A Treasure in the Yucatan: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
By S. Aiden Solis, GreatestHotelDeals.com
While gay marriage supporters in the US wait to learn whether the Supreme Court will take up the issue, like minded gay and straight allies for the issue south of the border have gone where America has not.
Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that a law in the southern state of Qaxaca that bans same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, paving the way in every Mexican state to marry. In a unanimous decision in 2010, the tribunal struck down a Qaxaca state law that declares that “one of the purposes of marriage is the perpetuation of the species,” the court declared that to condition marriages to the union of a man and woman only is a violation of the principle of equality.
Gay men and women have been able to legally wed in federal district of Mexico City since that ruling in 2010. That right is now being extended to other states within Mexico. Marriage in now legal as of late 2012 in the Yucatan state of Quintana Roo which includes the huge resort city of Cancun. Now the Mexican government is committed to attracting LGBT tourism to this stunning Caribbean destination.
For more than twenty years, the Yucatan Peninsula has been one of Mexico’s top tourist stops. The Guinness Book of world records in 2006 stated that Playa del Carmen was the fastest growing town in the world. As of 2013 it is the fastest growing town in all of Latin America. “Playa” as locals call it, has over 190 flights a day arriving in to Cancun airport; the shuttle trip to Playa is a mere 45 minutes south. A new international airport is on its way to nearby Tulum next year, which will truly make Playa del Carmen the hottest town on the Riviera Maya.
Forget staying in Cancun’s hotel zone with mega -resorts and spring break college boys, you can drive down the coast to a hip town welcoming LGBT travelers. A short drive south of Playa del Carmen is Tulum where one can explore seaside Mayan ruins and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean. Wherever you stay, the magical world of the Mayan Indians is always close at hand and will forever change your opinion about travel to Mexico. The largest indigenous population in North America, Mayan descendants have long protected the fragile natural environment of the Yucatan by softly living on the land.
Beneficiaries of this sacred trust have been tourists. Five million now visit the area each year. With dense, lush jungles and pristine waters all around the resorts, LGBT visitors can snorkel crystal clear waters of the world’s second largest coral reef, climb to the top of a 1,400 year-old pyramid and toast their adventures far into a wild night with a few thousand new international friends; gay and straight in a single day.
Just a two hour flight from the southern United States and a one hour and twenty minute flight from Fort Lauderdale or Miami, Cancun International Airport is situated between two distinctly different vacation experiences. In the hotel zone of Cancun you will see over fifteen continuous miles of beachfront mega resorts with a nearly around-the-clock party scene. In the other direction south, is an eighty mile stretch of stunning coastline known as the Riviera Maya and the charming, cool and special seaside town of Playa del Carmen. You can also take a ferry from Playa to picturesque Cozumel.
Do you prefer a hotel with a little nightlife? There are endless options in Playa del Carmen where throngs of visitors, many from Italy and France, stroll a lazy brick paved street called Quinta Avenida. “5th Avenue ” as it is known, is lined by outdoor restaurants, chic shops and ultra hip bars. This walking-only street two blocks from the beaches is much of what has turned Playa into one of the hottest destinations in Mexico and Latin America. The relaxed upscale vibe has a French or Italian Riviera feel, beautiful people are abound and the town is very young. Fall and winter hosts an International Food & Wine fest, International Jazz Fest and at the hip Mamita’s Beach Club, BPM Fest which is the largest DJ and music event in the Americas. World class DJ artist David Guetta headlined this year’s event on New Year’s eve.
An eden for music lovers, The Arena Festival, held from January 31st to February 5th, 2013, takes over the number one destination for beach and eco-tourism in the heart of the Mexican Caribbean. Playa del Carmen is a stunningly beautiful, vibrant part of the Mayan Riviera, located on the pristine Caribbean coast of Mexico. Blessed with miles of unspoiled white sand beaches and crystal-clear Caribbean waters, Playa del Carmen offers an unforgettable time and endless adventures. Filled with a variety of beautiful and affordable boutique hotels and landmark nightclubs, there is an endless number of places for dining, dancing, and clubbing.
