Wondering what it’s like to travel internationally now? Here’s my report from my recent trip to Playa Mujeres and Cancun, Mexico.
I opted for this destination because it’s quick, easy, and the only country that makes it easy for Americans to visit. No pre-travel PCR test requirement. In fact, no requirements at all. For the past year I’ve been jealously watching travel advisor friends vacationing on Facebook. Now that I’m fully vaccinated, I jumped on attractive travel agent rates to check out 2 resorts I have not yet seen, and spend more time at luxurious Le Blanc.
The best routing for me was leaving from Newark, and returning to JFK. Newark airport was sane on April 18 when I departed. However unlike Jet Blue’s Terminal 5 at JFK with many dining and shopping options, the choices were limited. No duty free store, and very basic food choices. Terminal seating is marked to enable social distancing, with families able to sit together and strangers able to distance.
The plane was extremely clean! Like everyone around me, I wiped down my armrest, screen, seatbelt clasps, tray table including the latch, overhead nozzle and light switch with a sanitizing wipe. Because I paid for a more legroom seat, I had my own row.
We arrived at brand new Terminal 4 in Cancun. Although Immigration did touch my passport and form like usual, there was no Customs. I had downloaded and completed the form at home, but no one wanted it. We all just walked in to the terminal. The car service driver gave me hand-sanitizer, sprayed my bag and shoes (including the bottoms) with who knows what, and brought me to my resort.
At each resort check-in operated the way it always has. My passport and credit card was handled by the hotel staff. Although Mexican hotels are mandated to be at 60 percent occupancy, my room was not ready at 2 of 3 hotels until after the 3pm check-in time. In fact, at Le Blanc, my first room was not available until 4pm but the smell of varnish was so strong I had to wait until after 6pm for a different room, which I was unhappy about. That said I am not sure they would treat a client like this – just a travel advisor, even though my “special” rate was about $20 less than their current promotional one.
Staff at all 3 hotels were always masked. At the last property I visited they also wore face shields. Otherwise, everything operated as usual. The spas and fitness centers were open. Most of the restaurants were open nightly. There was nightlife. Pool chairs were very close together; beach chairs were more spread apart at the first 2 resorts and very tightly packed at the last one. I grabbed a Bali bed wherever possible to prevent anyone from getting too close.
Guests were requested to wear face masks in the elevators, public areas, entering restaurants, and at the buffets. Not at the pool and beach. I felt for the poolside/beach servers and would sometimes put my mask on to order drinks and lunch. Some guests definitely had an attitude about wearing masks but most were in compliance. It was a little shocking that breakfast/lunch buffets were self-service at 2 of the 3 resorts. At the breakfast buffet at Le Blanc I ran into a local travel advisor I know using her cloth napkin to touch all the serving implements.
Three days before my return flight, I had my Covid Antigen test, which was quick and relatively painless. It was my first Covid test. The results arrived by email within hours. I downloaded and emailed the Health Attestation form the US requires to the Concierge who printed it for me. Turns out they had the form at the airport so there was no need to stress about this. No one ever asked for my test results – you attest on the form that your test was negative or positive.
I’m already thinking about where to go next so clearly I felt safe and comfortable on my first pandemic trip.