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23. April 2018 · Comments Off on Beach Reads: News from Puerto Morelos by InPuertoMorelos.com · Categories: Beach Reads The Blog · Tags: , ,

A grande “Hola!” from your favourite Mexican village and the latest news from Puerto Morelos. The busy part of the season is now over, and PM is “downshifting” into our summer season. It’s warm, quiet and uncrowded. A great time of year to be here! Stay with us at Casa de los Viajeros! Check out our very low summer rates!

The Big Dig

The big news is the continued renovation of the roads in the centre of town. It’s a very ambitious plan to bury all the utilities around the square, finish all the sewer connections and create new, stamped concrete roads & sidewalks. Like any renovation, it has caused some pain and inconvenience. Most businesses around the square bravely stayed open as much as possible, and spent a lot of time dusting and re-cleaning their windows. The work is not completed yet, so traffic is still being diverted and parking is difficult. In the end though, we will have much wider sidewalks for strolling and for the restaurants to use. We’re all looking forward to the work being completed!

The Colonia has been undergoing renovations as well. Roads are being paved,and many of the streets are now one-way. There is still a good amount of confusion over what direction traffic is supposed to flow, so be aware if you are driving there. The main roads close to the square are fairly well marked, but others are not. There are also some new, much needed parking restrictions near the square that are being cheerfully ignored so far.

Restaurant News

Amazingly, we continue to gain restaurants here in Puerto Morelos! At least four have just opened, or are in the process of opening. Hard to believe as we are just starting our low season!

We told you about “A la Burger” back in December. We thought their opening was imminent, but they took their time and finally opened about a week ago. They are a small chain from Cancun, but so far, they have been a hit in our town too. Burgers are hot and tasty, service is prompt and prices are low. They have a “fixin’s” bar when you can customize your meal. They have meal combos that are an especially good deal. You can get a burger with fries and a cold beer for 89 pesos or slightly less if you opt for a soft drink. You can sit out front or they have a pleasant garden area out back. Most of their menu is dominated by burgers, but they also have wings, salads, tacos, big onion rings and grilled meats. Al la Burger is located on Rojo Gomez, about a block and a half north of the square, right beside “I Wanna Pizza”. They are open every day from 1:00pm to 11:40pm. (Not sure why it’s 11:40, but that is what they told us.)

On the same street, closer to the square you will find another new place called “Santa Cecilia”. It’s a small space, formerly occupied by a nail salon. Despite its size, they have made space for live music! They have a good menu of burgers, fries, chicken, coffee and desserts. It just opened, so I have not heard any reviews yet.

Just before the heavy construction on started south of the square on Rojo Gomez, a small cafe opened right across from the Mayan Handicraft Market in a space that was occupied by La Parilla in 2017. We have not seen the cafe open lately, so we are not sure if they are still there, or they are just keeping a low profile until the road construction stops. We never saw a sign, but we think it is called “Cacao”. We’ll keep an eye on it and report back to you.

On a recent neighbourhood stroll, we saw signs going up on the old “Pancho Villa” restaurant site on Niños Héroes. El Sazón Mexicano is already advertising burgers, tortas, gringas and Tacos Al Pastor…which are three of my favourite words EVER, so having this place so close to home may work out nicely. No idea when they are opening, but I would bet soon.

We also noticed that folks are renovating the old Don Mexkal location on Rojo Gomez, which Mexkal moved from a couple of months ago. I was thinking that it was yet another new restaurant, but in fact, it will be the new location of an existing one; Panna e Cioccolato. Famous for their gelato and other cool desserts, they will move into the space soon, moving out of their old location on the north side of the square. They tell us they will they will close the current place on May 2 and hope to be open and serving up treats in the new location on May 4.

 

In other big restaurant news, La Sirena finally opened its long awaited rooftop bar. With great views of the lighthouse, the ocean and the centro, it has quickly become the place to be in town. In other La Sirena news, they are now open for breakfast every morning except Tuesday. Hosted by the affable Richard “Rickie Ricardo”, you will find a variety of breakfast treats including Huevos Rancheros, fresh healthy juices made to order, and mimosas. They open for breakfast at 7:30 am.

