Cancun – 11th June 2018

June 11th 2018

I woke up this morning to the sound of Justin Bieber singing Despacito in my ear.
Haha just kidding, I wish.
I did however chuck it on Spotify and walked out onto my balcony to view the amazing ocean with the song playing – just so I could get that true Mexican feel ya know 😉

We all had to meet in the lobby by 9am so after getting ready, I headed down to the buffet to have some breakfast.
IMG_20180611_084945_204.jpgAs I arrived, they were making Cinnamon buns out the front in this massive cooker – yummy!

I always find buffets funny. Just the fact that you’re shown to your table, you all sit down and then basically just get back up again to go and get food. Like there really is no point in sitting down because you’re not ordering from a menu. Everyone does that awkward 2 minute wait at the table and looks at their cutlery then gets up to go and get their meal once the waiter has left.

giphySo anyways, that’s exactly what I did. Sat at my table with a few girls from the FAM, encased in some small talk then got up to go and get food.

 

Day 2 of feeling like the biggest fatty in the group. The other girls got fruit and cereals and I literally filled up my plate with an omelette, breakfast taco, toast and then had a separate plate for my pastries.
I think I chucked the piece of Pineapple on there just to make myself feel a little healthier because it definitely didn’t go with the arrangement of food I already had.

 

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20180615_162040.jpgAfter a second helping of breakfast (I know! :'()
The girls and I met up with the rest of the group in the Hyatt Ziva Lobby.
It wasn’t all relaxing in the sun drinking mojitos on this trip! We actually had to do some ‘travel agent work’ such as taking a tour of the resort we were staying in, taking pictures of the views from the rooms, checking out the lead-in category rooms right up to the rooms with the swim-up pools and knowing the difference between the adults-only tower and the family suites.

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Very gruelling work I know!
I won’t go into too much detail about the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, just because I’m going to do a whole separate blog post review on it.


After exploring our all-inclusive heaven, we took the bus over to another resort that’s under the ‘Playa Resort’ chain called Panama Jack Cancun. Theres two Panama Jack properties (one in Cancun and one in Playa Del Carmen).IMG_20180611_110230_050-1.jpg

If the Hyatt Ziva Cancun is a bit out of your price range, Panama Jack Cancun is good 4-star option. I’d say it’s definitely great for families (especially one’s with younger children) as they have live music, mini-golf and even a castle with waterslides!
Sometimes they have a ‘kids stay free’ deal so check out their website to see what the latest promo’s they have going on!

Insider tip – If you do decide to stay here, I’d advise on upgrading your room type. The Standard & Junior Suites are both the same size and are considered a ‘lead-in’ category room, however if you’re traveling as a family, pay the extra amount for a Junior Family Suite or a Master One Bedroom Suite. The Family Suites have a king sized bed for the parents, along with twin bunk beds and a trundle for the kids whereas the One Bedroom Suites have a separate bedroom and living room, and a private balcony so you have ton’s more room!

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When we’d finished checking out Panama Jack, we headed next door to one of the other Playa Resort properties – Hyatt Zilara Cancun. It’s the adults only version of the resort we’re currently staying at!
I could definitely tell a difference between the Hyatt Ziva and the Hyatt Zilara. The Hyatt Ziva is all ages and a much bigger resort with lots of pools, dolphins and a great big beach whereas the Zilara has more of an intimate feel to it.
The great thing about the Hyatt Zilara is everyone has a beautiful view no matter what room category you’re in.
The lead-in category room is a Junior Suite and it looks like this:
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You  get a double whirlpool tub, an ocean view and a beautiful modern bathroom. Another thing that was unique to this resort is they have this thing called a ‘Magic Box’ at the entrance of your room. Being an adults-only resort, they understand you’re not fully clothed all the time when you’re in your room so when you order room-service, they open this little door to put your food in and you can open it from the other side to collect it – how cute!

Everything else about the resort was amazing (again, not going to write too much as I will do a separate review) Even though I wasn’t staying there, everyone we talked to who was there on holiday kept telling us how great it was!
One lady said it was the best resort she’d ever stayed at, another couple raved about the service and how relaxing it was and someone else complimented how the staff went out of their way to make sure their allergies and food preferences were taken care of.
That’s another thing I forgot to mention, at any of the Panama Jack or Hyatt Resorts, the staff always ask if you have any allergies before you sit down to eat so they can make sure to tell the chef or give you some alternatives – like I say, it’s the little things that count!

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Even though it was after lunch time by the time we finished viewing the Hyatt Zilara, I still wasn’t that hungry because of the big breakfast I had consumed this morning.
Unfortunately, we were scheduled for a lunch with the management team of the Hyatt Zilara at their buffet restaurant ‘Spice’ which after looking at all the food that was on offer, it wasn’t so unfortunate…

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After we had all finished eating, it was time to head back to Hyatt Ziva and enjoy the rest of the afternoon doing whatever we liked!
It was so hot and humid I was just dying to go and hop in the pool and that’s exactly what I did when we got back!

