ABR Feb 20 - March 5

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rupietoot
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2014/03/13 09:39:41 (permalink)
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ABR Feb 20 - March 5

This was our second trip to ABR. We were there in February of 2012 and had booked for 2013 but got bumped to Grand Sirenas... We were really looking forward to going back and for two weeks this time rather than one and had emailed and requested room 402 and kept our fingers crossed.

We flew from Moncton, NB on February 20. Our flight was scheduled to leave NB at 6am and we boarded on time although had to walk to the plane which was about 500 yards (or more) away through about 3 inches of snow. Once on the plane the pilot announced that we would have to wait till the runway was plowed and the plane deiced - the joys of winter travel! After sitting in the plane for two hours (1.5 of which I slept through [:)] ) we finally took off; on our way at last. Had a great flight down, customs was a breeze and we greenlighted it and were on our way. As we had booked a package deal we had transport included. Did not take too long as there were only two stops before ABR and we were the only ones going to ABR which was fine with us. Got to the resort about 2:45 and were checked in quickly and welcomed with a cool drink. Our room was not ready and they would not tell us which room it was going to be - we were in suspense wondering if it would be 402...

So, to the bar for the first drink!
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Three o'clock finally arrives and we find out that yes, we have room 402 - I turned to my husband and said "Happy Birthday" as it was his birthday and his wish was for 402! On to the room and getting our bags settled when there was a knock on the door and lo and behold a bottle of champagne was delivered - still not sure if it was because we were returning guests or that the front desk overheard that it was Buck's birthday - no matter, it made us feel special although not much place to put it in 402 [;)]
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The room was "OK" - it was clean but the bathroom was very much in need of an update. There are no shelves in the closet and no soapdish in the shower - very tiny things I know. We got settled in, had a glass of champagne on the balcony enjoying the fantastic view (which made the soapdish and shelve issue totally irrelevant), and then off to the bar for a pre-dinner drink and then to the buffet for supper. The next morning I requested a luggage rack (to put the suitcase on as we were going to have to use it for clothes), more hangers, and a mattress pad. Everything was there when we got to the room later that evening.

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I must say that we enjoyed all the meals in the buffet although the continuous Enya loop at breakfast was a little much.... Lots of selection, everything was well cooked, great flavored oils for the salads and different vinegars and they had a little bit of mexican at every meal which was enjoyable. Service was very good and line-ups almost non existant. Wine was OK, beer was cold and coffee was hot - suited us fine.

We had a very early night as we had been up since 2am although we did gain 2 hours... Slept well until about 2 am when we heard little scratchy noised in the ceiling. took awhile to figure it out but I remember Twirly (i think) posting about racoons in the ceiling and it clicked. They were not too bad most nights but there was at least one night that they had a prize fight up there - we were getting ready for supper and there was the most ungodly growling and screeching. The people in the room next to us told the manager that we (room 402) must have a rottweiler in our room. Sort of added to the charm...[;)]

Here is a pic of the room - I didn't take any of the bathroom. I am very glad we had this room. Loved the location and it will no longer be there next year ...

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On Friday we went to Lol Ha for drinks and lunch. Buck had the chili and I had quesadillas - no pictures - and each one margarita and each one beer; bill was about $35 canadian. We went snorkeling later in the afternoon (it was windy) but of course did not bring the camera. It was windy and we went straight out from our room and saw a French Angelfish, a small turtle and as I was looking at two trunkfish, Buck motioned to me and I looked around and there was a small school of trunkfish - about 10 of them I think - something I had never seen before! It was Mexican night in the buffet and they had wonderful soup and burritos made to order. Very good!

Up early Saturday and ate every meal in the buffet - very good! We snorkelled and saw the following (pictures taken with a Fuji XP 50 - some of them have a very greenish cast ...)

File Fish
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Ray
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Red Hind Maybe??? Correct me please
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Turtle
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I am thinking that may have been the one night we stayed at the bar to listen to the band. Played some pretty good oldies so it was nice to dance even with my bum knee. We never did make it any other evening; were always in the room by 8:30 or 9 and up by 5:30 or 6... Vacation :)

So, Sunday morning we decided to worship at Turtle Bay Cafe (no disrespect intended). We had an excellent breakfast and although I took pictures, I can't remember the cost.... probably around $300 pesos or so.