Two local entrepreneurs have teamed up and created something new on Niños Héroes. Jorie, the creative force behind “Finders Keepers PM” and the Saturday Markets has joined forces with Louise who opened the Aarom Cafe and Wellness Centre at the beginning of the season. Together they are “Finding Om”. They have done an amazing job on the place and even created a lovely “quiet space” garden in the back. The shop is full of locally sourced art, gifts, foods and more. The cafe has coffee, juices, smoothies, breakfast bowls, Buddha bowls, and more with all ingredients organic and found locally. The wellness centre has massage, Reiki, and other holistic treatments as well as yoga in private or small group sessions. They are open every weekday except Thursday from 8:00 to 8:00, Saturdays 8:00-3:00, Sundays 9:00-3:00. They promise lots of activities and events, even during the summer months.

 

Cancun hits middle age

The city of Cancun is just 48 years old this year. The city’s official founding date was April 20, 1970. It started with just nine hotels, financed by the Mexican government. The city now has 37,300 rooms and an average occupation of 79.8 percent for the end of 2017. It also recorded a record number of tourists, exceeding 5 million last year for the first time with the airport counting 23 million passengers.

The State Tourism Secretariat is reporting that they will add 8,622 additional rooms between Cancun and Puerto Morelos in the next year. 5,155 of those will be built in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

The photo above is from 1975 and was taken from the Hyatt Hotel. For all its glamour and party atmosphere, we just think of it as the city with our airport and our Costco.

 

 

Congratulations to Anne and Allan Elliott who celebrated 50 years of marriage recently in Puerto Morelos. Anne and Allan have been coming to PM for many years and are well known for giving back generously to the community. I think they have also tried every restaurant in town! Felicidades!

We hope you enjoyed getting caught up with all the news. For more up-to-date town info, please check out our voluminous website, www.InPuertoMorelos.com 

There is a space on the right side of the InPuertoMorelos.com page where you can add your email address to sign up for our updates. You will receive an email any time we drop another Beach Reads update. We do our best to keep you informed, but there is not substitute for being here! Check out our places on InPuertoMorelos.com or on our casa page at www.CasaDeLosViajeros.com 

We have 1 and 2 bedrooms available for you!

All our places are large, self-contained and private.

All our places have full kitchens, an outside seating area and comfy beds

 

 

19. April 2018 · Comments Off on Cash Exchange Rates for April 19, 2018 · Categories: Beach Reads The Blog

Here are the cash exchange rates for April 19, 2018 at CI Banco in Puerto Morelos. I post these rates on occasion so that you can compare these rates with the rate your bank or the ATM may offer. To see where the rates have been in the last couple of years, search “exchange rates” on our page at InPuertoMorelos.com 

Cash Exchange Rates Buy Sell
US Dollar $ 17.05 18.57
Canadian Dollar $ 13.45 14.91
Euro € 21.57 22.95
Pound Sterling £ 25.00 26.40

16. April 2018 · Comments Off on Before You Book Your Next Vacation Rental · Categories: Beach Reads The Blog · Tags: , , , ,


Before you book your next vacation rental online there are few things you should know. Many people are turning away from hotels or all inclusives and spending their time in vacation rentals. These are homes, apartments, condos etc. that are individually owned and rented out by the night, week or month. If you are considering renting a home in Puerto Morelos or anywhere else, there are many website to choose from and frankly it can be a bit overwhelming. The sites include: Airbnb, VRBO, VacationRentals.com, HomeAway, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Bookings.com etc. Or you may book direct from the homeowner.

Many people find a sense of security booking with these companies, but keep in what mind you are paying for the use of these websites. Renters don’t always know, but all of these companies add a fee to the booking. These fees can be anywhere from 8-25% of the rental price. Also, all of the websites charge the homeowner a service fee (3% or more and/or an annual rate), so some owners increase their rates to compensate for this. So what are you getting in return for these substantial fees?

One thing is that you get the option of using your credit card. Most small business home owners (especially in Mexico) do not take credit cards; however, there is a way around this. Most home owners do take PayPal which will let you to use a credit card, normally for an extra 3% charge. This allows you to use your trip cancellation insurance that many cards give you or perhaps earn points.

Many of these big companies do offer some sort of insurance policy on your rental. For example, VRBO has these suggestions for its renters (research that Airbnb does for you), but when you go to their carefree rental guarantee at the bottom of the page, you get an error message. Airbnb has this policy which covers situations like the host cancelling at the last minute or if the place is not as advertised. We have heard that Airbnb does honour their policy, whereas some of the other big companies have been a bit iffy on this. One problem we have found with Airbnb rentals, is that some of their units are not just vacation rentals, they are actually people’s homes that they move out of temporarily to make some extra cash. It’s something to be aware of before you rent. Airbnb tends to have low rental rates for guests and they do break them out so that you can see the fees before you book.