I don’t have many pictures to show for the rest of my afternoon in Cancun. When we got back to our rooms, I chucked my phone on charge as it was nearly dead (I did take about 500 photo’s after all) and popped into my bikini before heading down to the pool area.

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This was taken one morning when no one was up yet

I grabbed a drink from the swim-up bar and got chatting to a few others from the FAM. We drunk cocktails, yarned about our jobs and swum around the pool for a bit before heading out to the beach for a swim in the Caribbean sea. We originally wanted to go and climb up this inflatable climbing thing the resort had in the water but the staff were fixing it so we kind of just paddled around with our drinks and talked about life and all our hopes and dreams (as you do over tequila and vodka)
We must have been out there for hours!
We kept running back and forth between the beach bar and the sea so we definitely had our fair share of drinks before the sun set.
It was so much fun though! The people I was with were so good to talk to and it was finally nice to have a good group of people to talk to that weren’t so ‘cliquey’ (I have a bit of a problem finding people in Canada to make friends with who don’t already have their ‘group of friends’ or just aren’t interested in getting to know you)
The group were all pretty much from Toronto so maybe I’ve moved to the wrong city!

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We decided it was probably time for us to all freshen up for dinner so we headed back to our individual rooms, got ready and then met in Bruce’s room to take some pictures and decide on what one of the restaurants we wanted to eat at.

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As you can eat at however many restaurants you wish and you don’t need to make reservations, we headed to Habaneros which is their Mexican restaurant right on the beach. They serve everything from mouthwatering tacos, fresh seafood ceviches to zesty aguachiles. We only ordered appetizers  and a few drinks before heading to Lorenzo’s for a feast of Italian Food.
Lorenzo’s Restaurant was pretty popular that night so we wrote our name down on the list and headed off to watch some of the nightly entertainment before going back to the restaurant when a table was available (they give you one of those buzzing disc things when a table is free so you don’t need to keep going back to check)

Dinner was great!
I live a life of brokeness living in Vancouver so it was nice to read the menu and just pick an entree and whatever else I felt like and not have to worry about paying for it afterwards haha.
I actually ordered what I thought was bruschetta for my entree – you should have seen my face when a Salad got put in front of me!
Lauren couldn’t stop laughing when we looked at the menu and realised that i’d pretty much ordered a salad that begun with the letters “bru” and immediately thought it was bruschetta.
When you’re really feeling like carbs, you have no idea how disappointing it is when lettuce is served to you.
In the restaurants defence, it was actually pretty good. It went well with my lasagna and pear pizza haha.

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To end the night, we had a few drinks at the brewery (yes this resort has it’s own brewery) and then a few of us headed off to bed!
You’d think with the unlimited alcohol we get I’d be drunk off my face every night but with the heat, all the food and the long days of walking around in the humidity – it really makes you tired haha!
Thankfully, I was so full from dinner I didn’t feel the need to order room service like I did last night hehe 🙂

Tomorrow, off to Playa Del Carmen!

 

Castaway Resort – Rarotonga

Stayed: February 2017, 5 Nights
Room: 2 Bedroom Deluxe Suite
Overall Rating: 8/10

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Although it’s not right on Muri Beach where all the more popular resorts are located, Castaway is a hidden little gem located on the western side of Rarotonga.
This resort is known for it’s helpful staff and friendly owners. Whatever you want to do or wherever you want to go, they’ll point you in the right direction with a smile on their face.

The resort is home to a decent sized pool, a bar located next to the water on beautiful white sand and a yummy little restaurant.
I’ll be honest, there is no spa and it’s not super glamorous in terms of beach bureaus located on top of glistening clear waters but it’s defiantly somewhere I would stay again if I just want a holiday to Rarotonga with my family or a nice little break away.

As there were four of us staying in Rarotonga, we where looking at either two rooms next to each other or a nice two bedroom place which we could all enjoy.
When I was booking my accommodation, I was e-mailing the owner of Castaway Resort, Michelle, and she suggested that we get one of their two bedroom suites for our stay.

I was pleasantly surprised with how big the suite was when we arrived!
Two big bedrooms right next door to each other with two bathrooms as well so we never had to share.
One bedroom was the ‘master bedroom’ and had an en-suite, small closet and a chest of drawers with a mirror.
The second bedroom was a bit smaller and had a queen bed along with a single bed (I’m assuming for families with kids) and their bathroom was just across the hall way.

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My boyfriend and I got the Master Bedroom while our friends shared the smaller one.
We all found them to be very comfortable, the only problem our friends had was they didn’t have an air-con unit in their room like we did so they had to leave their door open at night to cool down from the one in the lounge.

