Yesterday we took a trip into Playa Del Carmen from our hotel in Rivieria Maya. We opted to use Tui’s ‘free’ bus… what an adventure that was…
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All curreny conversions were correct as of 2nd November 2023 and may have changed since
When I booked onto the free bus ride the Tui rep did tell me there was a sponsored stop off at a couple of places. These were to be a Jewellery shop and a Tequila shop she said this would take about an hour of our time, but in return we were getting a free return bus ride so thought that was a fair exchange.
I’ve previously done these sort of things in the Dominican and the stop offs are usually ok, sometimes a bit of a pushy sales person but other than that you can usually pick up some marginally overpriced gifts on your way.
We were told to be in reception for 10am for pick up, they collected us and another couple before stopping off at another hotel to collect another couple (The hotel has THE LONGEST drive I have ever been down, it took a good 6-7 minutes just to get to the entrance of the hotel and it had the most horrible lumpy speed bump things that rattled your bones!)
Within another 10 minutes or so we were at the stop off, Oscar was fast asleep so Gaz was going to stay on the minibus while we went inside but the driver said he had to drop us off and someone else would collect us later. Cue a VERY grumpy child as he had only been asleep for around 15 minutes.
Matises & Co Shopping Stop
The building was grand, nothing like I was expecting, the Dominican stop offs were literally huts at the side of the road!
We did however realise both the ‘stops’ were actually in the same building which was better as it was less opportunity for Oscar to fall asleep again!
We were ushered inside this huge building before being given a number and told to gather together in front of a small podium stage for a welcome ‘dance’ in the main reception area.
We were then given a quick briefing about our ‘tour’. We were shown where the jewellery was made and told we would have a guided tour of the jewellery available to purchase before heading upstairs for some Tequila tasting.
All that glitters…
Watching the jewellery makers working on some new pieces was pretty cool although it all looked very clinical.
The jewellery showroom was again a very grand affair with fabulous displays and blinding lighting arrangements, of course to show the jewellery off at it’s best.
We were allocated a guide – Adonis – yes, really. He gave us a guided tour of all the different stones and was very knowledgable about the different types of gemstones, cuts and clarities available.
Adonis enjoyed showing the girls the different stones and answering Chloe and Holly’s endless questions. He even let them try a few pieces on which Holly was thrilled about. Even Oscar listened to most of it but he was pretty bored after 30 minutes or so of discussing shiny things.
The jewellery was super expensive, waaaaaay over and above anything I would ever consider spending on myself let alone the girls. No matter how hard to tried to convince me that getting an $85/£70 chain for free when spening $500/£410+ on a pendant was in fact ‘a very good deal’.
Thankfully I am not that much into jewellery so wasn’t easily swayed into parting with such large amounts when blinded by all the shiny things – the cheapest piece they had available was $160/£131 and was a small pendant with a semi precious stone set in silver. He was super polite though and although he tried his hardest, when I said it was a firm no he didn’t try to press any further.
Next we headed upstairs to the Tequila tasting. We didn’t realise upstairs also had a huge gift shop which was beautifully decorated ready for the day of the dead celebrations later in the week.
They had all the usual stuff magnets, hats, tshirts and various other ‘Mexico’ branded tat you could take away with you. It was pretty expensive but not too much more so than the prices we saw in Playa Del Carmen later on in the day.
They had some interesting displays one with loads of information on wine – how it ages, what it is best paired with etc and another with all the Tequila flavours they do.
Once you were upstairs again you were allocated a host who gave you a brief history about Tequila, the difference in the colours and flavours etc. They then offered to let you try any you wanted, it was a bit early in the day for me so I politely declined but Gaz took one for the team and tried the longest brewed one. Which he instantly regretted when it burnt his throat going down!
The obviously also had loads of different Tequilas available to buy but the one they were pushing was any 4 small bottles (not much bigger than a coke cans quantity) for $89/£73 which we didn’t entertain.
We then had to wait around to be collected. By this time we had been there for almost 2 hours and it was just past 12pm the kids were starving and there wasn’t any food or water available.
Our minibus eventually arrived and we headed off to Playa Del Carmen which was around a 20 minute drive.
Holly was with us but she was sulking this point because she was hangry and didn’t want to be in the picture.
Finally… Playa Del Carmen!
We were dropped off by Mamita’s Beach Club on the beach and told to be back there for 3pm. (giving us just under 2.5 hours in Playa Del Carmen)
As we wandered off back towards the high street, we didn’t know till after we were on 5th Avenue which is apparently the main shopping strip.
We have seen since to steer clear of people dressed as superheroes as they are apparently professional pick pockets, but we didn’t see any.
I had already clipped my purse to my bra and put it inside my top. I also had my phone in a waterproof carry case round my neck while we were on the minibus.
There were lots of lovely shops, coffee stops and restaurants along this route, you will get lots of traders trying to beckon you over but they weren’t over the top and they are after all just trying to earn a living. Lots were happy to give Oscar hi-fives so he was quite happy.
Another thing we were told by the hotel is traders will recognise bands from your hotel and say ‘oh do you recognise me, I work at **enter hotel name here** come and see my shop. They don’t work there, they just want to get you inside. It’s harmless. but just something to be aware of!
I did stop and buy some gifts in one of the shops and they didn’t show the amount on the card machine. So I asked for the total and they had tried to charge me 400mxn/£18.50 more than they should have! I would recommend you do check your receipts AND the card machine when they hand it to you.
Holly was pretty hangry by this point so we headed back to the beach for some food.
Mamita’s Beach Club, Playa Del Carmen
When we were dropped off we were told by the hostess we would get a 15% discount here so we decided that would be where we would eat.
We ordered 2 bowls of chips an individual pizza and 6 drinks – a piña colada and a beer and 4 soft drinks. It came to $1062mxn/just under £50.
They didn’t give us any discount and then tried to tell me it was a compulsory minumum $200mxn tip! So I would avoid this bar if you do visit. Which is unfortunate as the cocktail was actually pretty good!
We had a very brief visit to the beach with Holly and Oscar dipping their feet in the sea before getting back to the pick up point.
They had this really good foot wash at the edge of the beach, so much better than just showers!
Our minibus arrived around 3.15pm.
It was a quick trip back with just 1 drop off again. We probably wouldn’t use this if we went again, you can get the Colectivo bus from outside the hotel into Playa Del Carmen for a few dollars, or a private taxi is approx $30/£25.
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