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Buck's Eggs Bennies
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My Turtle Bay Scramble (I think that is what it was called) Both were excellent!
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Sunday was the day we did the towel thing for the first time... I really couldn't believe how bad the "towel game" was. We had two chairs in front of our room beside a little palm; not even a palapa but by 6:30am towels were on probably 80% of the chairs on the beach. People must have been getting up at 5 or so. We played only because we spent all of our time on the beach and did want to be close to our room; that was one of the reasons we wanted 402 as it was steps from the beach. Everyone else obviously wanted to be close to our room too [:D] We snorkelled also but it was very windy and the water was quite cloudy.

Monday was another great day with a snorkel in the morning and we saw a beautiful gray angelfish, and a glimpse of a Queen angelfish under the coral and also a couple of turtles (I love turtles).

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We went to Lol Ha again for lunch and some people watching and then on to Turtle bay Cafe for dessert. Cheescake for Buck and ice cream (Salted Caramel) for me. This was the night that we had the racoon fight in the ceiling :) Great onion soup in the buffet tonight. An early night for us - I think the sun is catching up with us (along with more food and booze than we are used to [:D]).

Tuesday turned out to be a gorgeous day. Not too much wind. We snorkeled and saw the turtle with the stub fin in the coral - he/she was just resting on the bottom, taking it easy. Of course my camera had crapped out on me earlier in the snorkel so no pictures. I was not a happy camper [:@]

We took a walk and they were getting ready for a wedding in the area in front of building 7.

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I was having problems with my mask leaking so we walked down to the dive shop to look at masks but not a great selection although Buck found himself a dry snorkel; we had no clue there were two dive shops although we must have seen the other one the first year we were there as we did go to the CEA to check out all the info there. The gentleman there did advise us that the "other" dive shop would have more selection. We opted not to go today. We snorkeled again in the afternoon and saw a large barracuda and a very large porcupine fish. Were not sure what is was but we had met Kingfisher and he clued us in later. We walked to Pancho Villas for supper. We had the steak arranchero (spelling ??) and it was very good. The service was excellent and margaritas and wine were good. Thinking it was around $750 pesos....

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While we were there we saw what we thought was a small bat but turned out to be a VERY large moth. We saw the same thing later in the lobby of ABR one evening. I have a picture on my IPad but can't figure out how to upload to here...

Woke up Wednesday with achy bones - too much walking and snorkeling. Took it easy and read on the beach. Walked to Lol Ha for drinks around 4 and also checked on golf cart rentals but they were booked up. Supper at buffet was chicken shish kebab and beef stir fry - both very good!

Thursday morning marks the end of our first week :( We snorkeled and saw a pair of Queen Angel fish, some nice parrotfish and a lovely turtle. We decided to go to Akumal Pueblo and try and find Tequilaville. Was a HOT walk. I wasn't too keen on the pedestrian overpass - I hate high places so head down and one foot in front of the other! We got to the pueblo and went into a convenience store to get a bottle of water. I asked the fellow where Margaritaville was - he looked at me quite strangely (Touristas!) and I asked again, "Margaritaville, the restaurant??" Oh, he said, you mean Tequillaville - LOL It was just a few doors up. We had a wonderful experience there. I LOVED the burger and Buck was sorry he did not get one once he had a slice of mine!

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Very good food and very reasonable prices 3 beer, two margs, burger and wings for $330 pesos. Cash only though - no plastic. Met Ken and he was the perfect host. Service also excellent! Was well worth the hot walk although we cabbed it back to the resort :) Started to rain around 5:30 and came down steady most of the evening. We had supper at the buffet then another early night.

Saturday morning woke up to clouds and sprinkles but nice and warm. Bay was super calm. I decided it was time to get a new mask as mine was really leaking. Went to Akumal Dive Shop and got wonderful service. Turns out my mask was much too small. Found a good fitting one for a very reasonable price; I think about $30 Canadian. The clerk advised me that the mask would be foggy but that I could do the lighter thing to get rid of the film. She said she would do it but didn't have a lighter. When we got back to the room I got brave and did it and lo and behold - it worked! No fog and no leaks! We had a good snorkel in the afternoon seeing a Queen and a French angel fish and turtles, rays and a barracuda very close to shore.

