Travel Writing & Photography http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com the travels, photos & musings of John Patrick Lamkin Sat, 13 Sep 2014 06:17:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5 Luxury in ancient Mayaland. Hotel Marina Copán, Copán, Honduras, Central America http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/luxury-in-ancient-mayaland-hotel-marina-copan-copan-honduras-central-america/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/luxury-in-ancient-mayaland-hotel-marina-copan-copan-honduras-central-america/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 06:09:15 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=985 Continue reading ]]> Hotel Copan Marina

Hotel Copan Marina

Story and photographs by John Lamkin

One place that I think should be on everyone’s bucket list is the amazing old Maya city of Copán. This is the best and most complete of the restored ancient Maya cities I’ve seen—and I’ve seen quite a few.

The next attraction on this list is the beautiful Spanish colonial, cobbled-street town of Copán—right next door to the archaeological site. This is a beautiful, clean and safe-to-walk-at-night town.

And, the best place to stay in Copán is Hotel Marina Copán. This excellent fifty-room hotel was the first hotel in the town and now the best. It is right near the main Plaza and less then a mile from the ruins. The architecture is Spanish colonial, with high, beamed ceilings and red tile floors and walkways. The bed frames and wardrobes are made of stunning tropical hardwood. Local artwork adorns the walls and plants abound. Room service may be had from early morning until late, when the restaurant closes and, if you are driving, the hotel has private secure parking.

The free-form swimming pool is in the center of the courtyard, surrounded by tropical plants and flowers and is very inviting to take a dip. The pool is surrounded by ample seating to eat or observe and has a waterfall and hot tub. There is a bar, Jaguar and Venado, next to the pool with inexpensive drinks and a tranquil atmosphere.

The hotel has a complete gift shop near the lobby, but, for one, I find shopping with the vendors on the street more enjoyable. The hotel does have a basic gym and sauna and massages are available on request. The WiFi is reasonably fast (actually better than I have at home).

The food in the two-story restaurant is enjoyable and inexpensive. Try the Honduran comida tipica—the local dishes of the country. The bilingual wait staff are friendly and helpful, always with a smile—which is typical to the country. The breakfast buffet is a gastronomical treat, with an egg/omelet chef to custom design that part of your meal.

The local Welchez family owns the hotel and it is managed by the two brothers. The family also has a coffee plantation to which they provide tours. The Welchez Coffee is widely distributed and available to purchase online. Their tour company, MC Tours, also provides tours to other local attractions. MC Tours has been in business since 1991 serving Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize, and is the only mainland Honduras tour company with a full operation in Roatan Island. The Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve is a must see, with rescued birds—macaws, parrots, hawks, toucans and more. They also have a small coffee farm on site. The coffee is sold only in their gift shop. The coffee grown there, as with the Welchez’ is a full-bodied blend—delicious.

I came here on a luxury tour with Maya Temple Tours from San Pedro Sula, the capital. Maya Temple Tours has great service and will customize a personal tour if you like. I was on assignment to do a Honduras luxury real estate article, so that was the focus of my personal tour. I would do it again in a New York, that is, Maya second.

RESOURCES

Hotel Marina Copán

MC Tours

Maya Temple Tours

Taca Airlines flies out of several US hubs

Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve

Cafe Welchez

Copan Coffee Tours

Luxury Latin America

See the story on the EXAMINER
See the SLIDESHOW on EXAMINER

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Barefoot luxury in Placencia, Belize – Chabil Mar Villas http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/barefoot-luxury-in-placencia-belize-chabil-mar-villas/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/barefoot-luxury-in-placencia-belize-chabil-mar-villas/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 17:36:47 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=980 Continue reading ]]> BE MY VALENTINE
© John Lamkin

The driver took us a short way along this narrow peninsula that is Placencia, through the heavy, expertly carved, gigantic wooden gates and into this eye-popping lush tropical paradise. We had arrived at Chabil Mar.

The first thing I noticed was the verdant, tropical landscaping, flowers, shrubs, trees everywhere, and the ever present coconut palms lining the pristine, white sand beach. The next was the friendliness of the staff, including the driver that picked us up and took us there.

We were handed a cool, tropical drink and escorted to our villa by the friendly concierge, while all the way she was cheerfully explaining the ins and outs of the resort. One interesting fact was that there was no dining room. Eating was wherever you wanted—in your villa, on your deck/balcony, by the pool, near the bar in the charming palapa, with comfortable seating and a soothing sheet pratfall separating the space from the bar, on the wonderful dining deck overlooking the beautiful Caribbean—wherever you wanted. And, what we found was that usually one of the staff would find you around mealtime and ask where you wanted to eat. By the way, the food was excellent.

