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November 2002

Club Baccara
Paseo Kukulkan KM 11.5
Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico
011 (52) 998-883-2173
Baccara's Web Site

Welcome to www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at the Club Baccara in Cancun, Mexico.

Our Pictures


Accommodations Amenities Food Bar/Lounge Service Attractions Dining Nightlife Weather Tips



Accommodations

We had a one-bedroom suite with full kitchen overlooking the ocean. It was a beautiful suite, full of color. The entryway was hand-painted and there were colorful glass inserts on either side of the door.

The floors were completely tiled, with an area rug in the living room. The kitchen was galley style with a full-size refrigerator, sink, 2-burner stove, microwave, blender, toaster, coffee maker, and container of purified water on dispenser stand. Plates and glasses were provided but not utensils. A separate eating area contained a large banquette with colorful cushions, glass-topped table with colorful wood carved accents, as well as two wood chairs with carved accents. In the living area, there was a sleeper sofa and two stuffed chairs, coffee table, and TV with some cable channels. The bath had a shower, sink, toilet, closet, two robes and slippers, and safe in the closet.
The bedroom had a king-sized bed, a nook with ample area for our suitcases, daybed with big window overlooking the ocean.

There were four ceiling fans and central air. There was colorful original art, lots of windows in unique shapes (creative use of light), privacy doors for the bedroom, and cleverly, the bathroom had two doors – one from the bedroom and one from the living room.

There was a nice size balcony with two resin Adirondack chairs overlooking the ocean (the balcony was covered). The star attraction was the tiled whirlpool on the balcony – it was large and meant for more than one person. Not all of the accommodations offer the whirlpool, but we had booked a water-view room with a whirlpool.

Resort Amenities

All of the public areas are flooded with color. Baccara is like no other resort in Cancun. We noticed people walking down on the beach staring up at the place in awe – it is that striking. The pool area is stunning. There is a lot of custom tile, a waterfall, other interesting features, and benches within the perimeter of the pool, which we made use of.

There is a swim-up bar at one end of the pool, but it was not open the entire time we were there. The pool area is a calm oasis, missing the splashing of shrill screams that accompany pool areas in larger resorts.

The lobby is airy and colorful. One side has a seating area and the other has bar tables, a billiards table, and some chess tables. There is a circular bar in the lobby and a few steps up is their Avanti restaurant, which overlooks the ocean. The entire resort is spotless (we noted daily pool cleanings) and it is apparent the employees take great pride in Baccara. If you love color and eclectic furnishings, you will love this place.

There are no elevators and a lot of steps. You will definitely get your exercise staying here. We were glad for the exercise, but this is not a good place to stay if you have difficulty getting around. Similarly, because of all the steps, it may not be a good option for families with toddlers.

Resort Food

The resort offers two restaurants. Studebaker's is an "American-themed" restaurant that serves lighter fare. Avanti is their more formal restaurant and overlooks the ocean. In addition, Baccara has a beach bar that also serves food and drinks during the day.

We had three breakfasts at Baccara – one at Studebaker’s and two at Avanti. They have the same menu for breakfast. Lori enjoyed scrambled eggs with their tasty pico de gallo, and Keith mostly went for eggs over easy accompanied by ham. They make these wonderful fried potatoes stuffed with cheese and onion.

We ate a few lunches at the resort. On the first day we had some tortilla chips with refried beans, cheese, and pico de gallo down at the beach bar. Two other days we had hamburgers at the beach bar. On our final day, as we were waiting for our transportation to the airport, Keith had a club sandwich and Lori had a thinly-pounded chicken breast on a baguette. That meal started off with a bowl of tortilla chips and their wonderful pico de gallo.

An all-inclusive dining option is available. Generally we don’t opt for all-inclusive, as we like to experience the flavors of the area where we are staying. All of the food we had was good and the service was great. Room service is also available. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, they set up a wine and cheese buffet in the lobby for a single price (we weren’t around to indulge, but the spread looked divine).

Resort Bar/Lounge

There are three bars: the beach bar, the lobby bar, and the bar at Studebaker’s (which is actually down a level right on the street in front of the resort). They had a decent selection of drinks, and the service was truly exemplary.