Where To Stay
Deseo Hotel & Lounge, Playa del Carmen
011-52/984-873-0624 | www.hoteldeseo.com
This boutique hotel is situated right on the famed 5th Avenue. Luxury is paramount in the 15 suites of the hotel, which are situated on two floors, each with a balcony that overlooks the central courtyard’s huge pool and outdoor lounge. Each suite is contemporary in design with creative interiors to stun the senses. The deck and pool offer an ideal setting for daytime relaxing if not at the beach club which is a short two block stroll. Socializing by night is an art here. At sunset, the pool terrace becomes a lounge, lit by candlelight with a DJ. Black & white classic film screenings often happen there too. It is one of the best places in Playa to go out at night, meet the international young jet set and enjoy fabulous cocktails under the stars. The pool area can be reserved for private parties or gay weddings for up to 180 guests. Contact email@example.com
The hotel offers a cool self-serve kitchen off the pool area to all guests where breakfast and lunch is served from 8am to 12 noon; all gourmet of course! The Italian-studied chef whips up sublime omelettes, chilaquiles, pancakes, lobster quesadillas, shrimp ceviche, crab rolls, nicoise salads and mango milkshakes. The lower level facing the street and avenue hosts an amazing full service restaurant and wine bar for dinner alfresco. “The Glass Bar” is 5-star all the way, featuring Italian inspired cuisine. The owner, Nicola, who hails from Milan, greets you like an old friend; expect a beautiful glass of Proseco to appear at your table on the house and a plate of nosh he chooses to get you started. www.theglassbar.com.mx
Mosquito Blue & Mosquito Beach Hotel + Beach Club, Playa del Carmen
011- 52/984-873-1335 | www.mosquitoblue.com
A boutique hotel where chic meets Mexican colonial, also situated on the famed 5th Avenue, right across from the Deseo Hotel and Lounge and right in the heart of the Playa scene. Guests are greeted by an interior of designer elegance, Mexican antiques and black rock crystal chandeliers. The property has two deep garden courtyard pools, a guest poolside open lounge with a billiard table and room service for cocktails by the pool. Coffees, teas, and fresh juices are all served here in the morning. The all-suite rooms are stunning with carved colonial beds dressed in linen sheets. The bathrooms offer an open shower with rain and waterfall elements, vessel sinks and BVLGARI soaps, shampoos and towels. There is a full service, 5-star semi-alfresco restaurant for dinner service and an elegant lounge for stellar cocktails. A must try is their Grey Goose Cucumber/Ginger infused Martini. Cuisine is award-winning Mediterranean Italian style. Guests may use the sister hotels’ beach club which is a short two block stroll. Breakfast and lunch are served at Beach alfresco with a focus on fresh local fish & seafood, high Caribbean and Mexican cuisine here. A beach bed is reserved for you with a stay at either property.
Chef duo Francisco Incesti & Nicola Cafagno were trained by world famous master chef Vito Semeraro. Once breakfast and lunch service is done at Beach they pop over to Blue for dinner service. Service is 5-star. I had breakfast one morning to enjoy the buffet “Nopalito’s,” which is paddle cactus sautéed in a chili red sauce with my eggs. I mentioned to the chefs how amazing the local dish was, and every morning thereafter “Nopalito’s” magically appeared at my table. Breakfast offers a hot buffet, yogurt and fruit bar, pastries, made to order pancakes & local Mexican cuisine. Lunch at the beach club features fresh seafood, fish tacos, and shrimp ceviche.
Both hotels are pet friendly, offer a pet spa, vet and a dog walker. Gay wedding service is also offered at Mosquito Blue & Beach. They will arrange everything from the cake to flowers. You’ll still have to arrange your own guests!
Below are a few other links you can’t miss when you visit. Playa del Carmen is truly a luxury experience which is just a hop skip and a jump away from America, yet will transport you worlds away.
Where to Eat
SUR; Argentine cuisine, Playa del Carmen
011-52/984-803-3285 | www.facebook.com/restaurantsur
YAXCHE MAYA CUISINE; Mayan cuisine, Playa del Carmen
011-52/984-873-2502 | www.mayacuisine.com
One of the best seafood restaurants in town, right off 5th, winner cert of excellence 2012 TripAdvisor.
All – Day SIAN KA’AN Eco Biosphere Reserve Tour, Tulum | 011-52/984-871-2499 | www.cesiak.org
HIDDEN WORLDS CENOTES, Tulum | 011-52/984-877-8535 | www.hiddenworlds.com
Taste of Playa, International Food & Wine Festival, Playa del Carmen | www.tasteofplaya.com
Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, Playa del Carmen | www.rivieramayajazzfestival.com
BPM Festival, Playa del Carmen | www.bpmfestival.com
LGBT Special Events
Gay Summer Festival, Tulum, June 22nd – 24th.
Gay Mexico Independence Month Fiesta, Tulum, September | www.adonistulum.com
ADONIS TULUM RESORT & SPA
All Inclusive Gay Resort – IGLTA Member, TAG Approved, Trip advisor award winner of LGBT excellence 2012.
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