The safe side of Mexico
Monday, November 28, 2011
Mexico has gotten a bad rap in the press lately, but that's no reason not to visit the resort areas, which remain as safe as ever.
My family and I are regular visitors to Mexico. We're huge fans of Cancun and Riviera Maya (less than three hours from Chicago by plane), which offer American travelers affordable luxury, predictable Caribbean weather and a welcoming, family-friendly culture.
Most recently, I visited as a guest of Dreams Resorts and the Mexican Tourist Board, both of which wanted to prove that travel to the resort areas of Mexico remain safe and welcoming to Americans. We stayed at the beautiful all-inclusive Dreams Riviera Cancun. It boasts "unlimited luxury," an expansive beach and plenty of activities to keep kids and adults happy and safely on the property throughout the stay.
Even better, book a room with a personal plunge pool and a whirlpool tub on the balcony, then order your meals delivered by room service and there won't even be a need to leave the room (although I highly recommend a visit to the beach and a fire dancing performance).
Quintana Roo, the state that includes Cancun and Riviera Maya, is not listed on the State Department's travel warning list for Mexico. Still, opting for an excursion booked through the resort is the safest option.
We spent a lovely morning at Selvatica, the adventure park that was named Cancun's top attraction in 2010. The six-hour Extreme Canopy Adventure includes a 12-segment zip line course, a relaxing swim in a freshwater cenote, hotel transportation and lunch. (Cost: $99 adults, $49 kids 5-12, free kids 3-4.)
The always-inviting Xcaret (pronounced Ish-ka-ret) ecotourism park is one of my family's favorite Cancun activities. We don life jackets and float through the underground river. Be forewarned, there are sections of the underground river that get pretty dark, so it may not be the best option if your kids are afraid of the dark.
If you can, plan to stay for the evening show, which includes a flashy demonstration of a Mayan ball game and an entertaining Mexican history lesson that my kids remembered when they hit fifth-grade civics.