Burning Hilton Points in Cancun

Cancun Travel Blog

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Cenote Taj Mahal
Friday, October 30, 2009

We decided to visit the Taj Mahal Cenote which we had read about repeatedly that lies off the main road on the way back to Cancun and, after initially missing the turnoff, found the entrance to the bumpy, dirt road.  There is a little liquor store out front and you have to go inside and pay a few pesos so that the teenage kid will come out and lower the rope to allow you to drive back inland towards the Centote.  The road was bumpier and dustier than expected and wound back several miles until we eventually arrived at a small parking lot with a couple of groups of divers who had just finished the dive.  They all raved about how weird and eerie it was and we grabbed our snorkel equipment and walked down the stairs to the entrance where several pools of crystal clear water lay.
Cenote Taj Mahal


Cindy opted out, and I climbed in donning my mask in an attempt to find the “Jello Rope” that leads into the first chamber which is accessible when snorkeling but poked around for 20 minutes and couldn’t find it.  At one point, I tried the pool further off to the right and dove down about 15-20 feed and saw a sign with a skull and cross-bones and “Peligroso!” in bright red which was obviously not where I wanted to be.  We walked back up to the parking lot and asked the departing divers again, but all we got was the jello rope.

I decided to give it one more try and on the left, dove down and under a rock and, looking up, saw some light on the other side.  I swam another 10 feet under and gingerly poked my hand up from beneath and saw it break the surface so I popped my head up and was inside of a large, freaky cave, dimly lit by the two holes in the ceiling that looked like something out of a Mexican version of the Evil Dead.
Cenote Taj Mahal
  Bats were flying around inside the chamber and I suddenly felt very cold and isolated.  I dove back under lest Cindy start worrying and tried to convince her to take a dive under and look but perhaps my description was a little to ominous because she said “No Thanks”.  I had to check it out one more time before leaving.

On the way back to Cancun, we stopped to gas up the Challenger and ended up over-tipping the gas station lady which put a huge smile on her face and repeated “Gracias”.  We wound our way around the Cancun peninsula and eventually found the Hilton where we planned to burn three nights worth of Hilton HHonors Points.  The hotel, while a bit sterile, is very nice with super comfy rooms, a nice beach and a fantastic Happy Hour for HHonors members.
Cenote Taj Mahal


After getting settled in, we went downstairs to the main bar (since it is pre-season until November 1st, they have the Happy Hour in the beautiful, central main bar).  This was an absolutely killer happy hour.  The very friendly bartender asked if he could “surprise us” with drinks of his own design and we each ended up downing three.  I opted for Tequila Drinks (An orange flavored Milagro tequila with Cointreau and Lime, a Paloma which is lime, tequila and grapefruit soda snd supposedly the Mexican National Drink and a third concoction that I forget, a bit sweet but tasty). Cindy went sweeter and had a Baileys, Rum, Vodka, and Frangelico concoction topped with cinnamon, a flavored martini with something colored Windex blue and a vanilla liquor, vodka, and Baileys.

Sufficiently lubricated by that point, we over-tipped the bartender to ensure excellent service again tomorrow and decided to have dinner at the beachfront Mitachi Restaurant.
Hilton Cancun
  It does have a great atmosphere as our table was located on the sandy beach overlooking the moonlit water.  We had Spicy Tuna rolls that had too much rice, a tiny appetizer of King Crab with Parmesean and three aiolis and a grouper in macadamia/hazelnut on potatoes and peppers and onions.  The food was OK but not great and rather pricey but a nice change from the Yucatecan diet of the last couple of weeks.  After dinner we retired to a scalding hot shower and the uber-comfy Hilton Beds.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday, we slept in and awoke to somewhat crappy weather.  Our stay included a massive breakfast buffet so we lazily dined and then kicked back on the balcony in the room reading and trying to decide what to do.  Eventually, we got the energy to hope in the car and take a drive through the Hoteleria Zona which looks a lot like a Mexican version of Las Vegas with lots of chain restaurants and big resorts and a few shopping malls.
Crashing Waves at Hilton Cancun
  All in all, we aren’t that impressed with Cancun

After talking to the events people at the resort, we decided we might as well take a dive tomorrow so we organized that and then had beer and chips poolside.  The pools are actually very nice at the Hilton and quite fun to swim around in as well as pull up to the palapa and have a beer. Later that afternoon, Cindy somehow managed to whack her head so hard on the in-room safe that she almost passed out. 