Resort People/Service

The resort is beautiful, and the people are even better! From the moment we first walked into the lobby upon our arrival and were greeted by a warmly smiling Gabriella, who started us off with a drink, we knew we were in for a very special experience. Baccara only has 20-something suites, so the staff came to know us by first name and by our room number quickly. They were happy to help us in any way possible, to reserve trips, make restaurant reservations, make recommendations for shopping, etc.

We enjoyed the company of Marcos, who spent a bit of time making sure we had a great experience. Baccara’s staff work hard to see that their guests have a good time. At 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, we had something weird happen – the plumbing in our bathroom began making ungodly, extremely loud noises, which we thought was probably air in the pipes. We tried flushing the toilet and running the water, to no avail, so we called the front desk at 3:15. There was a plumber and security guard in our room within minutes. They tried to fix it, but recognizing they would be making a bit of noise, they turned off the water in the bathroom and told us they would be back first thing in the morning to fix it. True to their word, they returned (the plumber and security guard) around 8:45 and the problem was taken care of. We noted that whenever someone who was not a direct employee of Avalon Resorts (who owns Baccara and other resorts) needed to enter the room, they were accompanied by a security guard. Even though it was a small resort, security was always present, strolling the grounds, ensuring that only Avalon guests were using the facilities. There was only one small hiccup – at 8:30 Friday morning we awoke to our phone ringing, and the front desk wanted to know if they could get in to clean the windows. This was pretty early for Cancun – some of our fellow guests didn’t rise until near noon. Keith told them after we had a chance to wake up and get out of the room and get some breakfast. This was out of character compared to the rest of what we experienced while we were there.

We highly recommend this resort. If you are looking for a huge place with lots of rooms and people, then this is not the place for you. But if the thought of staying in a stylish hacienda and having your every wish attended to appeals to you, then this is definitely the place. We loved it and would definitely go back.

Area/Attractions

Cancun is a Caribbean destination, which means you can expect lots of sparkling blue water (actually the Gulf of Mexico, although there are some strong waves), water sports, and beaches. But Cancun is also not far from ancient ruins.

Chichen Itza - Web Site on Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is an ancient Mayan city that is in the middel of the Yucatan peninsula about 180 kilometers from Cancun. It is quite a trek, so our recommendation would be that you book a tour, as opposed to renting a car and driving it there. We were picked up at our hotel at 7 a.m. and deposited at Plaza la Fiesta (essentially a big five and dime) a few kilometers north of us in the Hotel Zone several minutes later. There we spent a frustrating hour waiting to be herded on our bus for the tour. Finally we were on our air-conditioned motorcoach, where we got to know our superb guide for the day – Oscar. The bus had movies to alleviate the boredom of the trip (there is not much to see to and from Chichen Itza): Spider Man on the way there and Erin Brockovich on the way home. We had picked up a bottle of water for the bus. Around 10:40 we made a “rest stop” – yes, there were bathrooms there, but it was a craft market. We were deposited there until 11:30. The bus was locked so we couldn’t go back in. We simply waited it out standing in the shadow of the bus to keep ourselves cool. We got back on the bus and arrived at our final destination at 12:15.

Oscar took us on a walking tour until 1:30 and it was very impressive and amazing. We definitely felt the reverence of the place. At 1:30 we were left to our own devices and told to return to the bus at 2:30 and no later than 3. We walked around a bit more and then headed back to the entrance plaza. You may note no mention has been made of food – we decided to get a bite to eat. There were some stragglers, but we left Chichen Itza shortly after 3 on our way to “lunch” in the nearby town of Piste. It was a huge restaurant designed for buses. Gates closed around the bus so locals selling their wares could not enter the courtyard. The meal was included in the price for the day but drinks were extra. Some local women and children danced for us, including balancing beer bottles and trays on their heads – which was entertaining.

After eating so we opted for a side tour to Ik Kil, a sacred well a few kilometers away. The grounds were beautiful and we had the chance to walk down into the well. We understand that people used to be allowed to swim in Ik Kil. However, due to deterioration, the park has closed the lower layers to tourists, so swimming is no longer allowed.