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As we’d never been to Rarotonga before, we found the staff to be very helpful in providing us with information and advice on things to do and places to eat. I feel weird even calling them ‘staff’ because the ladies in reception where the most chilled-out, friendly bunch that it just felt like you where staying with friends.

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As we went in the low-season, the resort was pretty quiet (as in we were sometimes the only people in the pool) so it was never over-crowded or very noisy.
The only noise we had was from the room next door to ours on the first night – a group of lads had flown in and drunk lots on their flight so where having a bit of a party. The owners had no problem sorting them out the next day however to ensure that everyone else at the resort had a pleasant and relaxed stay without being kept up all night.

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In the peak season from April – October, I can imagine the themed dinner nights that Castaway provides have lots of people attending. Every night they have something different for their meals, Monday night may be Pasta, Wednesdays may be Mexican and Sundays may be a BBQ night.
We attended the BBQ night on the beach and there was a really great turn-out from people at the resort and other holiday makers from the area (as you can eat at the restaurant even if you’re not a guest)
The food was a buffet of meats, salads and rolls along with some yummy ice-cream and banana cake for dessert after wards.
And if you get hungry during the day, the Beach Bar also have a range of little nibbles you can order such as spring rolls, calamari rings, chicken nuggets and french fries for an afternoon snack in the peak season.

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Pro’s

  • Decent sized rooms
  • Adults only
  • Lovely people who work there, always kind enough to book us activities or recommend things to do
  • Great price
  • Very clean
  • Free local phone calls from your room – great to book dinners etc.
  • BBQ’s available for personal use down near the pool so you can save money on eating out
  • If you don’t feel like the free continental breakfast – you can order pancakes, eggs or french toast off the menu for something a bit different
  • Always felt safe, eg; the rooms had a fire extinguisher, torch and a safe to put your valuables
  • Beach Bar
  • Private Beach
  • Amazing sunset right on the beach
  • Snorkeling gear available for free
  • Easy free parking across the road for guests
  • Themed dinner nights right on the beach
  • A Happy Hour
  • Bus stop literally right outside the resort
  • Bonfires on selected nights on the beach
  • Towels available for swimming
  • Large decks for the Deluxe Suites
  • Proper hair driers in the bathroom – not those small ‘hotel’ ones you always get
  • All rooms have a little kitchen with fridge, sink,  microwave etc…
  • Can book massages & nail services through Reception for an ‘in-room treatment’
  • Little Library at the reception where you can trade in your book for one of the ones available
  • Pool with sun-loungers
  • 10 minute drive from the airport

Con’s

  • No unlimited Wi-Fi (however you can buy a Bluesky SIM card for around $50 for more data)
  • The beach is swim-able but not the nicest in Rarotonga
  • Steps going up to the two bed-room suites. Not really a Con, but wouldn’t be suitable for wheelchairs
  • TV’s only have 1 channel
  • About a 20 minute drive to Muri Beach but if you have a car/scooter it’s not too big of a deal.
  • In the low-season, the bar/restaurant isn’t open until a bit later

If you’re planning on going to Rarotonga on a budget and want to stay somewhere friendly, clean and spacious I’d defiantly recommend Castaway Beach Villas.
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay here (even if it did rain like crazy for the last couple of days haha!)

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HI New York City – Hostel Review

Stayed: September 2015, 7 Nights
Room: 4 Bedded Female Dorm
Overall Rating: 9/10 *Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor*

img_20150919_205449.jpgI’ll start off by saying that i absolutely LOVE New York.
It had always been at the very top of my list for places to see before I die and I’d move there in a heartbeat if the USA wasn’t so strict on who can live in America!
I loved seeing The Empire State Building and feeling like I was in a movie, I loved walking through Central Park and thinking of F.R.I.E.N.D.S when Phoebe went jogging (Even though it wasn’t actually filmed there) and I love how it’s just full of people doing everything from singing and dancing on the subway to doing yoga in the park without a care in the world.
I’ve only been to New York in the Summer time but I would absolutely love to go in the Winter and see Central Park covered in snow. Eeeek! It makes my insides all warm just thinking of it.
I was there for a week and there is still so much I want to see and do. I seriously think in my head about making it a yearly or second-yearly place to travel to…
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Anyways, on to the accommodation side of things.
If you’ve ever looked for Hotels in New York City, the cheapest you’d find around August would be $75 – $150 a night for a room at a hotel near the airport. (which is a bit of a drive away from everything) I wanted to be as close to the center of things as possible.
I also wanted to stay somewhere safe and close to a Subway so I wasn’t walking the streets in the dark. (Even though that did end up happening but that’s another story)

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Hi New York City Hostel is on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and is surrounded by Central Park and Riverside Park. It’s also just a few minutes walk down the road to the subway where you can easily get to Times Square and Rockefeller Center, the High Line, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Empire State Building and the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.
I think I ended up going to Times Square every second day because it was so easy to get to on the Subway.