When we arrived at our villa, a spacious and luxurious, accommodation, we found that, being valentine’s day, the staff had made the most elegant and exotic floral arrangement I’ve ever seen visiting these luxury resorts. It was replete with the customary swans, a giant heart with “BE MY VALENTINE” written in flowers—bougainvilleas, hibiscus, and other flowers. And, as we entered the front door, a path of bougainvillea petals had been strewn all the way to the bedroom with this fantastic arrangement covering the bed.

Our villa was tastefully decorated (all were decorated differently), with an ample, comfortable living room, dining for six (if you wanted the crowd) and a full kitchen with all modern appliances. The bedroom was also ample with its own balcony. The bath was beautifully appointed and next to it was a small room with a washer/dryer. You could live here indefinitely. On the bar, separating the kitchen and the living area, we found the daily Chabil Mar newspaper announcing the valentine’s day dinner and activities, welcoming us and other arriving guests by name.

As we were finishing our welcome drinks at the umbrella table on our private deck, one of the amiable staff (as they all were) came by and asked us if we needed anything and if we knew where we wanted to eat lunch. We opted to eat right there, on the deck, surrounded by the profusion of blooming flowers.

Chabil Mar is an exclusive, small, boutique luxury resort with 22 lovely villas, two swimming pools, a newly expanded palapa (thatched roof) bar, a pier leading to another palapa over the waters of the Caribbean with seating, tables for dining and just a very tranquil spot to hang out and look at the beach or the stars. All this, along with the best stretch of white sand beach around, make this spot the penultimate in barefoot luxury.

Many of Chabil Mar’s guests have the resort arrange one or more of the exciting trips offered–visiting the world’s second largest barrier reef, sailing, diving, fishing (the chef will prepare a meal from your catch for you), or visiting ancient Mayan ruins, or the jaguar preserve, and many more. We opted for a little beach time and an occasional trip into town to look around or dine at one of the fine restaurants.

Chabil Mar is ideally situated between the Tropic Air terminal (which services many destinations in Belize as well as Roatan, Honduras and Cancun, Mexico) and the small town of Placencia–a short taxi or bicycle ride away (the resort provides bicycles).

English is the language of the country, making it an easy choice for people traveling from the United States and Canada, but it attracts Europeans as well who are looking for unspoiled tropical destinations to discover. It’s less than half an hour by small plane from Belize City and there are frequent flights both in and out of Placencia, a place formally thought to be very difficult to get to.

Whether looking for a quiet, laid back beach holiday or an exciting, active visit, both can be found at this lovely tropical paradise.

If You Go

Getting to Belize:

Both United and American Airways have flights from the U.S. to Belize City, Belize. Placencia is serviced by Tropic Air.

Belize Tourism Board

Placencia, Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America

Stann Creek District, Belize, Central America

Where to stay in luxury:

Chabil Mar Villas

READ THE ARTICLE AT THE EXAMINER

SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE.

*30*

John Lamkin is a born-again travel journalist and photographer based in Taos, New Mexico and in Mexico. He writes (and photographs) about travel, food, wine, luxury, budget, gear, tech. and more. He is Global Membership Chair of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. He travels the world in search of something new in culture, cuisine and drink. Look for John Lamkin’s photographs in a new BOOK, OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS: An Odyssey of the Heart (written by Examiner’s Susanna Starr with Photographs by John Lamkin)

 

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Alternative Energy House near Taos, New Mexico http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/alternative-energy-house-near-taos-new-mexico/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/alternative-energy-house-near-taos-new-mexico/#comments Sat, 30 Aug 2014 23:59:41 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=943 Continue reading ]]>

Casa Juan Galan

I’m posting the #TinyHouse here because it is for sale and selling it will enable me to travel more :-)

There are many photos on the site and the blog, but here are some recent ones. We’ve had some great rains lately and flowers are blooming and everything is green.

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Tibetan stupa in distance

Tibetan stupa in distance

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Wild aster

Wild aster

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Wild 4 O'clock

Wild 4 O’clock

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New bookcase

New bookcase

Study/bedroom

Study/bedroom

Front room - new furniture

Front room – new furniture

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Happy birthday Dalai Lama http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/happy-birthday-dalai-lama/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/happy-birthday-dalai-lama/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 04:03:04 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=936 H.H. Dalai Lama

H.H. Dalai Lama

Today is the Dalai Lama’s 79th birthday.

Meeting him in the late 1970′s was a great honor. A truly remarkable being.