We picked up the remainder of the group back at the restaurant at 5 p.m. (and again there were some stragglers who just couldn’t get enough of haggling over prices with the locals) and headed back to Cancun. We were dropped off at our hotel at 7:15. Chichen Itza is definitely worth the trip. The tour we took cost $50 per person. There are likely more expensive and less expensive tours. We feel four hours could have been cut off this trip. If you go, be sure to wear light-weight light-colored clothing, sturdy walking shoes (sneakers or hiking boots – no sandals or high heels), and be sure to keep yourself hydrated. The ruins are inland and it is hot and humid there. Also, we would not recommend this trip for children under 10. There were some young children on the bus, and the parents could not use the stroller because of the uneven ground. It is a long day for kids, with little food provided, so if you do take kids, be sure to take food and drink for them.

There are a lot of other attractions in the Cancun area as well. Another Mayan city, Tulum, is a short drive down the coast. Tulum does not contain the large pyramid as Chichen Itza does, but it is still impressive.

Also, there is a "natural aquarium" called Xel Ha (procounced: "shell ha"). The snorkeling is fantastic. Snorkelers are required to shower before entering so no suntan lotions get into the water.

Dining

Lorenzillo's - Blvd. Kukulcan Blvd., Km. 10.5, Cancun 883-1254
We walked the one kilometer to Lorenzillo’s. The restaurant is built on wooden piers out over the bay. Our table overlooked the water, which is lit to show the fish beneath. Patrons throw bread to the fish. Kids love it. As we did every evening, we ordered bottle water. We selected a local wine – Monte Xanic Vine Kriste – a Mexican sauvignon blanc, which was quite good. Lori had scallops and avocado on tortilla chips as an appetizer, while Keith had a spinach and cream cheese salad with mustard vinaigrette. We learned that the pairing of spinach with cream cheese is somewhat common in this area, as we saw it on multiple menus. We were served warm rolls with garlic butter. For her entrée, Lori had shrimp with ajillo pepper, and Keith had Chilean sea bass. No dessert – Keith opted for a very expensive shot of Reserva de la Familia tequila. We have some familiarity with good quality, sipping tequilas, and were looking forward to trying some more and expanding our horizons on this trip. The restaurant itself is very nautical in appearance with lots of wood. We were outside on a covered porch. There is a separate bar off another pier. The service was excellent, and our waiter, Gustavo, gave us some tips for our adventures.

Cambalache - Forum by the Sea, Kukulcan Blvd., Km. 9, Cancun 883-0897
Cambalache's Web Site
Cambalache is an Argentinian steak house. We had thoroughly enjoyed our Argentinian dining experience in Aruba in 2000 and were looking forward to this. The restaurant had dark wood with brick inlays in the ceilings and was casually elegant. We had great attentive service – which we learned was the rule in Cancun, and not the exception. We were shown a visual menu – a tray representing some of the appetizers. They all looked good. We were also shown a tray with the different cuts of meat, accompanied by explanations. We had a bottle of local wine again – Pedro Domecq Cabernet Sauvignon 1995. A wonderful breadbasket was brought out with melt-in-your-mouth sesame sticks, rolls, andsinful croissants served with Churrasco sauce (spicy and green pesto-like), tomato sauce, and garlic butter. Lori had two appetizers instead of a main course – spicy garlic shrimp, and Mexican cheese and Argentinian sausace with tortillas. Keith had some wonderful grilled provolone with marjoram and peppers, followed by a 14-ounce (which was the smallest) filet mignon with pepper sauce, accompanied by new potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus. We had no room for dessert!

La Destileria - Kukulcan Blvd., Km. 13, Cancun 885-1086
La Destileria's Web Site
This was one of our favorite experiences. This place has a tequila museum and shop and actual antique tequila distilling equipment throughout the restaurant. It is nicely air-conditioned. We had a nice long table for two in front of the window overlooking the lagoon. We noted Herradura distillery tanks in the room (Keith’s favorite tequila). La Destileria has 150 tequilas available for tasting and drinking. Keith started out with a shot of Lapis tequila, followed by El Jimador Anejo, accompanied with a local Mexican beer. Lori had two margaritas (not at the same time!) made with Cuervo 1800 anejo.

