We all know there are times when you need a girlfriend’s suggestion for those more personal things, like a GYN referral or colorist who won’t turn your hair orange on the way to blonde.  So, it’s natural to seek the same counsel of a girlfriend when you’re looking to getaway.

For this, I turned to our not-so ‘newly’ wed, Jenn. I knew she had just recently gone on a long overdue vacation to Mexico, and I wanted the details. Where to go, what to avoid, what did/didn’t require a vaccination, etc.    Sitting across the table, drinks in hand, I waited for Jenn to let me have it. The Good, the Bad, the Unforgettable, and the Never Again.

Jenn and Chris chose Mexico because they do not require a vaccine or quarantine period to enter the country, and as of June no Covid swab to get in either.  But, you’ll need one to get back to the USA and most hotels provide the swab free of charge to guests who stay a minimum of 3 nights.

The Good

Beloved, Playa Mujeres, Honeymoon, Covid travel, Mexico, couples only, couples trip, all inclusive cancunThe first stop was Beloved, an all-inclusive couple’s only beachfront resort in Playa Mujeres. Jenn selected a two-story casita with a private plunge pool as their home away from home. The resort offered all the standard amenities in terms of activities and multiple gourmet food/drink options, some of which required a dress code, but the experiences made all the difference. It was truly an all-inclusive and the only thing she and Chris found that wasn’t included was certain wine at the steak house.

Beloved Cancun, couples only, covid travel, honeymoon, five star restaurant, gourmet mexican cuisine


I knew I would be booking a trip to Beloved when Jenn shared the details of the authentic gourmet Mexican meal the manager offered them (not on the menu), complete with a history lesson.  This location came as a recommendation from Jenn’s friend Amy and the couple were very pleased with the entire Beloved experience.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. The couple’s first three days went by way too quickly as they were off to their next city.  A taxi took the couple to the next location, an hour south of Beloved.



The Bad

When Jenn told me that they started this leg of their trip trying to find a rental car, without a credit card, in Mexico, I already knew this was going to be “the bad” part of the trip. Thankfully, they found an establishment that would accept a debit card, but the car itself would prove an obstacle later in the trip, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Jenn says Easy Way Rent a Car was outstanding to work with and very accommodating (thank you Jorge).

I remembered Jenn posted on social media about changing resorts halfway through the trip, so I had to ask for more details. How bad-was bad that you had to change course and possibly lose money? “Girl!” was her response, and I knew I was in for it.

First, let’s talk about Ocean Riviera Paradise, which did everything, but live up to its name, unless the smell of ocean wetness, i.e., mold, is pleasant for you. The resort offered different “levels” of service, the best of which was their “Privileged” level. Yes, you heard me ‘privileged.’ They were so proud of this term they branded everything, from the building signage to the guests’ bracelets. The excessive branding and efforts to sell their guests a timeshare made relaxation difficult. Power outages and the lack of hot water (later turned into NO water) made rest after a long day in the Mexican sun impossible.  Dinner wasn’t an option, with the resort’s best being a Hibachi restaurant equipped with 7-Eleven quality sushi and casino quality alcohol.  The Privileged Lounge serves tapas between meals, Jenn and Chris question if the meat was even real meat and followed that statement with “the food was inedible and disgusting.”

The Front Desk and staff were unresponsive to complaints, and even having a personal butler couldn’t salvage this resort.  The only thing worthwhile was the Wi-Fi they used to search the web for another hotel for the remainder of their trip. 8 AM check out, anyone? One night was enough!

The Unforgettable

Kimpton, IHG, boutique hotel, tulum, mexico, honeymoon, travel, couples trip, romantic vacationSanity and serenity came in the form of the Kimpton Aluna Tulum, a boutique hotel with a dedicated staff, and the new (and last) hotel for Jenn and Chris’ honeymoon. Despite the laid-back vibe, Tulum has so many options to make the city unforgettable. You should have seen Jenn’s face light up as she described Tulum. She made me want to run and check my bank account and drain it for all it’s worth to run away to the sandy beaches of this small town, never to return.