 

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Chabil Mar, luxury in Placencia, Belize http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/chabil-mar-luxury-in-placencia-belize/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/chabil-mar-luxury-in-placencia-belize/#comments Sun, 29 Jun 2014 02:09:20 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=929 Continue reading ]]> Chabil Mar Villas – Placencia, Belize
2284 Placencia Peninsula Road, Placencia, Belize

Offering a more DIY alternative to service-oriented Robert’s Grove (outside of town) and Turtle Inn (a short walk away), Chabil Mar offers large, fully-equipped villas that can be rented by the night and has the most picturesque beachfront in the area.
Chabil Mar

With 20 spacious suites of one or two bedrooms, Chabil Mar offers Placencia visitors a way to stretch out and have a big kitchen without having to commit to a week–long rental. Each unit has a large living room area, a full kitchen with high–end appliances, a washer/dryer setup, and at least one private terrace or balcony. The property functions more like a hotel, however, with maid service, two large community pools, kayaks, and the Kaleidoscope Bar and Lounge, a well–stocked, recently expanded bar area.

Chabil Mar bar

Situated bike riding distance from Placencia village on the way to the airport, the resort sits behind a gated entrance (no non-guests allowed) and has the feel of a small community. Families are frequently found enjoying one of the two infinity pools and the beach with lounge chairs and cabanas or taking out the complimentary bicycles or kayaks for exploring. The six buildings with blue roofs and dark wood balconies are intersected by paths and lush tropical landscaping. The owners continue to tweak and improve the facilities, making the most of their waterfront location by installing oversized lounge chairs on the pier and beach.

Chabil Mar pierSince our last review, Chabil Mar’s owners have enlarged the pier to accommodate more lounging and sunning chairs under lit the pier and added more lighting to the landscape for a stunning evening effect. They installed Cafe Mar, featuring beach–side dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner; plus they built a new lounge area complete with chaise lounges and other seating attached to the cafe. The beach now cushioned lounges with umbrellas and mini cabanas.

Dining options at the resort are myriad. You can dine at Café Mar beach side, on your villa’s veranda, poolside, on the pier, or at Kaleidoscope Bar & Lounge. They will also cook and serve your day’s fishing catch for you. There are also outdoor grills with tables and seating in the beautiful nearby palapas for DIY cooking, making this a good bet for families who don’t want to be a in a restaurant for every meal. Each villa has a fully–equipped kitchen for another cooking option.

Chabil Mar Hotel

The resort also offers the option of a private chef and custom menu. During our stay, the staff was always able to find us at the appropriate time and ask what dining option we desired. A nighttime recommendation is on the pier or Café Mar under the stars. Very romantic.

The 400 feet of beachfront is a pretty spot for swimming and sunning. If you don’t feel all that comfortable on the water you can take outChabil Mar beachfront a paddle boat or kayak, or just play volleyball on the beach. The staff is accustomed to setting up excursions to inland Maya ruins and jungles or working out snorkeling and diving trips offshore. Some of the off–site options are an afternoon or overnight private island party, flats and deep water fishing, and hiking in Belize’s Jaguar Preserve.

The air–conditioned villas here are all furnished in different styles, ranging from Caribbean colorful to Mexican to pseudo-European, with eclectic local art work adorning the walls. Each unit has plenty of sitting room inside and out and most bedrooms are big enough for a queen or king. The honeymoon suite has a huge 4–poster bed and a granite and stainless steel kitchen, plus an additional half bath. The two–bedroom Oceanfront Villas have terrific vistas as well as contemporary baths, stunning kitchens, and several TVs with DVD players.

Chabil Mar lounging

All have at least a partial sea view. All units have complimentary wireless internet access, more than enough utensils, dining tables, electronic safes, robes, and fine linens. Kitchen appliances go well beyond the basics to include things like blenders, juicers, and coffee grinders. Much of the furniture and cabinetry is made in Belize from local hardwoods.

Transfers from the airport are complimentary for guests and golf carts are available for a jaunt into town. Children 12 and under stay for free but additional guests incur a $50 charge.

If you’re looking for fine dining, a large service staff, and high design, Turtle Inn is probably a better choice. But if you want your own kitchen, a quick hop to the beach, and a spacious apartment feel, Chabil Mar offers a great environment for chilling out in Placencia.

Web Address: www.chabilmarvillas.com
Total Number of Units: 20
Published rates: $250-$550 1BR, $325-$650 2BR without meals or taxes.

Review and photos by John Lamkin
Read the source at Luxury Latin America.