For example here is a recent Airbnb that we booked in Europe. Note all prices in this post are in US dollars.

The top line is the rent, $86.28 a night.

Cleaning Fee: “One-time fee charged by the host (owner of the property) to cover the cost of cleaning their space.” (some owners include this in the rent, some do not)

Service Fee: This is how AirBnb makes their money, or as they put it: “This helps us run our platform and offer services like 24/7 support on your trip.”

As  you can see, the service fee on this short three day trip is almost 19% plus there is a cleaning fee. The service fee does decrease in percentage the longer you stay. On a six day rental it works out to just over 12% and so on. Airbnb also charges the owner of the property for the privilege of listing their property, as do all the other companies.

Here is an example of what fees you would pay if you are booking a two week stay for two people with Airbnb. The following is for a one bedroom apartment that normally rents directly from the owner for $1600 USD for two weeks during high season. Here is what you would pay with Airbnb. If you are renting in state of Quintana Roo (where Puerto Morelos is located) there is an automatic state tax of 3% added to your rental. Most owners build the taxes right into their rates, but you should ask about this when booking.

Airbnb

Here is that same booking on VRBO.

VRBO, VacationRentals.com, HomeAway and Expedia (which are all part of the same big happy corporate family and charge the same rates) break down their fees as follows. We’re not sure why the tax being collected is only 1%.

And here is that same booking on TripAdvisor/Flipkey. 
TripAdvisor/Flipkey, comes out to $232USD over the owner price with no tax collected. Each of these sites have very different cancellation policies, so make sure you understand them when booking.

So here is what you would pay:

Rent from  Difference
From Owner  $  1,600.00
Airbnb  $  1,858.00  $       258.00
VRBO  $  1,807.78  $       207.78
TripAdvisor  $  1,832.00  $       232.00

Note: Full taxes may not be included on VRBO (2% more) & Tripadvisor (3% more) rates.

Full disclosure, we do have vacation rentals ourselves and we list them on many of these big sites, just because we have to.

We also travel a lot ourselves and we are big users of Airbnb. Why do we use Airbnb? They have a large number of listings and we also like their search engine and review system. We value the opinions of people who actually stayed at the property, especially when we are traveling to a city or country we have never visited. We value the reviews of the place, the location and even people’s thoughts on the host. Also, we have found the reviews to be mostly accurate, or at least we have found enough information to know whether or not we will be comfortable at a certain property.

So, the big question is, should I be booking my next vacation rental online with one of these companies or am I better to book directly from the owner? We will give you some more tips in one of our next blog posts.


Recently we had some family visit, which gave us a chance to play tourist and go to the glass factory. My cousin and his wife were in search of Mexican glasses and we knew just the place to take them. Fabrica de Vidrio Soplado Mexicano in Playa del Carmen. Now normally we would not support a trip to another town to go shopping, but this is a truly unique experience that we do not have here in Puerto Morelos.

Our new lamp. A beautiful piece of art.

 

Two years ago this Vidrio Soplado Mexicano was a small, dusty warehouse of glass just off the highway going into Playa del Carmen. Since then they have moved to a new location on the non-touristy west side of the main highway. Now they have a large showroom filled with glass, anything you can possibly think of, from swizzle sticks to chandeliers and everything in between. The artists at Vidrio Soplado Mexicano have created some beautiful works of art.

 




Now in their new location you can watch the glass blowers at work over their red hot furnace. They are heating and blowing glass into unique shapes right in front of you. The glass blowers begin with a small blob of dense glass which they heat in the kiln on the end of a pole. They remove the blog of red hot glass from the flames and blow into the pole, which forces the glass to blow up like a balloon. From there the creation of art begins.

Not only did we find a great selection of unique items at Fabrica de Vidrio Soplado, we also found reasonable prices. Most items in the store were marked, but it was nice to see that a discount on those prices appeared when you went to purchase your new treasures.

And of course we didn’t leave the glass factory empty handed. We walked away with a beautiful new lamp that is truly a piece of art, along with a few gifts for family. As for my cousin’s wife, she almost emptied the store, much to her husband’s shagrin. They were happy to report that all of their new treasures made it back to Canada safe and sound. All and all a successful mission and worth the trip to Playa del Carmen.

