Archive for the ‘Stay Luxurious’ Category

As fall descends on the northeast in the states, I find myself dreaming of the beaches of the Riviera Maya. Below is a photo I snapped when touring the luxury property Rosewood at Mayakoba. An amazing place and amazing views.

Jump in. Enjoy.


bliss on the Riviera Maya


Stay luxurious, Craig


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The shuttle van turned off the highway and stopped at the gate to gain entry to Hacienda Tres Rios. We arrived. The private path to the main hotel entrance might be considered a touch more “natural” than others, but when you arrive to the main reception, no doubt exists. You booked a luxury resort.

the HTR lobby (photo: Kirsten Alana)

At first you might think, well it is not unlike any other all-inclusive accommodation. And after your stay you might leave thinking – ok it’s different – the resort served better food, the service came with a bigger smile, or perhaps  you really enjoyed the on-site cenote swim. Differences, yes – but another difference exists.

As a guest, you don’t sense the sustainable aspect. Ok, when you take the excursions to the nursery established to help revitalize the hurricane damaged eco-system or take a kayak down a river thru mangroves – it’s ‘green.” But once you enter the resort grounds – it’s “normal.” It’s a luxury property in the Riviera Maya. A good one too.

The award winners pose for a photo (Photo: HTR)

And at the all-inclusive guests enjoy margaritas poolside, dine at the many restaurants, and take afternoon siestas in a cool, comfortable room.  Yet somehow Hacienda Tres Rios makes all that sustainable.

This past August, the resort achieved the Green Globe award for its second straight year. (HTR opened in Nov ’08) The award, received in recognition of it sustainable practices, conservation of the environment, support for local communities, and preservation of local culture is not easily obtained. And as I sat in the ceremony as an invited guest, I could not help but be impressed. Not solely because I understood the Spanish (I did, even though we had a translator) but more impressed about the details of what the resort created. I learned about the saltwater purification process, the elevator machine mechanics and the heating-cooling systems.  All complicated, all impressive.

the resort is so much more "green" than fauna

Then after the ceremony, after the local press took photos and interviewed the resort owners, planners, and green globe representatives the group of travel bloggers headed for a tour of the kitchen. We learned more. We learned about its commitment to reducing garbage monthly and how even with a buffet and 100s of guests it only discards 7-9% of its food. I didn’t think that was impressive until I started thinking about my own practices in my New York apartment. (Yes I cook) And, yes it is impressive.

A "green" we all can understand - the margarita.

Now, the more I look, awards and accolades continue to shower Hacienda Tres Rios. Both as a pioneer in sustainable travel and also as a luxury resort property. It seems the two are not mutually exclusive. Luxury and Sustainable together. Sounds wonderful.

But then as I left resort a few days later I wondered why the resort doesn’t promote itself as a leading sustainable resort to its guests on-site. No signs, no blatant details. My curiosity peaked. But when I watched and learned the details of eco-systems on my African adventures, I remember learning how nature just worked efficiently and quietly. So, I guess Hacienda Tres Rios took one more page from the sustainable handbook and created the process the way nature intended (and perhaps resorts guests want it too) – Seamless.

stay adventurous, Craig

Day 10 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial tribute

I’d also like to thank HTR for the all inclusive invitation to attend the ceremony.

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The taxi arrived early. A relief. I settled up with my hostel and left in my cleanest shirt for the journey that awaited. The morning had two important stops.

My first was to meet a twitter friend, the explorateur, for coffee and to say thank you. She was the very reason I received a guest passage on the ‘Soul of South Africa.’ And then to my second stop, the Pretoria Train Station to board the Blue Train.

For me train travel in the States consisted of commuter rails such as the LIRR, MetroNorth and the NJT with the occasional Amtrak from Penn Station to Union Square. Nothing fancy. But this was different. Much different.

The Blue Train in Station

The elegant experience of the Blue Train began as soon as I exited the taxi. Porters and staff surround you and cater your every need. Suddenly after a “Mr Zabransky follow me” (they knew my name) I settled in to my first mimosa waiting to board. Immediately I was in good care. That became the constant theme.

Then suite seven (my suite) was asked to board and I climbed on to meet my butler. He introduced me to my room. Spacious, comfortable and comparable to a luxury hotel room on a train.  (And much better than my prior night in the hostel.)

Afterwards, I decided to explore and walk down to the last rail car, the observation car.  “Would I like something to drink?” Why, yes. Yes, I would. Bloody Mary time. Not my usual, but this called for a change, it was not a ‘usual’ train ride.

a bloody mary and my journal, a perfect start to the day

The city became countryside as I looked through the panoramic windows. My passage began. I lunched with fellow Americans and then dined with Englishman. Both meal delicious. Both conversations entertaining. And in between (and afterwards) we took leisure, socialized and listened to World Cup matches swapping stories from our African adventures.

Yes, we listened, the Blue Train doesn’t have live TV (nor would I want it to). But it’s the World Cup? Crisis averted. A butler shared his transistor radio.  A perfect fit. It not only added charm, but allowed us a chance to travel mentally. A chance to time travel to a time when people gathered around to listen to a radio. A different era.

listening to the world cup on the radio

We listened in English, Afrikaans, and local tribal languages as stations came in and out across the countryside. At times, we even asked the bar tender to translate his language. Nearly perfect play by play. Nearly.

Even the afternoon high tea seemed oddly perfect with the World Cup broadcast in the setting. We enjoyed tastey delights, cocktails and camaraderie. It seemed to remind us all of simpler times and a simpler way.  What train travel represents. And frankly, why I like it. Especially in Blue Train style.

The following morning, after a night capped off by a cuban cigar and a heated cognac the train descended on Cape Town. Through the mountains, we started our passage through the most scenic part of the trip. We entered the South African wine lands. And to our good fortune, a rare dusting of snow accented the mountain peaks which also accented the view. Not the typical scenery you think about when one considers Africa, but most don’t think of the Blue Train either. Yet both deserve mention.

the passing view of vineyards and snow capped mountains

Certainly, the Blue Train provides the elegance in the lounges, guest suites and culinary excellence.  A true treat for the traveler. And yes, it provides transport from Pretoria to Cape Town. Yet the true journey joy is no different than any other journey; the people.

The new friends I shared the twenty-eight hours with included both the passengers and the staff.  Passengers hungry for African adventure and staff sharing their homeland with us. In fact, that morning just before we pulled in, I took out my certificate stating “I traveled on the Blue Train” and asked everyone to leave a message and an email address. My favorite message came from the bar tender, a simple “Ayoba!”

He summed it up perfectly. Awesomeness indeed.

Stay luxurious, Craig

(I’d like to thank the Blue Train for providing passage.)

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