On Location: Cozumel, Mexico – Park Royal hotel

New site layout means let’s jazz things up for a moment. So, as promised, today I’ll share stories from our honeymoon and our general take on Cozumel, Mexico.  Back in November of last year, we were trying to figure out what to do for our honeymoon when I suddenly came across a living social deal to stay the Park Royal in Cozumel.  The deal worked out to be about $600 for the two of us for 5 days and six nights.  Plus, we had enough miles on United to get us there for free, flying first class!  How cool!  So Cozumel it was. 
Between, moving into our house, finishing up the planning for our wedding, and getting married we really didn’t think about the honeymoon at all, until we actually got to Mexico.  Man, was it nice to know that for the next five days the only thing we’d have to worry about was where we’d get our next beverage and if we’d have enough reading material.  We got off the plane and knew that unfortunately the Park Royal did not have a van set up to get us to the hotel from the airport, so we had to make sure we dodged any shady characters.  We failed.  We ended up talking to a very knowledgeable lady who at first told us how much taxi rides would cost all over the island and then went into a pitch about a time share.  As much as I tried to get us out of the situation my now husband wanted to take her up on the offer and $30 later we were told to just turn to our left and there was the actual cashiers desk for the taxis. 
So lesson one, upon exiting customs at the Cozumel airport, walk to your immediate right and look at the last booth on the left to get & pay for your taxi!
We paid $20 and were on our way to our hotel with a crowd of other people.  It was Friday afternoon and all we wanted to do was explore a bit of the hotel and sip drinks in one of the infinity pools, so that was what we did.  We met one of the bartenders, Juventino, who was fantastic and made wonderful drinks.  Give him a tip and you’ll get great drinks too!  There were two restaurants at the resort which you needed to make reservations for, one was Italian and the other had authentic Mexican food.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make our reservations on time so we went to the buffet and had ourselves some Asian food.
Saturday was going to be our day to snorkel.  We hadn’t made any plans but thought we’d talk to someone at the front desk.  So we did, and he ended up being one of the time share guys as well.  He told us that our snorkeling tour would be $60 each, which included a $40 tip for him that we learned about later.  He wanted to get us to do a tour of the hotel, naturally, which may have gotten us a free snorkeling trip but one time share visit was more than enough for us. 
Lesson two, be prepared to fight off time share visits at every corner, if that is your plan.  Otherwise, plan on fighting for free things if you do indeed plan on sitting through a time share presentation.  Trust me, you won’t be the only ones doing it, everyone does it.
Eventually, we took a taxi to the snorkeling boat run by, Chac-Choc Tours, and after an hour of sitting around waiting for a mechanic to come and fix the motor we were on our way to snorkel in three areas, Cielo, Palancar and Colombia.
These are considered the best snorkeling places.  We saw starfish, turtles, a ray, a shark and a bunch of neat fish. 
Keep in mind that the tour might take about 4 hours as it is a pretty far destination, but that does depend on where on the island you are staying, we were at the first stop and had to make 3 others to pick people up. 
By the time we got back, the pool bar was about to close and we were exhausted.  We were pretty thrilled that Sunday was simply a beach day.  That day we read books, sipped drinks and played volleyball.  Careful, if you don’t lather up, you’ll get a sunburn as bad as my husband’s.  We finally were able to be around during reservation hours and got ourselves a table at the Italian restaurant.  Unfortunately the food really wasn’t all that great, but then again, we were at an Italian restaurant in Mexico…
Monday was timeshare day.  Usually, people do a tour at their own hotel, we on the other hand had signed up to go to Playa Del Carmen, off island.  Part of the day was going to be spent touring a hotel and being heckled to buy into a vacation plan.  We were told this part would take 90 minutes, be prepared for up to a 3 hour tour & sales pitch.  Some of the day would be spent on the ferry going off island, and then back again to Cozumel, another part would be spent traveling to Tulum, some Mayan ruins, and spending as much time as you want there.  We also could get a free rental car on Cozumel and entry into a park.  So after we got a tour of the Occidental Xcaret hotel, which was amazing and for which you could recently get a Groupon deal for, we were excited to finally get on a bus to Tulum.  What we didn’t realize was that this bus was just a local van that brought regular people to wherever they were going.  This turned out to be completely fine it would have just been nice to be mentally prepared for it, then again, if we knew what we were walking into, we may not have done any of it.
Luckily, I speak Spanish so I was able to speak with the driver and make sure we were dropped off at the right place along the highway, yes, you read that part right.  We then walked about a mile to the entrance to the ruins and toured the place on a 100 degree day.
Lesson three, don’t be afraid to take the local van/bus to Tulum and if you do go there, bring a bathing suit and towel because there is an amazing beach there…which we didn’t know about. 
The ruins were very interesting, but the sun was just too hot so we got back in the van back to Playa with a bunch of other tourists and walked around the city.  Keep in mind, a lot of the time instead of getting vouchers and entry tickets after doing your time share tour you’ll get cash and actually make a profit from what you may have paid for it.  However, for the ferry, we got real tickets and although we were told we’d get just a general pass so we could take either of the two ferries that was not true.  Pay attention to the ferry name and either wait for that one, or exchange your ticket for the ferry you want.  The ferry ticket booth is right in front of Senor Frogs, not in the ferry terminal where more time share tour people are ready to get you to tour their hotel. 
We really enjoyed Playa and would definitely go back again.  Once we finally got back to Cozumel we decided to go to Pancho’s Backyard and get what they call an “Awesome Margarita.”  Go for the one on the rocks as it has a much better punch to it.  We got back to our hotel at around 9pm and went straight to bed.
We chose not to use the rental car voucher and instead walked around Cozumel downtown on Tuesday. 
We bought a bunch of trinkets, and went back to Pancho’s as they have a really neat souvenir store, to bring back to our family and friends and then went back to the hotel to enjoy one more day of sitting by the pool.
This time we had a reservation for the Mexican restaurant which was fantastic but unfortunately the pina colada’s throughout the day really filled us up and after dinner we again were in bed by 9pm.
Overall, it was a wonderful honeymoon and I hope our stories help you in your planning!