Kimpton, IHG, boutique hotel, tulum, mexico, honeymoon, travel, couples trip, romantic vacation, habitas, yoga, retreat, fine dining


Jenn provided mouth-watering details about her meal at Habitas Tulum, a steal at $150/couple with drinks included. Habitas is a wellness resort, offering respite and restoration for your mind, body, and belly. The hotel offers several dining options, all with a chill vibe that is a stark difference from Beloved, but the food and quality are on an equal scale.



Habitas offers mental and physical wellness options, but if you are looking for a deeper dive, Jenn mentions Ikal. This community is a yoga enthusiast’s dream getaway and is worth the trip to reset your battery.




However, yoga retreats are quite Jenn’s scene (as much as she wishes it could be), so a Kimpton guest referred her and Chris to Tantra, a beach club offering more of a party. Our favorite couple arrived by noon and quickly understood the reason people come here. It’s the place to see and been “seen,” both in person and on your IG. The designer built every angle of this place for social media. There’s a cover charge, but they provide you with food and beverage credit for half of it, so you might as well enjoy it.  Park yourself on a beach lounger (approx. 2000 pesos/day) and take in the view.


Drinks are expensive at Tantra. One or two can be an excellent way to start the night, but you don’t have to eat there. Follow the locals and try an authentic street taco at Antojitos La Chiapanaca, where lunch + beer for two paired with live music for the friendly cost of around $16 USD!  Jenn found Antojitos on another blog which rated several of their items on the menu as #1 in Tulum.  They were right.



Tacos, not your thing? Seriously? Ok, no judgment. How about Mediterranean food?  Pasha is in downtown Tulum and offers beautiful tasting platters that will fill you after a full day’s adventure in the city.





If you are feeling a bit adventurous, visit a local cenote. Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) sits between Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Boasting one of the largest underwater cave systems in the world makes Dos Ojos a tourist draw, so if you want a quieter dive to try Cristal Cenote. This local spot is open (rather than a cave), and has picnic tables and a lot of locals, so pack a lunch and make a day of it – and be sure to leave some room in your bag for shopping at the local stores. These artisans offer one-of-a-kind keepsakes you will want to carry on your flight home.  El Pueblo (downtown) Tulum is known for being less touristy, more authentic, and less expensive than the Hotel Zone.  Kimpton offers free bicycles to guests, so the duo took a short ride from the hotel to downtown Tulum via bicycle.  No Tulum trip is complete without going for a bicycle ride through town.


It was time to return to the US for Jenn and Chris. My drink was nearly gone, and Jenn was finishing her story, but not before a Covid swab and one more adventure.


On the way back to the airport, Jenn and Chris decided to give Playa del Carmen another try.  The city is beautiful and has more to offer than just one resort, so they wanted to look around.  I hope the shopping was good because this second chance came with the cost of $75 to remove the boot put on their car. There was no signage when they parked that stated there was a parking fee, but with 1300 pesos, they were able to get it off just in time to make their flight.


Having learned a few lessons on this trip from Jenn, I wanted to pass it on:

  • Use cash (not debit/credit) when possible.  With debit/cc you will have a foreign exchange rate for every transaction.
  • Pesos = better than USD and easier for you since the exchange rate fluctuates daily.
  • All staff wear masks and they’re pretty strict on others wearing masks indoors.
  • Eat locally.
  • Don’t be afraid to change course a little if a hotel is not up to your standard. Just be sure to get your refund!
  • Try something new; you are on vacation!
  • Use Google maps to get around, but don’t depend on Google for accurate open/close times for local establishments.
  • Rent a car ONLY if you are familiar with the area. Chris knew what he was doing, but driving is nothing like it is in the US. It can be intense.
  • Have fun! Nothing goes as planned, but don’t let that ruin the trip.