We had another excellent happy hour and decided that nobody was fit to drive so just had tacos at the bar and chatted with the bartender and some other couples.  The bartender was being very friendly with tasting any of the dozens of kinds of tequila available which once again put me in a happy, tipping mood.
Pool and Palapas at Hilton Cancun
  Off to bed early in preparation for the dive tomorrow.

Sunday, November 01, 2009
After an early breakfast, we drove a couple miles down the road to AquaWorld which was the outfit that the Hilton organized the dive trip through.  We met a woman from the States named Sandra who does audio at conferences and gets flown around to great locations where she really only has to work for a few hours and talked to her a bit.  She is a new diver as well and was happy to hear that Cindy is a novice too. We checked in and waited and waited, finally walking down to a counter where nobody had told us to go where a bitchy Mexican lady said that the boat was about to leave without us and gave us total attitude.  Not a great start to a day but what do you expect in Mexican Disneyland?

We ended up doing two OK dives - they were fun but paled in comparison to those on Cozumel.
Pools and Palapas at Hllton Cancun
  They were slow, drift dives with reasonable sea life but the visibility was nothing like in Cozumel and I doubt we would ever come back to Cancun.

After dropping Sandra off at her hotel, we had beers and blue Margaritas poolside and I took a last dip in the ocean even though the red flag was out.  I think lots of drunken tourists must get sucked out by the undertow here as it was certainly not red flag conditions.

Tonight, since it is now November, Happy Hour moved to a new location more typical of the stateside HHonors Happy Hours which was a shame because the company and the booze was WAY better in the main lobby.  We sat at a poolside table and ended up meeting Joe, Michelle and their family from Acton CA.  It ends up Joe is a Bomb Squad guy from the LA valley and a cigar aficionado as well and kindly offered to share his stash.
Larry at Mitachi Seaside Grill Hilton Cancun
  We enjoyed a leisurely conversation over a very nice cigar before wishing them well and walking down to have dinner at Mitachi again.  We ordered appetizers of spiced tuna, and a somewhat boring ceviche which was a bit of a disappointment

Monday, November 02, 2009
Well today is our last day in the Yucatan :(  After a ridiculously huge breakfast (we opted for the upgrade to the full buffet including omelets - yummy) we packed and spent the morning poolside enjoying the sun and swimming around.  One last shot killed the remnants of our bottle of Centenario and last beer for the road before checking out and driving back to the airport.

Once we got to the airport, we absolutely could not find the Hertz Rental Car location and circled around the airport a couple times before finally finding it and dropping off our trusty Dodge Challenger.
Cindy at Mitachi Seaside Grill Hilton Cancun
  Pandemonium as we went to check-in ended up being that there was a mechanical failure on US Air and everyone was being told that they would be put up overnight in Phoenix.  I nicely explained to the counter woman that I was flying in for work meetings and inquired if there was anything she could do.  For whatever reason, she liked us (maybe it was because, having gone through this plenty of times, I always opt for the placating rather than pissed-off attitude) and ended up walking us over to American Airlines where, not only did she get us on the flight but she got us upgraded to first class -  sweet!  As usual, I stopped at Duty Free and had to bite my tongue not to buy the two-for-one Centenario for $46 but we really didn’t want to check bags.  The flight home was uneventful and another vacation bites the dust…


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Cenote Taj Mahal
Cenote Taj Mahal
Cenote Taj Mahal
Cenote Taj Mahal
Cenote Taj Mahal
Cenote Taj Mahal
Cenote Taj Mahal
Cenote Taj Mahal
Hilton Cancun
Hilton Cancun
Crashing Waves at Hilton Cancun
Crashing Waves at Hilton Cancun
Pool and Palapas at Hilton Cancun
Pool and Palapas at Hilton Cancun
Pools and Palapas at Hllton Cancun
Pools and Palapas at Hllton Cancun
Larry at Mitachi Seaside Grill Hil…
Larry at Mitachi Seaside Grill Hi…
Cindy at Mitachi Seaside Grill Hil…
Cindy at Mitachi Seaside Grill Hi…
Ceviche at Mitachi Seaside Grill H…
Ceviche at Mitachi Seaside Grill …
Cancun Hotels & Accommodations review
Hilton Cancun
OK so it is a little unfair to rate the value of this Hilton when we used Hilton HHonors points for a free three night stay but here it is... The p… read entire review
Cancun
photo by: Marina2710