December 28, 2007

The Suite Life

In lieu of exchanging Christmas gifts, Frank and I decided we’d spoil ourselves with a stay at the Signature. I booked for $159. Additionally, we signed up for the MGM/Mirage credit card a couple months back, we frequent their properties most often and figured we could enjoy extra perks and earn rewards to use toward dinners and/or hotel stays. One of the perks offered is early/late check in.

We arrived at the Signature at eleven o’clock. Check in was a breeze and we asked the agent what perks our credit card awarded us, she checked with her manager and then let us know we'd be upgraded to a one bedroom suite. We were issued keys to room 34-714 in the second tower, I signed paperwork and we were off to our home for the night.

We were blown away by the suite; the photos on their website don't do the rooms justice.

There was a full kitchen

It wouldn't be complete without a full-size dishwasher

Guest bath and shower

Dining area

Living room with sleeper sofa

Master bedroom

The desk houses the flat screen TV

Master bath

The balcony was huge! There were two sliding doors, one in the living room and another in the bedroom, but the balcony didn't end there, it continued on twice that distance.

Balcony views

This shot is a reflection off the glass

After we soaked in the balcony views, we laid in bed and watched football. Then we enjoyed my idea of the perfect white Christmas, a Jacuzzi tub overflowing with bubbles. We relaxed and lounged about until hunger struck. We walked over to MGM Grand, made reservations for an hour later, at Seablue. We made a couple sports bets and played a new Slingo slot and Sigma derby to pass the time until dinner.

At Seablue, we had chilled gulf prawns to start, along with a Caesar salad. Delicious, I could eat those all day and night. I was anticipating having halibut, but it wasn't offered on this visit. The waiter suggested striped bass, but I opted for Australian prawn skewers instead. Frank selected the lamb skewers. Our dishes were beautifully presented; I wished I had thought to snap a picture. They were equally as tasty. Shockingly, we each had room for dessert so Frank ordered Tiramisu

I had molten chocolate cake

Yum! Another fantastic meal at Seablue.

After we finished dinner we checked the score of the football game and saw that we won our first half bet, so we walked over to the sports book to cash the ticket. We also stopped in the gift shop and bought chocolate. Then we went back to the room and cracked open a bottle of Champagne. We toasted in bed and watched the rest of the football game. We won our other bet, too. We popped open another bottle of Champagne, ate some chocolates and lounged in bed. I dozed off and woke when the door bell rang; Frank had ordered room service, chicken fingers and a pastrami sandwich. I had a bite of each and went back to bed. Frank took a bath and later joined me.

We had a great night's rest, but we stayed in bed most of the morning. We made good use of the tub and then ordered room service. We each had banana nut French toast and Frank also ordered cinnamon rolls.

After breakfast, we went out on the balcony to bask in the rays. We watched flights come and go, I read the paper and Frank smoked a cigar. It was perfect way to start the Christmas holiday. Sadly, one o'clock rolled around and we reluctantly called the bell desk to come grab our bags so we could check out. It was tempting to stay until they physically removed us, but felt it was best to go willingly since we'd like to return. We ran over to sport book, cashed our ticket, then returned to the Signature and settled our bill. Valet pulled up our car and another fantastic stay had drawn to a close. The only bright side to leaving was that there was no flight to catch, just a short 10 minute drive home.

December 27, 2007

Xpu-ha, Mexico ~ Day five

We were awake in time to catch sunrise, but it was a chilly morning so we decided to continue to lounge in bed. Once we were up and moving about we grabbed breakfast. This was our last day so we hit the beach one last time. The water was unusually calm; it was perfect conditions for snorkeling, but not the best for frolicking about. We showered, packed and settled our hotel bill. Then we stopped at La Cueva del Chango for brunch, Frank had an omelet and I had enchiladas in green sauce. Afterwards, we drove to Cancun.

The return of the rental was effortless, we boarded the shuttle and we’re dropped off at the airport. Lines for check in and security were non-existent. We stopped in the duty-free store and bought a box of Cuban cigars to bring home. When we made it to our departure gate we couldn’t believe we had two hours to kill. About an hour later, we got word that our flight was delayed, our plane had mechanical issues, another plane would arrive almost two hours after our departure time. We knew we would miss our connecting flight when we were cleared for take off. Fortunately, there were two later flights from phx to las, we landed, gathered our bags and passed through customs in enough time to make the next flight. We touched down in Vegas, shortly before eleven o’clock. After a long day of traveling it was wonderful to finally be home.

We had a splendid vacation! We stayed the perfect length of time. We already plan to return next December.

The entire photo album can be viewed here

Xpu-ha, Mexico ~ Day four

Again, Frank was up first, once I was moving we headed down for breakfast. We had different entrees this morning, I chose chicken chiquiles and Frank had huevos rancheros. After breakfast, we rested in our room until we got the itch to head out to the beach. We had another fun afternoon in the sea. Storms came through, one created a beautiful rainbow, the most distinct one I’ve ever seen. No photos, though, I was having too good of a time in the water to run and grab the camera.

