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Posts Tagged ‘Hacienda Tres Rios’

Often times, when in Mexico (I am currently in Puerto Vallarta) conversation commences about other Mexican destinations. Comparisons – yes, but also (and mostly) about how we all appreciate the country, the culture and the cuisine.

I found myself talking about the Riviera Maya yesterday, and as much as I enjoy the adventure of exploring the cenotes, discovering my senses, eating the tacos in Playa del Carmen, or watching a sunset in Tulum, sometimes, everyone needs a day off. A day to relax; a day to recharge. A day designed to do nothing. And when staying at the eco-friendly and sustainable Hacienda Tres Rios Resort, I spent one day doing just that.

take a moment to yourself today...

So this weekend, before the big holiday events (it’s Thanksgiving in the US next week) how about taking a moment to yourself. Hopefully you can find a place like this to go. And if you can’t get here physically, well then at least take a moment and go here mentally. You deserve it. Happy Friday.

stay adventurous, Craig

Again, a thank you to Hacienda Tres Rios and Riviera Maya for showing me this wonderful part of Mexico.

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I took off my life-preserver device and decided to dive. A deep breath and I left the surface to swim towards the bottom. Not very deep, only a few meters down, I touched, turned and planned to return to the surface. I looked up. Magical.

the entrance to the cenote...

Sunbeams penetrated the clear crisp water and shined on my face, my body, and even seemed to warm my soul. A spiritual experience.  And this was just the beginning of my cenote experiences in the Riviera Maya.

we floated Cenote Aquila y Rio Selva

The entire float down Cenote Aquila and the Rio Selva at Hacienda Tres Rios proved magical.  Above water I viewed the mangroves and listened to the birds or below I snorkeled to watch the fish and view the reflections of the sun illuminate the under(water)world. At times I even floated backwards and waved my arms. The shadow created on the floor mimicked an angel.  A water angel. A sensation I did not witness alone.

We all entered the cenote 800 meters up river prepared to float down to the ocean. And after a coming to our senses on the SenseAdvenutre or understanding our own life’s journey through the doors of a Temazcal, we desired a refreshing, fun event. A swim.

Some eased their way in, others apparently jumped in to the cenote. Regardless of the entry method, I believe, many of us found more than just an afternoon swim along the way. I did.

We found a reason to thank the sustainable resort, Hacienda Tres Rios, for making its mission not just saving this cenote (only available to its guests) but for making a difference to the environment as a way of business. I also found more.

the guides smiles where the River meets the Gulf

I found a connection. A connection to nature through the natural wonder of a cenote. Magic exists in such an experience. A magic I’d find all week in swimming and experiencing the centoes of the Riviera Maya.

Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 16 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute. Day 1 of Cenote Week.

Also thanks for Hacienda Tres Rios for proving passage along the river from the cenote to the Gulf of Mexico and inviting me to share in the experiences of their resort.


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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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I reached for the large brown crayon. Not sure how to put the experience into words I started to draw.

sitting down right before we take off the blindfolds

As we all opened our eyes after the Sense Adventure the guide asked us to share our thoughts on a blank comment card. And although we all experienced the same stimulation, we all reacted differently.  Some of us enjoyed it, others did not.

At that moment, I noticed the reflection of the mangroves in the cenote. My first impulse – to jump right in – didn’t seem appropriate now that we came back to the material world. Or perhaps I knew of the future. The very fact that I’d take a swim in the cooling waters later in the evening after our Temazcal ritual. Either way, I just continued to draw.

I focused on the reflection. It seemed to perfectly align with the guide’s final instructions, “…open your eyes and see yourself, your reflection…”  Ok. I handed in my art work, not sure what to make of the entire experience. All I knew was that I found myself. I discovered a gift, the present.

still with camera... not there yet.

The Sense Adventure started slow for me, but once I completely let go, and let go completely I really traveled some distance. Not a distance measured in miles, but an internal distance. A distance that sometimes can be further than I’d like to think. A distance to find myself and connect.