We were served freshly-made tortilla chips with a bean medley and red and green sauces. Keith requested their hottest sauce, which was served with a warning – it was indeed hot. We were also served warm rolls with cream cheese inside that was wonderful, but not melted. (How did they do that?) We split their cheese fondue, which we put into tortillas with pico de gallo. Lori had shrimp three ways: two done tempura style with different heat chiles, and shrimp sautéed with avocado sauce and served with frizzled potatoes. Keith tried his first ever chicken mole. For those of you who have never had it, mole is a very complex sauce with over 35 ingredients and spicy/chocolate finish. His portion was huge and wonderful. Out waiter explained they like to tear it up and eat it in corn tortillas, which Keith did – and declared the taste sensation heavenly. It was a great dining experience which we savored and will remember with great pleasure!

Lorito Joe's - Kukulcan Blvd., Km. 14.5, Cancun 885-1536
Lorito Joe's Web Site
Lorito Joe’s is a seafood place with a buffet, if you are into that. They also serve a la carte, which is what we chose. It is fairly new and sleek in design. We sat outside at a table overlooking the lagoon. We had a bottle of Chilean chardonnay (Caliterra). Keith had a Caesar salad and Mahi Mahi. Lori was there for her seafood, and dug into a Caribbean shrimp cocktail, followed by one pound of Alaskan king crab legs. We were served warm rolls with garlic butter. The food was good – not he great we had in Cancun, but good. We were lucky to see the restaurant’s famous pet alligator surface in the lagoon after dinner (is it any wonder we opted not to do any water sports in the lagoon after that?).

Margaritaville - Plaza Flamingo, Kukulcan Blvd., Km. 12, Cancun
Margaritaville Cancun's Web Site
OK, we said we try not to do chain restaurants on vacations, but this is a chain that we don’t have at home, and besides, Lori is a major parrothead (she dragged Keith to a Jimmy Buffett concert back in 1997). After our long day at Chichen Itza we thought a Cheeseburger in Paradise sounded like a good idea, so we hoofed it across the street to Margaritaville. We had been to a Margaritaville in Key West in 1997. If you’ve never been there, it is a fun place. The Cancun location just opened in August 2002, a few months before we visited. It was lively. It seemed nearly every employee got up and danced and had fun with the patrons. We got our afore-mentioned cheeseburgers and margaritas – perfect after a day of traipsing around in the heat looking at Mayan ruins. Lori enjoyed singing along with Jimmy and his “ParrotVision” on the surrounding screens. We noted their menu has expanded quite a bit since our visit to the Key West restaurant 5 years earlier. As with all Margaritavilles, apparel and accessories are for sale. Don’t miss the live-action exploding volcano during the song “Volcano” (what else?) – it’s like a good ride! Long live Buffett!

Maria Bonita - Hotel Zone, next to Hotel Camino Real, 848-7000
This is a great Mexican restaurant located on the tip in the Hotel Zone. It is a round restaurant with a bar in the center. Some of the waiters would break out into spontaneous songs. It’s a colorful place with great carved chairs. We got a bottle of Monte Xanic Chenin Columbard, which was like a medium reisling and was perfect with spicy food. There is entertainment here and it is a great place to bring the whole family. We had a selection of different breads with two different herbed butters. Three sauces were set on the table – mild, medium, and spicy. Keith had the Chicharron de Queso as an appetizer – we describe it as the cheese that gets baked on a baking sheet that overflows when we are making nachos. It is essentially baked cheese crispies accompanied by pico de gallo. Lori had the Chiles Rellenos stuffed with crab and shrimp with a side of avocado dipping sauce. The peppers were extremely hot, and she gave some to Keith, who has a stomach of steel. Keith had the spicy chicken for his main dish (but it wasn’t very spicy). Lori had the tamarind shrimp with a sweet sauce. For dessert, we opted to do a tequila tasting. Our waiter (it was hard to tell, really – at least a half dozen people were at our table at different times) brought out a tray with six slots and six custom glasses, accompanied by Sangrita (sort of like bloody mary mix) and limes. We had one ounce each of six tequilas: two blancos, 2 reposados, and two anejos. We got to taste our first Porfidio (an anejo) in a few years, as it is difficult to get in the US and has become extremely expensive. There were fabulous strolling Mexican musicians. The highlight was a band of 12 (3 trumpets, 6 fiddles, 1 string bass, and 2 guitars) who fanned out from the central bar area. We were amazed that they could stay together with no rhythm section besides the bass. They sang at times and a few men sang featured solos. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Maria Bonita.