After our swim, Frank returned to the hammock and I went for a walk along the shore.

When I returned I joined Frank for a siesta. We decided we’d have dinner in Akumal. When hunger struck we headed out. We parked near Lol-ha, we walked over to the beach

and then we wandered over to La Cueva del Pesador on the way we saw coconuts growing and pretty flowers.

The chips and salsa at La Cueva del Pesador were delicious. We scoffed those down while we waited for our meal, fajitas and shrimp Vera Cruz style - wrapped in foil and baked with tomato, onion, and pepper. Both were excellent. We asked for additional chips to go, the friendly amigo happily packed a bag for us.

We returned to hotel and requested buckets of ice to chill our Pacificos and then we nuzzled in the hammock. Shortly before the hotel’s restaurant closed for the night we asked for a couple snacks, they delivered pico de gallo and a cheese plate. The pico and chips were muy bueno! We chowed down until we came across habanero. Hot! But oh, so good. After our snack, we returned to the hammock for another evening gazing at the stars.

Xpu-ha, Mexico ~ Day three

Frank was first to rise, he woke me up and we headed down to the restaurant. The spread was practically the same as the day before, but we ate a little lighter since we had lunch plans with our friends, Christine and JD, at noon. After breakfast, we went for a swim. Waves were good sized; we rode them to shore, did somersaults and had all kinds of fun.

Next, we changed and waited in the hammock for Christine and JD to arrive. Frank dozed off, not long after they pulled up. They found the hotel on the first try, impressive. We caught up, I woke Frank and we headed to La Cueva del Chango. We sat outside. We chatted while we waited for our meal. Christine and I had enchiladas, JD went with the sopes and Frank had the crème of bean soup and chicken breast. JD and Christine kindly picked up the tab, then we were off to Soriana for groceries. This was our first visit to a supermarket in Mexico. It was a neat experience. Frank really enjoyed it. We bought Pacifico and churros. What else does one need? We checked the directory to see if there was a cigar shop in the mall, but we didn’t see one. We headed into Playa del Carmen, so Frank could buy a few cigars to last the rest of the trip.

We parked in the same lot we found on our first night, but when we returned the amigo tried to scam Frank by charging him double. Frank caught on right away, and paid only the amount we owed.

Errands complete we returned to our hotel. We snapped a couple pictures, said our good byes, and then Christine and JD went back to their hotel to enjoy the rest of their trip. It’s always been great seeing them, but this was an especially neat visit since it’s not everyday you get to meet up with friends in another country.

When I went up to the hotel room I found Frank in pain. He managed to stub his toe while walking up the stairs; he ripped off half his toenail in the process. Given our track record, severe sunburn, broken ankle, and Montezuma’s revenge, I knew we wouldn’t be able to get away scot-free. We were thankful it was only a minor injury. After I cleaned him up, we napped in the hammock.

Later, we had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. We looked over the menu; we opted to start with a Caesar salad and selection of cheeses. Grilled shrimp and lamb chops followed. My shrimp was presented with the heads attached that was a first. They were mighty tasty. Frank’s lamb was not good. It took us 10 minutes to try to find meat, but it was nothing but fat. We called the waiter over, it was interesting trying to find the words to explain why we were unhappy… eventually, I said, pequeño carne. Luckily, he understood, he suggested Frank choose another entrée, he ordered NY steak. That was far better. Frank’s meal was on the house due to our troubles. Before heading out we stopped at the bar and got a couple buckets of ice. Then we retired to the hammock, drank cervezas and relaxed under the stars.

December 26, 2007

Xpu-ha, Mexico ~ Day two

Frank woke me to catch the sunrise. There are few things worth getting up for at the crack of dawn, but sunrise over the Caribbean sea is one that’s worthwhile.

Frank's footsteps in the sand

Looking north at sunrise

Looking south at sunrise

After soaking in the early morning sun, we went back to our room and napped in the hammock until breakfast.

Refreshed, we headed down to the restaurant for breakfast. The kind amigo brought us coffee, yogurt with honey and granola, fruit plate and toast. We chomped on that while we waited for our Mexican eggs to be prepared. Everything was excellent. Afterwards we lounged in our hotel room for a bit.

Then we headed out to the beach. We played in the waves for hours, it was great fun.

When we had our fill we showered and had a brief siesta back in the hammock. We worked up a hunger, and decided we’d return to La Cueva del Chango for a late lunch, since we enjoyed it so much last year.

It was just as we remembered. We sat inside for fear of rain, sure enough, the storms came shortly after we sat down. Frank ordered sopes and crème of beans soup. I went with chicken enchiladas in red sauce. I also requested tortillas to snack on while we waited. Yum, those tortillas are out of this world. I love their salsas, too. Not to mention our meals were superb, as well.

The storm continued on our way back, there were many accidents along the highway. Fortunately, we made it to the hotel with no troubles.

We snoozed until the storm passed. Later, Frank went down to the restaurant he returned with an ice bucket filled with Pacificos. We drank cervezas and swayed in the hammock the rest of the evening.