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Nova Scotia Odyssey http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/nova-scotia-odyssey/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/nova-scotia-odyssey/#comments Sun, 22 Jun 2014 19:29:02 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=920 Continue reading ]]> Nova Scotia Odyssey an upcoming story….

Moo pulling wagon across frozen Little Lake, Nova Scotia

Moo pulling wagon across frozen Little Lake, Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Odyssey is a tale that will appear here soon (more or less). It’s hinted at in this story in Your Life is a Trip dot com where you will meet one of the main characters. Until then.

Cheers,    John

 

 

 

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Nizuc Resort and Spa, Luxury in Cancun, Mexico http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/nizuc-resort-and-spa-luxury-in-cancun-mexico/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/nizuc-resort-and-spa-luxury-in-cancun-mexico/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 23:37:36 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=910 Continue reading ]]>  Nizuc

story and photos by John Lamkin

The first thing you notice entering Nizuc is the lush tropical landscaping and the modern architectural details. Next is the courteous staff, from valet, to concierge, to butler and on to the rest of the staff — everyone is extra friendly. The lobby is beautiful, with a touch of the rustic, but luxurious. There are water vistas, ponds, and fountains everywhere. Looking out one end of the lobby you see the small bay that fronts the resort then, beyond that, the many colors of the Mexican Caribbean. The resort’s name is Mayan for dog’s nose — due to the shape of the bay and peninsula.Nizuc hotel lobby In an area known for the amazing white sand beaches and the stunning colors of the Caribbean, Nizuc has got to be one of the most fabulous locations along the entire coast from Cancun to the Riviera Maya. Located only ten minutes from the Cancun airport it takes no time before you are transported to a tropical paradise. READ MORE IN LUXURY LATIN AMERICA

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Book launch and photography exhibit at Starr Interiors, Taos NM http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/book-launch-and-photography-exhibit-at-starr-interiors-taos-nm/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/book-launch-and-photography-exhibit-at-starr-interiors-taos-nm/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 23:31:24 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=906 Continue reading ]]> Zapotec woman

Zapotec woman  ©John Lamkin

Book signing and photography show at Starr Interiors
June 21, 2014, 5 – 7 PM
Starr Interiors, 117 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos NM
(2 doors south of the Taos Inn)

Starr Interiors is joyfully celebrating its 40th year anniversary with a book launch of a new book written by Susanna Starr with photographs by John Lamkin. A book signing will be held in the historic building that houses Starr Interiors. The book, Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers: An Odyssey of the Heart, chronicles three generations of deep connection and parallels the lives of Starr and specific weaving families of the small Zapotec village outside of Oaxaca, Mexico through text and stunning photos. It has already received acclaim for its cultural importance in various countries as well as the U.S.

 

Front Cover - Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers

Front Cover – Our Interwoven Lives with the Zapotec Weavers

The photography exhibit will show giclée photos from the book by John Lamkin.

Two women in village market, shopping for their #DayOfDead altars from upcoming book, INTERWOVEN LIVES..., by Susanna Starr, photos by John Lamkin.

Two women in village market ©John Lamkin

 

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A luxurious stay at the Duchess’ beach house, Esencia Estates, Riviera Maya, Mexico http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/a-luxurious-stay-at-the-duchess-beach-house-esencia-estates-riviera-maya-mexico/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/a-luxurious-stay-at-the-duchess-beach-house-esencia-estates-riviera-maya-mexico/#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 19:53:43 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=876 Continue reading ]]> Morning Coffee Esencia

Morning Coffee Esencia Estate

story and photos by John Lamkin

It was rainy and and a blanket of mist covered everything as we turned into the unpretentious entrance to Esencia Estate. Driving through natural jungle vegetation we arrived at a guard station and were escorted to what appeared to be a Mayan hut complete with an authentic-looking altar adding even more intrigue to the place. A valet took our car and luggage and we were taken by golf cart to register in the comfortable living room of the main house, a Spanish hacienda style structure, the former beach estate of Italian Duchess Rosa d’Ferrari,.This exclusive estate is located along a stretch of Mexico‘s best white-sand beach, in the Riviera Maya just 20 minutes north of Tulum and, although somewhat isolated feeling, it is close to all the area’s attraction’s including many Mayan archeological sites and all the Caribbean Ocean has to offer.

Our garden suite was simple luxury, you might say Zen, with all the conveniences you would expect of a posh accommodation. In the front there was a covered terrace with table and chairs—where we would end up taking out morning coffee and sweet rolls. A back door led out to our private plunge pool tucked into the lush tropical vegetation.