When we started, I didn’t know what to expect. I read “sense adventure” on the itinerary and said “yes.” Seemed to fit my mantra. But I made a mistake. I took my camera. Foolish because once blindfolded I didn’t get any good pictures. (Tip: take nothing with you)

With the entire focus to remove sight and augment other senses you don’t need anything but yourself. That’s the big idea. Eventually an assistant took my camera and I started to let go some and not worry about its safety. But then with the use of water, I worried about my phone in my pocket. Another distraction I planted on myself. But I eventually decided to let go completely. (I could use a new iPhone anyway I thought)

Only then did I start to truly realize the power and the gift before me. When the journey switched from water to wind, we seemed to be asked to fly. And although, few words are spoken during the trip when the guide or assistant moved my arms I responded. And at this point I soared.

a little wet, but good times came soon....

I truly and finally really let go of everything. Only then did I travel further inside. I started to really smell, feel, and touch. It changed. I changed. I reached “now.” I became present, it was truly a gift. Thank you (or Gracias)

Immediately afterwards, discussing the experience with fellow travelers, i learned people thought of it as  everything from lentil torture to a journey into zen. Honestly, the discussions seemed no different than how people judge or rate any travel experience.

Then a few days later, I realized our journey only highlighted four of our five senses.  Yes, the journey changes for each group. The guide reads the energy of the day, the people, and changes the experience accordingly.  No two times will be the same but the destination is the same for every participant – that connection.

On my experience we missed – taste. I wonder if he knew what Chef Oscar had in store for us. From the chef’s table, to tequila tasting and crusano (grasshopper) we definitely enjoyed the sense of taste during our stay. It is hard not to at Hacienda Tres Rios.

But, I wonder what the guide thought of my drawing. I wonder if anyone else ever drew the cenote. I wonder what others wrote on those cards that day and any day. Looking back, I realize that is not what is important.  What is –  the fact I let go and became present during the experience. I connected.

the cenote I drew... I also took a picture when i got my camera back...

Stay adventurous, Craig

Day 3 of 20 day Mexico Bicentennial Tribute

Also,special thanks to Hacienda Tres Rios for sponsoring my trip, taking a few photos, and also allowing me to come to my senses during my visit.

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Green; the color of money (in the US), the color of envy? the color of energy? Maybe all three? Maybe you have none?

But actually ‘green’ also seems to be becoming the color of travel. Words like “sustainability,” “organic” and “eco-tourism” are more and more prevalent each and every day.  We all read them on travel websites and guidebooks targeting the people conscious of their footprint. And now such choices are no longer just for those backpacking through remote jungles in Central America or South East Asia. These choices now exist when selecting a luxury vacation too. A choice tourists, not just travelers make today.

Just in the last year(ish), I stayed at three resorts considered ‘green.’ All three enjoyable. All three luxurious. All three in Mexico.

The coast of Riviera Maya

Last winter in the ancient Mayan sea post of Tulum I stayed at CabanasCopal. I selected an ocean front bungalow that did not include electricity. The time “without” allowed me to experience a deeper connection with nature. With light only from the moon and candles I savored the hours and the chance to pause and ponder a different world.

On a recent trip to the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, I stayed about 45 minutes north of Cabo San Lucas in Pescadero. After the exit, or really just left turn, off highway 1 I traveled a dirt road past countless organic farms on the way to Rancho Pescadero. Each of the three meals, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, prepared with the locally grown and organic ingredients, pleased the palette.

In the Riviera Maya I stayed at Hacienda TresRios, a pioneer in the green space.  The Hacienda earned numerous environmental construction and sustainable awards including the coveted Green Global Certification. Built on land that was once a national park altered by Hurricane, the recently opened luxury resort and spa did not forget its roots. Guest can swim, snorkel, kayak or just learn about the diverse ecosystem on the grounds. For me, it was all about the cenotes.

Yes green, the color of so much, including life, is also becoming the color of travel. And that is why I volunteered (well it’s a contest with a prize) to help promote traffic to one resort. I didn’t say “yes” solely because of the prize, but more importantly said yes to spread the word about choices resorts are making, and choices you have when taking a vacation.

...a suite color

Many resorts are doing more than asking you to reuse your towels. As consumers we can support them with our business. So do your research, ask questions, and make a conscious choice.

But since you must ask for what you want, I am asking my readership to cast a vote for Turquesa (or a ‘like’ since its on FaceBook page.) Thanks.

stay adventurous, Craig

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