The beach right outside our hotel room
Hi friends! So we’re back from our trip to Cancun and we had a wonderful time. The weather was sunny and warm the whole trip with barely a cloud in the sky. The water was turquoise and clear and the people were very friendly and accommodating. My grandparents got their first stamps in their passports and Eric and I did a ton of swimming and snorkeling and both managed to get pretty substantial sunburns-ouch! Overall it was a gorgeous trip that we’ll never forget.
Now on to the numbers. While this wasn’t exactly a “cheap” trip, my main objective was to make it memorable for my grandparents. That being said, I’m pretty pleased to have spent less than $900 per person for a 5 day, 4 night trip (I’d budgeted $1000 per person). My totals include all food (including a nice seafood dinner on the beach and several local “hole in the wall” places), all drinks (alcoholic and non), an all-day private sailboat rental and the crazy overpriced food we ate in airports etc. While I’d initially considered booking an all-inclusive resort, I’m so glad I didn’t. The all-inclusive prices were much more expensive and the food and drinks we got were much higher quality (and much more authentic-which is exactly what we wanted)
Cancun for 5 days and 4 nights for 4 people
Here’s the breakdown in numbers:
Total Spent: $3,569.99 or $892.50 per person.
**If we hadn’t splurged on the boat trip/tips for the boat captain etc. the cost would be $720 per person-which I think is pretty great.
We booked our flights through Expedia and bought a hotel and flight package. The airfare was $420 per ticket. Normally we fly out of one of the NYC area airports, which offer pretty plentiful and relatively inexpensive flights. This trip we flew from Bangor to Philly and Philly to Cancun (my grandparents can’t travel on their own so we had to drive up to Maine first to fly with them-this turned out to be a nightmare on the return trip because every flight on the East Coast was cancelled and we got stuck for 3 days on the return trip). Booking the package ($2,442.88) saved us about $500 in flight/hotel costs.
We stayed at the Westin Resort & Spa Cancun (SPG Cat 3) in the Royal Beach club (RBC). The resort itself is an older property in a traditional Mexican style, but the Royal Beach Club is newer and more updated. The rooms themselves are very large and have updated bathrooms with granite counter tops, soaking tubs and a huge balcony (the non-RBC rooms at the Westin do not have balconies and have pretty dicey reviews). We paid $95 per night to stay at the RBC which is an amazing deal for everything that’s included. The RBC is has it’s own lobby, restaurant and pool that are exclusively for the use of people staying at the RBC. Staying in the RBC also scores you free breakfast and happy hour (see food below). Bottom-line the Westin Resort & Spa isn’t a 5-star resort, but the rooms are clean and comfortable and had the standard Westin heavenly beds. Plus when I’m in Cancun I’m there to be on the beach, so the actual room matters very little to me.
Ground transportation in Cancun
Getting around Cancun is remarkably easy. There are public buses that go pretty much everywhere you’d want to go for $1.00 US. You simply tell the driver where you’re going and he yells to let you know when you’re there. I’m told the buses have air conditioning in the summer months, but 82-85 degrees wasn’t really “hot” enough for them to be using the a/c in the winter months. Taxis and car services are plentiful (they don’t have meters, so negotiate a price before you get in). We used Canada Transfers ($60.00 round-trip for a private van for 4 people) to get us from the airport to the hotel and vice versa. The drivers were very friendly and very prompt. The vans were newer and clean with good air conditioning. On the ride from the airport to the hotel they gave us cold towels (free) and sold beers for $1USD each.
Food at the hotel
Every morning from 6:30am-11am there was a huge (seriously huge) breakfast buffet at the RBC restaurant. The breakfast is included in the price of your RBC room (remember, we paid just $95 per night!). By comparison, the main hotel has a similar buffet that I’m told costs $30 per person per day and is not as nice as the RBC breakfast! $120 per breakfast, no thanks! The RBC breakfast included sausage, scrambled eggs, refried beans with a variety of salsas and breakfast potatoes every morning. In addition there were always a variety of breads, bagels and sweet pastries, hot and cold cereals, yogurt with toppings and fresh fruits. One day there was french toast, another day there were pancakes and so on. Orange juice was always plentiful as were smoothies, mimosas, bloody Marys screwdrivers, champagne and vodka (all included!). The RBC rooms also include a nightly happy hour from 6-8pm. Each night the happy hour waitstaff brought out each person a plate with 4 appetizers. After that there is a buffet with chips, salsa, guacamole (my fav, I swear I ate 5 pounds during our stay), fruit etc. There was also a hot appetizer each night: quesadillas, pizza etc. There was also a free full bar. We had margaritas, mudslides, pina coladas, mojitos etc.
Food in Cancun
The breakfast was so hearty and so delicious we ate around 10am and didn’t eat lunch any of the days we were there. We did eat a late seafood lunch/dinner the day we sailed to Isla mujeres and we ate an early dinner at Market 28 on day 2. The Market dinner was one of the only meals we purchased when we were in Cancun thanks to all the food that was included at our hotel. To save cash on drinks during the day we bought a 12 pack of Sol at an Oxxo (convenience store) outside of the resort and paid about $12USD. We then asked our breakfast waiter for a bucket of ice. Voila, dollar beers on the beach. Much cheaper than the $6-8 per beer that the resorts were charging.
Because we’ve never been on a trip with my grandparents and my grandparents have never been on a vacation, we really wanted to make this trip special. Our splurge for the trip was a private sailboat charter. The trip was 6 hours of sailing plus an hour lunch on Isla mujeres. The captain, Luis, was really lovely. He sailed us out to a little spot where we snorkeled for a couple of hours. Then we sailed to the island for dinner. His first mate made us some homemade guacamole and chips and we sailed back to Cancun after watching a gorgeous sunset. Total cost of the trip was $530 (including transportation to the dock, snorkeling gear, beer, soft drinks, snack etc.). It was a rather pricy excursion, but I feel like it was a once in a lifetime memory. Not to mention, the huge snorkeling boats charge about $100 per person for a much shorter trip (on a much more crowded boat with a much rowdier group of patrons).
I worked in many service industry jobs when I was in high school and college. Because of those experiences I know how hard folks who work in the service industry hustle to make a buck. For that reason I’ve always been a good (in my opinion) tipper. Standard service means 20% and more if you’re exceptional. The tips category includes tips to our drivers, bell men, boat captain and first mate, etc. It also includes a tip for our waitstaff during the free breakfast and happy hours (I tipped on what the meal would have cost if the meal hadn’t been included).
I’m not usually one to buy travel insurance, but when you travel internationally with two 80-year-olds I’d highly recommend it. You never know when someone is going to get ill or have an injury and the peace of mind that $146.57 travel insurance gave me was well worth it n my opinion. Not to mention, I’m actually going to need to file a claim as the result of the canceled return flights here on the East Coast. When we arrived back in Philly for a connecting flight to Bangor on Thursday, there were no connecting flights. I’ve since booked four (yes 4!) return trips which have all been cancelled. We ended up renting a car and driving back to NY and my grandparents have been stranded here for 4 days. Thankfully Eric got on a standby flight back to Maine on Saturday night so he was able to pick up our car and drive the dog home. Note to self-do NOT fly or drive into Maine in the winter ever again (remember my Christmas trip? ugg). I’ll update this post when I figure out how much of our expenses will be covered by the insurance.
**This is NOT a sponsored post, just my thoughts on the places we saw and things we did**
Have you been to Cancun before? Do you have any upcoming travel planned? What have you been up to for the last week? I’ve missed “talking” to everybody!