Hello, from Mexico!
This week Travel Courier chats with Lori Gold, a travel advisor with TWIL Travel, a full service luxury travel consultancy. Gold has been in the travel industry for 13 years and specializes in honeymoons, family travel and selling the Mexican Caribbean. Although most of her clients are Canadian, Gold has been living in Mexico on and off for the past four and a half years, and is currently checked into UNICO 20º87º, an adults-only all inclusive hotel in Riviera Maya. Due to COVID-19, she hasn’t left Mexico since January.
Where are you staying and what changes have you noticed?
I am currently staying at UNICO 20º87º. The changes at UNICO 20º87º are that the swim up bars are not operational, there are no breakfast and lunch buffets (these have been replaced with a la carte menus), 100% of staff are wearing masks, you need to make reservations for the gym so only a small number of people can workout at the same time, and temperature checks at the entrance, and before using the spa or gym. Also, only two out of four restaurants are open for dinner each night. The other resorts had a few different measures, like no throw pillows on the bed, cups in the rooms individually wrapped, etc.
What’s the experience like?
The experience has been amazing! It is so lovely to get back to a sense of normalcy. Besides little things here or there, it does feel like your typical UNICO experience. This is my eighth stay and I truly feel it is no different from the others in terms of service, quality, etc.
“I think it is important that travellers work with agents who are up-to-date with what is open and what is not, which is, of course, always changing. For example, beaches are actually still closed in Quintana Roo, but tourists staying at some resorts/hotels will have access to the beaches right in front of where they are staying. If someone booked a non-beachfront hotel in Playa del Carmen, they would likely be disappointed to find out they cannot visit the beaches, which is a huge draw of this destination.”
Now that tourism is slowly reopening — what’s the impression you get? Is it possible to have a “normal” vacation?
Right now, in Quintana Roo we are in the “orange” stage of reopening on a traffic light system. This means that restaurants and resorts are only allowed to open at 30% occupancy. Hotels, resorts and restaurants are doing a great job of operating as normally as possible within these confines, but the experience may be a little different than people are used to. For example, most resorts will not have all of their dining options operating, may have reduced menus, some activities may not be able to operate.
For the most part, if you keep your expectations at the right spot, it would be possible to have a lovely vacation. The locals are definitely excited for tourism to start up again — they literally need it to survive. The region depends on tourism and COVID-19 has been a massive blow to that.
I think it is important that travellers work with agents who are up to date with what is open and what is not, which is, of course, always changing. For example, beaches are actually still closed in Quintana Roo, but tourists staying at some resorts/hotels will have access to the beaches right in front of where they are staying. If someone booked a non-beachfront hotel in Playa del Carmen, they would likely be disappointed to find out they cannot visit the beaches, which is a huge draw of this destination.
From what I have seen and experienced, Americans are travelling, as are some Mexicans but at this time Canadians are not. Canadians have a strict 14-day mandatory quarantine open return and our out of country medical coverage does not cover COVID.
What do you think those in industry should know about travelling again?
I think it’s important for agents who do have clients wanting to travel to find out from resorts exactly what the changes will be. It’s best to let clients know exactly what will be open/closed and any restrictions to manage their expectations so that they have a wonderful vacation. I also think it is important that agents are aware of the state/country’s COVID protocol, and what is open, at what capacity, etc. as it relates to their clients’ trips.
Are your clients booking trips already?
Mine are not as they are mainly Canadian, and cannot travel so freely because of the mandatory quarantine upon arrival back in Canada and the lack of emergency medical insurance should they get COVID while in destination.