Saturday was our day to go to La Lunita for supper. We had stopped there for a drink on our way back from Yal Ku in 2013 and Buck saw the "Tomahawk Pork Chops" on the menu and said we will have to come back here. We had an excellent supper! Service was great and the food was fantastic - very tasty!

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A little more expensive but we did have two margaritas, 5 ([8|]) glasses of wine (should have gotten a bottle - duh), and Churros (to die for ) for dessert. Cost about $1150 pesos I think before tip. Would do it again in a flash!

Woke up to another windy day on Sunday and read on the beach for the morning. Went to Lol Ha for lunch and had burgers - buck was thinking of my burger at Tequilaville. It was good but not as good as Tequilaville's. Back to the beach for a snooze and then a snorkel around 4 when the wind calmed a bit. I had purchased a disposable camera and was quite surprised at the pictures. These were taken with a Kodak disposable:

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So happy I splurged and bought it!

Monday was a windy morning so we decide we would go to Playa del Carmen and try to find the Xhaman Ha Aviary. We walked to the road and boarded the collectivo. Having never been to Playa del Carmen we were quite surprised to find in only about a 25 minute drive. Collectivo was very comfortable. Once we disembarked in Playa, we walked (and walked, and walked) trying to find the aviary. We finally found out it was in Playacar which was about a 5 block walk. Finally found it. Enjoyed it but have mixed feelings.... reminded me a little of a dolphinarium. The birds that are free most likely have their wings clipped and there is a very large space with birds in it but it does have a net over the trees. It is very clean and all looks well kept. The food in the food trays was very fresh looking and the trays looked clean but.... It was expensive - $300 pesos per person. Still not sure what my thoughts are. Here are a few photos...

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Nice tree in Playacar
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The beach
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So much for Playa del Carmen - we are not shoppers :) So, back to the collectivos, and back to Akumal. We got off outside of the pueblo and decided to go back to Tequilaville for a burger. Walked up the road and it is closed - Ken came to the door and advised us that he was closed on Mondays - oh well, it will have to be Turtle Bay [:D]. Back over the pedestrian overpass, again, eyes down and one foot in front of the other. Buck had a burger at Turtle bay and I had a curried chicken salad sandwich. Both were excellent!

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We had a nice stroll back to the beach; found some chairs and plunked down for a read. Went out for a snorkel around 3 or so and saw the usual suspects. When we were coming in we saw three of the huge rainbow parrotfish very close to shore. I had no pictures left in my disposable but had seen the one a day before.

Here is a pic of a turtle from the disposable. I must say this is the best pic I have ever gotten of a turtle. My Fuji always had a green cast to it.

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On Tuesday I bought another disposable and am very glad i did as I finally saw an eagle ray. The picture is not great as it was very windy and wavy so a lot of sand stirred up.

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We walked to La Buena Vida for lunch. Was good but no pelicans! I was disappointed as last time we were there the pelicans were fishing in full force and it was wonderful to watch. Had a decent lunch (shared) and drinks were good after the hot walk. Grabbed a cab back to playa for $50 pesos.

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Oh, forgot to say that this time I had a massage - 30 minutes for $450 pesos. I chose a deep tissue and I must say it was an excellent massage! Loved it and am sorry I didn't go back for the reflexology as that intrigued me.

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Needless to say we had an excellent vacation. Hopefully we will be able to visit again but with the intention of the management to renovate to a 5 * Status it will most likely be out of our price range as are most other places in the Mayan. We will have to look into other options. Maybe fly out on points and book a condo... We will see.

Any questions just ask! I must say, I wish we were a bit more social as there were many Locos there at the same time we were but we only got to meet Kingfisher and his wife (Wayne and Karen) and a few other people but I don't think they were Locos... and of course I forgot my cooler :)

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Susan & Buck
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#1
Kingfisher
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 09:50:24 (permalink)
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Great report Susan, thanks for sharing.
#2
rupietoot
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 09:52:08 (permalink)
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And thanks for the tip about the Turtle Bay burgers - Buck loved the bacon & blue cheese :)

We are having a snow day today; blizzard conditions so it was a perfect day to relive ABR.

