there it is relatively cheap. Although I am not sure if the coast has topless beaches, but I hear it is nice. Oh, and I planned the trip myself without the aid of a travel agent.
THANK YOU for following up and letting us know how you made out. I really enjoy traveling with Apple from my experience, and I was nervous after reading your problem. I'm really happy to see they stepped up and made things right with you - 3 grand isn't going to change your life, but it's not chump change either.

Good on ya Apple!

R1200GSA Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to Alaska I go!
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post #27 of 28 Old Feb 19th, 2010, 3:04 pm
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

As mentioned above, Mexico is Mexico. I have stayed in resorts on both shores of Mexico and the Baja and most recently have opted for English speaking places where you can eat the food and drink the water.

As Ron stated Hawaii is great. The Big Island is great because it is large enough to not get island fever when you realize that there is no road off. Maui has Haleakala for a change from the beach. I like the North Shore of Oahu. We usually stay at the Turtle Bay Hilton condos. Ron mentioned http://www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals...uku/turtle-bay the vrbo site for reservations. You are an hour away from the craziness of Waikiki. You get to the beach and can snorkle before the tourist arrive. Stop at Ted's for a pastry and head to Waimea it just down the road and then have dinner in Haleiwa.

If you want something closer to the states, try the Turtle Nest Inn http://www.turtlenestinn.com on Grand Cayman. They speak English, you can drink the water and they have some of the best snorkeling. The only problem is they drive on the wrong side of the road for us Americans. It's in Bodden Town, so it not near a resort area either. It is away from all the tourist. No restaurant.

Ride 'em if you got 'em.
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post #28 of 28 Old Feb 19th, 2010, 5:16 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Going to Cancun/Riviera Maya? Choose carefully!!

First day it has hit 50 degrees since December sometime, which is unusual for our part of the country. We've only barely seen 40 degree on a couple of occasions. Must be the global warming (not). Even so, I had not thought about Hawaii. Hmmm.....

Thanks for letting me rant and the very good travel advice.
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