The rain having subsided, still with the provided umbrellas in hand—just in case, we found our way to the dining palapa (thatched-roof building) and enjoyed a gourmet meal with an upscale take on Mexican cuisine.

In the morning coffee and and pan dulce (sweet bread and rolls) were delivered to our terrace as promised. We were joined by several bold intensely-blue plumaged birds who were apparently part of everyone’s a. m. coffee and bravely jumped in to help themselves.

Later we took our breakfast at one of the two pools near the beach where two chefs prepared the meals outside. I had an excellent huevos rancheros (traditional Mexican egg dish).

Then some beach time (we decided to pass on the early morning yoga class) and later exploring the grounds and checking out the Maya themed Spa that was very complete in its choice of therapies. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to enjoy the Spa activities before we left.

Esencia Estate is well worth the visit for its luxurious exclusivity and as just a great place to chill.

Getting there:

Most major airlines fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN) and Riviera Maya is easily accessible from CUN by land transport.

For more information:

Mexico Tourism

Riviera Maya

Adventure in Quintana Roo

Mexican Caribbean

Where to stay in luxury:

Esencia Estate

John Lamkin is a born-again travel journalist and photographer based in Taos, New Mexico and in Mexico. He writes (and photographs) about travel, food, wine, luxury, budget, gear, tech. and more. He is Global Membership Chair of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association. He travels the world in search of something new in culture, cuisine and drink. Look for John Lamkin’s new BOOK: OUR INTERWOVEN LIVES WITH THE ZAPOTEC WEAVERS: An Odyssey of the Heart by Examiner’s Susanna Starr with Photographs by John Lamkin

Read the article in the Examiner.

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The International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) awarded prestigious Certificates of Appreciation to industry partners in Zona Maya, Mexico http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/the-international-food-wine-travel-writers-association-ifwtwa-awarded-prestigious-certificates-of-appreciation-to-industry-partners-in-zona-maya-mexico/ http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/the-international-food-wine-travel-writers-association-ifwtwa-awarded-prestigious-certificates-of-appreciation-to-industry-partners-in-zona-maya-mexico/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 18:14:59 +0000 admin http://www.travelwritingandphotography.com/?p=854 Continue reading ]]> Rancho Encantado from Laguna Bacalar © John Lamkin

Rancho Encantado from Laguna Bacalar © John Lamkin

Luis Tellez explaining Mayan art to a tour group. Photo courtesy Luis Tellez

Luis Tellez explaining Mayan art to a tour group.
Photo courtesy Luis Tellez

 

The International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) awarded two prestigious Certificates of Appreciation to industry partners in Mexico for their gracious hospitality, continuing education and contributions to the travel & tourism industries.

The businesses chosen for this award were Rancho Encantado Resort & Spa in Laguna Bacalar and Luis Tellez of Sac Be Travel in Chetumal, Mexico.

The certificate was awarded to Rancho Encantado for outstanding work in the hospitality field and exemplary guest services. This resort provides excellent help to journalists in the form of relevant story ideas, angles, and destination and tour information. They are well-connected with excellent knowledge of the region and proactively stay in touch with journalists.

Luis Tellez of Sac Be Travel has been awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for exemplary work in tour guiding, photography and promoting the diverse aspects of Zona Maya. He provides excellent help to journalists in the form of relevant story ideas, angles, and destination and tour information. He is well-connected, with excellent knowledge of the region and proactively stays in touch with journalists.

The above mentioned travel industry partners were very generous in help with arranging travel, hospitality, tour and story suggestions to help complete journalism assignments in Mexico.

According to the IFWTWA’s press releases:

The International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) is a dynamic nonprofit organization based out of Southern California. What started out as a small group of prominent Frenchmen rating restaurants in 1956 is now a global network of journalists and photographers who cover the hospitality and lifestyle fields, and the people who promote them.

Members cover a broad spectrum of travel destination attractions such as active and passive adventure activities, ecology, historical features, culture, fairs, festivals, food, wine, and special events. The association’s membership includes professionals in culinary arts and sciences, the wine growing and production industry, and hotel and hospitality management industries.

These businesses are all deemed to be among the best serving Zona Maya and are highly recommended.

For more information:

Mexico Tourism http://www.visitmexico.com/en/

Adventure in Quintana Roo http://visitmexico.com/en_us/VisitMexico30/Adventure_In_Quintana_Roo

Mexican Caribbean http://www.mexicancaribbean.com/

Where to stay in luxury:

Rancho Encantado Resort & Spa  http://www.encantado.com/en-us/

For tour guiding and other Zona Maya information:

Luis Tellez, Sac Be Travel  http://www.sacbetravel.com/

 

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