Susan
#3
SnorkelNfools
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 10:19:46 (permalink)
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Loved your report and pictures! Sorry about the camera. Have stayed in 402 and been entertained by the raccoons and coatis that live in the ceiling and on the roof. Don't find those extras at home!

Hope the renovations don't put ABR out of reach financially - we would like to return too!

Keav & Pam



#4
water baby
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 10:28:23 (permalink)
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Thanks for the T.R.! I think the picture of the spotted fish is a Graysby, just by what our book says. The Red Hind's dorsal fin is more spikey and it's eye is much bigger.
Also, a little editing with photobucket's help can take that green hue out of your pics! You saw some GREAT things!!!
#5
rupietoot
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 10:40:43 (permalink)
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Thanks ! As for the photo editing; I have tried with Picassa and photobucket - I may need a tutorial [:@]

Susan
#6
water baby
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 11:06:19 (permalink)
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With photobucket you can go to "enhancements" and use the color correction tab. Maybe use it a couple of times until you get the effect you want. I use Picasa (free) and use their auto enhancements. Works really well.
#7
rupietoot
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 11:15:47 (permalink)
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I use picassa too and will try the color enhancements... I am a little dense when it comes to these things.

Thanks for the tips!

Susan
#8
crunch
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 13:00:19 (permalink)
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Awesome report! hhink about Vista Del Mar hotel & condos in HMB. Very reasonable
#9
rupietoot
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 13:27:17 (permalink)
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Thanks Crunch - it is not the accommodations so much as the flights - it can cost us as much as $1000. each to get to Cancun (return) from Canada. Add accommodations and food and drink and it can get up there. I don't know what anyone else pays but our TOP budget for two weeks is $4,500.00 - that includes our excursions to restos off resort. I will have to do some calculating - we may be able to do it ...

Susan [:)]
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Jamie
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 14:58:48 (permalink)
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Beautiful pics, love the shot of the Eggs Benedict, will have to try that. Both burgers look good as well.

What is ABR going to do with Building 4 - only stayed once, in 403, would go back again if the single supplement is not so darn high. They are not a 5*, think they are deluding themselves, the beach is 5* but the buildings are older.
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beachmama
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/13 21:33:26 (permalink)
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Great report! And I totally hear you about the airfare. We would love try going non-all-inclusive sometime, but with the price of airfare separate from a package deal it just doesn't add up. Anyway, glad you had such a great trip. Loved the pics.
#12
crunch
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/14 07:00:35 (permalink)
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Ykes Susan. That is a lot of money. There are some AI's on Cozumel that might have package prices. Some might be cheaper.....
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Ken and Carol
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/14 09:40:01 (permalink)
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La Lunita is my favorite place , but is a little pricey. If we get to Akumal late in the day, I love to eat my first meal there outside looking over the beautiful Caribbean Sea

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

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#14
rupietoot
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/15 06:55:45 (permalink)
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Actually Cozumel is on our radar! We are also checking out travel reward cards that might reduce the flight costs... The other option is to drive to the US (Maine) and fly from there.... We can always go back to Cuba bit there are only one or two resorts that we can get to from here that have decent snorkelling off the beach. We live in a more rural part of the Maritimes so our flight options are somewhat limited.

Susan
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Xelly
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/15 12:39:01 (permalink)
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Great trip report. 1question... does Loco Gringo travel have package deals outside of the resorts? Having stayed at ABR and hotel and Bungalow, The less pricy accommodations were much better with respect to more privacy and you seem to venture off the resort, so the resort food options don't seem that important to you.... with travel to Mexico, there are so many options, even sharing accommodations we've found to be a good option. AGAIN, GREAT REPORT. THANKS FOR SHARING.

 
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#16
barata
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RE: ABR Feb 20 - March 5 2014/03/15 22:58:48 (permalink)
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Lovely report. We LOVE room 402 almost as much as we love 401. We felt we were close enough to the beach we didn't have to play the towel game, just hung out on the balcony.
It's my fault about the 5 star. I told Sr Ortiz if he buffed up those rooms he'd be able to ask a small fortune for them. Where else can you have a room so close to the sand?
Nice pics. Thanks for sharing!
#17
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