Isla Mujeres Trip Report – 12/26/08 – 1/10/09

Due to the snow and ice I stayed in a hotel out near the airport Christmas night. I was concerned about getting to the airport the next morning for a 7:00 AM flight. My sister Pam who works for a hotel called and reserved me a room at the Radisson. She told me it would be $50 but they were putting me in a large room with a Jacuzzi and would have a chilled bottle of white wine waiting for me. Pam called me back about 30 minutes later to tell me that the GM of the Radisson called her and told her that he was not going to charge me for the room The GM and my sister worked at a hotel together several years ago. So I got my SIL to take me to the hotel on the slippery, snowy, icy streets and I had a good dinner and wine and was set to go on vacation the next morning. The Portland airport was an absolute zoo due to all of the flights that had been canceled due to weather the previous three days. I had checked in the afternoon before and had no problem with Alaska Airlines. Some of the other airlines had lines at the checkout that went out the door and down the sidewalk. It was as usual a LONG travel day. I was at the airport at 5:00 AM and did not get to Isla and my hotel until 8:00PM.

The first morning on Isla I had breakfast at my favorite place, Elements of the Island where Lisa and Caesar welcomed me back. Over the two week trip I think I had breakfast there 5 times. The food is great and the owners are really nice people. Of course by now they know me by name, where I live and where I stay. Lisa was even aware of the unusual weather we had in Portland and mentioned that she knew getting out of Portland had probably not been easy.

After breakfast I went to El Sol to pick up the golf cart that I had someone on the island reserve for me. I had gotten worried about all of the walking I would need to do and how it was going to be with my knee still not healed from torn ligaments. Having the golf cart was great. When I stay in town we usually only rent a golf cart for a day or two to tour around the island. I drove to the beach everyday and then only had to walk across the sand to the beach chairs. I was really glad to have the cart. Even though Isla is small it gave me a sense of freedom that I could hop in the cart and just go anywhere at any time.

Some observations from this trip:

  • · The island seemed cleaner. There were crews all over sweeping the streets and sidewalks. There was a large crew who cleaned the beach early in the morning, at least at Sergio’s Playa Sol.
  • · Two years ago on New Year’s Day morning there were tons of people still partying when I went to the beach at 9:00AM. There was a big fight and police hauling people away from the streets and sidewalks across from the Posada. This year I was out for breakfast by 8:00AM and found more restaurants open than in any previous years on NY Day. I did not run across anyone still partying in the streets of El Centro from the night before.
  • · For a few days between Christmas and NY there seemed to be a lot of people out in the evenings but nowhere near what I was used to from the previous four years on Isla at that same time. After about the 4th it really died down. I don’t remember it ever being that slow during that time period. The last few days on the beach it was like a ghost town.
  • · As expected the patch work job on Hidalgo where it had been torn up was as dangerous as I expected it would be.

  • · Prices at most restaurants were up from my last visit in April 2008. Not by a lot but noticeably so.
  • · Sitting on Hidalgo at night we noticed a lot more heels and dressy type people. Not that anything is wrong with that it just made us think about how much the island is changing with the new more expensive condos.
  • · Along that same line of thought is how the new condos Privileges Aluxes is going to totally change the dynamics of that end of the island. It is a massive resort. They seemed to be working around the clock everyday of the week to get the project completed.
  • · The people of Isla are still the same, friendly, helpful and caring. To me Isla is like Cheers, everyone knows my name.

We usually go to Zamas at least once but this trip I said no because of the big steps going into the pool. So we went out to Villa Vera twice and spent time at the pool. The 2nd time we had breakfast there. Denise and I had the quesadilla and we were very disappointed. For $90 pesos it should have been way better. It was listed on the menu with a basket of sweet rolls. Ha! We got cold toasted Bimbo bread. Ralph had the chorizo and Manchego cheese omelet and said it was very good plus it was less at $85 pesos.

This is a freaking huge yacht that I could not get far enough away from to take a good photo capturing the entire thing.

We stopped one afternoon at the Soggy Peso for drinks and chicken wings. It is a fun little bar. The wings were great. We were told that on Sundays they make killer smoked ribs.

The Mango Café is a great new restaurant. Monday nights are barbeque nights with a set menu.

Jamaican – grilled chicken with jerk sauce, fried plantain, black beans and rice, chunky guac and grilled pineapple with rum sauce for dessert.

I am sure that there is more I could write but this is all for now.

5 Responses

  1. Glad you had a good trip. And I agree with the observation about the changing demographics of the Isla tourist. Time will tell if this is a good thing or not (trying to be positive about it, but not really buying into it). Somehow I don’t fit in with my wrinkly, linty clothes.

  2. Good observations. I am not liking the changing dynamics of the island at all. Did you notice that temporary big green fence as you enter the road to Sergio’s? That is going to be the PRIVATE beach for the condos. Disgusting. As always, your pictures of the island are so great. Thanks for sharing.

    • How could I miss the green fence! One day as I was leaving Sergio’s the workers were digging up the road to put in a manhole thing. I had to sit for 20 minutes while they filled the hole enough to drive over it. That whole construction area is an accident waiting to happen. One day I almost got ran over by a backing up dump trunk.
      Talking to a National who has lived and worked on Isla for a long time was interesting to hear his perspective of the changes. He calculated in his head how many employees those new condos would need and commented that the island people do not have the education that they will be looking for so the employees will be coming from Cancun, Mexico City and other larger cities. One can only hope that between the employees and tourist there will be additional money making its way to local businesses.

  3. Wow! I know I have not been to Isla in, oh, 4 or 5 years now, I never dreamed it could change THAT much!

    I still long to visit before it is totally unrecognizable to me.

    Great pix as always Jackie!

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