Category Archives: Mexico

Seduced by Sun and Sand

I grew up a snow bunny in the mountains of New England (Vermont, specifically) but the older I get the more I discover if there is a loyalty fence when it comes to favorite places – I might be switching sides. 2011 brought with it trips to Barbados, the Bahamas, Mexico and Jamaica. Already this year, I’ve worshipped the sun on the beaches of Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.

What’s the draw?


Do I actually need to spell it out …
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Sunset Sunday at Hacienda Tres Rios

For my 30th birthday in February I was very kindly invited by my friends at Yucatan Holidays to spend a few days with my friend Andi at one of their resorts: Hacienda Tres Rios! It was my second trip to HTR and as expected, one of my favorite activities while there was watching the sun set. Even though the Riviera Maya area of Mexico (where HTR is located) does not face west, it certainly has its share of beautiful sunsets still. This is one of many that I witnessed during my five days there.

Andi and I had enjoyed a relaxing day in the sun with our own cabana and tequila delivery boy – and were preparing to go in to our room to get ready for a nice dinner in one of HTR’s many fine restaurants. Yet, we lingered on the beach. Neither of us wanted to leave. There is such beauty in the twilight of the day and so we decided to walk to the end of the pier for a better vantage point during the sunset where we’d relax just a little bit longer before ending our day on the water. Sitting on the rocks, the gentle sound of the waves, a breeze blowing to keep me from overheating, tickling my neck as tendrils of hair whipped my face … that is where I took this photograph. It wasn’t a Sunday, but it makes for a beautiful Sunset Sunday memory as I relive the moment now.

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Where to stay in the Riviera Maya

During two separate trips to Mexico, I have stayed at Hacienda Tres Rios outside Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in the Riviera Maya. On the occasion of my first visit in 2009, just after HTR had opened – I found the resort luxurious and restorative in the all the very best ways. That first visit was all too short and I believe I actually shed a tear when driving away! When I returned this February, Hacienda Tres Rios was a resort slightly changed not just in my memory but in reality as well.

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After my first trip I would have recommended HTR to couples seeking romance, luxury and an environmentally conscious attitude present in the operation of the resort. Following my second visit, I still believe HTR is at the forefront of environmental practices in Mexico and they have been awarded as such. Yet now the resort is a place that caters more towards families and event groups. In fact, during my visit they were hosting the New York Red Bull soccer team. Muy caliente let me tell you! Downside: when my friend Andi and I wanted to have a quiet night at the hot tubs with wine and a good sunset … we couldn’t hear one another over the roar of the children packing the pool area and all three hot tubs. No amount of wine dulls the irritation of a child splashing boiling hot water in your face if you’re in need of a relaxing evening. View full post »
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The Chef’s Table at Hacienda Tres Rios

We walked out of of our air conditioned room into the steamy heat of a Mexican night. Torch smoke swirled in the air, room lights sent glittering shards into the darkness and the musical quality of the three rivers meandering through palm trees was a soundtrack on our walk to the resort kitchen. Arriving at the main dining room, we were ushered through tables of guests enjoying the buffet past swinging metal doors to a table for two set within sight of all the action. The staff smiled in welcome and our stomachs grumbled, after an entire day soaking up sun and tequilaritos we were ready for a feast! A feast is what awaited us – in seven courses we were taken to Italy and back all from the heart of the Hacienda Tres Rios kitchen. All, by Head Chef Oscar.

Since our trip coincided with my birthday, the seventh course was a special cake prepared with my favorite … raspberries! It was heavenly and as I love dessert – probably my favorite course. Chef Oscar’s tres leches cake made me a believer in this milky delight so many rave about. Yet it was the soup which really turned on my foodie senses. Had it not been improper, I would have asked for seconds. I never imagined that humble corn could be elevated to such a culinary heaven!

Enjoy … The Chef’s Table!

First Course – Mozzarella & Parmesan Biscuit with Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad

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The Real Mexico

I often find myself pondering the “real” in life in this age of instant gratification and digital everything. As a photographer, I still find myself thinking that shooting on film is real while all these digital images we take are, well – less real. I learned to be a photographer by using 35mm film and developing it myself in a darkroom. When I encounter younger photographers who have never shot on a roll of film, I cry inwardly. I curse technology. Of course I try not to judge, as I happen to be in love with some of technology’s accomplishments like the “Hipstamatic” app on my iPhone.

A similar same mindset applies to my travels. I’m always searching for the path that is now [or has always been] least traveled, older, more authentic.

During my recent trip to Mexico, I was given with the opportunity to stay in the all-inclusive Hacienda Tres Rios. It was great – their property is really a sort of paradise. However, it’s gated and separate from the rest of the Riviera Maya and certainly from the towns inward from the ocean – on many levels it doesn’t strike me as being – The Real Mexico.

What’s “real”?

Perhaps it is racing through the jungle sitting on the back of what can only be described as the world’s-oldest-still-operational-dune-buggy.

Perhaps it’s a small pueblo where tourists don’t usually venture. Perhaps it is a group of women who manufacture their own soaps and bath products still mixing ingredients by hand. Perhaps it is a simple meal cooked by a woman who speaks no english on the side of a road under a thatch roof hut, not in a resort kitchen with all the modern conveniences of a 5-star restaurant in New York City.
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