To get here, you can order a shuttle or take a taxi from JFK but I think they end up costing about $70 (Plus you have to pay for bridge tolls and a tip on top) and that’s no fun if you’re travelling by yourself.
You can take the train which I’ve heard is excellent and very fast.
Amtrak – Penn Station and then take the Subway to the hostel.
When I’d finished my Contiki tour at a hotel, I took the Subway and stopped off at the station nearest to my hostel.

When I arrived, the Hostel outside actually looked exactly like the pictures. It’s so big!
Can you believe they have 667 beds!
There’s lots of different rooms that you can choose to stay in from 12 Bedded Female Dorm rooms to Male 6 Bedded Dorm rooms. The prices range from USD$58 – $68 per night in the Summer Time (Probably cheaper in the Winter) and you may think that’s expensive for a Hostel, but believe me, try looking at the hotels in the Upper West Side. HELLLOO $300 a night for somewhere decent!
I think for my stay I ended up paying about $600-$700 for the week for a female dorm with 4 beds.
20150914_163656.jpgIt really doesn’t feel cramped at the hostel either. When I arrived, I had to wait in line for awhile to check-in as everyone seemed to be doing it at the same time but there was never any problem with over-crowding or everyone getting in your way as you’d think would be the problem with nearly 700 people staying there.

[[Now a thing to remember is that this hostel is part of an organization called Hostelling International which is the federation of more than 70 National Youth Hostel Associations in more than 80 countries around the world. If you don’t have a membership you have to pay USD $3 per person per night otherwise you can become a member online here.
Being a member gives you at least a 10% saving on the cost of your accommodation and in some countries Membership is compulsory. Apart from giving you discounts on Accommodation, your membership also gives you access to thousands of travel-related savings at home and abroad. ]]
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When I took the lift to my room, it was fine. It wasn’t anything overly amazing like most Hostels aren’t.
I had a bed with my own locker and provided my own key. All the doors are swipe-card activated and you also need your card to get into the main building so no randoms can come in.
The only thing which was annoying was putting my swipe card next to my phone every day and it’d get de-activated so I’d continuously be at the Reception getting it re-activated. (Something to do with you phone and the magnetic stuff in the card…)
20150919_033044.jpgWhat I loved about this hostel is the atmosphere. They really want people to get to know one another so they host twice-weekly Welcome Parties in the patio area (with either a  $6 BBQ or Live Band) and then you can go and experience the nightlife with one of the hostel leaders and 50 of your new friends. They also do free beer some nights (However as I don’t drink beer I went across the road to the liquor store and bought some other alcohol – Which I think isn’t quite allowed but you maaaay be able to get away with)
20150914_221807.jpgIf drinking isn’t really your thing, they have things like Salsa Tuesdays, Ice-Skating in Central Park (Seasonal), Magic and Comedy shows in the theater and day-tours which you can sign up for.
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If you’re ever hungry too, they have a full cafe downstairs with so many yummy cupcakes and sandwich type goodies in the cabinet! As Breakfast was included in my room price I had a bagel basically every morning with SOOO much cream cheese. Yum!!

Pro’s

  • Free Wi-Fi everywhere
  • TV Room
  • Massive Kitchen downstairs (Not sure how great it is as I never used it)
  • Open 24 Hours
  • Has it’s own Cafe with so many yummy things!
  • Lockers Available
  • Accepts Groups Of People
  • Pool Table
  • Chill-out area where you can charge your phone
  • Out-door drinking/patio area
  • Central Park – 3 Blocks away
  • Self-service laundry facilities
  • Free linens, towels, and housekeeping service
  • Hair Driers in Bathroom
  • Vending Machines
  • Cycle Storage
  • Smoking Area (If you smoke obviously than it’s not an advantage)
  • Friendly Staff
  • Pub Crawls and Day Walking-Tours

Cons

  • Waiting for the showers in the morning
  • 1 Slow Elevator so always having to take the stairs (Me just being lazy)
  • I sleep through everything, but it may get loud on some nights for some people
  • My card always being deactivated 😦

Overall my stay was fantastic!
I got so drunk on the first night that I can’t even remember my first and only yellow-taxi cab ride back to my hostel.
I went to the Top of the Rock and saw the Empire State Building.

I ate yummy nachos at T.G.I.F’s in Times Square.
20150920_184807.jpgI bought my first pair of Levi Jeans.
I went to what I think is the biggest Victoria Secrets Store and bought lots of yoga pants.
20150920_171218.jpgI went for a run through Central Park, people-watched and saw Squirrels!
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I also made some great memories and met some really fun girls to go to the beach with and out to a roof top bar at night!


And finally I ate sooo much Ben & Jerry’s with this lovely human which made my last few days in America so much fun!