Vacation south of the border


By Dennis Richardson, Magic Valley Publishing

It was one of the most easy-going vacations we have taken. We had visited port cities in Mexico on cruises but we had never actually spent the night in any of them.
Many people we know have jetted to Cancun. Not us. So we planned an all-inclusive resort trip to check it out. It really was all-inclusive.
Resort people met us at the busy Cancun airport after we cleared customs. Literally thousands must’ve landed at the same time as we did and we were all funneled into customs. People flew in from all over the world. The form we filled out on the plane moments before landing basically only asked for our names and passport numbers, not if we had brought anything with us.
We learned that getting into Mexico from the U.S. is easy. We were escorted to a courtesy van that made a bee-line to our resort. Personnel there took our temperatures and recorded them and scheduled our COVID-19 test for Friday. We were directed to the Mexican buffet while our room was being prepared. Our bags were brought to our room and it was home-free from there.
A negative COVID-19 test was required for all heading back into the U.S. and if the test had turned up positive they say they would’ve put us up for 14 more days to clear us for our flight. Our test was Friday. Negative.
Our resort was Beach Palace and our room opened onto a room-size balcony overlooking the pool and the aqua blue smooth as silk Caribbean Sea. In fact, our room was smack dab in the center of the resort. Four elevators were situated right across the hall.
While walking to the beach Sunday night we spotted a lit table romantically set up in a secluded spot on the beach. When I told them that we wanted to do that the next evening for Lisa’s birthday they said that we could, for a price. We agreed to the price but then were disappointed to learn that management said it would not be possible that night unless they quadrupled the price. It was a momentary let-down, the only one thus far on the trip. After all, we had worked out a “deal.” We thought on it and declined. I was wondering what else I could arrange special for the birthday girl. My fears were abated when right before dinner on the birthday night a pleasant voice from the restaurant called our room and said they had a surprise for us. There are at least four five-star restaurants at this resort and Lisa was about to choose a different one. I had to insist that we needed to go to this particular one.
Our walk to dinner passed a special lighted table set up all alone outside the restaurant area where we learned a special show was to be and that after dinner we could stay at that table and watch the show from there. It was the prime spot. They brought a juicy filet steak and some huge shrimp and a special cream-filled birthday cake. Not only Gabriel the waiter, but the head guy Oscar (they called him Capitan) and the chefs Leonardo and Ricardo came to our table and sang Happy Birthday while the tune played on the large outdoor speakers.
Above the pool area the large billboard lit up with “Happy Birthday Melissa”. Melisa is Lisa’s given name but we didn’t care that it was misspelled. It was the thought and generosity of these four who made the night so special.
Lisa was surprised a second time three nights later when sparkling champaign, balloons, and another birthday cake like the first were delivered right to our room. It was the night before we were to leave for home so we did not open the bottle.
I recommend this resort which is located only a block from the brand-new big Ferris wheel park that we went up in. The cars on the wheel are air-conditioned and completely private. It carried us way above the high-rise resort hotels overlooking the thin sliver of land referred as the “hotel district” and a huge lagoon on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other.
Resort transportation got us back to the airport Saturday morning in plenty of time for our two and a half-hour flight.
We like to fly Southwest and booked non-stop flights going and coming.
We want to go back in February and stay at this exact same resort (and get the same room if that works out).
One downside:
Airline regulations state we were well below the limit with only one bottle in our checked bags. We won’t take champaign on the plane again. Somewhere between the Cancun airport and customs in Nashville someone took it from our bag.
The entire U.S. customs experience was very upsetting. They seem to treat all passengers as criminals until they can prove differently. All bags were herded into a secluded room and gone through before we were allowed to come and get them. I spotted mine, the one where we packed the unopened bottle of bubbly, sitting there half unzipped with clothes hanging out.
What else can it amount to other than theft of property?
In my opinion the entire customs operations need a major investigation. If they took champaign, what else would they take? A little customer service accompanied by a smile here and there would have gone a long way. Instead, they acted like how I imagine the Gestapo under Hitler would have acted.
An explanation or interview as to where the gift went and why may have softened the blow. We received neither.
Dennis Richardson is the CEO of Magic Valley Publishing, Inc., which owns the Chester County Independent.

Dennis Richardson