Wednesday, July 13, 2011

W.A.T.W: Cancun, Mexico...Is it safe?

One of the most frequently asked questions of recent months regarding Cancun is not "How much is it?" but, "Is it safe?" If you look to celebrities for the answers to such important questions, the answer is a resounding yes! Check out the latest celebrities who have made visits to Cancun and the surrounding areas in recent months.

Last fall, the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team took the plunge — into the dolphin pool — at Delphinus at Dreams Cancún. The women, who are among the favorites to win the Women's World Cup in Germany later this month, swam, played, kissed and got pushed around (via the controlled "foot push" routine) by the cute cetaceans.

Jennifer Lopez cozied up to a shirtless William Levy (the Cuban-born actor dubbed the "Brad Pitt of Mexico") on Turtle Beach near Tulum in April for her new music video "I'm into You." She also appeared in a low-cut snakeskin print dress and turban at Chichén Itzá, which gave her unprecedented access for the filming.

"Superman Returns" star and Calvin Klein Jeans model Kate Bosworth had lips flapping and paparazzi snapping when she doffed her bikini stop for a frolic on the beach in Cancún in April. She was on a girlfriend getaway to unwind after wrapping shooting on "Straw Dogs."

After getting hitched in Texas — both shod in cowboy boots — country singers Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton snuck away in May for a secret honeymoon south of the border. Seems fellow star Reba McEntire's gift to the happy couple was the keys to her luxury vacation home outside of Cancun.

And this week in Cancun, a laundry list of celebrities attended the Summer of Sony 2011 event at the Ritz-Carlton Cancun. They were there to promote this summer's hottest movies. Those tourists lucky enough to be in the area could rub shoulders with the likes of Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Jackie Chan, Salma Hayek, Adam Sandler, Christina Aguilera, Eva Mendes, Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, Cam Gigandet, David Spade, Emma Stone, Kevin James, Seth Rogan, Jaden Smith, Justin Timberlake to name-drop just a few :)  Even the Smurfs were in attendance! 

Katie Holmes, Santiago Segura, Eugenio Derbez, Adam Sandler
Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, Bennett Miller
Brad Pitt
Sofia Vergara
Cameron Diaz
Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, Bennett Miller
Daddy Smurf, Hank Azaria, Sofia Vergara, Neil OAtrick Harris, Raja Gosness, Jordan Kerner, Smurfette
George Clooney

MTS Owners Theresa, Maria and Andrea
j/k...this is us a few years ago celebrating 'girl power' in Cancun
 In all seriousness, Cancun is noted as one of the safest places to travel in Mexico and is known throughout Mexico for its relatively lower crime rate. Of course you may find the normal petty thievery found in all tourist destinations, but major crime in the tourist zones is almost non-existent.  Furthermore, the neighboring tourist areas of Riviera Maya, Playa Del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Tulum are considered to be some of the safest travel destinations in the Caribbean.

Of course, as is the case with any travel, there are some things to be aware of when traveling to these areas of Mexico:

Arrival at Cancun Airport:  Passing through customs upon arrival in Cancun and making my way outside to hook up with prearranged transfers has always felt like the story of Jesus in the temple with the hawkers and the peddlers, yelling and reaching out to all who pass trying to sell their wares.  Avoid them like the plague!  Proceed to your transfers located directly outside of the exit from the Cancun airport.  They have nothing to offer you and you'll be glad you did!

Most resorts offer amenities galore to their guests that for the most part there is no reason to leave. That said, there are times you may want to venture from the resort and explore on your own.  If you do, there are a few dangers to be aware of:

Taxi's: A great and reasonably inexpensive way to get around, always prearrange rates before entering the cab. Not all, but some taxi drivers have been known to charge whatever they think they can get away with. Prices should posted in front of your hotel, or simply talk with the bellman. Also, most fares include the tip. Feel free to give a little extra if your driver provides additional service.

Renting a Car: A typical Mexico car rental story is rent a car, get pulled over by police, pay bribe for speeding or worse, be declared intoxicated, pay bribe, pay towing fee, pay extra money to rental car agency, pay police bribe, and before you know it, there goes your spending money! While it's not uncommon for tourists to rent cars in Mexico, familiarize yourself with the laws and road system before hitting the road.

Time Shares: Don't get sucked in. The time share sellers are experts at convincing you to attend their presentation. They offer you free gifts, complimentary tours and the like. Before you know it the professionals have you signing on the dotted line. Congratulations! You've just purchased your first timeshare in exchange for a free tour. Forego the seminar, spend the money for the tour and spend the three hours with the dolphins. They're much less expensive and way better company!

Water: Simple. Don't drink it. Drink bottled water instead.

Silver: Make sure the silver is stamped with .925. If not, don't buy it. Most vendors and retail shops will sell you quality silver at exceptional prices. Don't be taken advantage of by vendors with 'quality silver' and no stamp. Deals like that will have your finger turning black before your plane touches down on your home turf.

Most importantly, educate yourself before going to Cancun, Mexico or anywhere else for that matter. So much of it's charm is because of the locals, who work extremely long hours to support their families and show off a culture they're proud of. You'll find them honest, courteous and so willing to share their beautiful county. For me, it somehow makes it easier to part with my hard-earned dollars.  I know their very existence depends on tourism and the fact that I can contribute AND spend time at a heaven-on-earth makes me a willing participant!!  See you in paradise!

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