Porterhouse Grill - Hotel Zone, Next to Hotel Avalon Grand, Blvd. Kukulcan 11.5 848-9311
We went to this restaurant on our last evening in Cancun, walking a few doors down to this restaurant, which is part of the Avalon Grand and the sister hotel of our resort, Baccara. This is primarily a steak place, but they serve other food as well. It is an elegant, candle-lit restaurant, yet casual, and the service is extremely warm and friendly. We had a table with a “water view,” which our waiter smilingly offered us – overlooking the lobster tank. We got another bottle of Monte Xanic wine – this time sauvignon blanc. Lori had the grilled provolone cheese for an appetizer, and Keith had the Ensalada Michel, which was similar to a Caesar salad, but with goat cheese and nuts. As at Cambalache, we were shown a tray displaying the different cuts ofmeet. Keith had a 10-ounce filet mignon with merlot reduction sauce, accompanied by potatoes au gratin. Six different homemade sauces were offered. It was a beautiful cut of steak and the sauce was tremendous. Lori had coconut shrimp with mango/habanero chutney. It was very relaxed – they even asked us if we were ready for our main courses or if we wanted to pause and relax awhile between courses. It was a nice, tasty, but mellow way to end our week.

Nightlife

There are plenty of nightclubs available in the Hotel Zone and many of them don’t even open until after we went to bed some nights! We noted there were several where you can pay one price at the door and have the run of the bar. Some bars let ladies drink for free or let them in with no cover. Our sole late night was at Pat O’Brien’s. Beware the drink maidens bearing sweet but powerful shots. Rest assured, if you are in Cancun for nightlife, they’ve got you covered.

Weather

We learned it was actually cooler than usual while we were in Cancun. Some days when the sun went behind clouds it was a little chilly, but most days were in the 80s and nights were in the 70s Fahrenheit. The Gulf of Mexico water was warmer than the pool. We had a few brief spots of rain two separate days, but it was mostly sunny and pleasant.

Tips/Suggestions

Take plenty of sun protection. The sun is hot and burns quite quickly. We are big proponents of bug spray, but we forgot ours, and didn’t suffer any bites. The public buses are a great and easy way to get around. Be sure to have pesos. Each trip was 6 pesos per person (approximately 60 cents in USD). The two of us could take a bus as transportation to dinner for 24 pesos (approximately $2.40 USD), which was a lot cheaper than a taxi. If we had chosen to go to downtown for dinner, we would have taken a taxi. We walked as much as possible, so be sure to take comfortable walking shoes – for us, that meant sneakers, good sturdy sandals, and deck shoes.

Beware the timeshare salespeople disguised as those providing tourist info. In fact, every “Tourist Info” stand we saw was actually staffed by people selling timeshares. We got hit in the Cancun airport as soon as we arrived – a man in a booth motioned us over and asked to see our luggage stubs and then proceeded to provide us with “helpful hints” about our visit to Cancun, then went into the hard sell. If you are interested in purchasing a timeshare and don’t mind wasting some time, then go for it, but we work too hard for our vacation time to spend it listening to salespeople.

American dollars are accepted nearly everywhere but be aware things may cost you a little more if you use dollars in lieu of pesos.

It seems more places are filtering their water, but don’t be foolish. Drink plenty of bottled water. Remember that ice cubes – unless they come from filtered water – can give you a good dose of Montezuma’s revenge. For the first 3 days, we drank only bottled water, wine, beer (not on tap but out of bottles or cans), and liquor that was straight and not mixed with anything. Gradually we recognized that some restaurants were “USDA compliant” and we ordered some mixed drinks, but do be careful. Do not even use the water from the bathroom sink for brushing your teeth or rinsing your toothbrush – use purified or bottled water. Why this may seem like a pain, it is worth it to stay healthy and enjoy your vacation.

Most importantly, enjoy your trip to Cancun. We sure did!