By Shell R.
I love the beach and thus, I love Cozumel. Being in Texas it’s a pretty easy trip and you can usually find inexpensive, direct flights. This is my second trip to Cozumel in the last two years, which definitely made planning much easier. We knew where we wanted to stay, the activities we wanted to do and the tourist traps to avoid.
When you arrive in Cozumel and get through Customs – and after you wade through all of the salesmen – I recommend going up to the counter and purchasing a shuttle ticket for about $8 per person. On the way home (from your hotel back to the airport) you can get a cab for around $10-12 total. This is a lot cheaper than buying the shuttle service online; most hotels offer this when you book online from them.
Before leaving for our trip we heard about a new law Mexico had passed stating merchants can take no more than $100 in US currency, the rest has to be in Pesos, credit card or another form. We were told it’s supposed to cut down on money laundering. We purchased Pesos (before we got there, not at the airport) and when spending, some merchants didn’t want US currency at all and others weren’t really phased by it. We did find we got better deals paying in Pesos.
Park Royal Hotel in Cozumel
We had stayed at Park Royal the previous year and loved it so we booked there again. We were able to find a great deal on Orbitz back in June for $200 off a seven night stay or more. We did purchase the travel insurance this time since it’s hurricane season. (I have mixed feelings about travel insurance but it’s worth the money if there are seasonal weather events that typically occur when you’re traveling.) We also purchased the all-inclusive package, which includes the buffet, two restaurants at the hotel and all the beer, wine and liquor. This is the only way to go.
The Park Royal hotel has three swim-up bars at three different pools and at the Beach Bar and Bikini Bar you can get burgers, nachos and pizza anytime during the day. At night the Sports Bar plays anything you request and they even have Karaoke night, which is always fun. There’s a free business center to use with four computers and a printer. They also have a fitness center but that’s an extra $5 fee – I heard it’s worth it – I didn’t go though.
After getting settled we decided to go snorkeling. On the way to the beach we stopped at the restaurants to make reservations. You can only make reservations between 12pm-3pm. Remember, since we did the all-inclusive deal everything is free but if you do not have a reservation they will not let you into the restaurant and you will have to eat at the buffet. The two restaurants (Italian and Mexican) are a lot better than the buffet plus you get wine and other types of beer you wouldn’t normally see at the pool or other bars.
One thing we learned from last year is to take a larger cup or purchase them there for your poolside / beachside drinks. Doing this is a lot better than using the tiny little cups they have at the hotel. Essentially, we wanted to avoid having to run back to the bar every time we needed a refill. In other words, we wanted more pool/beach time and less walking to the bar… The bar tenders don’t mind filling up larger cups, especially if you tip.
Activities at the Park Royal
The hotel has an activity board that tells you what is going on all day. Every night they have a show in the outdoor amphitheater unless it’s Casino Night. They like audience participation and my boyfriend somehow ended up as one of four participants the first night. It was very funny.
Having worked as an entertainer on several cruise lines back in the day, I can say it’s very apparent the entertainment staff at the Park Royal work extremely hard to make sure everyone is having a great time; they are awesome. On Casino Night everyone plays with fake money and at the end they auction off various items and you can bid on them with your winnings. On Bingo Night I won a frisbee from Margaritaville.