Wine at Super AkiWe set out looking at liquor prices in both Cancun and Puerto Morelos thinking there would a big difference in prices between stores. We were surprised by what we found. We tried to pick items that were commonly found in most grocery or liquor stores here in Mexico and are the most popular to drink. All prices are in Mexican Pesos. To find out what items cost in your own currency convert here.
Bacardi Rum

Bacardi White Rum  Price Size in Litres Price/Litre
Chedraui (in Puerto Morelos)  $  289.00 1.75  $        165.14
*Costco (in Cancun)  $  249.00 1.75  $        142.29
La Europea (in Puerto Morelos)  $  170.00 0.98  $        173.47
Off the Vine (in Puerto Morelos)  $           – 0  NA
*Sam’s Club (in Cancun)  $  149.00 1.4  $        106.43
Super Aki (in Puerto Morelos)  $  169.00 0.98  $        172.45
Wal-Mart (in Cancun)  $  136.00 0.75  $        181.33

Baileys Irish Cream

Baileys Irish Cream Price Size in Litres Price/Litre
Chedraui (in Puerto Morelos)  $           – 0  NA
*Costco (in Cancun)  $  355.00 1  $        355.00
La Europea (in Puerto Morelos)  $  308.00 0.75  $        410.67
Off the Vine (in Puerto Morelos)  $  307.00 0.75  $        409.33
*Sam’s Club (in Cancun)  $  340.00 1  $        340.00
Super Aki (in Puerto Morelos)  $  289.00 0.75  $        385.33
Wal-Mart (in Cancun)  $           – 0  NA



Licor 43

43 (Liquor) Price Size in Litres Price/Litre
Chedraui (in Puerto Morelos)  $  445.00 0.75  $        593.33
*Costco (in Cancun)  $  369.00 0.75  $        492.00
La Europea (in Puerto Morelos)  $  415.00 0.75  $        553.33
Off the Vine (in Puerto Morelos)  $           – 0  NA
*Sam’s Club (in Cancun)  $           – 0  NA
Super Aki (in Puerto Morelos)  $  405.00 0.75  $        540.00
Wal-Mart (in Cancun)  $           – 0  NA

Controy Price Size in Litres Price/Litre
Chedraui (in Puerto Morelos)  $           – 0  NA
*Costco (in Cancun)  $  125.00 1  $        125.00
Off the Vine (in Puerto Morelos)  $           – 0  NA
La Europea (in Puerto Morelos)  $  141.00 1  $        141.00
*Sam’s Club (in Cancun)  $  125.00 1  $        125.00
Super Aki (in Puerto Morelos)  $           – 0  NA
Wal-Mart (in Cancun)  $           – 0  NA

 Centenario Gold Tequila

Centenario Gold Tequila Price Size in Litres Price/Litre
Chedraui (in Puerto Morelos)  $  205.00 0.7  $        292.86 (white)
*Costco (in Cancun)  $           – 0  NA
Off the Vine (in Puerto Morelos)  $  260.00 0.98  $        265.31
La Europea (in Puerto Morelos)  $  250.00 1  $        250.00
*Sam’s Club (in Cancun)  $  205.00 0.95  $        215.79
Super Aki (in Puerto Morelos)  $           – 0  NA
Wal-Mart (in Cancun)  $  235.00 0.9  $        261.11

All Prices are in Mexico Pesos
*Membership required
NA (not available in this store at the time of our visit)

As you can see Sam’s Club came out as the clear winner as far as best price goes. This was surprising to us as we have always shopped at Costco in Cancun for our liquor, thinking it was cheaper. But the question is “Would it be worth it to go all the way to Cancun?” We guess it depends on how long you are staying or more important how much you are drinking. If you are already a Sam’s Club member, and are staying for more than a few weeks, the trip to Cancun may be worth it.

Of the local liquor stores the one thing we did notice was the variety of products they carried. Super Aki in the colonia did tend to have low prices generally, but they have a small selection of items. Chedraui had a larger selection, but tended to run out of a lot of the basics because they are a very busy store. Off The Vine, on the port side, also had a few liquors to offer. Their speciality is wine and they are a great place to stop if you are looking for a nice bottle of red, they know their stuff! The real gem was La Europea, which many people may not know about. It is located at the Pemex on Calle Jose Maria Morelos, the road which stretches between the port and the colonia. They are tucked to one side inside the Go Mart. They may not have the cheapest prices, but they consistently have a good selection of items in stock.