My COVID-19 Mexican Vacation

Guest Written by Osvaldo Vazquez, AAA Travel Advisor in New York.

My goal has always been to recommend destinations and vacations that I have personally experienced to my travel clients. With COVID-19 impacting the world, clients have come to me for advice. It was decided, I knew in order to speak honestly, I would need to get out there and see what a COVID-19 vacation looks like. I booked a one-week vacation in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Here is what I personally experienced.

I departed on a Delta flight from JFK airport. My colleague, Ray Hourani had shared a behind the scenes look at Delta’s new policies and procedures, and I was excited to see the airline in action. Everyone inside the airport was required to wear a mask, and everyone complied. The airport was a little busy, but the check-in process was fast. One noticeable difference was the suspension of outside curb check-in. I had to go inside to one of the Delta kiosks to print my boarding pass, but there is also an option to download the pass on your phone. Once you have your pass, you’ll enter the line to drop your luggage. There was plenty of signage and markers to ensure proper social distance guidelines were being observed.

The security checkpoint had several Delta employees directing travelers to different lines, keeping the number of people waiting at a minimum. When I arrived at the gate, I was pleased to notice seats were blocked off to minimize crowding.

Once onboard the plane, I immediately noticed how clean the seats and isle looked. On my flight, the middle seat was blocked, passengers were seating at the window or an aisle seat only. All travelers were required to wear face masks while onboard. Passengers however can take it off to drink or eat. Delta is not serving or selling food on the plane but will give you a Ziplock bag that contains a small bottle of water, a bag of potato chips, a pack of cookies, and a packet of hand sanitizer. They also offered my flight free WIFI and movies.

When I landed at Cancun airport, I was greeted with high standards of safety protocols in place. Floors were marked to provided social distance between passengers, hands sanitizer was available throughout the airport, and face masks were always required. The whole experience was easy, fast, and felt safe.

I had reserved a transfer to take me to the resort. I selected a transfer company that was only using 30% capacity of their buses, leaving plenty of room for social distancing, and they even disinfected my luggage before putting it on the bus.

I stayed at The Riu Palace Riviera Maya. The moment I arrived at the hotel my luggage was put to the side to disinfect again. A bellboy stayed with my luggage while I continued on to an area where staff disinfected my shoes while I applied hand sanitizer. The resort also gave me a temperature check, all before I made it to the check-in counter.

If you are planning a stay at Riu, I recommend downloading their resort app. The app offers information about all the various resort restaurants, menus, and additional resort features. The Riu is not offering physical menus at the restaurants, the app is key for selecting and ordering meals. No reservations are needed to eat at any of the Riu restaurants, but you’ll need to remember your mask and staff will once again take your temperature.

One of my biggest concerns was around the pool experience. I love the pool, and I was worried because the area is usually the busiest part of any resort. I also wondered how the resort would handle masks in the area. While you needed a mask to make your way to and from the area, they were not required while swimming in the pool. This hotel did an amazing job keeping the pool area safe and clean for all their guests. The staff had placed two lounge chairs per umbrella and separated each sitting area from another. This layout allowed plenty of space to keep up with social distancing. The swim-up bar was closed to avoid gatherings, but there were plenty of pool waiters offering beverages.

The hotel kept guests busy with different activities and shows during the week. Most of the entertainment was held on the outside theatre, with plenty of tables for seating up to four, spaced out appropriately. I was able to see live music, dancing, and other shows during my time at the resort. It really helped to make the week enjoyable.

While I felt nervous as I planned my trip, I must admit that I never felt so safe in my life. I enjoyed myself, had a great time, and the level of safety I experienced from the airport to the resort was up to my standards. I needed to experience travel during this worldwide pandemic for myself and know now that I can speak intelligently with my clients, and offer first-hand accounts on what to expect while traveling during these unusual times.

Many AAA Travel advisors are getting out there, traveling under the current restrictions and protocols designed in response to COVID-19. As you plan your return to travel, chat with your advisor. Together you can unravel the new rules of travel and plan a vacation that is both enjoyable and safe. To speak to your advisor, call 1-800-222-7448. Tell them Osvaldo sent you!