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Traveling in times of Covid (Part 2)

Budget slow travel

By Patrick Robertson

Last month I wrote about our month-long trip to the American Southwest, our first trip abroad since the pandemic began. It went so well that we decided to fly to Mexico. I booked a week at the Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta last July in hopes that the pandemic would be contained nine months later.

Our flight went directly to Puerto Vallarta with Westjet. We checked in online with Westjet the day before we left. We were required to submit a picture of our Covid vaccine passport along with our passport information at check-in. When that was done, we got our boarding passes emailed to us. Westjet told us to arrive three hours before our 10:35 flight time.

The airport wasn’t crowded and we sat in a deserted waiting area until it was time to go to our departure gate. Masks are compulsory at the airport and on board the aircraft. Everyone on the plane had to show they were vaccinated and asymptomatic. Mexico does not require proof of a Covid vaccination or a negative Covid test to enter the country, but officials will take a heat scan of you as you pass.

The port of entry was empty when we arrived and we cleared customs within five minutes. We opted for carry-on luggage so we didn’t have to wait at the crowded baggage carousel and went straight to our pre-arranged shuttle to the resort. Our party of five was the only one on the shuttle.

All airport and shuttle staff were fully masked and practiced regular hand washing and sanitizing. The resort had an exceptional safety precautions policy of cleaning all touchable surfaces after each use. Seating at the pools and restaurants was widely spaced and all workers are triple vaccinated and monitored.

This is the largest resort in Mexico at 2,500 acres containing six different Mayan resorts. There are 6,000 employees who are wonderful ambassadors for the resort. During the pandemic, with a 90% drop in guests and the two months that the resort was closed, all workers kept their jobs and received two meals a day and transportation to work.

Everything has been thought of at this luxury resort with 40 restaurants, countless pools and water features, two golf courses, high-end nightly entertainment, millions of lush tropical plants with illuminated and sound-enhanced boardwalks through the jungle to various locations in the resort. There is a private dual carriageway cement road just for the shuttle buses that will take you from place to place as it is a good 45 minute walk from one end to the other.

The resort recycles 73% of its waste and has a remarkable water treatment system that is part of the resort garden that nourishes and irrigates the plants. There is a conservatory program that has returned 3.5 million turtles to the ocean and has a 40-acre garden that services the resort. They make their own chocolate, sweets, pastries and bread on site.

Our place was a very large apartment with an amazing balcony overlooking the river and Pacific Ocean. We loved watching the various large flocks of birds throughout the day. The pelicans were followed by the frigates, then the cranes.

At the top of our tower was a beautiful rooftop pool with hot tubs, day beds, lounge chairs, and food and bar service. The view of Banderas Bay with Puerto Vallarta and the Sierra Madras in the distant background was amazing.

A 20 minute walk took us to another pool on the beach and the delta of the river that runs alongside the resort. The whole pool area was well laid out with private seating areas with sun loungers and day beds to watch the sea and swim. There was chair service for food and drinks and we had massages from the resort’s spa staff right on site.

We prepared our breakfast and dinner in the apartment. The resort has a small, well-stocked shop with all the basic fruit and veg, including a cheese and meat counter, bakery, wine and spirits, and fresh chocolates and sweets.

It was a wonderful vacation on so many levels. The resort and experience was five stars. We saw that proper procedures were followed at all levels to keep us all safe at every step of our holiday.

From arriving at the airport, boarding the plane, the shuttle and taxi rides, enjoying everything at the resort and the journey home. That was the most important take-home experience for us. We now feel safe to travel again and I am already planning trips for summer, fall and winter.

photo submitted

Patrick Robertsson is a travel writer and longtime resident of Fernie. He is an expert in planning independent travel and finding cheap travel deals. Visit his website for more information and pictures of this trip to Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta.

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