I apologize in advance for my off-topic post and promise not to do this often, if ever again. As you may have noticed, I don’t do a lot of written blog posts. When I do, it’s because I’m very moved, moved enough to write something that I hope others find as interesting as I do.
Almost four years ago, my new husband Jeff and I took our honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort near Cancun, the Valentin Imperial Maya. It had been and remains the only all-inclusive resort either of us had been to. It made such an impression on us that four years later, we decided to do another vacation there again. I had vague memories from our earlier trip, but our main reason for returning was to have a relaxing vacation. We have both been very taxed lately and needed a week completely free of any worries or stresses. Having been back at the resort for just one and a half days I’m remembering a lot of the reasons we loved this place and learning a few new ones.
This resort has a beautiful cigar lounge. Prior to our honeymoon, Jeff and I would smoke mostly on weekends, and maybe one or two evenings during the week. The cigar lounge at the resort gave us a quiet place to go at night and ruminate about the day or whatever else we felt like discussing. We smoked every evening that we were here and when we got home, the ritual of after dinner smokes every evening continued automatically. I don’t think we even realized that our honeymoon was what got us into that pattern until recently when I tried to think back to when it started. Since we now smoke in the mornings (on weekends for both of us, every day for me since I work from home), we figured we’d try to do that while on vacation. We were a bit unsure about the resort’s smoking policies, but knew that the cigar lounge opened late in the afternoon and thought our balcony would give us a place to smoke. On this visit, we ended up with a first floor “swim-up” room which means we have lounge chairs just feet from the pool. We lit up a cigar on our first morning and not only did nobody complain, we had passers by say they enjoyed the aroma. We have since tried smoking poolside or while in the pool and so far, no issues. We have been very respectful and smoked only at the edge of the pool with an ashtray on hand. We don’t want to litter the gorgeous pool or pool deck with ash or tobacco flakes.
Something that has particularly drawn me to the resort this time are the people here. Everybody is so friendly, especially when I attempt to converse with them in their native language. I’d like to go on record and say that I don’t speak much Spanish. I took 5 years of Spanish in high school, oh, several years ago and have only had the opportunity to use my skills 3 or 4 times since. But the folks here appreciate the attempts and are extremely friendly. The waiters banter, and our poolside bartender Jorge spent 5 minutes or so talking to us about his life and family. He was very surprised to see a female smoking cigars, but suggested a couple of drinks he thought would compliment the cigars. He made us mojitos with Havana Club (Cuban rum) and told us he made them a bit stronger than usual so that they would go well with our smokes. It turns out he smokes cigars, one or so a month (cigars are very expensive here) and was thrilled when we gave him one from the stash we brought with us. The grin on his face warmed our hearts.
Another bonus about this resort is the food. Our friends who frequent all-inclusive resorts complain about the food quality. This resort has 8 amazing restaurants and they all serve excellent tasting food. We were at their Indonesian restaurant tonight, and had excellent lamb and duck dishes. The meat was very tender and the portions were just right. The Indonesian restaurant is styled with a kitchen that’s open to the dining room. I would have envisioned a hectic kitchen at this resort, and while every spot of this place is immaculate, wouldn’t have pictured a perfectly clean kitchen. This kitchen was immaculate. Every surface was spotless, and I noticed the 2 chefs washing their hands every couple of minutes. It wasn’t for show, they really are concerned about cleanliness. The dishes not only taste great, they’re also presented beautifully, similar to upscale restaurants we’ve been to at home. They’re also seasoned perfectly, not too much or too little. As a fan of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, I’d love to see Gordon Ramsey’s take on the cuisine and kitchens here. I’d like to think he would give them an enthusiastic vote of approval.
Some miscellaneous notes… Havana Club is available at all the bars. They don’t have the best scotch selection – Johnny Walker Red and Black is as good as it gets. They do have a sports bar that has NFL Ticket so we were able to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game today.
For those of you still reading this post, I’m not sure why exactly I felt compelled to write this post tonight. Maybe it’s because we’d love to recommend this resort to our friends, especially friends looking for a cigar-friendly vacation spot. While we’re not surrounded by many B/SOTLs, we feel welcome and free to enjoy our cigars at most outdoor spots and the cigar lounge. It’s a great place to come to for a couple of days or longer to get away from the daily stresses of life and be around great people. Just one note of caution – we learned on this visit that you are only allowed to bring 25 cigars per person into Mexico. We brought about 40 each for a week (for variety, and heck we may just smoke them all) and got selected randomly for a customs sweep of our luggage. They valued our extra 30 smokes at $500USD and taxed us $100USD. It could have been worse, they could have confiscated our extra sticks, but just wanted to extend this warning.