It was time to freshen up the blog.  What do you think of the new fresh look?  Leave your comments below!


Pointed Interview Questions

A few weeks ago I went on LinkedIn Answers to ask my own question about social media.  I usually like to see what other questions and answers are trending.  That day I came across someone asking if other LinkedIn users could ask a recruiter/hiring manager any question, what would it be?  After reading through some of the more basic questions I came across someone who would ask, “Why am I here?”

At first I thought that it was a pretty balls-y thing to ask but as I read on in this person’s explanation of the question I realized more and more that it is indeed a great thing to ask.  After all, YOU know why you wanted to apply and then interview at a company but knowing exactly why you were brought in might help you with asking more pointed questions about the job and might even help you determine what you should focus on when giving your background info.

I would actually lead with this question and not wait until you’ve already talked about your accomplishments.  The answer to your question might just give your pitch the structure you need and should tailor your answer to the exact job at hand. For all you know, even though the job description stated one thing, perhaps the hiring manager is looking for a specific set of skills.  Now that you know that, you may just have a leg up on the competition and be allowed to talk more about a certain skill set rather than ramble on about things that in the grand scheme of things may not even be relevant.

So tell me, have you ever asked this question in an interview?  If not, would you?

What did you do today?

Build It and They Will Come, the Importance of Marketers

There are a lot of companies and business owners out there who think that if they build the next coolest thing, then people will come out of the woodwork to buy it.  Well, let me throw this out to you.  Even Mark Zuckerberg marketed his Facebook site to his classmates. It may not have been traditional marketing but marketing none the less.

In this day and age, marketing is everything, it kind of always has been.  But, with brands being on social networks and interacting with their customers 24/7 it’s growing much harder to poach a brands customers simply by building a new widget.  If you don’t have some marketing dollars behind you then you have no strategy to build out this thing that you have built.  You have no way of figuring out what the best way is to toot your own horn and not come off as conceited.  And most importantly, you don’t develop the network of loyal customers that other brands have.

So, with that, I encourage every business owner and customer to really think hard before they cut any marketing budget.  You may think that you are just cutting pay roll, but what you are really doing is cutting your life line to the consumer.

What did you do today?

New Year’s Resolution Review

Yesterday we were at the half way point of the year, 182 days behind us and 182 to go.  So, I wanted to take a look at my new year’s resolutions and see if I am keeping up with them.  I encourage you to do the same.  Here were mine from the beginning of the year:

1. Continue reading el pais daily in order to improve my Spanish. –> Half Fail.  I really need to get back to doing this.  I used to get my news and improve my Spanish.  I plan on reinstating this daily activity immediately.  However, I am quite pleased with the fact that I had to use a lot of Spanish while we were on our honeymoon.

2. Read more.  I have actually decided to join Real Simple Magazine’s virtual book club.  I urge others who don’t have time for a real book club to join in. First book of the year?  Mindy Kaling’s, Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?  So far, I’m loving it. –>Win.  I have been reading every book so far, for the exception of one I had already read and totally enjoy how I have read books that I would never otherwise read. I am also happy that it’s not taking me two years to read one book.  I encourage you to jump on the No Obligation book club’s wagon.

3. Get back into photography.  Somewhere between this past spring and now I have lost the desire to photograph every minute of my life.  I need to get back to taking pictures and improving myself.–>Fail, I have not gotten back into photography.  That’s not to say I’m not taking pictures all the time but it’s to say that I’m not actually doing anything with them.  

Well, can I even say that one out of two ain’t bad?  I guess I have to, with the thought that I will attack the other two goals in the latter part of the year.

What did you do today?